Big ain’t beautiful
Richard Beck, in Experimental Theology, quotes William James:
“I am against bigness and greatness in all their forms, and with the invisible molecular moral forces that work from individual to individual, stealing in through the crannies of the world like so many soft rootlets, or like the capillary oozing of water, and yet rending the hardest monuments of man’s pride, if you give them time. The bigger the unit you deal with, the hollower, the more brutal, the more mendacious is the life displayed. So I am against all big organizations as such, national ones first and foremost; against all big successes and big results; and in favor of the eternal forces of truth which always work in the individual and immediately unsuccessful way, under-dogs always, till history comes, after they are long dead, and puts them on top.” William James
Richard Beck’s blog is well worth following. He has helpfully organised his blog into series of posts. One of them is A Walk with William James. Richard regards James as one who anticipated the leading ideas of the emergent church movement as well as the “greatest American psychologist”.
I am increasingly struck by the big significance of the small, and the tiny significance of the big. The large institutions are increasingly seen as disappointing. It is the tiniest interactions which constitute nature and these are becoming our trusted teachers. This subversion was already realised in Jesus. His subjects included a mustard seed, a small child, a raven. His relationships were in the margins of the alienating big society.