Just try ordering a cup of coffee these days and hear what happens. It’s not easy.
Decaf or regular, black, ground, roasted or blended, whole, two-percent, skim, soy, and in some places, organic milk. gluten free, sugar or not? Cappuccino, mocha, latte or eight other names I can’t pronounce. Small, medium or large? If you’re experienced you’d just say, “I would like a vanilla latte made with skim milk, two shots of espresso, with whip cream on it. Oh and I’d like that in a tall size.”
Religion has finally been reduced itself to a cup of coffee. The varieties, times of services, the music served, the sermon heard, the kind of folks surrounding you, the “how much push for money,” the educational needs of your kids for you to be in “this church” all add up to a cup of anxiety-driven caffeine.
These are the days when choices abound when it comes to beliefs and values. Some give up their parent’s church simply because of that. Beliefs and values. Others may stay in that church simply because, well, of that. The Biblical Joshua addresses all the people: “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve, the gods your fathers served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are now dwelling.”
If you are challenging yourself and questioning what is important to you then I applaud and will walk with you the whole way. If it’s simply convenience and comfort for you than enjoy your coffee cup and the church of your choice.
U.S. Bishops often use the term “individualistic.” I’m not sure of the context unless it means being selfish, otherwise I don’t get it. To be an “individual” is the goal of every human life. If you’re 40 years old and in a Catholic Church because mom taught you that, then there’s plenty of fire exits. (Please find the nearest for your safety and the safety of those surrounding you.) The sacrament of Confirmation is still given way too early (8th grade or high school junior) while mom’s words are still clearly heard because she’s planning a backyard party to throw for you and the relatives afterwards. It is not the faith of the family that is transmitted but the family’s faith. And that needs to be owned by each person in her or his own way and time.
All churches have a kernel of truth within them if they stand the test of time. I don’t know any pagans but I’ve grown to appreciate pagans who were (and are) not who we define them to be. Their connection with the earth and something beyond is the forerunner of every decent church that exists.
Typing away, I’m presently sitting on my porch with my laptop and the rain is falling. Yet I’m wondering what a supposed “pagan” would be doing about now. Most likely kneeling in thanksgiving for the gods sending this needed rain? Knowing that gods exist because there is rain? Grateful to be in shelter during rains like this? I don’t know what that means because I’m a Catholic and live in a pretty safe home. The Catholic Church has borrowed every pagan gesture and action available and simply added “Jesus” to it and that makes it now true and right. The Lutherans have much to share even if they say they are the “one true church” which Catholics already have copyrighted.
Jesus says, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by my Father.” As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?” Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”
I love people who tell me that they’re confused, unsure or doubting about their faith. It is never that I will solve their confusion but I encourage it. Be confused. Doubt is a gift from the gods. Unsure means that you’re a thinking individual (there’s that word again) and questioning this or that to help you decide the “this’s or that’s” in your life. Be a wondering person. Wonder away and never settle down. Wonder until you see the white light and then wonder no more. The rain helps the earth whether it comes to us from the “One True God” or the “gods.” The Jews wisely taught us that all questions only lead to other questions and then other questions until you settle with what they’re looking for but still not be absolutely sure.
I don’t want to stand and preach to a bunch of Catholics who bought Catholicism “hook, line and sinker.” I want to stand in front of a bunch of folks who’ll wrestle with me about the mysteries within this life and then enjoying a strong cup of coffee.”