Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Plan Be

The War Cry (March 13, 2010, p.4) provided the following review of Dave Andrews’s book:
Why don’t the major world powers do something about all the injustices in the world: the wars, poverty and trafficking? This is the question Andrews posits to start, but he quickly segues by arguing the best thing we can do is to ourselves be the change we want to see. He uses the teaching of Jesus’ beatitudes to advocate living revolutionary lives of mercy, generosity, patient suffering and so on. It is a brief and often political book but a great starting place and a perfect resource for a youth study group.
The War Cry (June 5, 2010, p. 12-13) has provided small group study questions in the first of a series on the above book.

Dave Andrews is one of the speakers at The Salvation Army’s Just Action conference 29-30 September at the Telstra Clear Pacific Events Centre, Manukau.

In addition to the small group study questions, I had a few ideas for pondering in response to reading the book.

Dave Andrews’s Plan Be discusses The Sermon on the Mount.

Consider Andrews’s thoughts on meekness (pp. 22-30).

Andrews suggests that great things can happen as a result of a cumulative effect of lots of little people doing lots of little things to change the world. What are some social justice actions that provide examples of this principle?

What aspect of the “upside-down society” (Andrews, p. 12) changes the way we view the world?

What could be some implications of peacemaking using Andrews’s perspective (pp. 54-58).

Compare the differences and similarities in the mercy rule in major religions (Andrews, p.39).

How do the “transforming initiatives” (Andrews, pp. 50-51) relate to unresolved social issues today?

Andrews quotes Mahatma Gandhi, “We must be the change we want to see in the world” (p.69). Andrews suggests that when the Sermon on the Mount is “translated into action, the ideals become ideas that work; a divine agenda for radical – yet viable – personal growth and social change which enables us to work towards the realisation of our dreams for a better world” (p.67). Identify ways to be the change we want to see using the Sermon of the Mount as our realistic ideal.

Letter From The Author
Before he died, Kurt Vonnegut, the famous satirical American author, wrote: "For some reason, the most vocal Christians among us never mention the beatitudes. But - often with tears in their eyes - they demand that the Ten Commandments be posted in public buildings. And of course that's Moses, not Jesus. I haven't heard one of them demand that the Sermon on the Mount, the beatitudes, be posted anywhere." I think its time we took up Kurt’s challenge, and posted the Be-Attitudes up everywhere we can. I am mindful of how Luther’s nailing of his theses for reform to the door of his church led to the reformation of his times; and am of the mind that by posting a copy of the Be-Attitudes up not only in private spaces – like on the back of our bedroom door – but also in public spaces – like on the front of the door to our church, might lead to a new, more radical, reformation - which not only preaches grace as a precept but practices it as a process.
Imagine what could happen if, instead of merely reciting our creeds, which (by and large) have little ethical content, we began every week by reciting - and reflecting on - the Be-Attitudes, with a focus on Christlike ethical responses? Imagine what could happen if our churches, temples, synagogues, and mosques, were transformed into spirited support groups that were committed to helping people live out the Be-Attitudes as an integrated step program? What AA groups have done for our addiction to alcohol, Be groups could do for our addiction to status and violence. They could set us free to ‘love our neighbours as ourselves.’
Dave Andrews
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