I’m slowly working my way through Barbra Brown Taylor’s An Altar In The World. (Why, yes, I do know that I am years behind the trendy religious books, thanks for asking.) Anyhoo, this passage caught my eye:
When I hear people talk about what is wrong with organized religion, or why their mainline churches are failing, I hear about bad music, inept clergy, mean congregations, and preoccupation with institutional maintenance. I almost never hear about the intellectualization of faith, which strikes me as a far greater danger than anything else on the list. In an age of information overload, when a vast variety of media delivers news faster than most of us can digest … the last thing any of us needs is more information about God… Not more about God. More God. – p. 45 (I think… I’m reading it on my Kindle app)
On the one hand – yes, absolutely yes. In a training session for a particular children’s curriculum, I remember the trainer saying that children don’t want to know about God, they want to know God. Our living relationship with God is what makes the rest of it make sense: the showing up, the serving, the committees, the people we might not like but learn to live with and maybe even love.
And yet… I think we are in just as much hot water with the emotional-ization of organized religion. From youth ministry work, I expect teens to associate deep religious moments with tears and hugging and catharsis. Being a teenager is often a lonely process, and the moments when it feels like God has broken down all the walls that you and everyone else your age have built up – well, that’s a powerful God. But when decisions are made in and around congregations based on the same idea – that the only worthwhile liturgies/sermons/programs/ministries are the ones that make us feel warm or sentimental or overwhelmed by God’s (true and real) power, then something seems off.
The wisdom of our heart is real, but so is the wisdom of our heads. Its curious to me that in a book so interested in not dissecting the physical from the spiritual in our lives, that we still have this division of what we know from what we feel.
But then again, the Episcopalians and the Methodists have been having this argument for years…