DISCLAIMER: If you are offended I apologize, but we all have opinions. Love mine or hate it let me know, I will still love you.
There are two things you don’t talk about with people you love, religion & politics, that is if you want to continue having a civil relationship with them for any length of time. The big debates within the media always include the separation of Church and State, yet they make such wonderful bedfellows for angst and acrimony it almost never makes sense that these two sides war like the Roses, when they really should be forming mutual support groups.
Almost daily it seems that you look to the news and religion is behind many leading stories. Whether it be a war of religious beliefs which cause more bloodshed then world wars; or something more obvious like the recent story of the drop in Catholic attendance in the Boston area in recent years. Then you have the ever controversial gay marriage and abortion which always has a sound bite relating to God’s Law from some guy a suit that has never had to struggle with the decision to have an abortion during his junior year in high school, or have the baby and live on public assistance, which ironically this same man will judge her for later in life; nor has this man ever really known a gay couple, but can say that love can not exist within gender circles because, “it’s just not normal.” Your first thought is I am describing the words of a politician, no these are the stances of our spiritual leaders.
Now yes, abortion is in most situations the terrible solution to a situation someone created out of carelessness, but why can the church find it far easier to forgive and welcome an adult who commits murder or molestation and welcome them back, then a young confused girl who needs far more acceptance to help her within her own struggles. If all the Vatican cares about is to see a drop in abortion numbers maybe they should open your eyes and their hearts, they will see that the girl loses in either situation in the views of the church, maybe if the Church welcomed and helped more single moms without judgment then maybe then these girls may not feel so ostracized. I realize this is a deeper issue then that of just the Catholic Diocese, but I was raised as a Catholic and am not positive as that of all faiths and their stance.
Many of us can tell a story where we were shunned or belittled by the religious community, my loss of faith in the Church came when the wife of a Church Shepard at my mother’s funeral told me that if I wanted to ever see my mother again I needed to find God because I was currently on a path that leads to loneliness and hell. This woman knew nothing of me spiritually, she never asked me of my beliefs, all she knew was I did not accept God in her ideal way. Had this woman approached me and asked to have a juice and pastry one day we may have come to an understanding that I do accept God, just not in her Home of Worship. The way I see it, we have a list that we one day will have to answer for in front of St Peter and she will have to face the fact that Romans 2 does have a rather lengthy section on passing judgement upon others. Please let’s not even discuss my tattoos and the book of Leviticus, because that Book should be amended right out of the Bible. A section that calls for the spilling of blood by fellow man for the punishment of sin is in complete disparity to the teachings of Christ. Anytime I have mentioned that fact in rebuttal to my defacement of my body in opposition to God I always get the same response, “you can not just pick and chose from the Bible you need to live by the Bible as a whole and Leviticus was authored by God through Moses.” So if I need to live by the whole Bible how do I apply “eye for an eye” when I need to “turn the other cheek.” I apologize to the Church, but if it comes to following the teachings of Moses or Jesus, I think the Christ may have the more “God-approved” teaching. Now I haven’t forgotten about the atheists and scientists who may be asking saying there is not law of life if you don’t have a “God.” Sure there is, you learn about it in high school physics the “Path of Least Resistance.”
Have we forgotten how to Preach? I do believe we have. Instead of leading by example and giving our youth a foundation to learn from, our Church’s are telling us, “this is the way it is, don’t question it, just accept it.” How can a changing society expect to know the Grace of God if they can’t get through the front door. Churches are today’s secret society. My wife and I have been trying to find a Catholic Church to baptize our son and we are continually met with closed doors. One big roadblock is our choice in Godparents, they want us to have confirmed members of their parish. The deacons explain that if we are not there to guide our child he will need a person that can raise our child in the path of the Church. My wife’s sister loves our son more then any member of those Churches and would raise him like her own, yet the Church does not believe so because she is unconfirmed. Meanwhile our son is now 9-months old and can not be baptized because our family does not meet the Church’s standards of approval. Does our son’s soul need to suffer because we don’t meet their definition of a good Christian? In their opinion, apparently yes. We are like a family of mutts trying to gain entrance into the Westminster Kennel Club.
Since I have already partially plagiarized the title from Jay Baker’s sermon “Have We Forgotten How to Love? (01-07-07)[LINK]” of Revolution, I might as well further use another of his theories, if Jesus were here today he wouldn’t show up on the steps of the great golden halls of the Vatican or preach at the beautiful St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Jesus would talk to the people on the street who really needed the salvation of God and a real friend to the degenerates of society. I believe most of this blog entry is a reflection of Jay’s “Love” sermon not because I want to steal his idea, but because he is a man I admire spiritually and philosophically. As a matter of fact I when I listen to his weekly sermon I don’t hear him as a preacher or minister but that of a Philosopher of the Teachings of Christ. He along with Johnny Cash can make the worst traffic jam a spiritual experience.
Preaching does not start in a Church, it begins in society. How often do people hold doors for strangers, or carry an old ladies groceries? I see more middle fingers in traffic in one day then I see smiles in a year. I know this sounds like the plot of a movie staring Haley Joel Osment, but it goes much deeper then passing forward an unrequested favor. How about just starting with a smile or hello to a neighbor on the subway. We don’t need to make a friend, but try this experiment. When you get on the subway find your average daily rider with the distant eyes and tense jawline and just smile and say good morning, after fifteen minutes their eyes will have expression and their jaw may still have the slight remnants of a waning smile. Today’s society is so deeply entrenched in stress and worry that one dad day leads to the next and so on and so on never stopping to heal our souls leaving us with such bitter attitude not only to strangers but to those we love.
And there you have your answer to your question, Have We Forgotten How to Preach? And the answer, Churches need to stop telling us how to think, God gave us free will for a reason. Spiritual leaders need to focus on the root of their name, Spirit. Lead with faith and accept that people will not be perfect. We need look for the good qualities in others instead of judging based on the absence of the negative, because when you find the flaws will only disappointed. Love is the doorstep to a happier life.