I am not doing a good job at finishing books at the moment. The problem maybe starts in picking books from the beginning that are just going to be hard going. So I’ve been wading through the first few chapters of a book called ‘The Organization Man‘ by William H. Whyte.
I am drawn to this book because I guess that I see something of ‘the organization’ in church and wonder if it says anything interesting. (I’m probably more drawn to it because it’s an old Penguin book that I bought in Galway last summer and I’m trying to read the books I’ve bought. I hate the thought that I spent 2 euro on nothing and that means that I’ll try reading books that are a bit boring.)
I struggle a lot to feel at home in the Presbyterian church (or maybe any church) as there is something that doesn’t seem to want to allow ‘me’ in. I don’t know how to describe things but I’ll try. It’s like you have to be homogenized to truly fit in or accept that you will have to suck it up to get along with things being the way they are or pretend that things are great even when they’re maybe not deep inside. This is something I wrestle with constantly as I can’t see how it will ever be resolved.
How do you remain yourself in an organization that you don’t feel particularly comfortable in?
Do you just have to accept it and keep trucking on?
To pick an example some people in church think you should get involved with worship because you play the guitar.
The minister might be completely determined that church worship will be more dynamic with two acoustic guitars compared to one because in his head two guitars equals more of a team, more fellowship in worship and better worship. The church is being a more dynamic organization.
This is the over riding principle in his head. More involvement and integration means better music.
He will not listen to the person who actually plays the acoustic guitar saying things like
‘I can’t hear my guitar’ or ‘You don’t need two acoustic guitars, it doesn’t actually help the sound of the music’ or even the plain ‘I don’t feel called to’ or any other legitimate reasons. It’s like all that hard earned knowledge about the guitar that you the individual has gained over the years become redundant in the church because bigger issues are at play. Taking part or being seen to be taking part is far more important than how things actually sound. You end up bringing your guitar along and playing even though you can’t hear your own guitar. You think it’s ridiculous that you can’t hear your own guitar but somewhere you are fighting that because somehow it will be for the good of church community by keeping the minister happy. If you can’t hear your guitar how is anyone else going to? It doesn’t seem to matter.
I’m sure I’ve blogged about that sort of thing many times before. But it’s a constant struggle. And it seems to be cranked up more at the moment as ministers seem to be going after people not being committed enough to church. It’s like someone has worked out that we have a very selfish culture and that the church should counter act that by not being selfish and doing things we don’t feel like doing.
Which of course we should and do have to do.
But I think the individual and his view of things falls through the cracks so often. The organization is constantly deemed more important than the individual. Elders are made to do things that they don’t want to do because the minister is convinced that it’s best for the church if they do the thing he wants done.
It’s also a struggle from a creative point of view.
Whyte talks about this in the book and how there is a struggle between coming up with ideas, thinking outside the box, going against the grain etc and administrators who want order, consensus and goals.
We’re famous in the Presbyterian church for having committees and sub committees, committees on committees. liking order and traditions.
On the other hand things like messy intuition, aimless thoughts or questions that wander of course aren’t appreciated or valued because committees focus on agreement and order. These things inhibit creativity and make it hard for people who have been made that way.
The way the PCI is set up it great in many ways but I don’t think it lends itself to being creative and that make it’s people like me wary of it. Will I have to strip away those bits of me to fit into this organization? But I don’t want to to that so what do we do?
I guess that I was thinking about this sort of stuff after seeing pictures of the Pope resigning this week.
Forgive me if this now swings into an ungraceful rant about the Vatican.
Something about the Pope and all the cardinals, bishops and the church governance makes me feel so uncomfortable and frustrated.
I don’t know why it freaks me out so much, or how to talk about it without sounding like a bigot. It makes me angry.
The problem I have with the position of Pope is that he is my brother yet he is a brother that I can’t challenge. He is a brother that has security guards and goes around in it strange clothes and robes that I am supposed to respect and show great reverence for as he is the head of the Roman Catholic church. I can’t say things about him as I might offend friends and their religion. Yet their religion is also my religion. So that is the tension. I can’t have communion in their church even though it’s not their church, I’m as important a member as anyone in the Vatican.
It makes me frustrated. I can’t relate to their way of church governance. Yet it’s also somehow related to me.
So I’m not sure what I’m talking about.
Don’t take this one as a reasoned and sensible post. It’s a rant about the Pope and I’m wrestling with stuff at the moment. But there is something about it all the pushes all my buttons.