Sunday Morning, Outside the Church Building

Christian,

You may likely find yourself in a church this Sunday. That’s potentially a fine, noble, and beautiful thing. There’s nothing at all wrong with gathering in a building with people on the same journey you’re on and seeking community and inspiration and guidance there. These are in fact, wonderful aspirations. And yet for all that might go on in that building, for all you may feel and hear and experience there—I want you to know that the building is not the point.

What happens in that building is not what matters. You can spend your morning in that building; you can raise your hands skyward and be moved to tears, you can hear words that challenge and encourage and convict you, you can sing until you shake the rafters and  goosebumps line your forearms. Week after week you can enter that building and feel passionate and spiritual and committed—and week after week you can leave that building largely the way you came in, changing nothing about the world outside that building. And this, my friend, would be a sin.

That building can be incredibly seductive; promising you comfort and safety and belonging. It can make you hunger only for that building and it can lull you into believing that faith is what happens in there. You can forget what exists outside.

And so while you are inside that building on Sunday doing whatever you’re doing and feeling whatever you’re feeling, please try to remember:

Outside that building people are hungry.
Outside that building people are hurting.
Outside that building they are exhausted.
Outside that building they are terrified.
Outside that building they are alone.
Outside that building people are feeling invisible.

Outside that building people are hanging by a thread.
Outside that building they are wondering how they’re going to make it another day.
Outside that building people are falling apart.
Outside that building all hell is breaking loose.


And so consequently, outside that building—most of them honestly don’t give a damn what you’re doing inside that building.

The people outside are looking for compassion and peace and hope; they’re waiting for someone to see them and let them know that their lives matter. They’re outside that building and they need you to take something from that building, meet them where they are and show them what love looks like. That is the point of the building; putting flesh to faith. Making spiritual things tangible things.

You see friend, if what happens in that building doesn’t renovate what happens outside that building, you’ve failed. If your church were to close down today and the neighborhood around you wouldn’t profoundly feel the loss, you need to change how you do what you do in that building. If the only people who would grieve your absence are the people already in that building, you’re not doing what you’re called to do. You are hoarding blessings from people who need and deserve to be blessed.

Worship is not really what happens in that building. That is just songs and words and stories and prayers. It is religious activity, well-meaning and helpful as it may be. Worship, is a life lived changed by faith in God and burdened to reflect the character of that God to others. If the songs and the words and the stories and the prayers today don’t move you out of the building and into the paths of hurting people in a way that alters those paths—it’s all been wasted time.

That building isn’t the goal. It isn’t the thing. That building isn’t supposed to be a landing pad, it’s supposed to be a launching pad. It is supposed to be what propels you to go and be the radical, counterintuitive love you are called to be on the planet.

I know you may need and celebrate and treasure what you receive in that building, and that’s fine. That’s a good thing. Don’t feel at all guilty for that—but don’t stop there either. Whatever forgiveness or mercy or compassion or grace or love you receive in the building, needs to be passed to the world outside or it is all an exercise in selfishness. It is just sanctified consumption—a little religious retail therapy. It is carefully disguised narcissism. But there is so much more for you there in that building. There is a precious opportunity that I hope you’ll strain to embrace.

While you’re inside the church today, pray for a heart prepared to pour itself out to the waiting world. This is what worship is. That is the point: other people being loved because of your love for God. So yes, get every good and beautiful and redemptive thing in that building that you can—and remember it is not just for you.

Take it to the people outside.

 

.

 

 

310 thoughts on “Sunday Morning, Outside the Church Building

  1. Thanks for this post, John. This is exactly I left the church in the first place. Most people in the churches are not world-changers. These people are not even self-changers, but hypocrites. I have been church-burned by many churches, so I think that gives me the right to say that. That is why I worship God in my own home.

    If anybody from the judges me for that, well, look the beam in your eye before you see the mote in mine.

        • Hi!

          However, the above blog post is about the space we choose to inhabit on a Sunday morning. It seems designated sacred space is very important to some here.

          To tell another to shut up in online space that you did not create is impolite and not productive. Of course everyone is free to tell their own story.

          If the topic of appropriate spaces is at hand, then how is tossing impolite language in online space which you did not create or host not hypocritical? I may choose to tell my own story, but perhaps I may create my own blog to do so. I won’t waltz into a church and start speaking out of turn, that would not be considerate to the purpose of the location! Online space invites courtesy and appropriate behavior, as does physical space.

          So, if my comment should be deleted along with this thread because this particular thread is unhelpful, then that makes sense for this portion of the blog.

          Also, if such curt language is used, how is that done in the spirit of love and gentleness? How is this walking with Christ? Certainly one may debate with respect (even if we feel the other party does not do likewise).

      • Dear A Catholic Perspective:

        Are you sure that Steve was judging?

        Perhaps Steve was confessing. You know — I belonged to this, I was this, but I couldn’t live with this or myself, so I left.

        Blessings!

    • God is with you, if you feel the need for a church community that is an add-on, a choice. It is not required. It is not necessary. Don’t let anyone tell you it is. Those who claim we “removed God from schools” or “want to take God out of ________” (fill in the blank), make idiotic comments. God is wherever God is wanted (and IMO wherever God wants to be) and NO ONE can remove, silence or change God. Rhetoric is what it is, God is in every heart that wants him there and leading the way forward.

      • It IS required. It is not “me and Jesus.”

        By what authority do you make such a dogmatic statement that you apply to all people?

        2177 The Sunday celebration of the Lord’s Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life. “Sunday is the day on which the paschal mystery is celebrated in light of the apostolic tradition and is to be observed as the foremost holy day of obligation in the universal Church.”110

        2178 This practice of the Christian assembly dates from the beginnings of the apostolic age.112 The Letter to the Hebrews reminds the faithful “not to neglect to meet together, as is the habit of some, but to encourage one another.”113

        • May God help you to understand that the Catholic Christianity is not the only way to God. No matter what you or they claim.

          Attendance and fellowship was more important when there was no Bible, when there was no written church doctrine anyone could study.

          We are not in ancient times and anyone can worship God, study God’s word and learn of God’s promise anywhere, anytime. Whether you like it or approve or not.

          • Sandi Saunders, Thank you for your succinct answers. I applaud your patience and tenacity. Please know that by answering you are keeping me out of trouble. God is soooooooooooo much bigger than any one church or religion and I don’t understand why people keep trying to box God in. The beauty is that God encompasses all. Anyway Thank you, I really appreciate your comments. Peace, Love and Resist.

          • You stated: It is not necessary. It is not required.

            If I state the moon is made of cheese, would you accept that as a fact, or ask for some reasons why you should believe it?

            Why should anyone accept your statements as if they are fact and not just your opinion? Or is that what you meant? That they are just your opinions?

            Do you reject scriptural evidence that Christians should assemble and worship?

            • As soon as there is scriptural instruction for assembly and group worship being necessary in a world filled with access to the Bible and faith based information, I will honor it. I did not say no one should go to church or seek like minded believers, I said it was not required in a modern world with Bibles like it was in an ancient world without them. It is a choice and I condemn no one for whichever choice they make.

              No one has to accept anything I say. Nor does anyone owe you that allegiance. At this point, nothing you say will be accepted as fact by me.

              • How does one go to Holy Communion without a church and a validly ordained priest? The internet cannot do that.

                When Paul was speaking about eating of the bread and drinking the cup unworthily, he was referring to those in mortal sin, but as it pertains to this issue, how is this to be done without some form of church and ceremony?

                • Quite easily. Jesus didn’t mention church or ceremony. The important qualifier that Jesus gives is that you have to be in community. Making communion only “valid” in church removes that spirituality, that access to God, from the people and places the power over people’s spirituality in the hands of a select few people. That doesn’t always work out to the people’s benefit.

                  I have had communion in several non-church places. Sometimes that felt a little odd, and sometimes it felt holier than church, but that is more a function of the community that gathered. I have experienced communion in Roman Catholic churches where there was absolutely nothing holy about it, just some old man going about the motions with no connection either to the community or God. And I have experienced communion in Roman Catholic churches where the spirit was very much present. It all depends on the community.

        • If you did it until the least of these, you did it unto me: Jesus is out there, in the world, where the people He loves are. Sometimes Jesus is in the church, but more often He is “out there”. The discipline of the church was designed to bring theological conformity, and the sense of community. Some people need that sense of security in their spiritual journey. Some find it off-putting for many reasons. Some of us have truly been sent into the world to be with the world. We may belong to a church, but that isn’t our identity. Our identity is with those who have been hurt by the “Church”. I speak with no authority, just the experience of my personal journey.

        • I do not like your noxious attitude toward people who have been hurt by the church, and there are many. Insensitive. Also, why not quit quoting what you are saying and live by it. You might get a better result from others. This is the exact reason why I left the church. Thank you, Catholic Perspective, for pointing that out. Just please do not renege on me. I do not need it from you.

          • You said most people in churches are hypocrites. Is that a fair or kind thing to say? They have their own sufferings and struggles too. You don’t think you’re being judgmental to say that?

            I’ve been hurt by people in church too. Welcome to the club. We all fall short of what we should be and just about everyone will let you down in some way. And we will do likewise to others.

            Anyway, why condemn an institution because of a few people?

              • I truly don’t mean this to be snarky, but I really don’t think he can. Someone must have told him that if he says it loudly enough and often enough that it will just simply be true. I think he is operating under that assumption and perhaps in the past that has seemed to work, it’s not working here but I suspect that that is all he has. Peace,

                • Nope I think he likes to torment people. It’s a bully tecnique he uses to constantly needle people and he always seems to pick the most vulnerable. He does it on purpose not to ask questions or be helpful or to challenge just to make them feel bad.

