The Disillusionment of Church: Why Even Bother?

The Disillusionment of Church: Why Even Bother? November 21, 2022

Andrew Lang | Unmasking the Inner Critic | Contemplative Spirituality
Preston Goff/Unsplash

I sat in the front row of my childhood church in what I knew to be my family’s final service with the community I had grown up with. Now at 18, I had spent more than ten years here and many of my formative memories had taken place within these walls.

As community members wished us well and shared stories from eleven years of friendship and connection, I felt increasingly overwhelmed by the transition that was taking place.

One church member began to cry as she spoke.

She shared what it meant to her to watch our once-young family grow up, seeing my older brother venture off to college, and watching from afar as I chased my baseball dreams. When her eyes locked on mine, tears began to streak down my face, an impulse I still have to this day whenever I see another person cry.

At the end of the service, my tear-filled eyes scanned across the room, landing on one of the oldest gentlemen in our church striding toward me with determined focus.

Dale had been an ever-present figure in my growing up, attending every Sunday service, along with various committee meetings, classes, and church outings. As I played in the corner of church meetings or sprinted across the grass at church potlucks, Dale would invariably be engaging in small talk with anyone he could. If there was a church event, he was there.

He walked toward me, his long strides slowing as the sea of people began to evaporate, the celebration of our time there moving from the sanctuary to the coffee area. He came up to me, his eyes still locked on mine, and placed a firm hand on my shoulder, uttering a statement I would never forget.

“Men don’t cry.”

I stood for a moment in shock, not quite sure how to respond, while another church member quickly stepped in and whisked Dale away. In the momentary reprieve from hugs and attention, I felt alone and confused, riddled with questions emerging from an unknown space within me.

Why would he say that to me?

How could someone be so unempathetic?

And most of all: if this is what a lifetime of spiritual formation produced, why even bother?

 


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About Andrew Lang
Andrew Lang is an educator in the Pacific Northwest, an alumnus of Richard Rohr’s Living School for Action and Contemplation, and author of Unmasking the Inner Critic: Lessons for Living an Unconstricted Life. Along with blogging regularly, he facilitates workshops helping people to navigate their inner lives and explore their sense of identity and spirituality. You can read more about the author here.

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