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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Power, for what?

You have more power than you think

Power — there are few things about which we have such conflicted perspectives. Power seduces and repels us. Power struggles create tension in families, divisions in congregations and war between nations. In the eyes of the world, we live in the most powerful nation. Yet most of us plead powerlessness, often unaware of the power and privilege that come by virtue of race, gender or nationality.

Perhaps we agree with English historian Lord Acton's statement: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Yet, cannot powerlessness also corrupt — leading to a life of hopelessness, poverty, victimization and desperation?

It would be helpful to engage in thoughtful conversation about power: Is power inherently evil? Or is it the purposes for which power is used that make it evil or good? Over what are we powerless? What power are we given? For what purpose? To whom are we accountable? Is there a difference between power and authority?


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