Prayer

SCP ARCHIVES – SHOW #24

Seriously thinking about prayer was the tipping point in my religious de-conversion.

I posted about it early and often when I started the Stupid Church People blog. I shared a quote from Karen Armstrong where she writes in “The History of God”:

I wrestled with myself in prayer, trying to force my mind to encounter God, but he remained a stern taskmaster who observed my every infringement of the Rule, or tantalizingly absent. The more I read about the raptures of the saints, the more of a failure I felt. I was unhappily aware that what little religious experience I had, had somehow been manufactured by myself as I worked upon my own feelings and imagination. Sometimes a sense of devotion was an aesthetic response to the beauty of the Gregorian chant and the liturgy. But nothing had actually happened to me from a source beyond myself.

I remember that unhappy feeling when I became truly awake to manufacturing the religious experiences in my life. Then it dawned on me how I had manufactured those experiences for others as a pastor for years.

Religion by and large is a manipulation of emotion, especially in a community or corporate setting. Prayer is used as a primary source of that manipulation.

The podcast we did early on prayer is important because I talk about these feelings openly. The “See You at the Pole” podcast also deals heavily with this subject.

Talking about prayer is a touchy subject because it is so personal to each person who regularly practices it. It’s touchy because pastors rely on it to carry on in front of their congregations as if they have a direct line to God. No one wants to be honest about prayer for fear people will realize the reality of it.

We are just talking to ourselves.

Listen the “Prayer” podcast – recorded October 4, 2005

Emergent Hoo-Haa

SCP ARCHIVES – SHOW #11

First released on June 21, 2005.

This podcast contains the first ever mention of Tony Jones. Those of you in the church world probably know Tony by now, but if you don’t know who he is I suggest you google him for a frame of reference. Anyway, at this time, Josh and I had very little knowledge of the Emergent Church movement. They were just getting onto our radar, and the leaders of the group were (and are) very active on social media. We quickly found ourselves in their cross-hairs as they were seeking to engage those in a “conversation” about what emergent was and wasn’t.

To us, Emergent was no different than any other church movement in history. It was a new flavor of the church, but in the end it was heading quickly in the same direction as all the rest. And what was that direction? Irrelevance.

I share several quotes from the book “Wineskins”, but none better than this: The Church “continues to brew new wine instead of scrapping the old wine skins”.

Josh and I were so fed up with the church, we didn’t want change or a revolution – but a cataclysm. Sell all the church buildings. No paid pastoral staff and all pastors get “real” jobs. Churches should rid themselves of the “seeker” mentality and stop trying to market to the lowest common denominator. Churches would focus on the poor and spurn building kingdoms to themselves.

Churches and pastors don’t have the balls to be truly biblical. In this way most pastors are no different than I am. They don’t really believe the Bible or they’d lead their churches in the path I describe above. But it’s still a game, a job, a show and a money-grab.

I know these may be hard words for most pastors of small churches to hear. Those that don’t make a lot of money and struggle to get by and do real good work in very difficult places. But even you guys can do better. Actually it’s the small churches that have the best chance to initiate change.

So this podcast was probably one of our finest, because we get to the heart of the matter of what was bugging us about the church. We start to “dialogue” with Tony Jones. It’s starting to get good people. And I’m getting fired up again… so stay tuned.