Birthing the new church that has nothing to do with church
With both Authentic Freedom Academy and Temple of the Magdalene, I am doing everything I can to take the Church out of church while birthing a new vision of what we formerly called church. Before doing this, however, we have to examine that which is destroying the Catholic Church (and by association many other forms of Christianity) from the inside out:
On September 20th, National Catholic Reporter published an article by Benedictine nun, Joan Chittister, For Real Change… In her editorial, Sr. Joan identifies four key roots that need to be addressed if there is any hope of reform in the Catholic Church: clericalism, clericalism’s long arm, the theology of obedience and the theology of the priesthood itself.
Clericalism: Clericalism is the sick and twisted culture that arises out of the idea (propagated by the Church) that clergy are somehow superior and extra-holy. It is the system which gives priests and bishops absolute authority and makes them the keepers of accountability for everyone else BUT themselves.
Clericalism’s Long Arm: As Chittister mentions, it is not only the clergy who hid centuries of sexual abuse. This culture of clericalism has seeped into the actions of those who have something to gain from the institution: church and diocesan staff, law makers, law enforcement agencies, even the people in the pew who have found a perceived sense of power in their relationship with the Church.
Theology of Obedience: This is the obedience I have fought my whole life – the system that enforces obedience to the Church over obedience to God and where the only thing that matters is that which is “explicitly handed down by the magisterium.” I find it interesting how easily the Church forgets its own teaching on primacy of conscience and how easy it is for the Church to ignore the fact that action ALWAYS precedes legislation! Compounding the issue of obedience is the very fact that NEVER have the laity been consulted in the development of Church teaching (thank you for this reminder Joan!). Instead, a bunch of old white guys make decisions for all people to obey without having a clue about the life experiences of those who are expected to abide by these laws – the same laws these very priests ignore whenever it suits them! Hypocrites!
Theology of the Priesthood: OMG! Don’t’ even get me started! The idea that priests are somehow changed because of their ordination – that simply by virtue of their ordination they are different and better than the rest of us – is quite simply LUDICRIOUS! Where did Jesus EVER model this? In fact, the “priesthood” that Jesus modeled was exactly opposite of the privileged state of the Catholic priesthood. In fact, Jesus preached vehemently AGAINST this kind of hierarchical privilege.
Birthing a New Vision of What We Used to Call “Church”
Unlike Sr. Joan Chittister, I no longer hold on to the hope that the Catholic Church will enact any sort of reform. From the perspective of the power-class, they would have too much to lose. Instead, I have come to understand that my calling is to be part of birthing something NEW. This new that I am called to be a part of birthing gathers up that which was intended for good in the early Christian movement and perceives it – not through the lens of separation, but through the call to UNION. Those who call Jesus their teacher are not better than, more right, more powerful, more deserving than anyone else. As Jesus tried to teach his disciples, truth is found within and that truth leads us not into separation – but into LOVE.
Here we are no longer:
- Black or white
- Christian or Muslim (or Jew or Buddhist or Pagan or Athiest)
- Male or Female (or non-binary or trans or…)
We are ONE.
- Here there is no hierarchy.
- Each person is empowered in discovering and living their own truth from a place of love.
- Each person is recognized for their unique giftedness and it is acknowledged that they have ALREADY been ordained by the Divine that made them to live this giftedness for the sake of their own fulfillment and in service to the betterment of the world.
- Here we no longer serve an institution – we serve each other and the betterment of our world.
- Here everything is sacrament and we don’t need a priest to make it so for we are our own priest/ess.
- Here every day is the Sabbath and every loving action is “the mass.”
- Communion is in every way we connect with another in that place of love.
It really is this simple.
If you are interested in being part of this birthing, join us Wednesday evening for the first Temple of the Magdalene online gathering: