U2’s “Sleep Like a Baby Tonight” and the Deep Crisis in the Church

Hope is where the door is
When the church is where the war is
Where no one can feel no one else’s pain

When I first heard this song I was humbled inasmuch as I have been an uncaring and unsympathetic Christian. Of course that lack is also a basic human shortcoming, but it is especially tragic when the Church is meant to shine hope before all the world as it lives within the greatest things of “faith, hope, and love.”

There has been much decline in the churches of all stripes, for many different reasons, but what U2 has said about hope being “where the door is” explains perhaps the most important reason. Certainly the churches have portrayed hope, but when we also know that there is much truth and many lives effected by failures to portray hope, we are called not to re-assuring ourselves or congratulating on ourselves wherein we have been faithful. Instead we are always called to look at our communities, our neighbors, and yes, our enemies and consider whether they see hope.

I think that the difficulty the churches face today, namely to be witnesses to the particular hope that is specifically Christian, is because of past instances where we have acted in specifically unchristian ways. So there is some “payback” going on, some of which may be motivated by similar uncharitableness, but some of which is also the reaction of those that have been hurt. So we actually ought to assume that even in this, Christ is trying to tell something to the churches that show him to the world.

It should be obvious, when we look at Jesus in the Gospel accounts, that he always “felt someone else’s pain” and in the end went to the cross to die for the sake of their pain.

Would you care to discuss this? I am hoping to do so here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rhegma/permalink/446259668864995/

Thanks, BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2015

“Godric” by Frederick Buechner – The advice Godric received from Tom Ball

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“This life of ours is like a street that passes many doors,” Ball said, “nor think you all doors I mean are wood. Every day’s a door and every night. When a man throws wide his arms to you in friendship, it’s a door he opens same as when a woman opens hers in wantonness. The street forks out, and there’s two doors to choose between. The meadow that tempts you rest your bones and dream a while. The rackribbed child that begs for scraps the dogs have left. The sea that calls a man to travel far. They all are doors, some God’s and some the Fiend’s. So choose with care which one’s you take, my son, and one day – who can say – you’ll reach the holy door itself.”

Godric, p. 24

I find these medieval views of life to be quite refreshing in their “black and white” morality versus the “grey areas” relativism of our postmodern age, and in their sheer meaningfulness. Have we postmoderns relativized our lives into practical meaninglessness? And are we requiring our children to make bricks with their lives without giving them any straw to make them with?

220px-Figures_The_Israelites'_Cruel_Bondage_in_Egypt

A depiction of the Hebrews’ bondage in Egypt, during which they were forced to make bricks without straw.

Comments, questions, critiques, likes, are always welcome.

Thank you!

BMC @ Manifest Propensity, 2013

“Godric” by Frederick Buechner – The blessing Godric received from Tom Ball

godric3

Godric tells of the blessing he received from Tom Ball when he was about to leave home. Would that we all had received such a blessing as we ventured forth into the wide world.

“Tom Ball came by to bless me. Ball was a heavy, slow-paced man who had one eye that veered off on a starboard tack so you never knew for sure which way he looked. He entered our house splashed high with mud, for our yard was always a bog through spring. He sweated like a horse.

He laid his hands on me and blessed my eyes to see God’s image deep in every man. He blessed my ears to hear the cry especially of the poor. He blessed my lips to speak no word but Gospel truth. He warned against the Devil and his snares with always that one eye of his skewed off as if to watch for snares himself.”

“Godric”, pp. 23-4.

Some may think of this as merely superstition from “the dark ages” – but what is wrong with seeing the dignity of every person, hearing the cry of all and especially the poor, and speaking only truth and no falsehood? I think the Devil very much enjoys our “enlightened” age.

Likes, questions, comments, critiques are always welcome – thank you.

Original Content © Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity, 2013. Excerpts, links, and reblogging may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bryan M. Christman and Manifest Propensity with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.