I take the risk of sounding preachy here. But I got to get this of my chest! Self examination displayed publicly can always be misinterpreted, so to be clear, this only applies if the shoe fits. Even while writing this, there’s certainly blood on my hands.
I ran across a music video from Jon Foreman that I feel, if I interpreted it correctly, sums up the irony displayed in many places of worship all over the world on most weekends. Whether they be Saturday services at a local church or temple, or on Sunday mornings. There may be different interpretations as to who Jon was singing about, but the lyrics to the song are almost directly taken from a passage found in Isaiah 1: 11-17. Check it out & also compare with the source.
I guess in some ways its comforting to know that the plight of humanity, whether within our world at large or within the church walls has always contained similar elements. It seems that the message of loving God, by living a good life displayed by how well love is tangibly displayed to all, particularly those less fortunate has always battled the next best thing. A charade, or pretense of such activities. A denial of this personal need can appear all the more valid when also displayed on a corporate scale. Where a group of people participate in an intricately choreographed performance of the real thing. Where having the correct belief system trumps the practice of the greatest commandment to love. Where flowery political speeches, or singing, writing, and talking about love, although important, becomes the end game. And the doing and practice of love and justice is relegated to some secular groups social justice agenda. Shouldn’t the church be leading that charge?
Was there good occurring within the ancient religious community mentioned in Isaiah? It couldn’t have been all bad right? Well…it appears that something was wrong. It appears that at some point, at least in biblical history, the one who all of the religious activities were meant for, had to step in and communicate how He felt about how he was being represented, and what was being emphasised. In the 1st chapter of Isaiah, the sentiments seem to indicate that God had started to taste vomit. Things were making him sick. Maybe things still are? Maybe a life well lived sounds better than the latest musical praise & worship technique. Maybe the flurry of activities, programs, meetings, and conferences that take place within the walls of churches or even government high offices every week, but rarely spill outside the walls to fight hunger, homelessness, and injustice, serve only to nauseate God.
Just like America has had its high and low moments, the church, and right on down to the individual, is a turmoil, and wide spectrum of conflicting values. I get it. We have all been hypocrites at some point. I know I have, and in my day to day life, this battle between the better me, and its arch enemy continue to wage war. So if this sounds condemnatory, I include myself in the mix. I’ve seen examples of religious communities who have been, or who currently appear to be moving in the direction of placing more emphasis on love in tangible social issues, even moving so far as to the dismantle structural and traditional inhibitors. I like that, and aim for my actions to be more congruent with this way of living. Now maybe I’m reading somethings wrong. And quite likely there is an even broader way to look at this. And I’m open for comments. This is not an attack on organized religion(well maybe a lil), but more an attempt to interpret whats in the good book, and what I experience in my life and religious experience.
Do you think there is a serious problem with the way religious communities currently exist. Do we ignore social issues like injustice, homelessness, prison system, the sick, and poverty? Does your religious community reflect what’s found in the goat and sheep story. Is there even a real issue across the religious landscape, or are there many examples of religious communities meeting this charge to, “do good, work for justice, help the down-and-out, stand up for the homeless, and the defenseless, found in Isaiah? Does your God still feel sick? Do you? So what exactly does a non vomit inducing religious community even look like? What do you think? I know I just hit you with 100 questions, but what can I say. This and more are running through my mind today :-) Whether religious or not, I’m interested in your thoughts.
Interesting & Related videos:
A take on irony(Peter Rollins)