Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A good Christmas read

If you're still looking for some Christmas reading, let me recommend Thomas Friedman's new paperback, Hot, Flat & Crowded: Why the world needs a green revolution - and we can renew our global future (Penguin 2010).

Friedman is a New York Times columnist who for the past decade has offered some of the best thinking and commentary on globalisation. His book The Lexus and the Olive Tree is still the best introduction to the new world order that emerged after the fall of the Berlin wall but before the World Trade Centre attacks of 2001. A lot of his analysis still holds true, however.

Friedman points out that this emerging world is bordered by two interesting and memorable dates - 11/9 was when the Berlin Wall came down (that is 9 November 1989); 9/11 was when those infamous attacks happened (that is 11 September 2001).

Now he turns his penetrating gaze on how a globalised world needs to get to grips with climate change. The book came out before the debacle in Copenhagen, so it's message is even more urgent now than it was just a couple of months ago when the paperback came out.

Because a year elapsed between the hardback and paperback versions of the book, a year in which the financial meltdown played out before an open-mouthed electorate, Friedman rewrote the first section. These 60 pages offer some of the best, most prescient analysis of the credit crunch against the backdrop of the increasingly globalised world in which banking and hedge funds are a key lubricant. And he makes intriguing and convincing connections between the three crises that threaten a perfect storm of problems for the world - financial meltdown, population growth and climate change.

So I heartily recommend this narrative full of great anecdotes, interviews, stories and analysis as a welcome distraction from all that theology - as well as a wake up call to Christians to get informed and get active in this area.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Simon - I'll add it to the list. That's you and Jim Gordon trying to spend my book tokens before I even make my post Christmas pilgrimage to Blackwells.

David K

jim Gordon said...

Not so much a rest from all that theology - but a different agenda for theology to tackle - the unholy trinity that makes up the perfect storm you describe, could do with some serious, innovative and less self-serving theological reflection than the church usually gets up to. Credit crunch, climate change and population growth - three life threatening symptoms of a creation in need of redemption, and a church obliged to search for a more theologically penetrating theology and practice of mission. This book would make an interesting backdrop for a seminar on mission and one world, David. For one thing it isn't about the church - it's about the world, the proper locus for mission. Anyway, thanks for the pointer Simon - I too find my book tokens hijacked by the good advice of others - for which thanks.

simon said...

well said, Jim. I think this is an agenda setting book for much theological and mission thinking and reflection.