Monday, November 17, 2008

What's on tap? Religion - The Boston Globe

So The Pub Church is in the news...

What's on tap? Religion - The Boston Globe

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It's pretty funny to read a perspective from an outside person - especially when it's for a newspaper. But of course, like with any perspective, it's always an opportunity for self-reflection...

First of all, the idea of pub church did start at The Crossroads, but several years back, not last year. And it took a while, more than a year, before anything really got going. Then those who were interested in the pub church began to meet as a "core group" to reflect on the form, vision and structure of pub church last fall 2007.

Now, one of the things that has always been important for me as a practice of openness to the Spirit, and which we practice at pub church, is silence. Silence is important in order to allow space for thought, clarity, and listening to the Divine. So it was kinda funny to read the reporter's interpretation of it as "awkward silence" that resulted from an absence of rote ritual...for whom was it awkward, really? ;)

Also, Bryan Stone commented that "Everyone contributes to the truth rather than relying on something handed down by an authority." There is so much to think about regarding this statement and what/who "authority" is. This makes it seem as if there is a complete rejection of "authority" by those at pub church - but perhaps it is not authority in and of itself which is in question, but how authority is defined and understood. At The Pub Church, there is definitely an openness to Spirit/God/Goddess (whichever name one uses for the Divine), this openness in itself reflects an understanding of the Divine as "source," as "authority."

But we also recognize and have experienced a world that misuses "divine authority" to justify oppression and domination, abuse and violence, by people and institution who claim to have "rights" (and be "right"), and the truth, under this authority; it's a hierarchical understanding of authority. So yes, if this is authority, then I'm pretty sure anyone who participates in pub church altogether rejects this kind of authority.

So how do we come to know truth if it is not "handed down" to us from a hierarchical authority? First of all, very tentatively, or, I may say, with humility. To claim to have "the" truth is a very dangerous business. But we also start with an affirmation of the Divine in us all. That God made herself flesh, that God let herself be known, embodied, and experienced in the flesh and body of a little baby - a baby who grew up to share a new and divine way of life with a community of people - is a shattering of all separation between the Divine and the human. The Divine does not reveal herself from "above," from an authority to which we have no connection. She reveals her truth in the flesh, in the beautiful and messy lives of humanity (and the universe). God makes herself be know among us, with us, and in us. And that's where we look for her. In the small incarnations that occur among us.

The article also raises the question of identity (something I'm always asked about in regards to TPC), but I will deal with that later. For now, one more thing...

At the end of the article the reporter asked me, What is a Church? I wish I would have added more to my answer; I say "From a Christian perspective, church is the people who respond to God's good news."

I would at least say, "From a Christian perspective, the church is the people who respond to God's good news that there is a new divine way of living and relating in the world, thus, the church is the people who communally act to embody this divine new way."