Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Learning to say "Ouch"

I obviously think and talk alot about the Church and the condition she is in. One might assume that its out of my own woundedness that I write, and that would be partly accurate. I have my share of stories of how I've been hurt by others, but I would be a fool to think that someone else out there is not telling the same type of story because of some way I have offended them. But this isn't my point. I have much to say about the Church because I want so much for Her. I know people who have been severely let down by the Church as an entity or by particular representatives of Hers and they have never gotten over it. The pain led to despair and despair has a crippling effect on the soul. When I meet someone like this, I always try to listen for one particular element in their story: Desire. Our worst pain comes at the point of our strongest longings. I had lunch with a guy one day and was going on about my current frustration with the Church, when he stopped me and said, "Man, I like church. I don't know what you're talking about?" I realized the conversation wouldn't go much further because he could not see my desire through the pain that I was offering. He assumed I was demanding an "either/or" proposition. There was tension in the conversation between me and my experience and his, which many folks take to mean either I'm right or he is. I'm not fighting for everyone to agree with me, because that's not how I see the problem. I think I am asking for, and hopefully extending, the permission to say, "Ouch. If we or someone we know has been wounded or let down by the Church or Her servants, we should be able to say, "Ouch, that hurt!" And with most wounds, we want to figure out how to not let that happen again. One path to prevention is to give up and say the Church is full of hypocrites and live in bitterness toward Her. Another way is to figure out how to hold grief for the pain in one hand (because the wound matters) and not let go of the hope for a better future in the other.

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