                    • ACP/ Joe I think you like to torment people. It’s a bully tecnique you use to constantly needle people and you always seems to pick the most vulnerable. You do it with with a purpose not to ask questions or be helpful or to challenge others, just to make people feel bad. That has been my observation of you– over 6 mths on this blog.

                    • Kathy A,

                      I think I asked a reasonable question which was basically why judge an entire institution because of a bad experience in one church? It doesn’t make sense. And it does seem hypocritical to complain about being “judged” while judging everyone as “hypocrites.” At any rate, I can see he doesn’t like being challenged and is very defensive, so I won’t pursue it with him.

                      I would happily have had a real conversation with him, but he doesn’t want that.

                      I made a thoughtful and innocuous post agreeing for a change with JP and the need to be reminded of the theme of his post, and I was met with hostility. It wasn’t necessary, but that’s life on the internet. See if you can be a little more objective please in accessing behavior you think is inappropriate. A lot of bad stuff goes on here and intentionally mean things are said, and they often go unchecked, and sometimes are rewarded.

                    • Sometimes you just gotta leave people alone and let them express themselves. Steve was clearly feeling hurt.

                      Anyways I sometimes I forget there is a human behind your icon and tag because the things you say are so predictable it’s like you are a program regurgitating the same ol stuff every blog.

                    • It’s good to be generous.

                      But rude and cowardly to talk about someone behind their back, especially when you know they can hear you.

                      You may any time confront me or challenge me. I’m capable of having a civil conversation with you. I won’t be rude to you are call you nasty names or imply you’re evil just because you voted for Broom Hilda.

                    • Your last comment says you are not worthy. I know when I am being baited. You, sir, are not worth the powder to finish the sentence, because all you have done since I have been here is be mean and nasty. You are a bully, and the worst kind because you clothe your bullying in Christianity, which by the way is not any Christianity I recognize. So don’t bother to answer this because I won’t bother to reply. You are like the gnat, bothersome but that’s all. You flatter yourself if you think you will change anyone’s minds by your words. You just harden people against you. I really can’t figure out what you have to gain. By the way I will comment how I want and you can like or lump it. Good Bye………………………

                    • Do you think it was rude that I called Hillary Clinton “Broom Hilda”?

                      I was making a very good point but it obviously went over your head.

                      By all means continue with your cowardly cheerleading and sneaky insults from the shadows. Calling someone a “bully” is an easy way to dismiss whatever the so-called bully is saying that you don’t like.

                      Thanks for the hit-and-run response. I shouldn’t have expected better. But the door is always open for a civil exchange or disagreement.

            • You know what, is it fair for the church to judge liberals? I I don’t care if you think I am being judgmental or not. The church judges liberals everyday. I condemn the institution because I know they are wrong. The church treated me like an outcast. They NEVER helped me. I should be fair and kind to them? What nerve you have!

              • Sorry, I don’t know what your experience was. But isn’t it reasonable to consider they might not all be that way and you just fell in with a bad crowd? That’s the last I’ll say about it unless you wish to discuss it further.

                • Joe Perhaps you should have started off with that before accusing him of being judgemental

                  I wouldn’t trust you after that

                    • That’s ok. You were right. I should have left that one alone. (Note to myself: think BEFORE you press the “post comment” button).

                    • Honestly I need to do that as well.

                      I look at what we are doing here as a dialogue not an argument or a fight.

                      The thing is when we engage with people we sometimes get more than what we bargained for or we assume the wrong thing.

                      I appreciate that you want to try to be more thoughtful in the future.

                    • Well Joe your note to yourself :

                      (“think BEFORE I press the “post comment” button).

                      didn’t last very long.

    • I have traveled the same road, my friend, and arrived at a similar place. Sometimes I miss the community, but mostly I am not nearly as lonely.

    • Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car.

      These people are frauds.

      • Going to the courthouse doesn’t make you a judge, but judges go to the courthouse.

        Your logic is a little bit flawed. It doesn’t follow that going to church causes one to NOT be a Christian, does it?

        I would be interested in your definition of a Christian, BTW.

        • Christians follow Christ.
          Catholics don’t.

          Jesus said child rape was unforgivable, and you should help every victim (Matt 18:6-14).
          Catholics run the largest organized child rape crime syndicate in Western World history.

          Jesus said to be perfect, give all your money to the poor (Matt 19:21-25).
          The Catholic church is the most filthy rich private institution in the world. Catholics could stop 21,000 people from dying of hunger every day for 10 cents per Catholic per day. They don’t.

          Catholics are frauds. Wolves in sheep’s clothing.

          • Certainly hard to understand why anybody would put so much trust in this type of institution as somehow representing something ? The pope is a sympathetic figure, the Catholic church has organizations that work in poor countries and actually make a difference, one can find many positive things too, to be fair, but the child abuse and the wealthy lifestyle of bishops and cardinals is the showstopper. The classic Christian defense of all the reprehensible things “their own” people are doing is of course “well, we are all sinners, and the Lord in his wisdom still uses us for the greater good”. This was the Trump justification for many Christians. Yes, we know we are all sinners, and while you typically had a tendency to name sin and sinner wherever you saw them, when it is in your own circle sudden ly we have to focus on the Lord using all that sin for good… It is more than hilarious and whoever buys that must be of a childish naivite.

    • Kathy A. … I agree with you. That’s the amazing liberation that Jesus offers. The ‘Church’ is the Body of Christ. Certainly, when & where ever we meet with our brothers & sisters in Christ, it is a time of worship, prayer, praising God. [It doesnt have to be in a corporate building.] We meet in coffee shops, private homes, parks, etc.

      I often go to a Church building on Sunday morning, and worship with other Christians. But I also meet with Christians a few times a week to serve God , study the bible or pray. [That is not, associated with a particular church, but we are associated with Jesus.]

      The important thing in meeting together is to be accountable to God, ourselves, and our brethren. To hold each other up, to support each other, love each other as we serve the same God, and we are in God’s family.

  2. Wise words as always, John. I think you’ve beautifully and succinctly encapsulated the main problem with the modern church – many of its congregants think that the whole thing is about what goes on within the walls, and leave it there when they exit the building. They completely miss the point of the exercise.

    • Just curious how you know what they think.

      In reading some of the responses here, it’s a little discouraging to see a positive post by the blog host used an excuse to criticize other Christians. I would have thought the response would be along the lines of how it could be implemented in their own lives, instead of the usual, “Look at those bad Christians. Why can’t they be as good as I am?”

      • People have individuals stories about thier experience with church organizations and they are free to tell thier stories. This is much different than saying all churches are like this.

        You don’t need to defend Christians who got it wrong.

        You can listen to

        • I think many people missed the point.

          It seems to me that the response would be, “Thanks for reminding me. I need to put my faith into action in the world.”

          Instead of, “Yeah it’s too bad all those so-called Christians are phony and hypocrites (and not good like me).”

          Silly me for not realizing that this was supposed to be all about Christian-bashing and Trump-bashing.

  3. John, you bring today a profound understanding that few turn into action.
    What you said in a few words encapsulates all the teaching of Jesus.
    All the sanctimonious preaching and holier than thou words by hundreds of thousands of preachers the world over mostly falls short of our true purpose of claiming a life renewed and refreshed by the power of Spirit in the service of others.

  4. Many would take this as a call to make sure homeless people are preached to while they are handing them a sandwich. How can we love deeply unless we establish relationships? We may not be able to help everyone escape their situation, but we can listen their story and make those who are invisible, visible again. Too many churches have one-offs. They scurry like ants into the inner cities of America for a few hours and then scurry back into their white suburban churches. They are again in the safety of their four walls adorned with crosses and pictures of White Jesus. Leaving the building for many means handing out chick tracts and making sure their intended target has “said the prayer”. American Christianity has tainted the mission and has watered down the message. If we want to know what that message is, we can pretty much narrow it down to a passage, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[a] you did it to me.’ Matthew 25:35-40 It would seem that this mission is an ongoing one, not a one-off. There will always be the sick, the thirsty, the hungry, the naked, the stranger, and the imprisoned.

    • I was invisible and you listened, really listened to my story. You showed that you really heard me, and I became visible again.

    • Exactly, Patti. I never understood why some Christians feel that they need to preach when they do charity. I thought the best way to Evangelicalise it to do charity and be the example. I feel I do too little to hep people but I noticed that people dealing with painful situations are asking for someone, anyone, to listen to them and just be there for them, even if it just over the internet. That is something I can do.

    • Where I am Church Administrator, the last words on the bulletin are, “This service is over. Our service begins.”

  5. My 92 year old mother in frail health and I thank you for these words. May all who read them heed them and reach to those of us

    Outside that building people are hungry.
    Outside that building people are hurting.
    Outside that building they are exhausted.
    Outside that building they are terrified.
    Outside that building they are alone.
    Outside that building people are feeling invisible.
    Outside that building people are hanging by a thread.
    Outside that building they are wondering how they’re going to make it another day.
    Outside that building people are falling apart.
    Outside that building all hell is breaking loose.

    Because this describes my mother and I. Mom says at her age, she is ok with dying but I am not ok with losing my only family. I am not ok facing this fear alone.

    I do what I can, as a disabled, handicapped, impoverished person to fight back and to let people know that is that proposed budget passes, I will have no food, no home, no medical care and I am terrified.

