Sunday, November 14, 2010

Finding Fault or Finding Faith?

We as people love to blame someone or something for the inability to deal with the troubles we run into from the challenges we face.

Let's take a look at the political arena for just a moment. The Democratic Party went to great lengths to blame Dubya's administration for the massive debt, the near collapse of the worldwide economy, and the rush to war on two fronts - Iraq and Afghanistan - which to date has really resolved nothing besides removing Saddam Hussein from power. Yet when given the opportunity to make change, the current Democratic administration under President Obama has scored only slightly higher than impotent, as judged by the Republican Party gain in congressional seats from the recent election.

The Church is not immune from similar seeking of scapegoats, or things or people to blame. The 16th Century Reformation was a result of finding fault with Catholicism of the time, and abuses of the Church therein, most namely a degree of scandal among the celibate clergy, and the selling of indulgences - the thought of buying someone's way into heaven, even posthumously. In the wake of the more recent clergy scandal spread over the last half-century, the finger pointing began again. Then there's been the ongoing issue of women's ordination. And what does our Catholic hierarchy spend it's time debating? Revising the English translation of the Latin liturgical rites, to make that translation less of a transliteration. It doesn't seem like that should take an upper position on the totem pole, as it were.

But if you thought Catholicism was the only denomination among Christians with unresolved issues, you'd be very much wrong. Episcopalians are going through their own schism due to the elevation to their office of bishop an openly gay man. And now I read most recently of my Methodist friends' troubles: Concerned that their numbers are dropping way too fast, their recent national conference debated a 'Call To Action' plan, filled with their own sense of pork projects and goals to 'revitalize' that Branch of the Vine.

I think somewhere along the way, the priorities got messed up. These are all issues to be sure, but it's obvious they aren't going to be easily resolved. The reasons for this are two-fold; there are two issues that seem to have become lost along with the general direction all Christian denominations share and should be following.

The first question that comes to my mind is: Where is the Holy Spirit in all this? Do we call upon the Holy Spirit for discernment and direction? Do we even acknowledge the presence of the Holy Spirit working in the world and among us? Should we not call as one of the first part of our action plan a suitable period of silent reflection to listen to what God is saying about our issues, and whether or not they stand up in a divine sense?

The second question is asked by Jesus himself, through Luke the evangelist: When the Son of Man comes, will he find any faith on earth? (Lk 18:8) It would seem we have lost a great deal of our sense of faith, and while there would be great reason for it to be so, it is only that way because We the People of God have allowed it to be so. We have allowed the actions and positions of a relative few take center stage. And We the People always get what they bargain for when they don't participate fully in an informed process. (Our elections are the best examples of this confusing smokescreen created by even the best well-meaning individuals.)

Let us pray that we stay focused on the two main issues while working toward resolution on the others that man has created in the wake of trying to do it all himself.

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