on integrity

A couple of months ago I wrote on creativity. I grappled with “the micro/macro split in the church’s approach to social problems and social justice. On the one hand we tend towards taking the moral highground on many issues and become known more for what we are against than for what we are for.” In conclusion, I wrote, “I desire to see the church at the forefront of creative strategy and engagement with the concerns of society. We have a God who is more than able to provide solutions that fly in the face of conventional wisdom, and which transform society, people groups and culture. How to tap into that creativity and those strategies is the question…” https://valanderson.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/creativity/

But perhaps we already have the creativity, but have just not been implementing it with integrity. Perhaps we have  been doing ‘social justice’ or seeking ‘social change’ without seeing consistency between it’s ideals and it’s practice. Morton, more than ten years ago, wrote this:

“The thin versions [that is, versions that lack integrity] may take the forms of paternalistic or self-serving charity that imposes servicecs on unreceptive others; projects that magnify or institutionalise inequalities of power, produce outcomes that are worse than the original problem, or lead to unrealistic and unsustainable dependencies; social change work that is only rhetorical , narrowly selfish, and against a wide range of offenses without offering alternatives” (Morton, 1995, The irony of service: charity, project and social change in service learning. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, Vol 2, p. 28).

The question is why? Why do we lack integrity in service? And how do we implement the creativity which we have been given in a ‘thicker’, more integritous, manner?

I don’t know.

2 thoughts on “on integrity

  1. this is just speculation, but, perhaps it has a little to do with the position of power which we occupy as the Church. God is right, so we are right; or, rather, because God occupies the moral high ground, so too do we (at least, this is what we think). when we operate from this assumption, we don’t need to engage our brains and consciences with the more nuanced, ethical implications of our actions because, well, we are right; our charity is the ‘will of God’, etc. if we viewed a critical approach to our charitable work as being as important as the work itself- that is, if we always brought the best of our brains and consciences to the table when wanting to do good – then we might just score some major integrity points.

    i guess your thought brings to mind the ‘civilising mission’ embarked upon by Christian Europe during the colonial years and how this apparently charitable mission caused so much harm…

    but i could be wrong. just some thoughts.

    ps: what a great thort! it begins to hit the heart at the mark, and the mark at the heart…

    1. hey kambani – heard a lot about you so cool to see you commenting here. I love the line you wrote, “if we always brought the best of our brains and consciences to the table when wanting to do good – then we might just score some major integrity points”. A little less wise-ness and a lot more wisdom (i.e. what sounds right versus a radically different set of priorities, values and ways of acting) needed.

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