Thursday, May 8, 2008

Mike: Response to Rami's 5/7 Posting

I do not think I have much more to add at this point about euthanasia and abortion, unless we wish to take off on an extended excursus from the commandment itself. At the same time, I want to respond to a few of your points.

(1) We agree on the meaning of "judge not, lest you be judged." Judgmentalism is what Jesus had in mind. The tendency is deeply embedded both in individuals and institutions, though it may take on frightening proportions via the power of an institution.

(2) I also agree that Jesus is separate from the church. Because this is so, he challenges the church's self-serving ways (even as he does for the individual). Each small and large reform movement in the church hopes it springs from a fresh apprehension of Jesus' intent. No reform lasts forever. In fact, most lose steam after one generation or less and lapse into institution building. Still, there is a corrective element outside the church, and when all is said and done Jesus is that element.

(3) Strangely enough, Jesus is also within the church. He may be found in the scriptures, in traditions, and in the work of the Spirit. In my experience, he sometimes appears in the face or voice of another, especially in the "the least of these." Years ago I developed a self-discipline I try to practice when dealing with others. Silently throughout the encounter, I remind myself: "She (he), too, is a child of God, one made in the image of God. Act accordingly." I think this is similar to what you have in mind.

In any case, it works, when I allow it to do so. My attitude and actions are changed, so that I become less self-centered and more able to pay attention to the person before me, hopefully in a way that proves helpful. The discipline provokes a kind of reformation in me. My hunch is that the church would become and remain more nearly the movement of Jesus' intention if its leaders and members embraced a similar discipline.

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