Sunday, December 19, 2004

Community Reinvestment and Church Memories

I’ve decided on a theme that I hope will inspire me to write short postings on a more frequent basis. I’m hoping to write about memories of my church experience which influenced me for good. The idea was born out of a very angry moment today which at first glance seems totally unrelated.

I don’t intend to write about political issues on this blog, but this one really bothers me and I need to get it off my chest.

I read a blog entry on Bruce Prescott’s blog, Mainstream Baptist, regarding a proposal by Bush Administration appointees to essentially gut the CRA (Community Reinvestment Act). The CRA is a 1977 federal law that prohibits banks from discriminating against low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. This law was enacted because banks through their own bank policy “red-lined” minority areas and offered them neither credit nor banking services. With the original CRA requirements, banks with $250 million of assets had to provide services to all communities in which they were chartered. With the proposed change 90% of banks will no longer fall under CRA. I don't trust this generation of business people to voluntarily offer just and equitable lending and banking services on their own anymore than we as a country trusted business 25 years ago.

As a country I don't believe we have squarely faced our spotted history of racism, abuse, and discriminatory attitudes. Yes, we acknowledge them, but usually with a “that happened a long time ago and it’s in the past.” My belief is that people are ultimately driven by wealth, power, and reputation. Unless curbed these instincts divide instead of build up. They separate the “haves” from the “have nots” which eventually results in the consolidation of wealth and power. These misperceptions of superiority breed oppressive and abusive behaviors. I guess I’m a progressive at heart because I believe in good government. I believe that government can bring about good laws and regulations that curb (keep in check) the excessive instincts of humans and serve the common good.

I believe the church has a responsibility here also. Although I’m not currently an active member of a church congregation (more on that later – I hope), I still believe in the church’s ability to bring about good on this earth. I believe in the church’s unique place to provide an environment that encourages and challenges people to live the ideals spoken by Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount. He called people to live differently and to make decision differently. The differently is living “self-sacrificing” lives. I don’t think this means to hate oneself. Quite the contrary, to deny selfish instincts and selfish behaviors; to practice vigorous honesty which means to acknowledge (confess with no excuses) and repent of (turn from) self-centered living. I believe Jesus knew self-centered living eventually destroys the soul. These behaviors not only destroy the individual, but can poison and destroy those around the individual.

Okay enough ranting….Onto my new theme. I was close to tears and angry when I read the blog entry, but in keeping with my overarching theme of “Small Glimpses of Goodness” I decided to write on memories growing up in the church. I’m hoping to mine those memories from my church experience that have influenced me for good and have called me to live out Jesus’ commands.


Streak said...

Nice post. Our appetites do get us in trouble. Unfortunately, for many, the appetites of greed and consumption have been overlooked or ignored. No good reason to allow banks to red-line. None.

Anonymous said...

Very well put!
I am a church musician, and I feel that self-centeredness has infected many churches. I do not wish to disparage the church in general, or those who preach the true gospel of loving self-sacrifice. Many churches, in an effort to meet 'needs, and/or appeal to the broader culture, have risked losing losing their witness in the process.

Small Glimpses said...


Thanks for visiting my blog and posting a comment. Since this posting I've been studying the Sermon on the Mount in depth via a commentary written by Frederick Dale Bruner. I've been significantly impacted and I'm hoping to post some of the things I've learned.