11 March 2015

Dr T’s alternative ‘pastoral letter’

Most politicians these days seem to be trying to communicate the same tired vision, ditto most clerics. No wonder many people feel disconnected from both modern politics and modern religion. In a world of mediocracy, certain nuggets of traditional wisdom may be helpful.

It’s not advisable to place much faith in popular leaders. They are apt to have reached their positions by arbitrary (or dubious) means, and in many cases are quickly exposed as having clay feet. Those whose views are unfashionable may later turn out to have had a point.
... many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Mark.10:31)
Politicians may embrace a supposedly compelling ‘narrative’, but chances are they know little more about the right direction to go than the average voter.
Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? (Luke.6:39)
One shouldn’t be too ready to believe statistics, or the results of ‘research’; those are often massaged to generate preferred conclusions. Better to be patient before forming opinions since the truth will eventually out, though it may take time.
There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. (Matthew.10:26)
Societies with collectivist tendencies may develop ideologies according to which some viewpoints are seen as deserving of disapproval. It’s nevertheless important not to be afraid to state one’s honestly held position.
Woe to you when everyone speaks well of you. (Luke.6:26)
It’s tempting to believe one knows the right way to look at the world, justifying the forcible conversion of others (via state-run institutions or otherwise) and the banning of contrary viewpoints, but history shows that dogma is usually little more than fashion.
How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? (Matthew.7:4)
Politicians in a democracy serve the collective, not the individual, though this distinction is often ignored. They may feign an interest in individual rights but are typically biased in favour of state power.
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. (Luke.16:13)
Genuine help works best on an individual basis, though one has to accept the results may be haphazard.
A farmer went out to sow his seed ... Some fell on rocky ground ... Other seed fell among thorns ... Still other seed fell on good soil ... and yielded a crop a hundred times more than was sown. (Luke.8:5)
Collectivised provision tends to fail, because motivation matters. Doing things casually en masse, in bad faith, or without actively wanting individuals to benefit, will show up in the long-term results.
Every good tree bringeth forth good fruit, but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit ... by their fruit ye shall know them. (Matthew.7:17)

See also: Church of England: wicked ‘individualism’.