Words and Action

St. James said,

14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

Blogging is a world of media, but primarily a world of words.  It is a world of reporting on the what is and the what should be.  And there are many bloggers who are persons of faith, deep convictions, and their words, and my words, are fruits of those convictions, fruits of their faith.

But, again, they are just words.  We claim to have faith, but where are the tangible evidences in what we do?  I have always found this to be a difficult thing, that is, to get together with others who wish something could be done and actually DO something.  But, alas, we are all off, involved in our “secular” livings, and God’s work, or, real, meaningful change, in the words of the New Ager, has to wait for another time, or it has to be done by others whose faith in humanism makes for decidedly bleak outcomes, although they can all pat themselves on the the back and feel good about the effort.

Lately, I have been in some petty squabbles with those whom I consider to be my companions in the fight for truth and justice.  This perhaps stems from how we all feel sometimes as we watch the world blindly thrashing about in all directions trying to save itself and we stand watching like helpless bystanders.  After all, blogging is not easy, and even harder is any attempt to keep abreast of all the latest and greatest thrashings.

But, maybe, we pour our efforts too much in the wrong direction.  Maybe, instead of spending so much time claiming to be defenders of the faith, maybe we could do more with a few deeds.

Now, to what deeds do I refer?  Well, first of all, there is the neighbor.  And we all know Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan and who is and how to love your neighbor.  Does this mean we should all go around being Good Samaritans?  Well, yes, and no.  In fact, the story really wasn’t about the “goodness” of the Samaritan.  It was really an indictment of the lack of deeds of love that should have flowed from the people of Israel if they really had faith in God.  The point was not that doing deeds makes one good; the point was that, as James pointed out, deeds must flow from faith.  The point, then, is not to go around looking to do random acts of kindness.  The point is to let your faith shine through what you do.

I have had some thoughts of how we, the conservative blog nation if you will, could put our faith into action.  Or, just in general, what can we DO to change things for the better?  One idea that keeps popping up in my head is education.  I understand that education has been hijacked, and that, each and every day, another new legal block is raised to prevent its being recaptured.  Nevertheless, now that brick and mortar are no longer needed to build universities, there ought to be a way for us create our own online universities.  Perhaps the problem comes from credentialing, or from the layers of administration that most believe would be essential, and the planning of  curricula, etc., and all the costs involved.  And, as always, their are the ancillary fees of books and so on.  So any talk of creating an online university seems far-fetched.

But, seriously, why couldn’t we create a free, all-volunteer, online university?  Or, at least, why can’t we create a university that is bare-bones, fee for service (just enough to cover the costs), and where the books are non-existent?  Instead of overpriced, often worthless, tomes being slapped on the students, what if we used a dynamic approach to research in each subject in which, essentially, the students create the book?

What!?   How can I expect the students to be the teachers?  It’s not really that far-fetched.  And it gives every student the chance to really add his or her two cents and really be heard.  It results in the free exchange of ideas.  And, as I can attest from my own life, the best way to learn something is to teach it.

Now, I dare say there would be a lot of opposition from the establishment education system over such talk.  After all, just look at the bicker already in place over “parochial” schools, and, even more radical, home schooling!  Yet, our most highly-regarded universities accept those students because they score, on average, well above their counterparts in established educational facilities.  Regardless of how many As are handed out, the proof of the pudding, the SATs and ACTs and other standardized tests prove where the cream is.  Results must be acknowledged regardless of the source.

Let’s think about potential employers.  They have two pools from which to choose employees.  Those seeking any kind of skill other than manual, and even some of those as manual labor becomes more high-tech, must choose from the pool of college graduates.  (They actually don’t have to, but the paper is everything for some)   While some, like the said education institution, will require a diploma from an “officially” accredited institution,  what the rest require is proof of being able to perform at a high level.  Certainly. any student who graduated from a university, accredited or not, in which the graduates can show to their prospective employers that they were responsible for creating the textbooks, has a leg up in showing an ability to handle real-world situations.  Thus, the free university, whether accredited or not, is the ultimate “results-based” model of education.

Here’s the things about the free online university:  it doesn’t need a location.  It needs no classroom buildings, no dormitories, causes not stress in commuting, doesn’t cause the proliferation of bistros and Starbucks, doesn’t require faculties offices or lounges, and does not require anyone to even get out of bed in the morning, if that is where their computer is located.  (Yes, indeed, I write in bed this morning!)  What it will need is a board of directors.  What it will need is conferencing ability (Skype or others)  But those are all small issues for a group of bloggers who most likely have between them all the IT knowledge necessary.  (And,again, for the “teachers” who don’t know everything, another oportunity to learn by teaching.)

Well, I have mentioned one possible way to put words into action.  I’m sure there are many more to be explored.  In the end, I think it’s much better, and more in keeping from going insane, to focus on the positive more than dwelling on the negative.  As was said about alms-giving, don’t give until it hurts, give until it feels good.   Share.  Act.

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