Friday, March 18, 2011

Lent again

Well, this fastful season I have given up church.

I am so, like, out there and cutting edge.

Not really. In fact, this is about being a total loser: the main reason for the abstinence is that I have noticed I am slightly obsessed with church. Both in the particular Chepstow Methodist sense and in the general Body of Christ sense.

In The Naked Now, Catholic mystic Richard Rohr says that when one "cannot detach from [something] when it is needed and appropriate, [one is] overidentified, overly attached, or even enmeshed... This could be called [....] blindness." Those are precisely the things one should get free of during Lent. And I was in danger of being enmeshed in churchyness.


As a minister's child, some of my earliest and most formative memories are of being the centre of attention in an ever-present church community. I grew up obeying the parental commandment Thou Shalt Never Just Lie in on a Sunday. Some good came of that. But also some Iss-ewes.

I hope that the church, with me in it, has something wonderful and radical to offer. But that train of thought has, over the years, become a personal manifesto that makes me look at church (and those in it, including myself) with unrealistic expectation and later with irritability, stress and judgement.  

Church will always be frustrating. It is a community of people who may have next to nothing in common and yet to varying degrees are trying to love one another. It is full of mistakes. And oddities. And, as a member of the community, you're continually being shown all the irritating things about yourself and all the irritating things about everybody else.

That scenario has the potential for great good, for encouraging humility, for healing and for seeing God. But, if looked at wrong, it also has the potential to be very burdensome. Especially if the extent to which you value yourself and your companions depends on how well you / they are "fixing" the frustrations, flaws and irritations.

So. I'm stepping back for a few weeks to get rid of the funny attitude I have managed to grow.

And to enjoy Sunday lie-ins.

1 comment:

Leamingtonsauce said...

Can we have a report on how this went???