Thursday, April 19, 2012

here's what's wrong with you

The interwebs are jangling and flapping with the latest Anglican trauma and many interesting people are saying many interesting things on all the threads at Stand Firm. I happened to read the sermon Matt linked in the comments and I was irritated again by something that's been increasingly irritating me over the past year.

I finally put words around it a few months ago as Matt read the transcripts of CJ Mahaney's endless accountability moments (this isn't the link I wanted but it will have to do) with his leadership team, wherein we all learned that he, horrors, is a sinner and, horrors, one of his sins is pride, and, horrors, he was not sufficiently and in a timely manner aware of his sin nor in a position to do anything about it. 

Now, CJ Mahaney is really Christian, and so are all the people trying to take care of him, way way more Christian than I am AND all of them want everyone, everywhere, to grow up in Christ and become mature--a worthy and necessary goal. However, and its a big big big however, I think they fall prey to a peculiar selfishness, rampant all over American Evangelicalism, whereby one person gets to 'speak into' and 'stand over' and 'look into' another person's life in the name of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, judge him or fix her according to the 'discipler's' own specifications.

All this seems to me unacceptably human centered. Certainly I can look at the way people are behaving, even my own children, and see that they ought to do things differently and that they are on the road to insanity or perdition. In fact, with my children, it is my duty to get them to stop doing whatever is wrong and harmful. But when I try to look past the behavior and sort out the heart, myself, I am encroaching on territory that is not my own, it is God's. I do not understand my own heart most of the time, I cannot know the hearts of my children and even less those of people around me unless they clearly tell me, but even then they might be deceiving themselves even as I often do. In my application of scripture to the life of another person, it is of proclamation--here is the Gospel, here is what Jesus did for you, a sinner, repent and turn to him--but not of constant, exhausting working on that other person until they meet with my approval in the name of Jesus.

I have much much more to say on this subject but I want to get to this amazing sermon Matt so generously pointed me to last night. It seems there is another iteration of this human centered, I'll fix everything myself manner of being.

Here's the offending paragraph.
Restorative justice is different from contemporary criminal justice practice in a number of ways. It views criminal acts more comprehensively: rather than limiting crime to lawbreaking, it recognizes that offenders harm victims, communities, and even themselves. It involves more parties: rather than including only the government and the offender in key roles, it invites victims and communities as well. It measures success differently: rather than measuring how much punishment has been inflicted, it measures how much harm has been repaired or prevented. Finally, rather than leaving the problem of crime to the government alone, it recognizes the importance of community involvement and initiative in responding to and reducing crime.
So some poor boob robs a bank. And he goes before a judge and is sent to jail. He survives jail, he gets out and then he has to go through some awful community 'restorative justice' program. His life is ruined, not by stupidity, selfishness, and prison, but by 'listening sessions' and officious community minded men with carefully trimmed beards and a penetrating gleam in their eyes who constantly 'involve more people in the process'. There is no end point. There is no way out. The community is never 'restored' and never allowed to have a quiet moment to recover.

In the old days you used to be allowed to do something awful, go to jail and then move on with your life. And Christians used to be allowed to quietly go to church, confess their sins, receive Holy Communion and go out to love and serve the Lord. And children used to be allowed to grow up thinking about how to come by a better pair of roller skates. Now we all get to think about ourselves, and the failings of other people, all the blessed time. Actually, maybe I take it back. Maybe Tory Baucam will 'speak into the life' of Shannon Johnston. And they'll have regular weekly meetings working on restorative justice. And while they do that, we can creep away and get on with our lives and maybe get something done, like the lawn mowed or a food pantry filled or something.

1 comment:

Kristin Lescalleet said...

Some good thoughts here. We have both men and women's accountability groups at our church. A small group of about four meets for a small Bible study, prayer time, and of course, accountability. But your post is a reminder to deal in a surplus of grace towards one another. I agree that an imbalance of the wrong emphasis in accountability can lead to a type of self absorbtion with our own failings and cause us to become me-centered rather than Christ-centered. Having said that, I can also say that I have personally grown in God through His use of others' involvement...and yes...their "speaking into my life"...which is a funny phrase, I grant you. :)