Mere Churchianity*

I know people who go to church regularly.  I do not.

But with the people I do know who go to church; we have nothing to talk about.  Why?  Because they go to church for the entertainment, the socializing, the activities, the children, the personalities involved, their own personal edification, then it’s over.  Church and them go their separate ways till next time.

They don’t study their own scriptures and much less anyone else’s in order to be able to speak intelligently about the writings.  I have been studying scriptures for  a long time, Biblical, Eastern, Psychological, Common Sense, Philosophical.  I’m happy to discuss anything spiritual and metaphysical.

Discuss objectively and not necessarily argue.  I am not a defender of any faith, I am a seeker on a journey.  Writings can give us tentative directions, and we can recalibrate according to the detours of changing experiences.  I highly respect people who do study their scriptures, even more if they’re fearless enough to go beyond “their own” and look at others.  But most Christians I know out here don’t study their writings as they should – as it says to in their writings.

Since they do not read and study, all we can do is state  an opinion not based on anything objective such as the scriptures, and entrench ourselves in it.

No dialog possible there.  Shame.

They don’t think they have to study  because they heard a sermon from their celebrity pastor.  A sermon that waters down the scriptures that they taut as perfect and infallible, with jokes, anecdotes, hooping call and response, and all other manner of theatrics.  There’s no seriousness to the church experience.  Sure, they slow the music down to a whisper, people close their eyes for a few moments, out loud say “yes Lord!” and wave their arms to give the impression they’re having a real moment with god, then WHOOPIE!  Back to the party!

What a cop out from studying the sacred, infallible, words of god for yourself.  You see, you can blow off the pastor once you leave his presence.  Be holy in church and around him, but away from him use language you wouldn’t use in his presence cause, well, he ain’t there now!  But, if you read “god’s word” and believe you are accountable to him who sees you all the time, and knows that you  know what his required do’s and don’ts are; it makes you really work on changing your behavior, full time, not just Sunday morning and on activity days.

Quadruple combination opened to the Book of Is...

Quadruple combination opened to the Book of Isaiah – note the cross references between Biblical and Latter-day Saint scripture in the footnotes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had a conversation with someone recently about that.  They were a participating member of a local mega church and they asked me why I didn’t like their church. I told them that I knew they did a lot of activities and had lots of programs.  But I felt it was all show business, because a lot of people who I know and go to that church don’t improve their behavior or grow in knowledge.  Behavior isn’t taught enough.  Nobody is trying to be holy, someone even outright said so to me once, with pride!

This person said “Jesus is coming back real soon you know!”  All you have to do is believe that we are saved by grace.  Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I think that subconsciously all of us, believer and unbeliever alike, really understand what a friend of mine who is a solid, studious, mindful Christian says: “A grace that cannot change you, cannot save you.”  Knowing the bible he’ll back that up with scripture.  But that won’t matter to people who don’t care enough to follow their scriptures.

Behavioral change is evident.  You don’t declare it, talk is cheap.  Behavioral change is witnessed.  It is what separates you from your old friends and family.  That you don’t talk or act like them anymore.  That you don’t enjoy the same things anymore.  That you choose to think differently about things.  That you study and train in order to support your change.

I don’t see that local church having that effect on people I know.

Theologically I disagree with them on the existence of a personified god, heaven and hell, angels and demons, blessings based on being a club member, the infallibility of their writings, and more.

But those things are moot points in relation to developing a higher character and being a continually better person.  Godless unbelievers become transformed people without those things.  Yet, the people who say theirs is an awesome powerful god, have a god that cannot transform gossipy, gluttonous, mocking, violent, selfish or lustful personality from his followers, although that’s what he wants from them.

Church just ain’t doing it.

*I use as a title the title of a book I’d recommend, click on it for the Amazon link:

Mere Churchianity: Finding Your Way Back to Jesus-Shaped Spirituality

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Improvement

“All consciousness... (366/286 Oct. 12, 2012)

(Photo credit: ConnectIrmeli)

“There isn’t a moment that you are standing in that you are not wanting improvement.”  Abraham.

For me, it’s true.  I always want improvement, and that’s just on the conscious side, I bet it’s true subconsciously as well.  I do want improvement, in my health, my skills and abilities, my car, my finances, my environment.

That innate desire brings with it to my mind two challenges.  The first is a call to action, do what it takes to improve; make the phone call, do the exercise, make money, manage and increase wealth.  Most often it’s a matter of stop talking and start doing.  Seems as if beginning to act on the desire to improve is in itself an improvement.  The second challenge is a bizarre self doubt; you should be content with where you are and what you have, wanting more is selfish and greedy, therefore sinful, striving is painful and sometimes pointless.

They are contradictory forces.  Which is “right?”  I try to  draw wisdom for living from many sources, past and present, without letting one source exclude the others to my detriment.  In this case I’ll use  biblical references and paraphrase off the top.

Those who ask, receive; those who seek, find; to those who knock, for them it shall be opened.

and

For those who have,  more shall be given, and they will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him.

I think this last one is related to what is called the parable of the talents.  In all, I take these to mean that improvement, the desire for improvement, and especially acting on the desire is godly, and the self doubt part is not.  Plus, there’s the danger that by not asking, seeking, knocking for more or better, even what you think you have and are content with, may be lost.

Be well.