Dunedin, New Zealand, my city - my people

Monday, November 30, 2015

Grumpy about Presbyterianism.

First some positive things;

My two walks on Sunday; and my two Edinburgh grandsons - Leon and Xavier.
My wife and I joined a few thousand others in the Climate Change March held in Dunedin (though globally) on Sunday
The marchers arriving in the centre of town.
My first ever "selfie" on top of Mt Cargill.

Newly arrived Xavier. Cute!
Grandson Leon with his father Daniel. Lovely young men.
I am having a hard time again coping with "Church". I try to be supportive, chatting in a caring way, doing various chores around the place and attending. But I drove away from last Sunday's service vowing never to return. The people are lovely and I enjoy the "community".  It was not just that particular service but the total less-than-professional approach by the visiting clergy involved. Sometimes Jesus' worst enemies are his friends! Three negative pictures.

Super Religious funeral. 
I helped the locals clean up the partly restored Iona Church in Port Chalmers for the funeral of the lovely Church lady who died suddenly. The next day we attended the funeral. There were lots of people there, the organist was a fantastic organist, (and I generally do not appreciate organ music) the family (indeed the lady herself) had chosen three good hymns but the ceremony made me angry. Here is a service with many non-religious people attending, certainly the majority of those attending would fit this category.  The Presbyterian minister, the "Interim Moderator" of the local parish, used heaps of old style religious prayers, readings and cliches, all strung together with a detached sounding parsonic voice. I, a "religious" person, was put off, or switched off by it all, and I wondered how the secular people around me felt? It would to them reinforce their view of Christian spirituality as old fashioned, irrelevant and something to be basically ignored. This to me is akin to blasphemy on the part of the robed parson up front. He is so out of touch with the real thought forms of people in NZ in today's world he is harming the precious, important "way of Jesus".  He is in fact denying the faith he is waffling about! This is the sort of thing that happens every Sunday in our local Church.
The other Sunday I went to Church and the service began of course with prayers, a hymn and prayers of confession. I counted, just in the prayers before we had reached the second hymn, I had been told that I was "unworthy" no less than five times! That doesn't count the same message no doubt given in the hymns used. These were old Presbyterian prayers. I don't recall Jesus telling many people they were "unworthy", just pompous religious leaders who were laying heavy burdens on the people. The Church needs to have a warning label like cigarette packets, "Danger, enter at your own risk. Coming to Church can damage your mental and emotional health!" Its crap!
Mrs Brown's advice...
I have just read the biography "The Real Mrs Brown" the life story of Brendan O'Carroll. He plays Mrs Brown in the TV sitcom program, "Mrs Brown's Boys".  Brendan O'Carroll is reported as saying, 'To me comedy is like classical music. It has to be done with passion and, if it's not, the audience will spot it. It's got to look like you're up there giving it socks, or the audience will go, "They're not really enjoying themselves, so we shouldn't really be laughing." ...'   Well I would want to say the same about leading Church worship. These parsons read everything (often badly) with a detached parsonic air about them and you are left wondering, "Do they really care?" "Do they really value what they are talking about?" because it doesn't bloody well sound like it! 

I have promised to leave several times before, but have felt sorry for the folks and gone back to try to make a difference. So far I have not been allowed to do much that changes the ethos. Away back in 1970 I felt a "calling" to be a part of trying to help the Church communicate the way of Jesus in word and deed in more relevant ways. I have given well over forty years of my life for that cause with varying degrees of success. Now in retirement I am supporting a Church, perhaps a denomination, which is in practice denying all that I have lived for! It churns me up. Last Sunday I said,... no ... shouted to my wife as we drove home, "I'd be better to walk up my mountain on a Sunday morning!" 

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