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December 27, 2009

Tell me your image of God and I will tell you your theology. – Carl Jung

Have you ever considered how you see the world? Why people disagree over what is moral, heroic, loving, or holy? Why you team well with some people and conflict with others? Why two people sitting next to each other in the same church can read very different things in the same Bible? Why people disagree about politics and war?

The answer is worldviews. Everyone holds a worldview of his or her own. Worldviews are like the glasses one wears to see the world—every “lens” shows you the world in its own way. And these lenses, since they shape how you see the world, influence how you react to situations around you and how you make decisions. For example, some worldviews or lenses present events around you as aspects of a great conflict in which you are a hero who can help win a great victory. Other worldviews or lenses show you a world in which you are an inventor, explorer or pioneer who can solve a critical world problem to make the world a better place.

Here’s an example. Not long ago I asked a large group of pastors what they would title a history book—if they wrote one—on the moral, religious, societal, and political story of the past two decades. Half of the pastors answered that they would give the history book titles like “Decline,” “Collapse,” or “Faith Under Attack.” The other half of the pastors provided titles like “Slow Progress.”

Their responses showed me that—beyond mere optimism or pessimism—there were two worldviews at work in the room. These two worldviews served as these pastors’ lenses for interpreting all recent events, understanding the world around them, and providing their approaches to change the world. I call these two worldviews The Knight and The Gardener.

I have seen these two worldviews at work during my years as a futurist and consultant. And as we moved into the Bush years, the War on Terror, and war in Iraq, I found that the Knight-Gardener distinction explained more—and enabled me to forecast more—of the behavior of Bush Administration officials, fundamentalists and liberals on the religious and political scene, the actions and rhetoric of al-Qaeda senior leadership, and some of our military successes and failures against the insurgency in Iraq.

This book “maps” the basic framework for how Knights and Gardeners address problems and conflict situations. Here I seek to explain those two worldviews and how they have shaped or affected our public and private lives today in religion, relationships, politics, and war and peace.

This book also seeks to explain how Knights and Gardeners differ—and how they’re similar across spiritual, political or theological orientations or contexts. Originally written as a list of maxims for my students and consulting clients, you may find these Knight-Gardener distinctions useful as well. You may even recognize the influence of these two worldviews in your work, family, faith, and politics—or even in yourself.

3 Comments leave one →
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