The Death of Common Sense

I would like, if you do not mind, to relay to you an obituary reportedly published in the London Times, and sent to me via email this past week;

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend. His name was Common Sense , and had been with us for many, many years. No one knows quite for sure just how old he was, since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape.

Despite that uncertainty, he will forever be remembered as having cultivated such valuable insights and life lessons as:

  • Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
  • Why the early bird gets the worm;
  • Life isn’t always fair;
  • and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in charge).

His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place, and soon slipped into silliness

Reports of a 6-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly children.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death, by his parents, Truth and Trust, by his wife, Discretion, by his daughter, Responsibility, and by his twin son, Faith and Fidelity.

He is survived by his 4 stepbrothers;

  • I Know My Rights
  • I Want It Now
  • Someone Else Is To Blame
  • I’m A Victim

Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone. (See Note Below)

Honestly, It doesn’t take more than a sermon or two, or a few minutes on my blog, to know what type of politics, beliefs, or theology I embrace. At the same time it’s important to note that although I may embrace one view, I love it that we can exist as a community, where all those views intermingle. I like to say that the Asbury Church Community is a church of practical Christianity. At Asbury, your views are no more important than mine, nor mine yours. We hold eachother to the standard of practicing Grace and learning from each other.

In all of these realms, there are some hot button issues that are almost unwavering points of reference for me, with human rights, civility, and treating each other with Grace tops the list.

But, if I had to take all those other views that I hold, lump them together, and claim a set of labels for myself, I would have to grab the ones that mark me as socially liberal, progressively faithful, and fiscally conservative. If that isn’t a mix, I am not sure what is. I am basically a mutt in the political and the church world.

This cocktail of positions – and the ability to focus on one of the three at the expense of the others from time to time – isn’t always the easiest way of doing business, and no matter how we want there to be one… there is no political party, social circle, or church that embraces those three points all the time.

As a pastor who hopes to challenge, I will say things about politics, society, faith, or the world around me that should not only challenge you or have you shaking your head in agreement, but tick you off from time to time. At least I hope I so, otherwise you could stay home and listen to yourself on Sunday mornings.

Yet with that said, as people of faith, its important that “what we do” is in harmony with our faith, but we must be careful in taking the position that one side of the fence is without error or has all the answers. All sides do good things, and all sides do dumb things.

This lengthy diatribe on where I sit on that proverbial fence is meant to emphasize that above the ideologies, above the theology, and above all the “isms” we tend to label each other with is a common thread that should drive all our actions. It is the common thread known as “common sense”. It’s a common sense that isn’t dead and buried, but…

  • It is common sense that says maybe life –or my faith – isn’t black and white.
  • It is common sense that says maybe the finger I point needs to be at me.
  • It is common sense that says, I can be wrong from time to time.
  • It is common sense that says, its not as difficult as we make it appear.
  • And its common sense that says, if I want to be a part of changing anything, I need to change as well.

That last one is the one that sticks out most for me. It is common sense that says if I want to be a part of changing anything I need to change as well.

In the end, I hope that chief among the virtues of the church I serve is a common sense like that. We cannot be a church that looks dead to the world, but one that challenges and redirects our judgment back on ourselves, one that makes us responsible for our own actions, and one that helps us to celebrate the gifts, ideas, and dreams of others.

I pray that we can find a way to live and celebrate the truth that we are working towards a faith that embraces that common sense of living out what we believe.

(Recently, a reader commented with a more accurate account of ownership of the quote.  The original was not printed in the London Times but  in the Indianapolis Star on Sunday, March 15, 1998 by  Lori Borgman.    Additionally, as this “Obituary” went viral, Lori wrote several essays on the subject and collected them into a book on the subject that is reportedly fantastic!   Her books can be found by clicking here.   [Thank you Nogardthegreat!] -Scott 08/02/12)

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