Sunny Days in Heaven
Spiritual/Political/Philosophical Blog on the Nature of Truth and Falsehood and Heaven

Wednesday, June 29, 2005  

My own foray into politics

Peggy Noonan is spot on with her question regarding Washington pols:

What is wrong with them? This is not a rhetorical question. I think it is unspoken question No. 1 as Americans look at so many of the individuals in our government. What is wrong with them?

Recently, I ran as a candidate for the Pastoral Council at my Catholic church. I had to apply to the Pastoral Council in order to be approved as a candidate (which kind of takes some of the democracy out of it), but I said enough of the right things and my wife is a fairly well known volunteer.

Instead of limiting the number to five as they said they would, apparently a bumper crop of marvelous people made them stretch the number to seven.

My campaign consisted of answering a questionaire which was posted along with the others on a board in the vestibule of the church for all to read.

I used some very poor graphics skills to make my answer sheet attractive, succinct, thought out, and to the point.

All the others expressed vague reasons why they wanted to be on the Council, and drafted single spaced blocks of verbiage which were unpleasant to look at and read.

Advantage - Mark.

But instead, I lost, lost, lost!

The fact is that I have not ingratiated myself with enough people. My family is not large and extended as one candidate's is, and it is a popularity contest which is as practical a reason to vote as any. Plus, I may also be known if for anything as a trouble maker, which I am.

Our Pastoral Council exists to rubber stamp whatever "Father" says. We are the deadest of dead Catholic churches. We have no spirit, no religious or evangelical zeal, our liturgy is horrible, our building is bereft of charm, there is no energy in anything we do, and what pass for ministries are basic cliques.

My church is a mere club run by a few women, and I don't know whty I even bother.

I stopped going for a year or so, and when I returned I found it pleasing to be with people I knew - the small sense of community it gave me as the place where I have grown up spiritually, but the fact that I have no voice or significance in the church, that I am unable to exercise any gifts for its benefit (and mine), that genuine service is the last thing anybody wants to see -- well, what's the point?

Here was my scheme if elected -- I hoped we could try and get cushions for the pews. That is how low my ambitions have sunk. The idea of being able to get cushions for the folks instead of having everyone endure the Mass as a penance service especially during the longer liturgies of Christmas and Easter.

I didn't even want to try for all the pews. Oh no, I would have suggested we do it for the first five rows and see if people liked and preferred to have them than not.

What I had hoped to accomplish is to do a series of very small acts, improvements of a sort that might get people thinking positively about the possibility of modest changes becoming a forward motion of sorts.

I would have wanted to take the Council to my daughter's church where they could see a highly dynamic Christianity at work. Not to copy but to be inspired by and put into Catholic form.

But what can you do when people don't want to know anything?

I would go to my daughter's church, but they don't want my skill set either since it exceeds their project which subordinates everything to evangelization in simple terms.

For example, they put on Christian plays which are quite good until the last act when they become vehicles of propaganda and come to Jesus appeals to the audience. But my drama is more subtle than that and seeks to illustrate faithlessness on one hand and its depth, and to illustrate faith as a process. Rather than have Jesus come out to the people and say, "I am the way, the truth, and the life", I try to have things show how important it is to have a way, truth, and life, if that makes sense.

It's like music. Not singing Jesus is beautiful, but by having beautiful singing, it proves God is Beauty.

When people are in church, I don't think it is necessary to tell them Jesus is good so much, as to show them. Preaching and teaching is good, but so are demonstrations.

I guess I should start looking for a church where I can serve.

posted by Mark Butterworth | 11:13 AM |