Thursday, March 08, 2007

Cerulean Sanctum » Kingdoms and Bitterness

Here's an excellent post from one of my favorite Christian bloggers, Dan Edelin at Cerulean Sanctum. He's discussing modern human bitterness at systems, versus people. From my perspective, I think he's right on.

Our society today runs entirely on systems in a way that it did not just forty years ago. Even our churches have become systemized. Some paleoconservatives have deemed this shift “The Managerial Society,” and it’s a form of socialism like the kind we Americans used to routinely mock in the old Soviet Union. Nearly every encounter we have in daily life within the US today has a system lurking behind it. Those systems explain why we have no great men in government now, only systems. Great men and women stand up against political injustice, but systems toe the system line, even if it’s bad for the whole the system operates within.

I've had a creeping feeling of socialism in our society for a long time now, but I've been attributing it to a political agenda. Having given the column some thought, I now think it is more attributable to our society's ever-increasing aversion to commitment and personal responsibility. Reliance on systems is a good way to relieve this burden of caring, of rising to a crisis in time of need.

Want an example? How about Hurricane Katrina? While there were certainly heroic responses from individuals and small organizations, the greater part of our society sat around arguing about which branch of the government didn't work correctly. Surely there are dozens or hundreds of government analysts and consultants working still on improvements to the government response system to natural disasters. Not necessarily a bad thing...but have you noticed the bitterness of some residents who are still struggling with the pain, the loss of home and pride? Who are they mad at? The system, for the most part. It should have prevented their disaster, or at the least, it should have made it better by now. These are the bitter people, and there is no one for them to forgive.

We see this same type of bitterness in our own churches every week, I suspect. Dan proposes that the Church should be battling this creeping reliance on systems, rather than building its own. What does he mean, and how might we do that?

Sir Chuck, the Systems Thinker

4 comments:

  1. Being mad at "the system" for not being able to prevent a hurricane is like being mad at the Roman Emperor for not controlling the weather.

    Apparently superstition is not yet gone.

    Sir Jason

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  2. Well, not exactly the same, Sir J. People have been conditioned to expect the system to take care of them, whereas in the old days they were much more aware of the uncontrollability of their circumstances. For example, "cell phone security"...people take off in the desert, or up a mountain, and expect that if they meet with trouble, a cell call will get them out of it. Well, sometimes it does, but occasionally, it doesn't.

    And if it doesn't, they get mad at the satellite, or the phone battery, or even the weather that's preventing the rescuers from reaching them. But at least they had a somewhat reasonable expectation that their system security would work. I don't think people in the old days had that same level of confidence...hence, they were more self-reliant. And when they couldn't save themselves, they could only look to God for help, not to the government choppers.

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  3. Actually there was a weird sort of logic to it in those days; Caesar said he was a god, so he had to follow through.
    Of course one might argue that the same logic plays in some peoples minds today.

    Sir Jason

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  4. To be fair the bad parts of any city have always made people like that. They are dangerous to themselves and to others. Humanists don't realize what Jesus was really commanding. When we are told to love the poor we are not just told to love those poor which are hardworking and reliativly happy(like Anatevka in Fiddler on the Roof)but those poor which are in fact unlovable.

    Sir Jason

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