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Heartlines – moral regeneration for all

23 August 2007

This morning I went to a meeting called by Heartlines, which describes itself as an outfit that uses mass media to get the nation thinking about values.

The meeting took the form of a breakfast at the Rosebank Union Church in Johannesburg and it took two hours of driving through heavy traffic to get there. Many of those I know were invited were not there. Perhaps they couldn’t face the traffic, not even for a free breakfast. Leaders of various churches were invited, and there were about 150 people there.

Everyone who attended was given a packet of three books and a DVD. One was a book of bed-time stories for young children. Another was a book of Sunday School lessons for older children. The third was a discussion leaders guide for the films on the DVD, for adults. The DVD contained shortened versions of films that were shown on TV about a year ago, each one on a particular value. The original TV films lasted an hour each, the shortened versions last 17 minutes.

I did not see the films when they were first shown on TV, but from looking at some of the synopses in the booklet, they are a fictional drama series designed to highlight the nine values: Perseverance, Self-control, Responsibility, Acceptance, Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, Honesty, Grace. At least some of the films have won international awards.

The good news is that it’s not over yet. Click here to see the list of meetings in various centres around South Africa. The Durban one is at an Orthodox Church, though in the usual fashion of Orthodox Christians of keeping Orthodoxy a closely guarded secret, it’s billed as the “Hellenic Community Centre”.

From what I’ve seen the materials are pretty good, and could be used by just about any Christian group in South Africa. People of other religions (or no religion) would probably agree that most of those values are desirable, but might teach them in a different way.

The emphasis at this morning’s meeting was on not just talking about values, but living them, and that is always harder. Only as people actually act on moral values will South Africa be transformed into a free and just society.

The government recognises this, and has supported the formation of the Moral Regeneration Movement, but the government, and members of the government, are in as much need of moral regeneration as the rest of us. But is not going to get off the ground if it is simply a government initiative. It must be a civil society initiative, and that is where Heartlines comes in.

If 83% of South Africans claim to be Christians, then the greater part of the burden of promoting moral regeneration must fall on Christian bodies, churches, congregations, youth groups and so on. Heartlines has done a great service by providing resources to make the task of teaching and promoting moral values easier.

For Orthodox Christians the primary instrument of moral regeneration is the sacrament of confession, but this requires wise and holy spiritual fathers who are skilled in Orthodox psychotherapy (which is entirely different from Western secular psychotherapy). Moral regeneration needs to begin with the clergy (and above all, it needs to begin with me!) And this needs a vital and flourishing monastic life, of which we have seen only the beginnings in South Africa.

The Heartlines material provides a good starting point, but needs to be supplemented by teaching on the passions, and how to control them.

There is something else however, that concerns those of all Christian traditions, and perhaps others as well. The Heartlines material is a drop in the ocean. It is good in that it uses mass media to promote moral and ethical values, but we also need to recognise, and teach people to recognise, that there are entirely different sets of values that are also promoted by the mass media, and that are the driving force in many people’s lives. We live in a capitalist society that promotes values that in many ways run counter to Christian values. Much advertising, for example is predicated on and promotes greed and envy. There are many people whose greatest desire is not just to be rich, but to be excessively rich.

In teaching Christian values and moral regeneration, one of the things we need to teach is how to decontruct the messages sent by the world, and how to identify false values.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Mzamo Ngcongo permalink
    13 August 2013 6:35 pm

    It is my wish to start and organise the group of children and try to teach them these values,I would like to know if there are dvd’s and cd’s,Iam interested in moral regeneration movement.Pls guide me with rellevant information and details on how this initiative can be started.

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