Sunday, June 15, 2008

Number 928 in the Blue Hymnal

See, this is why denominational headquarters sometimes makes me nervous. When I was a Lutheran, stuff like this kept creeping in, which is why I found the Evangelical Covenant (A Lutheran offshoot with pietist strains) such a breath of fresh air. The yearly missions awareness material, with its maundering about the minimum wage* and enviro-nonsense, at least isn't required reading in the ECC.

The responsive prayer #928 includes
"...from a society in which the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, compassionate God, deliver us.
Except that's not true. And later
"...from a society which makes its weakest and most recent members into scapegoats, compassionate God, deliver us.
Most recent members... Newborns? Oh, I get it. I don't recall anyone blaming legal immigrants for much of anything. And if they're not legal, then they're not members, really, are they? It's an interesting debate what the responsibility of Christians is to people in need who are in a mild sense, invaders. But scapegoats were innocent victims, originally. The word has changed to include anyone who is punished disproportionately, but how does that apply here? Being denied a benefit - citizenship - is not the same as a punishment. I am trying to remember what scripture it is that St. Paul advocates that others should have the same rights of citizenship that he had. Perhaps he thought such a change would be good, or even deserved. But he didn't mention it.
And further on
"From indifference to the needs of other countries, from the delusion that you love any other nation less than you love us, compassionate God, deliver us.
First off, bad usage of delusional. If you're going to show off your ability to use dramatic language in a publication that people are going to be reading for 50 years, you might want to take care to get the terms right. But, to the content: indifference...hmm. 50% of all the international aid, including 40% of the food aid, comes from the US. Next, there may be America lovers who think that God loves us more, but most that I have heard put it differently - that God has blessed us.

The prayer reads more like an accusation by the composers against folks other than themselves than reading like a confession.

I'm all for doing better. I'm all for prayers of confession that acknowledge we aren't doing enough, that there is still injustice, that our giving and humility should be even more radical. But this comes durn close to a violation of the commandment about not taking the Lord's name in vain. This is ministers making personal political observations and rewriting it in the form of a prayer of confession.

* Hey, didn't unemployment just go up? What are the odds, huh?


Anonymous said...

Which brings forth my reaction to Liberation Theology priests such as the Sandinistas Cardenal and Escoto, both of whom I have heard speak:

If you are a Christian and a believer, that is one of the best justifications there are for my being a nonbeliever and not a churchgoer.

( Yes, I realize his name is D'Escoto, but according to Jiron's Quien es Quien en Nicaragua, his Somocistafather bought the name from some poor Italian aristocrat.)

bs king said...

Was this written by the American headquarters for America or by the Swedish headquarters?

Or maybe we should just say it was written for the French? I mean, barring it actually stating what country it's written for, I say we make up our own assignment...

Anonymous said...

Yesterday I was feeling sick after sweet granddaughter sneezed green snot on my face a three inches away a few days before, so when I took my spectrum friend to the asperger's support meeting, rather than give the cold to everyone there, I sat in the sanctuary of the Methodist church and read one of their publications. I come from a very different denomination, but I love the Wesleys and their writings and witness, so I was expecting some great literature in this magazine called Weavings.
Oh my goodness. Exactly what you described.
One article was about how you have to be one with nature before you can pray included an invective against the Bush-controlled congress for trying to weaken the endangered species act. I wrote lots of notes in the margins for the next reader. What made me most mad was that if we all did what the writers in that mag wanted, all my friends in Rwanda would starve to death. And then the writers would all weep spiritually.
After reading Collapse and Dirt, I'm now reading Saving The Planet With Pesticides and Plastics. It's from the Hudson Institute, so you can guess its bias but it is full of fascinating statistics.
And Beth, I found a book titled Crunchy Con! So I am reading it too. (and Analog, and Perennial Vegetables and Plants For A Future, and article The Tree Avalanche on which I'm sending on to my friend in Rwanda. And a book about man-made global warming that every student in my alma mater University of Washington is required to read.
AVI, I hadn't understood your invective a while ago about the church adopting environmentalism, but I think I'm getting it.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

bs king - good idea. I say it was Belgians, the cultural hegemons of Europe, then the world.

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