Thursday, 24 August 2006

Walking away

Authority is such a curious thing, that at times it needs to be exercised by walking away. A frequent temptation, it seems to me, is to use it to intervene and "sort things out".
I can understand that in crisis situations someone may need to take control. But at other times there seems little point in compelling people. They may comply, many of us after all have been well-schooled in obedience, but I doubt if this is a strategy for winning the hearts and minds of all but those who want to be told what to do. And there are a bunch of those folks.
This is where I think fundamentalism (of all sorts and sizes) has a field day. There are scores of people who want to be told what to do and not to have to think for themselves. In a world of complexity there is a certain sense of attraction in just obeying rather than thinking for oneself.
I was deeply influenced by a priest in my youth whose sole aim in life seemed to be draw people into a type of church in which people were obedient to clergy. He was anti everything that smacked of personal autonomy, he decried (for example) non-directive counselling preferring rather to give people definitive answers about what to do and how to behave.
The only problem with that sort of approach is that though it may bring about compliance from those who are wont to be compliant, it doesn't exactly bring about growth in independence and freedom.
For one who feels that freedom is what God want for us all, such slavery to authority is repugnant.
But is this a cop out?
Some times I wonder if struggling with people to get them to decide for themselves rather than me to decide for them is so slow that it grinds to a halt. But what alternative is there.

By the bye, my contribution to the wit of the 20th century is that "Anglicans like to be told what to do, so that they can go ahead and not do it" Like all wit is lambent with truth!!!

1 comment:

trevor said...

Wouldn't that be so much easier? Be told what to believe and how to behave, assent to it and follow the rules.

That sounds attractive in this world that is a confusing smorgasbord of choices and options.

But I would be worried because when I trawl though the scriptures which people tell me underpin the rules, I don't see the precision which the specificity of those rules would seem to require; that is, unlike the Law, there is much ambiguity in scripture.

I remember something that Desmond Tutu said in speaking on the parable of the Good Samaritan:

"Now Jesus seems to say to the scribe, 'Hey, life is more exhilarating as you try to work our the implications of your faith rather than living by rote, with ready made second-hand answers, fitting an unchanging paradigm to a shifting, changing, perplexing and yet fascinating world.' Our faith, knowing that God is in charge, must make us ready to take risks, to be venturesome and innovative, yes, daring to walk where angels might fear to tread. The Samaritan did not know that the injured man was not perhaps a decoy leading him into a trap and yet he went."