Friday, December 28, 2007

Facebook Theology

On Christmas night after the family celebration was over and the little people were in bed, I came home to join some friends for a cup of tea and a bit of late night chat. In the midst of the banter an argument developed between two friends relating to the midnight mass we had been too the previous evening. One person was dogmatically stating that it was wrong to talk in church and that if you were not taking part in the service, then the only thing you were allowed to do in the sacred space was sit quietly and pray. And the other who is well known for his capacity to talk disagreed. I wasn’t sure why everything in me disagreed with the silence argument, partly because it was being made so dogmatically, but now on reflection I realise I disagree with it, with every fibre of my being.

For two reasons ; firstly I believe church is or should be community and therefore should reflect every aspect of community. Hence there has to be space for everything in church. For talking , laughing , weeping , singing , shouting and yes also for silence.

But secondly I’ve realised that at the core of my theology I reject the sacred / secular argument. As I was thinking of a line on my facebook profile to reflect my belief, I was reminded of something a friend in Nashville said to me a long time ago, and it was simply this. “ There isn’t a secular molecule in the universe.”
And that’s why I found this idea that church is sacred and you can only be silent there so oppressive. I believe all of us were created in the image of God and that creation itself bears Gods fingerprints. Hopkins puts it well when he says,

”The world is charged with the grandeur of God/
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil”

What a fantastic image, and for me I find the sacred everywhere, in walks by the ever restless sea , sitting in contemplation in the old monastic sites of Ireland. Watching the West Wing, gathering with friends round a dinner table to break bread, drink wine, lean in and listen to each other’s lives. Even two friends sitting by a fire with a cup of herbal tea can be sacramental. I don’t always or even often find it in church. But that’s fine. The older I get the more I find God in unexpected places – sometimes even in my own life.

Right now after 4 days of sickness I've had a piece of toast and am sitting by the fire, listening to the soundtrack from Once. Feels pretty good to me.



Rob said...

I wrote in my blog recently of a lady with an intellectual disability whose funeral I attended last week. Although she couldn't communicate as I can several people spoke about the joy she experienced in church - laughing, and dancing - celebrating the joy of the Lord. Sacred places may be places of quiet but they are also places of sheer uninhibited joy. Those sacred places may be in a church or on a riverbank.

The Father said...

Yep .... I'm with you on that one. Thanks for the thoughts from down under. m

mister tumnus said...

i don't think church is any more sacred than my living room but it would piss me off massively to have people chatting in the pew behind me on sunday. and so we teach ana that church is the quiet place (church and the library. as if there is a difference!) and i try to teach myself that too. i think it's good for us. boy do i need that quiet place. there aren't many of them around and i'm no buddhist (i'd love to find the inner sanctuary but it's not going to happen any time soon). i don't see why 'community' can't accomodate silence at times.

The Father said...

Absolutely S which is exactly why i listed silence as one of, but not the only things that can happen in church. I'm high anglican by choice and our services do include silence ..... indeed like Lucy in The Lion,The Witch and the Wardrobe i recognise that sometimes " there is a deep shiver of gladness, which you can only get if you are being solemn and still."

But equally as was the case the other night, someone was having a profound spiritual experience and wanted to share that. I for one was not going to tell them not to share their joy with the person beside them.

See you for breakfast in the morning. :-) mx

mister tumnus said...

yeh i don't think i would have told them to shut their yaps either (unles, you know, it was a very premenstrual day). but i might have secretly wished they'd waited till later. maybe it's just the lack of silence elsewhere when you normally have a three year old in tow. or maybe it's the years of experiencing a very vocal kind of church. one offs are ok but i wouldn't like to encourage such behaviour.... ;)

great to see you both this morning. maybe we should continue this conversation avec mobsby?!

also would like to point out that i still don't know what i believe regarding god or the church so everything is up for discussion and prone to change as far as i'm concernced. w'hay!

The Father said...

amen and best discussed over some fine wine in front of an open fire I'm thinking. We may have some drinks with the ordained Father M thur night and there may be a dinner on friday - I'll let you know ....m

mister tumnus said...

sounds good chum.