The pandemic SHUT DOWN all those churches, my friends. In the midst of a historic movement for justice for people of color, the worship hour was STILL the most segregated hour in America, and it looks like Jesus said, "That's it. Get out of my house." Just like he tossed the moneychangers out of the temple...
But those congregations who use their sojourn in the virtual church world as a time of repentance, deep anti-racism faith work to de-center whiteness and combat white supremacy, and realignment with Jesus, may survive and thrive.
As a white itinerant preacher of a certain age, I can take a small role in this great turning by reminding the congregations that there are no white people in the Bible.
When the pandemic closed the churches, it felt like being kicked out of the Garden again. Desperate to stay alive, congregations invented online services overnight, and now virtual church is here to stay. But where is here?
We are worshippers tabernacled (yup, you can verb it; I looked it up) in our homes, like the primitive Christians in house churches. Ministers are now voice crying in the wilderness, like the ancient prophets, relying on the spirit and our bandwidth. Many of the smaller churches may never physically reopen. And in some ways, it felt like the end of everything.
I’ve missed you all, though I’ve been right here — and I know so have you — but you know how time goes: quickly when you are racing to finish something, slowly when you are waiting for the next thing to race to.
I’m deep into a book that I’m co-authoring on an honest-to-God contract for an honest-to-God publishing house…so watch this space, and please peruse my writings here and around Medium.
Meanwhile, I’m checking in because first, I just want to ask: does anyone else think that the season of Lent, in COVID, feels redundant…?
And second: I want…
Insight’s not always that great a deal
I am supposed to be this writer, this facile, glib, satirical preacher.
And ever since January 6, when fools rushed in where angels have feared to tread for quite some time — I’m talking about a mob of people who thought they could storm the capitol on January 6 and somehow, what, erase the election Trump lost from the calendar and hope no one would notice — I don’t know what in the world to say about it.
Except it was stupid and horrifying and I’m disrupted and can’t think of anything clever…
What was the name of that film
with the actor you like
the one with the hair?
we racked our brains; we remembered at last —
and it all came clear:
an apocalypse small; a relief; a reveal.
What was the name of the law you made
that let you buy people? And places? And power?
What was the lie? Was it then, or today?
For when we remembered the sum of the sin,
it showed us the world as it really had been:
we racked our brains; it all came clear, and it ended the world as it was…
This is the time to hold hands. We are down to that minimum grace: to hold hands, tight, one with another, and form a chain of humanity to stand against the losses and challenges our species will face in the coming decades.
Otherwise, these decades are going to be the endgame: the period during which we learn whether the planet will allow us to live after what we have done to her.
My generation of Americans has danced through its history under a virtual veil of glittering, glorious media that helped ensure American hegemony, that bedazzled us and kept us…
Maybe some of you are confident, happy gift-givers. Maybe you’ve never had any of those moments of doubt: did I spend too much? Too little? Will they like it? Is it the right size? The right proportion? Can I take it back? Can I get one for myself, or is that just tacky?
If you’ve never worried about any of these things, you may be excused. Please go read something else while we normal people deal with our issues here.
By now you’ve probably read all you can stand to read about how nostalgic you must be for those holiday gatherings you used to enjoy (maybe you’re not), or what you should do to have your holiday gatherings safely (you probably won’t), and you were just idly websurfing and feeling guilty when this notice popped up.
And here we are, asking the same old question:
Do we HAVE to give thanks when we’re not feeling thankful?
Let the Rev Dr Sparky help you with that — real quick, though, because we’re all being bombarded with messages about how we must…
So it’s Thanksgiving season again, God. As You know — ah, yes, well of course You know — I mean — ah, nuts. I do that every time, don’t I? Let me start over.
Dear Sir or Madam God: I just want to apologize in advance for the annual torrent of “thanks” you’re about to hear from Your creatures, particularly some of us over-privileged, under-disciplined humans.
Oof. We really crank it up in November, don’t we? All the rest of the year, it’s peeve and pout, but suddenly in November, we’re all competing for Most Appreciative.
And I suppose we…
Yes, my friends, I know! It’s THAT day! I just had to reach out to the Congregation of the Real World and commiserate, in case it is the End Of The World As We Know It (or, as we who are always in full-on doomsayer mode know it, TEOTWAWKI).
Bless you my children — I know it’s been a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad year. But I’m afraid I just have to reach right in and get confrontational and say something.
Get a grip, people. Breathe in a paper bag, or something.
And read this, please, if you need perspective:
Preaching courage in the face of absurdity. Editor of Real Life, Real/igion — join us for the newsletter Real/igion for the Rest of Us.