Posts Tagged ‘Christian Church’


Let’s be honest first off, anthropologically speaking every religion is a cult.

Dictionary.com provides these definitions:

cult

/kʌlt/ Show Spelled [kuhlt] Show IPA

noun

1.

a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
2.

an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
3.

the object of such devotion.
4.

a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
5.
Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
Yet when we hear the term cult, we picture more nefarious ends ala Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints (Jeffs/Blackmore pedophile bride ring); Jonestown (Jim Jones however started out as a Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor); Hale Bop Suicide Cult; Raelians; David Koresh & Waco, etc.
Yet do these types of cults exist outside the realm of death and mayhem? Is it possible to be apart of a mainstream religious group but to have your local sect have become a cult?
This is a point to ponder, so for you dear reader here are some points to ponder about whether or not you have stepped into a cult (of celebrity; hobby group; political, and/or religious), and if you think you have, the best advice is to: R-U-N!!!!
  • Only one person, or a small circle are allowed to provide teaching/interpretation of the sacred (and/or ideology).
  • When one raises questions or makes others uncomfortable they are quickly asked to leave.
  • Weaker or most insecure members of family units are targetted with half-truths to create disharmony and to retain these targetted family members even if it means their own family units falling apart.
  • One (or a select few) are elevated to the point of veneration above or equal to that of the deity being worshipped. Thought such as “this wouldn’t be possible without so-so” as opposed to it being centered on the Holy.
  • Money sometimes becomes the target of obsession
  • No focus given to growing understanding, mentoring or discipling of followers. Rather having them frozen at the simplest of infancy stages in spiritual development as to stem the ability of critical thinking/engagement with the sacred.
  • Tend to be a place of rescue, that ties ones own victory over darkness to association with the organization/leader.
  • Indoctirnation over discipleship.
  • Leadership boards/councils are shrouded in mystery
  • No one has full picture of how the complete organization functions (this allows for easier ways to oust members who can be viewed as troublesome).
  • No one allowed to question the leaders.

Surely though, we are apart of a respectable denomination that does not allow for such lone wolf games to develop. Yet even within denominations with oversight committees local congregations can still develop a cult like following where the pastor becomes more venerated than Christ, or the Bible is raised up and above the moving of the Holy Spirit.

Those called to the vocation of the Pew can be the most effective in healing the church and removing these cancers by voting with their feet and finding healthier homes. But will we?


Portrait of a Franciscan Friar

Portrait of a Franciscan Friar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thank you for all those who have come to A Robin Hood‘s Musings for inspiration, information, controversy or just a good read. Here is a thank you for your support in 2012, the first two rough chapters of a new adventure and a new world, Enjoy:

One

            The Dalai Lama is hinted at once saying his morning prayer/meditation was when he read the newspaper, answered his e-mails, and other communications. This centered him to begin his day centered with others.

            He never served in a church that was struggling to stay alive, with parishioners that as soon as they see the flicker of a light are knocking on the door. Why? For the benevolence aid available for food, or utility/rent payments. So much pain created in the aftershocks of Alberta’s common sense revolution of the 90’s to early 2000’s. Yet I feel the desire to centre myself, so here I am huddled in the Sacristy with a candle, my Book of Alternative Services and Bible doing morning prayers.  

            The walls are so thin on this brisk fall morning that I can hear voices outside the building. Inside my eyes squint to find to Holy stories for the day. The rustling and screaming outside is getting louder. The use of racial epithets has begun; the Aryan Guard has been trying to create a beach head in this, the greatest mosaic of communities probably in all of Canada. What is it when people are struggling financially or in pain become easy prey to monsters that are unable to see the beauty that is the rainbow children of God. We are the beautiful rainbow given to the sky in the promise of Genesis 9.

            More rustling and jostling, sorry Morning Prayer, but what is happening outside sounds a wee nip more urgent for centering my day than this. Leaving the Sacristy, I dart through the candlelit (or should be candlelit) sanctuary (really should pay the Enmax bill one of these days, oh right that takes some money) into the Narthex, need to fix the baseboards here. Hit the dirt path outside to the double ply wood doors (yeah had to sell the oak wood ones last spring to pay a family’s rent), the dirt path is there because the cement caved in and it was the cheapest way to fill.

