A postmodern journey of faith...


"I won't give another dime to the Archdiocese!"

In yet another adventure in missing the point, 74-year-old Bob Frasca declared in the national media, "I feel like we've been betrayed. I will not give another dime to the archdiocese," upon hearing of the closing of St. Susanna Parish in Dedham, MA after attending faithfully during the 42 years the church has been open.

The Archdiocese of Boston has announced that it will close 65 of its 357 churches by the end of the year. According to USAToday.com, this is "a massive restructuring brought on partly by the clergy sex abuse scandal that aggravated already shrinking Mass attendance and weekly collections."

I think it's a sad commentary on the church in general. Not just the closings...actually, not the closings at all. That's just a tragedy. But the reasons for the closings--shrinking mass attendance and the whole sex abuse thing. I'm not going to condemn the Roman Catholic church. Frankly, it's not just them. In reality, my views fall a whole lot more in line with the Roman Catholics than they do with many other mainstream "Christian" churches. Two things strike me here...

First, mass attendance is not just dropping because of the clergy abuse scandals. Yes, that's part of it. But ask any one of those priests and they'll tell you that it's not the whole reason. I'd submit that it's more a question of relevance; of form versus function. More and more people are asking the question, "Why do I go to church?" And if the only answer they're getting is, "Because someone says I'll go to hell if I don't," then their replies are becoming more and more, "Who are they to judge me?!?" And so, until these people can find a reason to go to church, it has no place in their busy lives. Heck, I wouldn't go to church if it didn't play an important part in my life. I guess that's the problem with the church being an organization rather than an organism. Organizations provide services. Organisms fulfill a function.

Second, I think Mr. Frasca's attitude here is part of the problem. Not him...just his attitude. Why do you give? Because you're told to? Because you're guilty? Because the church is providing a service for you and this is your price for admission (Soul-Cleansing and Deliverance from Hell on YOUR TERMS or your money back)? For cheap entertainment and kitschy outfits on a weekly basis? I don't know that NOT giving to the archdiocese is going to help the problem. It's not like voting for a political candidate...or at least it shouldn't be. Or do we give to the church because it's giving to God's work? Is the church feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking care of strangers, widows, and orphans, providing avenues for the Gospel to traverse the highways and byways of the globe? If it's doing that, give. And give generously. If not, well...find someplace that is "doin' the stuff."

But then, if the church you're in isn't doing Jesus' work, why are you there?

Maybe that's the real problem-at-large, not just in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.


Pondering Evolution @ Falls Park

Today we went to Sioux Falls for the day. We spent way too much money with the kids at Chuck E. Cheese's and had a blast playing games. (I suck at skeeball.) Then we had lunch and headed to Falls Park. It is absolutely a beautiful sight...so much glory and majesty. We worked our way up to the top of the falls, and at the top I made some observations which got me thinking.

It's a well-understood fact that water causes erosion. But it's the time frame that bothers me. There is a bit of a disagreement between "creation" scientists and secular scientists concerning the times in which these things take place. Science says millions of years. Creationists say thousands. So, who is right?

I'm going to postulate something here that won't be too popular. Really, I'm just asking a question rather than drawing a conclusion. Christians seem really good at trying to force life to fit within the framework of their theology. Sometimes I wonder if that's not what's happening here. Could it be that the reason Creation scientists maintain that the earth is only thousands of years old is because that's the only way it fits into their "young earth" theology? To me, science would seem to better support the "age-day" theory or [gasp!] "theistic evolution." I'm a firm believer that science and scripture should not collide violently, but rather that there should be a marraige between the two.

On the other hand, there's a whole lot of evidence to show that the "old earth" people don't know what their talking about either, and any Creationist will be happy to show it to you:

  • the inaccuracy of Carbon-14 dating

  • inconsistencies in "layers" of soil (skeletal fossils spanning multiple "ages" of layers--yeah, that fish stood upright for 2 million years)

  • the speed at which erosion can occur under the right conditions

  • the fallacy of "neanderthal" man

  • etc., etc., etc.

My conclusion here: I don't have one. I think it's another of those things that's "up for grabs." The Bible says that God created the earth in 7 days. Whether that means 7 literal days or 7 figurative days remains to be seen. When my feeble faith gets me to meet God face-to-face, maybe I'll ask Him.

