Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Common sense matters

Post by Ann

I am a Unitarian Minister, now officially retired, although still reasonably active and able to prepare and lead services. In the past, each week `the sermon` was a spiritual and mental undertaking. On good weeks this was great but I did have dry weeks which my congregations, thanks be, have always understood.

I came to realise that stories, be they fictional, for example Aesop`s fables-especially for the children-and stories about everyday real life and situations of commerce and livelihood that many face, are far more beneficial and effective than all the eloquence of a great preacher.

Down to earth commonsense in the well-being of our communities is what we need and what our churches, chapels and the like should be offering.

I offer the following story to illustrate this;

`There was once a factory that employed thousands of people. Its production line was a miracle of modern engineering, turning out thousands of machines everyday. The factory had a high accident rate. The complicated machinery of the production line took little account of human error, forgetfulness and ignorance. Day after day, workers came out of the factory with damaged hands and fingers, cuts and bruises. Sometimes a worker lost an arm or a leg. Occassionally, some were electrocuted or crushed.

Enlightened people began to see that something needed to be done. First on the scene were the churches. An enterprising Minister organised a small first aid tent outside the factory gate. Soon, with the backing of the Council Of Churches, it grew into a properly built clinic, able to give first aid and treat minor injuries. The Town Council became interested together with local bodies such as The Chamber Of Trade and The Rotary Club. The clinic grew into a small hospital, with modern equipment, an operating theatre, and a full-time staff of doctors and nurses. Several lives weres saved. Finally, the factory management, seeing the good that was being done, and wishing to also prove itself enlightened, gave the hospital a small annual grant, and an ambulance to speed serious cases from workshop to hospital ward.

But, year by year, as production inceased, the accident rate continued to rise. And in spite of everything the hospital could do, more and more people died from the injuries they had received.

Only then did some people begin to ask if it was enough to treat people`s injuries, whilst leaving untouched the machinery and practices that caused them.` Brian Wren

Sound familiar ?


  1. Sounds a bit like Tony Blair : Remember the election slogan ?

    "Tough on Crime, Tough on the causes of crime"

  2. Superb Unitarian thinking, Ann! It is this sort of mentality that has brought me to Unitarianism.
    Giving the occasional service myself, I am very conscious of the fact that what I have to say about the Bible and so-called 'religious' matters is irrelevant to most of the congregation. Instead of my 'pontificating' it is the message of common humanity I should be 'preaching' and so help people (and myself!) to work for the common good. Graham (who can only get his comment through by calling himself 'Anonymous')

  3. Sometimes you can get a message across far easier through a story than an explanation, especially with an unreceptive audience. Jesus often taught through the medium of a story and the parables are a great example of teaching through telling stories. The one above is another. I like it. As Daniel Quinn might put it: if it doesn't work, let's try something different; rather than trying the same thing over and over again.