In introducing the keynote speaker, Joe Myers, the Rev. Phil Hirsch said that Myers has thought about the ways people connect with community and the sense of belonging.
Before he began his presentation, Myers offered some explanations about his approach and personality. One request was that the audience gives him just five minutes to let something he says sink in rather than be dismissed.
He began with Matthew 15:22, including the book’s opening genealogy and later the story of the Canaanite woman. What has captured his mind is how people connect, something he sees through a lens of social economics.
“You are leaders in the thought and process of bringing unlike people together.” It’s a part of our history, the fabric of who we are, Myers said.
How do we think and behave now?
We live in a time that no one can figure out, “so don’t feel lost.”
From a sociologist’s standpoint, there has been a major cultural shift. Myers talked about “cultural vertigo,” when people lose their sense of who they are in the world, when comfortable places of meaning are swept away, when memory becomes stronger than hope, and when every acquaintance and stranger is possibly our next best friend.
Myers described a cultural move away from an agrarian way of life, which he said is recalled as an over-romanticized Americana. Subsequent ages have had elements of the agrarian mindset. We still run our churches on an agrarian model.
Now, Myers said, we seem to be moving back to a pre-agrarian age, back to the nomadic age. But it is not a geonomadic type – geography as our map for social behavior. Now we are “technomadic” – technology as our map for social behavior.
Technomadics are multi-tribal, getting rid of a silo mentality. They are “quilting” their lives together, with no barriers between social, work and religious lives and with choosing which “tribe” to belong to in each area of life. It’s the way people today move, belong and behave.
Jesus, too, quilted his family together, as he did with the Canaanite woman. He’s bringing together diverse parts of his life, Myers said.
Everyone wants to belong, but everybody has a sense of vertigo because those ways of belonging have been shifting and are being swept away.
If you have the ability to step forward and help them belong with you, Myers asserts, they will.