Friday, November 9, 2012

Schism and Separation

Nine years ago
A small Christian sect
Took a momentous step
In the name of progression.

In sync with the changing attitudes
Of the general population,
This church in conclave approved
The consecration of a homosexual bishop.

While a state of being
Is neither sin nor crime,
His intimate homosexual relationship
Would heretofore be proscribed.

Media swarmed over the news
As a juicy story of potential conflict.
But no riots or outcry resulted.
Parishes went about their activities.

No story, hence no publicity,
Until a few parishes
Declared a separation from
Their dioceses and denomination.

Shocked by their resistance to change,
Bishops expelled these congregations
From their property and seized their assets
To preserve them for future loyalists.

Meanwhile, a very modest bishop
Who occupied the see of Pittsburgh
Slowly gathered a network of faithful
Distressed by the departure from tradition.

Since then, they have established
A rival denomination that grows
While the parent suffers
Loss of attendance and support.

It is not our purpose to
Debate or defend theological differences,
But the politics of the situation
Are similar to the division of nations.

No revolution need occur.
When for the good of both parties,
A separation becomes necessary,
It may be quietly negotiated.

Unfortunately, the parent denomination
Of the Christian sect in our story
Has acted with extraordinary malice
Toward its rebellious children.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Christian Books

I read books suggested by Christianity Today concerning the
state of the religion in America today.  It is a frequent topic.
My interest was sparked by the (temporary) popularity of
Rob Bell's "Love Wins."  I gave that a separate review in this
blog, entitled: "Love Wins; Jesus Loses."  Enough said.

My interest is now due to the tremulous state of my present
denomination in the bigger picture.  The Episcopal Church
is busily progressing itself into extinction.  An excuse offered
by its leaders is that it is simply sharing the decline of all major
denominations, for a host of reasons.

"Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe," by Mark Driscoll
and Gerry Breshears, is a pure, unapologetic dissertation on
orthodox Christianity.  This is bedrock theology, in language
we can understand.

"What We Believe and Why," by George Byron Koch, is an
offbeat, unedited attempt to find the areas of common ground
among all Christians.  Then he hopes that we can agree to
disagree about that which divides us, and get on with the
important job of spreading the good news.

"Bad Religion:  How We Became a Nation of Heretics," by
Ross Douthat,  reviews the history of Christianity in the past
century or so, played against cultural and political upheavals.
He concludes, unsurprisingly, that we have to get back to basics.

"The Searchers," by Joseph Loconte, is a charming and poignant
story of those who are looking for godly love in all the wrong
places.  He advocates meeting them where they are and leading
them to see the light that Christianity offers.

"One Nation Without God?" by David Aikman begs the
question as to whether the U.S.A, is a Christian nation.  Instead,
he traces the religious influence throughout our history.  Like
the other authors, he offers hope for rediscovery of our
Christian legacy.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Where Are the Easter Eggs?

Our little Episcopal church
Has a Christmas pageant every year
Featuring members of the Sunday school
Costumed as the nativity characters.

This being a pageant,
They do not speak.
Instead a narrator reads
The gospel story according to Luke.

The church is filled
With a capacity crowd of 200.
Many young families attend
Whom we have not seen before.

Everyone oohs and aahs
As the participants troop down the aisle.
Mary is often a head taller than Joseph;
The cute little angels steal the show.

A communion service followed
The pageant this past Christmas Eve
Which was a mystery to some in the pews
Who did not understand what was happening.

At one point in the service
People turn to shake hands
With all around, saying,
"The peace of the Lord be with you."

When I turned to face
The family standing behind me,
I shook hands with a little fellow
Who was licking a candy cane.

His hands were sticky, of course,
But I decided to grin and bear it.
Then I heard him ask his father,
"Where are the Easter eggs?"

There, my friends, is a great mystery.
Why did the parents bring him,
When his only church experience
Will be Christmas and Easter?

Are the parents themselves
Nostalgic for childhood holiday events?
Do they feel that showing up twice yearly
Will suffice for including God in their lives?

We are to judge not, saith the bible.
Yet if we could reach such families,
The church would be filled each Sunday
And the children would hear the Good News.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Christianity Lite

Mainstream churchgoers like Christianity Lite.
It fits comfortably into American culture.
It emphasizes love and good feelings.
It relieves us of guilt and fear of judgment.

Our pastors preach uplifting sermons,
Telling us to feel good about ourselves,
Urging us to do good, as it were,
To our unfortunate neighbors in need.

Jesus figures in Christianity Lite
As a kindly and loving teacher
Who was misunderstood, and met a bad end
At the hands of evil authorities.

But we can brush aside the sad story
And concentrate on how he returned to love us all
No matter who we are, or what we do.
We don't really have to believe in him as a god.

Sin is a pejorative word that we never use.
Some of us may engage in inappropriate behavior
At times, but so long as it does not hurt others,
It may easily be forgiven.

We like to hear excerpts from the bible
That give us peace and comfort.
Other than that, we are not likely to
Read any of the stories by ourselves.

We have heard some quoted passages
That are harmful and just plain wrong.
Jesus and the saints could never have said such things.
They must have been added by narrow people later.

We like to read books by scholars
Who tell us what aspects of Christianity
Are false and useless, and need not be believed,
So that we may feel free to pick and choose.

The only problem with Christianity Lite
Is that there a whole lot less of us,
Whereas those bigoted megachurches
Seem to pack in hosts of new believers.