            East side of the building where the community garden is, that is the origin of the screams. Now that I am outside there is also the sound of leather on flesh. The community garden was planted by the Grandmother’s of the community so that fresh free vegetables were always available for those who needed them.

            Two rather large bald men in black bomber jackets with iron crosses embroidered on the back, black jeans and jack boots with black hoody’s pulled up over head to try and hide their ugly mugs. So I do what any good priest would do in this situation, as there is a third person on the ground getting the boot treatment. “Hello there!”

            The two thugs turn to me. Okay at least they have stopped pummeling the young lad. Now I accomplished plan A, divert their attention, what is the next step in the plan however? They are transfixed however at the site of me in my patched brown wool habit. Perhaps it is the tonsure shaved into my hair that has them mystified. It is possibly the first time a Franciscan Friar has ever confronted them before in their lives.

            A young indigenous youth stumbles up. I know the lad, he helped me learn Latin and Cree. “You okay Daniel?” He is a pillar of the positive youth movement within these communities, maintaining a 90.5% average in grade twelve, works two side jobs to aid his single Dad in caring for him and his two sisters, and will probably be the first of his family to go to university (I have personally already sold the original gold communion service of the church to pay his way through, a special church scholarship). The beauty is the reconciliation within God, as his father was a student at a Franciscan residential school, brutalized, yet we were able to come to forgiveness and reconciliation to aid the new generation in this community in breaking the cycle of hate and addiction.

            Daniel looks right at me, his left eye is already puffing up. “Yes, Friar.” I nod; he grabs his messenger bag and bolts to the school across the road.  The two wannabe men look mad, it is quite obvious they have paced brass knuckles within their black leather gloves.

            I bob my head with prayer hands. “Now lads, it is time for you to vacate my parish.” Word usage may have been too large for this dim bulbs, what is it I learned in my Missiology degree, speak the vernacular. “Get the fuck out.”

            That they understood, good. The much smaller of the two steps up and tries to intimidate me by inflating his chest and trying to get into my personal space. “Fuck you Friar. We ain’t done fuck all, but we will fuck you up.”  Mental note to self, do not laugh at the one ill-equipped for the contest of wits they are trying to engage in. I feel the corners of my mouth begin to form a smile, under the hood I can see the formation of cold sweat beads from fear, and the sweet aroma that sweat breeds. Win.

            “Look you little Aryan Guard fuckwit, this parish, these people are blessed through the Holy Mystery and under the protection of the Almighty. You are not wanted here, so get out.”

            A shift in the wind. My forearm flips out and connects with his wrist, as a smooth loud snap as small thug’s wrist bends out the wrong way. The sock which probably had a cue ball in it hits the dirt. Aryan Guard one crumples out of my personal space crying like a new born babe at his circumscion. The bigger gorilla is on the move, but thankfully my Birkenstock moves faster and quieter than he. The heel of the sandal to his chin with a new fangled blessing causes both his hands to go to his bleeding mouth and I think there will be a tooth or four to remove from my sandal later.

            “Friar, need a hand?” Got to love the thick Tibetan accented English, to keep the church afloat, we sold the Manse to a small group of Tibetan religious, refugees actually that at one point claimed sanctuary in our basement. The five dollars we received for the Manse aided us nicely with seed for the community garden.

            “Brother Lao, I think my visitor’s are leaving?” The two white supremacists are already stumbling over their own feet to get away from the pacifist who just humiliated them can move. Brother Lao may clear 5’1” if he is wearing platform sandals, but with the saffron multi-coloured robes of his homeland he looks quite regal as he walks up the crumbling path way to me as I straighten my own robes.

            “The ministerial tea still on today?” I smile, for most communities, the Ministerial is made up of the local Christian Leaders. St. Clare’s Anglican is the only Christian church in the communities of the Shire (4 communities, built 40 years ago as a town within a town: York, Nottingham, Worchester, and Berk). So our ministerial is myself, and Brother Lao, the lead of the Tibetan Buddhist Religious (4 elderly nuns, and 8 monks), and a network of House Mosques that on Holy Days pay for the candles to use the sanctuary at St. Clare’s.

