The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Friday, June 23, 2006

On "the Institution"


Some Ramblings that You Would Do Best to Ignore

Look, I do not like to get into polemics. They don't solve anything, and in the end no one is convinced of anything other than "the other side is an idiot." But as I am officially a(n) (continuing) Anglican blog, I suppose I have to say something about the mess shown here.

Having been a Roman Catholic for so long, I have a great acquaintance with the "Institution". What is the "Institution"? It's a lot of things. Mostly its power, prestige, buildings, influence, and so on and so forth. It is argued that Christ founded an institution, so that the Gospel would spread, the Flock would be governed properly, the bills would be paid on time, and the ladies of the Altar Society would not cut each other with garden scissors in arguments over lilies. The Institution makes the Church visible, without it, who would know where to go?

So institutions are built, are corrupted and are reformed. But above all, they are taken for granted. People when asked, "Where is the Church?", point to the one on the corner and say "Over there," as if it has always been there, always will be there, and gee, "I don't have to worry about it too much." Just pay your dues, go with the flow, and everything will be alright. Right?

This is not about constructing cathedrals in the clouds, nor is it about becoming your own Pope. I am not about to sit in judgment on other denominations, nor unchurch those to profess to believe in Christ. Let other bloggers with higher IQ's and longer attention spans deal with those issues. What is being addressed here is the irrational and unChristian fear of "illegitimacy" and going it on your own. People want to be part of the big, Gothic church on the corner with the Sunday school and professional choir. People don't want to be called a cult, or be accused of being closed-minded or sectarian, or be viewed as antiques from a backwards past. People may not want these things, but the Gospel requires this of us. And the Gospel trumps the Institution. Every time.

If your are in communion with the Anglican Communion, ask yourself if this is doing you any good, or are you there because of inertia? If you are thinking of swimming the Tiber, are you merely trading one Institution for another, with a whole set of problems you have yet to foresee? And if you want to seek refuge in the Continuum or in Orthodoxy, are you doing this in the right spirit, or out of bitterness or judgment?

I left the Roman Catholic Church but I will not argue against it, and I would never condemn anyone for joining it. But I saw where it was going, and I saw where I was going , and I decided it might just be better if we parted ways. That was all. Life away from the Institution might seem like the desert. But there are many oases in the desert. And that is where the Faith becomes stronger.

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