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08/31/2011

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Hi Roy,

Well, I think the whole "grow the brand" paradigm isn't going to work. This is the place where church leaders have been pushing a brand identity that's inconsistent with the core technology of the product. There was an underlying idea that interested me about that article (and I didn't do the thing I always tell others to do, which is to see the source through the eyes of the potential audience). Once you get past the "honeymoon" (welcome, have coffee, come to the newcomers group), mainline Christianity is a bust as a consumer product -- at least, if it's doing it's job. I happen to think that the "decline" started a long time ago when Christianity tried to package itself as a consumer product. It's not. Or, at least, the real customers aren't the ones the church is trying to market to. I think that the church has to let go of the dream that it can be an alternative to a peaceful walk at dawn.

As I remember reading in one of Pema Chodron's books, there is no stable ground. (Or, to quote a rather perverse hymn: the Peace of Christ, it is no peace.

Hi Roy,
Sorry mate, I read the article you linked too and found I agreed with a good deal of it! LOL!
Especially this:
"Being privately spiritual but not religious just doesn't interest me. There is nothing challenging about having deep thoughts all by oneself. What is interesting is doing this work in community, where other people might call you on stuff, or heaven forbid, disagree with you. Where life with God gets rich and provocative is when you dig deeply into a tradition that you did not invent all for yourself."
Community, church or Sangha, really is vital in my opinion, even though I appreciate it might not be for everyone!
Allthe best mate,
Marcus

@Marcus - no need to be sorry - lots and lots and lots of people agree with Rev Daniel. I think her (and your) approach to practice in community is but one way that, while perhaps suits you and Rev Daniel to a 'T' does not suit me. Also - I can assure you that should I ever find myself on a plane with a 'churched' individual, I would not bring up my own "God in the sunset' tales (not that I have any..) or my tour of Buddhist practice centers or my doomed experiment at trying to be a Catholic again... I'd be more interested in their experiences.

This post is more a reaction to Rev Daniel's petulant "you bore me" baloney. She's a Minister for chrissakes. One would have to think that this kind of exchange would happen fairly regularly.. I mean - come on - she was sitting right next to a potential customer - an unchurched, a damned, a fallen soul, a heathen.. and that bored her? If Rev Daniel is bored with these types of conversations, my strong recommendation is to go find other avenues of employment.

After over 50 years above ground I know this about myself: I am for the most part a solitary person. If it means I don't get to go to heaven or become enlightened any time soon - because I don't whoop it up in community, so be it. I've been like this since I was a small boy. It physically drains me to be amidst groups of people. I am most comfortable with one or two other people at a time or being completely alone. Just like 'praying away the gay' doesn't work to any good end 'praying away the introversion' by trying to blend in with a herd doesn't work either (for me).

@Mary - Christianity is the most compelling to me when it is not partnered with the dominant paradigm, when it causes trouble for those in power - like the Christianity of the Cistercian Monks of Tiburine, Dorothy Day, Daniel Berrigan, Peter Maurin, Father Louis, Father John Dear S.J., Father Roy Bourgeois, Sister Jeannine Grammick, Sister Jeanette Normandin, Father Tom Doyle, etc.


I so wish that the link had a comments section because it is quite ironic that she writes "You are now comfortably in the norm for self-centered American culture, right smack in the bland majority of people who find ancient religions dull but find themselves uniquely fascinating..." when the whole piece is about how she feels. Sounds a bit like she is just as much a part of the "self-centered American culture" as those she is describing.

And while I can only judge by what she has written, and as a spiritual but not religious person myself, I don't know anyone who claims they alone (the spiritual but not religious that is) see God in nature. Observing and sharing their own experiences with God does not imply exclusivity of those observations. Nor does Organized Religion have sole providence over all that is God, Jesus and Christianity.

Perhaps the writer should take some time to love her brother and work on building compassion and understanding for others. Or isn't that a part of the "community of God" she seems to fervently support over individual thinking?

@Chris - I was looking for the comments section.. and then I thought I should send her a note at her email address... but then I settled on the pissy blog post you see above :-)

If nothing else it's useful to know how one is considered by some members of the churched community..

I agree that Rev. Daniel's message was rather a pissy turn off, although I have to say that I agree with her on much of what she says. I find that "I'm spiritual but not religions" is generally a cop out by people who are apathetic to the point of not wanting to think about or discuss such matters. But they want you to believe that they are "nice people". Sit next to someone on a plane and say that phrase, end of story. There's nothing else to discuss. It would also work just as well to tell your seat mate that you are a proctologist. Perhaps we should suggest Rev. Daniel try that.

I'm not sure, however, why Rev. Daniel is making this beef. Hell, she's UCC and the majority of UCC people don't have use for their own religion any more. They just show up out of habit or because they're allowed in the choir.

Personally I think the large downturn in main-line church membership is as much a function of the general disillusionment with the hideously distorted Christian message that has been foisted on us by the so-called Evangelicals, as with anything vapid the mainliners are mis-marketing. Most people can tell easily enough that the Pat Robertson approach to religion is wrong (torture, war, racism, homophobia, economic exploitation of the poor, indifference to health care issues), so all other approaches must be wrong too, right? Of course your bud, Pope Benny, doesn't help much either. "The Pope's full of poop, so they must all be full of poop, right?" Perhaps Rev. Daniel and her fellow UCCs (e.g. moi) are full of poop as well.

@Larry!! "Spiritual but not religious" - I think it can also be used as a shield against proselytizing. I mean this guy had to sit next to Rev Daniel for an entire plane ride. As much as it would have fascinated me - he could have been freaked out by it. Perhaps he wanted to nip things in the bud. Who can say. I wish I were there to see the larger context.

I was struck as I said above, by her "I'm bored with you." rant. I mean, she's a person, a human, and she's certainly entitled to be bored by the people she meets.. but somehow in that conversation she let it be known she is a Minister. That's a bell that can't be unrung. Once those words left her mouth - she saddled up. She was no longer just a person - she was a religious, one of the Lord's Field Reps. You can be damn sure that she didn't lambaste the person to their face on the plane either.. Eh - whatevs - as the kids say.

For the record - I've never ever never considered myself speerchul or religious never ever never. Ever. I kinda throw up in my mouth a little when I have to say "speerchul" (did it again..)

Eck.

Benny Benny Benny Benny Benny.. scary little guy in red prada shoes. There's scary people all over the place in Christianity - but then there are galactically amazing people as well like you, Mother T, my Orthodox friend J, Gordon Atkinson, Mary, and Brewster of course, along with all my favorite heavy hitters mentioned above.. so Christianity has much to recommend it to me. I just have a problem with crowds (mentioned above) and have not been gifted with Faith...

As far as being full of poop - who isn't? I freely admit to being a walking shitbag. I think the sooner everyone gets comfortable with the simple fact of their full of shittedness (much like the "Everybody Lies" maxim), the sooner we can all relax, have a beer and really chat.

Thanks as always for visiting - Smooches to Brewster.


Thanks Roy, I see where you're coming from, and I must say it's very nice to have such a good discussion here on RTTC. Hope all is going well mate,
Marcus

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