Thursday, June 16, 2005

What Today Thinks

"Speak what you think today in words as hard as cannon balls, and tomorrow speak what tomorrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict everything you said today."
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I think I need to retract at least some of what I wrote recently about Rick Warren. I stand by my comments on Hawaiian shirts, but I need to think more on the significance of his P.E.A.C.E. Plan and even his Purpose Driven Church movement in general.

Sure, the acronym thing is tacky. Yes, his mass consumerism does amount to the McDonaldization of the Church. But he's doing something. He's reaching people.

The thing that drove me to this rethinking was his announced support for the ONE Campaign. One of my chief complaints about the Purpose Driven movement was that it didn't have any particular substance to it, that it was full of vagaries, that its chief goal was to draw people into itself. But Warren's support for the ONE Campaign gives the lie to that thinking. If he's going to engage in actual Christianity, then I have to drop my objection.

Of course, my objection was largely incorrect anyway. As I've said, my congregation is involved with Warren's programs. We've had 40 Days of Purpose and 40 Days of Community. And it has actually had positive impacts on people's lives. It hasn't led to the kind of Christianity that I love, but it was Christianity. It was, perhaps, tacky, but that works for some people.

Fr. Benedict Groeschel says, "Religion exists at a simple level for simple people and at a popular level for popular people." Neither of those appeal to me, but I should not thereby slam them. Whoever isn't against us is for us.

One of the most remarkable things about the ONE Campaign is the way it is bringing together such a broad spectrum of people. Pat Robertson and Bono have come together. This can't be anything less than the work of the Holy Spirit.


LutheranChik said...

I'm so repulsed by Pat Robertson that that fact alone makes me nervous about signing onto this project. (I did anyway...fingers crossed...)

mindflame said...

You are always deeply irritated by the Evangelicals but I have found they are a group of people who are better close up than far away. Many of them I have really come to know are dedicated to Christ and living the message. We Christian’s should not bicker over trifles. Also, while I am a big supporter of the One Campaign, I want to caution against the general feeling that because the government is giving it some how excuses us from our personal responsibility for the poor.

Andy said...

One of the points Jim Wallis (an Evangelical) makes in "God's Politics" is that social responsibility and personal responsibility are complementary, not mutually exclusive. The global poverty problem could never be solved by individuals, but individuals certainly will be left with important work to do.