Ritual disillusionment versus ritual religion

[Within initiation rituals, there was] a strong quality of disillusionment, so the initiate would never confuse the ritual with the necessary and painful reality of death. This sounds very risky, I am sure, but when I see what Catholics have done with the Mass and what Protestants have done with the Bible, I recognize how easy it is to make the medium the message. Catholics go to Mass repeatedly since we are slow learners and slow transformers, but Jesus did it only once. Protestants argue about the Bible, doctrines, and moralisms instead of following Jesus into new and risky places. The new para-churches love religious entertainment instead of loving peace or justice. Warlike heads of state can normally be assured of Christans’ total support – all in poor Jesus’s name. We all prefer our rituals to anything real or risky. Without some kind of disillusionment of forms, religion invariably becomes idolatry of forms. (Richard Rohr – Adam’s Return)

I really am constantly surprised at what we often spend our time talking (or debating) about. Our priorities, it seems, are so often, at least in my evangelical circles, about “right” belief and “right” behavior (most likely to the exclusion of all others)… sometimes also it seems that we get also very carried away with operating within the system and maintaining the denomination, the building, or the policies that were decided on by a committee a long time ago.

I heard a homeless guy yesterday telling my friend Taffy (who runs Bend’s Community Center) that one of the homeless centers in town won’t provide services unless the individuals are Christian. Granted, it might be more like they require that residents get involved in a Christian program, but nevertheless, still quite a bummer. Theology and “salvation” intentions getting in the way of helping people who really need it. Taffy’s response was, “Well that doesn’t really seem all that fair, now, does it? Requiring that you believe a certain thing in order to get help.”

We just get so caught up in maintaining what we have worked so hard to build up… that the thing (the system) gets more important than the people. I think we really could use a healthy dose of disillusionment to bring us down to the level of our community and our relationships.

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