BOOK FOUR of Ten that have shaped my life. The Third Wave by Alvin Toffler

Following three years in Bible College, which was brilliant for spiritual formation and a missional outlook but was fairly confined and prescriptive in its theological outlook, I spent a year at Cardiff University, (a very different theological arena) doing a diploma in Pastoral Studies. I appreciated both places, Bible College grounded me in Scripture and university introduced me to philosophy, sociology and psychology. It was during the course of that year I came across Alvin Toffler’s book and remember reading it in a greasy spoon cafe in Splott, a less salubrious, (in those days) area of Cardiff. An area in the constituency represented by Jim Callaghan, who the year before had lost the General Election to Margaret Thatcher. Interestingly, Callaghan’s biographer, the historian and Labour peer Kenneth O. Morgan, noted his readers of Callaghan’s childhood poverty. His father died when he was nine years old and his mother had no pension. “They were very, very poor,” wrote Morgan. “They were reliant on bread and margarine supplied by the Baptist Church.
Toffler’s book fascinated me for it seemed to give a language to what I was observing in a changing world. Writing as a sociologist and futurologist, (great career with prospects!) he charted the influences and changes brought about through the Agricultural and Industrial revolutions and argued that the Technological revolution, further advanced now by Information Technology, was having a profound impact on the changing the world. The impact upon individuals, communities and nations was stark as people were undergoing considerable stress and confusion in the struggle to adapt quickly to the seismic changes taking place within society. These changes came like a tidal wave, battering existing institutions and have huge implications for home and family life, the workplace, economics, politics, Western democracy and international relations.
I found the book both fascinating and disturbing and it certainly provided a backdrop for thinking about what faith meant in a changing world and how we were to live out the gospel in a culture where not only society was changing but the church was being disturbed and challenged.

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