    One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

  6. My broken record, Thank you John for preaching what my husband did for 40+ years and what my grandfather used to remind us of when we were small. Two examples came to mind as I read this, in one church we served, which was in a neighborhood that had changed over the years, people lived in the burbs that used to live in the neighborhood and the neighborhood was much poorer now. My husband went into the neighborhood and got the kids to come to a youth program, drove a lot of the parishioners crazy because maybe they would steal something or mar something, any you get the idea. He persisted and has been rewarded with some of these young people telling him this was what saved them. His persistance wasn’t without consequences to him, but he persisted. The second was my grandfather would tell us about his grandfather and how there were blue laws in the state and you couldn’t travel or work on Sunday because the church in charge said so. Anyway his belief, and that of the sect he belonged to, of keeping the Sabbath holy was, he became a cobbler and went to the poor in the area and fixed their shoes for free, on Sunday. He was imprisoned and fined over and over. That was this country by the way. So I have always believed that it is not what you do in church that counts, it is what you do after, that counts. Peace, Love and Resist.

  7. Children- who cannot peacefully resist (their parents wishes) are force-fed religious brainwashing from birth. It’s why so many revolt during adolescence. Parents hope and pray they can instill (in their children) the same limiting belief structures that they themselves hold. In the technological age this programming is far less effective than it used to be. In northern Utah (where I grew up) there are churches on more corners than 7-11s! Both require dropping money into the cash register in order to gain the desired outcome. Religious retail therapy? Hilarious. Nothing like eating from the fast food pulpit- is there?

    Earlier in my life I stepped into many multi-denominational churches in various locations just to see what kind of energy was present- and it often was an energy of reverence. But I’d already discovered that if any spot on Earth was sacred- EVERY SQUARE INCH had to be sacred too. If you can meditate on a crazy crowded bus- you can meditate anywhere. You can be reverent anywhere. You can experience your spiritual experience everywhere. You can find ONENESS anywhere. You can simply BE- everywhere you are- no building necessary.

    Religionists have built gargantuan buildings where they can gather in professed unity- but missed the boat. The boat of helping “the people” sailed- leaving folks behind to polish their precious buildings- in hopes that their grovelling would get them into their heaven so they can polish their pearly gates. Of course- it’s a post-apocalyptic heaven- for all of us (with none for them) but who’s counting anyway?

    Help everyone (or go to hell). Take care of everyone (or go to hell). Nurture everyone (or go to hell). Stop war (or go to hell). End violence (or go to hell). LOVE EVERYONE- OR GO TO HELL.

    Happy Sunday morning! And if all you know how to do and/or spout- is religious rules- regulations- and dogma- keep that shit to yourself. You sound just like my bigoted judgmental father- and he was intolerable. AS ARE YOU.

    • Mr Wilcox,….Appreciated this comment. I learned early on that I shouldn’t push church on my daughter. I am glad I didn’t because, although she says she is an atheist, she respects Christianity. I see so many people who hate the Bible and the idea of God because it was shoved down their throats. My daughter is a grown woman now and It feels like church whenever we get together and share a meal.

  8. This should be mandatory reading from every pulpit in our nation. There are people who will not be moved but there are those who only need a little reminding to return to doing the work of the Carpenter.
    They seem to forget that Jesus was a carpenter; he worked with wood, making tables and chairs and maybe even houses. He was physically strong–which paid off when he whipped the money changers out of the temple.
    (Historical side note: the worshipers would come into the temple and pay a few coins for a dove, which they would carry into the tabernacle and would release the dove to carry their prayers to heaven. The doves would return to their homes, the boxes that the dove seller kept. And he would sell the same birds over and over and over…)
    When he stopped being a carpenter, when he took up his mission, he stopped having a source of income. Everything he ate, everywhere he slept, was by the generosity of others. So not only was Jesus a brown eyed, brown haired Jew who preached radical ideas, he was also homeless and hungry.
    There are too many people sitting in their own version of “that building” who would refuse to help him today.
    John P, yours is the voice of Love, a voice that is crying in the wilderness of our modern lives. Thank you so much for these words.
    I did not find this Love in any of the many churches I attended. I have found Love on a different path, which seems more like what Christianity is supposed to be than what is actually done from “that building”. Peace and blessings and Love to you.

    • Not even stingy Christians would refuse to help a man who could cause a blind man to see or raise someone from the dead. He was not a beggar and didn’t need to be. He fed thousands of people with just a couple of fish and loaves of bread. All that would get anybody’s attention and he would not have any problem being invited to someone’s house.

      What is the significance of “brown hair and brown eyes”?

      Not to nitpick, but my understanding is that he was not a carpenter in the sense we use the word. He didn’t make chairs and tables because that would have been a special type of carpentry and the Greek word would have been different. He was more of a jack of all trades and probably made things like plows and yokes.

    • Sorry, I don’t mean to nitpick again, but weren’t the doves bought as a sacrifice? Poor people couldn’t afford lambs so they instead bought doves, which would have been killed. I’ve never heard of them being used to send prayers to Heaven. Do you have any source for that which you could share?

      • Yes you do “mean to nitpick”, it is what you do.
        “The dove represents the Holy Spirit that also indwells every believer after they have repented and trusted in Christ. For the believer, they are to be as innocent as doves so that no one can make any accusation against us and bring shame to the cause of Christ. We can easily grieve the Holy Spirit but He will never leave us because we are sealed by Him (Eph 1). God is still sending out his “doves” today to bring the message of hope and peace to all who still have the wrath of God abiding on them for disbelieving in Christ (John 3:36b). I pray that is not you.”
        http://www.patheos.com/blogs/christiancrier/2015/07/13/what-does-a-dove-mean-or-represent-in-the-bible/

        • I’m referring to the doves sold in the Temple. They were sold for what purpose? Wasn’t it for a sacrifice? Sacrificed doves are killed.

  9. “Clean” is a song by Taylor Swift. It is a beautiful song about a friend’s struggle with recovery from alcoholism, and the “YOU” in the song is the alcohol itself. This song is at the end of her album entitled “1989,” but she has never cut a video version of it and her audio version is not on You Tube either. Several versions sung by other people (terribly) are on You Tube, but this is the best of them below.

    I bring this song to you today because it is about STRUGGLE. The people outside the walls of the church are struggling with so many things, and all those struggles are about to get far worse for millions under the new Trump Regime. So, if you can translate the Jesus inside the church to doing things for people and caring for people outside the church—as Jesus does so many times in the New Testament—you just may be the factor that will help a person to move through and into CLEAN with regard to their own struggles, whatever they might be. For those of us who know already that the light at the end of our tunnel and your tunnel is a fast-moving and oncoming train marked TRUMP EXPRESS, just insert TRUMP for the YOU that represents the alcohol in this song. TRUMP has been in office only a few months. Nonetheless, the “least of these” and many others around the world long for the day when they can say that they are finally clean of him and his kind. Here is the song—listen closely:

    • So long as you have Trump to blame for every evil in the world, you won’t have to look at your own sins and flaws.

      • It is true that while we have the much greater sins of Trump on display ours might all pale in comparison, but those who helped elect him will not escape the burden of their decision.

        Seems to me he and they have ignited a new surge of compassion, empathy and effort so for all they lack and harm, the good will be there picking up the slack. I guess it takes evil to bring good sometimes.

        • I am perfectly at peace with my decision to vote pro-life and for a better economy. I will be judged for my sins, not because of an election that some people will never get over or because they have a severe case of TDS. That’s on them.

          • Be as at peace as your conscience allows, you ill indeed be judged for your sins, your actions and your inaction as we all will.

            What you claim you “voted for” and what the nation will get, seems to be very different things. Expecting a liar and con man to do as he promised is foolhardy. You own the choice to harm many.

            Trump is the derangement syndrome, not us.

            • You’re entitled to your opinion.

              But there is a danger in scapegoating Trump, even if he were as bad as you think he is.

                • No Charles, it IS scapegoating and it’s wrong.

                  I found an interesting article about scapegoating and Trump. Here’s an excerpt and a link to the entire (lengthy) article below it:

                  Whenever one stands in defense of scapegoats, one is always accused of being in league with their sin. It’s like their perceived stench is supposed to get on you. Standing in between a stoning mob and an adulterous woman, you can expect to be told, “What, you think adultery is cool, huh?” Telling people it’s gross to brag and laugh at the mob butchering of Gaddafi like Hillary did, you hear, “You think that dictator monster was a saint, huh?” People do not like to be awakened from the righteous anger that a cathartic scapegoating provides. They don’t like being told that purging this monster and shaming the beast won’t make things better.

                  http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/trump-and-the-scapegoat-effect/

              • A Catholic perspective, why are you even here? Do you enjoy baiting people and pretending you are reasonable? You remind me of Mike Pence, a wolf in sheep’s clothing if ever there was one. You use your words to bully and demean. People here are civil and thoughtful people who have come to where they are in the journey based on their experiences. One of my dearest friends is a staunch Catholic and she is not even remotely like you.

                If you are at peace with electing a person like Donald Trump, good for you. Those of us on this page are horrified with very good reason. Your support of this despicable person who is our president speaks volumes about you.

                If you think you are trying to have a civil conversation, you are fooling yourself. You are not fooling the rest of us. It would be nice if you would just stop. But you won’t.

                • Yes, please just shut up. Only people who agree with us are welcome to speak up. The people we denigrate and demonize have no right to say their peace.

