Thursday, April 14, 2016

Do churches have ethnicity?

At least since the 1920s there have been references to CUCC (or its predecessor the United Church of Raleigh) as a "liberal" church. While that has no doubt been an accurate characterization from a descriptive standpoint, is it a useful characterization from a strategic standpoint in the present era? David Brooks on April 12 offered a NY Times op-ed piece that tackles head-on the brokenness and general belligerence that characterizes the current political environment in which nobody appears to be very happy.

Americans have become worse at public deliberation ... They report being optimistic or pessimistic depending on whether their team is in power ...

We’re good at bonding with people like ourselves but worse at bridging with people unlike ourselves ...  With fewer sources of ethnic and local identity, people ask politics to fill the void. Being a Democrat or a Republican becomes their ethnicity. People put politics at the center of their psychological, emotional and even spiritual life.

This is asking too much of politics. Once politics becomes your ethnic and moral identity, it becomes impossible to compromise, because compromise becomes dishonor ... If we’re going to salvage our politics, we probably have to shrink politics, and nurture the thick local membership web that politics rests within.

This "local membership web" is the crux of the article, and as far as a church is concerned that "local membership web" has everything to do with local outreach and the role a church plays in its own community, i.e. who we talk to and who we consider to be part of "us". I offer the article for your consideration (link below). - Lavon Page

"How to Fix Politics" by David Brooks, NY Times, April 12