Whatever Happened to People?

by Arthur W. Anderson

It is raining all day, My thoughts are long and pensive. Putting a pen to an overcast mood only makes other people depressed. I don't want to do that. But, like John Updike who wrote a poem on all the things he saw when his fever was over 100 degrees, I see things on a soupy day that I miss in the sunlight!

Clouds make me lonesome for people. I wonder, for example: whatever happened to seeing people as persons? Some of the ferment of the sixties was about this. But the "greenings" turned gray and grizzly. Right now I am pulling for the youth of China in their struggle to make their great land a more human place. Who knows — maybe some day they will be sending missionaries to us!

Here, in our own land, people get lost in a massive oil spill or zooming medical costs. We are clients, consumers, yuppies, baby boomers, poor, college graduates, stereotypes, or senior citizens. Now, I'm not cynical. I know that we have to think in those terms sociologically. But I also betray the fact that I live more under the "pastoral" image than that of the Corporation.

I see the same gray generalizing of people in the church. I realize the church needs the new technology. And we do have to function as a corporation whether we like it or not. I get green with envy of the administrative whiz. But herein lies a fascination which brings us close to being another "tower of Babel." When I was a teenager, souls were loved into the kingdom as persons. Immense jubilation greeted a person who "found Jesus." Today we rejoice more over conversion statistics. We forget that the 3000 who were converted at Pentecost were converted by an act of the Holy Spirit, not by a highly organized evangelistic campaign. We forget the "bottom line" is people because we put them at the bottom.

But God has a sense of humor and knows that when we take ourselves too seriously, we know better. Sebastian Moore in his choice book entitled, The Inner Loneliness, makes a delicious point when he says that God enjoys himself... and wants us to join him. My family, the Covenant, is still AX. Palmquist touching base with a friend and asking "How is it between you and your Lord today?"