This whole fundraising campaign is called "Illuminating Lives." I only learned a few weeks ago that it's actually for raising money to fix the building. We need a special campaign to get money to fix the building? If you care about the church then you care about the building, no? Though i'm guessing that the "fixing" the building includes stuff like remodeling the downstairs to expand the pre-school or stuff like that. But still, all they ever talk about it seems is proselytizing. I thought we'd done all the building fixing last year (granted i'm not around much, so miss some of the
In the children's sermon Tim spoke in an exaggerated voice about how he had heard that when you follow Jesus you get love and joy and peace, so he signed up, and he got this bag of stuff and he opens it up and the first thing is a vice. On it is written 2 Corinthians 8-9, so he opens he Bible and begins to read: Brothers, we write to you about the troubles we have faced in Asia... His face falls. The whole thing was pretty cute. He pulls out various other items with attached verses, and the love&joy&peace are at the bottom. I think it was really over the kids' heads, though. I mean, they don't even know what it means to "accept Jesus into your heart" and now you're telling them that doing that means you're going to suffer as well as have good things. Hell i have a difficult time with that concept. It's an important lesson to give, say, people who are thinking of joining the church, but the 8 and under crowd? Come on.
It reminded me of some of the difficulties i have with identifying myself as a Christian. I was raised Protestant, and i go to a lovely Protestant church when i'm in Northampton. I refused to get confirmed (or whatever it was that the pastor called it) a few years ago because not only did i not know what it was exactly that i would be professing to believe (insert rant about the Sunday School at my church) but i didn't know what i myself believed. I still don't. Every once in a while i get all excited about researching what exactly all the religions are about and how they grew out of each other and what the differences are between all the Protestant sects and so on, but there's always stuff that's more pressing. I believe in an all-loving, all-powerful, all-knowing, Creator. I want to do research into the historical reality of Jesus -- his life and ministry, his death, his resurrection. If Jesus really did rise from the dead, then i have to be a Christian. If he didn't, then i can't be a Christian.
Here we begin a tangent in which i remember that i have a number of interesting pamphlets from See Sharp Press which posit early Christianity as one of many "resurrectionist" and literally cannibalistic cults, wonder whether i did ever actually get around to reading them, and find them grounded in apparently good scholarship and absolutely fascinating. The really good one is Among the Cannibal Christians if you're interested. God Eating: A Study in Christianity and Cannibalism has its merits, though the derision of Christianity's exclusive nature grated on me from its first mention. laynamarya: i thought of you while reading that second one because it says interesting things about Paul in relation to the twelve apostles -- "He claimed for himself, not only independence of the twelve apostles, but also the right to preach a radically different Gospel from theirs. ... Paul's Gospel differed fundamentally from, and was, in fact, almost diametrically opposed top, the Jerusalem Gospel, its supreme emphasis being laid on the person and work of Christ, his atoning death and triumphant resurrection, while, to James and his party, the all-important elements were the life and teaching of the God-sent Jesus" (6). It says even more interesting things, about how Paul wasn't the one chosen as the Rock of the Church, but his became the dominant version of Christianity; that Christianity began as a revised form of Judaism, direct fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy, intended for the Jewish nation alone; argues that the Eucharist comes directly from a common pagan tradition and that without Paul's adoption of that "irrational" doctrine into Christianity, "the probability is that the religion of Jesus would never have survived the inevitable conflict with Pagan cults" (10). Pagan Christs mentions lots of problems (and parallels to earlier pagan traditions) i already knew about and am interested in looking into at some point as well as others i didn't know of. Here ends the tangent.
In his sermon, Pastor Bill said that people say, "There are two things I don't talk about: politics and religion." His response was: "I'm not talking about religion; i'm talking about a personal relationship with the Savior Jesus Christ." But you are talking about religion, i thought. The best feeling is bringing a loved one to Christ, he says. Um, yeah. I decided (likely not for the first time, and one doubts it will actually take) that i want to live in a Christlike manner, because that to me is important and relevant and is a way that i see as honoring God, whereas even if i do believe in Jesus i don't, can't, believe that that's the only way to get into Heaven.