As an introvert (an INTJ to be exact), I find American society at once demanding, garrulous and worshipful of charming extroverts. This perception of the perfect American finds its way into churches, bleeds over the pews, stains the carpets and infiltrates the very verbiage and conversational rhythms. Modern churches exemplify this particularly with stage lighting, booming mic’s, catchy tunes and coffee bars. And suddenly church is about working and collecting merit badges at warp speed. If you have lots of energy, bright eyes and agreeable conversation–you’re in!
If not, you’re a problem.
My experiences with church has not been pleasant. I’ve come to view churches as mini empires working a small percentage of their membership down to the bone to fulfill their pride-filled goals. When the rabbi with dusty sandals established the church with Pete & Co., he didn’t instruct them to form over 30,000 denominations so everyone was comfy and cozy. There was no separate church for Africans, the church for the disabled or the church for those who looked, talked and smelled weird. No one was in need, everyone shared resources and no hectic bake sales were needed. There was one church–Greek, Jews, Gentiles alike–and that was it. Poor, rich, disabled, hadn’t-had-a-bath-in-three-years–didn’t matter. Blows our minds today, doesn’t it?
Wasn’t so long ago “Christian America” had Black and White drinking fountains, wasn’t it? Or voted for a white, rich president who made fun of a disabled reporter? And Jews? And women? And minorities? And…
We’re a bunch of morons in this country if we think we don’t continue to have a class system. Our ongoing segregation is still reflective in churches, in neighborhoods. Jesus is not the Conservative Republican’s “yes man” as I previously wrote about, as much as some Trump supporters desperately want to think so. Jesus doesn’t have a Crest sponsored smile and an agenda for middle class, working America. He definitely doesn’t carry around apple pie and cheer on the New York Yankees every game, either.
There are almost 200 other countries besides America–all with people we’ve never met, most whom don’t speak English or aren’t even (gasp) democratic or educated. Some churches pray superficially for “those” people; some members throw money at them with deadened hearts to lower their tax bracket and (quite simply) look good.
Something tells me we’ve strayed off course. The church is charging through a desert we’ve come to see as an oasis. American Christianity has focused too much on the double barreled issues of gay marriage and abortion. White evangelicals are holding onto these issues like bastions and pikes, thinking we’re the “special kids” and “chosen nation” of God in the end times. I think we’re charging stubbornly into hell.
Franklin Graham, the son of the recent Billy Graham, is loading up a bus caravan and traveling up and down California to rally the troops in his own style of political focused savvy. His logic appears to be “Save California; save America.” I don’t see any humility there, any foot washing perceptions while polluting the green state with diesel fumes.
I instead see, yet again, the American flag shadowing the cross. The cross speaks of humility, patient suffering and compassion; the flag, everything the opposite.
What on God’s green earth are we (quite literally) doing?
Song: “From Up On Poppy Hill (theme song)“, Studio Ghibli