I hate the church. I loathe evangelicalism. I don't really care for Christianity. And about half the time I don't even like God all that much.
So why do I still identify as an evangelical? Or maybe that's all inside my head and no evangelical would identify me as one of their own anyway. But the question remains, why have I not left the church?
Because I have hope. I hold on that hopeless hope that the contemporary American evangelical church can be something other than just another power structure. For if that's all we are, simply another, albeit (slightly) less evil, institution of social and political power, we should all abandon this ship as soon as possible. Especially since the “less evil” bit about Christianity can be rightly contested.
I have that hopeless hope that church can be more than ideological masturbation. I hopelessly hope for a church whose primary concern isn't reassuring itself that it is right and enforcing those “right” views on others. I hope for a church that loves and cares for the outcast, the oppressed, and the other instead of expending all its energies to contribute to that oppression. I hopelessly hope for a church that is less preoccupied with its own survival and more focused on actualizing the ridiculous, stupid, unconditional love of Christ, which is impossible, which is the impossible, if you'll allow me to once again reference Caputo.
In John 13:35 Jesus said that we will be identified as his disciples if we have love for one another. If Jesus really meant that then the church is screwed. We're all screwed. I'm definitely screwed. Because, for all my self-righteous critiques, I'm just as bad as anyone else. I'm not a people person. Usually I just want people to leave me alone. So, for me to love a stranger is as difficult as it is for anyone else.
Plus, does anything I do have any constructive impact? Or am I just a cranky old man whining and complaining about the church? I offer no solutions or plans, for I have none. But the first step to fixing a problem is identifying, nay, admitting that there is in fact a problem. From the pulpit to the pew, most in church are unwilling to admit that we have problems in our own house that need attention. It is far easier to point out the speck in another's eye.
I hope that hopeless hope that we can be brave instead of constantly frightened by pop culture, formal education, and syncopated rhythms. Christianity needs to be more than just fear-mongering against that which we do not like or do not understand. I believe we can read the likes of Preacher and not only have enlightening dialogues about it, but actually enjoy the story! I believe pop culture, particularly the comic book medium, of course, can both entertain and edify, if we are willing to engage it.
So I will continue my whining and complaining. For as much as I detest the state of Christianity, I feel compelled down this path. This is likely due in part to the fact that God keeps cropping up in the comic books I read, as if he wouldn't leave me alone even if I wanted him to.