I am not a sailor, and have no direct experience with it; but the features of sailing often occur to me as metaphors for life and the journey of faith.
When I am asked why I support the Baptist Center for Ethics (BCE) / EthicsDaily.com, a couple of these metaphors become quite important.
Most of us travel on the deck, or maybe even in the crow’s nest, where the view is best and the fresh air is most pleasant.
The vessel, built by others and maintained by some few, provides us with that luxury, as we move from day to day across the sea of life toward whatever destination we have chosen.
But there are factors in our experience that are not always as evident and often not controllable from our place on deck.
For one thing, the 360-degree horizon looks very much the same, whichever way we look; it is impossible to tell from our vantage point which spot over the horizon is where our desired destination lies.
To help us with this, we rely on those who have made the journey before to give us the coordinates to keep the vessel pointed in the right direction.
And, even with that knowledge, we need some kind of navigational instrument, such as a compass, to help us know whether we are consistent with the coordinates.
Another factor that affects our journey is the fact that, more often than not, the sea has strange currents that are not visible on the surface; and its waters can sometime become turbulent, threatening to throw off course or even capsize our vessel.
Fortunately, many generations of our predecessors discovered and developed something known as a “keel” for such vessels, to maintain enough stability for the ship to enable it to stay on course in spite of currents and winds that would misdirect it.
Far beneath the surface, and not often evident to its passengers, the ship’s keel prevents it from capsizing or being thrown off course in response to the latest blustery wind.
For 25 years, the Baptist Center for Ethics and its daily postings on EthicsDaily.com have provided both keel and compass for voyagers across the often turbulent ethical sea.
Through powerful (and award-winning) documentaries and insightful daily reflections from a wide cross-section of the diverse faith family, in addition to other support resources, the center has raised ethical awareness on issues such as immigration, racism, citizenship, interfaith community, incarceration and genocide.
This stability (keel) and direction (compass), combined with a management system that is as frugal as any agency can be, attract my enthusiastic support (financially and otherwise) in the hope that it will continue to help us respond with faithfulness and wisdom to the challenges that lie ahead for us.
I invite you to consider it worthy of your support as well.
All of us passengers on the ship are indebted to those who maintain its keel and read its compass.
Colin Harris is professor emeritus of religious studies at Mercer University and a member of Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia.