/* ----- ---- *?

Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Thursday, May 22, 2003

Ethics: Christian bystanders?

Yesterday's class was a full one, spent discussing myriad topics; and, in true postmodern style, we had lots of questions and very few answers. It sounds strange to say, given our focus on virtue narrative ethics, but what I heard in our discussion was a struggle with a teleological worldview. In other words, we seemed to be asking how to hang on to our virtue ethic, and Christian practice, in the face of a societal focus on the bottom line.

We talked about the difficulty of behaving ethically in the business world, when one is responsible to shareholders staring at the profit margin.

Later we turned to a discussion of chaplains (military and corporate) who are allowed to function because they are also seen as benefitting the bottom line. After all, pastoral care and spiritual support result in a more productive employee-- or a soldier who can withstand the onslaught and go out to fight again.

These are ongoing tensions between Christianity and culture, and culture most often wins. Why? Because we're surrounded, and it's way too easy to fall into the trap of societal participation-- trying to maintain the status quo, instead of engaging an alternative path.

Now, let's be clear; I do not mean to say that the answer is to refuse to play-- to say, for example, that a "good Christian" would not consider serving as a military chaplain. There's no virtue in blindly dismissing a huge segment of humanity; keep up that sort of standard, and pretty soon we see ourselves as too virtuous to be ministering to anybody. That's following the Pharisees, not Jesus.

Rather, we need to stand in the balance, and articulate the struggle, clinging to Christ and continuing to let the Spirit work from the inside out. How am I different from those soldiers? More importantly, how am I not? Where are the dark places, and how do we let God in so that we don't fall into them?

Church and world engage each other all the time; but until and unless the church can speak to what's right and what's wrong, it has (we have) no hope of changing the culture-- or ourselves.


Post a Comment

<< Home