Learning to Fall Upward and Chicago

GK Chesterton observed that we must look at the familiar until it becomes unfamiliar.  To restate, we become so used to business as usual that we forget there are other alternatives that “familiarity” keeps us from seeing.  This means many of our challenges, because of that very familiarity, are hidden in plain site.

One such example among many are the looming challenges faced by numerous cities, including Philadelphia,  in terms of future pension obligations.  Chicago, for example, has only funded 36% of it’s current pension obligations.  The only way out of such a condundrum is to more than double property taxes by 2015 or dramatically curtail benefits.  The odds are the solution will include both.

Why talk about this is in a church blog?  Because this is real.  This is the sea in which churches will be swimming.  This is our future.  The obligations of the city of Chicago, vastly underfunded, may be a precursor to the future challenges Americans face in regard to the Social Security trust fund as well as Medicare/ Medicaid.

And yet, the conversations that need to occur often do not.

So here is a conversation starter … the future, I believe, will be one in which our standard of living – assumed as it is to be constantly improving – will actually decline.  And the crazy part … that is not all bad.

Who else can say that but churches and synagogues and mosques?  Who else can remind people that there is more to life, far more?  Who else can define quality of life in ways that are far healthier?   Who else can say, as Fr. Richard Rohr consistently points out, that we can actually fall upward?  Who else is better equipped to create communities that live that message?

Cities like Detroit and Chicago are but precursors to challenges we will all be facing in the upcoming decades.  Can we move beyond the familiar solutions which, structurally, simply cannot work or can we find the courage to look through the familiar to a new place, an unfamiliar place of promise?

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