Progressive Revival

Progressive Revival

A Progressive Life

I can’t say that I always loved Ted Kennedy.  For years, I have agreed with the
issues he fought for–especially regarding his concern for the sick, the poor,
and the elderly.  But, I confess,
Senator Kennedy’s personal behavior often proved embarrassing and sometimes
appalling to those who agreed with his policies.  Like all three Kennedy brothers, there has been a
disconcerting tension between the public servant and the private self. 

When I was a bit younger–and much more theologically
puritanical–I thought that private behavior diminished public good.   That the inner and outer selves
must be connected for acts of goodness to have real integrity and social
impact.  The death of Senator
Kennedy, however, points to a richer tradition of Christian theology, indeed of
Catholic theology:  Even a sinful
leader may accomplish God’s will for the public good.  Personal perfection is not a prerequisite for ruling well.


That, of course, is profoundly good news.  The Christian tradition has
insisted–since about the fourth century or so–that human sinfulness in no way
diminishes acts of grace, mercy, and justice.  But it is also not an excuse to continue sinning.  Indeed, some public figures seem to
think that their position is license to do what they like in private, as long
as they continue to serve the people in their work.  “Should we sin,” the Apostle Paul once wrote, “that grace
may abound?”  No, the church has
responded.  We will sin, and flawed
humans will continue to do the good.   But Christian spirituality insists that if one is
truly on a journey of faith, that goodness will eventually overtake weakness
and the inner life and outward service will come into harmony.  Life is a progress toward such harmony,
the symphony of faith in God.


Ted Kennedy’s theological legacy may well be the
demonstration of the progressive harmony of goodness.  For, unlike his brothers who did not live long enough to
complete the journey of faith, Ted Kennedy did.  In recent years, he admirably and publicly overcame a host
of private demons and became the kind of leader who walked his talk.  The tributes of family, friends, and
foes increasingly praised his kindness, wisdom, and authenticity–all marks of
Christian maturity.  His outer
passion for the “least of these” aligned with the inner life. 

And, in the end, Ted Kennedy died well.  Through long months of preparation and
witness–a gift never given to his brothers–he met God.  He believed in progressive causes.  But, more importantly, he showed us
that all of life is spiritual progress–a journey of hands and heart–toward the
One who loves the poor.  Even a
rich man can get to heaven.  Well
done, good and faithful servant.  

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posted August 26, 2009 at 11:43 pm

thank you for your reflection. it reminded me that biblically we read that God seemed to always use the weak and imperfect to be the messengers of good news. while we claim tht Jesus was without sin, we can also remember that he was not among the power elite. i have thought for many years, God chose the weak and imperfect to be sure that the good news was heard more than the power and perfection of the messenger.

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posted August 28, 2009 at 5:01 am

You have to be kidding!!! Kennedy didn’t even know that the constitution doesn’t mention ‘separation of church and state’ and that its in the SOVIETS constitution!! Kennedy forced legislation restricting Christians and religion organizations and did his best to exclude them from Government involvement.
His oratory delivered at Liberty University (Jerry Farwells Churuch) says it all, he was socialistic in his views and completely ignored the foundations set by the founding fathers.
I can’t believe this forum, a bunch of secular humanists pretending the know God and denying everything in the Bible and refusing to study historical documents that framed the Constitution.
Kennedy was a scum bag, an adulterer, fornicator and I and most believe a murderer. He certainly had his part of mass murder with his views and support of legislation for abortion. I can see him now, standing in front of all those babies who were cut to pieces and burned by saline solution, and Mary Jo, I bet he isn’t trying to be the big shot at the party now! God is just and God said “NO MURDERER shall enter into the kingdom of God” Proverbs states that anyone who partakes in the shedding of innocents blood is condemned. Continue to be brainwashed into the land of ignorance and stupidity; refusal to study and learn the truth will end in your distruction as well.

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posted August 28, 2009 at 11:03 am

So, “Personal perfection is not a prerequisite for ruling well.”
Then we can expect great things from Gov. Mark Sanford!

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posted September 1, 2009 at 2:57 am

Shouldn’t other parts of scripture be used in the balance here? For example, “you shall know them by their fruits.” Was TK repentent of his views on abortion or did his efforts change? Is there any way to reconcile the efforts he made to allow the killing of the most innocent of lives to the christian faith? Does anyone really believe that in the day that we give an account, that God will accept our logic on killing the unborn? Our nation is losing it’s soul and using the excuse of helping the poor is not going to cut it.

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