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Well…at least he’s smiling?
Oh man, SO appropriate! Little do some people know, that entering or joining some churches that the hoop-jumping is about to begin.
Such a sad commentary on the state of some churches . . .
A thought occurred to me: some churches would do well to ask themselves why all the same people hold certain positions within the church. But of course, that would presuppose that they’re even interested in knowing. Some are content to hold all the power. I would submit, that some of it is attributable to people not wanting to jump through the hoops.
The really sad part is that it is the Gospel, the promise of Unconditional Love that attracts people to the Church in the first place.
We don’t experience the “strings” (sometimes more like chains) until after we have formally joined.
I am presently a regular communicant at a local Episcopal Church because I have a Eucharistic spirituality; but I certainly don’t feel part of a distinctly Christian faith community. There are people there with whom I feel a spiritual bond; but most members are middle class professionals and, although I was raised in a middle class professional family, my finances now place me somewhere between lower middle class and working poor. Socioeconomic class seems to be more of the common binding factor in most American Churches than faith. Most Churches are social clubs as well as religious collectives rather than genuine faith communities.
The cartoon made me laugh out loud. The truth of it is not at all funny, but at times the truth is so absurd that you laugh or you cry. I laughed, but I could as well have cried.
At least they’ve got ’em all lined up and at a low level…
Carol, I attend an Episcopal Church for the Eucharistic spirituality and because our church welcomes a thinking spirituality in its members. Most of our congregation is middle class, with the exception of a few struggling people. Our saving grace is the welcome we extend to LGTB persons. Two lesbian women regularly serve up front as lay readers and lay Eucharistic ministers. One day, in a congregation of about 40, there were 7 LGTB persons in attendance – this in the deep South. In our town, we are the only community which openly embraces and values the presence of gays and lesbians.
As a church, we struggle for survival in a heavily Roman Catholic area, but we accept that a struggling church is not necessarily a bad thing.
Yes that’s it! My 17yr old son said to me not long ago “the reason people our age don’t like church because it’s about following church not God””……….
That’s a profound statement from a 17-year old.
Jesus put an end to the need for ANY hoop jumping…on the cross.
“It is finished.”
That’s what I remember too – when found out years ago that in the bible it says that Jesus said It is finished I knew God was saying Jesus had done everything – no more hoops. Like this post David 🙂
The Episcopal Church is the most progressive in my Southern city, also. That is why I have chosen to make it my Eucharistic pit stop.
The Church organizes a lot of “corporal acts of mercy” in service to the community; but there is really no meaningful sustained contact with either the working poor, those who live pay check to pay check (like me) or the abject poor, those who live hand to mouth.
I don’t intend to deny the importance of the “corporal acts of mercy. The problem is that social ministries that “reach down to” rather than “out to” people is not transformational and a middle class church can’t avoid giving that impression to those it helps out of an abundance rather than at some meaningful sacrifice. A local church with a mixed class congregation would be able to engage in social ministries that are transformational as well as humanitarian. There really isn’t much difference between the social ministries out of St. Peter’s and those of a secular humanitarian organization. The ministries are certainly needed and very good, they just don’t offer the transformational psychological/spiritual healing that is perhaps is needed as much as meeting the physical needs of the poor. Most middle class Americans don’t realize how advantaged they are. People who breed animals realize how important it is for pregnant and nursing mothers to feel physically and emotionally secure. Where that security is lacking the mother will often maim or even kill one or more of her litter. Is it any wonder that the infant mortality rate is much higher among the poor, especially the inner city poor, than among the middle class? It drives me crazy when aggressive pro-lifers picket women’s health clinics that provide abortion services and then complain about their tax money going to government social programs that support “lazy welfare mothers” or criticize the poor for neglecting their children. Working two or three minimum wage jobs to feed, clothe and shelter their children does not leave much time and energy for quality family time.
Of course, the poor are not blameless. Since there is really no future in a predatory mercantilist economy where practicing the civic virtues of the Protestant work ethic gets the wage slave exploited instead of rewarded; so the poor often make the bad choice of spending what little disposable income they have on things that deliver immediate pleasure rather than practical benefit. Then, too, the poor can be as predatory as the rich; especially since, to the poor, the middle class looks rich. However, the poor turn predatory for survival; while the rich turn predatory out of greed. How many middle class would betray their values if that is what it took to feed their children or buy a chemical substance that takes the edge off the pain of not being able to provide adequately for their children? The traditional expectation for people to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps” can only be justly applied to people who have bootstraps and most of our citizens born into poverty are lacking in the bootstrap department.
Unfortunately, many humanitarians are enablers, not empowerers. It feeds the ego to “reach down” rather than “out” to those less fortunate. A “noblese oblige” or “white man’s burden” approach is part of the poverty problem, not it’s solution. There is no silver bullet, magic pill that will cure the ills of society. I guess that is why I still look to sacred activism rather than political activism for a sustainable just society.
Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace.
Carol, exactly. You’ve said a mouthful of wisdom. There’s not much transformative about the works of charity. A friend often reminds me of Dorothy Day, who insisted she and her fellow workers were visitors in the land of the poor, not some deus ex machina swooping in to rescue the poor from themselves. Those who work with the the poor and are not poor themselves, cannot know what it’s like.
A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog, when you are just as hungry as the dog.
Author: Jack London