Thursday, 24 July 2008

Community Risks

Read Naked Pastor website the other day and two blogs really struck a chord with me (this one and the one below).
This one matters to me a lot. This is what NP said:
"I want to talk about the difficulty community brings to friendship. Being in the church has its good parts. When it’s good it’s awesome. But it is also a very difficult way to live. Like one friend said to me recently: she’s found the church to be a place of incredible pain when it comes to relationships. She’s surprised she’s still committed. But she’s right. Which is why mixing friendship with religion and community is incredibly delicate, risky and often painful. I could choose to have a few friends, kindred spirits, and keep it at that. Then go to a church where I can remain anonymous, get my liturgical fix and go home to my buddies afterwards. But no. That’s not me.
Or I could just keep faith out of my relationships altogether. Don’t even bring it up. But unfortunately faith isn’t just a hobby with me, an intellectual pursuit, a passing interest, an anthropological obsession. Somehow, faith, spirit, religion, relationship with I AM, has gripped my life to such an extent that it’s become essential to who I am. It is integral. To neglect it or deny it or suppress it in my relationships would be at least inauthentic and at worst suicidal. I can’t stand relating on a superficial level, pretending to be something I’m not pretending you’re someone you’re not. I have to be all out there or not at all. I resist becoming a rubber stamp endorsing what others do just to avoid conflict and make the mood in the room comfortable. I wish not to dial down just to stay in relationship with someone. And this has brought me the loss of many, many friends. It continues to happen to this day. And it tears my heart out every single time.
Let’s see: keep friends but deny who I am and live on a superficial level; or live freely as who I am and risk the loss of relationship? Believe me, the choice is a difficult one. "
I could have written practially all of that. Certainly, mixing community and friendship has not been a very positive experience for me. The closer the Christian community the more I've been hurt and very few friendships have come out of it. I have made more friends in situations where the community has not been so 'close' (do I mean 'intense'?) I want a church that allows distance. I want a few close friends and not much more. And yet, I can't practice my faith outside community. Herein lies my dilemma.
Your thoughts are most welcome.

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