The jumbo jet generation

Boeing

Here are some interesting thoughts from Skye Jethani’s blog – all about the jumbo jet generation and the rise in global awareness of social justice issues:

40 years ago the Boeing 747 entered commercial service on route between New York and London. While the spectators marveled at the technological achievement-no one had seen 700,000 pounds of aluminum fly before-no one in the crowd realized that they were also witnessing a sociological revolution-no one except Juan Trippe. Trippe was president of PanAm, the first airline to purchase the massive new Boeing. The visionary businessman knew the huge plane would change air travel, but he predicted much more. Before the plane had even left the drawing board, Trippe said that the 747 would be “…a great weapon for peace, competing with intercontinental missiles for mankind’s destiny.” His remarks may have been interpreted as hyperbole in 1970, but most now agree that the Boeing 747 has been a significant catalyst of globalization. The Jumbo Jet, as it was affectionately nicknamed, represented a huge increase in passenger capacity compared with earlier airliners which in turn lowered the cost of flying. As a result the 747 made long-range, intercontinental travel accessible to millions of people for the first time. To use Thomas Friedman’s phrase, the Jumbo Jet was instrumental in making the world flat.

As he goes on to explain:

The spread of globalization inaugurated by the Boeing 747, accelerated by telecommunications, and brought to full maturity by the World Wide Web, has transformed the world more than even Juan Trippe predicted 40 years ago. And those of us born after 1970 have been shaped and influenced by these world-flattening forces. We have grown up in a context of greater diversity, cultural awareness, and global accessibility. We have seen more of the world on our televisions, visited more of the world thanks to affordable intercontinental travel, and welcomed more of the world into our communities than any other generation in history. We are the Jumbo Jet Generation.
The impact of globalization on my generation helps explain why the North American church is now witnessing a surge in popularity around issues of global justice. For example last October I attended a ministry conference with 12,000 other church leaders. The event was held in a sports arena and featured the usual arsenal of multi-media wizardry along with popular Christian bands, high-profile pastors, and marketplace gurus. But what differentiated this conference from a similar event 10 years ago was the pervasive presence of justice issues. Compassion International and a film about human trafficking were given significant time from the platform. A popular comedian spoke to the church leaders about his time visiting orphans in Africa, and there were endless plugs to donate old cars, shoes, or other items to help the poor or to fund the digging of wells for clean water. Surrounding the arena were also dozens of booths populated by ministries advocating free-trade products, the alleviation of third-world debt, children’s health, human rights, or the distribution of mosquito nets to prevent malaria.
This sudden popularity of global justice has caught some older evangelicals off guard. They are concerned that the under-40 crowd is abandoning conservative theology in favor of a social gospel often associated with Mainline and liberal denominations. What they fail to realize is that my generation is not rejecting orthodoxy. We are rejecting the false dichotomy that the American church has perpetuated for the last century. We refuse to believe that the gospel is either social or spiritual, eternal or temporal. Earlier generations of evangelicals were more interested in saving souls than seeking justice because a cup of cold water would be little comfort in the flames of hell. But my generation cannot shake the global perspective imprinted on our minds from our childhoods. The gospel, we believe, must have relevance for this world and not simply the next.

Read the full article here.

Image: BBC/ Boeing

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