                  I hope I’m not being unfair to say this and I hope there are exceptions. I hope there are many exceptions. But it seems to me that liberals close their minds to expressions of diverse thoughts and that their reaction to those expressions is not to discuss them, but to make efforts to censor them.

                  • A Catholic perspective, you say you are here to discuss and you want to be free to speak your piece. You have done so, over and over again. You seem to enjoy creating conflict. This is not about you shutting up or not being entitled to your opinion. But your style is one of bullying and confrontational, which many have mentioned to you. Do you think bring clinton in as broom Hilda was anything other than baiting and hoping for a reaction? John’s piece was about the church building and what goes on outside, in the community. It was about not just going to church but also being vital about helping in the community around us.

                    You clearly go to church, but do you think coming into this community of people who have been hurt in their church experiences and being derogatory and rigid in the beliefs you hold contributes to their lives? How exactly do you think you are showing love? What you show is contempt. It is rude and it is not kind. Please try to understand…it is not your beliefs I question, it is your way of interacting that is very questionable. Again, why are you here? What is your purpose?

                  • You can continue to whine that “Only people who agree with us are welcome to speak up.” but that is not the only issue here. Who feels welcome and open when they fear being attacked, ridiculed, corrected or lectured? You are deliberately working against what John P could want to achieve on this blog and your efforts have never once led to a good exchange. Why does that not tell you anything?

                    Forced conversion does not work and neither does forced conversation.

                    Why is it you think those who persecute, misrepresent and lie about our faith or as you call them “The people we denigrate and demonize” should be part of the conversation? Why can’t you just say whatever you need to claim and leave people’s conversation alone? Even when asked to back off, you won’t. Do you get away with that in person?

                    You can whine, as all bullies do that this is just the cool kids not accepting your crudity but that is not it. You are not offering “diverse thoughts” you are offering repudiation and judgement. Oddly, you are offering the very thing you claim we do.

                    Because no one wants to engage and feed your hubris you think that means we seek to censor you. But that is precisely the effect of your posts. You shut down conversations, you stop efforts to share.

                    You and a few more contrarians just want to pummel and denigrate.

                    No one welcomes that.

                    • I think the whole purpose of his postings is to make us so unhappy that we will stop sharing and John’s blog will somehow go away. I truly believe that is his and all his other personas and allies plan. Somehow if they can shut us up, they win but I’m not going away even if he ticks me off. I will ignore, and enjoy you taking him to the tool shed, so to speak. Yes Joe I am talking about you behind your back. Personally that’s the best way, because you don’t know how to respect anything different than yourself. Peace, Love and Resist.

                    • I think you are right. All bullies essentially want to control and dominate and if they cannot win, they will just make you miserable. It is sad on a lot of levels but we cannot let the intention to disrupt or the intention to stop conversation and openness work!

                    • I agree, that’s why I keep slogging along. What has and is happening is too important to let hurt feelings or a crazed bully get in the way of seeking a way out with like minded people.

                    • Sandi, there are LOTS of people who think ACA is a great big bully who don’t post here but do read the comments. You are speaking truth on behalf of so many.

                      I cannot begin to remember how many people who have joined my FB group cite the various bullies here as their reason to join. The group has more than doubled since Thursday thanks to evil and hatefulness people see touted here. They want to fight it.

                      One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

                      https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

      • Oh please, Mr Catholic whatever. Again, how is that comment helpful? Or other baiting? We all have sins and flaws but most of us know it, unlike your savior Trump who believes his garbage. He lies. Blatantly. Every single day. He lied to Trump voters as well as everyone else. He does it so often he doesn’t even try to keep his lies straight. He blames everyone but himself. Why do you enjoy baiting people?

      • As a Catholic, I’m assuming you subscribe to the Bible command “…..But when you give a feast, invite the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” (Luke 14:12-14) Pray tell, how do you reconcile this Christian principle with what [not my] President Trump is doing at his table, where only the rich and powerful are invited to feast? The hypocrisy and contradictions within the Catholic Church and several other so-called Christian churches are so blatant and appalling that it’s easy to understand why so many are looking outside the Church for a closer walk with Christ.

        • Do you care to be specific about the “hypocrisy and contradictions” within the Catholic Church? There might be among individuals but not the Church itself which is pure and holy and is the Body of Christ.

          I think the problem many have here is that they see their liberal democrat politics as their religion, so they presume that Christians who voted Republican are the same way, but they are not. Or I should say I am not, but I think it applies to most of us. Donald Trump isn’t my Pope or my Sunday school teacher or my pastor. I voted for him because I thought he would be better for the job than Clinton. I know you don’t like him just as much as I didn’t like Clinton, but we got Trump. That’s how it is. If Clinton had won, I would have whined about it 10 days tops and then gone back to work, hoping for better days politically in the future. You guys are obsessed with Trump. You scapegoat him. And you scapegoat those of us who support him, as if we can’t possibly have had a good or noble reason for that. You refuse to give even the benefit of the doubt.

          But if Clinton had won, I wouldn’t be condemning you for voting for her, even though I think she is corrupt and would be a horrible president. I wouldn’t be questioning my faith either. I might be more faithful, because I would see a greater need to pray and focus on the big picture, like avoiding Hell and making it to eternal happiness in Heaven, and try not to be so concerned with a political inconvenience in this very short life we get here.

          Regarding the Catholic faith…I’m a convert and didn’t care much for Catholicism before I converted as an adult, but anything I had against the Catholic Church was because of ignorance and because I believed lies and misconceptions. The Catholic Church is not only a “Christian” church, it is THE Christian Church, no offense intended to those of Christian denominations who have elements of Catholicism and who believe as they do in good faith.

          • Wow there is a textbook Catholic. I don’t hear that many of them like that anymore. Kinda boring. More catholic as the Pope, I would say! Well, know the tree by its fruits. “Does this faith make me a better human being”. If that is a yes, I have not much to say. The Spirit works in wondrous/mysterious ways, sometimes even through a church.! I’ll take any human gesture of kindness and love any day, from any faith. We are in this together , people, no time to argue about different faiths, let us unite around the many things that unite us. Recently, walking through nature with a fundamentalist/creationist Christian, he says “wonderfully made” and I say “wonderfully evolved” but we have the same sense of wonder. There is no problem as long as he leaves me be. And he does. I do the same. Please invite a friend that is politically far apart from you to go walk somewhere in a park or go listen to music together. It is the only way to each other’s hearts. And a very good way. In the silence of the shared wonder of beauty in nature, in music, in art, we may be able to get closer again. Such a precious thing to be close to somebody. So beautiful. Life becomes so grand. And be more honest with each other then you usually may have been. If you get to the point of being able to talk about political choices again, be honest. Nobody is absolutely certain. Share your doubts. I abhor Trump but I admit, at some point I admitted the thought “maybe he will work out”, I certainly hoped so. If I was wrong because our “common good” benefits in miraculous way of Trumps wild personality, so be it. I would love to be wrong. Don’t push it though! The goal justifies the means.?? We can get good results through ugly means… ??? Many Trump voters seem to believe that. For me that is an impossibility, simply based on the logic of life. Goal and means cannot be separated. They are one. But please stop unfriending friends from “the dark side”. Nobody gains,the world loses , more distance and coldness in an already cold world… The only answer to the immenseness of the universe is love .. I Asimov I thought said this. Ah no it was Carl Sagan…For small creatures such as we the vastness of the universe is bearable only through love.
            I love Carl Sagan, and Asimov. Inspiring figures. Free thinkers. Free minds. Join the free thinkers, if you want. ! Love everybody, please do. Find something to love about everybody. The human being is a mysterious phenomenon in the universe. Kinda does not quite fit in. Love your fellow man and woman, they are unique for sure. As in you, there is a profound dignity of being in each of them. Honor that. Don’t judge them too harsly. They are kinda innocent. And guilty too. We are all kinda innocent but guilty too. (See Dostoyevskij) To the best spirit in each of us. To love and unity.

        • Jocelyne, if the past experienced shared by so many of us anything to go by, Joe ACP will not answer your question. He will deflect and raise up another question in order to bait you into his foils.

          He has an agenda and it is not to have a dialog or a discussion, but to ruin this blog.

          His tactics are driving people to my FB group

          One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

          https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

    • Interesting song- Charles. Addiction can be lethal. There are many religionists who claim gay people can’t be happy people- and it’s no wonder- since many gay people turn to escapist activities to escape from the dogma beat into them while they were growing up. And this has caused tremendous abuse in the gay community- but it is the fault of society- not the gay community itself. And obviously- it’s not just the gay community. So yes- of course- if you want to get free of an addiction you have to take responsibility yourself. But if you became addicted to escape the everyday horror presented to you as the public’s opinion that relentlessly beat you to a pulp from the pulpit- addictive escapist behaviors simply cannot be unexpected.

      My spiritually evolved Direct Experience got me to a place I refer to as Getting CLEAR. Clear of all dogma. Clear of all bullshit. Clear of all negative programming. Clear of all judgmental religious expectations that I’m somehow less-than- and therefore- unworthy- to be ONE with All-That-Is. Clean. An Clear. It’s work. But it’s worth doing.

  10. Amen 4! Well stated and to the very heart of the matter. Unless the community feels the support, love, respect, charity and decency of the church, NOTHING else will matter. Unless they know you are Christian by your love, you have failed. There is no sugarcoating it.

  11. At the conclusion of every Mass Catholics hear these words (or some variation of them):

    “The Mass has ended. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

    It is essential that we take the Truth and Peace we’ve been privileged to receive and share it with the world by our example and good works. We can’t be reminded of what those words mean too often.

