Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Creative Problem-Solving

My wife has received a very nice letter from an American Covenant lady now in Sweden. She originally went in order to work in missions in Russia, but then the Syrian refugees came and she decided to work with them instead. She uses some of the phrasings that liberals here use about refugees. She thinks it is the greatest European migration wince WWII.  "Biggest" might be accurate - I don't know what the total movement was after the Iron Curtain collapsed - but "greatest" is unambiguously positive, and not everyone in Sweden would agree with that, I'm told. Immediately after mentioning that immigration has slowed to a trickle, she talks about the rise in hate groups, and in the same sentence talks about renewed interest in the Norse gods and even animal sacrifice. She writes glowingly about the Syrians in her village. So that's one side of things.

On the other hand...she mentions how few Swedes are Christians now, and notes that Syrian immigrants are becoming Christians and attending her church.  I have read of this happening in Germany as well.  I don't know how widespread it is, but it bears remembering that these people would not be Christians without the move. She says these refugees arrive with a "respect for God" that the Swedes don't have. I would have initially thought that a whitewashing comment. Yet if there are people coming to Christ out of that group - and not from the surrounding culture - then there is something to it for a Christian to be supportive of.

I don't have to have a political opinion about it.  Not my country, not my culture.  I will mention that for those who are already there (assuming legally), the Christian's job is clear, even if they disapproved of the arrival.  What Christians from other countries should be doing about encouraging more refugees to come to Sweden is something different. Well-meaning and generous people often overlook that they are giving something away that belongs to others. (In America, when "we" are generous to others as policy, we are giving away jobs, safety, and resources that might have belonged to those who are already here.  We are giving away their stuff. Representative democracy makes that possible, but it has some moral ambiguity to it.)

I learned a trick forty years ago that I have never used often enough, but can bring clarity to a problem.  Imagine that the problem is only one-tenth as bad, and decide what your action would be. Sometimes this will take a good deal of thought, examining what, precisely, does "one-tenth as bad" mean? More often, the answer is swift. Eh, I would just ignore it in that case. If the Syrians had only a marginally higher crime rate than the native Swedes, there would be no news. People get nervous because their crime rate is actually much higher.

Now imagine that the problem is ten times as bad.  Imagine that the criminals are not 5% of immigrants (compared to 1% of Swedes), but 50%.  What would they do?  How would they balance their being generous with putting innocents at risk?

There should be a second part as well: exaggerating the positives, then diminishing them.  What if most immigrants found their way into churches and became Christians, whether soon or late? Would the crime rate of the others bother us less? What if hardly any immigrants assimilated, contributed, or converted? How would Swedes react?  How would American Christians react?

The exercise does not give us answers.  God may insist we continue to do things bad for ourselves because they are good for someone else, or for purposes we cannot discern.  But the technique can get you out of a circular trap of thinking.

2 comments:

Aggie - said...

I have read about this conversion to Christianity elsewhere, for example on David Warren's blog: 'The Future isn't over yet'. I take heart in this phenomenon, because it means that assimilation is possible on a volitional basis. From a practical level, it means that assimilation needs to be actively encouraged, and not only from sacred outreach but from the cultural governance as well; encouraged and protected. The isolationist muslim enclaves need to be assailed on an ongoing basis to break the gangs and ghettos. I think it's the only way.

When I lived in Indonesia my colleagues were active muslims and I was deeply impressed by the sense of community, outreach, charity, and support to the group that was always on offer by the able. It was as committed and effective as any parish I've ever seen, and more than most. This is not the version of islam that has been imported into Europe however and active countermeasures are required.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

It's good to remember that distinction.