Friday, June 2, 2017

on Bevin's (excellent) call to prayer walks and federalism

Here's some cynical coverage, but the C-J's coverage of this was refreshingly respectful (check out the article and video). Bevin calls people to prayer (walks) and more-- in particular, "involvement". (It's also interesting and cool that he provides guidance on how to do this well!) There are clearly public policy issues at hand too. But Bevin's call is unlikely to hurt, quite likely to help, and arguably, the best approach to the problems that plague Louisville's West End. 

Paraphrasing something I like from C.S. Lewis on prayer-- whatever prayer does in the divine economy, it changes our hearts. As any other discipline, the practice works to change mind, body, and soul in positive ways.

That's one reason why Christians are commanded to pray for their leaders in I Timothy 2:1-2. (Of course, Jesus tells us to pray for our "enemies"-- and sometimes those are the same folks!). In fact, if I don't pray for my leaders, I can't criticize them. This prevents me from wanting to throttle Bush II, Obama, Clinton, Trump, McConnell, Pelosi, Reid, Birthers, today's Hysterics, and the other partisan enablers who make all of this lovely garbage possible.

In this context, prayer would be expected to "get people (more) involved". (I know some [mostly secular] fundamentalists are fond of a narrow interpretation of the passage where Jesus critiques some public expressions of prayer. But in this context, prayer walks are a likely improvement over mere prayer.) Meeting people, building relationships, enhancing empathy, actually doing work (!) in distressed communities. Why isn't this something to be applauded? More broadly, what if even a modest proportion of professing Christians and self-styled liberals got involved in the West End?

And then there are the policy angles. Some have critiqued Bevin for a lack of policy. But these problems are largely local (see: WalMart and JCPS) and federal (see: welfare policy and War on Drugs). And our best, politically-viable solutions are largely local. As for state efforts, what would those look like? (Well, other than redistributing money from poor people in the state to Louisville's city government...and who can be a big fan of that?) And when the state govt has proposed useful reforms-- e.g., charters and vouchers for substantive K-12 ed reform-- the same folks have been critical of that too. So, for critics, one suspects this is merely an exercise in blame-evasion, partisan striving for political power, and grabbing resources.


At June 6, 2017 at 8:58 PM , Blogger Calvin Carter said...

Mr. Shansberg,

I'm glad that I found your blog.

I'm a graduate of Thoroughly Equipped offered by Northside Christian Church and a blogger at where I write about the Horse and Man from the Christian perspective.


At June 8, 2017 at 3:29 PM , Blogger Eric Schansberg said...

Thanks for taking the time to encourage me!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home