Here we are...

Just off the Port Bow—a place of uncertainty, adventure, and insight. Thank you for your ears, eyes and hearts. I hope to bring compassion, grace and beauty to your day.

Mesalliance - Part Two

In Part One of this two part post I suggested that most, if not all, of us live out our religion as a fusion of religious doctrine/practice/culture and our woundedness. The resulting twisted internal marriage or mesalliance is what the world sees and what we understand of our religious faith. The sort of Christianity, for instance, which I profess and practice is not pure Christianity; it is Peter’s unique portrayal and internalizing of it. It is Christianity filtered through my distorted inner workings. I’d like to think that I portray and internalize it pretty well. But…

I have told you about my childhood prayer practice…all very normal and slightly touching. It should be clear from my description of this childhood fancy that the fancy did not remain in my childhood. At least part of my conviction that there is a right way and a wrong way to pray is a reflection of a child’s twist on the subject. And this is just one small example (as touching as it might be). There are many other levels at which I am aware that I cling to my religious inclinations with an anxious fervor.

The religious world I have been in all of my adult life, Conservative Evangelical Christianity, is a very precise world. The endless parade of church divisions is testament to how seriously conservative Christians take their doctrine and discipline. Precision in the world of engineering is one thing; gear upon gear, lever and brake, switch and angle….all precisely ordered. The church, however, is not a machine, but an ever evolving entity which consists of broken souls interacting with other broken souls.

Every one of us in the church has a slightly twisted view of the faith, that is, a view/passion/perspective/drive which is colored significantly by our own internal mesalliance. As a result we each have a unique "issue" or bone to pick with the church. (The church I refer to here includes the people, doctrines, institutions, buildings, works, music, leadership, rules, etc..)

I have had a leadership role in the church, mostly in the realm of teaching, preaching, pastoring and leading worship. I have been particularly conscious, then, of the language of the faith; and I happen to be someone who cares about language well spoken and written. My inclination has been to analyze, refine and develop my exercise of Christian themes in speaking and in writing. I want to get it out correctly. I don't want to be a sloppy communicator or a misleading teacher. I like the language of the old prayer books.

The problem arises internally.

I am programmed, through my genes and upbringing, to be right about things and do things the right way. My father, whose memory I genuinely cherish, was forever criticizing my use of the English language (ref. the shelf of grammar and style books he presented to me).

Getting Christian language right (Our Father...) and getting the English language right (Yes, Father...) comprise the mesalliance I am trying to address.

As I sort out the latter dynamic - my retiring attempt to forge an inner peace with my anxieties - I find that the former is a complicating distraction.

It would be very easy to tease out this twisted internal marriage in many other areas of life and faith. In just about every encounter I have with the church or with church people I hear hints of this insidious mesalliance. But, judgment is not what I am interested in.

Understanding and compassion are more important. In the end that's why I am writing all of this stuff down. Rather than getting caught up in bitter acrimony I would rather be in a position to love, encourage and support folk in and around the institution which has been my life.

For myself, I hope is to get to a place where Christian language no longer sets my teeth on edge. In getting there I may step on some toes and avoid altogether other toes.

Ezekiel 18:2
“What do you mean by repeating this proverb concerning the land of Israel, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge’?

I am mostly at peace with this journey, because I am convinced that the One who is The Word made flesh, holds me in his love.



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Holy Silence (Part One)

Mesalliance - Part One