“The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be mind.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
It should come as no surprise for readers of this blog that I have far more respect for the writings of Nietzsche than I do for most of Western Christiandom, religion, even traditional apologetics. In fact, I like to call myself an “unapologetic.” Particularly gag-worthy to me are the absolute truthers. So much pride, so much arrogance, such a silly little game of dominance, as if “truth” were like playing a game of capture the flag or king of the hill. As if one can actually possess the “truth,” own it, and then perhaps we can just start selling it to people like butter indulgences.
The problem being, Truth is a relationship, Truth is a person, the personhood of Jesus Christ. Truth requires emotions, intuition, imagination and the dreaded feelings. I mention “feelings” because one thing much of the Western church is pretty consistent about is the sin, the horror of feelings. Often such things are said by those so lacking self awareness, I feel like I’m trapped in a carnival funhouse full of distorted mirrors. Like dude, what you are staring at is your own reflection, not a window to the world at large.
Apparently those who believe, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Often miss all the other verses like “lean not into your own understanding…” and “there is a way that seems right to a man…” Our brains were impacted by the fall, too. It is not as if the path to salvation involves suppressing the emotional and building an idol to our own reason. In fact, that is what they did during the French Revolution, just seated the “goddess of reason” on the throne.
I was listening to this pastor on line, very entertaining rehash of churchian culture from the extreme legalism of extra extra biblical commands to the wide openness of free grace and how the pendulum always swings. His point being, if we never address the root issue, we will never solve the problem. We’re just repackaging, rebranding, wiping the outside of our cup and calling it good.
A bit amusing, and I don’t wish to embarrass anyone, but I ran into an elder the other day who apologized for not turning my call, he’s just been really busy but he totally intends to address it. Amusing because I called him four years ago. Four long years, he’s been carrying around my phone call, totally avoidant, perhaps afraid, reluctant, wutever. I wasn’t even thinking of that phone call because so much time has passed it’s kind of irrelevant at this point. After the first year I came to terms with the fact that I didn’t matter, that I wasn’t respected, that they weren’t going to even respond to me. It’s all good, all is forgiven, I have practically forgotten all about it. He clearly has not. He is still carrying around this baggage of one avoided phone call, four years later. Right?! Like, this totally explains why people sometimes duck through the tomatoes and slither past the bread aisle just to avoid me.
Flat out there is an unresolved, unrestored, unreconciled root there, one having absolutely nothing to do with me. I am not mad anymore, I am just sad that we do not listen to our feelings, do not listen to the Holy Spirit, do not respond when we are called to respond, and instead try to stuff that all away and just avoid the guilt, shame, the dreaded potential feelings.
When we are so terrified of ourselves, when we are so afraid of potentially changing our minds, we cease to have the mind of Christ. We are no longer working as one body, we are not able to be likeminded, we cannot even hear His call anymore.
In the ultimate twist of irony it was all about a door, specifically all the beige doors into our beige building. It’s not very welcoming, nobody knows how to get in, we aren’t very welcoming in a literal sense, but of course it’s never really about a literal door at all. I just wanted to talk about painting the door a different color and I wanted to be more involved in hospitality, in welcoming people to the church and I guess I nearly tipped over the apple cart, naively stepped into a hornet’s nest and nearly caused an international incident. Go figure.
I hope you can hear my good humor, my melodrama, and the greater message at large. My message today is that the church here where I live has nearly collapsed, we live in the second most secular county in the nation, and a huge part of the problem is our own avoidance, our unwillingness to grow, our inability to address root issues and weed out those issues that separate us, not just from God, but from one another, too.
Pastor Wilson writes, “The coming Collapse of Secular Man,” and as encouraging as that message is, in the interest of Truth here, Truth the Person, sadly it just doesn’t work that way. The church vanishes long before secular man does. I have been bearing witness to that truth for a number of years now. Secular man is already collapsed, we are already condemned. There is nowhere for “secular man” to go but up, to find Jesus, to find our higher selves. You cannot fight, you cannot sink what is already resting on the bottom. To win hearts and minds, to bring people in, you have provide an alternative that is greater or better than what the world offers. Absolutely, that is going to be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ, but walling yourself off emotionally, shrieking about absolute truth, and painting your doors beige so nobody can get in, is not going to cut it.