Posts Tagged ‘common good’


”Be Brave“

February 8, 2015

by First Church Emerging Leader Matt Boswell

mattboswell“Be brave!” The words of my 2 1⁄2 year-old concluded my recent sermon. Clara, like Jonah, is on a journey of growing in courage. I believe our health, our happiness and our ability to love and be loved are heavily dependent on the continual deepening of virtues like courage. To what does courage call us as a Christian community?

Courage calls us to humility about what we know and
 can know. Courage is an invitation to mystery, to endure the limits of being a particular human, trapped in one body in one location in one community in one country in one era in one… you get the point. It takes courage to say “I’m in!” and believe in something, even if that mythic “certainty” eludes us. And it takes courage to admit that we have much to learn.

Courage calls us to fight for the good of others. Courage calls us not simply to feel something but to do something, at a potential cost to ourselves. We may show our support for particular causes and resistance to particular injustices, but until we are moved to particular actions, our courage may be incomplete. Where the loving and just treatment of others
is at stake, courage can give us the strength to do something about it.

Courage calls us to risk loss. Standing up for something we believe in brings the risk of losing status, approval, our connection to others. The Church is a living tradition, and things that are alive are constantly changing even while retaining their apparent form. A courageous Christian community can maintain its fidelity to what God seems to care about while courageously letting go of certain approaches, perspectives and practices when it becomes clear they don’t “fit” the spirit of love, justice and care.

Courage might call us to pursue social change more indirectly. I absolutely believe in direct confrontation, explicitly naming what’s broken and calling for our leaders, policymakers and fellow citizens to do something about it. But there’s something to be said for that Gandhian insight — to be the change you want to see in the world. For example, as an “open and affirming” community, maybe courage calls us to enhance our advocacy for marriage equality by pouring energy into our own relationships. This may be the riskier, more terrifying path to persuading people of what marriage is all about — to be an example of that for which we are fighting.


What Ever Became of the Common Good?

October 27, 2011

by Phil Porter, Minister of Art & Communication, First Church Berkeley

The Good News calls forth compassion: whatever you do for the least of these, love one another as you love yourself, when one person suffers we all suffer, love your enemy…

We are called by our faith to exercise care for each other. Does that not extend to public policy? Isn’t government one of the ways that we can bring about justice, equality, opportunity, and care? What happened to our ability to come together to solve problems, to encourage the give and take of ideas that leads to the best solutions?

Our rush to individual freedom—don’t get in my way with your rules or regulations—is running roughshod over our ability to discuss, debate and discern what is best for the whole. Compassion has become a dirty word. The common good has been sold out to political inflexibility, corporate greed, monied interests, the will of a few. It is no wonder that the “99%” are raising their questions and concerns. Self-interest alone (or “leave me alone”) in a world where we are all interconnected is lifeless, unsustainable and even immoral.

We are called to care for each other and that must extend into the way we govern, the way we structure our economic agreements, the way we protect the vulnerable.

A single political point of view will always be insufficient. We are far too complex as human beings and as a culture for a one truth. Instead we must listen for the larger voice, bend our rigid will, act with humility.

There is a distinct intersection between faith and politics. Our values must inform the way we conduct our public life, whether it is in a tiny local civic organization or in Senate chambers. Good—and the greater good—can be created through political activity and discourse and well as through other forms.

May we hold compassion as one of our highest values in the conversation.

First Church Berkeley is a progressively faithful, welcoming community.