I’ve never been one for following a lot of rules…and yet when I see a rule being broken that is crushing an underdog, I pull out the books and start researching like a madwoman.
A “church” is supposed to be a refuge from the tedious oppression of the world but…a lot of of times it’s not.
I belong to a “church” community, but I refrain from labeling myself as being of any particular denomination. I don’t like labels and anyway, it’s all the same god wherever you go.
The old saying, “the devil is in the details” is a pretty good way to describe the operation of a “church.”
You can find holiness sitting beneath a pine tree in the middle of a forest, but when you walk into a “church,” holiness takes on a lot of baggage.
And that is because churches are corporations, whereas trees are not. A tree asks nothing of you while you’re resting beneath it, but a “church” always needs *something* from you, be it time, money or blood.
There are a lot of rules. These rules apply not only to pomp and ceremony or to where the “Lord’s Prayer” *must* be recited during the service. They also apply to the corporate side of the institution that lurks like a ghostly demon amidst the pews and coffee cups.
There are also a lot of politics. A *LOT* of politics. It’s not for the faint of heart. If a sensitive soul gets lured into the political underbelly of a church corporation, there will be blood. And tears.
The politics are such that there is a very hierarchical, classist system in the inner workings of a “church.” Now as far as I know, Jesus (or whoever he was) never charged a fee for his preaching services. But priests in modern-day churches are paid salaries to preach and visit the sick and officiate at funerals. They are also paid to administrate, to delegate and to manipulate. Many of them are very good at the latter part because they have to be.
They have to be because their salaries often depend on it. Without money and volunteers, churches die and priests are out of jobs.
Priests expect raises to their salaries also. And…true story, I kid you not…they expect them even if it means that the hourly underlings get their hours cut. Someone who mops a floor…well they can get a guy or gal like that anywhere or anytime. But a priest…holy sh*t, don’t mess with the old paycheck.
And ya know, I would not begrudge a priest a pay raise if he or she did not indulge in conspicuous consumption of material goodies like new iPhones while at the same time underpaying hourly staff members who cannot afford to get their cars fixed. But many, not ALL, do.
And the peeps in the Congregation who can’t afford luxuries for themselves? They are constantly bombarded with pleas for money and time and money and money.
Churches *do* provide a sense of community for many people and that’s a good thing. For those who seek friendship and fellowship (oh…and god) it’s a wonderful thing. My advice to y’all: Never volunteer.
Generally speaking, though, most of us can probably do a lot more good outside of a church than in one. There are soooooo many volunteer opportunities out there in the real world. Homeless folks need help, prisoners, animals, children, addicts…all can be ministered to without benefit of a “church.”
And god? Well, sometimes I do have to wonder if god likes incense and organ music. One thing I can say with almost 100% certainty is that god doesn’t care whether we talk to him in a church or a car, at a bus stop or under a tree.
And I would like to think that god would like the person who mops the floor to get a raise before the priest does.
(To all the GOOD priests out there…cool. Maybe your brothers and sisters in Holy Orders can learn a thing or two from you.)
Disclaimer: For the purposes of anything therein the above webnote, any resemblance to any church, dead or alive, is purely coincidental.
©January 2011 by Phyllis J. Hanniver
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