I’ll be the church, you be the steeple

I’ll be the church, you be the steeple November 26, 2012

“The notion here is that theology can’t be done properly if it doesn’t begin where God begins — with, among, and for the poor.”

“To talk about Christ the King is to talk about what it means for us to be Christian in a world saturated with the lust for power and the greed for wealth.”

“Everyone understood there is more to being a church than gathering each week to impress people with hairdos and wardrobes.”

“The ‘Christian’ message being heard in the outside world isn’t really ‘how can we best bring justice to the poor’ but ‘how can we protect what we have, the poor can fend for themselves.'”

“This Jesus came into prominence in the 1970s, the brainchild of Jerry Falwell and others who united with him to forge Christian America into a political army.”

“Imagine how her stunted emotions, her ability to compartmentalize other people’s pain, must play out in every attempt at human intimacy.”

“I’m not sure what to do in the face of that kind of excess, that kind of lack.”

“As persons who seek the truth about things we distinguish in our minds between appearance and reality.”

“Standard misrepresentations and ideological clichés get woven together into resentment narratives that are rarely challenged in the conservative media, and never in the conservative evangelical media.”

“So we had this old Cary Grant classic Room for One More on in the background this afternoon and I just heard Robert Osborne explain that after an earlier broadcast the network had been inundated by angry viewers demanding to know why they cut the word God from the pledge of allegiance in the movie.”

“Being advised to lie to maintain or receive sacraments is not terribly sacred nor does it seem very Catholic, but lying is becoming routine in the upper echelons so maybe it is some new form of Catholic truth.”

“In 1662, a woman named Christian Caddell had watched one of Scotland’s most famous witch-prickers at work, and thought ‘I could do that!'” (via)

“They died before I was born, in circumstances none of us will ever understand. But they were my brothers and sisters.”

“If we keep having these conversations, some youth workers won’t come to the NYWC; and some senior pastors will forbid their youth pastors from attending.”

“Why is it that when politicians want to demonstrate just how religiously righteous they are, they talk about banning same-sex marriage and making contraceptives hard to get, instead of showing what they have done to protect the weak?

Take care of the sick, and the poor, and shut up, or at least be Seamus Heaney.”

“All I want is for him to recognize that this is a pluralistic and multi-faith society and to realize that the law should reflect our diversity of opinion about moral matters.”

“This may continue until the Presbyterian in a fit of desperation invites the fundamentalist in to chat over a beer.”

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  • Can you stand one more link? The SFL site is always ripe with good thoughts.

  • AnonaMiss

    Posting this here since Simmons’ post is 2 years old… a bit late for commenting on.

    I was raised in a liberal mainline Protestant tradition, and education about the importance and acceptability of doubt and questioning was acknowledged in our confirmation classes. It was commendable, but it didn’t prevent me from eventually leaving the faith. 

    I was aware that people of other religions existed, and I understood that sometimes young people went through a “rebellious” phase in which they would say they were atheists or agnostics or one of the various “new age” spiritualities, but I figured they grew out of such phases. I considered leaving one’s religion for any reason other than finding another one (of the pre-approved sort, of course – Abrahamic traditions or maybe Hinduism/Buddhism)… illegitimate.

    My shattering moment wasn’t painful in itself, and didn’t even involve doubt, at least not at first. It was when I learned that one of my atheist friends, rather than having a religion to go back to once she grew out of her ‘phase’, had been raised completely without religion by her (PhD archaeologist) parents. I hadn’t thought about the implications of such a situation on my religion-view. My friend – well-adjusted, kind, motivated, and good – had been raised completely without religion, and felt no need for it in her life. I had believed that was impossible.

    Up until this point I had been interfacing reality with my faith gracefully, keeping up the ‘hard work of faith’, believing and hoping and maintaining my faith because religion was part of what it meant to be human. Welcoming doubt, but holding on to the core of my faith: a god and a Christ. Everyone had a religion, I had believed, except those who were trying to rebelliously reject theirs, and who had to expend a lot of effort to keep their religious upbringing at arm’s length. And all faiths were based on a certain amount of faith, of inserting the supernatural into places where there was no concrete evidence of it. Everyone had to keep up some kind of effort of faith, whether it was the effort of inserting the supernatural into the everyday world, or the effort of rejecting their heritage for the illusion of being more rational than the rest of us.

    This friend shook the foundations of my faith just by existing. It took a few more years for it to crumble entirely… but honestly, it was inevitable from the point at which I first realized that people could be raised entirely without religion, and not find themselves with a “faith-shaped hole”.

    Which brings me back to Simmons’ article. Why struggle to maintain faith? Why perform the hard work of injecting supernatural meaning into observable reality? What do you gain from it – joy, inner peace? There are people who have never had religion, have no need for it, and take such joy from life anyway. I laid my burden down. I stopped the ritual and the sun still rose; I dropped the feather and still flew; I trashed the magic hubcap and the magic was in me all along. If maintaining your faith is a struggle, perhaps that’s an indication that it’s time to “succumb.”

  • AnonaMiss

    Just wanted to add that I don’t want to deconvert anyone who isn’t struggling. Just that when cognitive dissonance is causing you pain, it might be time to reconsider what you get out of maintaining it.

  • I don’t know, your comments do make me think. 
    One thing, when speaking of pain, I remember my daughter trying to quit cigarettes, at times she lay around crying, saying, “I feel like I’m being poisoned!” to which I would respond, “That’s good, because that means the real poison is working its way out of your blood.” Sometimes faith is like that, sometimes it’s a symptom of a soul struggling to make peace with the world and one’s life. A healthy person going for a hike in the woods is going to be able to walk and enjoy the view; but a weaker one is going to have to stop for water, rest the legs, can’t enjoy the birds singing if they have to stop and use a breather, it can be like that. I also fear a lot of Christians don’t feel they are living a Proper Xian Life unless they are suffering and miserable, “Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God” still resonates.
    Kudos to your friend for being at peace with the world, she sounds like an enlightened soul. All the same, some of us still need the feather, the hubcap as a beacon. Oh, we know the sun still comes up, the rain still comes down if you don’t use them, but the ritual keeps us on the path away from despair. My ex always jeered at me whenever I used a cookbook, insisting that Real Cooks never  need one; but without it the food ended up burnt or raw.
    I guess I think of “faith” as pondering on why we are here, what we are meant to do with our lives, is there anything there outside our quiet lives? Guess I’m not a RTC, either :-)

  • stardreamer42

     Some of what you say here sent me off on a bit of a philosophical tangent, which I decided to write about on my own blog. People are invited to come by and join the discussion if they like; it’s a public post, but you must have a LiveJournal account to comment. (Or an account on DreamWidth — you can get to the mirror post over there from the one I linked.)