Saturday, January 29, 2005

Should we move away from Christian Canada

Jayson Besserer had posted a link to a Christian Article. I had commented on his post citing Reginald Bibby. Here is my Final Exam Paper that discusses my views on "Should we move away from Christian Canada." ( I got a C on this paper, go figure!! Donald pissed me off !)

Do we need to move away from “Christian Canada?” If we look at the Time Magazine article by Susan Cato or the article by Reginald Bibby, the signs are all there. The movement “away” from Christian Canada has already begun. Quoting the Vision TV/Time poll that, “we are still a nation of believers, but believers who are more likely to follow our own script than to follow scripture.”[i] People are moving farther away from the “Christian” ways and gravitating closer to the universe of “is there anything else out there?” The Christian Canada or more to the point “Catholic Canada” has made too many enemies.

They have alienated entire populations of worshippers, and they have turned away people who seek a God of love who society deems “unworthy, unclean, and unwanted.” The Church in all its finality is an institution that is built upon rules and dogma, inclusions and exclusions, ritual do’s and don’ts ! We have studied and read and listened to the stories of so many people(s) in Canada who are frustrated with the Mother of all religions “Christianity.” People are seeking to experience Spirituality with no walls or borders. Instead of seeking God inside the walls of a church, people are seeing him where He can be found, “everywhere else.”

“With each elderly religious light that goes out in death, so dies the religious tradition” of that generation. Younger generations of religiously ordered families are not likely to take up the mantle of practice and pass it on to successive family.” So said Reginald Bibby in his article, “There’s got to be more.”[ii] Young people are not finding encouragement from the churches or in their eternally busy and working parents. Religion is NOT the mainstay of the family any more, unless, of course you belong to a very Orthodox tradition.

They (the youth) are seeking spirituality in many other places and in other beliefs.

Religion has become attraction rather than promotion idea.

Churches are failing in their roles to be proper ministers. There are too many rules to follow. There are too many judgements on today’s society. The punishments for transgressions against religion are too costly for the sinners. People are tired of the “reality” of a church that has not learned to grow with her people.

HOW can you live in a vacuum? How can the Christian Church propagate the faith, when they are too busy policing her children? The movement from West to East is making its way across Canada. There are as many traditions to follow, as there are people in Canada. It is arrogant for the church to think that “they” are the only way. The “my way or the highway” religious practice is loosing its hold on greater Canada. To quote Glenn Smith, a Protestant chaplain and lecturer and executive director of the Montreal based urban ministry Christian Direction said “There’s a massive rejection of institutional faith.”[iii]

Alternative sources of spirituality have found their way into the daily living of Canadians who are sick of institutional “Christianity.” I think God weeps at how bad things really are for the Christian church of today. So many people are trying to find their “place(s).” And the church has failed miserably in providing that “place” for them. The fact that this goes on before our very eyes, does nothing but harm its already tarnished reputation.

There are so many indigenous traditions that will be lost entirely in the coming years, and they are not being taught to the younger generations, nor are they being preserved in the areas of their existence. The “Christian” dominance in Canada will bring the hurried end to many religions as we know it. I believe that this arrogance of superiority has only driven a wedge further between the church and the people. The old are dying, and the young are disillusioned. Church is falling apart around us. Why is this necessary?

After our discussion the other day I mused about this question trying to find a real answer for this question. I do believe that socially we cannot move “away from Christian Canada” because it “IS” the thread that binds us together as a City, a Province and a Country. A Country of great HOPE and Possibility, yet in the shadows and beneath the surface we know, how bad the “church” has been to many of our indigenous peoples in Canada. Many of them are homeless and addicted to various drugs and alcohol. They wander the streets and inhabit the many parks in Montreal, unable to integrate into society, and unable to return to their homes and reservations.

People of our great city are leaving the churches and exploring outside for a power they can believe in, in a world that needs some “faith” direction. Everyone, I believe, is born with some belief. Either passed down generationally, or found on their own personal religious journey.

What is necessary? I believe faith is necessary, because we celebrate rites of passage through many religious ceremonies. Many people who have already left “Christian Canada” return to complete these rites of passage. So really, there are far reaching implications. Christian Canada is only being used when it is necessary and called for, but not tended to on a regular basis. You know what happens to a garden that is left untended? It both grows out of control and strangles itself or it just dies and withers away. Add to that the emerging “other” faith traditions making their way into Christian Canada. The faiths of immigrating people from other countries threatens to change the face of Christian Canada, those of Islam, Hinduism and of Chinese and Japanese decent have made a huge impact on religious statistics these past 20 years. Buddhism and Daoism have found its place in Canada as well. There is no East and West separation anymore.
On any given Sunday, you will find many people gathered in local parks celebrating life in all its splendour without walls, ritual or tradition. The seeking of God or a power greater than ourselves has moved from the hallowed spaces of the local church with a spiritual experience, to an interior search for that power outside of her walls. Many of us, not unlike myself are not accepted nor welcome inside the hallowed walls of churches, because we are different. The immoral and sick have no place in God’s kingdom. That’s what the Christians tell us. That is why an entire segment of population will never make use of “Christian Canada.”

We must search out those places that will accept and respect us. The world is changing, in BIG sweeping ways. The Church remains as set in stone as the stones they are built with, never to be moved, swayed or changed, lest they crumble under the stress. Those who do not find peace, acceptance or love inside the church are destined to wander the streets, parks and malls of life, until they either die, or build a church from their own sweat and blood, a “church” where everyone is welcome, accepted and cared for both emotionally and spiritually. That is why it IS necessary to move away from Christian Canada.

God can be found outside the church. Jesus preached in the streets and fields everywhere he went. So come seek him with us. The new “Christian Canada” is being built before our very eyes.



[i] In Search of the Spiritual, from Time Magazine, Nov 24,2003,pp.73-80, Susan Cato, Course Pack article

[ii]There’s got to be more! Connecting Churches & Canadians, Winfield, B.C. Wood Lake Books,Inc.,1995, pp15-40, course pack.

[iii] In Search of the Spiritual, from Time Magazine. Nov 24,2003,pp.73-80, Susan Cato, Course Pack article

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