This is easily understandable.
A sign hangs in every church kitchen. It reads, "If you mess it up, you clean it up."
I take great care in church kitchens.
I argue that baptist preachers got baptists into the mess wherein we currently find ourselves. To be sure, the laity and the seldom-helpful, always smiling denominational personnel fired their guns in salute but baptist work is declining overall because of the preachers. Please, do not tell me they don't work here anymore. Don't talk to me about a new breeze blowing; it has the same old bad breath.
Right or Left? A plague on both your houses. Now, and forevermore.
There is no real need to continue what we live in today. When the horse you ride dies under you, dismount.
The future is going to be tough. The generation coming up now is more tolerant, less likely to join, very optimistic and very willing to depend on government. They recognize our generational superiority in values and work ethic but fault us on tolerance. I fear their tolerance is actually passivity, sans the dominating streak that has marked American culture for 200+ years. We are becoming more like Europe, while Europe awakens to the fact their socialist experimentation is not sustainable.
If churches intend to reach the next generation, the Religious Fundamentalism of our most recent forbearers does not bode well. My generation may have to spend its twilight years working with the next group of clerics on personal values, work ethic and other basic issues. We may have to help them become less passive while respecting their overall tolerance.
The preachers got us into this mess. In a day wherein organized religion has probably seen its better days in the rear view mirror, we either have to reorganize or accept defeat. Let me illustrate it this way; we will have to redefine our religious experience from the "jihad" to the "haj."
A jihad is a religious struggle. In its most spiritual sense it can mean a person seeks Allah (God) as the defining goal of his life, setting aside his own evil impulses to purify his soul forever. In its worst template, jihad becomes the pregnant suicide bomber in the deli. As are most religious applications, the difference between inner struggle and outer violence is almost purely a matter of interpretation.
The Haj is pilgrimage. One undertakes it at least once in life. My imam friend explained my error to me when I asked him about his haj. All of life is a Haj. The journey to Mecca symbolizes the journey through life to the ultimate emotional, physical, spiritual expression of joy and piety.
Baptists symbolize death, burial and resurrection by water immersion. We talk about being saved, once for all, but growing in our walk. We are on our Haj.
My imam friend, gently prodded, did agree that another imam might offer a more literal rendering to the Haj. This is a matter of application, hence of interpretation, is it not? How many times have you felt your messenger had delivered to you the literal truth but not the whole truth? Are there those times you feel you have given the whole truth but lacked the directive application that would have enabled your pilgrim pupil to apply his new information in a brighter light?
This is why I say the preachers got us into this mess. Preachers have told us the literal truth but not always the whole truth. Preachers have told us the whole truth but with an un-directive panache, leaving us to detect the limit of our own fears or ambitions, but not the Tao of God.
So, since the preachers (I am one; we did not know what we were doing) got us into this mess, we should anticipate unconditional repentance, mature thought and direct responsibility taken by the preachers to clean up the church kitchen. Preachers find this difficult because so many churches are sick unto death and so many of the preachers are actually functioning atheists.
I have a crazy idea this is not God's will. Monday, I start to offer some suggestions.
Opinions expressed here are my own, not those of the church I serve or of any other person.