Saints and Sinners: Balancing Faith, Policies and Character

by Bob Schwartz

Saints are in short supply—in your family, in your community, at work, in politics, in your mirror. So if the search for them is likely to come up empty, what’s the point of looking?

In the intersecting realm of faith, policies and character, it is balance we seek, not absolutes or perfection. You stand certain on a line, maybe informed by your god and your traditions, and believe that everything else stands closer or farther on that line, in one direction or another. You can measure the distance and decide when someone has gone too far.

In the case of faith, policies and character, there are at least three dimensions. Trying to evaluate people in that space is hard and uncertain. Some think this gets us creeping toward relativism, where suddenly everyone and everything is acceptable. But it is no such thing. It just means that we are asked to look at everyone and every circumstance on its own, for itself, eyes wide open, in our own well-considered light. That is a lot of work, and so we want a shortcut. We may think we are able to take shortcuts, but there are no shortcuts, only understandably lazy paths.

Saints are in short supply because even saints are not saints. That is the point. Go easy on yourself and others, or go hard. Do the work, if you have the time and inclination, and don’t depend simply on a bible verse, a rule or an ideology. You are gifted, so use those gifts wisely.