During the last few days, there has been quite some lament about the 33rd Evangelical Church Congress having produced plenty of words, yet there not being much of a chance that many actions follow.
What makes this opinion interesting?
Politics is not made with paternosters, presumed Machiavelli almost half a millenium ago. Today, we know that he was wrong. Church congresses do make politics, but not in a responsible way. Instead, they do it by building up moral pressure. Because if you get active, mostly even just if you refrain from getting active, just because you are afraid to violate taboos, you are acting all but in a responsible way.
Let us just take a closer look at the details how a pious visitor of a church congress – no matter if catholic or evangelical – understands them. We will find the criteria rather alarming. First and foremost, the behaviour of a church congress friend cannot be considered behaviour in the proper sense of the word. It is more like being operated. Because the pious Christian visits the church congress in order to make sure that he is executing his God’s wish. In the Christian sense, only behaviour he can reconcile with the conscience of his God is good behaviour.
It is, however, a characteristic of great uncertitide if, in order to decide upon future behaviour, people not only profess to know God’s wish, but even feel compelled to execute said wish personally for him. Filled with this kind of megalomania, a person will never make the experience of seeing himself as really autonomous and responsible. After all, he put all responsibility into God’s wish and made himself a mere executive organ.
This wide-spread mental attitude, which, incidentally, is praised as particularly desirable by churches, is alarming; among other things, it fails to educate humans in a way that will motivate them to take responsibility for their own behaviour. It does not teach you to make decisions after having clearly balanced the consequences of your behaviour. As it is, the competence of foreseeing real dangers and the consequences of your behaviour is already quite underdeveloped in our cultural environment.
The arrogant requirement that we have to find God’s will does not improve this competence. Instead, it tends to further weaken it. What is necessary, however, has to be done because the situation demands it, not because an imagined voice of a super creature we hold to be omnipotent and omniscient tells us to do it. Following the demands of some highest creature does not solve problems. Neither does it give any protection against real dangers. All it does is cater to the limitless narcissism of the one who imagines himself similar to the highest creature.
In the long run, the activities of people motivated by this kind of compulsion neurosis cannot come to a good end. Nevertheless, we experience on a broad scale that the paternosters of visitors who have been pilgrimaging towards a place to pray at the church congress follow a certain pattern in their effectiveness. It is the pressure exerted by a minority consisting of individual persons who – with the exception of the celebs who came to visit the church congress – would never be able to surpass anonymity by themselves. Because there is hardly a chance of finding persons on the church congress who start getting active because they foresaw a danger or a joyous event or a successful experience without group pressure. There is more of a chance to find those among entrepreneurs, who have to come up with far-reaching decisions on a daily basis.
And it would be nice to imagine they come up with their decisions for other reasons than megalomania or in order to gain a better position near their God. The idea is that their decisions are based on an extremely precise appraisal of possible consequences in the Here and Now.
The moral pressure exerted by a group of nameless individuals who by themselves would never have demanded anything strongly compels the political class to get active in some way. Just in order not to appear passive, they have to do something. For example, generals and managing directors are thrown out of office even if they did nothing wrong; Spanish cucumber is blamed and farmers are ruined just in order to give the impression that something is being done; super fuels are decreed even though nobody wants or needs them, but the transaction costs are enormous. Ash clouds, too, are made out as future threats, so are computer scenarios. Just in order to spread fear. The moral pressure exerted by neurotical masses is a political power. It compels the politicians to do something, just so as not to look passive. But what we need is not some costly concepts; all we need is appropriate action that will defend us against danger.
As long as church congresses take God too seriously and fail to equip people with the competence to fight real dangers, as long as their standards are set by pious presentations, we will probably have to accept that irresponsible idle talk will remain easier to come by than an education towards responsible behaviour in the future.
(Translated by EG)