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Further strengthenings of the self-centered instinct for survival recruit even greater numbers of people into some sort of ring of fellowship (church or gender, red state or blue) by populating the terra incognita outside the ring with enough barbarians to verify the existence of a civilization within–to define the preferred stock by what, as all good people agree, it decidedly is not.
Churches are tax exempt because they are supposed to provide a public good. To prove that good to the IRS, churches arent supposed to hoard their money. They are supposed to spend it on goods and services for the faithful. Under this pretense, the church has made massive investments in tax free real estate all over the world. And when it comes to labor costs, they are almost free.
I did make several trips to the very wonderful [Georgia] O’Keeffe museum. Besides the art (my favorite paintings are from her Pelvis series) my favorite thing about the museum is the architecture. I love how enormously tall the doors are – it is like going into a church. There is also something home-like about the layout of the museum. I wish I could live there!
Church is missing transcendence. My generation was raised on a religion of moral control. Do this. Don’t do that. And a lot of self-help religion. Feel better. Get out of debt. Six ways to overcome your fears. Seven ways not to lust. Ultimately that message didn’t work. It was empty. There was no transcendence. The omniscient, omnipresent, all-powerful God of the universe wasn’t the focus.
Can any deny that in the modern church setup the main cause of anxiety is money? Yet that which tries the modern churches the most, troubled the New Testament Church the least. Our emphasis is on paying; theirs was on praying. When we have paid, the place is taken; when they had prayed, the place was shaken!
The church in the book (and movie) plays a pivotal scene. We looked everywhere .. I mean everywhere! We had to have enough of a front yard area to house a Nativity scenes. And we finally found it .. two miles from our office. And we had been all over Tulsa looking. We were looking in places in Texas, everywhere! And I was in the car with the director and we drove by the church.
Mission begins with a kind of explosion of joy. The news that the
rejected and crucified Jesus is alive is something that cannot possibly
be suppressed. It must be told. Who could be silent about such a fact?
The mission of the Church in the pages of the New Testament is like the
fallout from a vast explosion, a radioactive fallout which is not lethal