In so many of our ecclesial debates, we don't consider the wider global dynamics that profoundly affect how human beings understand their lives, the world they live in, and the existence of a God. Basics like life and death, dire poverty or a comfortable life that profoundly effect people's openness to the faith, what they consciously feel in need of and what they ask of God and of the Church.
Jane Austen died at age 41 of bovine tuberculosis, a very rare disease in the UK today because almost all milk is pasturized. Today we would regard such as death as tragically young but 41 was the average life expectancy in England in 1817. An England that possessed the highest life expectancy in the world at that point in time. If Jane had married, there was a significant likelihood that she would not have lived into her 40's at all. Three of Austen's sisters-in-law died in childbirth and they were affluent, healthy, well cared for women.
Take less than 5 minutes to watch this fascinating visual depiction of the staggering changes in life expectancy and wealth that human beings have experienced in the 200 years since Jane Austen published her first novel: Sense & Sensibility.
How has these changes affected what we hear when the Gospel is proclaimed? How has it influenced the development of doctrine, for instance? How has the Church's teaching in the area of human dignity, social justice, life issues, family life, education, the mission of the laity been affected? To what extent has the development of the Church teaching contributed to some of these changes?
How different does God and the Christian faith look to us because we live in 2010 instead of 1810?