Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Church and the black man

Are Churches houses of worship, or fashion shows? Are attendants congregants or gang members? Why is there so much infighting in churches, especially within black churches?

This great opinion piece in the Washington Post - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/15/AR2005071502194.html - has me thinking about spirituality and organized religion.

The author makes the point that the black church - and most churches in general - has somewhat ignored the needs of their communities, specificially the needs of black men. I thought it was interesting how the writer talked about his wife and kids going to church, but he stays home.

It was kind of a sad piece, since the guy is obviously very spiritual. He doesn't feel like he connects with organized religion anymore.

It's something I can somewhat relate to. I"m spiritual. I believe in God. I guess that makes me religious. But I haven't been to church in a minute, mainly because of all the things he mentioned: the infighting, the attitudes, the drama.

I remember being a kid, and going to church, and when we came home all my mamma and her friends talked about were how sistah so and so had on this ugly outfit, and brother this and that is messing around with one of the choir members, etc.

I remember all kinds of Church-related arguments breaking out, many of them turining nasty. I remember at one point some people stopped going to church because they felt that some good friends of theirs said the wrong thing.

It seems like every church has certain types:

1. The troublemaking deacon. This is that ONE deacon that's always into some stuff, that's always starting something and spreading rumors. This is the guy that's always up in everybody business, but don't want anybody in HIS business. That rumor about the pastor and the choir member? It was started by the Troublemaking Deacon.

2. The clueless preacher's wife. She smiles and grins and goes through the motions, not aware that her husband is doing 'ain't no telling with who knows who.

3. The Ambigiously Gay Choir Leader. He speaks in a high-pitched voice. He can sew a choir robe together in 5 minutes. He's always impeccably dressed, and can sing like Whitney and Aretha. He's gay. And everyone knows it. But no one says anything about it, which is one of the Great Ironies of the Black Church: can't stand gay folks, but got them in major leadership positions.

4. The Holy Ghost Woman. You know. She "gets happy" during EVERY song EVERY single Sunday. Hops around so fast her hat falls off. The urshers always have to "take her in the back" for a few minutes.

5. Ain't See Him Since Last Easter Man. I know several people like this. I have a cousin who, miraciously, only shows up on Easter Sunday, claiming that he's ready to join the church.

Anyway, read the Washington Post piece. It's good. He also talks about how Churches have failed to meet the needs of their communities.

8 comments:

A.Run said...

Smiles.

Drew.

Think about it. No church is perfect. No church can be perfect because there are imperfect people running it. So why then is the church put thru a test in order for us to attend? Why does the church have to be what you have in your mind a church should be before you go? Isn't going to church supposed to be between you and God? The real reason is: You just don't want to go.

I know what that feels like. There was a time in my life where didn't want to go either and I blamed it on the people at the church. I blamed it on me not having anything to wear. I blamed it on the church service being too long. But really, I just didn't want to go.

Why don't we put our jobs to the same test? Why don't we say, "Those people at the job are crazy and phony. I'm not going to work!" The obvious reason is because your job gives you a check. But what you don't realize is, God does too. But you choose to pass up His check for you.

Even Jesus' own disciples were flaky. John was a cry baby. Peter was bull-headed. And the rest of those fellas were scared all the time. So, what if Jesus would have decided to wait til he found some perfect people to provide us with Salvation?

We'd be hit.

Drew said...

A run,

I agree. I merely wanted to point out the percieved hypocracy of people who think they're doing God's work.

I myself, have what I've called a close personal relationship with God. It's a relationship between he and I, and we deal with our issues as they come. I don't really feel that the lack of me going to church every sunday weakens that relationship.

I don't think anyone is looking for "perfect people" to run churches or houses of worship. I just wanted to point out the irony of the whole situation.

And, why is it that these people who, we all agree aren't perfect, are quick to judge others in a minute?

And, you don't know me very well, but Jemele can attest to this: I DO put my co-workers through the same litmus test. I'm constantly talking about how crazy and insincere fools at work are. Have I quit? No. But I don't think I've "quit" my relationship with God, either.

You're right: it's totally between me and God. And that relationship can thrive anywhere.

A.Run said...

Drew,

My comments were general. AsI reread them...I gues they did come off directly to you. But that wasn't my intention.

