Wednesday, August 23, 2006

More Quotes from Leaving Church

"What made any of us think that the place we are trying to reach is far, far ahead of us somewhere and that the only way to get there is to run until we drop? For Christians, at least part of the answer is that many of us have been taught to think of God's kingdom as something outside ourselves, for which we must search as a merchant searches for the pearl of great price. But even that points to a larger and more enduring human problem, which is the problem of mortality. With a limited number of years to do whatever it is that we are supposed to be doing here, who has time to stop? . . . According to the Hebrew Bible, everyone does, for at least one full day every week."

[after she left the church where she had served as the Episcopal priest] "I decided to take a rest from trying to be Jesus . . . Today I will consent to be an extra in God's drama, someone off to the side watching the scenery unfold with self-forgetfulness that is not available to me at center stage. Today I will bear the narcissistic wound of knowing that there are others who can say my lines when I am not there, including some who can say them better, and that while God may welcome my willingness to play a part, this show will go on with or without me, for as long as God has breath to bring more players to life. Today I will take a break from trying to save the world and enjoy my blessed swath of it instead. I will give thanks for what is instead of withholding my praise until all is as it should be."

"We were not God, but we spent so much time tending the God-place in people's lives that it was easy to understand why someone might get us confused. As Christians, we were especially vulnerable, since our faith turned on the story of a divine human being. Those who became ordained were not presented with Moses or Miriam as our models, so that we could imagine ourselves as flawed human beings still willing to lead people through the wilderness. We were not presented with Peter or Mary Magdalene as our models, so that we could imagine ourselves as imperfect disciples still able to serve at our Lord's right hand. Instead, we were called to fill in for Jesus at the communion table, standing where he once stood and saying what he once said. we were called to preach his gospel and feed his sheep. We were, in other words, presented with Jesus himself as our model, so that most of us could only imagine ourselves disappointing everyone in our lives from God on down."

"Mother Church had little interest in the things that were interesting me. Her job was to take care of her family. Why should she get into discussions that might cause them to lose confidence in her? Why encourage them to raise questions for which she had no answers? Even more important, why wast valuable time rehashing things that had ben settled centruies ago when there was so much to do around the house right now? I understood her reasons, I really did. I was just looking for some way to stay related to her that did not require me to stay a child."

[using "center" to refer to the establishe church and referencing people of the edge such as Matthew Fox, Hans Kung, Martin Luther, Menno Simons, Joan of Arc, Francis of Assisi, Peter Abelard, Tertullian, Origen, Jesus] ". . . might it be time for people of good faith to allow that God's map is vast, with room on it for both a center and an edge? While the center may be the place where the stories of the faith are preserved, the edge is the place where the best of them happened."

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