I am a word weasel, as someone once called me.
I do not think in terms of the most direct route from A to B. I am also an extrovert, which means I am within that community of folks who talk out loud in order to think clearly. All of which is to say that Bossy the calf has grown up by the time I put my finger on the obvious and am able to say it in a concise way. (This fact of nature is also why I write sermons instead of holding forth without text).
Why I hadn’t thought to say it so simply before causes me to marvel. But that is where I think we have such a serious problem in Christianity. The Church became, and is for those who are in it, a thing-in-itself rather than the tool by which we share our spiritual wisdom and practice. Whether independent
Mega-churches, the lost empire of Roman Catholicism, or the 21st century dregs of the Protestant Reformation, all of us suffer from a severe case of mistaken identity.
Christianity was and is a spiritual wisdom and practice that is in essence communal, local, and counter-cultural because the churches are in essence institutional, hierarchical, and deeply embedded and entangled with privilege. Christianity as a spiritual wisdom and practice was hijacked by institutional religion and came to be synonymous with those institutions. But the institutions are chaff not fruit.
We need to begin to see church, in whatever form we do it in, as a tool and not as essential to the substance of Christianity. Different occasions and circumstance require different tools and it is just that simple. While we can value our tools and care for them, so they allow us to do our work, we must always remember the tools are not the art, product, or creation itself.
Said that way it seems so clear and obvious, and that I could have said it with that much clarity all along. Oh well, it just goes to show that sooner or later editing pays off.
©R Cameron Miller