Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Drive Through Church

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

I had made a comment in my intro over on Cassy’s blog (from which, some of you are reading this for the first time since this is a cross-posting; hang with me, m’kay?) that I don’t go to church anymore. And that my reason for not going has to do with my distaste for the decisions people make in groups. Fact is, the decision people make in groups can turn out to be wonderful, and I still don’t like it because of how it was made. I find it to be unaccountable. The very meeting-in-groups, itself, over time has come to impress me as a way of scrubbing accountability clean. This all turns to crap — who takes the body blows for it? If it’s “Joe Says We Should Do This” the answer is crystal clear. If we all sat around a conference table and “it was agreed that we should…” then the idea itself takes on a flavoring of legitimacy it doesn’t deserve, even if it’s right. If it turns out to be wrong, and now we have a cleanup we need to do, we’ll probably proceed from that point with the same mindset that got us into trouble in the first place.

And then there is the notion of “everyone.” The older I get, the more jaundiced a look I cast in the direction of that horrible, horrible word. No, I don’t like the word “everyone” anymore. It has come to be an insidiously insincere word. Just keep your ears peeled next time you hear it —

“All” does not mean “all.” “Everyone” doesn’t mean “everyone.” I remember being summoned for a parent-teacher conference and the lady on the phone explained why I had to miss three hours of work with this lame cliche: “This turned out to be the only time that would work for everyone.” And I retorted “well yeah, but I’m part of ‘everyone,’ aren’t I?”

The answer is no. “Everyone” means “me, and people who agree with me.”

So this video Rick put up, speaks to me on all kinds of profound levels. It makes me think of a bunch of conversations I’ve had with my Dad about his frustrations with church, how it’s being taken over by those goddamn long-haired hippies with their guitars. People like him are facing the same problem with church that I faced with the teachers, you see — that music ensemble just worked for “everyone.”

What comes next seems so patently obvious I feel a little foolish for jotting it down: Church isn’t supposed to be about us. And yet, there’s a dilemma here, because a man’s relationship with The Almighty is a personal thing; if the format of the group worship isn’t to your liking you’re not going to be happy. That means you’re not going to go. And so churches bend over and take it, and they end up being parodies of themselves.

A situation which apparently inspires this darkly humorous clip embedded by Rick:

Could there be some common ground? Seems to me, the answer might involve a “least common denominator.” I’ve always held a little bit more sympathy to those who attend group worship, and object to some new embedded cultural flavoring therein, than to those who likewise attend group worship and insist on inserting one. I mean, what is the objective here? To share in the experience of communicating with The Lord, with dozens of others in your flock — or to have things customized to your personal tastes? If you need to have things customized to your personal tastes, well, that’s when you need to learn to sustain a relationship with your Creator as an individual.

And I can’t help but think, for folks who’ve worked themselves into that kind of a fix, maybe that’s the answer. Maybe they’re not the kind of people who should be attending church either.

Cross-posted at Cassy’s.