            The rumble of the 15 year old Dodge Caravan rolling to a stop in the dirt and gravel (more dirt than gravel) parking lot announces the last of our trio arriving. Tarek, the Imam of the Mosque gets out. He could have been a pro-basketball player, but instead used his scholarship for a full ride for a religious studies degree up to and including a Ph.D. Lao and I look at one another, smile and then in unison announce. “Welcome, and how is your better-half, Frank?”

            Tarek smiles. “Working far too much, and too hard. It is the lot of the self-employed carpenter.”

Chapter Two

            Evening green tea, alone finally in my office, tomorrow God will provide the funds necessary to alleviate more pain in this community as the coffers are currently dry. Eleanor, the elderly lady who freely gives her time as secretary has just left (crossed the street home, as Eleanor is truly Sister Eleanor and is one of Brother Lao’s). Soon I will retire to the choir loft, that I converted to my own bedsit to save funds (as we had sold the manse for the great profit).

            Why do you ask that a church that is healthier than most in Canada with 200 members and about 250 attendees a week throughout our multiple Masses is so financially strapped? I really have no clue.

            I hear the laughter of children from the basement. Since our Tibetan religious moved next door, two families have claimed sanctuary because their deportation back home would end with death.

            I rub my temples as I begin a tea meditation. The media will have another round of calls tomorrow, as the slumlords that own all the residences in the Shire are talking selling out for large upscale condo and casino developments, so chances are the rents will go up before Christmas to force the families into the shelters. Which is disastrous as the highest (not average) family income in this area is $25,000 per annum (wait I only make $18,000 I should call the Bishop).

             Our church sign still says Anglican, but it is not completely true. Most of my congregations are everything but Anglican (closest we got outside of myself, is Sister Eleanor and she’s Buddhist). We actually also left the Anglican Church of Canada, not because of the “question” (the same-sex marriage bullshit) but rather because we are not seen as a viable parish by the Diocese and they were trying to close us. So we made a shrewd business decision. St. Clare’s closing would have killed these communities as they would have lost one of their major supports. So we petitioned The Holy Father (Pope Benedict XVI) we used the 2009 Apostolic Constitution of Pope Benedict XVI, Anglicanorum Coetibus and became an Anglican Use parish within the Roman Catholic Diocese. None of the parishners noticed really as we kept doing our own survival thing.

            Through R.C. social justice initiatives in the Diocese we get some aid for the basics which helps, as we are a “beachhead” for the Great Commission or some such thing in the Shire. Yet we are still only one disaster away from this building finally being foreclosed upon, and we have no plan B, but the people of this parish are family and family keeps the homestead going.

            I take another sip of tea and crack open my Great-Granny’s Book of Common Prayer for Vespers when a new creak is heard. It is just one of those days God, thankfully Franciscan Charism speaks of being constantly in prayerful Communion with the Holy Mystery and only taking certain times to be intentionally focused upon this.

            Another creak, not our tenants.

            Not the building settling.

            A visitor. Guess I should have written the cheque for the alarm system instead of to the public school for tuition for one of our kids over 16 years old to cover the school fees so the child can be allowed to attend class. Drop out one of our kids my ass, totally unconstitutional and illegal, when we actually get the monies together for the legal challenge it will be a grand statement to the Alberta Government.

            Move slowly out of the office space into the Narthex. The door is unlocked (okay technically the lock hasn’t worked for three years, but humour me that I simply forgot to lock it). There is someone kneeling in the sanctuary at the altar rail. Long curly red hair, jeans, bomber jacket, hoody, and a nice ass.

            “I am sorry my dear, I know God loves everyone, but the Aryan Guard is persona non grata in this House of God.”

            The kneeled figure leaps up and twirls around. “Fuck Tuck do I look like some supremacist prick?”

            There’s that cheeky dimple-freckle smile I grew up with, and on graduation night almost convinced me not to begin my postulancy with The Society of St. Francis. “Bronwyn, you scared the crap out of me sneaking in here.”

            “The door was unlocked.”

