Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Leaving Church

As human beings, we persist in delusion.

Sounds negative, I know; but I am not depressed, nor am I lamenting some aspect of the human condition.

I am just restating Paul: "Now, we see in a glass darkly..."

There is just no way for the human mind to really embrace the totality of being in this world without us ascribing some meaning to the moment. That ascription is arbitrary, because we all as individuals form our own perceptions of reality. Again, not quite Descartes...cogito ergo sum, but close.

What made Adam, at creation, human was two things. He was filled with the breath of God, so as to be a thinking/knowing creation. He was given the task to name the things around him. A tree is a tree. A squirrel is a squirrel. Etc.

So, take that energy out into the world and try to live a life without stress. My tree may be your squirrel or vice versa...or not at all.

That means that being human presumes disagreement, n'est-ce pas?

We can disagree on little things. You might want the rose bush to go in that corner of the garden and I may want it elsewhere. I know I don't agree with the current Presidential regime's choices in foreign policy, and I know they probably wouldn't agree with mine-if they knew I existed. Still, we are human, we share the same planet and God does call upon us to see how we are all related to each other by blood, name and spirit.

That is where the title for today's entry comes from. Someone with whom I expressly disagree with on the issue of life in the Church wrote a book that has become a sounding board/touchstone for the "church in crisis" debate. Barbara Brown Taylor left parish ministry and her service to a church in rural Georgia in order to take a teaching position at Piedmont College. A sound choice for her, sure...but in the wake of that transition she wrote a book about her perceptions of the mutual failures in her ministry, and the ministries of the Church to her and her community, that leaves me more than a little cold.

Leaving church is not just a book about one woman's struggle with a vocational crisis. BBT paints a darker picture of an organization that has forgotten how to live into its calling to be something more that just another gathering of warm bodies in a place for coffee and conversation.

It saddens me that church can become that for people, but I think that might be a safer alternative in terms of perception than what it actually offers up to us in our human lives.

Real church is as transformative as she asserts. My contention is that she sees that as possible only when it is left, and returned to, over and over again. What happens, though, when we accept church, and its transformations and that leaving doesn't happen? What if we actually commit to hanging in there for the real ride? Face each other and our conflicting visions of reality and seek to form images of being that more closely align with each other?

We are transformed. Inside and out, within church and without.

You don't have to leave to feel that...but you do have to be willing to change and to be changed.

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