Religion as practiced today deals
in punishments and rewards. In other words,
it breeds fear and greed—the two things
most destructive of spirituality.
- -Anthony de Mello, S.J., One Minute Wisdom
"Church with a Groan and a Grin" - Eugene C. Bianchi
The church has always been a gathering
of saints, sinners, the pompous,
the indifferent, crusaders and leeches
claiming to follow what Jesus teaches.
A grumpy critic near the end of my race,
I admit to a love-hate relationship,
disgusted by child abuse and rigidity
about women, gays and pelvic theology.
Most Christians haven’t come to grips
with Darwin, Jung or cosmic science,
so deeper issues remain buried,
while preachers declaim, blissfully unworried.
They keep stuffing fourth-century dogma
and medieval myths into modern minds,
preaching such faith unchanged forever,
dreading new thinkers with ideas too clever.
Yet enough good news keeps breaking through
about nuns serving the poor and battling bishops,
new schools in Africa and clinics in ghettoes,
social justice and mystics like Merton and de Mello.
If I weren’t born into it,
I’d have to invent a facsimile,
so huge is our need for belonging
to cope with our livings and dyings.
I claim no monopoly over gospels that keep
rising from other religions and non-religions.
With a groan and a grin, my conflicted past
frees me to travel a wider spiritual path.
(Photo of Gene Bianchi by David Noah)