I think the bald part of my tonsure must have gone red at that. “Bloody hell woman you know there’s been no locks on these doors for three years, you’re the one that gave me the alarm sticker to try to convince people we were `protected’.” She giggles at my air quotes.

            “Air quotes? From the bloke that tussled with two of the baddest asses the Guard has huh? And in the Garden no less, ain’t that for walkin’ with God or somethin’.”

            “You really need to come to Mass more often my dear.” A full out belly laugh this time. Bronwyn was/is a cradle to grave Irish Catholic. She is a member of the parish but she only darkens the door on Mondays/Wednesdays/Fridays when we offer midnight Vespers, as she hates crowds. “The two yahoos decided to play cowboys and Indians with Dan and me. I pointed out the errors of colonization to them.”

            Bronwyn gives me a hug and peck on the cheek, is it wrong that if she asked I would seriously consider dropping the habit and leaving with her? Her hand slips an envelope into the side pocket of my habit. “Watch yourself, Friar rumours are they put a price on your head.”

            “How much this week?” I ask.

“Thousand.” Is her answer.

            “Please, the last thugs offered twelve times that and no one took.” My response, true but simple.

            Bronwyn smiles, crosses herself, and begins to walk out. She stops in the sanctuary doorway. “Tuck you’re not Superman, regardless of what your bicep tattoo says.” With that she leaves the building.

            I retire back to the sitting room (I long ago gave up having an official office, it looks much more like a tea room with comfy chairs for working, praying, writing homilies, and journeying through the Sacrament of Reconciliation) withdrawing a manila envelope from my habit. Bronwyn’s vocation is to protect and serve, she does this as an Inspector with the city’s finest. She has retained me on a few cases due to my past, the modest retainer has aided those in the parish with food, water, heat, and rent when most needed it.

            I open the flap of the envelope, as I lower myself into a cushy wingback chair. There is one 8 x 10 photograph in it. I look at the relic pictured.

            “Damn, Bronwyn what have you gotten yourself into.”


A Manifesto! The Time Has Come!

Our Hero

Our Hero

John Shelby Spong

I have made a decision. I will no longer debate the issue of homosexuality in the church with anyone. I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy. I will no longer dignify by listening to the thoughts of those who advocate “reparative therapy,” as if homosexual persons are somehow broken and need to be repaired. I will no longer talk to those who believe that the unity of the church can or should be achieved by rejecting the presence of, or at least at the expense of, gay and lesbian people. I will no longer take the time to refute the unlearned and undocumentable claims of certain world religious leaders who call homosexuality “deviant.” I will no longer listen to that pious sentimentality that certain Christian leaders continue to employ, which suggests some version of that strange and overtly dishonest phrase that “we love the sinner but hate the sin.” That statement is, I have concluded, nothing more than a self-serving lie designed to cover the fact that these people hate homosexual persons and fear homosexuality itself, but somehow know that hatred is incompatible with the Christ they claim to profess, so they adopt this face-saving and absolutely false statement. I will no longer temper my understanding of truth in order to pretend that I have even a tiny smidgen of respect for the appalling negativity that continues to emanate from religious circles where the church has for centuries conveniently perfumed its ongoing prejudices against blacks, Jews, women and homosexual persons with what it assumes is “high-sounding, pious rhetoric.” The day for that mentality has quite simply come to an end for me. I will personally neither tolerate it nor listen to it any longer. The world has moved on, leaving these elements of the Christian Church that cannot adjust to new knowledge or a new consciousness lost in a sea of their own irrelevance. They no longer talk to anyone but themselves. I will no longer seek to slow down the witness to inclusiveness by pretending that there is some middle ground between prejudice and oppression. There isn’t. Justice postponed is justice denied. That can be a resting place no longer for anyone. An old civil rights song proclaimed that the only choice awaiting those who cannot adjust to a new understanding was to “Roll on over or we’ll roll on over you!” Time waits for no one.

