Tension In Our World

Yesterday I was in a meeting where someone presented the results of a survey involving culture. She did an excellent job of presenting the detail and displaying the data. It reaffirmed what I believe is a naturally occurring tension within organizations. The tension is between the economic and human forces associated with the direction of the group.

In my previous career as a manager, I experienced the cognitive dissonance of holding two cognitions, one economic and the other human. I cared about the effective and efficient performance of my department, but I cared about the employees who reported to me. This naturally creates a tension between these two forces as the organization seeks to meet its mission.

This tension occurs naturally in my current work world. The administration of my college communicates economic realities to the faculty, yet the faculty interprets the macro-environment in more of a micro-manner involving a creative and collegial framework. This is neither right nor wrong, it just is. I am convinced that the only way to deal with this is to negotiate general directive actions that allow for flexibility; flexibility to meet the college’s mission and sustainability.

As I ponder this tension, and as I read through “A Thicker Jesus” by Glen Stassen, I am drawn to the tension in our country. Our Judeo-Christian past, based in our Puritan roots, is being challenged by stronger liberal Democratic progressivism resulting in a loss of self-control and a need for more law. This results in higher levels of incarceration.

This is not a multicultural problem based in multiple forms of faith understanding, but a faith/secular tension that is creating behavioral problems in our society. Puritanism was much more than sexual repression, but was recognition of calling and vocation in a secular world that involved pure behavior and hard work. This righteous living and hard work led to prosperity and a rich fulfilled life. Stassen quotes Michael Walzer to prove this, “What Calvinists said of the saint, other men would later say of the citizen: The same sense of civic virtue, of discipline and duty, lies behind the two names. Saint and citizen together. . .” integrated into society. The citizen behaves in a holy and virtuous manner thus improving social capital because of who they are in Christ.

Liberal and progressive Democracy starts from a position that mankind is good. Puritanism starts from the position than humankind is fallen. To the Puritan, human beings must be disciplined and thoughtful in resisting our fallen nature. To the Lockeian, representing Liberal Democracy “the state is not a disciplinary institution, but rather assumed political virtue of its citizens.” The Puritans knew humankind’s sinfulness, and Locke did not care.

Our progressive society has lost the ability to create character because it has lost the definition of character. What is character for you may not be character for me. Now situational ethics become the norm. Whereas the Puritan believed in the collectiveness of the state, but it was controlled by the “character formation, voluntary subjection and self-control, which Puritanism, or more accurately faith in God, provided.”

Our current societal liberties are a result of a revolt against our Puritan past. This tension plays out in front of is on a daily basis. Young women go to a party and are fed alcohol to the level they pass out and then are gang raped. A young man travels to LAX and wants to kill TSA agents. We sit in a movie theater and as soon as the lights go out people turn on their phones and text and laugh disturbing others who are watching the movie that leads to a confrontation between an older man and a young woman where he calls her a skank.

This tension is not a result of multiculturalism, or the fact that we have a growing Muslim population. It is much deeper than this. This tension is spiritual, and is warfare between the god of this age, and the Creator of all things. I am a follower of Jesus Christ and I recognize this tension. I have had the opportunity to experience the guiding hand of the Holy Spirit in my life. I am very thankful for that. I hope more people come to experience this wonderful relationship resulting from faith in Jesus Christ. This will help deal with this horrible tension in our society.

And that is my thought for the day!

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