Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Peering Through a Glass Darkly

I climb exhaustedly,
hunched over,
in tears,
as I gain the summit
of a hill of years,
and from my elderly
vantage point I can barely
distinguish through a
hazy distance a lonely
church spire from which
I dimly hear the tolling
of a muffled bell.

It beckons me,
as would a doorbell ringing,
or laughing children singing,
or ice cream trucks dinging
around my old neighborhood.

Slowly shambling down my hill
then with an ever gradual springing
in my stride, I begin to run and
sooner than a burst of a
lightning sun
I am at the the church building
with the spire
soaring into the
golden blue heavens above me.

My limbs are tingling
with the vibrant feeling
of an energy
of a new youth.

Straining my legs
and pushing higher
onto the tips of my toes
I can scarcely peer
through glass stained
The inner light is dim,
yet the sun shines
through all the windows
enough to show me
nobody's home.

An old hand and
rhyming game runs
through my perplexity.
"Here's the church,
here's the steeple.
Open the doors and
where's all the people."

Then I awaken.

The above is a poetic allusion to the fading Christian congregations that the increasingly secular scientific Western societies experience today. Some people believe that it must be that great ogre SCIENCE that is to blame, when actually, I believe: it's the amount of time we spend every day seeking money, things and amusements. It is true that the more educated among us have become more secularized and cannot believe in a loving other that is here, there and everywhere--religious superstitions­­--quite as wholeheartedly as did our ancestors. Yet, this post-Enlightenment paradigm has not supplanted the "wow factor" from our present perceptual experiences. No, it has been replaced by an artifice beyond the imaginations of the greatest ancient Epicurean philosophers. Why go to a church when there is a great game on or a groovy movie playing, not to mention the hundreds of schlock filled cable shows saturated with ads we all absorb via the Internet?

Our primeval awe has gone, that jaw-dropping sense of personal humlity, yet seeming always imbued with a buoyant sense of wonder that manufactured gods and dreams from the stuff of nature and ourselves.

And that's another problem; we no longer live withIN nature. We live insulated from and withOUT it. This explains why a large minority of us seem oblivious to our surrounding environmental degradation.

Another major impediment to church attendance is the insidious hierarchical structure of organized religion. It is a turnoff for the young and the free-thinkers among us. It seems the only way to get folks into a church nowadays is for the elders to appeal to the selfish natures of our worst angels. In other words, promise the new coming tithers plenty of pie-in-the-sky dreams, controversies and MORE amusements. Something that is antithetical to the teaching of any prophetic savant, whether Christian, Judaic, Islamic, Buddhistic, take your pick. They all preach against what is happening now in our mega-churches.

It seems such a shame, although I have to confess that I don't go to church, either. My reasons for non-attendance are manifold.

The primary excuse goes like this: there are two churches in my small town, Southern Baptist and Roman Catholic. I have been baptized in the Southern Baptist tradition and this occurred when I was nine, not a truly responsible, nor reasonable age to understand the complexities of Protestant dogma. Yet, I truly believed then and as far back as the age of five years old. Yet, my soon discovery of the racist founding of the Southern church led me to disdain the fellowship.

As for the Roman Catholic church, I have not been catechized, therefore I cannot partake of the Eucharist. I am limited to these two choices, because I do not drive and the next nearest group of churches is fifteen miles away, a fairly long walk.

Besides this excuse, I have another; I am not really into the doctrine of the Trinity, which I consider a Nicaean human compromise endorsed by a Roman imperator and not what I believe comes from the "hand" of the Father, the "God" that Yeshua of Nazareth taught his disciples to love. But, what I truly miss is "fellowship." (A term that is tinged with the shade of male chauvinism, yet is the one commonly used.)

To me, fellowship is the raison d'être of any church gathering. To be with sisters and brothers surrendered to agape IS heaven on earth.

And that's what I want to see, when I climb that hill; heaven on earth.