October 12, 2004
Judging by the comments to this post, I didn't make it clear enough what I meant by "teacher" and "student." Those terms naturally brought to mind the institutional model of courses and classrooms, and so people started suggesting things like going to seminary or taking various church-related courses.
Such courses might be useful; as I said to Jennifer, I did enjoy the Alpha course I took last year. But when I complained that I was no longer learning anything substantial at the Lutheran church, I was speaking more globally. When I was a child, for instance, I learned a great deal from my parents that they weren't consciously teaching me: simply by seeing them live in the world and react to things, I learned about how to be an adult, and how to be a member of our particular culture and subculture. This is true of all children. As my mother put it well, all our lives we look for people to help us become the person we want to become.
It was the lack of this that I was feeling most painfully at church. The intellectual incuriosity was certainly part of the problem, since any aspiration I have for myself is going to involve intellect. But I aspire to more than just having an intellectual understanding of Christianity. I need to see how a person lives with faith -- how it transforms your outlook, your relationships, your life. Since I don't have any direct personal encounters with God, pretty much the only way I can know that is vicariously.
Despite the fact that I'm good at being a student, I don't like modern institutional schooling. I'm glad that that is over and done with in my life. And I suspect that one reason why churches have this problem, in fact, is that like the rest of society they've cordoned off "education" into that kind of institutional setting. But in reality education happens all the time, everywhere. The question is, what exactly are you teaching?
Posted by Camassia at October 12, 2004 09:13 AM
Always like your honesty in this blog as well as how you are never dismissive of other points of view, which is pretty difficult for most of us. Persuasive (to me at least) was this look at where we find ourselves:
"I maintain that the Christian dispensation is much more difficult to believe than it is to understand, for its message can be boiled down to a five-word sentence of remarkable simplicity but one that represents a radical challenge to the intellect: We die before we live. Or again, another five-word kerygma: We meet Christ in death. In each case, five simple, easy-to-understand words, but ones that nearly everything about the way the modern world is structured make difficult to believe. In an age of popularized books on neurology from the pen of Oliver Sacks and when most people are intuitively aware of the dependence of consciousness on brain chemistry (just from living in a “Prozac Nation” or from witnessing a relative suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, if from nothing else), these two five-word sentences will immediately strike the hearer as easy to understand but difficult to believe."
By the way, I sympathize with your desire for more directly personal encounters with God and will pray accordingly, but as an outsider looking in I've always thought it miraculous that you met Telford given that "Telford Christians" don't exactly grow on trees.
Okay, maybe this is a myth that I am recalling, but is it opssible that what you expeience is a large city problem? I mean, in part at least? Where would you see all of this lived out by the people you go to church with? The town square? The town market? In your daily interactions with them?
Um, yeah, to me it becomes apparent that we do not see these people BEING Christian because we do not see these people. We are abandoned to our lives as Christians to a world that does not wish us to be authentic Christian.
Wow, that was bleak. I need rest, so strip the melodrama out of that and try to get to the point.
I do not know how the people in my church live because they do not live near me. Those that do feel very much like a growing and learning community. We help one another. We encourage and challenge one another. I think that, perhaps, you are experience the "super huge city" effect.
Few of the people in my church live in the neighborhood. Those who do not live near me give no indication that they live in a Christian way...but they also give no indication that they do not. I have to pay more attention, I think.
I think you hit the nail on the head, Tripp. It is an urban problem, and I've been struggling with it ever since I moved to L.A., even before I started going to church. Actually one of the Mennonites told me that there's a group of them that intentionally lives on the same block, in an effort to keep the community going outside of Sunday. There's even an intentional Christian community in Gardena whose phone number I have here, though I haven't quite worked up the nerve to call it yet (that would be a big leap, especially for an unbaptized person!).
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