American Prospect Online - Having It Both Ways
i talk about my dad a lot here. i can't help it. he's the one guy (if not the only guy) i totally respect. he was the major intellectual force for me when i was growing up. for as long as i can remember he said that he was a rampant individualist. his individualism can be seen in his ministry, one that advocates an eschewing of 'group think' and encourages a congregation to turn individually to the bible and give their fat cat preacher a big bitch slap for stepping out of line. (i paraphrase.)
it's difficult to maintain a congregation when you continually encourage them to mutiny, but such was the paradox of my dad's ministry.
while such rampant individualism is useful (innovation, imagination, sense of self in relation to others - basically, it makes you no one's fool) it's problematic when there is no community to surround the individual. for instance, i was talking to my father right after the katrina disaster and was encouraging him to tell his congregation to be more involved with the disaster efforts. he told me they were involved but he also said, my ministry is more of a spiritual one, not a social one. that was a little disturbing for me and i wondered if this was what was making me draw away from a particular kind of christian faith.
i'm not comfortable with the spiritual/social binary the church seems to be stuck on. while i love the Gray Lady, i do wish there was more...preaching. our social stances i am totally happy with. our focus on living as a community of faith is one that renews me. but there's that third thing i just wish there was more of. like, the other night my roomie and i were getting our tongues tied around the name gethsemane (it's the name of a local garden shop). i said, you know - it's the garden where they captured jesus.
she was totally blank and she called it 'catholic' to know details of the bible like that. she shrugged, we mainliners don't think about the details of the bible. we just like the ideas.
that kind of disturbed me. for me, the ideas and the details are all important. i'm not saying that bible trivia is necessary for a fully realized faith, but it sure as hell helps to know the effing basics!
and on the other side of the spectrum, where my dad's church is, i wish there was more of a sense of community. it's fine to be well-versed in complicated matters of doctrine, to know the bible like it's your best friend, but what does all of this mean when you don't recognize that those around you are your neighbors?
what's the point when all you can concentrate on is your muscular christian/individual spiritual walk with jesus when you can't think about other sojourners along the way?
wow. i'm totally rambling. but i'm serious. what's the point? and why don't presbyterians carry their own bible to church?? what's up with that?