Once again church had a slight feeling of artificiality to it yesterday. Even though it was "good", I kept getting this anguished feeling in my guts that we're putting on a show, that we were presenting something from the front, that we were the production and they were the audience. I'm sure many there didn't feel that way. And maybe I have issues. No, surely I do. I know you know.I just get so tired and suspicious of organized Christianity and official Churchianity. I get this deep feeling in my guts that something is terribly wrong. And I despair that any amount of tweaking and adjusting and altering is just changing the furniture on a sinking ship. I'm still looking for the real, the true, the most valuable jewel. Yesterday at church blatantly reminded me that I still haven't found what I'm looking for. I know that it isn't elsewhere. It's here, now, breaking in upon me like a flood... if only I would have the courage to abandon all I've tried or acquired and possess it! But it can't be possessed, can it!? It is a gift. It is a reality. It is like the air that can't be owned but must be breathed in order to truly live.
I'll be honest: the urge to quit creeps in on me in times like this. I didn't use to be this way. I realize I may be acting out of my negative experiences with churches and being a pastor. But I've always felt there was something more, something else. This is what keeps me going. At times like this I feel like John Dunbar in Dances With Wolves
: injured in the US Civil War, who accepts a post on the western frontier and "goes native
". I want to go to the frontier, live simply, go native, and enjoy the simple pleasures of love and community.
I know that already happens here a lot and it will continue to happen in this community. It's just the Sunday morning thing. It's the ritual, no matter how contemporary or radical, that I haven't the stomach for any more. It's when we stop being normal and behave like we're in church. Can we gather without losing ourselves?
The fine art photograph is from the mannequin series of my friend Mark Hemmings