Churches? Are they the church?

I just read a post on a friend of a friend’s husband’s uncle’s aunt’s cousin’s girlfriend’s (obviously kidding) blog. I wonder why churches think they are doing the will of God when they treat people the way they do? How do we as humans pretend to know the thoughts of God, when [They] tell us in [Their] own words that “my thoughts are not your thoughts, my way is not your way” (Isaiah 55:8). What is it about grace that is so hard? Disagreements happen. They have ever since Adam and Eve ate those magical fruits. Damn that tree of knowledge…. But that is why we have grace…so that we can still get along. We don’t have to be Cain and Able, Jacob and Esau, and on down our wacky Judeo-Christian lineage, until we out God each other.

Why do we set ourselves up as tiny Gods (yes the capital is intentional)? How can we not understand that what we are doing when we perceive ourselves to be Gods is the same thing the Israelites did when they built the golden calf? The same thing that so many times in life we see people doing? If we try to build a tower to the heavens, it WILL fall! I know, I have tried to build several in my 33 years! I have never understood the concept of paper confidences in the church: our covenant is with God, before God, through God, in God, of God, and by God. It is not made in paper promises—those can be burnt!

When I was a Methodist, which I probably would still be if not for the bureaucracy, I could never understand, nor did I want to get to a place where I understood, the intrinsic relationship between money, power, and “the dismissal letter.” Supposedly, the infamous dismissal letter is sent to people who desire to be withdrawn, who are no longer tithing (or contributing), or who haven’t attended church for several years. My question about this practice is where did it stem from, if not from the desire for power and/or money. I don’t know the details of the situation that I read about, but I am supposing that it is something like the typical situation that happens in churches that are wrapped up in themselves. Someone is the head of some committee, that someone felt challenged, a riot ensued and another someone got hurt (boiled down version).

I know it may seem like I am bitter, and maybe I am, but I think we are all capable of being short sighted. We get the power of the knowledge of good and evil, but there was no Ethic Tree in the garden. Why should there have been? I frequently wish there would have been, but it was entirely unnecessary. There was no Ethic Tree, so we have to forge our own ethical system, and it seems as if that is the big question, problem, debate. As humans we get so self-centered, so consumed with our own shit, that we can’t see that everyone else is walking around with handfuls of their own shit, too. My theory is this: CHURCHES are FULL of INDIVIDUALS carrying around tons of SHIT, like baggage for a trip around the world. I propose there are three things we can typically do with this shit:

(1) We can throw it at each other, which may seem like a temporarily good thing to do with it, and unfortunately it is what I see happening most frequently. We won’t have to carry it around, but in the end we all end up smeared with the stuff. Seriously, this is what happens when people with power haven’t dealt with their baggage; they try to push off onto other people who may, or may not, be the fair recipients. It seems to me like this happens when people feel like they have no power anywhere else, so they are in churches where they have some power and it goes to their heads, so they sling shit at whomever else they can to make themselves feel more powerful. They were probably playground bullies as well, or they have no healthy release for their handfuls of shit.

(2) We can just keep carrying it around so that it stinks up everything we touch. I think this happens a lot in churches, too. There isn’t anywhere safe to pile the shit, there is no grace, but there isn’t enough stimulus to cause people to fling it at each other, so they just walk around carrying the same shit they came through the doors with. It might go like this: “I am in an abusive relationship, but there is no one here to talk with me about it, so I just don’t say anything. I can’t be complete because I have this huge bag of shit to carry. No one is pushing me to unload it unhealthily by throwing it at someone, but no one is helping me find something healthy to with it either. I just keep carrying around my dirty little secret.” These people are probably the people who sit in the back, who no one else in the church even knows their names.

(3) Or, my favorite option. We put it in a big pile in the corner and use it for fertilizer. I think this plays out in the idea that we all have shit, we can see each other carrying it around, so why we don’t we put it in a communal pile, recognize it for what it is, and then put it to good use. I mean we could carry it around forever, we could throw it at each other, but why not call it what it is, compost it, and USE IT FOR SOME GOOD! I think this is grace. We all come from dirt, we all carry shit. Why not put it down in a safe place and then use it to make the world a better place???

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