April 2007


The NY Times has posted a recent article about a child molester, recently released from prison, who is seeking to join a congregation in Carlsbad, California.

How sad that this is even up for debate. I don’t have kids, so I can’t imagine the feelings parents must have about this, but seriously: this is the church. This is the body of which Christ is the head, and people are arguing over whether certain people have the right to be members.

I wonder if they had this argument the first time a soldier, recently returned from the Middle East, tried to place membership. Did they question his right to belong, based on things he had done in his past? What about those who are greedy, who are racist, who are fill-in-the-blank.

The church is not a country club, and who are we to start denying entry into Christ’s body?

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The Tacoma Narrows Bridge was brought down by a series of small wind-created vibrations resonating with other small wind-created vibrations that became large undulating ribbons of tar and concrete.

Simlarly, there are small, seemingly unconnected events taking place, sometimes no more than a fleeting thought or a daydream, that are acting in harmony to disrupt my current equilibrium.

For over a year now I have not been able to fully participate in worship because I am preoccupied with critiquing the message of the songs. One of my favorite pasttimes during worship is to count how many singular pronouns occur on each slide, and then “scoring” the songs based on some sort of unrefined scale of my own creation. I’ve written before, in other venues, about my distrust for the modern, contemporary evangelical worship service, so this is nothing new.

But what is new is the focusing of my critique on my own internal condition. I tried, recently, to take stock of how many personal pronouns occur in my own ruminations and planning. The tally frightens me.

How am I going to pay my tax bill? How can we save up for our trip? What is the next step in my education? Me, myself, and I. Sometimes, we.

I am approaching a state I can only imagine Nouwen experienced (as passed on to us through his writings): a state where I feel that if I don’t begin to expend myself in the service of others, if I don’t begin pouring out my life as an offering, if I don’t get my head out of academia and philosophy, my soul is in danger of shrivelling up and dying.

So, I get Henri Nouwen. I get the need to “check out” of the rat race and get messy, and even though I know that it is what is needed, I can’t bring myself to pull the trigger, so to speak, and put this miserable man out of his misery.

Thanks be to God for the outlet of quasi-pseudonymous confession!