If I had my way the Church would never speak of hell again, having lived in a purgatory of hellish conversations, devilish manipulations, and brimstone abuses for long enough. Let’s put that one to bed. For that matter, we’ve been talking too much in general and should perhaps consider a monastic period of silence for a hundred years, that silence broken only for internal communications and hospitality, should anyone ask us a question. This century of silence would be an act of penance and an attempt to restore our damaged reputation.
If you ask me, Church people should never consider any person’s worth or worthiness to be a thing we can understand or judge. Even a stray thought about whether or not someone is good or bad should be anathema to us. It’s not that goodness and badness do not exist within people. We’re just clearly not equipped to make that call in any sort of redemptive way. Therefore, all who come to our doors with intentions that seem peaceful should be welcomed with no questions asked.
If that seems too liberal a thing for you, then let it be considered a corrective stance, the evils of our pharisaical judgements being so obvious and longstanding. Let this righteous pendulum swing. And If hucksters and thieves worm their way into our midst due to our over-trusting nature, let them fleece us. After they have liberated us from some of our material goods, we would be free to evaluate the wisdom of holding onto anything of that sort of value in future.
And as long as you’re asking my opinion, I would say that the Church should be done with apologetics of all kinds. We should offer no apologies for our rituals and beliefs, nor make apologies to support them. We should stop trying to convince anyone of anything. Can you imagine the freedom we would feel if we let go of the burden of convincing people with words that they should join us?
If asked about the bread and wine of our communion or any of our other peculiar rituals, we would admit there really is no explaining any of them in logical or scientific language. A faith tradition resonates with your soul or it doesn’t. All who wish to hang around with us to see if that mystical resonance develops would be welcome.
If I could be allowed to offer a final thought, I think the Church ought to see all truth as sacred. Whether a true thing is teased out of the ancient archetypes of our mythic scriptures or found through an astronomer’s telescope, we should consider ourselves blessed to know it.
And if anyone finds our ways and beliefs hard to understand and leaves to seek truth by other paths, we should wish them well with this blessing:
“Go in peace, good pilgrim. Go and seek what is true in the world. Go with God’s speed and God’s blessing. If on your journey you find truth, please bring word of it back to us, that we may marvel with you, give thanks, and rejoice in it.”
If we lived thusly, the Church would become a small and humble thing in our world. We have tried to be large and powerful, and I believe we have largely and powerfully failed.
I’d like to see what being small would do for us.