I FINISHED THIS Acrylic last week. It’s one I started many weeks ago and put aside until now. Its styled after Russian artist-composer Victor N. Yushkevich, a YouTube favorite of mine. I was drawn by the composition and color. It’s a bit above my skill set, but I attempted it anyway. ‘Nothing ventured, nothing gained.” Right? Hope I gained.
I thought it a good fit for our Thought this week—Paradigm. I see the landscape celebrating the ‘paradigm shift’ from early Spring to visions of Summer’s coming attractions. Snow is receding in fields, water is flowing in the creek, and birds are returning. Yes, I know it’s still Winter in Minnesota but the ‘idea’ seems attractive right now.
ALONG WITH YOU, I’ve given thought to what’s next as our nation morphs from ‘2020 life’ to a ‘2021 life’. We need better results on nearly every conceivable front: pandemic, racism, politics, social stability, to name a few. Someone once pointed out the obvious: using the same methods produces the same results. We need a ‘paradigm’ shift. I sometimes read Richard Rohr’s online Daily Meditation. Here are a couple quotes from Monday, January 11. I don’t always agree, but I see a rudiment worth inspection in these quotes.
“THOMAS KUHN’S book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions popularized the term “paradigm shift.”  A paradigm is a set of beliefs, images, concepts, and structures that govern the way we think about something. Kuhn (1922–1996) said that paradigm change becomes necessary when the previous paradigm becomes so full of holes and patchwork “fixes” that a complete overhaul is necessary. The shift in thinking which might have felt threatening at one time now appears as the only way forward and as a real lifeline. I hope we are at one of these critical junctures again. Might we be willing to adopt a new set of beliefs, values, and systems that could change (and maybe even save) humanity and our world?
The “Framing Story”
“MY COLLEAGUE Brian McLaren is a former English teacher and has much to teach us about the power of stories. He uses the language of a “framing story” to describe the same phenomenon Kuhn observed. Brian says a framing story “gives people direction, values, vision, and inspiration by providing a framework for their lives. It tells them who they are, where they come from, where they are, what’s going on, where things are going, and what they should do.”  While we all have stories that answer those questions on a personal level, a “framing story” dictates the general beliefs of a culture, nation, religion, and even humanity as a whole.
“BRIAN WRITES convincingly that “our growing list of global crises [Richard: even before the COVID-19 pandemic], together with our inability to address them effectively, gives us strong evidence that our world’s dominant framing story is failing.” 
“He reflects: If it [our framing story] tells us…
- “If the purpose of life is for individuals or nations to accumulate an abundance of possessions and to experience the maximum amount of pleasure during the maximum number of minutes of our short lives, then we will have little reason to manage our consumption.
- “If our framing story tells us that we are in life-and-death competition with each other . . . then we will have little reason to seek reconciliation and collaboration and nonviolent resolutions to our conflicts. But…
- “If our framing story tells us that we are free and responsible creatures in a creation made by a good, wise, and loving God, and that our Creator wants us to pursue virtue, collaboration, peace, and mutual care for one another and all living creatures, and that our lives can have profound meaning if we align ourselves with God’s wisdom, character, and dreams for us . . .
“Then our society will take a radically different direction, and our world will become a very different place. ”
Living a New Paradigm
Followers of Jesus live the paradigm of citizens in God’s Kingdom (now and forever) with access to the power of our Creator, individually and collectively, to demonstrate His light in our nation and world by releasing the Good News of His Love paradigm for all men and all creation. It starts with the King and His Kingdom!
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33
 Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 4th ed. (University of Chicago Press: 2012, ©1962).
 Brian D. McLaren, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crises, and a Revolution of Hope (Thomas Nelson: 2007), 5–6.
 Ibid., 68.
 Ibid., 67.