“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.” George Orwell

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The way we have always done things - Precedents of Practice

The way we have always done things is a significant barrier to change. What might be called "precedents of practice" can be reason enough to eschew change. Sure there are reasons why practices develop as they do. Many of those reasons are Biblical reasons and we should embrace those firmly. The Bible should be taught. We should sing praises to God. We should welcome strangers. We should assist people in need. We should love our neighbor. We should observe communion. We should bring tithes and offerings. With each of these statements, you probably have a specific practice in mind as to how each of these are done. We need to do these things but we needn't do them in a manner that reflects an immutable precedent.

Our precedents may be sinful (see previous post on the sin of the environment). As I quoted in a post from 2007, there is also this fact.

Collective unconsciousness can be so vast that even the most global societal policies may be undeclared, unexplicated, unacknowledged, and even denied. Thus for many people to all work toward a bad thing requires no
deliberate or conscious conspiracy. While this is well-known by social scientists, most citizens are not aware of how they themselves can be totally unconsciously acting out undeclared, large-scale, societal policies in their own daily lives. (from "A leadership-oriented introductory social role valorization (SRV) workshop, February 27, 2007)

When we simply accept our practices, whatever they might be, without being reflective about them in changing times, we risk doing wrong things. Church cannot look the same as it did in 1930 or 1960 or even 1990. We reflectively learn, hopefully mature, and continue to grow. Precedents of practice might need serious change. Disability ministry has been one of those bright lights that has shown on our traditions and practices. If we dare to look at what that light is illuminating, we should own any ugliness that we now see and seek to change, creating new precedents which will no doubt need to be revised again as we continue to mature.

I believe the worst thing we can do is stubbornly dig in our heels and refuse to change. If you do reflect on precedents, you realize that the main need for them to be changed is how they keep us, in a comfortable way, from loving our neighbors. The spotlight of disability ministry on precedents of practice make us uncomfortable because of the demands precedent changes would bring.

I am reminded once again of  1 Peter 2:19-21 which says, "But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you and example that you should follow in his steps."
We need to embrace the discomfort and feeling of insecurity when we change our traditions that need to be changed. If we reflect on our precedents of practice, perhaps out of obedience we will begin to move in a different direction leading to a different practice.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This post was very interesting. The idea of people being afraid to change or the idea of change frightens many people. In today's society many people believe that whatever has worked for them in the past will always work for them for the rest of their lives, however this is not the case. In a world that is constantly changing remaining the same will stop you from gaining experiences, learning, and most importantly moving forward. The whole idea of change can help us to move forward and advance. Anytime change is implemented it should be for the sole purpose of bettering ourselves so that we can better others through our past experiences. If we never change and stay in one place how can we ever advance? The answer is we can't. I think the most important factor in change is that we accept the fact that we might struggle and know that in the long run it will allow us to be better at whatever we decided to change.

In the realm of disabilities we must always be ready to change and adapt. Their will always be new strategies and new ideas among the community and we must be ready to take in that information and be ready to apply to the way we think, and most importantly the way we act towards the disabled community. Allowing ourselves to take in information and apply that to our lives will be the most important thing we can do. Being a constant learner and accepting the struggle of change we can be able to be the best at whatever we choose and whoever we choose to help.