27 July 2007

Yes, I'm Schizophrenic

Not really. Not that way anyway. Not the kind that spends half the day thinking one is the King of England and requires medicine.

No, I'm schizophrenic* because on the heels of the linked article at the Internet Monk's blog and subsequent posts supporting the notion that a more traditional, mainline type church is what I'd love to find, I'm here to say that I've given it some thought and have concluded that I don't know what I want.

I deplore simplistic, poorly-written modern praise choruses with their repetitiveness and "Jesus is my boyfriend" mushy sentiments, but I actually like a lot of modern praise songs and I enjoy being able to express my emotions toward God in a church setting.

I love beautiful, poetic, theologically rich hymns like "All Creatures Of Our God And King", but there are a lot of hymns I detest. "Victory In Jesus", "I'll Fly Away" and "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" come to mind. Do we have to sing those?

I love the beauty and formality of a traditional church sanctuary, complete with pews, kneelers, stained glass and altars, but I also like the lyrics to songs projected on the screen so I don't have to keep looking down and if I want to lift my hands in praise to God, I don't have to tuck the hymnal under my arm or set it down.

The idea of traditional liturgy - responsive readings, reciting of the creeds, beautiful spoken prayers from a prayer book, weekly Holy Communion - appeals to the part of me that longs for connection to our Christian history. But I do remember growing up in a church that did those kinds of things and the way people droned through the liturgy like a bunch of zombies. If I had to be subjected to that every week, it would break my heart and bore me to tears.

So what is it I want? What kind of church has all this stuff in just the right proportions? Is there such an animal? And am I being ridiculous?

* And yes, I realize that multiple personality disorder is the proper term. Work with me here. I'm just using the typical vernacular. Don't get your undies in a bunch. :^)


TrothKeepr said...

Raggy, I can somewhat relate to your wrestlings: I've come to the conclusion that one will never find in one church all 3 of what I consider the most important elements in worship (sound teaching, protein-singing, genuine koinonia). In many churches, you might score 1 out of 3, in a few, 2 out of 3, but never have I found a church that managed 3 out of 3 (and believe me, having moved around a lot, I've attended tons of churches).

For the past 3 years, I've settled for the kind of church where the teaching and the singing are sound. Twice during that time, I went thru an angry phase about the lack of genuine loving-one-another, but I've gotten over it (albeit still disappointed), though the bureaucratic emphasis of the pastor and elders still drives me up a *wall,* but I try to focus on being thankful for a spiritually safe place to worship (one that doesn't import all kinds of doctrinal and cultural "viruses").

Reading Paul's Letters and Revelation reminds me that deficiencies in The Body aren't anything new.

Best 2U as you sort this issue out,


Ragamuffin said...

Thanks. It's a frustrating thing but I get what you're saying. Even as I look at the Catholic church I see so much of things that I like, but depending the parish, it seems the "going through the motions" aspect can be particularly high.

Chad Toney said...

I also hate the hymns you hate. Two are slap-your-knee and revivalistic and the other can be clunky with two much bombast.

You might want to seek out an Anglican church with an evangelical bent. The one I went to before becoming Catholic had a little bit of everything -- a solid traditional service with a great choir and awesome hymns and a modern service with Rock And/Or Roll band but with liturgical elements and weekly Eucharist.

I found that the more Catholic I became, the less I wanted the modern P&W. But I still play guitar monthly for a Catholic Youth Group's worship night (it's called XLT for the LifeTeen program) so I didn't have to leave everything good about that stuff behind either.

Qatfish said...

I see so much of things that I like, but depending the parish, it seems the "going through the motions" aspect can be particularly high.

"The only cure for sagging of fainting faith is Communion. Though always Itself, perfect and complete and inviolate, the Blessed Sacrament does not operate completely and once for all in any of us. Like the act of Faith it must be continuous and grow by exercise. Frequency is of the highest effect. Seven times a week is more nourishing than seven times at intervals. Also I can recommend this as an exercise (alas! only too easy to find opportunity for): make your communion in circumstances that affront your taste. Choose a snuffling or gabbling priest or a proud and vulgar friar; and a church full of the usual bourgeois crowd, ill-behaved children - from those who yell to those products of Catholic schools who the moment the tabernacle is opened sit back and yawn - open necked and dirty youths, women in trousers and often with hair both unkempt and uncovered. Go to communion with them (and pray for them). It will be just the same (or better than that) as a mass said beautifully by a visibly holy man, and shared by a few devout and decorous people. (It could not be worse than the mess of the feeding of the Five Thousand - after which [our] Lord propounded the feeding that was to come.)

"Out of the darkness of my life, so much frustrated, I put before you the one great thing to love on earth: the Blessed Sacrament... There you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves on earth, and more than that: Death: by the divine paradox, that which ends life, and demands the surrender of all, and yet by the taste (or foretaste) of which alone can what you seek in your earthly relationships (love, faithfulness, joy) be maintained, or take on that complexion of reality, of eternal endurance, which every man's heart desires."

- The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

"I love that Church which plunges into the thickets of human history and is not afraid of compromising itself by getting mixed up with men's affairs.... I love that Church because it loves men and therefore goes out to look for them wherever they are. And I love best of all that Church which is mud-splashed from history because it has played its part in history."

- Jean Danielou, Prayer as a Political Problem