A story I saw this evening on the 6 O’clock news discussed the concern many folks in B.C. have about the increasing use of cell phones, specifically by young drivers. I am completely on board with regulating (code for banning!) the use of cell phones while operating a vehicle. What frustrates me about the laws that are being discussed is that the focus of the regulation is only towards young drivers who do not yet have their full license. While I agree that the majority of people using cell phones, particularly the increasingly popular method of what the young folks call “texting,” are under the age of 25, I question the logic behind limiting this regulation to young drivers. To prove my point, let’s discuss drinking and driving, something we all agree (I hope!) inhibits our ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. What would happen if DUI was only illegal for young drivers because they are less experienced and therefore at an increased risk of an accident? How many people would support this ludicrous claim? I think the logic follows in the case of cell phone use, in that no matter the age, it hinders the ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Now, this may make the lives of some less convenient (thank goodness I don’t have a cell phone!), but I think any discussion on regulating the use of cell phone should include all drivers, including the adults making the rules (who conveniently find themselves exempt in their suggestion to limit regulation to young drivers)
I was thinking this week about the common Christianese question, “What church do you go to?” For some reason this question has always irked me. Part of it is because what would happen if I didn’t go to church? I guess an awkward pause would be in order, and hopefully the discussion would progress towards the next round of (im)personal get-to-know-you questions (sorry for the sarcastic negativity, but too often this is how conversation is experienced)
However, what’s been bugging me lately is related more to the nature of the question itself, particularly with the word “go.” Perhaps it’s a sad indicator of how for many people church has become another commodity to be consumed. Just like we go to the movies, or go to a sporting event, we simply go to church. So when the question inevitably arises, we don’t even consider what’s being said. The danger is that church ends up being narrowly defined as the slot in my schedule where I go to a worship service at a particular time and place.
Ok, so this is the problem, but what now? I am not sure what the most appropriate alternative quesition would be. Perhaps it should be directed towards the aspect of church that implies sharing our lives with one another in a particular community, oriented around a common faith and approach to life?!? Now, I realize how rephrasing this question results in it being not quite as (im)personal as “what church do you go to,” but the only real ‘problem’ I see is that folks may actually start reconsidering what it means for them to go to church.
And in my opinion, this just may be a good thing…
(If anyone actually has a suggestion for an alternative question regarding church participation, I’m all ears… Who knows, you may just start the next trend for Christian cocktail discussion!)
I continue to be inspired by the authentic vision for life and faith that Henri Nouwen inspires his reader towards. The following comment from him on the ills of individualism struck a chord with much of what I am currently wrestling with in my own journey:
It is tragic to see how the religious sentiment of the West has become so individualized that concepts such as “a contrite heart,” have come to refer only to personal experience of guilt and the willingness to do penance for it. The awareness of our impurity in thoughts, words and deeds can indeed put us in a remorseful mood and create in us the hope for a forgiving gesture. But if the catastrophical events of our days, the wars, mass murders, unbridled violence, crowded prisons, torture chambers, the hunger and illness of millions of people and the unnamable misery of a major part of the human race is safely kept outside the solitude of our hearts, our contrition remains no more that a pious emotion.
(Reaching Out – The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life, 1975. pg. 54)
My friend Mike whom I have mentioned before
(For those of you waiting for some more of my wonderings, thanks for your patience and hopefully some thoughts will come shortly...)