Thursday, June 4, 2009

My mother the whore

“The Church is a whore but she is my mother”
St Augustine of Hippo (allegedly)*

Have you ever been to a party where you don’t know anyone but everyone seems to know everyone else there? That’s how I feel about church these days. For longer that I would like to admit, I have been struggling to feel any sense of belonging in the church. I have been to a couple, the people are nice, the music is good and so is the preaching and yet I usually end up feeling the way I do when I attend a funeral for someone I didn’t know (an activity I detest by the way), I feel like I am expected to feel something or experience something that I simply don’t.

What makes this worse is the feeling that I am the only one feeling this way. Everyone else seems to enjoy going to church just fine. Politicians seem right at home (during election time anyway) and yet heaven alone knows what they actually believe. Obviously the good Christian people of the world seem to get a lot out of it. In fact, it turns out even a large number of atheists and agnostics enjoy going to church! So if agnostics can think of ten good reasons to go to church, why is it so hard for me to think of even one?

I have every reason to feel at home in church. I grew up in church. From the time I was a baby I attended church every Sunday. I faithfully attended for most of my life. I wasn’t just attending it either, I was involved in it. I have been a deacon, a cell leader, an usher and a caretaker. Really I have dealt with every part of the church from the people to the toilets in my short life. I used to feel that connection, I used to feel like I belong. So why don’t I feel that way anymore? Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if Calvin was right with his gloomy doctrine. Maybe I am excluded due to predestination.

Maybe it’s because I have changed so much. These days I browse the various neighborhood church websites and look at the smiling pastoral faces promising aggressive Kingdom building and a strong commitment to defending Biblical inerrancy in these trying times and I see exactly the Christian I used to be which in turn makes me wonder how much acceptance the person I am now would have found with the person I once was. These days I have more doubts than certainties and more questions than axioms and I just can’t help but wonder if there would be any room for me among these good people.

Perhaps there will be room, but will there be understanding? Will there be acceptance? Could the smiling faithful really connect with someone who questions as much as I do, someone who doesn’t feel the same way they do, someone who may never see eye to eye with them on certain issues? I certainly don’t have the energy to fake it for the sake of belonging.

I guess there is only one way to find out. Time will tell.





* I say allegedly because while I can find hundreds of people attributing this quote to him I can’t actually find it in any of his works. Therefore there is a chance that he never actually said this.




3 comments:

RandomSue said...

I wish I had the answer for you. Plucky and I have often talked about the possibility of his company moving us back to the small town we came from. It's all good in my mind except for one thing...I would be in your shoes. I would feel out of place anywhere I went to church.
I am so blessed to be part of a unique church that embraces questions and searches for truth. I belong. No matter what I am going through, I always feel like I am safe there.
My hope is that this becomes the new model for churches around the world. I am so thankful for the Rob Bells and the Louie D Lockes in the world.
I am praying that you find a place you can call home.

Tania said...

I feel you, bro! I can't seem to find a church I feel comfy in at this point in my life. I'm just happy that God is everywhere and not just between the walls of a church. I'm always comfy around Him! And I know you are, too. I believe your quest will be sanctified: I believe God blesses us when we seek answers, and truth - His truth. And that is to be found not only in church, but in the world, in people (also the ones who don't believe in our God) and in our hearts. After all, Jesus sought and taught the truth beyond the church of His day, as far as I know.

Shannon said...

Come to prison, Eugene! Mysteries and surprises abound. It's the life that I find there that makes being church bearable.