Change vs. Progress

One of the sessions I attended at the UST Gaudium et Spes conference that I wrote about the other day was titled Evaluating Progress.  In that panel, Professor Philip Rolnick of the UST Theology Department gave a talk titled The Paradox of Progress.

In his paper, Rolnick distinguished between change and progress, something we don’t always do.  he called change “the meretricious cousin of progress,” suggesting that “one of the great challenges of our age is to let the Gospel heal the hyperactive pursuit of change-for-the-sake of change.”

Change means simply that something (or someone) is different.  Change, by itself, is not a good, although many people tend to treat it that way.  Progress, unlike change, has “a clear sense of direction.”

It goes without saying that one can’t speak of “progress” apart from a vision of what we are seeking.  I thought Rolnick nicely articulated that vision from the standpoint of Catholicism: “In relationship to God, progress occurs in the individual as sanctification; in the Church as a sanctified consolidation; and throughout the earth as a movement toward becoming the human family of God.

Others might articulate the vision differently.  But whether one would or would not frame the vision as he does, it struck me as I listened to his talk that, as a general matter, insufficient attention is paid to how we evaluate progress, that is, how we distinguish between change for its own sake and change that moves us to a place we want to be.


3 thoughts on “Change vs. Progress

  1. Such emotions experienced while reflecting upon sin and repentance during lent. Does the pall and shadow cast by the ‘Fall’ help or hinder our preparations for Easter’s celebration? As the burdens of sin described suffocate and declare our brokenness, might not the origin of sin better be embraced and celebrated?

    At birth, being ‘made in the image and likeness of God’ speaks to a radiance of Love and Spirit, not a spiritually dead empty vessel. Is free-will and humanity’s inherent tendency to struggle (sin) as much blessing as burden?

    Just as Heaven is purported to be complete and perfect, is our brief visit on earth not a journey of discovery and evolution – a journey, from a Christian perspective, God sent His Son to lead. It is through our humanity we are invited to answer His call, “Come”!

    Of those who profess suffering from the burdens and weight of their sins, how many. . .

    1. Worship multiple gods?
    a. Focus on life’s successes lies within and, in solitary, can often strain relationships. . .

    2. Use God’s name in careless speech than willingly declare false oaths or are prone to blasphemy?
    a. How long do profane language reflexes linger before whispered contrition is sought?

    3. Who do not sufficiently keep the ‘Lord’s Day Holy’, are paralyzed by their choices?
    a. Choices rationalized are most often accompanied by invitations repeatedly offered. . .

    4. Adults being responsible for their own household are not respectful or concerned with the welfare of their parents?
    a. Mindfulness of one’s parents is often expressed in actions concerned and generous. . .

    5. Have inflicted bodily harm on another or taken a life?
    a. Few advocate for abortion and most do not pass judgment on those who do. . .

    6. Have truly committed adultery in their heart or with another’s spouse?
    a. A moral imperative only ‘Light’ and sharing that so concealed can dispel. . .

    7. Are burdened by larceny and cannot control their behavior?
    a. ‘Larcenies’ nuances are moral imperatives often of behavior and habit. . .

    8. Habitually speak maliciously of others?
    a. Behavior and habit reinforced is suffering self-inflicted. . .

    9 &10. Continually seek the unjust acquisition of that belonging to another?
    a. Envy is much more prevalent than lust – though how consuming?. . .

    Why need Lent be dark, gloomy and burdensome instead of days joyous and celebratory? Acknowledging we are ‘a work in progress’ speaks not to our ‘brokenness.’ It speaks to our humanity and God’s invitation each new day to, “Come!”

    • A number of interesting thoughts here, Christine, but I’m not sure how they relate to the post I wrote, which wasn’t even about Lent.

  2. Susan, As a ‘guest’ I so apologize for my response to ‘Change’ vs. ‘Progress’

    My reflection upon the Saturdays (Sabbath – celebration of accomplishment and remembrance of death) and Sundays (Resurrection and rebirth) of Lent were expressed. . .

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