    • It is also essential that the church takes the wealth, peace and love they’ve “been privileged to receive” and share it with the world by example and good works. When so much wealth is there and so much suffering exists, how is that not a moral imperative on Christ’s church?

      • Why don’t you take the message to heart instead of using it as en excuse to hate on Trump and other Christians? Why are you so antagonistic to Catholicism that that you are so unnecessarily confrontational? Did a Catholic steal one of your dolls when you were a girl?

        The Church’s “wealth” belongs to the world for all to enjoy and be inspired by. Individuals are not rich because of it.

        Our parish, like many, just eke by paying staff and and maintenance. Nobody is getting rich.

        There are many Catholic charities and institutions that help others. The first hospitals were Catholic.

        Don’t tell me the Catholic Church doesn’t know about suffering and isn’t doing anything about it.

        • I need no excuse to hate Trump and all he stands for, lies about, insults, demeans and harms. It is a natural aversion to evil that I have.

          I do not know why more people who read the Bible and follow Jesus are not “antagonistic to Catholicism”. Who has more riches on this earth? Who knows better the suffering the world over and still wallows in that wealth? Who has a worse track record of abuse, molestation, cruelty and exclusion? This has nothing to do with me individually, it has to do with what Jesus said to do. Over and over and the Catholic Church is one of the worst at preserving their riches as the crumbs would serve multitudes who are suffering. You clearly choose to get past all of that, I will not.

          Wealth does not inspire anyone and riches stored is wrong:

          Luke 12:15
          And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

          1 Timothy 6:17-19
          As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

          Matthew 6:19-21
          “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

          1 Timothy 6:10
          For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

          James 5:1-5
          Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.

          “Nobody is getting rich.” Have you seen the Vatican?

          There are not nearly enough Catholic charities and institutions that help others.

          Yes, the Catholic Church does know about suffering and it tells individuals and donors to do something about it while it protects “gold-laden palatial church property and priceless works of art” in addition to billions of dollars (though they do not share that info).

          • You must read Chick Comics.

            I hope some day you do some honest research about Catholicism.

            Do you expect that the Vatican should auction off The Pieta so a rich dude can put it in his living room? It’s a treasure to the entire world for centuries to come.

            At any rate, this was one of the few posts that JP made that I somewhat agreed with and which was not putting down other Christians. It had a positive message about going out and putting what was learned and experienced in the church service to use in the world. Why have you instead used that message as an excuse to condemn Catholicism and Trump?

            • Who brought up Trump here first? You or me? You want to dish it out but you cannot take it when it is returned. Too bad.

              I do not know what “Chick Comics” is.

              I hope some day you do some honest research about Catholicism.

              What I expect the Vatican to do is to live by the scriptures they preach from. And storing up and paying to guard riches is not part of it. Why would anything need to go to some “rich dude”? Ever heard of public museums?

              Where does the Bible speak of storing and paying to guard “a treasure to the entire world for centuries to come”? Is that not your and the Catholic Church’s opinion as opposed to scriptural edict?

              Sure, “this was one of the few posts that JP made that [you] somewhat agreed with” and you still had to pounce on those who posted here instead of just offering your opinion and moving on. Because you are a bully who wants to control the blog and browbeat others. You seem obsessed.

              • I wasn’t the one who brought up Trump. It wasn’t necessary to bring him up. Another obsessive Trump hater did that and it was entirely gratuitous.

                I made a comment about what is said at the end of Mass. It was not confrontational at all and was not preachy and aligned with and was supportive of the theme of this post, and you jumped on it just because you saw “Catholic” somewhere and used it as an excuse to go on another anti-Catholic rant. You could have left it alone.

                • Way to obfuscate, I did not ask if you brought up Trump first, I asked who brought Trump into it first YOU or ME. I was responding to YOUR Trump mention and you whined about it.

                  Sure, I “could have left it alone”, but you are a bully and now that I know that, you will not be left alone. That is just not how this is going to work out.

                    • Yes, I am absolutely bullying you now. Odd, you don’t seem to much appreciate getting back what you dish out. Most bullies don’t.

                    • I don’t bully and I think playing the “bully card” is a convenient and unfair way to invalidate someone’s argument.

                      I would rather have a civil conversation with you. We can disagree and have a conversation that isn’t hostile. It could even be friendly.

                      I actually do consider reprimands I receive and think about whether they are just trying to shut me up or if there is some validity to them, and if the latter, I adjust accordingly. It’s much easier to see valid criticism, however, when it comes in the form of a thoughtful critique instead of a personal attack.

                    • You do bully, even over silly things like what specific kind of carpenter Jesus was. You do not like getting called out for doing what Christ warned us not to do. I have no reason on earth to want to be fair to you any longer and I will not be. But let’s do be clear, calling you out as a bully is not what invalidate’s your argument.

                      “Proverbs 6:16-19
                      There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.”

                      I would rather you were not even here, so I guess neither of us is going to get our wish. I am not civil to bullies. And no, we cannot “have a conversation that isn’t hostile” nor could we ever be “friendly”. Civil and friendly would give credibility to your approach to people here and I will not do that because your posts do not deserve that.

                      “Romans 2:1
                      Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things.”

                      Clearly you lie when you claim you “consider reprimands” you receive because you just keep right on being a bully and in fact you seem to find new ways to intimidate and diminish the contributions of others.

                      You do not “adjust accordingly”, that is readily apparent. I bet you have an ego that tells you what you are offering is “valid criticism” delivered “in the form of a thoughtful critique instead of a personal attack” too. You need professional help IMO.

  12. @ A Catholic Perspective: Who do you think you are to say I am doing the judging?! You have not been in my shoes, so shut up! The church judged me first anyway. If you do not like my stance, that is too bad. I do not like what happened to me in the church, and I can express it here. Deal with it!

    I have had to deal with people like you for a long time. I do not like your style. Also, I don’t care about your pro-life stance, or how much you espouse your Catholicism. I do not care about that.

  13. I think we should refer to “A Catholic Perception” as a Catholic Obsession. And call “Joe Catholic” Thug Catholic. Because that’s what he (and his kind) are. Thugs. But he’s too obsessed and too self-righteous to notice.

    So- here it is: I’m not a catholic- I’m not even a christian anymore. And I’m here because the blog writer has also evolved and he’s a very interesting writer and I’m enjoying how he challenges the biblical status quo. It’s so rare.

    But when you (Thug) espouse what your religion says and you believe to be the truth (it’s called proselytizing) at anyone who does not believe what you believe- you ARE a total bully. And you can’t even comprehend just how big an ass you are. Because you think you are right and anybody who doesn’t believe exactly what you believe is- therefore be default- WRONG. So spout those rules!!!

    And that’s why you are so completely incorrect. Really- how dare you? You posted a couple of days ago THE RULES against any kind of sexuality but ONEMANONEWOMAN MARRIAGE/SEX- and all the anti-not/straight rules too. But you see- I don’t believe you. I don’t have to. You can’t make me. Nobody can make me. And you have no right whatsoever to even think you can. And while I certainly do not have to justify myself to you- or to anyone- to let you sit there in your pompous self-assed self-righteousness- ain’t happening. And it just makes some of us want to shove ANYTHING down your throat until you gag to death. Really.

    What a pig. Who voted for a pig. And supports a pig. Disgusting.

    • Bruce,

      This thread is about Church and Christians. I go to a Church and I am a Christian.

      You as a non-Christian only want Christians of particular sects to post here? It has to be doctrine YOU approve of?

      I haven’t hassled you at all, but you sure have been nasty and abusive towards me, though you will get away with it and probably be applauded for it because of the double standard here, but that’s ok. Rocks will always be thrown at outspoken Christians who do not water Christianity down to please the world. It goes with the territory. Were this Rome in the first century, you’d be turning me into a human torch.

      • Were this Rome in the first century you would have found a way to have me killed before ever I decided to take action against you.

        Just like every proselytizer I’ve ever met (and I come from mormondom so I’ve known thousands and thousands of them) YOU think YOU know the whole truth- and YOU just keep repeating yourself over and over even though a number of people have told you to shut up. But you won’t- because YOU have bought your programming and anybody who doesn’t fit inside your extremely narrow perspective of human reality is a SINNER and you feel totally ok with telling that “sinner” they are going to hell. It’s actually a form of abuse. Mental and emotional and spiritual abuse.

        That MONSTROUS BEHAVIOR has caused suicides among people I knew. You should be ashamed to be directly responsible for the deaths of people I knew. You’ll say- it wasn’t me. Collectively- it absolutely was YOU. You’re a broken record and YOU abuse people with your rhetoric.

        GOD DOESN’T CARE. But your religion sure as hell does. If people forgo making babies (or god forbid- abort them) who will your church rip its tithes off from? And why is the catholic church shrinking? Because it’s dead?

        MY EXISTENCE- MY DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF THE DIVINE- AS A GAY MAN- PROVES YOUR RELIGIOUS BELIEF STRUCTURE FILLED WITH DOGMA AND BULLSHIT- WRONG.

        And your catholic religion has been the home of many gay men for millennia. Oddly- a “brotherhood” that expected its followers to forgo marriage to women- was a safe place for not/heterosexuals to exist in.

        So can you hear me? Because I can prove you wrong- on all counts. And trust me- I don’t need to go to a church- because the whole world is Sacred Space to me.

        • Okay Bruce, whatever, but I see your response to me as being unnecessarily hostile and confrontational, especially since I would be happy to have a reasonable conversation with you.

