Segregating Worship

Read. Because Renee is so very, very awesome.

For my part, I keep coming back to the way that, as Christians, we manage to continually separate ourselves into those who are ministering and those who are ministered to. As I’ve said before, the “charity” model of Christianity doesn’t ever involve a relationship of equals, a sense of being truly “neighbours”, in that it’s always premised on the assumption that we have something to teach/give/reveal to them. The occasional vice-versa comes in the form of granting a kind of tokenistic “model of the simple life” status to certain chosen Others (in such form as the “noble savage”, the sweet young child with disabilities, etc), but there’s never (or very rarely) a sense of inherent, ongoing reciprocity or unity.

That problem is obviously not directly or exclusively connected to race, but it is connected to segregation and marginalization. Actual community is uncomfortable, and actual diversity makes it even more so. Not only is it far more difficult to ignore racism, poverty, inequality and injustice when it’s right in front of you in all its ugly, dirty, violent glory, it’s also far more challenging to believe in your own self-satisfied view of “helping”. Obviously, a lot of Christians do interrogate this, but as Renee points out, there’s still a lack of congregation along these lines, and it seems to me that solutions are not only not forthcoming, they’re not really being sought.

Harder than a camel going through the eye of a needle, indeed.

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One thought on “Segregating Worship

  1. Mendacious D says:

    Funny how we’re called to minister and yet we manage to avoid so much of it, unless it’s looking after your own.

    And “your own” can mean anything from your age to your race to your specific creeds. I grew up in a very liberal congregation (United Church, west coast, you get the idea) and it took me a while to realize that the membership was almost exclusively white and upper-class.

    People pointed out that First United, which is in the heart of the “bad” part of town, has a mostly homeless/transient congregation. I’ve only just realized that it’s a good way of keeping the “undesirables” we claim to help all in the same place, away from their allegedly fellow congregants.

    Something tells me they wouldn’t exactly be welcome in Shaughnessy Heights.

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