Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live faithfully...in the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Church or Pornography?

I was just reading an article recently about a man who resigned from his pastoral position to pursue the development of an online spiritual community. The analogy he used was pretty astonishing to me: “Do you know why I left professional ministry? Because frankly I was tired of propping up the institution of a central bank in an ATM world.”

Yes that makes sense – I mean the beauty of ATM’s is that they’re accessible whenever you want, make no demands on the inconvenience of relationships, and will always give you just what you want without any hassles. Interestingly, those are the same distinctions often made between pornography and real relationships. Of course ATMs, or porn, or virtual church are more convenient, and make less demands on you. But let’s at least be honest enough to admit that all three have the effect of diminishing our capacity for real relationships, which are suprisingly messy, inconvenient, and painful.

The week after week gathering of a community, united in our brokenness and desire to be transformed can be one of the most glorious displays the reality of Christ available; or it can be show. But if, because of the danger of show, or the danger of spiritual consumerism, we react by withdrawing into our virtual caves – picking our teachers, picking our times, picking our fellow worshippers like choosing apples at the supermarket, I would argue that we’ve diminished the testimony substantially.

I remain a strong advocate for gathering with irritating people, to work out our salvation together in community, for this is the hope of God’s glory being seen. Instead of the airbrushed perfection of our own customized communities, how about the long haul, hard work of loving real people? Anything less isn’t a real body, and hence not a real church.

8 Comments:

At 13/9/06 18:39, Blogger pornstudent said...

Porn doesn't diminish my capacity for real relationships. No more than watching an Andy Griffith Show.

 
At 13/9/06 22:33, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 14/9/06 11:44, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

I removed the previous annonymous comment because it embodies the exact complaint I'm making. Virtual relationships, especially annonymous ones, offer a platform for accusation without the responsibility of relationship. And the point at stake is really pretty simple: real relationships are both messier, more difficult, and more rewarding, than virtual ones.

 
At 14/9/06 15:46, Blogger Richard Dahlstrom said...

I hope my annonymous accuser will come clean and contact me directly so that we can have a real conversation instead of a virtual one. Until then, please respect the point of the blog, which is dialogue, not accusation.

 
At 14/9/06 16:32, Anonymous Accuser said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 18/9/06 08:13, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been there....It becomes somewhat boring to CONTINUOUSLY be at gathering/study where everyone displays their "pure" self to the group. This evolves into a "Who is the Greatest?" attitude. I like the mix of people and the dynamic they introduce.

 
At 19/9/06 12:05, Anonymous Geoff said...

To pornstudent, et al: Making statements about your own capacity for relationship has no bearing on the damaging nature of pornography. You assume too much.

Geoff

 
At 29/9/06 00:21, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll love this... I heard a report on NPR today regarding Spirit Link- the In-Church ATM machine for instant titheing... Not your point, but maybe it is your point from a different (and literal) angle. Cheers!

 

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