The Impact of Christian Teachings and Possibilities! Personal thoughts on a Sunday morning!
One Perspective – Churches that are not all embracing – Inclusive of the entire Community ; undermine the very meaning of the Christian message and this trend , if it continues ; does not just destroy that which came about through Christs suffering and death – it is a contemptuous dismissal of the New Covenant .
In one way , as said to me by many of those that I speak with ; a betrayal of our Lord Jesus Christ , the dismissal of a loving and creative God and a total denial of the ‘Holy Spirit’ !
No Community can function in a world where some of mankind insist that there is no soul; there is no one golden threat that connects us all.
Churches that do not engage with the needs of their communities and fail to respond positively to the many needs in an era of state abrogation of service , serve none bar the institutions that appear to do little else than marketing and building profit making ventures hidden in the guise of faith .
I spoke with a young woman who started life as a ward of the state, finds it difficult to communicate her needs. Though we have all these secular and faith based structures apparently in place, she too was allowed to fall through the cracks.
As a society we are in denial about that which goes wrong. Children on sold as sexual toys to predators to feed drug habits. Men known as fathers turning into what they truly are and preying on those in their care! We do not challenge them because the narrative of our culture goes to great length to market the idea that sexual predation is just part of the normal sexual spectrum. Mothers, women that are predators barely get a mention because that very idea too confronting. If you have trouble accepting that reality then you have just touched base with two major failings today.
Churches are not seen as a safe place to find comfort and sanctuary unless you belong to the exclusive inner circle. The Country Vicar being more of a Sunday afternoon cake man than confronting incest and rape within his community. Our Churches have allowed predators to make those sacred spaces home, and many of those with whom I speak do not trust clergy. That trust has been broken, and thinking it otherwise will not make it so.
It is time for a rebirth of faith, feet on the ground. Not handing out leaflets that offer little more than lip service. Feet on the ground that build trust, encourage faith and advocate for those that have few stakes in our systems.
We are seen to be pandering to those who tick the boxes of drug addiction, alcohol abuse and welcome the repentant sinner that runs around yelling ‘I have found Jesus! ‘, who then approaches everyone else insisting that all are inherently evil unless they share with him / her their personal fall from grace and the finding of our Lord Jesus.
I know the history of that model, where that model leads and that path does not appeal to me! Prosperity Gospel is insulting to those with little. It enforces the view that those with nothing have nothing because they are unloved by God.
Essentially a bizarre twist in allowing the money lenders and bankers to formulate new theological ideas to be unleashed on to a free market.
There has never been a free market, it’s a theory. God does love all; god has no ‘issue’ with gender or colour or what your name of choice is when addressing the divine. Christ died and raised, that rebirth being a glorious reminder of what is the natural cycle of things on this Planet.
Accepting Christ in one’s life does not, nor should it; create the atmosphere of card carrying party members.
Diverse communities are broad churches and have to potential to be inclusive and all embracing. The Holy Spirit will inspire and speak to us if we allow ourselves time to reflect in silence , to pray quietly for maybe thirty minutes a day. Turning away from distractions, making choices to have a quiet time for the soul. Those living on the edges, facing struggles daily are denied this. Those living the ‘life’, the ‘’dream’ find little time for contemplation and prayer and more often than not will not make time! Instead of allowing ourselves to grow spiritually, to organically grow with the divine, it’s faster and more profitable to pop a pill.
I know those that I serve, I make time to hear their stories. I learn about the challenges that they face each day. The old lady , whose gentle words trying to calm what could easily escalate into a call for the police and result in less than desired outcomes for all . I know that some in my community have little faith in knowing themselves protected by the police, not because the police are bad but because their own experiences have shown time and time again that the police too have become hamstrung and can only do that which our so very complex laws allow. One elderly woman that sits outside McDonalds at night with a coffee she can afford, having spent the day with her dying mother whilst making herself available to look after the grandchildren so that her children can earn some money in an economy that has few vacancies for those not well educated!
The street mum that panics about the younger woman who she knows has seen the worst of what humanity will do to itself. Stories that are confronting and challenge the seat warmers and academic minds.
A young woman in need of rehabilitation , in need of life skills and simply a safe place away from men and women that know how to play games and seek to profit financially and sexually from the most vulnerable .
And when those that allegedly sell ice , have a long standing reputation of stand over tactics and knowing all the laws and how to avoid detection and prosecution ( referred to as fear’s by members of the community that I walk among ) attend at a small mall to wave their flag , making many feel unsafe and causing a serious change in the ambience that ends with a call to the police after the usual theatrics by the same said ‘ferals’ , another lady too afraid to walk home in the middle of the day is escorted home by a woman that is part of my community ( the police having been kind but unable to provide such sought after care for the back of a divisional van still needs the vomit removed from the previous call ); I stay there and having observed all that which occurred in silence give my name to the officer who needed a name for his running sheet just for the records because no crime had been detected and no offences disclosed . That officer knows what I do and with a smile shakes my hand and jokes,” I am new on the beat here; guess I’ll be seeing more of you! It’s been good to meet you! “ .
I know that it is not my place to judge, to me Christ came to heal this world and the healing must continue because if we do not allow ourselves to embrace the unconditional love for all and continue to be self-serving and find weasel words that justify the vilest of deeds, those with the least ‘stakes’ in our system will suffer time and time again. Suffer not just at the hands of administrations that barely understand the complexities of the human condition, but suffer because the narratives of who are acceptable victims deserving of care and support is skewed to satisfy other agenda.
