Just a short post this week. I always schedule a religion-related topic for our meeting before Christmas. I thought that talking about Christian values/ethics would be timely, what with the recent statements and actions by Pope Francis that may signal a stronger emphasis on social justice and less focus on sexual and family issues. Also, I wanted to frame the discussion as future-oriented. What do Christian values mean in the 21st century, a century of growing global and U.S. diversity; the rise of poorer countries to the ranks of global powers; secularization, at least in the West; universal (and universalizing!) social media; and perhaps climate-induced crisis?
This topic phrasing lets us discuss both what Christian values are (they’re supposed to be eternal and unchanging, of course, but no one has ever agreed on them exactly); and how they might apply to changing circumstances in the future. The Catholic Church is not the only one of the world’s thousands of Christian denominations facing the need to stay relevant in the new millennium..
Discussion Questions –
- What are Christian values, as you understand them? List a few? How do you know this?
- Read the Sermon on the Mount, below. Regardless of whether you think this really happened or are really Jesus’ words, what do you think of the values expressed?
- Okay, now what about Christian values/ethics as they actually have been practiced. Faithful to the source? Need we add any more values to the list, good or bad?
- Is the 21st century fertile ground for Christian values/ethics, or will the world as it gets richer and more educated lose its faith?
- Which Christian values, if any, will still matter in the next 100 years?
- The Sermon on the Mount, from the book of Matthew. It’s only 8 pages long – double-spaced! – and is usually considered the core of the Christian faith. A must read.
- But, skim this to get an idea of the vast diversity in American Christianity; hundreds of denominations, thousands of non-affiliated congregations, etc.
- Pope Francis and the American Right: Is modern American conservatism in conflict with Christian values? A rebuttal well worth reading is here.
- Faith In a Globalized Age, by former U.K. PM Tony Blair.
NEXT WEEK: U.S. Foreign Policy After the War on Terror: Now What?