Category Archives: Church

Frankenstein’s Monster

 

Frankenstein's Monster

The classic tale of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein depicts a man who, after attending university, is driven with the idea of creating life. Dr Victor Frankenstein travels to the North Pole and pulls together parts of corpses to create this creature. After reanimating this monster and it becomes alive, it flees into the wilderness. There it reads moral philosophy, becoming intelligent and more like a human. After many years away it returns to Dr Frankenstein, demanding a mate to be created. This does not go down well and the monster then kills all of the doctor’s loved ones. In the end, Dr Frankenstein’s work led to him losing everything. He intended to make life, but all he had in the end was loss.

Shelley’s depiction of Frankenstein’s monster asks some important question. What happens when we overstep the boundaries of the way God intends things to be? She wrote: “Supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.” A long, complicated sentence basically saying we are prone to make monsters of God’s work, not masterpieces.

Now monsters cause people to run away, not towards them. If the church is actually doing this, we need to understand how it is doing it and begin moving back to the way God wanted it to be. We all want people to find healing, not hurting. The church risks making monsters of God’s masterpieces when:

1. We take beliefs originally intended to be a blessing to ourselves and to the world and turn them into weapons to harm others.

One example is wearing fine clothes or jewellery. I’ve heard it numerous times by Christians how bad it is for women to be wearing jewellery. To wear a necklace or a ring is considered to be sin. People have been told to take off all their jewellery before stepping into a church even. Never mind the original intent of encouraging Christians to dress modestly was a matter of money and mindful management of it, not dressing in dull clothes. Instead it has become an end in itself.

As a result, many a religious person is happy to tell off a young girl for her rings or earrings, while the very same person is spending excessive amounts of money on technology, food or property. Again, the original intent of the topic which was, “What is important when it comes to our wallet?” has become, “What are you wearing?” Talk about making a monster out of a masterpiece!

And might I add, this doesn’t just apply to clothing. It applies to a range of areas. Everything from the way churches run to the way we interact with other parts of culture.

2. We take the Bible, intended to be a narrative which leads to Jesus Christ, and use it to push our own agenda or opinions.

Bible texts, taken out of beautiful masterpieces of literature, are made to mean something entirely different. The bible is torn apart, butchered, murdered. As long as we can find 10 bible texts on a topic, this will be enough to prove our point of view. (What happens when we put together different lists and they contradict? Arguments!) Then, once they have pulled all these limbs from the dead corpse of the Bible, they stitch it together and reanimate it in the way they want it.

It’s safe to say we do this most often when we are wanting to prove our creed or our beliefs instead of listening to what the Bible has to say for itself. We make ourselves the infallible standard, of which no one can ever seem to reach, resulting in a rigid attitude which is unwilling to listen or to dialogue. We must listen afresh to what the Bible is trying to say instead of trying to make it say what I’m thinking.

3. We make the destination of faith a pew, not a personal relationship with God that then positively permeates our world.

A relationship with Jesus was meant to impact all other relationships for the better. Too many people make Christianity into accepting some information, saying the right things, or completing certain acts once a week. Real love and concern for the needy is replaced with religious acts in a building once a week. Programs fill our lives instead of meaningful time with people. This is the monster of all monsters. Sure, it looks alive. But how long until it comes to destroy everything? It’s only a matter of time until the monster comes knocking on the door.

 

Have you encountered Frankenstein’s monster in your church? Which monster have you come across the most? Share an experience in the comment’s section and let’s start the conversation.

Leftovers

Church is one of those words that conjures up a lot of pain and anxiety for people. Many who once sat in a pew every week now find it hard or impossible to do. They opt instead to stay away. Some of these same people still have a belief in God, but are just yearning for something more than what church has to offer. Others just feel it is downright impossible to believe anymore.

This blog is dedicated to asking the question: “Is there life beyond the pew?” What is the afterlife of a person when faith in the pew dies? Can this experience be healing and liberating? I intend to write weekly on topics that matter. Whether you are believing or a sceptical, angry or discouraged, cringe at the mention of Jesus or rejoice, I hope this blog will be a chance to move beyond the pew.

Sometimes the reason for this loss of faith in the pew includes relationship breakdowns and being hurt by people who sit in pews. Sometimes its discouragement from the mismanagement or misuse of power. I know of many stories where people who used to sit in a pew weekly are now either atheist, agnostic or believe in something but have no religion (and the latest census data is showing a significant rise of the ‘nones’). Sometimes it feels as if the church has a monopoly on Jesus. However, this doesn’t seem right to me. What is leftover when we can’t sit in a pew anymore?

My goal in writing is to share a hope I have that we can move past the mistakes of the modern day church and find the real Jesus. So I want to start with something important. Sometimes Jesus followers do not follow Jesus very well. Actually most of the time they act opposite to the way Jesus would. Let me tell you the story of a woman, a group of religious people and a very clever teacher.

This woman comes to Jesus asking him to heal her daughter. Jesus is cold-hearted and rude to her, “I don’t deal with people like you.” She begins to beg. Jesus doesn’t give her any chance, “I’m not wasting my time on a dog.” Those words hurt. The religious people crowding around Jesus agree that she is worthless, “Get rid of her”, they command, “She is so annoying.” At this point she could’ve walked away. Story over. But she doesn’t give up and she replies, “Dogs get the leftovers of food when the master is finished.” At this point I imagine Jesus smiling and saying, “That’s it! You get it! Your daughter is healed because of your faith!”

On the one hand, these cruel words of Jesus were actually a valuable lesson for his followers. If we rewind the tape and look at the story carefully, we see Jesus acting out what the disciples were thinking. Jesus shows that the way we treat the vulnerable and how we look at people can actually push people away from God altogether. The religious followers of Jesus had a lot to learn (has anything changed?)

On the other hand, Jesus points out that the terrible way religious people act, even though it doesn’t excuse it, must never stop us from discovering Jesus’ message. Persistence is possible and necessary.

Maybe you have a personal experience or you know of someone that has been hurt. Please comment below.