But then again, maybe it won't matter to me then.


Home Again...

Well, here we are. 1500 miles, a crashed Palm Pilot, a dog, and a depressed mother later. We're back in South Dakota. A little the worse for wear, yes, but we're home. I had a few great blog entries written, but lost them when my Palm decided to say goodnight on the first day we were in Montana. I suppose it was the Lord's way of ensuring that I took some much-needed time off and stayed focused on what I needed to be.

I had the opportunity and unique privilege of conducting my step-father's memorial service (there was no funeral, as he was cremated). Things went well, and my hope and aim is that I was able impact someone's life in the words I shared. That's the foolishness of preaching...the best we can do is throw the words out there and hope they stick where we put them for long enough to do some good.

At any rate, I really need to get focused on the talk for this week instead of blogging. When I get some time, I'll try to post some reflections on this last week, which was considerably better than the last trip back "home." How ironic...
Posted on Saturday, May 15, 2004 at 01:52PM


I'm still here...more coming.

Allen Soderfelt, 1948-2004, R.I.P.

Well, this day went down the crapper right quickly. It was really turning out to be a good day. I got my keyboard. I finally fixed the lawn mower and mowed the lawn. I INSTALLED A NEW STARTER ON MY VAN...how cool is that?

And then, Mom called. Al, my stepdad, died. Heart attack. Happened while he was out cutting trees. Right about the time my wife and I were rejoicing over the fact that I'd been able to repair our van.

This sucks. Pardon my french. I don't think Al knew Jesus in any real tangible way. And I'd had opportunities to witness to him...and I used a few of them. But mostly, it was wasted. I hate to say that his was a wasted life, but I think it was certainly a life not lived to its potential. I feel like crying. Al died alone. No one held his hand. No amazing grace. No fond fairwell. He just died. And the only people who will notice will be his tree-cutting customers. And Mom. And me.

I guess I have yet another thing to add to my file of "things not to think about for the sake of my continuing sanity." The file is getting way too full these days.

We'll likely leave for the funeral tomorrow. No one around here really seems to mind his passing except me. And me? I'm left asking, "Why?" It a question I ask way too much these days. Something has got to change. I think I've just about reached my limit. Again.

New Toy!

YAY!!! I finally received my functional Belkin PDA keyboard. I suppose you've probably missed this ongoing saga...mainly since I haven't shared about it yet here. But I got a heck of a deal on a Belkin G700 PDA keyboard for my Zire71 on eBay. It was like $31 with shipping. I had to make an emergency trip to Montana to see my Grandparents right when it was to arrive, so I had it express mailed to me there so I could continue to do work. Imagine my disappointment when I got it and it woudn't work. Major bummer. Anyway, the end of this long, BORING saga is that Cali-Wholesalers, the dealer I bought it from was more than willing to issue a replacement. So, now I have it...and it works like a charm. I'm blogging on it now. :-)
Posted on Monday, May 10, 2004 at 10:41AM


It's the NOISE, I tell you!

NOISE, NOISE, NOISE! It's the noise that's the problem!

Today my kids drove me nuts. They wouldn't be quiet...not for a minute. And then tonight Sacred Space began talking about freedom...from the noise which separates us from God...which got me thinking (always a dangerous thing).

I have allowed what they do to distract me from who they are, and Who God is in them. And that's just a shame...a stinking shame. For me, the solution probably would have been as simple as stopping for a minute and realizing what I was doing. Sadly, the noise distracted me from doing that, too.

So, this begs the question: How much of God do I miss every day because I get focused on the NOISE instead of HIM?


Submission is the Key to Freedom

Submission is the key. I've spent so much time talking about this semi-metaphysical stuff...the idea that life is far more than we see. But there has always seemed to be a piece missing. This is it: our way of "hacking into the Matrix" is by allowing God to mold us into who He would have us to be. In this way, then, He can trust us with the control we are given in the spiritual realm. Without this critical requirement, we would become dangerous beyond comprehension.

But then, this begs the next big question: how does one get to the point where he is molded "enough" to tap into this power? Enquiring minds want to know...