Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

ON THE STATE OF THE CHURCH


Dear Dan,

Thank you for sending the articles from the Guardian.

The debate on secularism gives a picture of what is happening in England and I suppose here too. The main line churches here suffer most from being boring and irrelevant. In the US people say they are religious, say they are spiritual but not religious. Popular belief is the separation of church and state means the church should not be involved in the state or government. I point out I am a churchman (I gag at churchperson). My fellow churchgoers and I are citizens, pay taxes and vote. We have every right to harass the government for what we want just like bankers do. Of course I hate it when the Papists, Mormons and fundies vote against abortion, birth control and gays. But they have a right to do that.

Here is my view of the rise of secularism in England and here. We the church are at fault.

When I was ordained in 1956, I was trained by church and seminary to be an English country parson. The church was there to serve whoever came. Soon after and now, the church needs to reach out and draw new members in. In the cities the churches have failed to do this. In the suburbs people seem to flock to church still.

Most Episcopal churches have little or nothing to offer people. We go to St. John’s in the Mission. The Anglo-Catholic, smells, bells, incense, bowing and scraping, while I love it, puts many people off.

Church services are long and boring. Four readings from the Bible, long creed, endless confessions of sin, too many verses of out dated hymns and a sermon more than a dozen minutes is just too much. I try to get to church by the time of the sermon.

The preaching is poor, inconsistent and irrelevant – except when I preach of course, he says humbly. The preaching seldom addresses personal or social issues that deeply affect the lives of the people who do attend. Jesus told stories, our preachers present concepts. The spirituality movement urges people to look inward, the gospel calls us to look outward to the poor suffering and needy.

Christianity will not die. Irrelevant church buildings will be sold, torn down for housing or become something else useful. The church as we know it will change and develop. Full time paid clergy jobs will continue to diminish. Bishop Pike used to say wherever there is a Bible, some bread and wine there is the church. I agree.

I do think there is hope for the traditional church. We have to learn how to grow churches. There is a whole body of knowledge on how to do that. Fundamentalists have done their homework. We have to learn how to ask for money. We do that poorly. We have to see that the gospel of Jesus is connected to healing, justice, care for the poor and the disenfranchised. People will respond to that, not to pap.

I do think many smart, rich people stay away because they hear all to clearly that Jesus cared more for the poor than the rich. They hear the words of the Bible.

Trinity SF skimmed by financially for the 20 years I was there. I always focused on social and political issues. We were well known in the city and community and served the dying of AIDS and their loved ones in the 80s. We had a shelter program in winter. AA groups, a senior luncheon group, a community theater group and many musical concert organizations used our building. My time there was, along with my relationship with Ann, the most wonderful and fulfilling part of my long life.

Thank you for the articles and the opportunity to blow my own horn with my big mouth on paper.

Warm Love,

Robert

Monday, February 20, 2012

ASH WEDNESDAY AND GEORGE WASHINGTON

George Washington’s birthday anniversary falls on Ash Wednesday this year. Washington was an Episcopalian and was a rather casual member of that Church. Ash Wednesday is the great Christian Day of Repentance for Christians, Yom Kippur is a Day of Atonement for Jews and Ramadan is a month of fasting for Muslims. All ask people to look back over our lives; repent for evil we have done and promise to live a better life.

George Washington had regrets about being slaveholder, killing Indians and rebelling against England. Our country needs to repent of its allowing the rich to dominate the poor and weak, of going into needless wars and preferring force to negotiations. The murder of Bin Laden, the use of unmanned drone bombers and failure to remove land mines show us a people of violence rather than peace.

Ash Wednesday and George Washington’s birthday make us think.

Friday, February 17, 2012

SUPPORT THE PRESIDENT

Susie Tomkins Buell tightens her checkbook on President Barak Obama because she is displeased with his compromises on environmental issues. ( SF Chronicle, 2/16/12) Imagine how much worse the environment would be under a Republican president and congress. Many liberal and democratic voters criticize the president for broken campaign promises.

Buell ran a successful company where all the power was at the top. She was in control. She did not have to deal with hostile Republican congress members criticizing, weakening and opposing every idea and proposal Obama made. Too many people are naïve about the complexities of the decision-making process of government. Buell and super critical liberals need to get off their high horses and work for the reelection of Barak Obama.

Friday, February 03, 2012

A Nation of Murderers

A Nation of Murderers

The President and his advisors sat around a TV set intently watching a team of U.S. Navy Seals murder Osama Bin Laden. Obama had given the order for the killing. Our leaders watched this man being killed right in front of their eyes. They approved the hit team to go in and “take out” Bin Laden who boasted that he had engineered the 9/11 disaster that killed or wounded three thousand Americans. I wonder if our leaders and gave high fives to each other after the murder. I would not be surprised.

Israeli agents killed a number of Iranian scientists over the last years in an effort to halt the development of that country’s nuclear bomb. Israel and the United States have plenty of such weaponry. The U.S. leadership surely gave their OK for the Israelis to carry out these assassinations. We saw no condemnation of these killings by our government or the Israeli leadership.

Drone bombers, planes without pilots, now fly over areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan and drop bombs on pinpointed so-called enemies. The fact that civilians are routinely killed, as well as the targets, is passed over as “collateral damage” by our leaders. Our government murdered these human beings and the activities are paid for by our taxes.

The people who insist that the United States of America is a Christian country approve of these murders. People who see this as a secular country with separation of Church and state also approve of these murders. The churches that preach love, forgiveness and community approve of these murders by their silence. The synagogues and Muslim mosques that preach love, mercy and justice are equally silent. Our nation of shoppers, medical people and business are also silent about the murderous activity of our country. The media too remains uncritical of murder.

But we have always been willing to kill to get our way. African American slaves, Native Americans and Mexicans have always been seen as less than human and killing them seemed necessary from time to time as needed and desired.

In the Twentieth Century the United States went to war as a nation. In the Twenty-first Century, after the failure of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, we are now a nation of killers and murderers from afar. Assassination and drones kill the innocent who are charged and executed, no trials, representation or arguments. If for some reason, any reason, some nation or politician deems a person dangerous, there is no rule of law, just assassination. The innocent civilians are simply dismissed with our sick sympathies.

This trend away from the rule of law can only seep into the larger society. We already know the C.I.A. and the F.B.I. get rid of undesirables without resorting to trial and jury. Local police do the same. We laud media depictions like John Wayne and Tony Soprano who take justice into their own hands.

This dangerous trend is supported by our Democratic President. It can only be worse under a Republican regime. The occupy movement gives some hope to bring about significant change in our society. Ending of political murder must be added to that agenda.

RWC