Thursday, March 15, 2007

O Canada

It was announced this week that Charles Taylor has been awarded the $1.5 million John Templeton Foundation award for cutting-edge research in science and spirituality and progress in the marriage of the two. Taylor, 75, is a professor of philosophy and law at Northwestern University. According to news reports, Taylor's work has addressed legal ethics, multiculturalism and secularization. But he is best known for critiquing the spiritual poverty of modern academia. "We don't understand what's going on unless we understand that as human beings we are spiritual beings," he has said. Aside from the fact that Taylor likes to take aim at one of my favorite targets - liberal academics, including those in our seminaries, who act like we can all just think our way out of the jams we're in (if, in fact, they ever even admit that we're in a jam) - and the fact that he teaches here in my home town, this story caught my eye this morning because as a native of Montreal, Taylor is the first Canadian ever to win this prize. We actually just got back from Canada, where we spent a few days working hard with some good friends in the church up there who are trying to figure out how to breathe new life into their shrinking membership base before it's too late. I love working in Canada because, for the most part, the church up there has given up pretending there isn't a problem. Here in the U.S. even our smallest mainline denominations (as long as we can stomach the steady stream of staff cuts) have enough resources to fool ourselves into thinking there is nothing really serious to worry about. But, in Canada, mainline Christians talk openly about the likelihood of seeing their denominations turn out the lights for good within this generation. For many of them, this reality has become a spur to action. What the hell are we waiting for?

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The Bottom Line

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love becomes slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." - Galatians 5:13-14