I surfaced this morning – in Scotland but reading the Irish Times on the app. Fintan O’Toole, who is one of their best, writes about the demise of the Irish political machine. He describes Ireland’s main contribution to world politics as being ‘transactional politics’ – by which he means ‘the creation of parties that could hold power by trading votes for favours on a massive scale – you give me your vote, I get you a public job or a house or access to health care.’ We used to call that messenger boy politics – public representatives seen as being in office to pull favours for the electorate and with a good deal of nepotism on the side.
O’Toole suggests that this has had its day. He quotes as evidence the place where this system has been seen at its most effective. That’s not in Ireland but in Chicago where it ensured the election and re-election of Mayor Richard Daley for 21 years to 1976 and then for his son Richard Michael Daley for a further 22 years. But the anointed successor Rahm Emmanuel was only elected in a run-off – because the system doesn’t work any more.
All of this is just one more example of the way in which systems, patterns and paradigms – call them what you will – change. Those of us who believe that the church is similarly challenged by changing patterns think about how we might respond.
I’ve been reading ‘From Anecdote to Evidence’ which you will find here
But I started with the critique which is called ‘From Delusion to Reality’. You will find it here
It’s not hard to see what works in congregational life. But it’s hard to see how what seems to work well can be replicated …