08 September 2005

Decline and Fall?

BBC Radio 5 the other day was having a phone-in debate about the loss of civilization. After the breakdown into chaos in New Orleans, they asked if the same thing would happen in the UK after a major catastrophe. Good question, but I wonder if there has to be a 'catastrophe' to be a breakdown. It seems to me that there are many signs around that civility, and the codeword 'respect' that is currently being bandied about, is declining. It's my observation that here in the UK, there is an underlying social ethos that if something isn't right, somebody ought to do something about it--which often means the government (national) or local authority ought to do something about it. In major catastrophes such as Hurricane Katrina hitting the gulf states of the USA, no doubt it's the state or national government which provides the infrastructure required to cope. Certainly, then, people of good will or churches (such as Chandler Christian Church (http://www.chandlercc.org/) which gave their entire previous Sunday offering of over $155,000 to the Katrina relief fund (http://www.stadia.cc/) provide support fundamental to the restoration of people. Such good deeds are to be applauded. But what about personal responsibility if something isn't right?

Is the increasing incivility connected to a loss of faith, specifically, Christian faith? At my recent DMin class at Fuller, I met a fellow student who serves as an episcopalian priest in Connecticut, a northeastern state with attitudes towards Christian faith similar to England or Europe. He has a blog site (which got me thinking about doing this one) that provides a perspective on faith here and on the continent which are profound. You can find it here http://www.geoffchapman.blogs.com/ under the 11 August posting. He simply argues that we're in a battle between 2 kingdoms. And one provides the basis for true civility, where people genuinely care for one another, where communities of grace and forgiveness & truth and self-discipline are built. I choose that Kingdom. And I'm responsble for my choice.


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