2.24.2009

Wading

So many people I know right now, most of whom I'm related to, are wading through murky waters of disillusionment with institutionalized church. And while I welcome this dialogue, even thrive on the potential that such disenchantment raises, I can't help but internally get a little panic-y and rant, "No! No! Don't be done with it! Don't give up." But then those who are ecclesially frustrated begin to relay a plethora of anecdotes that have taken place in the confines of the local church over years of service and ministry. Eventually the ignorance, frustration, and poor theology that is espoused in the stories only leaves me feeling a bit nauseated and fat, i.o.w., heavy hearted and sad right along with them. Dang! Why is that?! 

On a different, yet still related note, I listened to this fantastic podcast yesterday with my ole NPR buddy Krista interviewing a mother-turned-rabbi who was advising parents about the ways of inculcating spirituality in the life of their children. We are born with an innate awareness of a spirituality or mysticism that extends beyond ourselves and is part of the greater cosmos, the rabbi reports, that eventually prompts all/most young children to begin asking questions of their origin, along with reasons for pain and injustice in the world, tempered with more specific queries like 'who is God' and 'why should I believe in God.' (Not that any of that information is really all that new, just that I loved her response.) The rabbi says the point is not so much about answering our children's questions correctly, so much as it is about cultivating a vocabulary that promotes future dialogue about things spiritual and mystical. In a similar vain, I tend to agree with her when she espouses ways in which spirituality and a spiritual language is best developed and enhanced--not so much through our words or doctrine, but through our acts. (duh!) 

Even today in my philosophy class, we were discussing speech-act theory and how postmodern philosophers finally (almost) agree that language is performative. We don't know what a word means unless we understand the act that accompanies it. So, when I want to teach my children that injustice in the world is a problem, I hope that less then hearing me drone on ad infinitum about it, they will see me treating the homeless person with dignity, or we can together mourn over the loss of one of God's creatures when we see it on the side of the road, etc. 

And back to my initial point, is this one of the reasons so many of you are done with church in the modern sense of the word? Instead of having all of your doctrine well-articulated in a rational, uniform thought pattern (with words that have lost meanings), and instead of obeying the denominational "rules" about how one ought to conduct oneself in a given worship service or prayer meeting (with actions that are void of relevance), and instead of hounding members about their time availability and whether or not they are going to tithe 10%, why do our churches not embrace more radically the mystical elements of life with God? Why do we not less about indubitable faith propositions and more about intense questions of divine immanence and intervention, or how to live as community in American suburbia, and the list goes on? I, too, am tired of churches getting lost in the translation of what it means to be church. 

And as I debate denominational affiliation these days (more to come on that later), I find myself caught in the --dare I use the word 'trap'-- of going through the motions myself, of doing church the same old way. And for what, just to call myself "ordained," or is it because ordained pastoral ministry really is an authentic representation of church, i.e. family of God representing Christ to the world? hmmm. (Sorry if this sounds too cynical; I hope my message isn't hidden too far beneath it. I'm mostly just wondering.)

1 comment:

Holly said...

I love this idea of living ideas to understand them. Thanks for your lovely thoughts. I'm not ready to give up on church, but I do feel a little lost in the articulation of church. =) Ah, living the questions. Life.