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The seduction begins … with the suggestive flash of the eyes
Your generation must decide how to save God’s creation from a changing climate that threatens to destroy it. Your generation must seek peace at a time when there are those who will stop at nothing to do us harm, and when weapons in the hands of a few can destroy the many. And we must find a way to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity — diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief.
Seduction implies familiarity
Differences, Disparity, Dissimilarity: the mantra of the global culture. Right and wrong does not exist. No superior ideas can be advocated. Beliefs are sacrosanct because they are … beliefs. Culture is the ethnic Holy of Holy’s unassailable, defended by the moral indignation of anything “racial.” No matter what stands out, what deviates, no matter what bankrupt thoughts, ideas, actions may exist we must reconcile … in the name of Diversity.
Moreover, no one person, or religion, or nation can meet these challenges alone. Our very survival has never required greater cooperation and greater understanding among all people from all places than at this moment in history.
Survival is predicated on the understanding of what and whom?
Survival is predicated on understanding right and wrong?
Survival is predicated on understanding superior ideas and the inferior cultures that they destroy?
No, survival is predicated on understanding that we are all incapable, all outmatched for the challenge: no person, religion, or nation can face the challenge of survival.
Unfortunately, finding that common ground … is not easy. And part of the problem, of course, lies in the imperfections of man — our selfishness, our pride, our stubbornness, our acquisitiveness, our insecurities, our egos; all the cruelties large and small that those of us in the Christian tradition understand to be rooted in original sin.
Seduction proceeds with tender touch of familiar
Irenaeus, a Bishop in Lyons, developed the concept of “Original Sin” in second-century. His theory said that the “Fall” of Adam was not rebellion against God, or a squandering of a created perfect state, but rather humanities failure to rise to greater things. For Irenaeus evil comes from God, serving a good purpose. Things that seem evil—death et al—are divine intentions and without such things, we would never repent.
Augustine, some 250 years later, would advance what has become the “Orthodox” creed: humanity was really present at Adam’s sin and therefore all have sinned because “Original Sin” was physically transmitted from parent to child through the act of sex. The result was a genetic weakening or enfeebling of the will and a corresponding inheritance of utter depravity. The consequence of this state is an inability to do good, or respond to God without Grace.
This is the definition with which most of you are familiar.
Seduction implies much … and defines little
We too often seek advantage over others. We cling to outworn prejudice and fear those who are unfamiliar. Too many of us view life only through the lens of immediate self-interest and crass materialism; in which the world is necessarily a zero-sum game. The strong too often dominate the weak, and too many of those with wealth and with power find all manner of justification for their own privilege in the face of poverty and injustice.
Altruism is the moral assertion that sacrifice is man’s highest ethical action. He must help, serve, or benefit others by actions necessarily at the expense of self interest. Applied to it’s logical conclusion individuals can never have a vested interest in an action or outcome. So to determine if an action is moral ask this simple question: Who benefits? As long as there is no self interest man is executing ethical action.
And it was quite an eclectic crew — Catholic and Protestant churches, Jewish and African American organizers, working-class black, white, and Hispanic residents — all of us with different experiences, all of us with different beliefs. But all of us learned to work side by side because all of us saw in these neighborhoods other human beings who needed our help — to find jobs and improve schools. We were bound together in the service of others.