          BTW, I have NEVER told anyone they are going to hell. I won’t say you’re going to hell either.

          • No, you just trot out the Catholic dogma that says it all for you. So brave, until forced to claim what you know you mean.

            • No, that was just Bruce doing his usual, “I’m gay, do you want to make something of it?” routine. I’m not playing that game with him.

      • And there it is, you actually think your bullying efforts get rejected because you are some prophet in your own house! You believe you are just one of the “outspoken Christians who do not water Christianity down to please the world”. You are a martyr!

        God help us!

        • Well said, Sandi. I notice he picks and chooses which part of Catholicism gets his allegiance: only the bits that he can distort to suit his prejudices.

          I feel dreadfully sorry for his family, if any, if he treats them the way he treats total strangers here. I can think of no reason why his online behavior would be any different offline.

          • The protection of anonymity has been known to bring out the hateful, dishonest and truly ugly face of many people who would never sign their name to what they post. When a forum changes and does not allow anonymous posting, the hateful always goes way down.

            • I have certainly wished people were not allowed to post anonymously or using false identities here.

              Yes, I know some people have said they do so because they have stalkers and perhaps that’s a good reason. But I wonder how much protection does that give them? Surely if one is in fear of a stalker it might be wiser to avoid all use of social media?

              But the large majority of people who post here as anonymous or under false names do so to allow them to spew vitriol with impunity and no accountability.

              Having said that I have also read many a fine comment, constructive, positive, and witty by people who also use fake names.

              But on the whole, I think people ought to be restricted to using a real name.

  14. Pingback: Today, Outside the Church Building - Feediu.Com

  15. I stumbled upon this blog by chance. Wow! I’ve never heard a supposed man of God talk like this. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for being real.

    • Welcome, Summer, yes, John P is real and unflinchingly honest even when he knows his words will bring down a deluge of hatefulness in the comments.

      IMO, he exercises an inspired gift of exhortation in a prophetic voice, right out of the Hebrew Scriptures, always calling all Christians to be better people and follow Jesus, just as the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures alway called all Jews to be better people and follow God.

      Thank you for joining us.

    • I felt the exact same way, though I do have others with a similar voice that I frequent. The courage to be the voice John is taking is powerful for those who have been hurt, misunderstood or maligned by ‘the church’ and those who cannot reconcile the hate, division, political devotion and malevolence of those who call themselves Christian but exhibit so few of the qualities we are instructed to show. He is a treasure to find!

      • Yes, I think John P writes in a manner that truly is a part of the healing process for those of us who need to heal. Of course, one has to be to read what he actually says and not interpret his words through some sort of filter as so many people here do.

        I feel those who are here to troll may have deeper wounds than some of us who have openly spoken about our hurts. After all, isn’t it a given that who abuse and bully most likely do so because they themselves are abused and bullied?

        I would love for all who have been abused and bullied to find healing and solace in John P’s words. I know I have.

  16. Just for you newbies here, like you Ms. Saunders, A Catholic Perspective, formerly known as Joe Catholic, is a regular troll here who specializes in dragging the discussion away from the main post subjects of John Pavlovitz. Joe Catholic would like you to discuss any distracting subject OTHER THAN the one set by the John Pavlovitz main post. Joe Catholic believes John Pavlovitz is not a real Christian and is instead a false prophet, those described by Jesus as wolves in sheep’s clothing. The purpose of pulling you, as a reader, to other subjects than the main post is to disable the effectiveness of the John Pavlovitz blog and thereby significantly derail or destroy its ministry—effectively making it the A Catholic Perspective blog instead.

    In addition, Joe Catholic , as an individual person, thrives on the heat of conflict and wearing people out with endless discussion that goes nowhere. Emotionally, he feeds on the energy of human conflict the way gaseous aliens feed on human emotion in the original Star Trek television series.

    Ms. Saunders. You have taken the bait from Joe Catholic, and by so doing, have helped Joe Catholic again thoroughly disrupt this blog and take it down a distracting rat hole. Joe now owns you—and worst of all for you—he knows it. Joe picks on people who he senses are weak and easily “baitable.” He will pick on you again, and again, and again, and again to see if he can get an “emotional rise” out of you that will take the discussion down some other alternative rat hole.

    My advice to you Ms. Saunders and other new readers/posters here is to simply ignore “A Catholic Perspective” and allow the discussion to proceed along the lines established by the John Pavlovitz main post. Thank you.

    • Actually, it was the spinning colorful alien who fed on anger and hate in Star Trek. The gaseous alien was the one who drained its victims of hemoglobin. The gaseous vulgarian in this blog comment section is the one who feeds on and spews anger toward anyone who disagrees with his beloved John P. This guy doesn’t understand the nature of blog discussion and that it’s supposed to be an arena for sharing and discussing opinions based on the blog post. He seems to think he’s a red-shirted security crew member tasked with squashing dissent like in the alternate universe episode where Spock wears a beard. The gaseous vulgarian here is … like … the … Gorn … who tried to kill me … always angry, brutish and with a killer instinct for opposing views.

      • Oh man, that Gorn episode was my favorite.

        “He’s reasoned it out…” I suppose that was you. That was a cool idea for a cannon.

        Actually, I made a very relevant post about the theme of the blog post, which was to take what we get in Church out into the world so that others might benefit. I’m totally in agreement with that.

        It seems that others missed the point and used it as yet another opportunity to bash those nasty Christians who don’t believe as they do or who were so evil they voted for the Orange Skinned Monster.

        Be logical Captain.

      • James T Kirk would be appalled that you usurped his name to spew such venom and misuse one of the great cultural icons of our time.

        One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

        https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

    • And Charles thinks he owns the place and can tell you what to do.

      He’s also verbally abusive.

      He also predicts the world is coming to an end in less than two years because of Trump, so since you have the resources and if you trust this guy, please begin building your palatial bunker, and please save a space for me. I’m a fun guy to have around once you get to know me.

      • I’ve noticed that . I will keep my phaser on stun and beam any of you aboard if sensors show you’re in danger. Even the Gorn is welcome.

    • Doubtless you are right and we should all deprive him of the oxygen he needs. But the ridiculousness of some posts just demands to be punched. But of course you all already knew that and refrained from engaging for the greater good.

      I will seek a new line of response.

      • Sandi Saunders, From personal experience that is easier said than done. I will admit to my shame that every once in awhile I break my vow and can’t contain myself. Good luck and glad to have your here. Peace

          • Yup, but don’t feel bad he has sucked us down the rabbit hole too. I don’t think there is anyone here that hasn’t had the same experience. There is a mean, nasty person behind the post. He will dispute that but we are known by our words and that is how most of us perceive him. I will admit a guilty pleasure in your dialogue with him because you showed him up for what he is. Again, welcome, glad you are here. Peace, Love and Resist.

            • Thanks. It is readily apparent what he is and why he does it. It is sad in the bigger picture but irritating for folks looking to have a troll or bully free conversation.

            • And she did it brilliantly too. She may actually have made him stop to think for a second before he say “nah” and tore into her.

            • Thanks, you all (with the obvious exceptions) have been warm and welcoming. Some folks just do not know how to be.

          • Yup, and a particularly hideous and pernicious one too.

            Kathy A will come down on you for using that word. She doesn’t want to see it.

            • No sure what you are talking about Gloriamarie. Just because you and I had a personal interaction because of how you treated someone who didn’t deserve it and I spoke up– doesn’t make me a bad person.

              I feel as though there is something you are accusing me of and I haven’t a clue what it is. If you want to put me in that category I cannot stop you. It is beyond my ability to control or fix at this point in time.

              However I am sincerely happy your group is growing because the more people surrounding you makes me not have to worry about you, during this awful time.

              — take care

        • Wow, you’re really working that tinfoil hat today!

          I’m Sandi too. That’s my most clever invention here and I really fooled you with that one.

            • Have you had enough? Enough hate speech?Enough of “Joe Catholic”. Well, John P. has the ability to monitor hate speech and he won’t. So he allows all this hate and he won’t do anything about it. As long as you engage in this blog you will be met with malice and hate and it’s all on you, John. What are you going to do about it? Going to let this cretin yell fire in a theatre? I would expect you to do nothing. Wow.

              • Does he even look at the comments? Some don’t. If he does indeed have the control to remove folks, it would be better to do so for those like the aforementioned troll. Or, if Pastor John sees value in their posts, maybe he could enlighten the rest of us? I have only seen evidence of bullying, trolling and trying to change the conversations rather than anything constructive.

                • Perhaps, Sandi, that Joe Catholic has a specific value in this forum. He is a stone, unable to absorb the rain of new ideas, but yet the rest of us can use this stone to sharpen our ideas and clarify our points of view. By writing why we believe what we believe we, hopefully, get a better understanding of others and ourselves.

                  • Having been in one forum or another since 2008, I find that a beautiful sentiment but I know too many deeply wounded and searching, unfulfilled folks who would benefit from this site yet I hesitate to invite their participation and see them abused. There is a very valid reason to have closed groups who are free to share and discuss without fear or insult.

                    • I take a different approach, probably because I have lived with the fear of violence and discrimination if I had revealed my true sexual orientation in high school and college. Since I came out last year I got far less abuse than I thought I would get but the one thing I miss is my beloved Catholic Church, the church of my father’s before me generation after generation. I refuse to go to a church that thinks I am damaged or “unclean” or “less than”. I don’t have time for it.