I will particularly ignore those members of my own Episcopal Church who seek to break away from this body to form a “new church,” claiming that this new and bigoted instrument alone now represents the Anglican Communion. Such a new ecclesiastical body is designed to allow these pathetic human beings, who are so deeply locked into a world that no longer exists, to form a community in which they can continue to hate gay people, distort gay people with their hopeless rhetoric and to be part of a religious fellowship in which they can continue to feel justified in their homophobic prejudices for the rest of their tortured lives. Church unity can never be a virtue that is preserved by allowing injustice, oppression and psychological tyranny to go unchallenged.

In my personal life, I will no longer listen to televised debates conducted by “fair-minded” channels that seek to give “both sides” of this issue “equal time.” I am aware that these stations no longer give equal time to the advocates of treating women as if they are the property of men or to the advocates of reinstating either segregation or slavery, despite the fact that when these evil institutions were coming to an end the Bible was still being quoted frequently on each of these subjects. It is time for the media to announce that there are no longer two sides to the issue of full humanity for gay and lesbian people. There is no way that justice for homosexual people can be compromised any longer.

I will no longer act as if the Papal office is to be respected if the present occupant of that office is either not willing or not able to inform and educate himself on public issues on which he dares to speak with embarrassing ineptitude. I will no longer be respectful of the leadership of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who seems to believe that rude behavior, intolerance and even killing prejudice is somehow acceptable, so long as it comes from third-world religious leaders, who more than anything else reveal in themselves the price that colonial oppression has required of the minds and hearts of so many of our world’s population. I see no way that ignorance and truth can be placed side by side, nor do I believe that evil is somehow less evil if the Bible is quoted to justify it. I will dismiss as unworthy of any more of my attention the wild, false and uninformed opinions of such would-be religious leaders as Pat Robertson, James Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Jimmy Swaggart, Albert Mohler, and Robert Duncan. My country and my church have both already spent too much time, energy and money trying to accommodate these backward points of view when they are no longer even tolerable.

I make these statements because it is time to move on. The battle is over. The victory has been won. There is no reasonable doubt as to what the final outcome of this struggle will be. Homosexual people will be accepted as equal, full human beings, who have a legitimate claim on every right that both church and society have to offer any of us. Homosexual marriages will become legal, recognized by the state and pronounced holy by the church. “Don’t ask, don’t tell” will be dismantled as the policy of our armed forces. We will and we must learn that equality of citizenship is not something that should ever be submitted to a referendum. Equality under and before the law is a solemn promise conveyed to all our citizens in the Constitution itself. Can any of us imagine having a public referendum on whether slavery should continue, whether segregation should be dismantled, whether voting privileges should be offered to women? The time has come for politicians to stop hiding behind unjust laws that they themselves helped to enact, and to abandon that convenient shield of demanding a vote on the rights of full citizenship because they do not understand the difference between a constitutional democracy, which this nation has, and a “mobocracy,” which this nation rejected when it adopted its constitution. We do not put the civil rights of a minority to the vote of a plebiscite.

I will also no longer act as if I need a majority vote of some ecclesiastical body in order to bless, ordain, recognize and celebrate the lives and gifts of gay and lesbian people in the life of the church. No one should ever again be forced to submit the privilege of citizenship in this nation or membership in the Christian Church to the will of a majority vote.

The battle in both our culture and our church to rid our souls of this dying prejudice is finished. A new consciousness has arisen. A decision has quite clearly been made. Inequality for gay and lesbian people is no longer a debatable issue in either church or state. Therefore, I will from this moment on refuse to dignify the continued public expression of ignorant prejudice by engaging it. I do not tolerate racism or sexism any longer. From this moment on, I will no longer tolerate our culture’s various forms of homophobia. I do not care who it is who articulates these attitudes or who tries to make them sound holy with religious jargon.

I have been part of this debate for years, but things do get settled and this issue is now settled for me. I do not debate any longer with members of the “Flat Earth Society” either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church’s participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people.

Life moves on. As the poet James Russell Lowell once put it more than a century ago: “New occasions teach new duties, Time makes ancient good uncouth.” I am ready now to claim the victory. I will from now on assume it and live into it. I am unwilling to argue about it or to discuss it as if there are two equally valid, competing positions any longer. The day for that mentality has simply gone forever.

