Thursday Thirteen No. 15: What Have the Faithful Done?

Church life has taught me much and taught me well over the past few years. It has taught me to live in hope, to believe in the very best in others, and more than anything, to trust in my natural-born skepticism. I was once the member of a church the pastor of which saw the end of his 40-year career when his former lover of seven years and another woman brought their relationships to light.

It seemed to me at the time and now that this nightmare presented an opportunity. Though the pastor had done wrong, he had also done a lot of good over the years. This was the heart of the matter for me: he was no different from anyone else--imperfect yet capable of great things. The circumstances put each one of us in that church face-to-face with our own humanity. The point was not to find fault--an activity at which Christians are famously adept--but to find hope by searching our own flawed selves for that something better that could transform a crude and lewd nightmare into a transformative moment of grace. The whole experience was the source of many lessons.

Today, I believe that institutional churches of every hue and variety can be agents of God's grace--but only if we first accept that they are very human, very flawed attempts at reaching toward a divine mystery so much greater than ourselves. Teachers come in every shape and size. Sometimes they come in hellish nightmares. So be it. The gift of these lessons is no less a blessing.

Looking back at 2007, we can see there are many moments in which churches have demonstrated a desire to make right their own mistakes and to be part of an ongoing conversation about the nature of life itself. All are opportunities to learn. Consider these acts of faith--some beautiful, some hellish--as presented by Religion and Ethics:

1. A total of 138 Muslim scholars, leaders, and jurists send a letter to the Pope in an attempt to open dialog.

2. The same Muslim leaders attempt to open dialog with leading mainstream Protestants.

3. The Vatican struggles to decide whether it should broach dialog with Muslims on a theological or a political level. (more)


  1. Great post. It is so important for us to remember that clergy are human too. That is why God tells us not to put our trust in man. Everyone falls sometimes. Even very good people. No one is perfect.
    Thank you for this post!

  2. Anonymous8:58 PM

    Interesting list - fascinating, topical, informative, and still reflective of you.

    Best wishes for a peaceful and prosperous 2008.

  3. Wow, great stuff!! Happy TT and thanks for stopping by:)

  4. over and over again, although this was impossible from the very beginning: faith should be faith, not politics. and we as mere believers should just believe and do our best to be the best persons we can. and nothing more.

  5. YEah I teach sunday school, in the Catholic Church.

    Nice 13! Come on over and check out my delicious 13! If you are on a diet, I'm sorry, I am on the weight watchers diet, but I couldn't resist this post!


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