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Location: Takoma Park, Maryland, United States

I'm now a 52-year-old American male raised as an Episcopalian, veteran of submarines, Peace Corps, and State Department. I like teaching people about what they can do with computers and have gotten by as an independent Microsoft trainer teaching networking, but I really hope to someday find a way to make a living traveling on my motorcycle, camping, and writing about places and people I meet along the way.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Politics in the Church

Something I found that I wrote a while back that reiterates what I learned reading Bertrand Russel:

Politics are inescapable. Sometimes they arrise from healthy motives -- the desire for self improvement. We see someone else who is successful. We try to emulate what that person does, follow their example, listen to what they say and learn. Sometimes another person comes along and says something different. We don't listen because it doesn't sound like our leader. As the organization grows, leaders become more powerful and the tendency to resist other voices creates a kind of informal censorship that discourages creativity and critical thinking. Understanding how some faults arrise out of human nature, it is easier to forgive and more difficult to villify or bear a grudge.

Spiritually, we must find a balance between "listening for the voice inside us," listening for voices in the wilderness telling us about the voices they hear, and the need to have community to discern truth.

Perhaps I'm radical, but I prefer quiet, reflective meditation to a lot of the hubbub of group attempts at group praise. St. Francis said to "preach the Gospel and to use words if you must."

The need of the churches, politically, to engage the young results in language that, to me, sounds condenscending. The pedestal on which marriage and baptism of infants have been raised, I find inappropriate. It is the choice of adults to follow a ministry that needs to be celebrated and recognized. My reading of the Christian faith does not instruct me to marry and increase the population. I understand the need to accomodate human needs, but am aghast that one group of sinners so accomodated so violently fall upon other sinners seeking the same accomodation.

That the creation of new souls, new humans, children is a miracle of life and something to be held in awe, I do not deny. However, I do no find it to be particularly enobling. It is not right that so many think parenthood itself is a sign of virtue and I therefore dislike the center stage given to parents at the baptism of infants. Better to see how they do as parents and honor them later--or let us each honor our own father and mother by how we conduct our lives.

There, now I've gone and become pedantic.

The church needs a diversity of ministries. Children would find the services I most enjoy dreadfully boring, I imagine.


Blogger chueewowee said...

Hmm, nice food for thought you served up, and reflective like you say.
You speak about awe of parenthood, you doubt if its ennobling to be one.

Well, of course it isn't in the end for so many people, if it is true that public figures are cheats and hypocrites, or just weak characters, corrupted.
But i still say, for the poor it is ennobling, if they aren't morons and slaves..if they cook for themselves, and so on.
I mean you have to separate what is ennobling from what is corrupting.

It is ennobling, I say, I find as a parent, because my children make me a parent, like I made them children. They ennoble me by their regard, if I live up to it.
I do believe a parent and a child etc.. is in all of us. It is all ennobling. But children are what make parents. It is not the same as looking on with awe...that's only the threshold, eh?

4:43 PM  
Blogger JB said...

Great comment. I agree with what you say, and that those things we do to help others, even those we love, do improve us. My thinking, however, is that it is not the mere fact of being a parent that ennobles you, but what you do with it; not the biological fact, but the human response. The mistake, in my mind would be to believe that because you find it rewarding to be a good parent that it equates to some virtue unattainable by others or sets you above them. Probably, we are in agreement. It is almost as if the moment that we say "I am virtuous" we become guilty of hubris. Perhaps it is that, precisely.

Thanks again for a comment prompting me to clarify. Certainly, I do not mean to say that being a good parent is a bad thing!

6:05 PM  

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