“Tamara laments the rise of a utilitarian mentality in the church – in which business models are imposed and buildings are regarded merely as assets. One could add that this same mentality has led to the mediocrity and at times downright brutality of modern church architecture. The church is seen as no more than an auditorium and not only the clergy, but the people too have lost any sense of the need to construct a temple and are intent on building a preaching hall.” — Closing Churches Closes Faith, by Fr. Dwight Longenecker
I’m not sure a church should be exclusively a temple, or exclusively a preaching hall. If it must be one or the other, I’d rather go worship God in a temple. I can watch a sermon on tv, or read a book. I can sit and talk with friends at a restaurant. I can watch goofy Youtube videos, or listen to someone sing along to recorded music about anywhere; certainly in more places than I want to.
- It seems that Euroman still does not have an electorate worthy of his greatness.
“Don’t be too thrilled by that UKIP landslide. Now that UKIP has achieved unprecedented power in the EU, their demand that that institution be dissolved will grow quieter and eventually be abandoned.”
Well, people who despise me and my clan of bitter gun-toting Bible-thumpers are annoyed about the result. Maybe that’s something.
“Though both are crucial to the future of Christianity, neither Roman Catholicism nor Orthodoxy is the Church of the future.”
Really? Is that a promise?
“The free market is ugly and stupid, like going to the mall; the unfree market is just as ugly and just as stupid, except there is nothing in the mall and if you don’t go there they shoot you.” — attributed to P.J. O’Rourke
- I don’t much care for Wendell Berry, but Manifesto: the Mad Farmer Liberation Front is a poem to re-read.
- This ginger bourbon is good. I let it sit for three or four months. You can drink this straight or mix it. One good drink is two ounces of ginger bourbon, four ounces of chilled club soda, and a slice of orange. Don’t overindulge in bourbon (of course), or ginger, which is powerful stuff.
“An Episcopalian is a Presbyterian with a trust fund; a Presbyterian is a Methodist with a college education; and a Methodist is a Baptist with shoes.” — quoted by Mary Catelli in religion and class
When they elect a Pope, the Catholics have the meeting in the actual Sistine Chapel. That’s just way more impressive than having a meeting in the fellowship hall, or even in the big conference room out at the Ramada Inn.
Instagram is a photo-sharing and social-networking website. It’s the hot new thing; or maybe it was the hot new thing last Tuesday but isn’t anymore; things change so fast it’s hard to keep track. But hot or not, Instagram isn’t really innovative. Walk With a Doc is innovative. A local doctor walks in the park every Saturday. Whoever wants to, joins him. There’s not much more to it.
The hot new social networking platform is dinner with friends
This approach has succeeded with a couple of long-running small groups I know of. “Small groups” are a big deal in Christian ministry right now. Those I know of that last for more than a year are like Walk with a Doc. As an example, a few members of the Methodist Church might eat dinner at Lois’s Cafe every Tuesday evening at six. Anyone who wants to join them is welcome. It’s not a 501(c) anything. There’s no list of members; no collection is taken; there’s rarely any overtly religious discussion.
Several loose ends:
- I’m not sure the preacher entirely approves of the small-group-that’s-about-nothing, but he rarely shows up and hasn’t tried to stop it.
- When I say dinner with friends is the hot new platform, I don’t mean we should use it to monetize or commodify our social relationships.
- Many small groups are short-lived. Longevity isn’t everything. If a few people get together to read Romans or paint someone’s house, and they do it and move on, that’s great.
- “Organic small groups are the hot new thing. Let’s start some, and have a big drive to get everyone to join one. Ask the nominating committee for the names of six people to be the organic small group leaders, and I’ll contact District Headquarters about a charter.” This approach does more harm than good.
Christmas is coming. Who would evict a congregation and seize their organ, hymn books, and Bibles? The Church of Scotland, that’s who. They’re evicting and suing a congregation, for being intolerant I suppose. We must all be tolerant, and any intolerant haters must be proscribed.
From “I believe” to “One does feel”
In Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis tells us he “was soon (in the famous words) ‘altering “I believe” to “one does feel.”‘” Those famous words are from the satirical poem Absolute and Abitofhell written by Ronald Knox in 1913. Here’s part of Absolute and Abitofhell. I’ve modernized Knox’s deliberately archaic and very annoying spelling.
Yet something marred that ordered Symmetry:
Say, what did Strato in their company?
Who, like a Leaven, gave his Tone to all,
‘Mid prophet Bands an unsuspected Saul.
For he, discerning with nice arguings
‘Twixt non-essential and essential Things,
Himself believing, could no reason see
Why any other should believe, but he.
(Himself believing, as believing went
in that wild Heyday of the Establishment,
When, on his Throne at Lambeth, Solomon
Uneasy murmured, “Something must be done,”
When suave Politeness, tempering bigot Zeal,
Corrected, “I believe,” to “One does feel.”)
He wished the Bilge away, yet did not seek
To man the Pumps, or plug the treacherous Leak:
Would let into our Ark the veriest Crow,
That had the measliest Olive-branch to show.
This is probably extraordinarily witty, but it’s a bit beyond me. Still, if someone had told me it was written about the Church of England today, I’d have believed it.
UPDATE 15 January 2014: some observations on Monsignor Ronald Knox and Absolute and Abitofhell.
I attend a Methodist church, and we’ve had women as preachers and bishops for some time. It doesn’t really bother me if the bishop is a woman, any more than if the bishop is a man. The Catholics are pretty much stuck, but if you’re going to be a protestant and choose to have bishops at all, you’ve brought it on yourself. And if the worst thing about the bishop is that she’s a woman, count yourself lucky. But I am glad finally to have found the scriptural warrant for women to be bishops. It’s Isaiah 3:12.
Methodist clergy often (though not always) seem to be to the left of Methodists. The
higher up the hierarchy further around the Great Circle of Connection you go, the crazier they get:
“Recently a newly appointed official with the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society explained on her agency’s website that ‘we are a church that is pro-life, not pro-birth.'” — United Methodists Are “Pro-Life” but “Not Pro-Birth?”, seen here
But things seem to be moving in the right direction, if very slowly:
“Like the nation, United Methodism has slowly been stepping back in recent years from the earlier [1970s] enthusiasm for abortion rights. This year’s General Conference was almost certainly prepared to withdraw from the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice had it been allowed to vote. It will happen next time in 2016. And hopefully, as our church becomes more global, United Methodism will once again reflect the historic Christian consensus that is both pro-life and pro-birth.
“As our church becomes more global” means the demographic balance is shifting toward Africa, India, and Korea. Methodists vote every few years on what’s right and wrong, so in a few years performing an abortion may become a sin. No doubt the far left will embrace that change enthusiastically, ’cause while growth is optional, change is inevitable, right?
I’m getting tired of fooling around trying to maintain some privacy while using Google Reader, which seems increasingly clunky anyway. It might be easier to just visit sites I like, read what’s there, and move on.
On another topic, Wikipedia says Selah “is probably either a liturgico-musical mark or an instruction on the reading of the text, something like ‘stop and listen’.” Going to the Methodist Church, I was beginning to think it meant connection! or maybe authentic! or that it was the High Priest’s instruction to the hereditary Keeper of the South Door to lower the projection screen and start the PowerPoint. Which, sinner that I am, always causes me to visualize the veil of the Temple tearing from top to bottom.