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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Going To Seed

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king's horses and all the king's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of services, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who activates all of them in everyone.To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
~ The Apostle Paul, 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

I awaken this morning with "Humpty Dumpty" on my mind, probably because so much seems to be coming apart around us.

The past two weeks I have reflected on language and facts as two areas of our lives where this dynamic of "coming apart" is happening. Today my mind is on community. 

Somehow or other we seem to have lost a sense of the common good in today’s world.  A few years ago I came up with my own phrase to describe this dynamic. I call it “individual rationalism gone to seed.”

When a fruit or vegetable goes to seed it comes apart and is scattered around. In many ways this seems to be what has happened to the idea of individual freedom and individual rights introduced to the Western World back in the seventieth and eightieth centuries by Decarte, Rousseu, Locke, Jefferson, Adams and others.  By the way all of these who we revere as "founding fathers" were in their twenties and thirties when they began to change the world.

Laced throughout the individualism of these people and their philosophies is the concept of common good and common cause. Along with individual freedom also comes individual responsibility. Individual rights do not mean doing anything we please as long as it doesn’t harm someone else, but rather recognizing the inherent worth of individual people, recognizing everyone’s contribution to the common good which forms culture, society, or community.

We discover in our Christian Scriptures, especially in the letters of Paul, that the early communities trying to follow Jesus were having some of the same problems as we seem to have today. They were finding it difficult to live in community. Too many members of the community were confusing their part with the whole. Paul reminds the Followers of Jesus in Corinth that a community of Faith is made up of many different people with different interests, perspectives, talents, and passions – all for the common good.

Self-interests and special-interests have fractured and divided the world in which we live. Instead of practicing the same kinds of divisions people and communities of faith are called to be a shinning example of how the worth and talents of individuals work together for the common good of all.  In Christianity we call this the Body of Christ. Some simply call it the Human Family.

The world as we have known it is coming apart and going to seed. History tells us it always does. And the challenge is always the same. In order to form new community, which seeds do we nurture - greed, hatred, prejudice, and isolation; or generosity, love, kindness, and inclusion?


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