Skip to main content

The Foundation of a Movement

In Rodney Stark's book For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery he draws a conclusion near the end of the book on his chapter on God's Justice that is very revealing.  He writes concerning abolitionism in American and in general by saying, "This example (Samuel Sewall's publication of Selling Joseph) demonstrates a fundamental sociological principle: publications don't launch social movements; people do" (339).  This statement seems overtly obvious in tone and content, yet it carries with it great truth.  Reformation of thought and deed do not take place on the altar of the ink pen, but rather at the blood, sweat, and tears of great people.  Why is this so?  For many people, reading a publication is much more about absorbing ideas and knowledge than take specific actions as a result of the principles embedded in writing.  Although great principles about the horrific nature of slavery were given due weight in John Wesley's tract Thoughts on Slavery,  it wasn't his publication that spearheaded change but more of his preaching campaign that led people to rally around abolition (349). 

Secondly, in the history of great changes in the church we often fail to remember the specific publications, pamphlets, and writings of great leaders.  Yet, we keep in clear view the radical actions that they took to change the church for the good and the bad.  Martin Luther, for example, the stalwart Reformation leader is known for his nailing of the 95 Theses to the Wittenberg church door, is known in history for his vehement opposition to church authority and teaching.  Yet, when you go a little deeper in your study, part of his lasting legacy was his careful translation of the Scriptures into the language of the people that caused an uproar in Europe.  Not only was this a written work, but it was a an action that allowed the people of Germany and abroad the privlege of knowing what God said in his Word and what the Church was saying.

Lastly, people launch social movements because ideas find their root in specific actions.  Much can be said here, but if you look at the bloody history of slavery, you will find that the most anti-slavery minded people took great pains to abolish the institution through much great pain and personal loss.  If we can glean anything from the recent news at Penn St., it is that although laws and rules are in effect to protect students (and children) it is the effective character of the individuals involved and their actions that will decide the future of those at the school.  Being called to be an assistant football coach at a major university carries with it power and prestige, but it is only in the right and just acts of individuals can a program flourish. 


Popular posts from this blog

The Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South

Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose by Flannery O’Connor
A profound simplicity of thought, a penetrating vision of what it means to be human, Flannery O’Connor embodies the spirit of bringing fictional stories to life.  Others might call her fiction ‘grotesque’ in a rather unflattering manner, but O’Connor was not content to live up to their criticisms.  In this short book of collected essay and lectures, Mystery and Manners, editors and friends of Flannery, Robert and Sally Fitzgerald have given us a glimpse into the vision of her faith, style and life as a writer.   A lifelong Catholic, Flannery O’Connor sought to wed together the moral integrity of her faith with the character of her craft in writing.  Specifically, fiction for her was an exploration in imitation.
In a rather illuminating statement in the chapter entitled, “A Catholic Novelist in the Protestant South, “ O’Connor writes,
“I am specifically concerned with fiction because that is what I write.  There is a certain em…

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes.: A Journey Through Loss with Art and Color

My Favorite Color is Blue. Sometimes by Roger Hutchison

Taking a look at the digital copy of this book allowed me to look at the striking art inside the book, and its connection to the words of the page that were focusing on loss.  Looking at the physical copy of the book even brings to life more the staggering similarity that the words and pain have together on the page.  The focus here is how certain colors express the sentiments of those who have lost a loved one.  I did not think that I would relate too well to this book until two days ago, as we lost our little boy, who was only 17 weeks old.  The pain is palpable and yet the pages of this book give me good reason to think of my son with a sense of pride and hope.

Roger writes, "You are a shooting star. Your light trails across the heavens.  I blinked and you were gone."  We were full of anticipation at the first and second ultrasounds, and there was the picture of our little boy Jackson, his developing face and little …