Not to be outdone by religions, the military forces of nations revel in the constant passionate efforts of restless people to take over the neighbors territory and wealth. Religions far outlast the military forces of any particular empire or gathering of brigands. The "soft" power of the mystical visions of people outflank even the most cruel of dictators and professional destroyers.

With patience religious communities gather around their particular deity or hero and wait for the grand powers to run aground on the shoals of over spending resources and over extending ambitious plans.

Religious communities have a way of persisting when apparently certain doom is upon their doorstep. Rooted in a sense of long range time, the spiritual leadership rise to their moment of power, and then turn over the controls to the next oncoming leaders. What continues is the ideology, the thoughtful gathering point for strategy. If not in this generation then the next, or the next beyond. The unseen challenges will stimulate the next generation of leadership from the seed bed prepared by today's practitioners of the faith.

Ferment of thought is what raises up the new ideas that meet the oncoming challenges not possible to envision by the leadership of today. Competition over ideas and strategies produces necessary conflict. No new perspectives means no supportive energy. A boring complacency clouds the vision of the most powerful individuals who see the present state of affairs as very convenient and comforting.  The choice comes to either wait for the powerful one to wither away or to intrude forcefully and create a new order.

Philip Jenkins in a March 23, 2010 Christian Century article entitled "The Politics of the Creeds: Fighting Words" spell out the way in which conflict has been present in every phase of the historic development of Christianity, the largest of the world religions.

As Jenkins says: "Communities should not become so obsessively focused on their internal feuds that they forget what they have in common and fall prey to far more substantial external dangers that they have been too blinkered to notice."

It is my opinion that all religion leaders benefit from Jenkins comments on Christianities situation. Religions are in competition now as they always have been during millennia of development. Leaders who understand the role of conflict will not over react to provocative challenges and will be more likely to provide steady direction that strengthens the religion itself.

Delton Krueger, Elder in the Christian Church.
Living in and influenced by the culture of midcontinent USA.
April 8, 2010 10:02 am CDT

Conflict as Normal: An approach to religious thought leadership.


Global perspective