Churches represent themselves as liason between man and god. We certainly see humans supporting a church as theirs; when do we see the god identify the church as the god’s? Sure the RCs say, “This Church is the Bride of Christ, God’s very own.” But when does God say it? Verifiably?
When I was a kid the Sunday School teachers scared the wits out of us kids with images of hell. (He sure scared me anyway.) I don’t know how scared my fellow Presbyterian children remained, but after a while I started hearing stories about Catholic kids getting even worse treatment from their nuns. Then I read/heard about olde time European preachers lambasting the congregations about their sinfulness. Savonarola! It blended right in with stories I heard about Puritans in Salem, Quakers in Pennsylvania: quaking in their boots at their sense of God.
It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a Presbyterian church. My boyhood church wasn’t really Presbyterian anyway: it just called itself that. It had to call itself something: anything: anything generically Protestant. But since falling in love with Jan I’ve been to a couple of RC services: and my head pops at the difference between images of Savonarolla and what I see around me in Saint Catherine’s RC Church in Sebring. I listened to the priest, in his thick Hispanic English. I looked around me. This priest was really a Protestant! These people believe that they are saved! have been forgiven! These people believe that that their atonement is genuine! These people believe that that their atonement has been accepted! by God!!
I had asked Jan, who was herself Presbyterian in her youth, but married Dan: an RC: she said, right out, that she didn’t believe in Original Sin! In my church if you rejected the Nicence Creed, you rejected Christianity!
But then, I’ve been hearing recently, Christians “just make up their beliefs as they go along.” No standard is held to. Certainly not any rational standard: unless reason means anything you want it to mean.
The more I think of it the less I understand the role of the church anyway. If God is great, and God is good, and God is wise, and God knows all … and we are fools and we are greedy and selfish … shouldn’t we leave God to God’s business? Does God need our advice at Judgment? Shouldn’t truth prevail?
If we want mercy, then we should plead Guilty and beg for mercy. But what about those of us who want justice?!
The English lord asked the old Irish peasant standing in the muck in his field, “If you could have anything you wanted, anything at all, what would you wish for?” And the old peasant fixed the Lord’s eye, and said:
There’s another angle to consider: It’s the slave who wants justice; the slave holders just want slaves. The slave-holder might want a pony for Christmas, but will he also want justice?
It’s not possible that all peoples in a world of ancient corruption by privilege would want the same authority to rule.
To resume: If God is any of the things Christians have been saying, what does he need our back-seat-driving for?
I understand why primitives asked some primal force for a pony for Christmas, but what should such infantile whining have to do with a Creator? or a Judge?
Churches promise the pony-and-forgiveness beseechers the equivalent of a Mafia mouth-piece.
It all disgusts me.
I want truth! and Justice! and damn the torpedoes.
Least of all do I want the people who’ve bullied and betrayed me on earth anywhere near me in heaven.
(God protects me on earth by flashing me visions of them in hell!)
Neither do I want the gods who betrayed me anywhere near me.
Neither do I want any contact with the God who betrayed Jesus.
If the torturing god goes on torturing me after I’m dead, then that god isn’t the God we’re supposed to love.
I recently came upon some notes on excommunication. I quote:
“… Book, bell, and candle” ceremony … First a bishop and twelve priests appear holding lighted candles. The bishop then recites this bloodcurdling formula:
We separate him, together with his accomplices and abettors, from the precious body and blood of the Lord and from the society of all Christians; we exclude him from our holy mother the church in heaven and on earth; we declare him excommunicate and anathema; we judge him damned, with the devil and his angels and all the reprobate, to eternal fire until he shall recover himself from the toils of the devil and return to amendment and to penitence.
The priests answer, “So be it!,” whereupon the whole crew extinguish their candles by dashing them to the ground.
Let’s review that: We separate him, together with his accomplices and abettors, from the precious body and blood of the Lord and from the society of all Christians So far, that’s fine, maybe. … We exclude him from our holy mother the church in heaven and on earth; we declare him excommunicate and anathema That’s fine too, I suppose, but hold on: … we judge him damned …
Uh, hold on a moment: isn’t judgment supposed to be up to God? Isn’t the Church palming itself as something it’s not? Isn’t this spiritual fraud of the worst sort?
… with the devil and his angels and all the reprobate, to eternal fire …
Uh, isn’t that blasphemy?!
Wow, what a map / territory confusion!