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So Long As They Keep Marrying...

As you know, I’m talking about our recent trip to Salado, Texas, a little town a few miles north of here. You’ll recall that last time, I had just talked about visiting Fletcher’s Books and Antiques, and, then, St. Joseph’s Episcopal Church, which I said seemed to be rather a cool place doing genuinely good deeds.


I’m going to move on to the rest of the town in a little bit, but I got to reflecting on St. Joseph’s and, well, I thought I’d just take a moment to share a few of my deep thoughts (insert chortling sound here) on the future of Christianity in America today. Yes, those of you writing Ph.D. theses in theology and sociology will wish to begin taking notes now. I’m sure they will be invaluable in time. A whole lot of time. As in decades...centuries...maybe when all you know what freezes over.


Anyway...


On the off chance you’ve missed it, there is a sort of general consensus out there that American Christianity is in deep trouble. Specifically, liberal and many mainstream churches are declining in membership, and more and more of the people who might have before formed the backbone of middle of the road, moderate Christians are leaving congregations entirely and becoming various sorts of agnostics and humanists, or they’re just simply becoming unchurched and non-religious.



Digital Art Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker


The churches which *are* growing, conversely, are those that were before on the fringes of things. That is, they are fundamentalist in belief, aligned with far-right or even overtly fascist political movements and ideologies, and seriously at odds with science, rationality, and the modern world in general.


(This is, by the way, very different from what people thought was happening back the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, it seemed that the future of the church was to go beyond the constraints of traditional religion -- see, for example, books like J. B. Phillip’s _Your God Is Too Small_. Such optimism seems so out of place nowadays.)


So, if you project those trends into the future, you’ve got an America divided between those who don’t believe at all, and those who believe far too well...between disorganized doubt and fanatical totalitarianism.


It isn’t a pretty picture of things to come.


Yet, sometimes I wonder if there isn’t room for optimism. I have noticed that, here and there, now and then, there are quiet spaces where compassion and compromise can be found -- in liberal to moderate churches, often small, but with surprisingly active congregations, like the Church of the Good Shepherd, which I attended in Albuquerque, and (at least from what I’ve seen of it) St. Joseph’s in Salado...in organizations, like the Reverend Barber’s Poor People’s Campaign, and, on a smaller scale but also important (and a group I’ve actually had some experience with), the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry of New Mexico (https://www.lutheranadvocacynm.org/) ...and even in some tiny house churches I’ve encountered (“Wherever two or three of you are gathered in His name...”)...


Which makes me hope that there is still a future for a progressive Church, one which, at least in my opinion, follows the genuine directives of the real Jesus of Nazareth...


And not, decidedly not, the commands of some narcissist who has long ago confused himself with divinity, and his own greed...


With the will of God.


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Oh, and one last thing Here’s the funniest (only?) joke I’ve heard about Episcopalians...which, of course, I heard from an Episcopalian. He was a man I’d met in one of the Southwestern border states. I asked him if the Episcopalian church was growing.


His answer...


“So long as Baptists keep marrying Mexicans, there will be Episcopalians.”


I thought it was hysterical.


Also...probably true.


More to come


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PS - Merry Christmas!


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Copyright©2022 Michael Jay Tucker


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If you like what I write or the videos I produce, and feel you could make a small contribution to support my efforts, please go here:


https://michaeljaytucker.gumroad.com/l/lzumj


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Either way, thanks hugely for dropping by the blog :-)


~mjt



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