By Mike Coyner
My last E-pistle shared my predictions for what things will be like in the United States and in The United Methodist Church in the year 2020. Some of you have responded that you thought my predictions were pretty pessimistic, and I suppose that is true. So let me continue this process by sharing my hopes for the next few years. These hopes may be overly-optimistic, so perhaps this will be a balance from my previous predictions:
- I hope we will see a reduction in violence as we finally learn the futility of violence and turn to peaceful resolutions not just because they are right but because they are effective. Perhaps pragmatic solutions will reduce violence where naive efforts have failed.
- I hope we will be more a global society where nation-states become less important as “flat” global networks continue to grow. We will not move to a United Nations as a world government, but we will see the limits of nationalism to solve global issues.
- I think that a new mode of transportation will finally emerge – we are long overdue for a leap of technology to take us beyond motorized carriages. Whether that will be the “flying cars” predicted by futurists since 1950 or more of the “Beam me up, Scotty” technology imagined by science fiction, I fully expect humanity to enter into a new mode of transportation in my lifetime.
- I am sure there will be a growth in consumer power that balances the power of ever-growing corporations. Perhaps this consumer power will revolve around what previously were called “cottage industries” and “truck farms” – but consumers will find ways to band together to limit the control of large corporations.
- I am optimistic that we will see an emerging reverence for the earth. As we see the increasing number of severe storms impacting the world, we don’t have time to argue about global warming. Rather we I hope we will work together to care for this planet.
- I am hopeful there will emerge a new religious tolerance based upon mutual respect and the desire to learn from one another. In place of many current models of tolerance which seek to reduce all faiths to the lowest common denominator, a new religious tolerance will emerge which encourages deeper understanding – so that Christians are urged to be “the best Christians” they can be, while also urging their Jewish friends or Muslim friends to be the best and most faithful they can be to their own faith traditions. Such a deepening of religious faith could produce both more tolerance and a new awareness of how God is at work in a variety of faith expressions.
- I hope that our United Methodist Church by 2020 will have found its “new normal” and begun to grow again. Probably things are going to get worse before they get better statistically, simply because of the age of our clergy and our people. But I hope that by 2020 our efforts at recruiting younger clergy and starting new ministry will bear fruit.
Those are some of my hopes for the next few years. What are your hopes?