As many of you know, I am enrolled in a most unique gradate program: A Masters in Strategic Foresight under Jay Gary. Yesterday began a new semester, and two new classes: LMSF 602, Survey of Futures Studies, and LMSF604, Systems Thinking. Both are shaping up to be awesome classes for navigating (and leading!) change in our postconventional world. For 602, we are encouraged this week to share our thoughts regarding our evolving views of “the future.” I’m going to share them with you, too.
My Childhood View of the Future
When I was a kid, I thought of the future often. Chalk it up to a love for science fiction, particularly time-travel stories. When I was ten years old, I celebrated the New Years switch from 1989 to 1990 with my parents and grandmother, at my grandma’s house. While I was sitting on the floor, playing with a New Years toy I had received, I tried to imagine—in detail—what my future would be ten years hence. I would be 20, I thought…it would be the year 2000. I can’t say it was a very astute prediction: In my mind’s eye, I was still celebrating New Years with mom, dad, and grandma.
I was raised in a very spiritually attuned household, which for me meant happy Baptist-then-Pentecostal fundamentalists. So whatever thoughts I had on a day-to-day basis of the future informed by speculation like the above, or taking the long view of macro-history (inspired by Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series) was somewhat schizophrenically fractured in my mind by the sense that Jesus was going to come busting through some clouds at any moment. “They’ll Call You Gone,” was a rapture T-Shirt I owned as a kid. When I was about 11, a lady in my church stood up and said “The Lord told me that Jesus is coming back before my grandmother dies,” which was met by applause and approval by the pastor. And every sermon, Sunday School lesson, and Youth Group bible study reinforced this dominant picture of the future: “Jesus is coming soon, so the best way of preparation for the future is to make sure you’re in God’s good graces, and getting as many other souls saved as possible.”