Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Christiana est absurdum

Come here. I have to tell you something to you. Call it a confession. Come here so I can whisper it. Christianity is absurd. Did you hear that? You're looking at me as if I've denied the faith. Perhaps you didn't hear me, I'll be a little more plain. Christianity as I am aware of it in the West has long been absurd and no one is willing to say it. Sure, theologians are saying it, but no one listens to them any longer. Don't believe me? Oh, you aren't sure what I mean by absurd. To be in absurdity is to act upon habit and compulsion without understanding. One may even defend such actions, but the arguments come from books not the soul. You do not believe me? Tell me about your hymnody. Whether you sing "the old classics" or try on the rock n roll nursery rhymes of contemporary music, is either particularly worshipful? Is this how you yourself would worship were you able to make your own choice? Or, granted the demands of a community, is anyone doing real investigation into the Scripture's regulations for worship any longer or simply doing the next thing, operating out of the absurd? Take the model of education which churches generally adopt. Why do we subject our children to the same doses of simplistic storytelling again and again and again? Why have churches adopted wholesale the age/grade model of the public school system? Why is curricula always dismally boring? And what of the implication that one advances in the faith as one advances in age or in knowledge which is implied by the classroom model of education? Everyone admits this is untrue. Spiritual growth is much too slow and intimately personal to be regulated by curricula. Whatever Christian education is, it should correspond to the reality of how people grow and develop into the skin of their confession. Yet, churches spend thousands and publishing houses pump out material by the ton in a great dance of market-driven absurdity. Aren't curricula and classes just a placebo? Don't we adopt them because of our type-A need to be organized and to feel we are doing something. In the beginning, believers met together to help each other understand this new thing that was happening, and to try and discover the new way of living in the light of the Kingdom coming. Recall a moment of tragedy or wonder in your life, how you hungered to tell and re-tell it, how you weren't happy unless you were with other people who understood your experience because it was also their own. Now, we file past the yellow skin of Lenin's corpse in, at best, an attempt discover we are still comrades and, at worst, to try and keep a Revolution going which has long since descended into the deep dark of absurdity. Didn't Karl Barth say that religion is another way of avoiding God? Isn't this what they meant when they said God was dead back in the 60's? Don't we know it's true, that if this - what we do every week and with so many of our weeknights and Saturdays - is God then he is dead. Maybe one day someone will finally say something and we can all be free of this absurd waste of time. What should we do? You want to know? I say it isn't going to be easy, but there are landmarks. Christianity is dead; but the Kingdom of God and its future is still there. We have the Spirit, and the lessons of the past. Above all, we have to begin with honesty. We're like a couple who don't talk any more. We have to learn to talk again: and not just therapy-talk. We have to get into our mouths what was in their mouths when they just had to talk about it. We have to get into our needs the absolute need they had to just be with others who, though some understood it less and others more, were joined by a common feeling. Something has happened! What does this mean? What is life from now on? In some ways I guess 9/11 did us a favor. Like every tragedy we realized nothing could be the same, but we had to keep on living into a future we didn't quite have figured out yet, and we still don't have it figured out. Terrorists die of fear before they pull that pin - and that's the same fear that all of us have now. Well, I digress. You can't lose faith - it isn't yours to lose. I don't have all the answers. Don't go thinking I'm your messiah.