07 November 2005

A Change of Heart

So I'm taking a sick day today. It's sort of hard to do when you're a stay at home mom who homeschools. But here's how. You sit in your chair wrapped in an afghan with your laptop and refuse to move. Okay, so I moved long enough to go to the doctor's office. He pronounced me very sick ... with bronchitis, sinusitis and an ear infection. I had a fever and everything. For those who don't know me this well (and they are few) I almost never run a fever as far as the doctor is concerned because my "normal" is about 97.6. So when I get up to everyone else's normal, I'm running a fever ... but I can never convince the doctors of that. But today I had a bona fide fever ... 100.7. I'm not particularly happy about this, but at least I have my lap top to keep me entertained and nothing important on my schedule. This is the kind of illness that makes me heartily wish I'd never read Stephen King's The Stand.

While I was waiting at the doctor's office I picked up the latest issue of Christianity Today. We used to subscribe to this but let our subscription lapse a number of years ago for a variety of reasons. I still like the magazine, but it has far too much advertising. One of my favorite parts is The Back Page, a column which is shared by Chuck Colson and Phil Yancy. They are two of my favorite authors. This may come as a surprise to a lot of you. But I happen to really like Chuck Colson. I used to work for him ... well ... really his ministry, Prison Fellowship. This month the column was written by Chuck. I realized as I read it, that I've missed reading him. He is a very strong writer; concise, strong arguments. He was a good lawyer for that reason. It's what got him in trouble, after all.

The title of the column is Machiavellian Morality. You can get to it by clicking on the title. I'd suggest reading it. It's pretty good. In it Chuck revisits Watergate and particularly the uncovering of Deep Throat earlier this year. He talks about how it was revealed that Mark Felt was Deep Throat and the led to a rash of interviews, etc. for him (Chuck). He was asked over and over again whether or not he thought Mr. Felt was a hero. He replied that he did not think so. That Mr. Felt had several options of how to reveal the information that he had and that he had chosen the path that was illegal. Of course, Mr. Nixon and his merry band were also doing illegal things too, Mr. Colson included. And Chuck does not gloss over that. But he is clearly saddened by the fact that of all the lessons we could have, should have and would have learned from Watergate, the most important have been completely lost. That is that the ends do NOT justify the means.

I thought it kind of funny (not ha ha either) that we just looked at this yesterday at my church. We engaged with the part of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:17-48) where Jesus talks about how to treat people. Just how are we to make decisions like the ones Mr. Felt and Mr. Nixon and Mr. Colson made 30 some odd years ago? What standards are we to use? Jesus didn't give us a whole lot of wiggle room. And Chuck owns that. He owns that he made bad decisions and so did Mr. Felt. He wishes they'd done a better job. He wants us all to reconsider how we make our decisions and hark back to a sterner morality. One that is more black and white. He has very good reasons for this. I understand them. Especially in light of what Jesus has to say on the subject and his expectations of us. I found myself agreeing with Mr. Colson ... which wasn't as spectacular as you might think.

But here was the rub, as they say. The problem I keep running up against. Too often what I find (and I don't necessarily think this is the case with Mr. Colson), is that churches and leaders ask people to make these behavioral changes without making any changes in their hearts. So it becomes a whitewash. I think that's what Jesus may have been referring to when he called the Pharisees, whitewashed tombs ... beautiful, empty graves. I think being able to do the right thing, for the right reasons even in very, very difficult circumstances must begin in someone's heart and not in their head. That even if you know what the right thing to do is, if your heart is not in the right place, even if you do the right thing without the right motives, it becomes an empty act, an act of death. That eventually the reality of who you really are will leak out around the edges. So, I guess what I'm really saying is that Machiavellian Morality is what we're left with until we start convincing people to change their hearts. And I'm not really sure what to do with that. It's too big for me.


Blogger Maggie said...

I'm sorry you feel sick:( I hope that you feel better soon.

11/07/2005 09:17:00 PM  

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