Where 2 or 3 Gather and Agree…

This can only happen when the underlying Biblical truths are agreed upon” (Recovering)

I don’t think this is true whatsoever…the real problem is not what you believe but how you believe. Let’s say we all agree the bible is God’s word – okay – what does that do for us exactly? Does believing that one thing actually develop in us a value system of some sort? I would say no – believing that is equal to nothing happening in our lives. To be perfectly clear, believing that changes nothing about us (even agreeing on it does nothing).

Beliefs need to have substance – something Jesus points to in the Parable about the foundations (one proves to have substance and one does not). Or the tree’s analogy – one has fruit – the other does not. In these parables we see that belief means to produce something (without the production of anything we have nothing – ‘nothing’ is worth losing so it is wrecked or cut down). So we need to agree on ‘how to believe’ – this is the actual key to the process.

Jesus told us to love our neighbor and our doctrinal statement believes Jesus is in the Trinity – now which of these 2 beliefs require your involvement? This is where we see the idea about ‘what we believe’ and ‘how we believe’ diverging. I am under the assumption it is more important ‘what you do with truth’ than ‘what you believe is truth’.

**I wrote this a few days back and figured this is the best example I have written yet about what I think a Christian is and the difference between some of the beliefs we adhere to. Figured, mine as well see if we can agree on what it means ‘to believe in Jesus’.

What is the Depth of Our Faith Teachings?

Scenario #1

A person chooses to follow the faith as it is taught right now in the churches. They say a prayer to believe in Jesus, then they confess their sins/repent, and they are now allowed into community (and are officially saved). This the beginning and end of the whole journey. It literally starts in the same place it ends – and leaves many a person guessing if and when they might lose their ‘salvation’ through-out their faith experience. But that is it – you just ‘believe and you are saved’.

Scenario #2

A person chooses to go into more depth on the actual teachings of Jesus. No simple prayer, looking into the depth’s of what ‘repentance’ actually means, and what is the person’s role in ‘salvation’ or ‘community’? The journey has a beginning but no true ending – it’s quite open and living it makes the whole thing acquire some depth. Life is the constant in this scenario – and how the teachings of the faith help to fill in a value system the person lacked insight into.

Now which of these 2 people would be widely accepted in most churches of the day?

Therein lies the core of the problem…you see the the idea the steps to this faith are easy as 1 (pray to be saved), 2 (repent), 3 (you are saved) is way too simplistic. Actually, in all honesty I cannot find a single place in the gospels where these 3 things are co-joined so easily in one teaching. What this actually does to someone’s faith is cheapen it. There is no depth – no need for all the teachings Jesus does lay down – no need for anything – you are saved (end of story).

I have come to see this is a tragic farce. People need to start looking into the ideas and getting some real answers. What does it mean to ‘believe’? What is the role of prayer? What is ‘repentance’ and what role does is serve? Are we to be involved in the idea of ‘salvation’? These things need some depth applied to them or at best they become routine/memory…at worst they make hypocrites.

I cannot even define the amount of times I have met people that believe the system laid down by the faith (steps 1-3) that behave counter to most of Jesus’ teachings. They say they know what repentance is/means (and how to do it) – but have no clue what being ethically ‘responsible’ includes. Churches teach us to merely believe in Jesus – yet they never explain what the term encompasses. Belief is a much stronger term than is being portrayed in the majority of church teachings and we need to start defining it better. Salvation, as a term, is only seen in Jesus’ act upon the cross – not in his life (according to church teachings)…we serve no purpose whatsoever in that term. I think the term can be opened to greater meaning personally, in that Jesus lived a life of salvation (there is no way to deny that) – and if we are called to be under him (he’s our rabbi) – just possibly we are called to that same road (same cross and all).

Recently (in a personal situation), I have come to see the reality of this paradigm and it works out exactly as I thought. Good Christian folks can do and say just about anything and still think they are following Jesus – while someone that is living the teachings is ostracized by them, disliked, and even ‘prayed for’. In reality, the person being ‘prayed for’ could give life lessons to the whole batch of phonies on what true ‘repentance’ means and forgiveness. But that’s reality folks. Hypocrisy runs wild when the system lacks any depth in it’s teachings – if only they could actually ‘believe’ the very words they can quote so well. They have no clue what they are saying – cause what they are doing is way too simple and never gets any substance (it’s rote and routine over and over) – and the hypocrite’s best friend is always ‘accusation’.

