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Our Sermon Section
By Maynard S. Clark - 24 Jun 2012

In Reference to: 24 June 2012 - Belief is Passive - Faith is Active

I hope that doesn't mean 'just do anything' because SOME 'doing' is worse than doing nothing.

I'd hope that there are objective measures for measuring - not merely subjective encouragements to - the 'actions' you discuss.

In public health, and we should speak from some base, we talk about interventions, health interventions in particular, and all interventions are both particular and general.

The needs ought to be specifically identified and strategic planning done to help us focus on the needs, then we require qualified leadership schooled in each of these areas of need AND interventions.

Goading us to excitation is hardly 'the Gospel' - I would tend to think.  However, there's a long Methodist and Pentecostal and Baptist history that would side with you.  I'm not of that persuasion.  I think we have obligations to others that require that our words be measured and our actions be measured.  Some mistakes are made; also, we have medical errors, and talking about them is pretty serious, as are the actions.

But the current welfarism-abolitionism debate in the pro-animal movement is (I think) evidence that we're becoming aware that not all structured and 'effective' action is optimal long-term.

I fully agree that, over the broader picture, the churches, referring to the congregations of intentionally faithful Christian believers (the term Niebuhr used rather than 'the church' - which could be anything people are thinking about), are not reliable measures of how we ought to act.  We could be pickier, but for reasons of time and graciousness, we won't, but it's tempting to be more analytical.

Inside the faith, God's grace excuses a multitidue of wrongs and sins, but the outsider - and you do seem to speak with lots of outsiders (I could be mistaken here) - sees mostly the behaviors (and hardly knows what to make of the preaching) - and thinks whatever s/he will.

We know - and it's important for you and others (likely us under your umbrella) to affirm our disappointment in the congregations' inability to acknowledge (most specifically) (a) the morally significant personhood of other-than-human persons and (b) our (consequent?) moral duties to not overtly injure them and (c) our intellectual moral duties to publicly acknowledge that personhood in our discussion about public decisions, issues, and courses of action.

Learning to coherently present these issues in ways that aren't merely adversarial (as are action items - posted beyond our will to count them - OR act on them) but need to be formed, in the way character is formed in families, schools, congregations, and learning environments.  But I would hope that teaching the list the intellectual tools - no, let's soften that a bit - modeling deft outlooks and approaches that are socially effective with the general public - would become the strength of a list like this - either SERV or VC.

I hope you two have a wonderful Sunday.  I'm going to try to catch two hours more sleep before the Sunday morning talk shows BECAUSE the congregations aren't doing their work - well, some of them really are, I think, but they're very few.  I'm not writing a (literally) BLANK check to the generic idea of 'churchgoing' (as Dwight Eisenhower - remember him? - did when he endorses American religiosity in general, regardless of the form it takes).