Wednesday, November 2, 2016

I just don't care

Before we get too far: If you are reading this and want to criticize my understanding of theology or history, be my guest.  I am neither a theologian or historian, just a humble observer with an opinion.  Also, I get that this is historically significant, but this post is about my feelings, not history.

"If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy I could have won." - Mumford and Son

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”     ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I've been hearing stories about the reconciliation of the Roman Catholic and Lutheran churches, and I know that there are a lot of people who are quite happy about it.  But, I'm not.  And it's not that I am angry or offended by it, it's that I just don't care.
Just a photo of me and some other Lutherans at a
protest.  Not really all that related.
I say this as a person who grew up going to a Catholic church and once loved the Catholic faith.  I loved the music, the ritual, and the feeling of something much bigger than me.  As I got older and learned more about other religious traditions, Catholicism seemed somehow less authentic for me.  Eventually, I stopped going to church, stopped caring, and stopped believing.  I mourned for my loss of faith, but that is a story for another day that ends with the Lutheran church showing up in my life at just the right time. 
So, now I am a rather new Lutheran having joined First Trinity around three years ago.  So many of my Lutheran siblings are really excited about this reconciliation with the Catholic church.  It's easy to be wary of this reconciliation with a church that still covers up sex scandals involving children, refuses to ordain women and condemns people for who they love.  That stuff is all clear as day to me and to many others.  And, sure, I can forgive for what happened in the past but these things are still happening and I don't feel very forgiving about it.
But here is the bigger thing for me; it just feels oh-so-patriarchal.  It feels like the pope is the old father forgiving his naughty children and inviting them to come back home.  I expect that preachers will explain this action as relating this to the story of the Prodigal Son, but for me it's not a good comparison because the Lutheran church did nothing wrong.  Let me say that again, The Lutheran Church Did Nothing Wrong In Breaking From The Catholic Church. 
Luther and others worked to change the Catholic church and when it did not change, the people decided to leave, to stop giving their lunch money to a bully who refused reason.
What draws me to the Lutheran faith is the tradition of speaking up when things are wrong.  Luther defiantly nailed the 95 thesis to the door and Lutherans have continued to stand up to bullies for 499 years.  All this time the Catholic church continued to be a bully; holding power over it's members and those affected by it's decisions.  Sure, the Catholic church does a lot of good too, but I don't understand why as an institution the Catholic church cannot do good without holding power over others. 
Pope Francis has done and said some pretty radical things in his time as pope, but until the Catholic church makes some serious progress where it comes to women, sexual and gender identity, and actually doing something when their priests hurt children, I just don't care what they think.  Catholics are not standing on some moral high ground that I aspire to.  I do not want to demonize them as an institution or individuals, but I really don't care if they forgive us or not, and I think that it is up to them to change if reconciliation is to be reached. 

Recently I was in a Catholic church for my uncle's funeral.  I sang and prayed and mourned with my family, but I did not take part in communion.  When someone commented that I couldn't participate in communion at a Catholic church I replied that it didn't matter to me if I had permission or not.  Grace that is not for everyone is not grace, communion that is too good for some is not good enough for me. 
So during this year of reconciliation and celebration I won't criticize your celebrations.  Heck, I might even get swept in; I do love a party.  But I'm also going to stand up to bullies, which sometimes just means ignoring them.

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