So I wrote The Church For Skeptics: A Conversation For Thinking People. (The book is somewhere in the publishing pipeline/birth canal right now.) Thanks to my part-time job at the bookstore, I get to powerskim the new books coming on on the topic of church. There is a growing choir of writers singing a variation of the “`taint how she’s supposed to be aria:
I tried church. I tried really, really hard.
But the boredom, shallowness, politics and self-absorbtion of institutional Christianity nearly killed me.
I like Jesus.
So I followed Him right out of the institution. I’m free. Oooo….yeah, girl.
(OK, maybe not that last part. That was just me improvising.)
What’s amazing is that though the lyrics aren’t particularly catchy, there are a lot of people singing them. Loudly. And on key. These aren’t people looking for an excuse to diss the church. They’re mostly people who love the church deeply – present or former insiders who can not keep doing religion any more.
Book titles like these have various additional stanzas to the song, but the chorus is the same:
There are many more – spiritual memoirs and leadership books that focus on doing church differently (or not doing it at all). And even purveyors of big, spiffy, programmy church life are having the kind of self-examination that goes with a necessary mid-life crisis.
Many of us have sung a variation of the `tain’t how it should be aria and have been branded the problem. (Ask a cow how she likes being imprinted with a red-hot piece of metal.) I’ve sung it off-key, and sometimes a bit too loud. This song has proved to be very costly in my life – and in the life of my family. So this choir of voices all singing the same song has been music to my ears. I’m not alone! And it breaks my heart. I’m not alone!
So, church…where do we go from here? I want to sing a new song. I think a lot of us aria singers do. If you were writing the lyrics, how would they go?