Category Archives: Religion

Quick-Fast Book Review: Quitting Church

Person: Julia Duin
Thing: Book—Quitting Church
Place: Various
Idea: Once adherent congregants are ditching their churches. Whether they’re fleeing in droves or trickling one member at a time, the attrition is noticeable. But those who leave aren’t necessarily ditching their faith. So what’s the deal?

In this book, Duin breaks down some reasons God-fearing and God-loving folks are finding a more comfortable home outside church structures and strictures.

In short, the faithful pack their belief and find spiritual solace elsewhere because the church is:
• Irrelevant and not addressing 21st century needs.
• Not a teeming and supportive community that folks need.
• Not concerned about singles over 35 years of age outside of how those unattached individuals can serve the church.
• The teaching is too basic and doesn’t stretch the mind. Some need basic biblical teaching, but that doesn’t encompass everyone’s needs. And what about tough areas of ambiguity? What about questions with no easy, pithy answers?
• Some churches are strangled by controlling pastors.
• And although women make large, large swaths of church membership, their leadership presence is glaringly absent… and in some cases, glaringly stifled into second-class status.
• Some can’t find that passionate spirit they so long for within a church body.

I think this book brings up some interesting points. Some I relate to more than others, as a once-weekly attendee who now finds a growing comfort with regular, but decreased frequency.

I recommend this book for anyone who is frustrated with the church experience and anyone who just wants to know they’re not alone. As for help fixing what’s broken, that’s an individual decision. Maybe you’ll find solace in leaving your church, or inspiration to tinker about and repair what’s broken in your local congregation—or even your denomination. If you’re not religious at all, ignore this recommendation and continue being kind to your neighbor… Amen.

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QFBR: Why Certainty is Sometimes Certainly Wrong

Person:  Peter Enns
Place: The mind
Thing: Book – The Sin of Certainty
Idea: A bunch of Christians might get sad reading this book.  Maybe they’ll weep or get steaming mad and gnash their teeth. According to Enns, the rock-solid certainty many segments of Christianity seek—is a sin.  Clutch your church pearls, your beads and your prayer cloths folks, and I’ll explain what he says:

Faith has nothing to do with knowing rules and tenets of what you believe. Faith is about actual trust in God. It’s also about distinguishing between knowing doctrine and trusting the God of whatever denomination to which you adhere. Enns says separating the two is key to a deeper, abiding Christian faith experience.

Christians seem certain about everything. What happens when people die, how the world developed, how the world will end. But with so many denominations and interpretations of scripture, someone’s certainty is certainly faulty. Doubt is cast as an enemy to be avoided… and vanquished if it pops up anywhere. Peter Enns writes that doubt isn’t the enemy a Christian should fear. Doubt is something to be faced head on… not as a warrior, but an explorer. Doubt’s pain and uncertainty, if explored, can be a means to develop trust. (I imagine trusting God is the entire point of being a Christian…)

Ditching certainty at all costs can unsettle and challenge faith…  It’s a lack of certainty that can make a person cut and run or stand firm (or curl up in a writhing ball) and insist “ I’m going to trust God anyway.”  THAT seems more demonstrative of faith than running down a list of creeds.  It’s certainly more Christian than shafting and bad-mouthing fellow believers who dare rethink faith as something bigger than reciting fundamental beliefs.  But maybe that’s too much of a challenge to some Christian communities. Knowing what you believe is nice (Enns insists knowing those beliefs is not a sin) but it’s never, ever better than trusting God in all matters… even the ones that seem counterintuitive, stupid and senseless. Doubt forces us to look deeper then our tenets  and find, define, and refine a relationship with the divine through difficult moments.

Ends insists God is still God, even if and when we get pissed off at Him… or Her… (or Him/Her).  Enns challenges readers not to fake like all is good when we’re mad at God. Just be mad, but work through the mess to find a closer, trusting connection with God. Trust is a habit you won’t find in a doctrine book. Folks just have to live it because (as the books subtitle says) “God desires our trust more than our beliefs.”

This is a highly recommended book because:

  1. It’s controversial… I imagine this might ruffle some stuffy fundamentalist feathers (and I say this as a Christian).
  2. It’s also a fun and thought-provoking read that might make someone reconsider another aspect of what it means to “have faith.”

 

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