I am calling this one out – hypocrisy (which means ‘acting’) has to stop in our churches. It is actually helping to destroy communities and defend the religous status-quo (which is ludicrous) at the same time – and it’s getting appalling. You have people that have as their only 2 commands to ‘love’ discriminating and hurting people in God’s name. You have people that think repentance means to say a prayer and it’s done but they never change their value system (nor take responsibility) for their actions. You have a whole system that tells you ‘believe’ something and don’t question it (or your doubting like Thomas) and when someone does this they are shunned (there is no teaching about this). You have people that believe they are ‘saved’ but act as if they hold the keys to ‘hell’.

I could go on and on – but you get the picture. So what do you truly believe? Or do you even believe what you are saying? Is salvation a moment in time or is something you can participate in? Do the things you believe the most have any real meaning? Who are you?

Cultural Ignorance in the Church Structure

A lot of events have happened this week back home – which oddly enough – has gotten me thinking about the role of culture in the church.

The church, as we see and hear it Sunday to Sunday, through and through is Euro-Western in structure and processes. It has become it’s own little enclave of the Modern Western mind-set adding to it’s own ‘church culture’ what it see’s fit from society around it – and this usually comes from the Eurocentric world-view. In essence, these churches conform to society – not vice-versa – and they are quite picky about which ‘society/culture’ they pick from.

I am guessing (from Acts and Paul’s Epistles) this whole thing started off Jewish – in writings, teachings, structure, leadership, and processes. There was a gradual trade off when Paul started to take this faith to other cultures and communities – and things started to change from a Jewish focus to one of all cultures are included (or equal) – new leadership abounds, new writings, new structures, new processes, and new teachings. Actually the early church is a great study in this ‘battle’ for the integrity of the faith and the rigid lines laid down.

What seems to have happened is the solidifying of certain cultures into the actual structure of the church – we see this first in Constantine’s Roman inclusion of Christianity but is later made ‘petra’ by Orthodoxy/Catholic schism in the 1000’s, the reformation branches from Europe, and denominational off-shoots from that tradition in the 1800’s and 1900’s. Fact is, if we look at this with integrity – the church resembles nothing of Acts 2 and has lost real connection back to it’s Jewish roots (even Jesus Christ is not Hebrew/Aramaic but Greek).

But that bothers me a little – what bothers me now is my culture (First Nations in Canada) – is deemed by overwhelming ignorance in current church culture as ‘pagan’. There is nothing Aboriginal (or Indian/Metis) about the churches we have in Canada and America – yet those are the founding peoples of this land. As much as we like to believe there is no ‘church culture’ – that is purely not true – it is a mix of European cultures (founding these denominations) and Western societial values. It is this same ‘church culture’ that seeks to change the Indigenous one’s around it – actually – to destroy them through a process of assimilation (losing one culture for another one) – and this is more than documented globally.

The church these days only takes from Western – European societal values whenever they seek change – it’s never another culture – like the Asian, Indigenous, or African communities – even when some of those ideas are mind-boggingly brilliant. Or why don’t they let these communities re-define what symbology should be used in the actual presentation/services of their faith – since in times past this was ‘outlawed’ (but we know better now – cultural diversity and respect and all).

My example will be First Nations – since that is what I am (or Indian as we were first called). We have ‘feasts’ – which work as a commemoration of the dead person or rememberance (could easily double for communion). For prayers being offered up like ‘incense’ – my people ‘smudge’ with sweetgrass and other herbs – and we pretend to wash in the smoke – which then goes up to heaven – and we are cleansed (could double as a teaching on repentance). We have sharing/talking circles where each and every person is given a chance to speak – and this could help build community and listening/sharing (could be used as a bible study technique). We also have traditional dances and drum songs – which are all about a certain theme – and this could be used as an aspect of the worship service (cause we all love to dance).

But I think you see what I am saying now. My culture cannot be alone with great symbology/ideas to add to the convo – we live in a culturally diverse world with lots of good God-given cultures – and none of them are bad – what’s bad is the narrow view the church has held towards them. Question these things in your church – I mean – even a lot of European cultures have some great stuff – who doesn’t like a good Irish tune?

