Church Cocoon

The above cartoon by David Hayward is very clever and beautiful. And it certainly is the case that there are churches from which people must absolutely emerge, perhaps through a process of struggle, in order to enter maturity.

I am concerned, however, that the cartoon may be understood to depict church itself as something that ought to be left behind. But in its essence, when done right, church is merely a community of people with some shared convictions, values, and aims. And the notion that we do better spiritually, morally, or in any other way when we forsake community and the input of others altogether is a sign of the very egotism that we desperately need community to help correct in ourselves.


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  • Anne T

    Maybe it means that it takes church to turn you into a butterfly. Not necessarily a stance I agree with.

  • summers-lad

    I have been thinking recently that there are some churches which are good at bringing people to faith but not to maturity, and others which are better at maturity but not so good at birth/conversion. This seems far from ideal, but I’m not really sure where I am with understanding this. The chrysalis metaphor has been in my mind though – perhaps it says there is a real place for both types of church.

    • James F. McGrath

      That is a great point, and it may be that we are being unfair to churches when we expect them to be everything Christians need throughout their lives. Maternity wards are great places to be born, but may not be the best places to grow up.

    • pearly1

      Good point. And I like Dr. McGrath’s statement in re churches as maternity wards. That has been my observation.

      Most churches only give us the basics or the “milk” per Paul. The institution of organized churches tends to keep people in a state of spiritual infancy.

      I left church during college and my spiritual path took a more Prodigal Son route. I had to experience the dark to find the light once again. And I experienced a rebirth/shift in my consciousness through individual self reflection, meditation, and spiritual development work. That has included studying other religions/religious traditions and mysticism, and reading many, many books about the historical Jesus and earliest Christianity. I’ve learned that the “meat” teachings of which Paul spoke that were intended for more mature Christians (perhaps what Jesus had taught his more advanced disciples) is missing from most mainstream churches.

      After about 25-30 years away from church, I’ve since begun going back, but I’m attending more non-denominational, progressive Christian churches and even a Unitarian Universalist church. I’m hungry for spiritual community and family, and a church – as community – can do a lot of great work and make a greater, more powerful impact for change, much more than 1 individual can do. I may still be searching for the right spiritual home/family, but it will be one that nurtures and supports spiritual growth and provides the food of and for maturity!

  • Living Liminal

    This speaks to me of the church as a man-made institution. And it is those man-made traditions and dogmas, which “nullify the word of God”, we need to emerge from. I believe it is the very community you mention (i.e. functioning relationally) we are needing to emerge into.