Friday, July 20, 2012
Justice... the ultimate fruit of faith...
Well, it is three years later and the ELCA youth are headed to New Orleans again. This time the theme is Citizens with the Saints (a nice play on New Orleans and the replacement of justice with the solidarity term of citizens). The overall theme of the gathering is predominantly justice and the preparation for the gathering promotes this theme strongly.
The youth are urged to hold a Justice Day event prior to the gathering. There are ample resources for this on the ELCA website. It is clear from the resources that this justice idea permeates the gathering and that justice consists primarily in terms of advocacy. The youth are given areas to pursue for their justice day:
Cultural Literacy (didn't get this; urges watching Crash or Slumdog Millionaire to prepare)
Play and Learn
In other words, the playbook for this youth gathering is taken from the agenda of just about every left of center political organization around -- which, in some ways, the ELCA has become. Practice justice. Do justice. By the time the kids leave New Orleans, it will be thoroughly impressed upon them that living the faith and sharing Jesus has a great deal more to do with these justice issues and advocacy stances than just about anything else. So, they will be prepared to take up their roles as adults in the ELCA and assist in the great march from church to an agency of the political left. While not much of this may infect Sunday morning, it is clear that the purpose of Sunday morning is to help us do on Monday morning the justice advocacy and justice works mentioned above.
I have no particular beef with the ELCA youth gathering except that the very same people planning this event would look at, say, a Missouri Synod Higher Things event and condemn "indoctrination" of the youth to a particular doctrinal view of Lutheranism. All I am saying is that this is in no way less an indoctrination and one that pushes the Lutheran brand further and further from its confessional and catechetical identity. I am troubled by the ease with which we substitute doing justice as witnessing the Gospel and sharing Jesus. Perhaps telling is the final comment on the promo video: I want them to come back home so in love with Jesus that they will be active in the place where they have been planted on this earth... I hope and pray this will happen as well -- although I think the planners and I would have different definitions of what it means to be active.