Saturday, March 31, 2007

Eyes to see . . .what?

Holy Week, when I was a Christian in diapers (Protestant), was always a very frustrating time for me to attend my own church. Being fearful of appearing idolatrous, our church had no cross or symbols of Christ anywhere, unless you count the crucifix tattoo on the college kid next to me, or the scenes from "the Passion" on the plasma screens. Far more likely were you to find posters of Bob and Larry, than images of Peter or Paul (and don't even try to mention our Blessed Lady).

It was also always odd to me that they had a problem with Catholic reverence for the Pope, or for calling a priest "father", but it didn't bother anyone when people applauded between songs for the worship band (I would say "nice job", or "thank you" outside of service, but it made me physically ill that worship leaders would even allow anyone to give them praise, instead of the pointing "up" that worship is meant to do). I actually always thought that having the worship team center stage was in fact irreverent, and don't get me started on guitar solos (O:

My last year there, I actually had started mentally planning a covert operation to vandalize the stage (stage yes, no altar), and as terrible as you may see me, I was going to place large crosses above the TV monitors (my old friend Ozzy, was donating them). Diabolical, I know, but that's the kinda fundamentalist I am, as what's more fundamental than a Cross in a church?

I sadly cannot remember ever seeing a cross, or any religious symbols, in my friends houses (although I do remember a few friends openly mocking an antique Rosary I had in my place, which was a cherished gift from a Catholic friend's mom). They would have lots of photos of family and friends (or even pets) on their walls and mantles, but not an image of the One they said they loved above all. There might even be an expensive, signed and numbered,"Gingerbread Cottage" by that fine contemporary Christian artist, Thomas Kinkade, hung over the fireplace, with the custom framing boldly highlighting the signature. The kids rooms possibly adorned with posters of Christian bands like Relient K or Third Day (bands, I personally love and support), next to pictures of the current "American Idol" front runners, but an image of Christ would be idolatrous?

I actually think it is less the concern over idolatry, and more a fear of appearing Catholic, especially with many members being lapse Catholics, who might start to remember the Truth of what they've left behind and go back to their true "home".

Lastly, the biggest idolatrous symbol that the Mega-churches all seem to have is that invisible score board, which they seem to quote from weekly, on how many new members they have, or souls they have "saved". I always pictured a big sign, "Over Three Million Saved", out front in big blinking lights, next to the Golden Arches.

A cross, a statue, a picture or prayer card; are all things I use to fully worship my King, but are tools only (like a Praise song), and are never worshipped or glorified.

God gave me the sense of smell to enjoy His creation, as well as the fragrance of the incense in Mass (and maybe to remind me to shower before church).

God gave me ears to hear His word spoken, or song, as well as the beautiful sound of children in
prayer (and to know how off key I am).

He gave me a mouth to sing His praises, to receive His body in the Eucharist, and to gently kiss the symbol of that cross that saved me (until the day I may humbly kiss His feet in Heaven).

and I was given eyes to see symbols of that cross, that love, and to help me focus on what is true and good and pure.

I can not help but fear that if we do not surround ourselves with symbols of the Truth, than the world will happily fill that void with symbols of the lie . . .until it becomes our truth.

Pseudo-brother Mike will again step down from his soap box(O: