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

Monday, July 02, 2007

Retraction




I came up with a post over a year ago where I criticized the "Walmart" idea of a church, that is, the true church is the true church regardless of what goes on inside of it. As long as the sign on the front is right, the church must be right. I scoffed at this idea, and now I retract my scoffing.

It is not that somehow I now see things much differently. It is rather that now I think it is perfectly okay to treat the Church like Walmart since we don't LIVE in Walmarts or any other department store. The church as building and institution should only be your life if you are clergy. Otherwise, we "lowly" laypeople should not fret in angst over what the Church is or isn't like. Just as we would enter a store we have always entered in order to get what we need in order to get through our day, so we must use the Church not as a club that suits our views and aesthetic tastes, but rather as a sacramental feeding ground that can enable us to realize the mystery of the Church, the encounter between God and man, in our daily lives. If you worry too much about where you do your shopping, you will never get anything else done.

The true religious crisis in modern man is that he has too much choice, so much that it can make him indecisive. It is only when religion is conceived of as obligation and not a mode of individual expression does it become truly authentic. I have seen too much use of religion as personal expression in my life to condone it any longer, especially in myself. I am perfectly content to "shop" at the Roman Catholic Church, regardless of what it looks like on the inside. That does not mean I have to "enjoy" it nor pretend what is banal and flawed is not banal and flawed. It does mean that I can thank God that I only have to endure it for so little time during my week, and that I can receive the sacraments during these times. The latter, in the end, is what is most important. The institutional Church is for life, life is not for the institutional Church.
Deo gratias!

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