Saturday, January 28, 2006

Rick Warren & Pope Benedict XVI

This morning I read two fascinating articles about two very different, yet similar men: Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church and the new Pope Benedict XVI. Both men are surprising their respective communities by speaking out of their expected areas. In the New York Times "Beliefs" section on pg A13 for Saturday Jan 28, religion columnist Peters Steinfels analyzes the Popes first encyclical called "God Is Love."
It's a fascinating encyclical more for what it does not say than for what it does. It does not champion a number of typically Catholic causes: anti-abortion, anti-homosexuality, pro-celibacy, etc. Instead, the Pope reflects, along with his hero Dante, on the primordial thought that God Is Love. God's love is the driving force for the entire universe, for all of life. It's about reflecting and acting on the love of God that the church should focus its energy and attention. Then, in an interesting twist, the Pope said; "Religion's role must be indirect: forming consciences of citizens and countering the impulses to subordinate the common good to special inerests." Indirect is a profoundly curious word for the head of the Roman Catholic Church to use. It sounds kind of pietistic, changing hearts and minds before enacting legislation. Hmmm.
Then, later on in the New York Times I saw a reference to the World Economics Forum at Davos, Switzerland. Attending this year, along with world celebrities and decision-makers, is Rick Warren. That caught my interest so I Googled "Rick Warren at Davos" and up came a fascinating piece in the South Bend Tribune on January 19th by Paul Nussbaum. In that article he writes on the increasing influluence and power Rick Warren is having on evangelical and world leaders. He quotes Rick Warren as saying: "I'm so tired of Christians being known for what they're against. It's time for modern evangelicals to trade words for deeds. Life is not about having more and getting more. It's about serving God and serving others. Give your life to God, help others, spread the word. I'm worried that evangelicals be identified too much with one party or the other. When that happens, you lose your prophet's role of speaking truth to power. And you have to defend stupid things that leaders do."
Are these two men saying much the same thing? A church and voice freed from the confines of a particular culture or political ideology so that God's powerful and shaping word can be turned loose into people's lives?
Give your life to God, serve ohers...spread the word. Amen!


At 6:48 PM , Blogger Daniel Nairn said...

Interesting connection you noticed there. The Evangelical, Charles Marsh, wrote column (URL: http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F60917FD395B0C738EDDA80894DE404482)in last weeks NYT also taking the same anti-ideological stance. (Sorry that charge for this now). I think that, more and more, Christians are seeing the problem with such political alliances.

At 7:54 PM , Blogger Rick said...

I've been enjoying your blog Donn. Drop by and see mine.


I started almost a year ago at a time when I was actively searching for the next chapter in ministry - before God gave us the gift of staying where we are for (at least) another year or two. I post a lot of my liturgical writing - in fact that's the current lead post.

Be well...


At 10:24 PM , Anonymous Isaac johnson said...

I heard father rodrick on the catholic insider talk about this. He said the popes comments meant that doing good deeds for the poor and underpridgled shouldn't come at the cost of underhanded indocterination. Do good things and save the bible lesson. I completly agree. Cynics paint mission work as forced conversion tactics (there was a south park episode about this and it comes up time and time again in secular media).


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