I understand what is going on in Washington – national debt, federal budget deficits, partisans seeking advantage. Important matters. What I struggle to comprehend is what isn’t going on.

It seems to me public servants should be serving the whole public. But I don’t see them paying any attention to the millions upon millions – one out of every three willing workers – who can’t get a decent job. Or the Hispanics and African-Americans on whom the burden of recession is unjustly falling. Or the young adults who, except for tech types, see a gloomy future.

What about them? None of the battling over debt and deficits will touch them, except to make their plight even worse. That doesn’t strike me as wise or adequate leadership.



FAITH Q & A

Q: How much of the decline in mainstream churches today do you attribute to a theology developed 1700 years ago (Nicaea and Augustine) that is just not relevant in today’s world and perhaps more importantly not found in the message of Jesus Christ, but rather a syncretic blend of Judaism and Roman pre-Christian religious practice.

A: In a word, none.

One could theologize about it, I suppose, but in my opinion the decline of mainline churches has little to do with theology. It has to do with the world’s changing and churches not changing with it. We have clung to old ways long after those ways stopped working. Betting the farm on Sunday morning worship, for example, instead of diversifying our ministries. Looking inward and not seeing the needs and yearnings outside our door. Fighting over issues that don’t matter to most people. Keeping clergy in a permission-asking mode, when we need clergy to be strong and assertive. Getting stuck in facilities we can’t afford and/or don’t need. Training new ordinands for a church that no longer exists.

As I say, one could think theologically about those shortcomings. But theology itself hasn’t been at issue.

Photo: Columbia University, New York

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