11 January 2007

The Wisdom of Frederica.

Frederica Mathewes-Green is on of a number of Christian thinkers asked by Relevant magazine to respond to seven "big questions" - not yet available online. However, Mrs. Mathewes-Green has emailed out a selection (including two which didn't make the print edition) of her responses. Herewith a selection of her selection:

6. How can a Christian fulfill a passion for social justice as a middle class American?

I am cautious about the self-label "I have a passion for social justice." I think it gets in the way. Like wearing a Superman cape. Subtly feeds narcissism. Judgementalism. A temptation to excuse failings because, hey, I'm "passionate."

Also insinuates a belief that there are "us" and "the people we're helping" as if that is two different categories. After the 2004 election I heard a pollster say, "We Democrats used to be the party of the poor. Now we're the party that identifies with the poor." That's worth meditating on.

I'd say, choose a cause that is deliberately un-cool, just to be on the safe side.

(these next questions were not included in the published article.)

[* Where and how do you feel Christians can have the most impact on culture?

By throwing off the tyranny of programatic, public, "billboard" actions, and instead taking on the discipline of being loving, humble, and giving in every personal relationship. "The culture" is a mirage; what actually exists is "other people," and this method works like leaven in dough.

* How should Christians respond to the homosexuality debate?

Within the community, to continue the same approach we find in the early church, that people who are struggling with temptations outside heterosexual marriage, or any other kind of temptation (that is, everybody), should be welcomed and supported as they strive to grow in holiness. One neglected tool for this growth is to have a spiritual father or mother who knows everything about you and gives encouragement and guidance; apart from that, such struggles are nobody else's business. Nor should people in the Christian community monitor the behavior of people outside it. Likewise, people who choose to remain outside the community should not try to censor Christian faith or practice. Live and let live.

I would avoid (I have avoided) participating in public and political movements. My feeling is that this is truly a case where we should not legislate our faith (unlike abortion, because even a minimal government must prevent violence against children). But on the other hand I can appreciate arguments that in a democracy every voice should be heard, including those who want to protect traditional marriage by legislation. They may have an argument there, but so far I haven't felt persuaded enough to join in. ]

More of Mathewes-Green's responses are here. I like her gentle exposure of the magazine's subtle but preening self-regard. Also, notice Relevant has posted an audio interview with Ben Folds. Her denial of "culture" is interesting, particular in how it feeds into her ambivalence regarding homosexuality & public policy issues.


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