Rev. Rich Lang, Pastor, University Temple United Methodist
Churches are really very good at two social tasks: giving therapeutic spiritual shelter from the storm and doing small things well. Given the stress we all face I can’t speak highly enough of the first! And I’m grateful for every faith com- munity that opens its doors for the common good—to feed or to give meeting space.
But the problems we are facing are becoming sohugethatthesesmalleffortsarenotenough. Whether we’re talking about climate change or America’s permanent war economy or too-big- to-fail banks or economic corruption, our faith communities have little capacity to provide an alternative to the mayhem currently destroying our people.
Basically, faith communities have taken the position that they can no longer be radical. When people come out of the storm to find sanctuary they don’t want the weather to come with them. They don’t want to disturb the niceness of their neighbor in the pew by any kind of serious talk of societal change and revolution. They want to pretend that the inner world is more important than the outer world. Jesus might love the world, but he still confronted the powers intensely.
Creating therapeutic shelter and doing good deeds is not enough. We need religion to tap into the power that faces down death, and we need it for the inspiration that shows the better world what is possible. We need a religion that can teach us to see and feel life from the perspective of those who, though stuck in the storm, refuse to give up hope. Where are such communities? Where can I find a religion that moves beyond being nice?
(The Stranger, used with permission)