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Discussion Questions for
Reinventing Collapse

(Note: the Sacred Activism group at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, 1615 Ogden St. in Denver, is sponsoring a discussion of Reinventing Collapse on Sept. 11, 2008, 6:30 - 8:00 p. m.  All are welcome.  These are the discussion questions I came up with.)

Reinventing Collapse. The Soviet Example and American Prospects. By Dmitry Orlov. New Society Publishers, 2008.

Discussion questions

1. How did you think of "collapse" before you read this book, and did Orlov’s book cause you to look at things differently?

2. While the subject of the book is serious, Orlov often tries humor. Did parts of the book seem funny to you? What is your favorite humorous passage? (Bring examples.)

3. If there was an economic collapse in the United States similar to that of the Soviet Union, what would change in your personal life? What would not change? Think about things like food, housing, health, church, social groups, work, income, school, crime, and so forth.

4. Orlov sees the U. S. and former U. S. S. R. as being similar in a number of unflattering ways. He also sees the two countries as being dissimilar, although for the most part these dissimilarities actually work against the US being able to cope with the collapse. How valid are these analogies? Are they a cause for concern?

5. Unlike other books describing social evils, Orlov does not use his book as a platform to rally people to "do something about it." Why not? Do you agree?

6. On p. 22, Orlov says that the U. S. is facing "a current account deficit that cannot be sustained, a falling currency, and an energy crisis, all at once," and this is a recurrent theme in the book. What is your personal experience of wastefulness and debt in your own life and the lives of others around you? Why is it so difficult to get out of debt or to conserve (financial or environmental) resources?

7. What about debt and wastefulness at the national level? Why is this so difficult to deal with? Is national debt/wastefulness similar to individual debt/wastefulness or are they different?

8. What is a Christian response to the factors that Orlov says are the driving forces behind collapse: technology, jails, militarism, debt, consumption, and a national mythology of progress?

9. If there were an economic and political collapse, how would this affect the life of the (progressive) church? How would your members respond? Would you attract new members, and what would their concerns be?

Keith Akers
September 2, 2008