This is my manifesto and my creed. I proclaim it today. I invite others to join me in this public declaration. I believe that such a public outpouring will help cleanse both the church and this nation of its own distorting past. It will restore integrity and honor to both church and state. It will signal that a new day has dawned and we are ready not just to embrace it, but also to rejoice in it and to celebrate it.

– John Shelby Spong, Retired Episcopal Bishop

-Verily I say unto thee…Amen…Amen..Amen


Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

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Christopher Hitchens, Diana Butler Bass and the Third Great Awakening

by Christian Piatt Saturday, March 10th, 2012

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Everyone who calls me to speak somewhere, it seems, wants me to address the issue of declining church membership, and particularly how to connect with younger adults. The problem is that sometimes the invitation is built on a false premise. It’s the hope of many churches that if they can find a way to connect with younger people in a relevant way, those young adults will join the church and save the institution for future generations.

And while this is possible in some situations, it’s really the wrong question to be asking.

The explicit question I get asked, time and again, is “How do we better serve younger people?” And if the question really ended there, We could have a pretty productive conversation. But there’s an implied subtext in most cases that we have to tease out, and often times, the church isn’t even willing to admit that this footnote is married to their question. So although the words above are what are spoken, here’s what they really want to know:

 

“How do we better serve younger people (so that they will come back to our institutions and save them)?”

Christopher Hitchens, well known for his public identity as an atheist, offered a fantastic quote in his book, “God is Not Great.” And given the influence of his voice, even posthumously, it’s incumbent on us (Christians) to pay close attention:

“[A]bove all, we are in need of a renewed Enlightenment, which will base itself on the proposition that the proper study of mankind is man and woman [referencing Alexander Pope]. This Enlightenment will not need to depend, like its predecessors, on the heroic breakthroughs of a few gifted and exceptionally courageous people. It is within the compass of the average person. The study of literature and poetry, both for its own sake and for the eternal ethical questions with which it deals, can now easily depose the scrutiny of sacred texts that have been found to be corrupt and confected. The pursuit of unfettered scientific inquiry, and the availability of new findings to masses of people by electronic means, will revolutionize our concepts of research and development. Very importantly, the divorce between the sexual life and fear, and the sexual life and disease, and the sexual life and tyranny, can now at last be attempted, on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse. And all this and more is, for the first time in our history, within the reach if not the grasp of everyone.”

Now, I’m sure many folks within the institutional Christian church will bristle at the phrase, “…on the sole condition that we banish all religions from the discourse.” I understand that. But try to hold this paragraph above in tension for a minute while you check out this six-minute video below from Christian author, Diana Butler Bass, who recently wrote “Christianity After Religion.”

I don’t want to suggest that Bass and Hitchens would agree on everything, but in many ways, they’re speaking about the same things here. Both envision a coming enlightenment or awakening. Both also see that, in many ways, the institutional church doesn’t have the same role as it once did in the public forum. And I may be reading into Hitchens’ quote here, but given his careful choice of words in most cases, I have to assume that when he calls for the banishment of “religions” from the discourse, he means just that.

It’s not that he claims in his book that anyone who maintains any kind of faith in the Divine should be excluded, but rather that the institutions of religions themselves, and the power structures that he perceives have imposed tremendous pain, suffering, shame and guilt on its followers, should be absent from the table.

But that still leaves room for individual voices. Just not their hulking power structures and their history of oppressive, fear-based rule over people.

In the story Diana Butler Bass shares about the Episcopal priest going out into the streets to offer the ashes to passersby on Ash Wednesday, I see a hopeful glimmer of common ground. Now, if this was only an act – a stunt, if you will – to get people through the door on Sunday, it would still effectively be akin to the institutional church extending its tendrils into the public square, like a giant tree whose roots are stretching out in search of water and nutrients.

But if this act was a genuine effort to get away from the trappings of the institution, and to meet people, person to person, face to face, and to serve them, then I think Bass and Hitchens are talking a little bit of a common language.

I’ve been asked many times if I believe we are on the verge of another Great Awakening. the First Great Awakening preceded the American Revolutionary War, and had a profound impact on the imagination of those struggling for a democratic nation. The Second Great Awakening can be traced back to the beginning of my own denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) which emerged from a days-long revival in Cane Ridge, Kentucky. This caused a wave of mainline Protestant fervor to sweep through the west.

