Back in mid-November I stopped altogether going to church. I've been once in the last four and a half months. It was getting simply too triggering. Many times the scripture read would be something from my old church and the realms of Fundytown that was used out of context to put down or control others. Every Sunday started to be an exercise in what would trigger me this weekend. I finally concluded that I didn't need to be triggered every weekend and just simply stopped going.
How many people from my church do you think have asked about me or contacted me to express concern? If you guessed zero you would be correct. I could be dying of cancer or have turned atheist and none of them would know. My experiment has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt exactly what 'True Christians' (tm) are really all about. Self. Patting themselves on the back for being Christian. A lesson I should have learned at my old church.
They talk the talk but not many of them walk that walk. I decided between this behavior, other bits of visible hypocrisy and how they treat some of the least of us that I'm probably done with organized religion. I'll still keep evaluating what it is exactly that I believe, be it whatever, but I'm no longer open to others telling me who, what or how to believe in the divine.
Yesterday I spent a long time on the phone with a dear friend in another state who is going through family hell right now. Just about the worst family hell there is, involving long buried secrets emerging in the aftermath of her father and sister's deaths combined with fall out for the bad choices made by one of her adult children.
There really isn't much I can do for her in a practical sense beyond listen to her pain and tell her I understand, that what she's going through is unfair, wrong and horrible. Sometimes just simply being a safe person to vent to is the best medicine you can provide. I think that was my function yesterday. She wants me to pray for all of them. I will.
In the past I might have tried to link her up with a local church in her area and guide her there for prayer and help. Not now, So many churches are nothing more than either social clubs or hotbeds of damaged, damaging people filled with ego centrism. If you don't 'look' right, or are not from the right socio economic background, or aren't speaking, talking, acting like them then they have no use for you, much less love or acceptance.
My friend needs love, help and acceptance, but it's not going to come out of organized religion. I'm beginning to believe that to have a genuine faith and relationship with the divine you're better off keeping apart away from the Godly pharisees, instead of fellowshipping at a church.
Even if the church has pure motives, helps others, takes care of the poor and other things Jesus said we're supposed to do if we love him, if the message absorbed by the congregants is one of selfish ego then it's all for naught. Recently for NLQ I posted a bit about a young pastor who'd studied at a church I have attended many times, where I know the pastor and know what he's teaching. This young pastor was bragging about having practiced his sermons on a handful of elderly dementia patients at a nursing home and being so filled with fire and brimstone it made them pee their pants. He then went on to state a number of other things that indicated that he didn't care about anything else, only with promoting himself and his ministry.
Knowing the church and pastor that taught him I'm very disappointed that the message he came away with, which is something I've never heard taught there is that it is all about him and how he brings God's word. There is not only iota of love, concern or care about what this young man is preaching.
Here's a thought: If you really want to spread the message of God's love simply start caring for people without using them to prop up your own ego. Feed the homeless without shouting about it from the rooftop. Call on those you sense might be struggling and need a friend, but don't keep score, don't publicize it.
Faith is not all about you.