Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Solidarity Across Time and Space

While the voters in New York are setting the stage for the next phase of the current campaign, this is a good day to take a brief break from the impoverished language of our election and consider "New Calls for New Times," Archbishop Justin Welby's recent Presidential Address to the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Lusaka, Zambia. (This was the 16th meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council which meets every few years.)

After decades of enforced newness of one sort or other, I am admittedly instinctively suspicious whenever I encounter the word "new." Prescinding from its all too trendy title, however, the Archbishop's talk offered much to engage with and meditate upon.

Archbishop Welby invited his hearers "to look outwards and forwards" to address two particularly pressing issues - religiously motivated violence and climate change. Like the Anglican Communion itself, both challenges are global in nature. they are also, as he noted, generational, in that they will take a generation or more to resolve. Both, moreover, "can only be confronted with a theological and ideological approach and with a stroy, with a narrative, that is sufficiently powerful to overcome the natural selfishness of one generation, or the selfishness of countries which are more secure."

I was particularly impressed by the theological way in which he addressed the generational dynamic in climate change. "The church exists in space and time. We are joined by baptism to all past and future Christians. Unless Christ first returns, the fate of those who belong to the church - let alone the rest of humanity - in 2116 matters deeply to us now.." On the one hand, "for human beings to make the decisions necessary, requires the overcoming of our natural selfishness with a greater force." On the other hand, "that force is the call of God to intentional discipleship across time as well as space."

So we must first recognize "our selfishness, our human fallenness." Then, "we must reassert solidarity with one another - with all of one another - but also with generations not yet seen." the solidarity Welbey invokes "is based in the essential human dignity of every individual in creation and salvation. And the demands of solidarity increase inversely to the weakness of the person we see."

One of the threats to such solidarity is social media, which brings "presence without relationships."

How does the Church respond? What we need, Welby says, is to express these ideas "with a story that we can tell that is more beautiful than the self-interested stories of those who promote conflict or pillage our planet." And that story is the story of Christ, in whom God shows us "that God is on the side of the world, and of every human being, seeking changed hearts that lead to life, not death."

Unlike so much of the language of our current presidential campaign, here we hear language which really speaks to the heart of what is at stake in our threatened world.

No comments:

Post a Comment