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Saturday, July 5, 2014

"Futureville" (Skye Jethani)

TITLE: Futureville: Discover Your Purpose for Today by Reimagining Tomorrow
AUTHOR: Skye Jethani
PUBLISHER:Nashville, TN: Thomas-Nelson, 2014, (224 pages).

This book is not about the future. It is about today with an eye on the future. This kicks off a very fascinating look at what it means for us as individuals and how each of us has a role to play in the present leading up to the future. Skye Jethani, author and pastor gives us ten aspects of what he calls "Futureville" for us as a people and society. Readers will be curious to find out how. The author shows the way ahead with creativity and poise.

In Vision, he urges us to be constantly moving forward, not to be trapped by the problems or cynicism of today, but to be inspired that there is more purpose and dignity than what the world is telling us right now. In "Culmination," Jethani tries to put the future in context, using two biblical metaphors of the garden and the wilderness as he paints a vision of a garden city. He then explores three pathways to such a vision. The first is "Evolution" which has flourished since the time of Enlightenment and perpetual progress. Despite the progress, there are signs that the world is increasingly broken and fragmented. The second is "Evacuation" of such a progress-driven road. Such a path is also not as fulfilling as it is more escapist from the world rather than living with hope. The third path is a lot more promising, called "Resurrection." Jethani uses the story of Mandela to show us that hope wins. Like Jesus, we are called to be gardeners working out in this world according to our calling. He guides us through the important topic of "Vocation," which is a lot more crucial in engaging people rather than becoming distracted over the different ways of doing church. With calling comes the need to cultivate "Order" in unity, social action, and justice. With order, we move away from chaos toward creative endeavours that reflect the goodness and blessings of God. With order comes "Beauty" for life is not about doing stuff. It is also admiring God's creation and the pro-creative activity that God has empowered us with. The last two segments cover "Abundance" and "Hope" which tie up the Futureville vision of the author.

So What?

Skye Jethani has a bold vision for the future, vividly sketched out in ten ways. Filled with illustrations and imageries, readers will discover that there is more hope for the future as we bask ourselves in the promise of God's new city. We as gardeners have a role to play. Let me offer five observations. First, the book is a breath of fresh air to a stale world infatuated with progressive activity. There is a unconscious faith in progress as if progress per se will be able to buy us salvation. So we upgrade. We do home and personal improvements. Yet, there is something lacking about progress. Progress to what? Second,  I appreciate Jethani's emphasis on calling, something which we need to be reminded of over and over again. The topic of vocation (calling) is a crucial piece of the overall purpose in life. Without understanding our calling, how do we know how to participate in the bigger picture of the world? The chapter I find is too brief and more could have been said about it. Third, the three pathways can be integrated better with a diagram. I find the first two pathways easy to grasp, but I would have appreciated a gentler movement toward the third path, which I find a quantum leap rather than a gradual climb. Maybe, a bridge can be helpful to move from paths 1 and 2 toward 3. It is like paths 1 and 2 are earthly while 3 is too "heavenly" for earthly appreciation. I am just writing my first impressions, and perhaps, given time as I let the chapter sink in, I will understand more. Fourth, the title of the book may be a little misleading, as it tends to communicate a science-fiction kind of a futuristic world. I know where the author is coming from, but I suppose readers of sci-fi will be disappointed. Finally, I must commend the author for a bold vision that attempts to shine light on our great hope despite the problems of today. We need that. We need a re-focus on God's kingdom that will come. What is needed is for more of us to be energized, excited, and enthused to live out our calling.

Rating: 4.5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of Thomas-Nelson and BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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