Monday, December 15, 2008

Ponderous pontificating

I found this repellent.

Bad Times Draw Bigger Crowds to Churches
"It's a wonderful time, a great evangelistic opportunity for us," said the Rev. A. R. Bernard, founder and senior pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York's largest evangelical congregation, where regulars are arriving earlier to get a seat. "When people are shaken to the core, it can open doors."

New York Times,
December 13, 2008

The glowing enthusiasm this gentleman expresses reminded me of "revolutionaries" who have sometimes preached that the grinding horrors of the capitalist system had to get worse before the working class would finally get itself together to revolt and overthrow the bastards.

Delight in the misfortunes of others is a most unattractive sentiment.

I was reminded of this while reading what I consider the best discussion I've seen of the recent terrorist horrors at Mumbai in the Asia Times. Arundhati Roy writes of Hindu-Muslim animosity in India:

Terrorism is a heartless ideology, and like most ideologies that have their eye on the big picture, individuals don't figure in their calculations except as collateral damage.

It has always been a part of, and often even the aim of, terrorist strategy to exacerbate a bad situation in order to expose hidden fault lines. The blood of "martyrs" irrigates terrorism. Hindu terrorists need dead Hindus, communist terrorists need dead proletarians, Islamist terrorists need dead Muslims.

Certainly the evangelical gentleman in Brooklyn isn't in the same league with violent terrorists, but treating the particular pain (in this case recession-induced) of individuals as opportunity for a greater good is all too familiar.

This reminds me not to do the same thing in reference to my own political opponents. It would be easy to enjoy the humiliation of scandal-beset Republicans, for example, more than is good for me. (Bad for me, not them!)

The project has to be to build up, not to tear down. And along the way, we have to value each person.

1 comment:

Jane R said...

We heard a great sermon Sunday about how what we're about is putting the church out of business...

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