Don’t get too excited. She’s left the church, not the faith. I don’t know what church she belonged to – if she is fed up with her parish or with the denomination or just the quarrelsome nature of Christians everywhere.
Which is too bad, but, well, we know what she means. I’ve dropped out of the “church” at times because I couldn’t stand the infighting, the politics and the factions. (And I’m not even in the American church!) But we don’t get to quit that easily. I’ve always been drawn back, because I need the sacraments; I need the discipline; I need the correction that we only get in pushing against each other and hearing each other’s words. Just dropping out doesn’t help. When we drop out and think we will spend our Sundays with the Bible and a prayer, we start to drift off into our own little strange heresies, and pretty soon, we quit our practices completely or they are so corrupted that they can hardly be called Christian.
(Oh, so many times as priest when I asked people to please come back to church, they gave me the same old song about God in nature, and sitting outside with a cup of coffee on Sunday morning was enough church for them, God is everywhere, they can say a little prayer for themselves. Inwardly, I said to myself, yeah, that’s pretty lazy, wish I could make the same excuse myself. And that was very judgemental of me, but honestly, it was like they all had the same script. Then some of them would call me when they had a really bad time – major illness, a death in the family, a big loss – and then the pines and the birds weren’t much comfort. They needed help finding their way back to Jesus Christ. So it was a really good thing that I’d kept the “lazy” thought to myself and just smiled and thanked them for their time, because when they needed Christ, I hadn’t thrown up a brick wall in their path.)
So, Anne, watch yourself out there. You were not only a hardcore, bitter atheist, you made fun of Christians. Some of the stunts you pulled were pretty wild. All is forgiven, but just a warning – you are headed back to Bad Company. It’s like an alcoholic who has been dry for years, and drops into the old neighborhood bar just to say hello to some friends – pretty soon, both hands are on the bottle.
I hope your minister, priest or bishop drops by for a chat. When I took leave of absence from the church, CNN did not care and no one wrote it up on a celebrity blog. As a Christian, you just handed nonbelievers and Christ-haters some big ammo. Is that what you meant to do? And if this is a dramatic plea for the church to iron out its differences and start to play nice – it won’t work. Out there, on CNN, you are famous. In the church, you a member of the body of Christ. As are we all.