Reflecting on spirituality

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To the Editor:

After reading the letter to the editor about Island clergy enabling their right to assemble, I just want to congratulate them on making a public presence for so prevalent an issue. I think it’s a wonderful thing to see the spiritual community coming together.

Although I believe it a good thing to present our faith publicly, I would question, being a Christian myself, whether or not this would be the proper avenue for us to present our faith. It is no secret that the mainstream denominations are on the downslide in church membership, and there are many speculations as to why. Oddly enough, the least of these is a lack of spirituality. Actually, from all accounts spirituality is growing rapidly, especially in younger generations. However, the problem of church attendance, or more accurately the youth attending church, is falling. Why would this be?

I know firsthand from talking to many Island congregators that there is either a minute or nonexistent youth presence in their church. So if spirituality is growing but attendance is depleting, what is the reason? May I humbly suggest that it is not due to the church being immovable in doctrinal stances, as many have made “adjustments” to fit popular mores. I don’t believe it’s related to traditional services or archaic hymns. One may make a case for the loss of truth as a whole or objective truth claims in particular, but that’s never stopped the church growing before under harsher conditions.

May I be so bold and speak a word to the community of believers that I’m counted among, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and say maybe it’s because we made ourselves so like the rest of the world that we have lost everything that the church had to offer by its uniqueness. In the face of persecution by the governing body, by opposing cultural norms, when its members faced death at every turn (and many places still do), the church has been not an escape from the world, but a way to endure it with the power of Christ within us and overcome it by the purest form of love.

The Christian faith has been and continues to be not just one movement in time, but the only social movement that has so changed the world, and continues to change those who come to know Jesus. If we could only focus on that, and not allow the conviction to become just another vocation, therein lies the real transformation. Due to the state of human nature as we know it by the cross, then we already know no amount of legislation or marching or protests for this or that movement, no matter how good or touching, will make the difference everyone so desperately wants and needs.

We need only remember what we are called to do, to point all we can to our Heavenly Father above, not our earthly “uncle” below. This is not a sentiment that will be shared by people outside the faith, I’m sure, but it should be within it, as the Lord guides us.

 

Myles Goodwin

West Tisbury

 

 

 

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  1. It is precisely that the so-called “mainstream churches” have, in your words, “made themselves like the rest of the world” that explains why the youth (and many others) have abandoned the churches which do not satisfy their spiritual needs. Be like the “world” – and see the result. (1 John 5:19)

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