Tuesday, August 12, 2008

church thoughts

It's interesting. I'm finding myself more aware of a certain belief or perspective about church/religion/philosophy that I have -- namely, that their entire purpose should be to enhance love, joy, peace, compassion, and justice. I think this is largely why issues of doctrinal correctness drive me batty. If one side or the other has no impact on these matters (or if it comes down to a matter of personal preference), then the issue is moot, even silly.

So here's the thing, as far as attending a church goes, I can see some value to practicing in a community whose goal it is to similarly grow in love, etc. But I am concerned that this is not always the case, that some (many?) see church more as a pathway to heaven, as reaffirmation of doctrines (or prejudices), of proof that they're "right."

I'm not trying to argue that my reaction is correct, but merely to state what my reaction is and to explore it a little. I'm struck initially that my reaction might be a bit harsh, a bit judgmental. Surely, people are searching out goodness while they attend church. They may believe that being "right" or holding correct doctrine is part of that path.

Second, what of my compassion for them? Am I so weary of my church journey that I fail to see their pain, their struggles, their aspirations?

I think part of what this boils down to is that I have become more comfortable seeking for spiritual growth on my own. And that has value, I think, but also cost. It allows me to focus on areas that are most meaningful to me, but prevents more of a sense of connection, of togetherness. It shields me from being confronted, challenged. To the extent that my own reactions (described above) ultimately call for me to grow in understanding and compassion, I am prevented from such growth.

And yet...I do not trust this thing I have called "togetherness." I will have to meditate further on that.

Peace to you.