Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bearing One Another's Burdens and Civil Responsibility

I consider myself a conservative politically and theologically. This means that I believe that government cannot and should not usurp the responsibility of each citizen to contribute positively to society. The freedom we fought for as a nation during the Revolutionary War was the freedom to govern ourselves toward this end. Too much government is corrupt because we as people are corrupt and government is made up of people. Freedom is not the freedom to do what we want - it is the freedom to do what is right. That's why we have separation of powers and a system of checks and balances. Expecting the government to perform my civil duties for me is copping out of my responsibility as a citizen.

We often see the same thing in systems of church organization where the pastor, staff and other hired ministers are expected to to all the ministry or the traditions, rites and rituals of the church are substituted for earnest worship. In today's Saudi Prayer Calendar from the Saudi Advocacy Network, we learn of the feast of Eid Al-Fitr and are encouraged to pray that Saudis would realize that salvation is in Jesus Christ, not in rituals or festivals. This is a prayer that many Christians need as well, because many in the pews of Christian churches are equally as guilty. Too many rely on the pastor or ecclesiological trappings instead of on Christ. For this reason, too many of us stagnate spiritually and abrogate our responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission.

Just as political conservatism looks back at the intent of the writers of the constitution, so conservative Christians also hold a high view of the revelation of God and His intent in the words of the Bible.

Early in our founding days we had statesmen in our legislature. The first Pembertons in the United States were Quakers and statesmen in Philadelphia. A true statesman speaks, not to garner power for himself or the party, but to persuade and encourage people to fulfill their responsibilities. Politicians, on the other hand... Likewise, God has sent prophets, not to be served but to serve; to testify the revelation of God in order to persuade people to follow the true God and not false gods or their own lusts.

The bridge between political and theological conservatism in the United States is evident in the preambles to the constitutions not only of the United States, but also to each of the 50 states in the union. You can read them here. The bridge between fiscal and social conservatism is in the attitude of people to use the wealth they create to help others rather than relying on government. The bridge between law and grace in the life of a Christian is in the desire to serve God, and this by bearing each others' burdens sacrificially. We cannot separate our salvation from how we treat other people. We also cannot separate our civil liberty from how we treat other people. Yesterday I posted about Dr. Martin Luther King. His message was not for blacks only. I would say that his message was not for blacks primarily given the context. How do whites respond to his message? Do they respond with contempt, or with conviction that wrongs have been done and it has been the civil responsibility for the privileged to bear the burdens of the oppressed? That's not only the civil thing to do, but the Christian thing to do. And yet the idea is not to leave a people oppressed, but to raise them up to bear the burdens of others. This means that the oppressed, once released from oppression, have the same obligation to bear the burdens of others.

As such, I take issue with many of my fellow conservatives who argue for others to be responsible for themselves and do not consider their responsibility to help them be responsible. Many people raised in oppression have no idea how to break the cycle of oppressed thinking. It's not present in our public education system and it's getting worse. Once was the day when the classroom was a place of discipline conducive to proper instruction. Students who require special attention were set aside so that the rest could progress more effectively. Speak to any teacher and hear the effect of all the parents today who won't allow teachers to discipline their children. It has had a detrimental affect on the policies of education departments and local schools as well as impinged on the general level of education of the population of the United States. Why is it that the average reading level is the tenth grade even including college graduates?

Consider this, and I've made this point before, that the same people, most often conservatives, who complain about immigrants today not being able to speak English don't know English very well themselves. What level of competency can we expect of immigrants when we don't hold ourselves to a very high standard? As such, I'll leave my soapbox today and close on a lighter note by offering these humorous sites that poke fun of our general lack of English literacy. (By the way, if you don't find these humorous - case in point.)

Apostrophe Abuse
The Abuse Of Apostrophes In Everyday Life
The Apostrophe Protection Society
Literally, A Web Log
The "Blog" of "Unnecessry" Quotation Marks
Grammar Cop
Grammar Vulture
lowercase L
Eek, A Typo!
Grammar/Syntax Errors
Why a Tittle?
Banned for Life
The Gallery Of "Misused" Quotation Marks
Silly Signs
The Grammar Vandal

A few humorous blogs not specifically about grammar issues:

Crummy Church Signs
License to Rant (Bad License Plates)
Say What?! (Curious Signs)

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