Friday, September 26, 2014

Slow Church Chp. 4

Chapter 4

Patience is upheld as a high virtue in this chapter.  The attempt is made to answer how we grow in the virtue of patience in the context of a restless culture around us.  The Three Mile Island reference and BP references are not useful.   The first is outdated and the second was an anomaly.  There is next a strong challenge regarding why we rush our labor.  The initial answer is that the technology that speeds up labor helps us avoid suffering.   We even avoid the suffering of others by outsourcing their care (ouch!).  The authors use teachings from Tertullian who was and still is a controversial figure in Church history for although he was brilliant his ecclesiology was heretical.  I have not read Tertullian’s patientia but the quotes are helpful in showing how patience can be learned by way of physical disciplines such as fasting.  Patience is longsuffering and therefore as we practice it we emulate our God. 

The point that patience is best learned within the local church overtime and the passing of seasons of life is so very true.  It appears to be the goal of both authors to underline the need for Christians to stay put in their local church unless CALLED elsewhere.  I suspect that those who practice church hopping are not likely to read a book like this.  The authors share personal stories of how their churches have been places where patience as been learned that include surviving serious illness and tragedy.   I appreciate the description of a Eucharistic life but I missed the connecting between that and suffering to build up patience.  The argument is made that suffering in the Eucharistic life, which is within the local church works for the greater good.  And then it is stated that the ends do not justify the means but the means matter as much as the end.  I agree with the latter point but popular utilitarian theories actually ignore the morality of the means. 

The food pantry example is helpful for it points out that food banks are an impatient way to help people in need because food banks do not forge relationship nor do they provide people a way out of their poverty.  They feed the need in the here and now only.  The answer for one Church was to become involved in the development of the community, which gave the parishioners more opportunities to show the love of Jesus (the means). 

The authors close the chapter by challenging churches to see themselves as vehicles for reconciliation.  The focus is on personal reconciliation to God and within the community.  It could be argued that reconciliation within communities should be a natural bi-product of a people being reconciled to God but example of such are difficult to come by.  It has to be intentional. 

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