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Why I dropped church and joined The Church

Why I dropped church and joined The Church

The Rev. Matt Marino makes distinction between “church” and “the Church” in his latest blog post:

What put me off about church was that it was so like me – feeding me a steady diet of myself: my wants, my preferences, my music. It was quite “relevant.” I came to realize that I actually needed church to be UN-like me: to be transcendent. The Church is unconcerned with “relevance.” It cares not for my preferences. When I ask it to change it grins quietly and asks me to change instead. When one panics about something and accosts the clergy at the door, the chances are good the priest will say, “We have been in God’s presence in the liturgy. How about we enjoy that for a bit? Call me on Tuesday.”

The Church is maddeningly un-fearful. It is not subject to politics or fads. It does not do focus groups and market research. It is not trying to impress me, win me or woo me. Instead of bending to my whims, it seeks to conform me to the image of Christ through immersion in patterns: daily in the Scriptures, weekly in Sacramental feeding of the Thanksgiving meal of the family of God, and living out God-time in the Christian Year. As a man of flesh, these patterns marinate me in the Gospel, bringing forth flavors in my life I never imagined.

The full blog post is found at his blog “the gospel side” and includes questions for discussion.


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And, Adam and Kurt, I now want to watch Firefly.

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Thanks, Tom. Great thoughts. I am really not advocating lack of change. Just thoughtful change within the tradition.

The story taught in liturgy is the formative part. I am open to changing the modes of teaching the story. In the proper contexts a video and spoken word within the liturgy may be most appropriate…but probably not at Grace Cathedral or St. Gregory of Nyssa. I have seen urban youth moved to tears by the choir and pipe organ and suburban adults moved to tears by hip-hop and testimony through break dance. Both have increased power within the container of Word and Sacrament and common prayer.

I love your idea of establishing 9/11 as a day of remembrance and hope. I hope someone takes you up on that.

Matt Marino (name added by editor)

Tom Sramek, Jr.

The challenge, of course, is to separate the traditions of The Church from the habits of the church, often circa 1950. Sometimes we confuse them, and defend holy (and sometimes less-than-holy) habits as if Jesus had instituted them. I’m not looking for a relevant church, but I am looking for a responsive church and one that acknowledges the world around us.

Witness the Holy Women, Holy Men (HWHM) commemoration for today, September 11. It calls for commemorating composer Harry Thacker Burleigh. I’m sure he was a wonderful person, but I ditched that commemoration in favor of the Diocese of NY’s Propers for commemorating September 11, 2001. If I’d just strictly followed the church rules, I would have ignored 9/11 commemorations altogether. Why exactly does TEC not establish this day as “A Day for Remembrance and Hope” on our calendar?

The point I’m trying to make is that incarnational ministry of the kind Jesus did requires acknowledging what is going on in the world without being subverted by it. Too many traditions are traditions of church rather than Traditions of The Church.

Adam Spencer

Thanks Kurt! Now I want to go watch that episode again…

Kurt Wiesner


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