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Saturday, 13 December 2008

No Atheists in Breadlines...

The NYTimes has a piece reminding us that bad business means good business for some areas of endeavor:

“It’s a wonderful time, a great evangelistic opportunity for us,” said the Rev. A. R. Bernard, founder and senior pastor of the Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, New York’s largest evangelical congregation, where regulars are arriving earlier to get a seat. “When people are shaken to the core, it can open doors.”

No doubt.
God can draw straight with crooked lines, and it is not being Pollyanna-ish to look for the silver lining in all this.
I heard a wonderful story in a homily once, a woman parishioner had been stricken with a fast moving and inexorably deadly cancer. In ministering to the family, the priest heard from the husband, who was unchurched, that it was the worst that that had ever happened, that ever could happen.
But on her deathbed, the wife told the same priest that her cancer was the greatest gift from God, the most marvelous thing that could have happened: her husband had been brought to pray with her and she had grown closer to him than she had though possible; and her sons had been estranged from their father, and nothing had been able to bring them together until the ultimatum of the weeks the prognosis had given her.
And now they were a family again, and she could die happier than she had been for years, happier than she had ever thought to be again.

But one quibble with the article, or rather, with a Catholic priest quoted in the articel:
Msgr. Thomas McSweeney, who writes columns for Catholic publications and appears on MSNBC as a religion consultant, said the growth is fed by evangelicals’ flexibility: “Their tradition allows them to do things from the pulpit we don’t do — like ‘Hey! I need somebody to take Mrs. McSweeney to the doctor on Tuesday,’ or ‘We need volunteers at the soup kitchen tomorrow.’

It doesn't. Or at least, it shouldn't.
Their tradition "allows" them to do exactly what you could perfectly well do. What is to prevent you from preaching mission? From explaining exactly what the gospel message demands of your parishioners? from preaching Universal Truths and applying them to Local/Personal/Immediate actions?

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