Midnight, New York City.
Broadway, going up in flames.
Ground zero, big city.
Big Apple swallowed by the flames.
Bombs away, we never saw it coming.
Bombs away, til the bombs started falling.
Down, to seal our fate.
No time to run, now it's too late.
The end is near baby here it comes.
The neon lights of the city burn.
And the sirens warn: 'Bombs over Broadway!
'Lady Liberty is laid to rest.
'Give me liberty or give me death.'
Her dream died with her last request.
She didn't expect bombs over Broadway.
So long Manhattan Island.
Our pride in you had no end.
New York, New York.
Our pride has done you in.
Lights out, New York City.
You were the first, but you won't be the last.
This from a pseudo-hair metal contemporary christian pop band.
Just over a year later, on September 11, 2001, this symbol of our Nation's wealth was brutally attacked and our people stood in shock. Lives were dramatically affected, from those who were in the planes and buildings to those who watched from couches from shore to shore. Following these attacks, it became almost impossible to ask questions about why the attacks happened. We were told from the highest offices that we should not question the integrity of our nation, that the attacks were carried out simply because the people who initiated them were evil, and to question our own role in the tragedy would be blasphemy. Our religion of nationalism insisted that to rexamine ourselves would be unAmerican. You're either for us or against us.
What on earth does this have to do with casting a vision for the Church, you may ask? When I left my congregation on Sunday morning, I felt as if I had just received a love it or leave it speech, akin to the nationalist rhetoric that followed 9/11. Again, please recall that I am filtering through a different lense, and that not everyone will have received the message in the same way. Dan Kimball, in his book They Like Jesus but Not the Church, hit the nail on the head for me when he explained (regarding "emerging" generations) that "These thinking, questioning, intelligent young adults were looking for more than the simple statement with a few short verses that, quite honestly, only raised more questions and concern." Our generation requires being able to ask questions, even if we may not know the answers. However, I felt as if I was being told not to question the practices of the church (in the congregational sense) as she exists today. But if we are not willing to reexamine ourselves and ask what it is that turns people away from "church", are we dooming her to her death?
I'm putting myself through a seminary of sorts during 2008, revisiting some of the writings that have been most influential in my faith and thought up to now, and examining some newer texts that have sparked my interest. As if my list of readings is not long enough, I have found that adding Pagan Christianity to my list will likely be essential. I became giddy just glancing through the sample chapter, and am looking forward to exploring more questions, and to communicating more about what I am learning.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
What happened to the Church?
Midnight, New York City.