Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Meet God Here

some wag has wisely said that a cynic is a disappointed idealist. if this is true then i'm a cynic. this is born out in my life in any number of ways, not the least of which is how i read church signs.

now, don’t get me wrong i love church signs, but i tend to read them almost exclusively from the rather cynical perspective of a pagan. that is, i always ask the question, "if i were one totally unfamiliar or even antagonistic to christianity, what would this sign cognitively mean to me?"

i know, i know, but i already told you i am a cynic. sometimes the result is lamentable and sometimes it is hysterical, but i came across a sign today that brought my revery to pause. it read: "Meet God Here."

my first thought was, really? is there truth in advertising here?

i am sorely tempted to attend just to see what's what, but i suspect that this is a sign of an offered hope instead of a settled reality. that is, they want to meet God in their church, and they hope God shows up and inhabits the praises of his people there, then the cynic asks, but does he?

no offense to the more charismatic inclined, but do all the sign-gift demonstrations merely show off a desire -- allbeit a fervent one -- to meet God and not an actually religious experience of the trinity. said another way neither bluster and ballyhoo or silence and sedation can assure a congregation has met with God.

what would a meeting with God look like then? a question which brings to mind annie dillard's famous quote:

"On the whole, I do not find Christians, outside of the catacombs, sufficiently sensible of conditions. Does anyone have the foggiest idea what sort of power we so blithely invoke? Or as I suspect, does no one believe a word of it? .... It is madness to wear ladies’ straw hats and velvet hats to church; we should all be wearing crash helmets. Ushers should issue life preservers and signal flares; they should lash us to our pews. For the sleeping god may wake someday and take offense, or the waking god may draw us out to where we can never return."