Saturday, August 11, 2012

Theology and Bureaucracy (part 3)

         Institutionally mandated bureaucratic action is not the same as prudent, compassionate, enlightened, or humane action, whether we consider its origin, purpose, motive, or effect.
         The difference between humane action and bureaucratic action is the difference between human solidarity, a “we” relationship among equals, on the one hand, and a task-to-be-completed and a problem-to-be-solved function, on the other.  The former is an I/I relationship; the latter is a pre-programed interaction between two mere its.  The former is a relationship within a community; the latter is a function within a machine.
         To see more clearly what a bureaucracy is, compare it to the church, that is, compare it to the church as it ought to be, not to the church as it too often is.  The church is a body; the bureaucracy is a mechanism.  The church is animated by the Spirit and by love.  The bureaucracy is not animated at all; it is driven.   No spirit of love lies at its heart.  It has no heart, only rules, regulations, and functionaries where hearts ought to be.  It is not about persons but procedures, policies, and practices, from which the truly human has been systematically and purposely evacuated, where the guidebook reigns supreme, and where imagination, creativity, and compassion are sacrificed to the system’s inflexible and inhuman requirements.  The sad thing is this:  Rather than the bureaucracy growing to resemble the church, the church has grown to resemble the bureaucracy.  As a result, souls have withered, clerical souls especially.   
         Within the bureaucracy, the mutuality of persons evaporates.  It is no longer you and I face-to-face because we are no longer ourselves.  We are not persons among persons.    
We are functionaries, on the one side, and cases with numbers for names, on the other.
         Remember this the next time you vote:  The bigger the government, the bigger the bureaucracy; the bigger the bureaucracy, the smaller the human being and the smaller the realm of authentic human life and interaction

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