On Monday, we launched our Big Class: Faithful Dissent: Loving Our Way Into a Brighter Tomorrow with Ed Bacon and Stanley Hauerwas. Some extremely interesting discussions about what Ed and Stanley have to say are already underway. Here are some of your insights:
In response to a question about whether the Church in America tends to over-identify with the state:
Growing up in the Southwest, as a child, I believed that the U.S. was a Christian nation favored by God, who was on our side: Christendom! Now as an adult all too aware of the ways in which the state’s values and Gospel values conflict, and understanding us to be experiencing Post-Christendom in our society which no longer privileges the church, I feel disillusioned. But disillusionment can be the first step towards enlightenment and engagement–perhaps even empowerment.
In response to a question about the possibility of alienating church members through political advocacy:
I care about what people think, but I can’t think for them. What I would hope to model is to be the kind of believer whose faith is larger and more robust than any particular side of an issue. A witness that God has an eternal plan for the world– which is to love it to life.
In response to a question about what institutional compassion is and whether it is possible in a government institution:
I find it helpful to ask “what values are evident in an institution?”…[A]n organization might have a vision statement, a mission statement and codes of ethics / values statements. What these look like “when the rubber hits the road” can be very revealing…There has to be intentionality behind institutional compassion – we do this because we have a moral obligation to do so, and are accountable not just to our shareholders, but to the wider society in which we operate.
And another response to the same question:
Here’s another thing I struggle with. Even though our courts say that corporations are “persons,” I don’t believe that social structures have a soul. People have souls and people have the capacity to show love for the world for which Christ gave his all (God gave his all). People, in relationship with each other, can live in God’s love. To the extent that institutions show compassion they do it because people show compassion.
Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful comments and for responding with such insight to one another’s ideas. Your energy brings these courses to life. Please keep the excellent discussions developing. You’re on a roll!