Wednesday, August 23, 2006

By What Method?

I borrow the title phrase from W. Edwards Deming. Jettybetty asked a great question in the discussion in my previous post "The Weapon of Truth". You will find the context of the post beneficial in understanding her question. She asked, "Tony, what positive things do you think, as Christians, we should do as Americans that feel this way right now?"

Great question! Put your money where your mouth is Mr. Arnold. Although this was not her sentiment, it is the way I challenged myself. Here are some thoughts:

1. Practice love and reconciliation in every area of our lives: marriage, work, church, discussions with others, interaction with people at malls, restaurants, anywhere.

What you are shouts so loudly in my ears that I cannot hear what you say. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. Live Christ, preach Christ, and let Him change people. Then be willing to accept that some won't follow. Don't waste our energies trying to legislate morality and coerce conversion. Don't waste time and energy fighting the symptoms of problems, address the root cause.

Preach the Gospel at all times, but only use words when necessary. -- Saint Francis of Assisi

3. Be a servant.

Lock up your house, go across the railroad tracks, find someone in need, and do something for them. -- great American psychiatrist and author Karl Menninger shortly before his death at age 97 when asked what he would recommend to a person about to suffer a nervous breakdown.

4. Remove patriotism from our Christianity. Put God first. Stop confusing and mixing patriotism and Christianity. We are Christians first, servants second, and Americans third. I love my country and support it, but we cannot do the following as Christians:

a) We cannot feel that God favors any nation over another, especially the United States. Christianity and its good news are universal. Christ saved us ~1800 years before the United States came to be.

b) Do not blindly support our country in the areas that you think it is wrong. Toleration of or silence on wrong behaviors and methods is being a traitor to truth and therefore a detriment to the good of others. I can support my country while disagreeing with parts of it. Our founding fathers might even say it is my duty to dissent when my morality is challenged. They did.

5. Become less and less materialistic. This is a process. Eliminate one thing, get used to living without it, and then tackle another.

6. Challenge war and violence as a problem solving method. I am tempted to say an offensive war or action, but will stick with the former. When you are involved in a discussion about a war, or the Middle East situation, or any other similar conflict, throw out the question, "so how can either side justify killing children?"

When rationalization and dancing around the question begin, continue to ask and stress it. It may not lead to an answer, but you will see the tone of the discussion shift and you will watch people slow down and start thinking. I have tried this multiple times and it is amazing the effect. No one is comfortable saying that a few children killed is a price worth paying. If we can just get ourselves to starting thinking and instead of reacting (proactive v. reactive). Christianity is a proactive lifestyle.

7. Don't confuse willingness to sacrifice your own life with the willingness to sacrifice the lives of others.

8. Spend time in prayer everyday including a large portion of silence and listening as part of the prayer routine. This will allow the Holy Spirit to direct us in the above. This is probably the most important and effective suggestion in this list.

How do you dear readers feel about the question and the list? What are your suggestions for illuminating truth and perpetrating a better way?


jettybetty said...

Very good response--it probably won't shock you that I will agree with you pretty much down the line--but I am very thankful for the list--you've condensed several thoughts in a concise way--now if I can only live a life that incorporates these principles!

Thanks for taking the time to put this together!

JMG said...

Good list. Well said!

Purgatory Penman said...

Isn't it ironic that those principles, if followed, would make for a perfect government of man, can be found so easily in the teachings of Jesus Christ?

Do you believe that our founding fathers intended for this nation to be governed by teachings in The Book?

That list of methods for good government applies to lives, also. If we followed them, and our neighbors followed them, how happy, peaceful, and perfect would be our existence on earth. But then, haven't we been told that we would not long for heaven if life was perfect here?

Tony Arnold said...

I believe our founding fathers were guided by a Christian morality to some degree, but most were not dedicated disciples of Christ they were deist. Jefferson questioned the divinity of Christ and questioned the miracles of Christ. He produced his own edited version of the Bible called the Jefferson Bible.