With this posting by Dr. Keith Watkins, Professor Emeritus of Practical Parish Ministry at Christian Theological Seminary, I begin what I hope will be a series of guest posts that will expand our conversations about theology, ministry, history, politics, culture, society, and more.__________________
In a sensible country. . . . .
In a sensible country, people would live by perceptions that are consistent with reality. They would discuss and debate modern, moderate, progressive policies. They would develop constructive practices for personal and public life.
But, says David Brooks (March 12, 2010), we don’t live in a sensible country. Our conversations and sources of information are one-sided, isolated, and based on fundamental misunderstandings of reality, especially of things and people political.
Reading his column, I remembered an editorial from the Christian Century many years ago in which the editor described the role of the Church in distressing times. It is to stay calm when every other institution is rushing around because of panic and fear.
As I remember the editorial, the Church can maintain this stance because it takes its bearings not from the immediate swirl of events but from its long view of history. The Church believes that the world came into being because of the creative will of God, continues its seemingly everlasting ways because of that same God’s loving attention, and will ultimately be brought to its fulfillment because that is what God intends to happen.
Like everyone else, Christians are caught up in the turmoil of our times, in the terror of history, but unlike others we know that ultimately all things work together for good for those who love God—and who are loved by God.
On Sundays in their worship, Christians pray for the natural world, for the nations and their leaders, for people everywhere as they engage in the common ventures of life. Christians listen to the mighty acts of God in times past and discuss how that same God acts in the world of our time. Christians come together around a table spread with bread and wine, there experiencing a renewal of paradise, and go from that table to do all that they can to restore paradise to the practical structures of life around them.
Too many churches—liberal, conservative, and in-between—fail the test of sensibility. They are as one-side, as out of touch with reality, as everyone else. At a time when our nation desperately needs to become sensible again, Churches—pastors, priests, and the faithful—can lead the way. Sensible churches with sensible members can help our nation become sensible once again.
Sunday would be a good time to embrace our mission to be sensible.
March 12, 2010