Globalization and Christianity Part One
Written by: Jeff
We currently live in an environment defined by trans-national corporations, no longer the nation-state. Globalization makes the world smaller, increases trade, communications, and mobility of workforces. It has reached every country in the world and has both benefits and horrors. Recently I have heard about parts of the Congo that have satellite television and can watch “Friends” reruns or almost any other U.S. product. Avon has over 10,000 representatives in Africa many of which push their wares on people in huts and no running water. And on an average night- I receive a phone call from a call center in India, use electronics from Asia, play internet poker with people from 5 or 6 different countries, watch television coverage of the middle east… etc. We live in a global environment whether we choose to or not.
The average American believes (merely my speculation) globalization is a positive process that promotes business, capitalism, democracy, and the newest-oldest buzz-word “moral values.” The idea of globalization as a positive process stems from studies such as the World’s Globalization Index that suggest the more globally open a country is the better the economy, the less corruption, better distribution of wealth, etc. In this study (which focuses on 62 countries- that consists of 98 percent of the world’s wealth) the U.S. comes in fourth behind Signapore, Ireland, and Switzerland. Studies such as these suggest that seeing a McDonald’s in India, or Avon representatives riding the Amazon is a blazing symbol of the wonders of globalization…
The truth about globalization offers a much more mixed, complex picture. Over the next few blog entries I would like to look at globalization and what this new global world means to Christians in America.
Someone that does not know the complexity of my current academic studies (of which there are only a couple of people that I have explained it to) may ask why such a project? The case is, my dissertation focuses on the forces of imperialism that shaped early nineteenth century Britain. The rise of Napoleon in France from 1789-1815 and the rise of the English Empire spurned a new outlook on imperialism and the world economy that I argue has provided the early structure for the current model of globalization and U.S. Imperialism.
Of course, colonization and imperialism have transformed a tremendous amount over the last 200 years, but many of the seeds of the current environment stem from the area of my expertise (of course many seeds formed even earlier as well). One of the reasons for this investigation is that much of globalization and U.S. imperialism has become invisible. The power structures that drive the world economy and the motives of U.S. imperialism are less visible than 200 years ago; therefore, by viewing these processes when they were more visible (even if quite different) we can learn more about our current environment.
I must warn- I am an extremely harsh critic of globalization in general, but the reason for this is because i think that in its current conception it is parasitic, drawing from the poor masses in order to profit the rich few in multi-national corporations and bloated governments. However, I do not hold a completely negative view because i accept that globalization is here to stay- it certainly is not going to evaporate any time soon.
Because of this- we need to transform it into a much more positive force that can benefit the masses instead of slaughtering them. Is this possible? I am not sure, and I do not think i can come to a final solution- but one of the focuses of this exploration will be to make visible some of the invisible power structures in order to bring them towards more positive ends. I will also investigate questions such as: what is a Christians role in this new environment? What are our new responsibilities as members of this new global world? How have changes in the Church paralleled globalization? And where is the global Church headed in the 21st century?