Oriented to Wise Action
What does it mean to be oriented to wise action? It’s probably best to start with what it doesn’t mean. SSP is not here to provide a home for a dying breed. It is not a half-way house for people who just ‘don’t quite fit’ either in the academy or the priesthood. No, SSP is a creative retrieval of a way of being that the Church once held dear, and we are here to find creative ways for a new group of leaders to take their place in the Church, in such a way that they fulfill their vocations and in such a way that their parishes, dioceses, and all the people involved with them can grow in faith, hope, and love together. In other words, in a way that works.
Being ‘oriented to wise action‘ ties us to a long tradition of preparing for action by intentional practice. For examples, martial artists prepare by painstakingly mastering the forms of their discipline. They do so to prepare for the blind alley – painstaking preparation means that they can be spontaneous in all the right ways when it really matters. In much the same way, classical rhetoric had five canons (much like the martial artist’s forms): invention, arrangement, style, memory, and delivery. It was a full-orbed preparation for being a person who could think on one’s feet and act with one’s mind. Similarly, scholar-priests draw from a number of ‘rhetorics,’ from academic reading and writing to preaching, adult education, and vestry leadership, to fulfill their vocations. Being oriented to wise actions means that we want to do everything in our power to to help scholar-priests become the ninjas of their craft.
Now, again, orientation to wise action can be taken too far. A prejudice for action can too often become a mere expedience or pragmatism, one that meets goals without care for others or for primary identities. And this is where we come back to our first value: rootedness in Scripture and Tradition. We think that a reasonable approach to Scripture and tradition is itself born out of the ‘rooted’ vision of thriving given in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. It is only when we return to this center again and again that we find ourselves rooted in Christ while still being able to embrace diversity and work proactively for the good of the Church and all of her people.