Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Disorganized Religion

Joining the ranks of celebrities who attempt to do religion in public -- Mel, Madonna, Britney, Tom, et al (Note to any celebrities reading this: Unless you're Bono, don't try it) -- Sir Elton John has opined that organized religion should be banned because it promotes homophobia, does not provide a compelling moral voice against war, and turns people into "hateful lemmings."

I heard Sir Elton's comments on television, juxtaposed against an Internet news article on "outraged" Pakistani Islamic fundamentalists (are they ever not outraged?)loudly fulminating over their government's plans to make rape a crime prosecuted under civil and not religious law, thus making obsolete such astoundingly stupid rules as requiring the accused woman to produce four male witnesses to her rape, and punishing both parties for adultery if the accused is found innocent. Which made my first thought, upon hearing Sir Elton, "Great -- when can we start?"

Then I thought of the inevitable anti-Elton backlash among the exciteable sectors of Christendom -- oh, great; thanks for representing. And I also felt a certain amount of defensive irritation: Hey, Elton -- you're dissing me too. But it also made me sad, even though -- and I might have to give up my toaster for saying this -- the last Elton John album I really liked was Madman Across the Water. I think before Christians open our pieholes about persecution and scorn at the hands of the dominant culture, we do indeed need to think about our own history of library burnings, forced conversions, inquisitions, pogroms, burnings at the stake, institutionalized bigotries of various kinds, and generally winding up on the wrong side of reality whenever we try to make declarative statements about matters of science or partisan politics.

But then I went to church on Sunday. And, experiencing our situation-normal-all-cobbled-up cacaphony of anarchic children, unfortunate extemporaneous harmonizing gone awry, AWOL microphone, unannounced announcements, missing worship helpers, misread lectionary texts, adolescent female fashion don'ts involving an excess of tummy and a minimum of top, a kerfuffled lay minister and my own red-faced choreographical missteps as an anxious assisting, it occurred to me -- my parish is such an example of disorganized religion that it would most certainly be exempted from Sir Elton's desired purge. Whew.

11 comments:

BetteTheRed said...

I don't know, LC, sounds like your congregation and mine could have a 'disorganization run-off' and may the least adept win...

the reverend mommy said...

I trying to make a pun out of "A Candle in the Wind" but I got nothin'.
DeLurking! Thanks for what you have done for us with the Devotional books. I love the way you write. AND for your wonderful wit and sense of humor.
Blessings on you, LChik!
Theresa

Reverend Dona Quixote said...

Actually, some of us in MCC circles have been known to respond to persons who say "I don't believe in organized religion,"

"Well then you'd fit right in --we're the most disorganized organized religion around."

While I do indeed acknowledge that the Church Universal has done a great deal of evil in its time, for which we must repent, I hate it that the good the church has done in its time is taken for granted and seldom acknowledged. The church gave us some great music, some great art, and a tremendous amount of positive social change, and was one of few institutions that protected and promoted education and literacy. That is a part of its story too, and to focus only on the negative impact of the Church is to not tell the complete truth.

Teddy said...

It was the "Holy" Roman Catholic Church that led the burnings, pogroms and persecutions you speak of - not Christians.

LutheranChik said...

"Teddy":I see that your historical/current events knowledge is as appalling as your attitude and your manners. If you want to engage in hate speech, get your own blog, Sparky...stay off mine, or I'm going to start deleting your posts. Although you do help provide a useful example of the mindset that leads to intolerance and oppression at the hands of the churchly. So thank you for playing Pot-Kettle, and now kindly run along.

LutheranChik said...

Ah...it must be troll migration season...I'm thinking from the land of Beliefnet.

Anyhoo...a good point about what we Lutherans call simul iustus et peccator -- the paradox, and irony, of our sinnerhood/sainthood. I know during my own Christianity vacation, one of the things that kept nagging at me during my self-imposed exile was the presence in history of Christians I admired, who "got" it -- people like Julian of Norwich and Bach and Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King, Jr. and Desmond Tutu...people like the Egyptian nun who lived and worked among the garbage pickers of Cairo, and the martyrs of the White Rose Society in Nazi Germany...people who freed the captives and healed the sick and taught the ignorant and made life more beautiful with music and art.

SingingOwl said...

Great post, LC.

And good comment, Rev. DQ...

and I sigh with relief too. Your list sounds pretty much like our church on most Sundays.

But, while I concur that we have to think of our missteps, Sir Elton's comments were...pretty goofy! Ban religion? Like that is possible? Does he know any history?

Anonymous said...

Oh please, please, please include Bono in with the "don't try its."

Once, back in the 1980s, he turned up at the Greenbelt Christian Arts Festival to talk with the important people. He arrived, in the middle of the night, disguised as a security guard and left before dawn. Why? In England if you met the Queen walking down your road with her corgis it would be considered uncool to recognise her. What did he think the Christians at Greenbelt were going to do with him. Personally, I think it is easier for a camel to get through the eye of a needle than for a certain rock star's head to get through the hole in the Ozone Layer.

Jack the Lass said...

Great post LC (just came here from 'a raid on the inarticulate', having recognised your name from SoF).

Evelyn said...

Well, my church could definitely get into the competition for attracting those who dislike organized religion. Ours often seems disorganized, but you know, I kinda think that God smiles a little at all the disorganization. Maybe it's one more example of the foolish things of this world confounding the "wise". The Holy Spirit is present, and we're there to spend some time with each other, and to worship God together. That's what matters!

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

smkyqtzxtl said...

I honestly thought you were describing our church! I thought the Lutherans were the organized ones and the Methodists were more fly by the seat of the pants. Does this have a parallel to what physicists are calling chaos theory? That there is organization to confusion? Amazing how God is always in control. Blessings