This weekend I am waiting for a call that might never come! The old lady from outside Macca’s asked me about what support might be available to her when her mother is dying. She knows well enough that there are no real hands on support where she lives, her question being rhetorical. Our eyes meeting whilst sharing a coffee I smiled at her and said,” I will be there for you if you need me, you know me! “. She smiled back saying ,”Yes , I know you , I am trying to find your phone number but can you write it down again please , I’ll just grab a bit of paper ! “ . She then offered me her diary and asked me to write my name and number in the back. That is all, and when she calls, I will be there; making time because she is part of the community that I serve. I also know that she will not trouble me with nuisance calls because we have known each other in the context of community for a long time.
There may be some who see paradise as a place where the lion rests comfortably with the lamb. Right here on the ground, the lambs are having it rough and the lion will stand by the lamb.
From a theological perspective, the image of the Christ and the New Covenant (Testament) makes it clear that love in action, unconditional love for one another is a healthier approach for the Individual and the Community.
Christ as a historic figure would have not seen himself as a Christian, that came later and in hindsight many of the contributions of early Church Fathers must be seen in the context of the times.
The inclusion of ‘Gentiles ‘ without the requirement for ‘Circumcision’ was given much thought. If seen from the perspective of Comparative Religious Approaches, spiritual growth and the development of ‘Love ‘ without fear and guilt (often used as a control mechanism both in Traditional Church Teachings and in the revival of the modern day Mega Church Cults) adds nothing of spiritual or religious merit on that journey, being mere opinion pieces added by the particular ‘Pastor ‘ or religious ‘Cult’ leader.
Many of the references quoted from Scripture speaking more about the very nature of the Pastor than the concept of love. Love (without any desire to give this a scientific label) is one of the most creative forces in the Universe. Love without fear is both liberating and empowering.
Fearless love does not imply reckless behaviour nor a breach in the individuals moral compass, it is a liberation from those teachings that by their very nature disempowered women, labelling them as lesser beings liable to exploitation and use by ‘Satanic Forces ‘!
This is a complete non sense, the image of satan is one that may blind side us to the very evil we encounter in dealing with other human beings. The predators , the seemingly mindless economic sociopaths and others that we have allowed into positions of power as they bring about short term profit without any regard to long term damage and harm to this planet , the impact on our children and those in our care , those that we love.
Love is not an exclusive act; there are degrees of love, facets of love. The love of a companion / spouse and the love of a child exist as nourishing loves that encourage us to be more mindful in all our actions. The love of all things that surround us, be they people or the Trees and wonders of nature, teaches respect and mindfulness. The death of the Christ and the Resurrection as metaphors teach us about the eternal nature of love and its ongoing impact even after we leave our physical bodies behind.
Love and sex are often confused , sexual expression between consenting adults can be a wonderful experience yet in the marketing of sexual behaviours , it seems to me that we have confused the ‘loving and giving pleasure to the beloved ‘ with the idea of control and personal gratification at the cost of the very being of the beloved .
The image of the ‘Dead’ Christ and the manipulative and damaging teachings that ‘ Christ Died for you! ‘Is an oxymoron. Christ, if we accept the reality and impact of Christian teachings on the modern World, was the ‘last’ Scapegoat. (There were earlier Hellenic Examples of such ideas).
In being the last Scapegoat, Christ liberates us from the malevolent teachings of the past and enables us to live productive and loving lives in harmony with all. This does not mean that we live in a ‘Disney Land’ Fairy Tales; it does highlight the fact that in the exercise of our free will, we should be mindful in all that we do.
Not because we may face some mealy mouthed un-informed comments and critiques from fellow human beings, but because at the end of each day we (as individual spiritual human beings) should make the time to acknowledge our own flaws and own them in an effort to make us better human beings. We are all tempted; we all fall, knowing this allows us to reach out to one another without judgement in acceptance that many fall not because they are bad or evil but because of circumstances beyond their control. We can reach out, loving ourselves and being comfortable with that which we are and at the same time offer options that do not seek to control or impede the spiritual growth of another.
In these days of manufactured compliance, marketing, the marketing of self as a product; we are challenged to examine our very being! “A man that knows himself well loved will move Mountains, a man feeling himself unloved will barely move his bowels! “.
Once you have shared and been in communion with the community that you serve, have shared the bread and the wine, you never go back to seeing things in the same way again.
All those around you become your blood; you become the family of the spirit. Metaphors aside , a communion with those in your care , with Christ’s love , knowing oneself loved by god and feeling the presence of the holy spirit ; those that have experienced that ‘passion’ in truth will find it hard to walk away from those entrusted into their care.
In Christ we find the rebel that questioned the status quo, the one that spend time with outcasts and those on the edges of his society. If we believe that we are all one family connected by spiritual links, that paradise is a viable option within reach if we approach this planet with caring love, then the power of Love will move us.
The kingdom of God does not lie on any map; it resides within each and every one of us.
Let our ‘Love’ be mindful and gentle , allow each of us to be gentle on ourselves so that we may learn to be gentle as lovers with all that surrounds us knowing that such love is not just satisfying but comes with a sense of duty and obligations that only a true lover knows and understands ! AK
(Personal reflections from the streets)
Image courtesy Benedictine monk in a French abbey