13 February 2011
Back around the beginning of last year, just after the massive earthquake hit Haiti, a story hit the internet about a bizarre "relief effort" directed at Port-au-Prince. Some religious organization was trying to raise money to purchase devices which, put simply, did nothing but audibly play a recording of the Bible, or portions thereof, in Creole. If I'm not mistaken, each of these units ran a little over a hundred bucks American, and someone was calling for donations to send as many of these things as possible to the devastated capital.
Not surprisingly, this was met with both anger and ridicule by secular bloggers, and I'm not sure they were wrong. There are segments of Christianity - and this outfit was presumably one of them - which believe that a person's physical or emotional or even mental well-being here on earth is of no importance, and that the only thing the Christian ought to be concerned with is the final destination of someone's soul. The extension of that perspective is to believe that sheltering the homeless, protecting the helpless, feeding the hungry or treating the sick is pointless, and that the effort is better spent trying like mad to convert them before they inevitably die.
I'm not sure that there was never a time when I believed that myself. It sounds sickeningly familiar, and in my youth, I might have looked at things nearly that way. What disturbs me more is that there are still churches asking themselves whether Christianity ought to be concerned with social justice at all.
Susan delivered the sermon this morning. She's not a priest yet, but real sermons are part of her seminary training, and though the lectionary threw her in the deep end this morning, she swam like a natural. The gospel came from Matthew 5 - the Sermon on the Mount - and dealt with how we approach the Law, the Ten Commandments, the "rules" of the faith. I smiled a little when she brought it back to the Summary of the Law, which comes from Matthew 22, and is quoted in the Book of Common Prayer thusly:
Our Lord Jesus Christ said, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord; and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy soul, with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. This is the first and great commandment, and the second is like unto it: Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the prophets.