Thursday, April 24, 2003

Cynicism – A Posting for Ethics I

On Tuesday, Jeff led our Ethics class in a discussion of Church as Parable by Harry Huebener and David Schroeder. (He did a great job by the way - see Jane’s comments on it from Tuesday.) We talked a lot about individualism, and what that means for the Church – I feel like that discussion is never-ending, as witnessed on our little blogging community! Anyway, my concern in the discussion was this. While we were talking about the politicizing of morality (one of the points Huebner makes in chapter 2) we started to get very cynical about the Church. Someone raised a concern that General Convention votes certain ways for political popularity rather than moral conscience or theological reasons – whether it’s the “conservatives” focusing on the sinful nature of humanity or “liberals” trying to do God’s work in our way. (This is Huebner’s breakdown of the liberal/conservative divide… and he clearly doesn’t think highly of either. See pg. 45 if you’re interested.) This judgement may be true, or it may not. I choose to believe that the majority of folks are truly and honestly trying to struggle with the Gospels and the reality of the Risen Christ in a broken world. Regardless, that is not my point. My point is this: our ability to sit in our classroom and judge the intentions of others is rooted in the same individualism that narrative-ethics is arguing against in the first place. The kind of accountability called for in this community means that we do not have the luxury of saying “those folk over there, “us” and “them”. We are all that community. This kind of accountability to the Christian community means that we do not have the luxury of throwing up our hands and walking out, of not showing up, or just not caring once our eyes have been opened to problems in our midst. Cynicism may have its place – it can open our eyes to where our community is not living up to the example set by Jesus. But this narrative ethic does not allow us to check out, ever. This ethic means that we are all in it for the long haul, and that we are in it together for the long haul.

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