“civic” refers to ineluctable personal connection due to living happily the same moments in the same land rather than "social" associations based on either personal opinion or imposition (the word "moments" coming in collaboration on 3/24/16 with Kishon Seth).
March 19, 2016 The Advocate, Page 1D, online: theadvocate.com/features/15179645-123/faith-matters-pastor-urges-flock-to-rethink-easter-consider-who-we-are-as-christians#comments Easter church service preview
There are several points in mind. First, every person alive in this land (street, city or surroundings, parish, state, country, and world) is connected by public events and has a shared interest: safety and security (S&S). That phrase, used by John Locke, 326 years ago, has a new significance today. S&S touches all aspects of every person in every decade of his or her life or fate, and Locke specified life, liberty and prosperity (property and estate). We think at least 70% of inhabitants daily contribute to S&S in its broadest reaches, such as productivity, but the publicly connected people are kept from collaborating by social associations--"social" implying either preferential, class or imposed collectivism. Despite our social pursuits such as sports, fine arts, religion, politics, wealth, culture etc., we have the opportunity to contribute to the over-arching culture of S&S--not for Lockean 1690 but for 2016 persons and for personal posterity--each person's children, grandchildren and so on. Our voluntary participation may be active or passive yet must foster increasing understanding throughout each person's lifetime, especially our own person's lifetime.
Second, regardless of personal impressions, humankind understands that this universe began 13.8 billion years ago with the emergence of physics, which, rather than a study or a discipline, is energy-mass and space-time from which everything including opinion emerges. Life on earth emerged 3.8 billion years ago, and biological evolution since then led to homo species 3 million years ago (the time-scale lessened 1000 times). With humankind's superior awareness and imagination the god hypothesis emerged perhaps with language, some 100 thousand years ago (another 1000 scale-change). The monotheism hypothesis emerged perhaps 4 thousand years ago and Christianity 2 thousand years ago. Catholicism formed 1700 years ago and Lutheran Protestantism 500 years ago. Methodism, under John Wesley, split from Anglicanism about 230 years ago. One of Methodism's many distinguishing principles is Christian perfection. Thus, while each person's god can be Christian, Christianity itself is a polytheism: the god a person worships follows the person's opinions. Like Christianity, the other theisms are peculiar to the believer. The sooner each person understands how his or her personal culture fits into the overall culture of S&S among humankind, the better for that person—the more perfect their trust and commitment to their no-real-harm god can be and the sooner they can discern potential for harm. Failure to understand S&S can lead to many travesties, such a murder, even murder of loved ones.
Third, by human awareness and reason, each person has heartfelt concerns. Many people, such as John Wesley, express personal concerns as a god's opinion, and some believers construct a psychological system so influential that humility toward gods gets lost. What the gods know rather than opine no longer matters: What Wesley opines has taken over for believers.
Fourth, love, in public connections, is overrated. With hubris, some people say to people to whom they should show appreciation, "I love you so much I want to share salvation with you." But the god the proselytizer represents could draw the listener away from humility into hubris. What then? What's the eternal consequence for both the speaker and the listener? A humble listener might think, "I'd trade your love for appreciation for both 1)my collaboration in S&S and 2) the fact that I am spiritually inspired already."
The first of the seven deadly sins is gullibility, and the Church understandably left that error off the list. In matters of trust and commitment, each person is better off cultivating the humility to ward off both gullibility and hubris, IMO. And if one of the gods--an unexpected one--is real, self reliance might prove personally essential. If a person's god is Jupiter and the real god is the controller of the universe, the Jupiterite may be in trouble. What matters, beyond hopes and comfort a personal god provides, is connection with reality; connection with the people.
I feel connected; I like the idea of perfection, which I first learned as a reported command from Jesus (Matthew 5:48). But Ralph Waldo Emerson, in “Divinity School Address" (delivered only 178 years ago at Harvard), influenced me more strongly: Emerson said that Jesus's message was literal. Without understanding the Methodist’s view of perfection, I feel connected.
Copyright©2016 by Phillip R. Beaver. All rights reserved. Permission is hereby granted for the publication of all or portions of this paper as long as this complete copyright notice is included. Revised on 3/24/16.