Thursday, April 22, 2010

Peace of Mind and the Common Good

The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile CultureWhat is the highest good?  Is it my own personal peace of mind?  And is it the responsibility and purpose of the community of faith to aid me in experiencing this peace of mind?  And if so, what does that say about the relationship of the faith community to the broader society?

Reading in Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's The Wisdom of Stability (Paraclete, 2010), I came across this paragraph that I'd like to share, and invite your response:

If personal peace of mind is the highest good we can imagine, life with other people becomes difficult, especially when we are divided by cultures, values, education, or class.  This is I suspect, why the church continues to be the most segregated institution in American society, even as schools, workplaces, and even families become racially integrated.  A spirituality that seeks peace of mind leads almost inevitably to consumer religion that sells an experience on Sunday morning (or Saturday evening, if you prefer) to individuals who have little sense of community because they are rarely together in one place at the same time.  (p. 69).
What is the nature of our spirituality?  Where is it leading?  Does it lead us to embrace the common good or the individual good as preeminent?   And does the answer have something to do with a sense of rootedness?

1 comment:

Steve said...

Bob, thanks for suggesting this book to us. I've felt the impact of Wilson-Hartgrove's thesis for some time now, even preached on it, but have not see with such clarity both the problem (ultimacy of the individual) and the cure (commitment to community). I once thought of writing a book titled, It's John Wayne's Fault: Why It's Impossible to Form Christian Community in America. Thankfully, W-H did it for me (and admittedly much better than I ever would have), but also shows us how to overcome the obstacles. If these two postings truly represent the book’s power, it could revolutionize how we do church. At least, this is my prayer.