They're surely out there this morning trying to get the hell out of things, places and people
... you can count on that.
So what exactly is our yearning when we seek the spiritual within the walls of our local chapels?
Better asked perhaps ... Just what is it that our Christian congregations offer in their
communities when someone outside the circle comes seeking light and knowledge?
Does the traditional pastoral offering have a real potential of satisfying the needs or hungers
of those looking through the doors and windows of America's chapels and mega-churches? Do our new adult children with our
grandchildren in tow find something useful - something of much more worth than the literal-minded silliness of Jesus Camp?
The enduring power of religion is not as a social club or political/moral sign-waving publicity
stump. Rather, it ought to lie within the realm of a human need for meaning and purpose in living. The venue in life
that seems to require endurance is more in the perceptive realm of mind and spirit and certainly not best served with the
traditional literal-minded approach of moralizing.
When our non-physiological internal hungers flare up the void to be filled is not satisfied
by lasagna, a hot bath or a good night's sleep. These kinds of internal hungers and dissatisfactions reflect not a lack of
consumable organics, but a powerful uneasiness ... a restlessness with life. Our thoughts truly form who we are - what has
and continues to form us.
When we think we are just worried about things, wanting things we don't have, dissatisfied with
work, with marriage, with friends, our community, the economy or the government - even our favorite pro team that's never
going to win a championship - we are thinking thoughts that are part of what forms us and recreates anew who we are every
Christianity as a valid 21st Century spirituality must offer something more than Sunday group
and conformity-dominated worship with its hand-waving sighs of "Jesus" as the single important mantra. Families must be offered
more than potluck suppers and the clichéd generalities that create feelings of acceptance and belonging to the mega-church
in-crowd that flocks together in pious self-congratulation every Sunday.
Further, it should be no surprise that a hunger for something more powerful arouses not
just laity, but the clergy as well. If being Christian means more than just going through weekly motions and repeating worn
out slogans, then what ought to be offered is something responsive to that internal hunger. It's a hunger that cries out for
something of substance and not rigid god and bible talk. It's a hunger for an experience that is barely verbal but more powerfully
prompted from within by something Holy Spiritual (wholly spiritual).
And satisfying that hunger is possible. The means are there, within each of us. We do not need
anyone standing at a pulpit or pacing back and forth on a stage to throw the book at us.
Satisfying that hunger involves one simple concept.
Take ownership of your spirituality just as you take ownership and responsibility to provide
for yourself and your family.
Responsible citizens do not run to something external like a government for food and shelter
dependency. Nor should citizens run to the local house of worship to for spiritual feeding and shelter - creating a dependency
that is only a single step away from the fear, shame and guilt of the cult.
This is not what is obtained by splashing in the shallow waters of mega-church biblically-literal
spirituality that, when all is said and done, shackles itself to the limits of literal-minded moral whining; to pretended
"prosperity theology" that masquerades as the teaching of Jesus the Master.
Literalist church members who constantly imbibe in that inerrant Bible stuff wind up - you guessed
it - "litarded."
The power behind our beliefs is not our ability to become educated in what the Bible SAYS, thereby
permitting us opportunities to publicly display how well we can read or memorize verses. Power lies in what scripture, prayer,
tradition and reason prompt within.
I'm not talking about being prompted to obey, conform and donate.
An un-spoken communal experience of what is divine both inside and outside our perception lies
within the potential of every Christian congregation. It does however remain powerfully elusive - even perhaps hidden - while
the emphasis on social behavior, conformity and financial contribution lies behind the flashing lights and cloying praise-songs.
© Arthur Ruger 2007