“Christian churches in Europe and North America were deeply involved in colonialism and, until the nineteenth century, deeply involved in slavery. When the church is that complicit in a lot of injustice in this world, I think it becomes harder for them to really face the call of the gospel on them for how they behave in this world. It’s very tempting just to focus on the gospel as something out of this world and after this life.” — Brian McClaren
As you guys know, I’m still coming to terms with it all. Since I’m married to a man I love deeply — and he happens to be a pastor — I have a vested interest in coming to terms with an organization I think is corrupt, in most cases, beyond redemption (please note: not all). In addition, as all my close friends remind me frequently, there’s little they can do to help. Most of them have had the opportunity to walk away. Me? Yeah, that would cause a little disturbance at home …
So I read the things McClaren says, and I think, “Wow. Here’s ‘one of them’ saying the same things that echo through my heart. Because, whether you believe in the Divine or not, it seems to make sense to want to help people who need help — the poor, the oppressed, the enslaved, the screwed-over ones. Since most of us fall into one or the other of those categories, I think we have an innate empathy that draws us to do “something…”
This couple were the “senior” (head) pastor and his wife at the church where we spent 10 years working. She was one of those “super Christians” (at least in her mind). However, the reality of it all is she typified all the things I have learned to loath about religious people. She always had “all the answers,” and anything that deviated from her set theology was wrong. She could tell you how to live, while her own life was crumbling unnoticed around her. She pursued “ministry” based on her desire to have acceptance and really could not wrap her mind around love at all.
Saying all this, I’ve learned to pity this woman. Circumstances have moved this couple far away from our lives, but today we attended a funeral of a mutual family member/friend. It was good to see her and her family, but sadly, nothing has changed for her.
That’s the problem with religion. Things stagnate, because that’s the only way they can be controlled. Theologies become calcified, and they become fodder for liturgies…
It’s getting nasty weather-wise where I live. Running into the grocery store this morning, I was struck with an overwhelming desire to just go home, curl up on my couch, and wrap up in this huge old blanket we have around the house. And then the Bam! Out of no where the reason came to me on why I’m struggling so much to give up what I know as “religion.”
Religion has, with all its issues and shortcomings, become a sort of security blanket in my life. Because I’ve been in “the church” such a long time, religion has in essence stripped me of being able to find comfort in real, authentic relationships. Somehow, manufacturing pseudo-friendships that go only so deep (like a Sunday morning) fill my heart with the warmth and comfort enough to “take me through the whole week,” while anxiously anticipating my next dose. Like a sick love addict, religion panders to my need for someone to love me, but only gives me enough to keep coming back to “the building” for more…
I am very fortunate to have many friends walking this path of de-conversion with me right now. Most of us haven’t totally made a break from the spiritual, but we’ve all come to grips with the fact that “organized religion” is really neither organized or religious, in the sense of the spiritual.
One of my friends is Paul. He was on staff at a “church,” and was dismissed in the name of financial cutbacks. However, he was really let go because he was pushing the envelope and, like all prophets before him, when you start screwing with the status quo, they look for a way to hand you your head. Paul spent a lot of time trying to come to a middle ground with these individuals, but to no avail. Now, he’s simply trying to find which way is up when it comes to spiritual things.
Paul is also a great writer. I would invite any of you to visit his blog: paulfilan.wordpress.com, and respond if you wish. If you visit today, you’ll find an interesting discussion from some of Paul’s “friends.” Like many of us, he’s come out of the ranks of not only “church attendance” but being a participant and leader for years. He’s raw, and very, very authentic…
I love Maya Angelou! Her poetry and persona has long inspired me. I came across this poem again in my sixth-grader’s assignments today, and it spoke to me in a whole new way, considering the spiritual journey I have been on.
I also posted this on personal blog but knowing many of you are on a similar spiritual journey, I thought I would share it here, too.
Caged Bird (Maya Angelou)
A free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wing
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky…
I responded to a friend’s on-going conversation about the truth being revealed in a certain church situation we, on that blog, are all familiar with. One person responded with a comment about the church “finally” finding it’s purpose. At the church, this “purpose” apparently is being spread by a neat little graphic showing up in everything the church does.
Now, in my opinion, purpose is about what we do, not how we graphically represent ourselves. So I questioned the writer, and asked, “Don’t tell me the purpose is the cute little graphic thing we’ve been seeing?” Here’s the response I received…
Since I posted last time, a friend of mine has gotten “fired” from the church. Supposedly, it’s nothing more than a business decision … finances being what they are, and all.
But how can an organization that claims to follow the God that owns “the cattle on a thousand hills” ever claim financial problems as a reason for letting go someone that two years ago would move “the structure” forward in the ways of God … or the ways of God as perceived by the leadership?
The truth of the matter is that this guy was pushing for integrity in the leadership. He was asking tough questions, and after a while, started to infringe on what the current leadership was “comfortable” with dealing with. Under fear and self-preservation (because you know, people who question rock the boat and might get the people around them a little wet), I believe the “powers that be” came up with a convenient way of dealing with their “problem.”
So those of us “on the outside,” who appreciated the stuff this guy was championing, are reeling again. But see, we “at the church” are use to living with this kind of bullshit…