Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"We are the future and the ammunition"


We were told that we are all special and unique. We were told that our feelings would lead us to the truth. We were told that God loves us. We were told that Jesus died for us and wants a personal relationship with us. We were raised on stories about 60's and 70's; about Civil Rights and Women's Lib and Anti-War protests. Every February we were shown footage of Martin Luther King Jr.

But when I was a teenager and my friends encountered God, they didn't find comfort and acceptance in churches. They felt uncomfortable and out of place and.... bored. They were told to change their clothes and take out their piercings and remove their hats. They were met with hymns that they didn't recognize and words they didn't understand. They followed their feelings out the church doors and never came back.

We were told that we could make a difference in the world, but when we were old enough to vote, we didn't see anyone worth voting for. There was no voice crying out in the wilderness that I could follow, only voices that I could put up with. Instead of being inspired, I felt powerless, voiceless. Few of today's politicians seem trustworthy, and many of today's religious figures are mixed up in self-interest, or materialism, or popular morality, or scandal. "Faith" in today's culture has become a campaign asset, not a personal journey.

Many people my age are lost in apathy and mediocrity, because after being told we were special and deserved the best, we were told to be realistic and take what we can get. There is a strong movement of people who want change, who want to break out of the box, but there is no one to lead us. Right now the internet is a chaotic mass of voices who are trying to speak up, but each one drowns out another. Something new has got to emerge out of this, but I don't know where to look.

At least in my community there is change happening. This new worship service we are starting is full of possibility. We can create a new door for all of the people who have felt put off by the church. We can give them ways to reach out and serve their community. We can give them concrete opportunities to change the world. Tonight, in the middle of a very good church meeting, we were clarifying why we are creating a new service- a valid question. But I suddenly got mad. I was frustrated that so few people share the sense of urgency I feel. I was angry for the friends I have lost because they drifted away in search of things that they may never find. Things the Church could have shown them.

I don't blame my churches. I love my churches. But I think that it is too easy for us to get so comfortable passing the peace in the next pew, that we forget that right outside our church doors people are hungry, hurting and lost. It is too easy for us to feel overwhelmed and powerless in a world with so many people in need.

Who are we to keep God's grace to ourselves? Who are we to sit and do nothing to change the world, waiting for other people to do it? We are starting small, but this could be the start of something big.

"Fumbling his confidence
And wondering why the world has passed him by
Hoping that he's bent for more than arguments
And failed attempts to fly, fly

We want more than this world's got to offer
We want more than this world's got to offer
We want more than the wars of our fathers
And everything inside screams for second life, yeah"



Blogger B said...

I know your post is mainly aimed at Christians, but it applies to a lot of other liberal/overly-idealist young people, so I feel the urge to comment. :D

"They followed their feelings out the church doors and never came back..."

I might be playing devil's advocate a little, but I feel like there's some degree of immaturity, or insecurity, in expecting a place like a church to totally conform to one's expectations or fulfill one's needs. There should be an element of, "Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church." I think in this society, there's a muuuuch bigger focus placed on self-fulfillment than on responsibility, and I do feel that factors into it.

But I do agree that modern "adult life" is pretty disappointing and frustrating for idealistic, enthusiastic people. I think at some point you just have to be patient and optimistic, because you can't run on enthusiasm forever. I still consider myself idealistic; I haven't given up just because I've put some things on the back burner.

Also, about the leadership thing, I think this is where it's important for more people to speak up. You can sit at a service with your eyes glazed over, tuning everything out and thinking how boring it is, or you can do what you feel, even if no one else is doing it, and try to make a difference. You can "walk out and never come back" or you can be the change. Anyway, I believe that the passionate voices on the edges of society do eventually influence the mainstream. Here's hoping we can see more changes soon.

(Sorry for the long post, but it's not like I have overly-serious discussions with you that often! :P)

6:58 PM  
Blogger Megan Methodist said...

B... I love our long serious discussions! Point well taken about "Ask not what your church can do for you." My point referred more to the fact that a church is supposed to reach out to the immature and insecure and nurture growth in them. Jesus preached acceptance and love, but our churches today tend to lean toward conformity (it is a natural human tendency). I totally love my church and the nurturing, caring community that I have there.

Its because my church has helped me to grow in my faith that I am now asking what I can do for my church... or more accurately... what I can do to help my church reach out effectively to people who are looking searching for a place to belong. I will love the new service, but I could still thrive without it. If we are truly looking to reach out to people we need to do things differently though.

I blame the Care Bears for the focus on self-fulfillment. I watched The Care Bears Movie (most of it) the other day, and I loved it as a kid and still love it now, but I feel betrayed by advice that following your feelings will always take you where you need to go.

I've heard that we are the next builder generation, the generation that is supposed to change things but actually stick to it, unlike the hippies. I was told that years ago.. I'm tired of waiting.

12:41 AM  

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