Friday, September 25, 2015
Friday (St Sergius)
My day was given over to the Annual Assembly of the Illinois Conference of Churches, which is always held either in Bloomington or Champaign; this year was Bloomington's turn. I have a principled and heartfelt commitment to ecumenism. (How can a thoughtful Christian not have such a commitment?) But I have to say that these ICC events are very difficult for me. They are dominated by (formerly) mainstream liberal Protestant leaders, with a smattering of Roman Catholic hangers-on. The worship is lowest-common-denominator of the sort that, from my perspective, seems to characterize the dominant groups. (How much more interesting it would be if we could simply worship according to the tradition of whatever the host church is.) Sometimes the program is interesting, but not this year. It centered on the Parliament of World Religions, and interfaith work in general. It would be virtually impossible to understate the level of my interest in such things. My lack of interest begins with wondering whether there even is such a genre as "religion," continues with the reality that the "religious" groups most likely to cause trouble in the world are not present at the parliamentary table, and ends in a suspicion of the "we all worship the same God" narrative. Then we had a business meeting, which was ... well, a business meeting for an organization that is under-subscribed, systemically depressed, and under-funded. I was the first one out the door at 3pm. And yet, I will still send in a dues check, and devote another day of my life to the effort yet several times again. "That they may all be one" ... and all that.