19 February 2013

On Complacency, or Why "Whatever" Will Land You in Hell

College is great. Why? Because you come across things like this and then have a blog post to write.

This is the this I was talking about up there when I said, "[T]his."

I saw this sign posted outside of a Lutheran church on my way to class a couple of weeks ago. It was stuck in the grass along with other signs that had similar "I go to church because..." messages: because I learn, because God loves me, and so on.  But this one caught my attention most, for several reasons.

The first thing that stood out was the use of lowercase letters. Apparently, whoever "he" is is no one special, perhaps not a particular person at all. How does one differentiate between belonging to "him," one's father, or "him," one's creator, redeemer, happiness? Which brings me to my next thought:

"Hers." Okay, so there's a little bit of confusion. Maybe this person doesn't know whether their deity reserves male or female characteristics. I suppose that is possible. We're human, we're kind of limited, maybe that thinking is too narrow-minded. It is also possible that "hers" is added so as not to appear bigoted and patriarchal, so as to appear open to any interpretation. Really, it's all good as long as we can get along and be all inclusive, right? Maybe we aren't certain, but there's still probably someone who is in charge. Someone we can love and depend on and be willing to admit exists, someone we are willing to belong to...

Or maybe it doesn't matter, you know? "Whatever." Right? Maybe I am a loved and valued creation. Maybe I am redeemable. Maybe I have royally screwed up in the past and am deserving of all consuming fire. Maybe I know the teachings of my faith, maybe I don't. Maybe my life has a purpose, but what do I do about that? Who cares?

I shouldn't be too surprised by this sign. With the tagline "Traditional Worship, Progressive Thinking," what should I expect, especially when flippancy is largely splashed across the sign? This sign doesn't speak of any traditional worship or anything sacred ("his"). This sign doesn't tell me I should join that church. This sign doesn't tell me that church has any sincerely held solid beliefs (in fact, it tells me it doesn't). This sign doesn't even make me want to talk to the people who pitched this idea or sign in the ground other than to ask them why they bother going to church if they can go to a book club or street corner and tell people the same thing.

This is the biggest problem with any church in this age: churches, to their detriment, adjust their doctrine and practices to adapt to the modern world, to fit in so people will not be met with confrontation. It is uncomfortable to tell people to reform their lives and people are affronted when they are told they are wrong. But what happens when churches lower their walls to the world? The world invades. The world of complacency, laziness and sin enters and corrupts churches. "Make people happy" takes precedence over "Save people's souls" and soon the church is promoting things like "I belong to him (her, whatever)."

As a consequence, there is no right or wrong. Forging one's own path, doing what feels comfortable, following "their" truth is okay. It is much more important to save face and be nice. It is much more important to show outsiders that church-goers are cool and current, but definitely not weird. It is much more important to "get with the times" than to hold onto all that is true and sacred: those things are just discarded. The line separating the sacred and the profane is blurred. We are not bringing Heaven to Earth, but the opposite (too much of the world into where our focus should be on heavenly things).

And then what is the point to going to church if you can get out of it anything you could get out of a conversation with a friend? What is the difference between church and casual worldly encounters? There is now no difference. The sense of the sacred has been abandoned. The devotion to dignity and justice is abandoned, which allows one's morals to deteriorate in other areas. People lose sight of God. People stop trying to see Him as He is. People stop reforming their lives. People fall into deeper sin. People think they are living good lives all the while walking straight into Satan's grasp (and they will probably do so while assuring themselves Satan and Hell do not exist; that's all "whatever" anyway). But Satan is a liar, the biggest liar, the father of lies. He will tell you it is okay to have a "whatever" attitude about the truth.

CatholicMemes does "being brilliant" so well.

One of the things I find most beautiful and appealing about the Catholic Church is that its answer is never "I don't know. Go ahead and do what you think is best. That's alright." I like that the Church guides Her people. Some people think this is restrictive: only a masochist could accept such a faith. Rather, the Church is ordered and logical. The Church has the best interests of the people in mind and aligns Herself to Christ, to the only One who can lead in pure goodness and truth.

Do not be fooled into thinking the road is easy or that life is not a battle. Do not let yourself believe that both you and you friend are correct despite your contradictory views. Do not go to church because it is comfortable or because your friends are there or for any other reason than to draw closer to the divine presence of God. Do not recoil from repentance in such a way so as to continue drudging about in the muck of your sin (instead, go to Confession). Do not forget that you are "a chosen generation, a kingly priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people." Do not forget that one day you will die, one day you will be judged, one day will fall into eternity. There is no ambiguity once eternity comes.

Momento mori.

"Do not think that I came to send peace upon the earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword."
Matthew 10:34

"Adulterers, know you not that the friendship of this world is the enemy of God? Whoseoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God."
James 4:4

"I know thy works, that thou art neither cold, nor hot. I would thou wert cold, or hot. But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth."
Apocalypse (Revelation) 3:15-16

"And that great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, who is called the devil and Satan, who seduceth the whole world; and he was cast unto the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him."
Apocalypse (Revelation) 12:9