On the “Charter for Compassion”

16 November 2008

I guess I have three closely related reasons (plus a new, stand-alone bonus reason — for a limited time only!) for being uncomfortable with this effort, and for being so immediately dismissive, as much as I generally like Karen Armstrong’s books.

1. There seems to be a reductionism at work here which I find annoying and dangerous. For me, for example, I don’t think that the Golden Rule is “fundamental.” as they say, to the Christian faith; I think it proceeds from certain theological commitments which are fundamental. It’s important to get these words right, since words seem to be all it’s about.

2. I think it’s a mistake to reduce the idea of good or redemptive works to the idea of “compassion,” a word which smacks far more of mercy than of justice. Again, important to get the words right.

3. “Jim”, in the comments to PeaceBang’s post on this, wondered about such derision of an “almost cloyingly benign” effort, AS THOUGH THAT WERE A GOOD THING!

What used to be called main-line churches (a term which is more usefully culturally than theologically, and which for me includes most Catholics and UUs) have made a fetish out of ineffectiveness. In terms of our prophetic ministry, we have taken impotence as evidence of virtue. So yes, anything that digs the Church deeper into fecklessness is rightly the object of derision.

4. This is supposed to a worldwide effort but on this site and in a search in several different languages, all of this material seems to only be available in English. I could be wrong, though.

(crossposted as a comment over at PeaceBang)


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