Thursday, September 06, 2007
Phil Wyman and "I Am What's Wrong With the Church"
My friend and colleague Phil Wyman of The Gathering in Salem (in photo on the right) has an article titled "I Am What's Wrong With the Church" that appears in the September/October 2007 issue of The Plain Truth magazine. It's a great article that includes Phil's experiences in Salem as a Christian among Witches and Neo-Pagans, and the negative response by his former denomination, the Foursquare, to his friendships with local Pagans and his preferred forms of engagement with the local subcultures. As Phil writes about Pagans:
"They practice a religion misunderstood and demonized by Christian pastors. They understand what it means to be persecuted for their faith, but they have experienced this persecution from evangelical Christians who have believed the tall tales and urban myths about today's Witches.
"The church in the 21st century does not identify with their needs, and the television version of Christianity appears to be no more than parlor tricks played upon gullible crowds by ministers who are as much magicians as they are preachers."
As Phil reflects on Christianity in his local context, and on the broader national stage he writes,
"My despair and hopelessness is found quite close to home though. I find it in myself. I am what's wrong with the church.
"I find that I can quickly jump to conclusions about people. The way they look, the way they talk, the style of lives they live; these are the things which cause me to disassociate with people or mark them as a lost cause.
"I worry that the church has become too superstitious to see my Neo-Pagan friends as regular people who, like ourselves, were created in the image of God. The church is afraid of their 'magic,' and refuses to connect with them in any manner except a rebuke, and maybe an exorcism rite. Is this same attitude in me?"
I encourage you to download and read Phil's article. It's a bitter pill for Christians to swallow, but I think it's the right prescription for what ails us. The problem with the church is many times the attitudes of the very Christians who comprise it.