Filed under: Uncategorized
I admit it; the pace of change inside the church frustrates me. It seems to me like God’s people are constantly dragging their feet when they should be running a race. I look at issues of justice and see people who are using ancient tactics and fighting yesterday’s fights. They want validity from younger generations without supporting them with power, resources or their causes. Those social justice gatekeepers seem to only want younger people to do the work for them on their same old worn out issues and then berate the next generation for not having the commitment that they had.
In ecclesiology the church has become enamored with paper and words. We have become captivated with resolutions, open letters (yes I know I’ve done them), declarations, checking boxes instead of having relationships, manifestos, and increasing our policies. It is death one paper cut at a time. Our constitutions become longer and acceptance of institutional deviance becomes less tolerable.
In class the people who claim to be the most progressive often are the ones with the most elitist values. They talk a good game about the poor, but are cliquish and rude to those outside of their tribe. Love is so important to them except when it comes to discipline or a trenchant defense of one of their charismatic minions. There seems to be an unspoken disdain for the religious politics of the right when many swallow the talking points of the moderate left hook, line and sinker.
There is revulsion for things that are “common” and the things that most people find value in their lives. It is not only a segregation of race in many of our churches, but of class as well. I have often said that in most Presbyterian Churches my family of truckers, linemen, factory workers and Wal-Mart employees would feel quite uncomfortable. The Sunday school material is for people with college educations and the sermons amount to professorial lectures.
I yearn to talk with barista’s, waitresses, day workers, dishwashers and retail clerks. Yet, it seems that the churches I know are interested in doctors, lawyers, teachers, bankers and “professionals”. Both pastors and laity have told me people need to feel comfortable in the place that they worship. So, why do I stay engaged to situations that frustrate me? Why shouldn’t I just start my own non-profit, or emerging worship consortium?
The words of the desert mystic Carlo Carretto always convict me on this count. He had been a prominent Catholic youth advocate when he gave up everything to live in the Sahara desert with the Little Brothers of Jesus. In the same vein he proclaims:
How much I criticize you, my church, and yet how much I love you!
How you have made me suffer and yet how much I own you.
I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence.
You have given me so much scandal and yet you have made me understand holiness.
Never in the world have I seen anything more obscurantist, more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous, or more beautiful.
How often I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face—and how often I have prayed that I might die in your arms!
No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you, even though not completely you.
So, I will continue upon this road until my God diverts my path. I contain within me an immense anger with the church’s wicked, slothful and wasteful use of people and resources. I hate to see people’s excitement, joy and energy being sapped by petty and dying gasps. Still, I am a part of this body, this organism that claims to value life. It is a group that yearns for love, mercy, justice, peace and freedom as an outgrowth of that life that they have found. More often than I am willing to admit it is this same church whose members rescue my faith and me numerous times. If these saints can show me mercy what then is my excuse?
9 Comments so far
Leave a comment