Monday, November 4, 2013

"We know what's best for you"

Our Government seems to be claiming that they don't have to listen to the electorate. On several major issues on which surveys show overwhelming public support they just refuse to act. The sale of national assets, and giving people some rights about their end of life are both matters on which the public is coming to quite strong views. On the former, a national and binding referendum has been forced. But the Prime Minister has already announced that, whatever the outcome, his government will not act on it. (I guess I do have to concede that, after strenuously opposing recommendations from bodies of all kinds, they have today announced stiffer blood-alcohol requirements for drivers...)

But on many issues, we have been told, “The government needs more evidence“. So they have kept calling for more and more research on issues which are less and less open to new insights. Meanwhile, the suffering, the high cost - and the anger - mount up.

I know a degree of conservatism is always necessary in those who carry responsibility for thepublic. I can understand that any government must move cautiously in areas of major change. But I have observed the same tendency in the western mainline church. The strategy of stipendiary ministry in small parishes has been clearly failing for decades. People want something else. But the official wheels are still turning only slowly.

Where, in government or the church, is a strong sense of vision of a better way? And where is the conviction to follow that vision and the commitment to bring it to life? Are not vision, conviction and commitment the heart of faith? If so, perhaps a strongly secular government may not be expected to exercise them.

But can we so easily excuse the church?

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