Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What the Bible Says About Health Care

A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest and a Levite were going down that road, and when they saw him, they said to him, “It is not the temple’s obligation to provide health care for people. That would be socialized medicine.” And they passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan while traveling came near him, and when he saw him he was moved with pity. He went to him and said, “It is too bad that you are not a Samaritan. In Samaria we have universal health care coverage. But as a Judean you are expected to provide for your own medical care privately. Good luck!” (Luke 10:30-34)

As [Jesus] approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard a crowd doing by, he asked what was happening. They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” …Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him, and when he came near, he asked him, “What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Have you paid your medical insurance premiums?” (Luke 18:35-38,40-42)

One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days. But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “We would like to help this girl, but apparently her owners’ health insurance policy does not cover treatment for mental illness. And we certainly would not want to interfere with free enterprise. I’m afraid there is nothing we can do.” ( Acts 16:16-18)

Monday, August 10, 2009

The New Great Generation

Richard Doak, a retired editor at the Des Moines Register, posted an Op-Ed in the Sunday Register yesterday (August 9, 2009) entitled “Next great generation may be on its way up.” I think he’s right, or at least I hope so. I encourage folks to read it.

Doak argues that the current student generation has, on the whole, a much different way of thinking about the world than the previous generation. They aren’t rebels, a la the sixties; they generally get along well with their parents. But they don’t think like them. The government is not a bugaboo to them. They don’t oppose taxes if they will be well spent to solve real problems. They are concerned about the environment. They are not opposed to immigrants. They have little interest in the “culture wars.” Of particular interest to those of us in “the Episcopal Summer of Our Discontent,” Doak writes:

“In general, today’s young adults are tolerant, accepting racial equality and homosexuality in greater numbers than their elders. Same-sex marriage might make the blood boil of Baby Boom conservatives, but to most young people it’s simply a non-issue.”
The downside of all this is that “religion appears to be less important in the lives of millennials, as a group, than it is in the lives of older Americans.” (Gee, I wonder why that might be?) Doak notes, as have others, that the rising generation of evangelical Christians is more concerned with the stewardship of God’s earth and the needs of the poor than with the moralistic posturing of their elders. (Actually reading the Bible can do that to you!) But for many young people, the institutional church simply has very little to do with their own experience of life and its concerns — and indeed is often hostile to it.

Obviously the rising generation should be a major concern for our mission and evangelism. But what is needed is not gimmicks to attract and entertain them, but serious attention to their own best commitments and values. I’ve noted lately, in the context of the recent General Convention, that the “reasserters” — whether schismatic or (so far) yet in the fold — are moaning and whining about how the Episcopal Church is swirling the drain, all because of the gays (or ordained women, or revised liturgy, or civil rights, or whatever). Right. Does anyone really think that ACNA or any other church based upon “no gay cooties” will still be around a generation from now? (Gee, that’s sure a church I’d like to join!) Actually, it probably will be, at least in remnants. Baptismal regeneration was a big deal 140 years ago, and the Reformed Episcopal Church is still here.

+Rowan, are you paying any attention at all to this stuff?