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Luther’s Most Difficult Task

I haven’t been to my church in three weeks, and I am neither less nor more spiritually minded than I was four weeks ago. To the contrary, I am less tortured for feeling unwelcome1. What bothers me most is that it is one thing to stop going; it is quite another to leave. I have stopped going. I want more to leave. But to leave, I must name my reasons. It’s times like this when I realize that Luther’s most difficult task wasn’t to enumerate 99 theses. It was instead to drive the nail into the cathedral door.

1 A state of unwelcome can be created, the result of having hospitality withdrawn; unwelcomeness too, however, can happen upon the revelation of hospitality’s limits. It is the latter state of unwelcome in which I find myself, or perhaps, put myself: I have known for years where my church draws its lines, and over time more and more of my self has become situated outside those lines.

 

Comments

I can appreciate your post having experienced the limits of hospitality myself. The question I keep asking myself is whether I’ll regret driving the nail into the door or if this will become a pattern for me in other traditions where my sensibilities fail to line up with those of the collective group of which I’m a part. I don’t have any answers, but I share the question.

I don’t worry about that so much as I once did because I fully intend to make a decision to join elsewhere with eyes as open as can be. I know doing so is not without its blindnesses—open eyes can be a relative thing—but I do believe witnesses can be borne in action, and I want to join in the same way I want to leave: with reasons as clearly said as possible. So far as I can act methodically, I hope to ward off the demon of habit. It may of course all be rank justification for my own failings, but at least they’ll be my own justifications…

BTW, Krister, I thought about your your hospitality series as I was writing this last night…

I went through the whole withdrawn hospitality thing with the church I did two internships for. It was a very militaristic, Republican congregation. My last few sermons took on a ‘leftward’ tilt(ex. I did one that mentioned in passing how neither America nor any other nation is God’s chosen nation). Man, did relations get chilly after that. I really loved those people, and they loved me.

As sorry as I was to see it end like that, I’m sooo happy not to be in that environment anymore. It must be a relief for you as well.

Pot stirrer.

I haven’t given much chance to have it withdrawn since I’ve been a mostly silent congregant for a bit more than a year. I can pinpoint my silence to the day I was instructed to read Lee Strobel before I read anything else. “He approaches biblical scholarship like an investigative reporter,” I was told, as if “like an investigative reporter” meant anything at all. I decided then to keep my own counsel.

So it will be relieving when I make the break… but alas, I’m not to that relief yet. K suggested I play it like Joe Fiennes, all melodramatic and whatnot.