Sunday, August 07, 2005


Last night Ellie and I watched Anna and the King with our granddaughter (The earlier Annie and the King of Siam may have been better, but no matter). In one scene everyone fell down prostrate before a large Buddha. (Ellie did not think that was in the original; it may be a reflection of the general leaning toward the East prevalent among progressives today in reaction to corrupt forms of Christianity.)

In our walk this morning a flood of thoughts came forth re the concept of leadership. Neither Buddha nor Jesus or course had any intention whatsoever that we should worship them-- in the sense we use the word today. Nevertheless their followers insisted, and in effect 'dietized' them.

Why? Why do people insist on a leader?

There are two kinds of leaders: 1) mentors: transitory leaders like chemistry professors whom we study for a limited purpose, and 2) Saviors: those ultimate leaders to whom we (ostensibly) give our complete allegiance. I'm not sure that many people really understand the distinction between the two.

Saviors of course come in many forms: Hitler for example was a savior to the Germans, to their ultimate sorrow. FDR was practically a savior for a great many needy people during the Great Depression.

But most people in ordinary terms give less credit to a savior of any stripe. In spite of the conventional and census knowledge that we are a very religious people true service to God is probably at very low ebb today. Prosperous people don't need a savior. Jesus was keenly conscious of that with his remark about the rich man.

However everyone seems to want a leader. The Thai people as described in the afore mentioned movie seemed very happy with their king (and with Buddha). They always had someone to tell them what to do. They always had someone to tell them what to think!>.

That of course among other things is an expression of simple laziness. Just memorize the material; just commit your mind to the offerings of the magic screen in front of your sofa. So we go through life.

Not everyone! I think of a man named George Fox- a good mentor. Two things he said stick in my mind:

Let Christ be your teacher."

We've heard what Jesus said and what Paul said, but what doth thou say?


Liz Opp said...

I find myself wondering if we give so much attention and power to leaders in the same way that we wish to fill long quiet spaces: is it that we simply don't know what to do when faced with such an absence, be it of guidance or of words...?

Thanks for the question.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Larry said...

You're right, Liz. Without an internal leader those "long quiet spaces" can certainly bother one. I vividly recall the dormitory at Duke (many, many years ago). The boy across the hall vividly impressed me in one particular way. He never hit his room without immediately turning on his radio.

I guess the radio is (was) some peoples' leader, tv much more nowadays; without an internal leader people may be at a loss.

Note how terribly uncomfortable some folk are when they accidentally stumble upon a silent meeting.

Larry said...