No more arms and legs, or lips or ears

I think a lot when I am in the shower.  I have no idea why the bathroom and car seem to send my brain into overdrive, but they do.  A few days ago I was getting dressed, drying my hair, generally getting ready to go out someplace — can’t remember where so I guess it isn’t important.  The image of a body with no arms, legs, mouth and ears but especially no heart popped into my head.  Then I thought that this is what the modern Christian church looks like.  It can’t go anyplace because it has cut off its own legs.  It can’t help others because it has cut off its own arms.  It can’t speak words of comfort because it has sewn shut its own lips (I guess cutting out the tongue would accomplish the same thing but after studying the French Revolution I just can’t go there), and it can’t show compassion because it has no heart.  It certainly does not hear the heart cries of its people.

Church Painting by David Wagner

Church Painting by David Wagner

It is just this big blob that stays in one place, having church in its pretty buildings, singing songs, applying marketing strategies to rectify lower and lower attendance numbers, not making any social impact on the world, and it has a cold, cold heart or no heart at all.

I had my first experience with the heartlessness of the church when I was 8 or 9 years old and was a part of a children’s choir at a Baptist Church in Cutler Ridge, Florida in South Miami.  I loved music.  I have always loved to sing.  My mom said I sang as a baby.  Well, the children’s choir director cured me of that real quick by declaring that someone was making this squeaking noise.  He looked right at me.  I didn’t know about singing alto, which is where my true range is, and always tried to sing soprano.  No one taught me differently.  I quit that choir and stopped singing unless I was alone.  I still don’t sing much in front of others.

My second experience was when my brother, a boy entering puberty whose father was never around, wanted to join some kind of church sports team.  We weren’t members of this particular church so he was told that he couldn’t participate.  Oh my gosh! Really???

I continued to attend my local Baptist Church regularly until I gave up around the age of 12.  No one seemed to care whether I showed up or not.  I know now that a big part of the disconnect was that I was changing, questioning what I had been told most of my life, and that this is perfectly normal.  I just didn’t have anyone who showed any personal interest in me during this difficult, transitional time to help me through it.

Fast forward to my mid 20’s where I finally found a group of people that seemed caring.  I later learned that they were a borderline cult, and had been under investigation by the church police for years (yes, there are groups that police churches lol).  Well, lots of legalism and control in that organization.  If you misbehave, speak out against anyone or any church practices you get cut off.  It is just like shunning that the Amish practice, what I consider a form of spiritual abuse, designed to control.  Years later, I found myself in a new church.  This one didn”t really excommunicate anyone but if you are no longer useful or stop attending you get the left foot of fellowship really fast.   If you attend church you are a member in good standing.  If you are too sick to attend you are not in good standing.  Weird, right?

So back to my vision of the limbless, heartless body, a head on a torso with no lips or ears.  I see this as the modern Christian church.  Instead of being open to change, especially gender roles and treatment of women overall, the church just cuts off anyone that doesn’t fit in or agree with what they are doing.  If you are an arm who doesn’t believe in more children’s programs but does believe in clothing the poor, you are shut down. If you are a woman who has a heart to teach, you can’t because you don’t have boy parts.  If any of you have read your Bibles, the Church is called the Body of Christ with all “members” contributing.  Well, if you cut off the legs, arms, ears, lips and rip out the heart, you end up with a body that doesn’t go anywhere, do anything or have anything to say.  It certainly isn’t hearing its people or caring about them.

You have a church that makes no impact.  You have a church that is  not relevant to its members (who have mostly been cut off anyway).  You have a cold church that doesn’t recognize when it is failing.  You have a mega church that just build a $132 million facility whose members might be going without food and medical care, or might be homeless next week.  I don’t get it.

I wonder what Jesus would think, or how he would be treated, if he walked into one of those palaces of religion.  Would he be ushered down to sit in the front row even if his clothes were worn out or his shoes had holes in them?  Would the ushers try to keep him out of the areas where the television cameras focus during televised services?

I actually had this happen to me one time when I tried to visit a church in a rich area of Austin, Texas.  Me and my little boy (I was a single mom) thought we would visit Hyde Park Baptist Church one Sunday.  Silly me, I didn’t realize that they televised their services.  I tried to sit on the main floor as near to the front as possible because I find fewer distractions that way.  I was blocked from proceeding and led to the balcony area.  I know I wasn’t dressed very nicely, though I was in a dress.  I know I had a small child with me, one who might get a little wiggly sometimes.  But to turn someone away and make them sit in the back of the church was rude.  I never went back there; that place left a really bad taste in my mouth.  I was turned away at a church in Middletown, Connecticut once because I wasn’t wearing a dress.  Do these people know what they are doing?  Do they even really think about how they are representing, or misrepresenting Jesus, to visitors?

Today I see a church that is no more than a torso with a voiceless head on top.  What a shame.  I refuse to step foot in any church now.  I am so disillusioned that I just can’t do it.  Last Sunday I started this blog and thought to myself, “Instead of going to church I am breaking taboos!”

You ask:  why did you keep trying?  Why did you keep going back for more?  I have always felt the presence of God in my life.  I cannot explain it.  I just know He is there and I have always wanted to know Him better.  I have given up on religion, though.  I think I am leaning towards deism at this point, or back to agnosticism.  I find I must reject modern Christianity and the Pauline teachings as misogynistic and cruel, heartless and controlling.  Blasphemy, I know.  I must be true to myself in my search for God.  And I have not found it in man’s interpretation of God.  I must look elsewhere now.