Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Is Church Cutting It

Some Americans spend a lot of time at church. Some do not even bother. Is there something Americans do share in common?

An older George Gallup poll indicates that
70% of Americans say churches and synagoges are not effective in helping people find meaning. That is tough to swallow. Americans who answered his poll show more decisiveness than they do in pre-election President pollsl.

Thankfully, Mr. Gallup asked the "duh" question. What are your needs? Check out the top six responses:

1. To believe life is meaningful and has purpose.
2. To have a sense of community and deeper relationships.
3. To be appreciated and respected.
4. To be listened to and heard.
5. To feel that one is growing in faith.
6. To receive practical help in developing a mature faith.

May I say that "Church" is not the problem? Tossing out church does not speak to these needs any more effectively than simply maintaining church. In fact, Community is what people are seeking. Espescially community that provides meaning and deep relationship. Actually, I am encouraged that what people want is a maturing faith that provides direction and relationships.

What do you think of this poll? Do you agree or disagree? Most of all, tell me what YOU believe you need.

Gallup Poll, from 1992 Yearbook of American & Canadian Churches

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Need A Lift

Today a man was laying in front of the offices. He demanded a ride to the hospital because he had been in “an accident” and needed medical attention. He looked fine. I asked when the accident happened. “Friday,” was the answer.

Amazingly he had the stamina to walk to our offices, but was unable (and refused) to cross the street to the bus stop. Amazingly he had dealt with the pain for five days. By his smell and demeanor, he drank away the pain (physical and surely emotional). Now, his need for a ride to the hospital was my problem.

He got a ride, but it was not the ride he wanted. His belligerent requests, denial of being drunk and refusal to move led him to request a trip in a squad car. The police came and the man got a ride. As I saw the red, white and blue car pull away past my office, I could not stop thinking about how he was misunderstood and had no place to be understood. The man obviously needed more than what his life or even this life could offer him. He needed something more than the existence that shackled him. I did little if nothing to help. I got him a ride, but was it in the right direction?

The separation between classes is significant. What is logical for the middle-class is craziness to the wealthy. What makes common sense to the wealthy is lost entirely to the poor. My natural reaction to the man who needed a lift may have been proper (since women and children present). What did it produce?

What has spirituality to do with today? Are the rides we give the rides people need?

Monday, August 09, 2004


Are you familiar with Google the internet search engine? Maybe you will enjoy this poem about Google.


He eases into the barber’s chair, closes his eyes,
relaxes as the lather warms his face, remembers
what it was like before they found out he knew . . . everything

His associates had always been impressed that he read
a dozen papers and a chapter of Dickens before breakfast,
remembered their birthday and preferences for coffee,

could announce the heat index in Tehran and the latest numbers
of the Nikkei Exchange, the whereabouts of Jane Goodall
and all the positions for G7alt on the guitar,

but it wasn’t until he let slip that this was only
results 1-10 of about 63,000 in .17 seconds
that they began to imagine his commercial possibilities.

He remembers signing the contract, watching them build the tower,
the miles of petitioners hiking switchbacks up the mountain,
the ceaseless Post-its, his fingers aching

from hours of scribbling, head pounding with another inquiry
about the Kennedys, a recipe for chocolate cream pie,
the weight of the pope’s hat, where to buy Ginsu knives.

He returns from his shave to find 2.3 million
“while you were out” messages obscuring his door,
straightens his multicolord tie, notices

his reflection in the window: the smartest man on earth,
the wonders of the world at his fingertips,
a name on his desk that suggests infinity

and the babbling of an infant.

– Scott Moncrieff
(taken from the Christian Century, May 18, 2004)

I may share some of my thoughts about this poem later in the week.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Remote Control

Ok, so I have been away from my post. Remote connection was possible, but with some difficulty. So, I did not try. Sorry!

With remote controls for everything, most cannot imagine life without controls. Obviously, TVs, DVD players and stereos . . . but now there are remote controls for fans and fireplaces and car stereos (think about the oddity of remotes for car stereos). I can check my email, voicemail, newspapers all from across the globe.

I still am amazed when I approach my Toyota Camry and push a button to unlock the doors, disarm the security system and pop the trunk. What power! What control!

While away last week, I heard a story about a man whose car remote keyless entry died. The battery failed and he could not get into his car. He called the police for help. When the officer arrived, the officer asked to see the remote key chain. He took the key, unlocked the door and handed the keys back to the embarrased man. (thanks for the story Claire Moody)

How dependant are you upon remote controls?

Some claim spirituality allows me to gain control of my life. Spirituality is a means to manipulate God (or the gods) to act in my favor. Spirituality becomes a remote control to direct the powers of the universe to my best interests. Sounds appealing. Sounds easy enough. Learn the (magic) tricks and the world is mine.

However, my experience of the universe has led me to believe that I cannot control all things to my advantage. Maybe I can control somethings, but I have yet to find a universal control. Still the world seems to move forward without my help. This leads me to wonder if there is not something more than me. True spirituality may well be found in letting go of control and being controled.

So, I hand my keys to someone else who can help me get in the car. I am dependant upon more than me.