Monday, February 12, 2007

Kate heads out...

I've never worked in the American Church (other than a summer internship in Ketchikan, Alaska when I was in seminary) but I am filled with a tremendous admiration for +KJS not having lost the plot in the midst of all this bother. I'd have checked myself in for a 'little rest' long ago. Her comments and her approach to this conflict have, so far, been open and gracious.

It's where the rubber hits the road, isn't it - being in the midst of people who dislike and mistrust you - making your case surrounded by a host of opponents? There are many quick roads to resolution - one of which is to simply state the case aggressively and let the 'opposition' hang - another, to withdraw at a moment of your own choosing. But Christians - more than mere nationals - are citizens of something greater and Americans should not be immune to sobering lessons in international citizenship - even good Progressives.

It's not enough to present a faultless position and to leave such a meeting with one's Talent intact.

Part of me hopes very much that stasis is not preserved in Tanzania. But cutting the lines which connect one to the rest of the world and retreating to the 'known' has always been one of the arrows in the quiver of our American chums in centuries past and it doesn't work in the long run. The world is not built that way any more. There are no islands. The theologian Langdon Gilkey, writing about his experiences while interned by the Japanese in China where he'd been a schoolteacher at the outbreak of the war, writes in a journal article:

Since life's moral structure is continually distorted, more than intelligence and good intentions are needed, though modern idealistic culture does not believe this. In order to counter the conflict, disorder and violence that result from our imperfect responses to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, new and deeper commitments are necessary, hope even amid hopelessness is needed, and above all again, courage. Courage is the basis not only of the conquest of anxiety and fear, but also the ground of any reflective repentance, self-criticism, and reconciling gestures to those who threaten us. Justice and self-control may be as necessary as reason for creative community; but trust, humility and the capacity for love - what has frequently been called faith - are also needed.

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