On being right


I think maybe the Catholics are right. I went to a Catholic funeral this morning. Every time I go to a Catholic funeral, I wish I were Catholic. Seriously. Catholics know what to do with death. They’ve been doing it much the same way for hundreds of years. If your loved one dies as a Catholic, you know what to expect at the funeral. If your loved one dies as a Protestant, good luck with that. Unless that person has a skilled pastor already, the funeral is going to be a crap shoot. Just sayin’.

I love the Catholic liturgy — the songs, the things the whole group speaks together, the cantor, the incense, even the boundaries around communion. It seems to wrap me up in a comforting blanket, and I feel safe. As pastor of a fairly progressive evangelical church, mass always gets me to thinking — about all the strong opinions I and others hold about what is the right way and wrong way to do church, including Catholics. Maybe they’re right.

Or maybe nobody is right. I always come away with only one conclusion that makes any sense. This is all ridiculous, really, isn’t it? I mean who the hell really knows what is the best way to have church, do church, or be church? Does anyone really believe there is only one good way? This in turn gets me to thinking about the things I post here on this blog. I have my opinions. You have yours. Sometimes we agree, sometimes we don’t. But who really knows? The heat we bring to our arguments sometimes seems so out of proportion to how ultimately unknowable the big answers are.

Maybe you are right. Maybe I am right. I’m convinced that it’s probably the other way around, that very, very few people are apprehending reality as it is. In other words, I am fairly confident most of us are really quite mistaken about God and reality (including these very thoughts, of course). The only response to this is basic humility. I’m just writing what occurs to me, throwing it out there and seeing what impact it has. I don’t pretend to know all the answers. What I can tell you is that as long as I have this blog, I will keep posting my questions, keep engaging people, keep thinking and asking others to think as well. That’s all we have. We may not know most of the answers, but we can engage one another around the questions.

Question: Are you confident your church, your tradition is “right”? How do you know this?

Image courtesy of ambernectar13, licensed under Creative Commons

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. A request for me to defend some of my comments does not obligate me to do so.

7 thoughts on “On being right

  1. I am confident my church tradition is “right”…..I am broken…this church tells me that’s okay & I am forgiven. Hmmmm…that’s what Jesus said, too. I don’t feel guilty anymore…that I am unworthy. It’s the first time I’ve ever felt that way…first time I am convicted that my church sticks to Biblical principles. Most importantly, my church teaches the message of LOVE…my love for others, Jesus’ love for me. Yeah…the Bible teaches that too. 🙂

    • Thanks, Jan. Like many other churches, we are doing our best. Of course, like all other churches, we are certainly missing the boat in various ways. All any church/person can do is look carefully at the message we’re putting out there and humbly move forward. That’s what we’ll keep doing.

  2. I love that you said “apprehending reality” not “comprehending reality”; the former contains the essence of our search and struggle, doesn’t it? Love it.

  3. just wanted to say that i really enjoyed this post. it feels like people of all types of thinking are slowly shifting their ideas about what church and god should be or should mean. I think this is a credit to students, and other open minded individuals, being pushed to ask “why” and “why not this?” this post inspired my own thinking, so thank you

  4. I saw that entry. Loved it. I agree with this comment. I think what I’m trying to get at is that I hate how in the evangelical tradition, it feels like we’re constantly making this stuff up as we go along. Sometimes that feels very freeing and spontaneous, but I long for the stability of the liturgy. Of course that’s probably mostly because I don’t have to deal with the liturgy week in and week out. Really what I was saying is that given the incredible variety of views on how to view God, church, etc., it’s amazing that we can get so intense about our feelings on it, as if we know!

  5. I just wrote a blog entry recently about my church. What I’m finding is that at different seasons in our life different approaches become more meaningful to us. I’ve attended a church plant that was trying to be very contemporary and have nothing to do with the traditional church set up. I’ve attended many traditional churches with all varieties of music. I’ve attended small churches, large churches and everything in between. Right now I’m attending a church that is far different than anything I’ve ever attended before. Different seasons lead me to different places. It’s hard for me to imagine going to the same church for decades. I’ve benefited from a wide variety of church experiences.

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