                    • Thank you and thus the upside of anonymity. Some need it some just use it to shield their hate.

                  • Robin, the Catholic Church does NOT say your are “damaged,” or “less than,” or “unclean.” Not anywhere.

                • That is all there is. I think this person gets off on ticking people off. Not what I would expect from a professed Christian but perhaps the Jesus he follows is different from the one I walk with. As for John I don’t know if he reads or not but ACP was here as Joe Catholic for awhile and then he disappeared and all his posting with him, so my guess is that someone monitors and when he gets really out of line…………. Peace,

                  • The Jesus I follow would throw up after reading his comments. He is doing untold damage to the church. Yes, this site needs to be monitored or shut down because of him.

                • Sandi, no, I am sorry, but John P pays no attention to what is happening here.

                  One day Joe ACP started posting his spew using my name. I contacted John P via his author’s FB page and John P put an end to the identity theft.

                  The next day Joe ACP starting posting under a scatological version of my name which again was reported and stopped.

                  Then he posted as Charles and that too was reported.

                  I think of enough people report him, John P will finally block Joe ACP’s IP address, but we have to raise a loud cry against him.

                  For instance if the 200 people who joined my FB group since Thursday would write John P and if all here who oppose wrote John P, that would be a pretty united cloud of witnesses.

            • I think that because this place attracts so many TDS stricken people, and because they have an irrational hatred and are at times prone to doing violence, using a handle instead of using a real name is a wise decision. Sometimes discretion is the better part of valor.

              • A Catholic Perspective remains a troll with no constructive contribution in evidence. Of course anonymity is very convenient for such people.

              • Is concealing your objective precisely what you count on, as Sandi Saunders asserts? If so, what is it that “you count on?” Anonymity? Please explain.

                • She’s unhinged and obsessive. There is no reasoning with her. She doesn’t want to reason with anyone who thinks outside of that tiny little exclusive box of leftwing thought. I’m not going try to figure out what she’s saying anymore or try to have a conversation with her, since she has no intention of having a good faith discussion.

                  My main reason for anonymity is that on boards sometimes I end up sharing personal things that I wouldn’t share otherwise and I wouldn’t want people I know to see that. Secondarily, some of these people are hateful and scary…

                  • I see. Logically, all who comment here are anonymous. If one doesn’t know the other from your “Adam” or “Eve” and vice versa, all are anonymous. Perhaps coming to each discussion devoid of emotion-triggering words such as scary and hateful will prove more productive?

                    • Good point Spocko. What does it matter that Sandi uses her real name. It could still be a fake name for all we know, but so what either way? Besides there are many others who use pseudonyms or only their first name, so she ought to police them as well. But nobody should be faulted for using a fake name, and those who do use it as a dodge for addressing the content of the post.

                    • Let’s be clear, I did not and do not “fault” anyone for just being anonymous, I merely noted the absolute truth of how convenient that is for trolls like you and how it helps you keep harming.

                  • Can anyone who has seen your posts here for any length of time attest to you sharing “personal things”? I think we are all more than well aware of why you are anonymous and why you use other identities too.

                    • Please, even though you’re mean, I thought better of you. Do you really believe the tales of the fellow who at least two times predicted that within two years we are all going to be annihilated? Who else am I supposed to be on this page?

                      Yes I do share personal things sometimes on boards about my children or family or things I’ve done. I like to keep that kind of stuff private, but by being anonymous I can share it when appropriate.

                    • Way to deflect, I did not ask if you ever “share personal things sometimes on boards”. I asked you specifically if anyone on this forum could attest to your claim, which I find very hard to believe.

                    • Actually I can. But what is the point? They could be lies. Everyone here could be lying or pretending to be something other than they are.

                      How would we possibly know? Accusations are pointless.

                      Personally I am fascinated by all the personalities here. I have learned many different things.

                      Some of the names used here are quite interesting also. One was something like “whispering gently in your ear” another was Uber Doofus who actually has his own blog which I found interesting.

                      These people are much more clever than me.

                      No one should be attacked or called foul names but for myself I do enjoy different views.

                      Peace.

                    • If you really think this whole thing has been just about me not liking someone’s “different views”, I just flat give up. You all are very welcome to the dynamic you have carved out here.

                    • Sandi Saunders, I don’t think that and I would bet that a lot of other people don’t think that. I agree with you, there is discussion and then there is screaming at someone and calling it a discussion. Joe, or ACP or whoever he is tomorrow screams, he does not care what anyone else thinks because he has all the answers and thinks it is his God given right to hit everyone else over the head about how good he is and how bad and wrong we are. He is not willing to even consider that he might be wrong even a little bit. You can’t discuss with someone like that. And as I said earlier, I think he has the divide and conquer attitude and he seems to be making it happen. I hope he hasn’t run you off because I truly enjoy what you have to say and I think we need you here. I hate all this bickering, for a few days we ignored him and things seemed to be better and then bam he’s back with a vengeance. Anyway, I understand if you wash your hands of this but would really hate it. Peace, Love and Resist.

                    • I said when I post on “boards” that I like to use a pseudonym because I sometimes post personal things. I have not yet done anything too personal here, but in other situations in the past I have shared things about my wife and problems I was having with her and things about my grown children that they might not like to see posted on the internet. The most personal things here that I’ve shared includes my conversion to Catholicism as an adult. I have also shared that my wife had been ill for a long time and that it forced me into celibacy for many years because I did not want to risk her health by a pregnancy, and that abortion was of course out of the question (as was contraception).

                      Yes, others here can attest to the fact that I shared that. But would you believe it and does it make any difference?

                      Here’s some more. The hardest thing for me to have faced as a father is that my grown children who are very accomplished and educated are no longer believers. Are you mean enough to infer something about that and clobber me with it? That’s one reason for anonymity and to keep some things to oneself because there are people online who are very mean and when they smell blood go in for the kill. I hope you are better than that. I know you like to fancy that I’m that way, but if you look at my posts you will see that I don’t exploit those opportunities. A real bully would have a field day with Steve and Bruce.

                      Also, I have brown hair and brown eyes, so that’s why I wanted to know the significance of a Jesus with brown hair and brown eyes. I study Spanish because I’ve met wonderful Mexican people at church and want to get to know them better. I sing in a choir (in Spanish).

                      I have used various names here, but not concurrently and I never denied that, but since you have been posting here I’ve been using this one and no other. You’ve been online long enough to know that a lot of stuff is bs. Just because somebody is on your side it doesn’t mean they are truthful or that they are playing with a full deck.

                      If I were to start over, perhaps I would use my real name, but some things that I shared I would have kept to myself.

                    • I did not want my response to upset anyone. I love John’s words and I would not want anyone to miss out on his words or the words of people who comment here.

                      I do not want to be an enemy of anyone.

                      I am new to all this. But I do not know how to prove anything – that is all I am trying to say.

                      Many people here share information about their family and their life away from internet beside all the political and religious stuff. Most of things we feel are because of the life we live. Others are more careful.

                      Peace

                    • Well said Joanne– all I can say is that I miss the way the blog was before ACA aka Joe Catholic also called Benny came along. I think mistrust and paranoia grew out of his prescence here.

                      I have become more detached as a result and try and try not to take anything personally but the sheer volume and volatile nature of the interactions between him and others wears me down. If that is how we are supposed to grow in character then this sucks. In my opinion.

            • Sandi, Joe ACP has been told that if he steals another identity from someone on this blog, as he has stolen mine and Charles, he will be kicked off. If he did steal yours, please report it to John P via his author’s page on FB.

              I think if enough people write there about the poison here, John P may block Joe ACP’s IP address.

    • OTOH, Charles, she is clearly seeing Joe ACP for who he truly is and holding up the mirror and he hates that reflection that he writes in stronger and more ugly terms. He can’t grasp that in doing this, he increases the resistance against everything the GOP and his idol (used in the religious and not celebrity sense) Trump. Since Thursday he and others of his ilk have more than doubled the membership of my FB group, citing Joe ACP, Wayne, Tom Cottone (who I really think is Joe ACP), leslie m, etc as reasons to become activists.

      I think Sandi’s efforts in pointing out who these people really are do us a service.

      One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

  17. I’m at a loss to understand the sheer emotionality of this discussion. It appears that “Joe, the Catholic” is merely contributing his viewpoint to the conversation. Yet many of you wish to silence him with emotionally-charged accusations and assumptions or to have the blogger do so for you. It seems as if you want this blog discussion to be a “safe space” where everyone holds a homogenous viewpoint. Wouldn’t it be much more logical and constructive to challenge dissenting viewpoints like Joe, the Catholic’s with rational, courteous argument, devoid of emotional excess (the kind of which the good Dr. McCoy unfailingly supplies) and avoid resorting to name calling, i.e. “troll”?

    • No, it would not. That is just not how any of this works. And it is not really what trolls are after. If you think his intent is to have rational, courteous argument, you go on and go for it (though why would you, right?) Not understanding their objective is precisely what they count on.

    • I am at the same loss, Mr. Spock.

      If we observe the many posts by our new friend Sandi which were nothing much more than personal attacks, eliminated them, and then eliminated the subsequent responses to them, there would be much less clutter and drama.

      That’s the way it is on unmoderated boards. Some people fill the vacuum and become self-appointed moderators, but they are usually such nazis about it.

      Feel free to challenge me Spock. You’ll find that I welcome a courteous argument and can disagree without being disagreeable. However be prepared for the nutters who will say you are me just talking to myself.

