Pastor Mark Anderson
Lutheran Church of the Master, Corona del Mar California
In a 2103 article entitled, Limits of Knowledge and Honesty in Large Systems, Swedish Sociologist, Hans Zetterberg writes of the enduring value of “Durable and close socially small worlds…”. The wider article is concerned with the growth of the large, impersonal worlds of politics, markets and technological encounters in which a human being can no longer have knowledge of the personal identities and motivations of others, nor what happens to them.
Beginning in the last century, mass communication has intruded these ‘large worlds’ into our homes, into our lives resulting in long-lasting changes. Where once the immediate concerns of daily life and the people with whom we shared them occupied the small world where life is actually lived, now our minds and attention are on people, events and issues with which have almost nothing to do and can do nothing about. Large world issues loom over us, creating anxiety, diminishing the value of the ‘small world’ in which live, always encroaching on the territory of the individual.
As the coronavirus pandemic continues, we may see long-lasting changes in travel and labor. Tourist flights and cruises to all corners of the earth might come to be seen as unsafe and unnecessary. As more companies learn to use new communication technologies that allow employees to be dispersed, office work could also be abandoned in many professions. We could be moving, by necessity, into a more local, ‘small world’ direction.
In such a time as this, when the pandemic is enforcing a ‘small world’ perspective on the world, and many feel like caged animals, we may be in a good position to help others see the real and enduring value of attending to those people, those matters that are right in front of us. Our theology of the Christian life is not a ‘large world’ theology, which is equivalent to a theology of glory. Lutheran Christians, among others, ought to know something about feelings of affection, responsibility, and stewardship for the ‘small world’ places where we are, where we live.
Our calling, in the freedom of our faith, is precisely to attend to the local, fragile bonds of human relations that God has placed in our lives, beginning in the family and the immediate community of friends and neighbors around us.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in
Christ Jesus our Lord.”