Saturday, April 7, 2012

Easter Vigil - Christ Turns Over in His Grave.

This has been the first Easter Season I have not felt moved or compelled to observe the religious rituals or cultural traditions associated with Easter.

I now rarely see the inside of a church, except for funerals - out of respect for the family of a deceased relative or friend.   I did not make a King Cake for Carnival nor did I weave palm fronds into crosses.  I did not make Easter Bread or Pizza Rustica.  There are no colored eggs in our house.  No Easter chocolate bunnies.  We are not getting together with family this year - we've been invited to dinner at our friends' place.

Perhaps I am depressed.  I know I am tired.  I am weary of the world and all its petty squabbles and all the ego-trips and political posturing and religious hypocrisy.

It seems this year has been exceptionally brutal in many arenas and I find religion, and Christianity in particular, virtually silent in response to all of the social justice issues and other global issues that face societies in all parts of the world today.  Virtually silent (there are faint voices) about the things that Jesus talked about.

They are silent and do not speak out on behalf of Mother Earth or condemn the waste, the wanton disregard for the environment and the obscene use of limited resources by the few.

They are silent and do not speak out on behalf of the poor, though they profess to believe in "an option for the poor".

They are silent and do not speak out on behalf of those who cannot afford health care, though they profess a belief in caring for the sick.

They are silent and do not speak out against the gathering of obscene wealth on the backs of the struggling working classes and the poor though they profess to believe the words of Jesus that it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to go through a needle's eye.

They are silent and do not speak out against the evangelization of government though they profess to believe the words of Jesus to "render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's".

They are silent and do not speak out against the pedophile priests in their midst or beg forgiveness in humility or make amends to all to whom they caused pain and suffering.

They are silent and do not speak out to embrace the gay and lesbian and transgender children, too many of whom take their own lives because of judgements passed by "christians" who profess to believe in the admonition to "judge not, lest you be judged'.

They are silent and do not speak out against religious leaders who use their preaching to aggrandize themselves and amass personal wealth from taking tithes from their followers.

They are silent and do not speak out against a fanatical "christian" church that pickets funerals of American servicemen and gays with signs that proclaim "God hates..."

Instead, they speak out lest women receive health services their church disapproves of.

Instead they renege on their mission and service to the poor and sick rather than provide health benefits to married spouses

Instead they speak out to condemn the love and commitment of two men or two women in marriage while they allow the annulments, divorces and serial marriages between man and woman all the while waving a banner proclaiming the "Sanctity of Marriage".

Instead they excommunicate an intelligent, dedicated religious Sister for making a difficult life and death medical decision to save a woman's life while under her hospital's purview.

Instead they deny communion to a woman at her mother's funeral Mass instead of offering the sacrament in love and compassion.

Instead they withdraw financial support from a homeless shelter because the director advocates same gender marriage, even though they say they believe in the admonition to "shelter the homeless".

You get the gist.

That's why I say (with irony?) that if Jesus Christ could see his "followers" today, He would certainly "turn in his grave".

While there are individual Christians, congregations and denominations that have a different, perhaps more enlightened understanding of Christianity and stand up for the poor, the homeless, the sick, the disenfranchised and the marginalized in our society and in societies around the world, I find I still cannot, in conscience be a part of any church, Christian or otherwise.

The scandal of Christianity is that it is divided against itself.  It is the Tower of Babel - all so called christian groups speaking their own language, much of it nonsense.

It is not enough (for me, at least) to merely find a denomination or a congregation where your beliefs are shared, or where you can feel comfortable.  It is not enough (for me, at least) to try to "change things from within" or to put on the appearance of conformity.  There will be other, "truer" christians who will still condemn me.

There was a time when to be a "cafeteria Catholic" was an authentic option.  I think this is no longer the case.  The "New" Catholic Church is a different church altogether.  And other mainstream denominations are no better.  The Anglicans split over the ordination of a gay bishop; the fundies are a cacophony of voices.  On the opposite end are "religions" so watered  down that they believe nothing in particular.

Joining one group, church, denomination over another seems more of a political statement than a spiritual one.  Theologian have have made a mess of Christ's message.  If you don't know who to believe, they're all questionable, in my opinion.

A church, a Church, a religion, a spiritual belief system should be a conduit, a support, a well, a source, a map, a road, a repository of that which is Sacred -  and I don't use that word, sacred, often or lightly.  The conduit has broken, the well is dry, the road has washed away...

In some sense it saddens me that I cannot conform, or bring myself to believe in myths or mysteries or sit at a table where I am not fully welcome (even though you may say that I am).  Life would be much easier if I could, or could at least pretend to be listening, praying, participating.  Like so many others do...whose lives fall into place neatly fitting the parameters of what is acceptable.