So do I think we’re experiencing the stirring of a Third Great Awakening? Yes.

Will it save the institutional church as we now know it? Don’t count on it.

If we are to sustain and continue to share this story of faith we claim as Christians, it will have to be unencumbered by the caveat that we will only tell it from within the protection of our familiar institutional church. We are not a church or a denomination after all; we are the Greater Body of Christ, or so we claim. And while institutions incline themselves toward permanence, the Body is ever-changing. While the buildings crumble, the Temple evolves into something new.

Jesus himself predicted the fall of the great church institutions of his day. But in so doing, he did NOT drive a stake through the heart of human faith. In fact, he freed one from the other, perhaps to coexist, but not necessarily.

We’re slowly awakening to a faith that is unlike that of our parents or grandparents. But in some ways, I think we have an opportunity to claim a faith much more like the one Jesus imagined for his followers. Time will tell if we can loosen our grip on what was to dive into the exhilarating, terrifying unknown of what might be.

—-
Christian Piatt is an author, editor, speaker, musician and spoken word artist. He co-founded Milagro Christian Church in Pueblo, Colorado with his wife, Rev. Amy Piatt, in 2004. He is the creator and editor of BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE BIBLE and BANNED QUESTIONS ABOUT JESUS. Christian has a memoir on faith, family and parenting being published in early 2012 called PREGMANCY: A Dad, a Little Dude and a Due Date.Visit www.christianpiatt.com, or find him on Twitter or Facebook.

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Center for Great Apes

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Did you know that in the Great Apes anthropologists have discovered religious rituals?

That we have a majority government by reverse-ballot stuffing due to a demon dialer misdirecting voters in almost 39 ridings…13 of those won by a slim margin.

That sociologically speaking the Canadian Christian church is on life support, as we struggle to find more ways to create individual converts, humanists and atheists have been realizing and working into building authentic community and reaching our nation more and more… funny how we move away from the original created intent from God we die…hmmm…

The vast majority of world faith, religions, and philosophies have some text they go to… regardless of faith in an eternal creator or not, everyone comes down to the Golden Rule…

What other ponderings arise during this Lent Season for you?


A quick note I will follow up later with personal story and musings…the mainline church in Canada is not dying due to theological issues, it is dying due to many new/older members leaving disenfranchised with God‘s people, due to a

H-O-S-P-I-T-A-L-I-T-Y issue.  That’s right, unwelcoming congregations to the young to old, who have innovations, or worship differently, ask questions, or challenge institutional norms, but instead of living into the words of the 1-3 John, and even Jesus proclamations of welcome when he sent out the 77, they choose to hunker down like a bunker and drive those that “aren’t like us” out.

More to come…


What is the albatross I speak of? Let’s be honest we can speak of many, the albatross I raise here is in the realm of the religious.  I exist in a community where the cup is overflowing with church buildings, yet the majority of community members are not worshippers in the Christian church, yet elsewhere (as is the shifting demographic of Canada).

So what we have is many buildings not being effectively used, half or less full on a Sunday morning, dark during Mon-Saturday…and many congregations working to keep the utilities paid and the roof from caving in.  I don’t think NE Calgary is any different from most other communities in Canada, what would truly change in the landscape if the 2/3 of churches that could not afford their buildings, and the mission of the Body of Christ to build a community of empowerment, surrendered the earthly status building (or the Freudian in me, Phallic Symbol)?

BUT and this is huge, not just to give up the building and give the money to the dying institutions that brands are on their church signs, but to truly help those in need.  What would change in people’s perception of Christianity and God in general if these churches did the following:

1) Merged with other small congregations in their area to work together throwing off the denominational divide.

2) Sold their buildings and gave the money to the local habitat for humanity or organization working to house the homeless in their area, for those in rural areas, used the money to build a vibrant community centre/ice rink.

3) Moved into the community centres.

And the biggest being the shift from travelling to a destination to worship God and do the work of the Parish, and honestly exisitng and ministering intentionally within the parish community that the church is the soul of.