A former Lutheran pastor sharing thoughts on faith and life. Please join the conversation! I love your comments!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Church Wide Vow of Silence

A Church wide vow of silence.  Wouldn’t that be something to see?  Or hear, rather.

I love science fiction/fantasy novels and I dream of one day writing one.  Mostly I realize there are others more gifted than I to do the writing and I should stick to the reading.  But sometimes, I do a little writing or have a storyline idea floating around in my head.  One of the scenarios about which I dream of writing is a religion, with a history similar to that of Christianity, taking a vow of silence as an act of repentance. 

Sci-Fi/ Fantasy stories often represent our fondest wishes or our greatest fears.  A church wide vow of silence would not be a fear for me. 

Haven’t we said too much already?  There is such a history of words.  Hurtful words.  Hateful words.  Ignorant words.  Arrogant words.  Manipulative words.  What if we just stop?  Stop talking.   Stop trying to convert others.  Stop using religion as an excuse for discrimination.  Stop using God’s name as a way to minimize someone else’s pain.  Stop with the platitudes.  Stop using religion as just another way to blame the victim.  Wouldn’t that be a glorious act of repentance?!?! 

It might be tempting to make exceptions.  Maybe we could at least say, “God loves you, ” for example. Yet we could manage to say even those words in a way which sounds like we are talking to something we just scraped off the bottom of our shoes.   Considering the number of times I have heard “I am praying for you” said in a way which clearly means “you are SO going to hell,” I just don’t know what words with which we could possibly be trusted.  

I suppose it would be okay to very carefully and quietly talk about God amongst ourselves.  Very carefully.  I had a Seventh Day Adventist friend years ago.  I disagreed with her on many things but one thing I appreciated was the care with which she spoke about God, carefully trying to say only things which she believed were true in the deepest sense of the word.  Something to be learned there.

I know some of you might ask, “But if we don’t tell people God loves them, how will they know?”  We have used so many words.  Their echoes will resound long after we have stopped speaking.  Perhaps we could trust God to make sure the echoes which resound longest are those times when we did speak love.  Or, scripture talks about even stones will speak.  We have done such a lousy job of speaking surely the stones could do better.  Perhaps it is time we gave them a chance. 

But, since a church wide vow of silence doesn’t seem likely, I guess I will go on speaking and writing and hoping against hope the church will some day at least turn firmly away from proselytizing and 
toward speaking out for justice for all people.  Or perhaps I have better odds of writing that Sci-Fi novel.

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