Saturday, February 21, 2009

Something about community

It strikes me that one of the unfortunate aspects of the way we do church in the U.S. is that we group ourselves along class lines. We also typically segregate ourselves according to aesthetic taste. There was something to be said for parishes with geographical boundaries and for the principle of simply worshiping in one's parish church wherever one happened to live:

When I first became a Christian, about fourteen years ago, I thought that I could do it on my own, by retiring to my rooms and reading theology, and wouldn't go to the churches and Gospel Halls; I disliked very much their hymns which I considered to be fifth-rate poems set to sixth-rate music. But as I went on I saw the merit of it. I came up against different people of quite different outlooks and different education, and then gradually my conceit just began peeling off. I realized that the hymns (which were just sixth-rate music) were, nevertheless, being sung with devotion and benefit by an old saint in elastic-side boots in the opposite pew, and then you realize that you aren't fit to clean those boots. It gets you out of your solitary conceit.

-- C.S. Lewis (from Surprised by Joy)


  1. whoa - that's a humbling quote! and i don't think i've ever seen that painting before?

  2. I find myself alternately disagreeing with Lewis and then saying, "hear, hear." This is one of the latter moments. I believe there is a passage in a Rule for a New Brother that reminds one that chant sung off-key is still the praise of God.

    Without my work environment I doubt I should meet many who differ that much from myself. Community not altogether of our choosing is truly one of God's graces. Thanks for this post.


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