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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Ethics II - Week 2

Trevor began class on Thursday with the ritual Bruce Cockburn; music from a more liberal outlook deliberately selected in an effort to balance the more conservative ethical thinking from our earlier text. And so we talked about the need for balance: can we think ethically without it? We inevitably put things on a scale, weighing and measuring, in order to understand.

But what if our balance is flawed? What if we live in a flawed community-- as we, being human, inevitably do?

Then Jane Clark said a notable thing: that maybe we're "called to be unbalanced." And I think she's right. If we proclaim ourselves Christian, we are thereby marking ourselves as intending to be "in the world, not of it." Our balance, and our decision making, will be hopefully coming out of a Christian ethic-- for Anglicans, anchored by Scripture, Tradition and Reason, however we try to portray their value and relative importance visually-- rather than a cultural community ethic. And this will necessarily be out of synch with much of the world around us.

Now, does this lead to some sort of perfection? No; we can no more create the perfect community than our non-Christian neighbors. We will always be flawed. The difference we can hold to may be summed up in two words: salvation, and revelation. The first, as Carolyn noted, is our escatological hope: that Christ's return will finish what his life, death and resurrection began for humanity, and fill in the flaws that we cannot or will not on our own. Secondly, we have the gift of Jesus' revelation and teaching, by which we can measure ourselves, and find our balance, our center, in a way that people in other communities do not.

Now, I know that there are those who may be made uncomfortable by that last statement. Am I somehow intimating that Christians are somehow better than non-Christians? Not at all. I've seen too much on the inside of the church door to be under any illusion that belonging to a faith community guarantees some sort of sanctity. But I do believe that, in deciding to share my life in community with people striving for those same goals, sharing those "Common Objects of Love" as part of the journey that is the Christian life-- I am becoming a better person than I otherwise would be.


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