Flee to the Desert
Every once in a while I come to the realization that I don't believe in church as it is. I don't wish to support it. I don't want to perpetuate its existence. I don't want to reinforce its rules, its politics, its agendas, its programs. I want to get out of it altogether. I yearn to remove myself from this game completely and forever. I want, like the earliest hermits such as St. Anthony in Egypt, to retreat to the remotest desert and weave baskets. And I would do this not only as a way to get back in touch with raw simplicity and truth, but also as a demonstration of protest against the ecclesiastical system and its managers. Within, I'm done with it. When, oh when, will we ever ever realize that all we are doing with all of our ideas, visions, agendas, revolutions and reforms is tweaking that which imprisons us? We are the captains of modification. The result: people come along, take one look at the dolled-up corpse of our refined church, and say, "My, it looks really good!" just before we close the casket!
I don't know how to do this. I don't know how we, as friends of faith, can gather together without the complications of structure, institution, government, mores, politics, laws, hierarchy, expectations, agendas and goals interfering with community. I don't know how we can stop church from obstructing fellowship. I don't know how we can stop religion from murdering humanity. It's almost like our marriage is getting in the way of our love. Can it be done? I have to believe it can and must be done. Otherwise, the demons have won.
I had a dream the other night. There was a river bed and a river flowing through it. This riverbed was Jesus. So the river was somehow Jesus too. This river was somehow within me, like within my chest. Suddenly, the river began to become engorged until it overflowed its banks. Then this river covered the whole earth. I awoke in a cloud of peace and joy. But I also awoke deeply troubled because this has practical implications for my life that I haven't even begun to unpack yet.