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Sunday, August 25, 2013
Dennis Muses...Sucketh It Up
The Branson 2013 Challenge
I am absolutely the last person any COG would ever pick to write about the Unity of the Faith and with good reason. Balancing, if that is a goal in the realities presented by both science done well and religion, the conflict between faith and skepticism is a challenge for me and many to say the least. "Just have faith" means nothing to me as it seems like what you say when you can't explain something well or simply have no answer for something that obviously is unbelievable. Believing the unbelievable has become a personal problem. On top of that, the politics of religion and in my own experience, within the Church of God has put me off beyond measure. I'm probably still stuck in an idealism of childhood. Someone once thought I did not get much beyond 11 in my reactions and idealistic expectations of oneself and others. Perhaps they were right.
Christ Church Episcopal-Greenville, SC
I'm writing this because I am going to have my first formal church experience in a couple hours. It will be Episcopal and the oldest surviving church building in Greenville. The reasons for going are varied at this time. This is only the second time in 15 years I have been inside a church building. I do like the fact that Christ Church's stain glass, done in 1914 of the Lord's Supper, clearly shows Da Vinci's belief that Mary and Jesus were closer than the Gospel stories would like you to believe. She plainly sits on his right hand in the picture at Christ Church. Even the person I was with when I commented on the whole picture suddenly said, "Hey, who is that woman in the picture?" Lol. She has gone there since childhood and never noticed until I mentioned how nice the stain glass was. I did not say anything about Mary.
Da Vinci also made it so that if you placed Mary on Jesus left instead of right, it forms a very endearing couple with robes complimenting each other. Also , the four groups of three may have had the deeper message of the Four Seasons around the Son of God (Sun) who was Most High in June, but I spare you!
I returned to my old Presbyterian Church for mom's memorial service. It was the same inside as when I played a shepherd in the Christmas play for Sunday School. The pews were the ones we all sat on decades ago as children when our feet would not touch the floor and our parents were young with all of life ahead. The woman who brought me down the isle for my baptism to present to my parents, as an infant, and the baptismal still sitting where it did then, was sitting on the front row. The Sanctuary had not changed one bit but we all had of course. That's the nature of a stable church. It gives good memories
So why write to challenge the myriad of Feast of Tabernacles churches and groups that will descend upon Branson, Mo. this year, to reach out and mend broken fences and share common hopes? Because I know they won't and can't I suppose. Maybe to prove they tend to more competing corporations and marketers than really stable beliefs and congregations. .
Religion is an organizational thing. Spirituality is a whole other thing. They are COG "leaders" and leaders don't wish to give up their autonomy for the general good it seems. It threatens loss of members to others. No Dave Pack is going to shake hands with a Vic Kubik of course, but maybe Vic Kubik could shake hands with one or two or three of the more balanced and open minded leaders of other groups. Or at least try I suspect those under a Rod Meredith type might really wish to shake the hand and share a common service at Branson with someone they know but they don't have the power to make such a decision. Of course there are the zealots in each who would howl to the heavens. Rod would require them to come to him and the idea of "come let us reason together" is totally lost on that generation of COG leaders. Anyone outside of them is of the "marked" and "disfellowshipped' or as Vic Kubik taught me when I was 22, "dis-membered" crowd. We don't talk to them.
In reality, of course, none are bad folk or fallen away from their hopes and understanding of what the Bible says to them. They just ran afoul of closed minded, limited view and authoritarian Bible readers of this or that persuasion. Gone are the days of feeling bad about being put out of the one true church. Now you can just slide over to another true church and feel right at home. It was my first thought when the Tkaches reinvented the wheel of my Presbyterian past. "Well if this is so, then screw driving thousands of miles a year to church. Down the street works just fine and no you can't have anymore of my resources." Seemed a no brainer to me.
Anyway... May I suggest if not arranging to share a service together, how about a hymn sing before or after one? I know...that could be emotional and someone would lose members to the other who would gain them depending on the mood. I suspect there will be a lot of festival sermon and church hoping in Branson anyway. A day here, a service there and meals out with the "enemy" are probably going to be common place. The kids with friends in "the splinters" in Branson will find each other and talk about how stupid church is and this idea of same hopes and views, practices and even hymns but turf wars galore. It will cause them to shun the whole thing first chance they get. Just because they aren't talking to mom and dad about it does not mean they do not observe such stupidities among themselves and their peers. I know I would if I was a COG kid in Branson this year. I also know I would not care who my kids talked with in Branson were that the case. I found it more healthy to send them the message in life that they got to make their own beliefs and truths decisions just as I did and do . Of course you have to live with them and sometimes recover from them.
So...We all know now that after 3 requests for Dave Pack to come out from behind the walls of the Restored Castle of God and down from the mountain, to talk theology and the Bible , he won't, but how about a challenge for even just two different but the same Churches of God in Branson to share a common service at least once? We need two real Church of God leaders to suck it up and show some class. We need someone , somewhere to prove it's not just about getting and keeping members, collecting money and increasing the numbers.
Religion is what others stuff into your head. Where to be, when to show up, what to believe and how much give. Spirituality is an inside job and while each may have a different perspective on the whole thing, spiritual people don't sweat the details and they don't major in the minors as we see so pathetically done by, say, a James Malm type of Church of God cast off.
Well...off to Church. If they sing the "wrong" hymn and memories of a kinder and more gentle time in religion come flowing back...I'm toast for a time before the skepticism returns.