But lemme say this:
You're right. Judging people is wrong. But behavior can be judged. Heck, that's what a judge and jury do all the time.

You're right. It is hypocricy. But that why we pray for people. None of us got it all together. But God still trusts us with His work.

You said that your relationship with God can thrive anywhere. That's true. But are we really helping the relationship thrive if God told us in Hebrews 10:25, "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching"?

Again Drew, I'm not judging you. I was just making a counterpoint.

J said...

one thing we have to understand is that picking a church is like choosing a mate. it's to be taken pretty seriously and with care.

the reason church is important is it provides fellowship with other people who, like you, believe in God and take a personal relationship with God seriously.

think about all the negative crap we are hit with on a daily (hourly) basis. sometimes, you need church just to replenish, cuz folks have been jumping up and down yo nerves all week!

that being said, you do have to pick a church carefully. and even the one you do pick will have its share of drama. but you are supposed to be able to grow there. you should feel comfortable. it should be like your family. yeah, they can get on your LAST NERVE -- whatever that means -- but at the end of the day, you love them dearly.

a lot of us grew up in churches our parents picked. that's cool, IF you continue to grow. eventually, i had to venture out on my own and find a fit that was right for me. as you grow and mature, you have different needs. and sometimes, sticking with the church you grew up in is hard because they forever patting you on the head and thinking that you are still 5. and if you are going through some personal drama, it can be hard to share that with people you grew up with.

a lot of people have drew's concerns about church. but i always tell them to never let man interfere with your relationship with God. if you don't like the church and feel yourself stunted spiritually there, go find another one.

i certainly don't have anything figured out myself, but i will say that i have come to understand that a relationship with God is a two-way street. it's a full relationship, like the type you're supposed to have with friends, family and a lover. it's give and take. as humans, we got the taking part down pact. but you have to give, too -- and sacrifice. you have to give time to God to grow. period. that's the part we all struggle with. i do.

i told someone recently i feel so spiritually triflin' sometimes. i think about being able to sleep all day sunday, watch some TiVo, etc., and that makes getting up to go to church seem like a distant concern. all we can do is pray for the hunger to maintain a healthy, earnest relationship with God.

J said...

and as a side note, when i was younger, i used to get my CLOWN ON about "holy ghost woman...." i would be thinking, what's all that for? i have been hit with the spirit a few times, but i ain't NEVAH wanted to runnin' man down the aisle!

you also forgot these types of church folks....

The Controlling URSHER: the one who is a cafeteria worker in her real life, so she come to church thinkin' she is colin powell -- ordering people around -- and taking her job a bit too seriously. standing there giving people impatient little hand signals.

The Preacher's Kid: yeah, they all sanctified in public, but behind close doors, they are damian's twin.

The Chick Who Wants To Treat Church-Going Like Elimidate: she is there to get a man, period. she got fo' kids by three different daddies and is trying to find her next child support check. she is usually the first person to catch the spirit.

*Madosi said...

You know, growing up in the AME church I never really experienced "Holy Ghost Woman." I got everybody else but her.

As I got older and experienced other churches I began to see these women. So much that it scarred me. I saw how people would talk about her/him and when I began to have my own experiences with the "Ghost" I would try and hold them in for fear that people would talk about me like they did her.

The Black Church is what it is ... and yes people judge. I took a good few years off from church because I felt God wanted me to be elsewhere and since I have left that church my mom and cousin and other friends have as well.

Someone, I think Jemele, said that you want to be in a place where you want to be comfortable and able to fellowship with liked minded individuals where you do not have to deal with the nonsense on an everyday basis. I feel you on that totally.

What I have also been taught is that if you want to be accepted for who you are, what you are and what you do, then you have to do the same for others. AND ALSO, that God is in EVERYONE and so you must be loving and fair to EVERYONE because you never know what God had planned for them in your life.

Do I live by this everyday? Not quit, but I try!

Drew said...

Jemele makes a good point. It's about looking around and finding the right "church home" (as my mamma and daddy calls it).

I don't think it's stopped me from having a personal relationship with GOd per se, but it would be nice to be with like-minded people w/out all the "Young and The Restless" drama going on.

Big J said...

Good list. You may want to add the "Didn't I see you at the club last night" usher/pew member/bass player.