Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Wed. Nights Are Back At FBC Wilmington

Wed. Nights actually started back 2 weeks ago---but we officially started back last week. 2 weeks ago, we had a seminar on world religions aided by Campbell Divinity School. More on that in a later post---but anyways, this session I am reading Shane Claiborne's Irresistible Revolution. Our Minister of Administration and Senior Adults, Daryl Trexler is leading the group study. Here is our reading schedule for the session:

During tonight's discussion the question of how many Christian Adherents there are in the world so here are the findings from a 2005 study:
1.Christianity: 2.1 billion

2.Islam: 1.5 billion

3.Secular/Nonreligious/Agnostic/Atheist: 1.1 billion

4.Hinduism: 900 million

5.Chinese traditional religion: 394 million

6.Buddhism: 376 million

7.primal-indigenous: 300 million

8.African Traditional & Diasporic: 100 million

9.Sikhism: 23 million

10.Juche: 19 million

11.Spiritism: 15 million

12.Judaism: 14 million

13.Baha'i: 7 million

14.Jainism: 4.2 million

15.Shinto: 4 million

16.Cao Dai: 4 million

17.Zoroastrianism: 2.6 million

18.Tenrikyo: 2 million

19.Neo-Paganism: 1 million

20.Unitarian-Universalism: 800 thousand

21.Rastafarianism: 600 thousand

22.Scientology: 500 thousand

Finally the main theme of tonight's discussion was what it means to do church, so I'll end this post with a thought from my friend Drew Tatusko:
go where god is, not where you believe god ought to be.
Sep 23rd, 2009 by Drew Tatusko. Print This Post

The church, no matter what community you find, packages God into something that can be controlled for human use and whim. This sort of package is not all evil or disreputable – all of the time. God has been a source of divine legitimation for human power that people have used to kill and torture people under the despotic rule of fear and oppression. Still, the social packaging of God that is the church can be a source of grace for people which is also true. Regardless, as H.R. Niebuhr argued in 1929, the church is a human social creation that ought to be given life by God. All religious and church structures conceal and distort the presence of God even as they work to be so many media to reveal the reality of God.

However, as Jesus said, the presence of God is simply in a community which does not have to be formed by doctrine, polity, law, and God forbid property. God is not just in the Tabernacle, God is everywhere.

Perhaps our faith has been distracted by our religious institutions and we fight so hard to maintain those institutions, that we forget how frail, tentative, and distorting they are to the very presence of God. The medium of the church itself has to be transformed from the inside out if it is to transform the hearts and minds to do the basic things that Jesus commanded: love God, love neighbor, heal the sick. When we fail to do these basic things and instead begin to love the institutions that are nothing but media to accomplish this task, we may as well craft a golden calf since this is exactly the function the church then serves.

Why is your church worth saving if God is indeed everywhere? What profit do we gain to preserve the media of human invention if that media is no longer a source of revelation people are currently receiving through other means? This is no longer a question of people being "spiritual but not religious." Rather it is the offspring of those "spiritual" baby boomers who are asking: I want to be religious, but it is hard to find the God that has been revealed to me in the churches where my parents worshiped when they were children.

For this and other reasons, I often find God in my backyard, in a conversation with my wife, in the giggle of my sons, the cool fall breeze, a note from someone expressing care for me or someone I love, my dog running through the snow, the smile of an elderly person who is lonely most of her life, gratitude for healing in sickness and in death, and a song. I find God in these places more often than in a pew. After seminary, I had to leave church for a while to find God again. I continue to ask where I see God. The clarity I receive in return is this: Go where God is, not where you believe God ought to be.

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