Perhaps I am depressed.  I know I am tired.  I am weary of the world and all its petty squabbles and all the ego-trips and political posturing and religious hypocrisy.

Perhaps I am angry as well.  Gloria in excelsis Deo.

Resurrection seems highly unlikely, but what do I know?

5 comments:

Russ Manley said...

"I am weary of the world and all its petty squabbles and all the ego-trips and political posturing and religious hypocrisy." Brother, you took the words right out of my mouth there. I am sick to death of it all too - including the big-time gay bloggers and all the voices on the left as well as the right of the spectrum. I hear you, I really hear you. Some days I can't bear to hear about religion, either.

Vanitas vanitatem, OMNIA vanitas - no?

Your post reminds me of Ezekiel's vision of the valley of dry bones, which, he was told, represented the nation of Israel, with its supposedly divine temple worship and all that went along with it - utterly worthless and dead.

So I do deeply relate to all you have said here, I am disgusted with the world beyond telling, and sometimes with myself too, as a tiny part of it. Yet, will you permit me to say that you have never written a more Christian thing in your life?

All that you have expressed here in this post is a paraphrase of the second half of the 25th chapter of Matthew. And that, I strongly believe, is the only road map you, or anyone, needs. If the Church and its traditions aren't taking you where you need to go, if they are just in the way, well, you'd better discard them and find something more useful, hadn't you?

Jesus also condemned in no uncertain terms - you know this - the hypocrisy and snobbery and self-righteousness and neglect and cruelty of his time. So did all the great prophets who came before him, and all the great saints who came after. And so have all the other great sages, philosphers, teachers, and poets outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition. It is all part of the long, sad story of humanity, this sorry, spoiled, silly, selfish human race of ours.

Even doing away with the concept of God doesn't help - look at the depredations of the French Revolution, and those of the Russian too, and the devastations of the "Cultural Revolution" in China.

Then too, we might survey the non-Christian civilizations for a spark of hope, but there we find the same catalog of wars and crimes, massacres and rapes, tortures and killings, wealth and poverty, suffering and starvation, all down through the ages.

All of which passes for popular entertainment now in the West, even light comedy - which is a grave commentary on the spiritual sickness of our civilization.

And yet, amid the vast fields of gloom, we can pick out here and there a few pinpoints of light, hearts where mercy and justice, kindness and compassion glow undimmed amid the ceaseless winds of human tumult.

What you have written here makes me think that your heart is one of those. If a walk through the woods fans that flame of Love in you better than a Mass or a prayer, why go take the walk instead!

God is bigger than the Church, bigger than the Bible, bigger than all we can imagine - the Love that moves the stars - and yet nearer than hands and feet, closer than breathing, the ground of our existence.

God is Love. Whoever loves his neighbor, lives in God, and God in him.

That's all we really need to know, isn't it?

Peace, Frank.

truthspew said...

Easter and most of the holidays are either spent with friends or with family in NC.

I recognize Easter more for the significance, the Spring Equinox which happened back on March 20, that and the pagan celebrations for Spring which is where the eggs, bunnies and so forth come from.

I'm fascinated by nature. How it abounds, rebounds, and is always there. I can understand why the early pagans worshiped at the altar of nature.

Cubby said...

The modern christian church has become the same kind of institution that Jesus railed against 2000 years ago.

It would have been cool if Jesus had walked into St. Peter's last night, started wrecking everything, and told the Pope to sit down and shut up and stop twisting everything he said. Would the 2 billion christians on this planet have listened to him? Hell no, they would have crucified him a second time.

Russ Manley said...

But Cubby - are all 2 billion Christians just exactly alike? Really?

Out here on the prairie, I've had arguments with people who claim all Muslims are firebreathing terrorists.

And among my parents' generation and before, everybody "just knew" that all Jews were greedy and unscrupulous.

Not to mention what they said about all the blacks.

And all the Mexicans.

I wish you would rethink your statement a bit. Dividing the entire world into Good and Bad, Us and Them, is never a sound idea.

Mitchell is Moving said...

I won't make any generalized statements myself here. I am not a "believer"; I try to appreciate the culture of religions -- but definitely not the dogma of those who use their religious beliefs to judge (and deny rights to) others.

I understand how you can feel this way, especially since you chronicle in your blog so much of the injustice in the world. That can overwhelm you at times. I hope today is a better day and that you can at least enjoy one little chocolate Easter egg! (I think the Easter Bunny is [almost] non-sectarian.)

And now I'll just on accordion player down in our plaza who just started playing "As Time Goes By" --which just this minute segued into "Over the Rainbow! How appropriate.

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