Monday, November 12, 2012

Churchy Things & Books

Tonight was our second parish council meeting. I'm really going to enjoy it; I enjoy hearing about how the parish works, what issues are being faced, and being able to help resolve them. It was agreed, both last week and this week, to keep a certain level of confidentiality, so I'll be staying largely silent on many of the issues that we're facing; however, they're things that I suspect all parishes face, and deal largely with getting more people involved in the community and breaking up the cliques that can tend to arise in certain groups. People complain a lot about ridiculous things, both as individuals and in groups; I guess they'll always do it, but they complain about truly ridiculous things, like the windows being dirty, or the dead plants not being removed quickly enough. I suspect some have too much time on their hands.

A couple of months ago, I bought a copy of Imitation of Christ. I haven't picked it up often since I got it,  mostly because I'm backlogged in reading (I have a pile of books at home that I need to get to; in some cases, I've had a book for years). The book presents short teachings, which makes it easy to read in short bursts, which I certainly appreciate, but the little I've read I can tell I'm going to have trouble with the way in which some of the teachings are presented.

For example, one is encouraged not to develop one's own opinions; rather, one should ask older, more experienced people for guidance and follow said guidance. It might be difficult for older people, though, to consistently find older, more experienced people to ask, especially after a (long) lifetime of their own experience; I suppose at that point one just follows the lead of one's priest. As I understand it, one's own experience could lead one astray and lead one to the wrong conclusions; therefore, it's better to heed the advice of someone with more of an understanding of how things work.

I find that difficult; I absolutely agree that a member of the clergy would have more experience and theological background than I, but why can't I ask questions develop my own opinions based on the answers I'm given? Having a discussion in which I could get my questions answered, understanding why things are done the way they are, why and how these practices developed, would help me understand more, not less. And I'd then have an easier time following my faith.

Another statement advised the reader to avoid talking to young people; it didn't say why, although I suspect it's for similar reasons: An older, more experienced person would conceivably have a better understanding of an issue than a much younger person. However, I also understand that being young does not negate an experience that would provide an understanding that I might not have.

I don't understand why I need to follow anything blindly. I understand that religion does require a large amount of faith, but I don't understand why I can't question and talk to everyone around me.

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