Monday, June 29, 2009

Get a (church) life

My preparations for Conference were interrupted today by a visit from some of the sixth form of the local Catholic school. As part of their studies they are required to visit other places of worship and consider the differences with regard to belief and practice.
They were an interesting and interested group and our conversation together ranged from the theology of the empty cross versus the theology of the crucifix, the existence of heaven and hell, the ethics of the lottery, the importance of religious politics, the value of women's ordination through to whether or not Jesus was married.. all in two hours! They were as fascinated by the little communion glasses as they were with the idea of kneeling to receive bread and wine, and puzzled more by the lack of stained glass than the lack of a curate. Their conclusion was that Methodism was a more open tradition because it encouraged you to think through your faith, but that there were real benefits to being raised in a particular tradition like catholicism, not least because it enabled you to 'get a life' : instead of having to think about your religion, you could spend your time on other 'stuff'.

They aren't the first group of people to suggest that religious people need to 'get a life'. There really is more to 'life' than Church - and certainly more to life with God than Church polity and politics.. there is, after all, a future to unfold, a kingdom of justice and peace to work for, issues such as global warming, to be engaged with, souls to be saved - and all this - that our and God's joy might be complete..

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