Structure – Wash MY Feet

I was just reading NakedPastor’s blog (someone I admire) and he is relaying his thoughts on being a Pastor – a tough role to say the least. Can’t be vulnerable apparently – which led me to write a blog – if for no other reason but to relate problems in the church as I see them these days.

The structure is the sole problem and that’s it. Church structure exists as it’s own public relations rep and that’s the skinny of it. If you dare go against it – you will find yourself a social outcast at best – at worst ‘de-listed’ (see Kevin Annett’s story for more on this).

I have looked into the problems with this structure for years now – and this whole thing smells like a god-damn business (non-profit) to me. The structure is genuinely more concerned about its ‘image’ than it is concerned with your well being. Ever take a step back to regurgitate what they are feeding you for teachings? Ever read the doctrinal statements they make these poor officers of the church believe in order to be your leaders? That’s right – if you ‘believe correctly’ you are part of the faith and if not ‘you are a non-believer going to hell’. So fall in line – the line where people follow more hoax than reality.

Ever notice they ‘pass the hat’ during music? Check the psychology on that – you’d be very interested. Pastors play dad to a congregation that is afraid to deal with ‘real life’. Worship is some warped form of musicianry that lends itself better to the ‘pied piper’ than what worship really is. All the while they keep in strict doctrinal codes of ethics so as to not lose ‘one of you’ – meanwhile they are losing their mind trying to swallow the same pill they feed you. And none of this leads to better value systems then when you walked in the door – most of it comes from personal study if your being honest.

No pastor makes you a better person. No form of music makes you a worse person. No amount of money given builds some stairway to heaven. No amount of nice words makes the pain go away. No amount of faked stardom will lift you up. No cold structure that takes a saint’s prestige will give you a name either. It just ain’t thurr.

Good things happen because you chose that. Lives get repaired because you choose that. Repentance only gets ‘spice’ because you are person enough to approach your wrongs and deal with them – no matter how dirty it gets. Truth only has a meaning because you live it out – not because you can repeat it. These things happen because YOU got involved and meant what you were doing – and that’s the recipe.

Where’s God in all this? Not in some ‘image’ being portrayed as God’s bride – that image fails you more than you want to believe. But if you want the Asherah pole – have at er – but my Jesus walked a hard road to a cross – and meant every last tear he cried. No faking it here – no self-righteousness here – no ‘names to be made’ here – no twisting of the teachings for gain. There is nothing here – just a road someone travelled a long time ago who wanted to see true human success – and died for it. And maybe that is success – losing it all to gain perspective (goodbye structure and your beautiful caresses).

Have I said something I wasn’t supposed to? If you feel this way – then think about who’s feet your washing here for a minute? I don’t mind being a servant – to YOU – but not to something that cannot even speak. Bring me your feet.

“I think God has left the Museum for good’ (Scared – The Tragically Hip)

8 Things You May Have Not Known About Me

I have to respond to an e-mail Steve Scott sent to me – about blogging on 8 things people might not know about me – so here it is.

1. I consider myself a First Nations Christian – since I am a First Nations person in Canada who is a Christian. I am Cree and Saulteaux if anyone ever wonders.

2. I am deeply involved in a sruggle with 4 churches right now over the affairs of Residential Schools in Canada (and their history with my people) – Anglican, Catholic, United, and Presbyterian. Mostly arguing points of what ‘justice’ truly means and ‘coming clean’ on affairs of the past.

3. I have 2 degree’s in my life – a bachelor of theology and bachelor of business-adminstration.

4. I came from a very poor upbringing – lived on a ‘reserve’ in Canada – then as a kid moved to the inner-city – in a city that was just voted for having ‘the worst Canadian neighborhood’ (that’s where I grew up).

5. I am married to a woman that is Greek-Ukranian – and that has worked out very well (no kids yet).

6. I play a lot of fantasy sports on-line – I truly love fantasy football (which starts this Thursday) – I just love being a coach of sorts and the thrill of victory!

7. My favorite food these days is Rice Vermicelli (and whatever kind of meat with it) – it just tastes so awesome – I think it is Vietmanese.

8. I have made friends of many religious and non-religious backgrounds – and truly enjoy the discussion on-line that I have had with them all – they have all helped me to ‘think outside of myself’ and become a more well-rounded person.