One more time...

Amidst the busy days we all lead, it is sometimes easy to miss the deeper truths and changes that are taking place within and among us. As I continue to reflect on the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, these observations from Marcia Ford deserve serious attention for they suggest the twilight of the culture wars in these so-called United States. They also point towards a generational shift in our spiritual communities that holds the possibility for a greater emphasis on compassion, creativity and commitment to justice issues. As Newsweek observed last year, when young evangelicals are asked who they admire, it isn't Dobson or Robertson - it is Bono!

The theologian, Hans Urs von Balthasar, wrote:
We no longer dare to believe in beauty and we make of it a mere appearance in order the more easily to dispose of it. Our situation today shows that beauty demands for itself at least as much courage and decision as do truth and goodness, and she will not allow herself to be separated and banned from her two sisters without taking them along with herself in an act of mysterious vengeance. We can be sure that whoever sneers at her name as if she were the ornament of a bourgeois past - whether he admits it or not - can no longer pray and soon will no longer be able to love.

And so we see that today:
+ Seventy to 87 percent of all Christians expressed dissatisfaction with the political system and the direction the country is taking. Imagine what we could accomplish if we turned that level of dissatisfaction into action.

+ Even though 48 percent of evangelicals prefer a smaller government that provides fewer services, 57 percent believe the government should do more to help the poor, even if it means going into debt. That may seem incongruous, but I don't think it is. To me, it indicates that evangelicals place a higher value on helping the poor than on some other governmental services.

+ Fifty-four percent of evangelicals believe stricter environmental laws and regulations are worth the cost. That's compared to 64 percent of mainline respondents, which dispels the long-held myth that mainliners and evangelicals are clearly divided on this issue.

+ The gap between evangelicals and mainline Christians is also much narrower than was once the case with regard to foreign affairs. Fifty-four percent of evangelicals and 52 percent of mainliners believe we should pay more attention to domestic problems than to international problems.

As the G8 Leaders prepare to gather once again - and the gap between their rhetoric to compassion and the actual dollars spent increases - you might want to go to the ONE site and "poke" your political leader.

It is, you see, part of what Paul meant when he wrote in Romans 12 about not being conformed to the culture all around us by being transformed to live into our spiritual worship: So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
PS: and lest all this earnest talk leave you thinking I am without a sense of humor - as people of faith can sometimes be - you might want to also enjoy this fabulous look into prayer by Mrs. Betty Bowers - you won't be disappointed:


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