      It’s a crazy place. TDS–it used to be fun to watch, then it became a sad spectacle, and now it’s very scary…

    • This is surely Joe ACP trying to snare us. He acts like a ten-year-old when he does this.

      OTOH, there is a place for grown-ups

      One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

    • Spock, you have touched on a very interesting subject. When does discussion stop and breakdown. If different people are making arguments based upon the best facts available and all sides have an opportunity to understand these facts then we have a discussion. When there is criticism it is based upon the weakness of the arguments and not directed at the messenger it is a discussion. When different points of clash using facts then it is a spirited discussion. But when one side decides to use proven, but good sounding, falsehoods and attacks are not focused solely on the strength or weakness of an argument, is it really a discussion at that point? There is a big difference between arguing about what Jesus would say about sexual orientation and being told that someone in the discussion is somehow “damned to hell” because of the sexual orientation they were born with. Another example is when one party streams provable falsehoods one after another to attack or get a rise out of a target and side track an argument, making refuting them and steering the discussion back on track, continually, a laborious and draining task. Trump is indeed the master of the technique. You may still call that a discussion but I know many people here would call this “trolling”. One or two or three instances is not sufficient to call someone a “troll”, but it in like mosquito bites. One bite is OK, six are tolerable if that was it, but dozens and dozens of bites continually, each and every time, is intolerable, but to the late comer it seems that the bite victim is acting in an extreme fashion and overreacting. “Hey, it is just a mosquito bite” they say because they only seen you bitten once. When you have dealt with someone that thinks I am evil for who I am, no matter what I do, parrots the most Conservative ideas of the Catholic Church, parrots false information given by the GOP, and has a laser-focus on “making abortion illegal”, not reduce abortions by birth control and support for mothers that can’t support a baby, and in general be like Jesus, refuses to acknowledge anyone else’s POV, and repeats it post after post after post, is that not a Troll? What do you think?

          • Right. I will probably get respect now, but if I marry the wrong person (same sex, divorced, or infertile) my marriage will not be quickly accepted, if at all. I am already having this issue. I don’t want to go to a church that their message to youth is “don’t be gay” and need special official permission to marry your love. I don’t want to go to a church that demands I must pay for the past criminal behavior against children of which I had no control. No more trying to get help in my grief from Priest that can’t understand the reasons for my grief, my fear, and my depression.

            • Robin, you have my respect. I am deeply grieved by what you have gone through.

              I don’t know where you live so I can’t comment on The Episcopal Church in your area, but for many in the USA, TEC is a haven because we mean it when we say we welcome all and every baptized person is welcome into the full life of the church in whatever vocation God calls them to.

              TEC offers the best from the traditions of Orthdoxy, Roman Catholicism, and Protestantism. We unite around a Prayerbook, around how to pray and worship, not around a catechism or dogmatic statements.

            • Robin, you might not be able to have exactly what you want or where your feelings would take you. It’s true that you might have to sacrifice something. But you still find peace in the Church. You can still receive Jesus in Holy Communion. You’re going to have some pain either way you go, so have the pain going in the right direction back Home. Whatever are the sins of your past, you will not be punished forever. Any sin that you take to confession with a contrite heart will be forgiven and you’ll feel at peace and will have some strength to avoid it in the future. If there is some past criminal activity that precludes you being around children, that’s not “punishment” but being prudent. God knows your heart. You can be at peace but you need the help of the Church and the Sacraments.

              I will pray for you.

      • Excellent post! Great question. An internet troll is defined as “a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people, by posting inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a newsgroup, forum, chat room, or blog) with the intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal, on-topic discussion, often for the troll’s amusement.” So indeed, how is that not exactly what is done here, over and over on every thread?

      • Insufficient data to answer your question with a satisfactory degree of certainty. I will endeavor to study Joe, the Catholic by his future comments to ascertain if he is indeed a troll.

  18. Mr. Pavlovitz, can you share how you currently reach out to the needy in your community? If you are having trouble finding a way, please consider volunteering at my church, where that long list of issues plaguing the downtrodden that you say happen “outside” the church building are easily found “inside” the walls of my church. When you visit, you will see the poor being fed, the needy welcomed into a safe, caring community, and free healthcare provided for the most vulnerable. Yes, all of this is happening INSIDE our little church building. There is nothing magical about the walls of our building, other than providing a safe space for our volunteers to provide direct, hands-on care for those in need. Contrary to your assertion, the downtrodden in my community care a great deal about what happens inside our church building, because those who frequent our little building care a great deal about them. If you are ever in the Denver metro, stop on by and see for yourself, and please consider volunteering, not for our sake, but for those in need. The experience will change your heart and will change your life. It did mine. To learn more, visit our web site, and under Ministries, click on “Compassion”.
    http://www.wellspringenglewood.com

  19. At the conclusion of every Mass Catholics hear these words (or some variation of them):

    “The Mass has ended. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.”

    It is essential that we take the Truth and Peace we’ve been privileged to receive and share it with the world by our example and good works. We can’t be reminded of what those words mean too often.

    • A Catholic Perspective troll, you have an excessive amount of gall to claim you repeated are reminded to “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” and then come here and fail to do so. Wow, that has gotta keep you in the penalty box. What a sham you prove your religious faith to be.

      • When I was in RC private school and later on in confirmation class, it was explained to us quite clearly that “Go in peace to love and serve the Lord” means that we show our love and service to the Lord in love and service to our fellow human beings, no matter who they are.

  20. I love what John Paul writes and it makes me think and feel as though there is hope. Because in my experience , his voice in the Christian world is desperately needed.

    I hoped the comments would be as helpful, thoughtful, and uplifting as the author of the post. Many are. But thanks to A Catholic Perspective and a couple of others, my stomach is churning, I feel upset and I can’t continue in this negative place. It is sad but I literally find it takes me to a dark place. I have to leave.

  21. Hey—look. I have an idea that might work. For those of you who would like to do so, I can set up a blog of my own called the J. P. Safe Discussion Zone. Every time John Pavlovitz posts a main post to his blog, you can read it on his blog and then come over and discuss it in my safe zone. Trolls will be blocked.

    • Perfect idea. That way you all can agree together and talk about how brilliant JP is and how smart all you are for recognizing his genius. You can call it the SDZ, and it’ll be just the place to keep out all disagreement while concentrating all safe, identical and utterly boring viewpoints. This is exactly how we do it in our great country.

      • Oddly enough, that is exactly how it is done in this nation as well. No one posts with the certainty and arrogance of the folks I object to better than those used to having their bias confirmed and their superiority reinforced in their own safe spaces. Then they seek sites like this to unload on and diminish the “sinners” and the dare to doubt doctrine “morons”.

        The point you all are missing (deliberately IMO), is that there are subjects for which the efforts of a “Tom Cottone” or “A Catholic Perspective” and others do indeed stifle people sharing their stories of struggle and hurt such that our understanding and conversation are both incomplete and unsatisfying. That is not a healthy community. And their interruption is meant to do that.

        What you miss is that this complaint is not about us wanting to “agree together and talk about how brilliant JP is and how smart all you are for recognizing his genius”. Not even close. But, I suspect you know that too.

        And it has nothing to do with wanting to “keep out all disagreement while concentrating all safe, identical and utterly boring viewpoints”. Again, far from it.

        When you don’t get something, it appears to be in neon!

        • All are quite welcome to share your stories of struggle here without fear of trolls. It seems to me that many of these trolls only want to share their viewpoints as much as others want to share your stories of struggle.

          • Yes, I am sure it does seem to you “that many of these trolls only want to share their viewpoints as much as others want to share your stories of struggle”. Clearly all evidence points to you being right. And they are just sincerely trying to help anyone who dares to not see things their way too.

            • What he said, ….Not True. The first time I commented was to just say how much I liked what was said and that I agreed. Simple enough, you would think, right. Joe C and a few other angry bitter souls started calling me a baby killer. That is their idea of a discussion. It is pitiful and I would feel a whole lot better if it was an out of control 13 yr old than grown people. I so, want this to be a safe place for people to be able to talk about their experiences good and bad and not fear condemnation. A lot of people suffer from PTSD in regards to churches and the last thing they need is someone telling them to quit whining and get on with life. I really hope this gets fixed somehow because all of the lovely people are leaving and I for one miss them. Peace,

              • I’m sorry if Joe C really called you that. That is uncalled for and just plain wrong. He definitely needs to tone down his rhetoric and be more respectful.

                • People have tried, Patrick, to no avail to convince him of these things.

                  What is so sad is that at Christmas he was moved to apologize for his ungentlemanly behavior which was caused by his excess of zeal for his subject.

                  So when he calls people names etc, he clearly knows what he is doing and he just plain doesn’t care if he does harm.

                • Except it didn’t happen Patrick. I am very weary of the drama queens lying and distorting what I say, and their paranoia in seeing me in a bunch of other posters who obviously are not me. You will probably be accused of being me too if that hasn’t already happened.

                • Patrick, I challenge you to go through my posts on this page and then show me my bad rhetoric and where I called people names.

                  Also, Gloriamarie’s friend Charles calls nice women here “bitches” if he doesn’t like their opinions. Tell him that’s not nice.

              • What the trolls believe and what they attempt to convince people to believe, is they are poor little put upon people who only offer a dissenting POV.

                People who only want to express a dissenting POV and who which to have a conversation express themselves in respectful and validating terms. There have been those who have done that.

                But the people who come here to insult John P and those of us who like his stuff, are not people who expressing themselves in respectful and validating terms.

                I’ve said this before, no doubt I’ll say it again. It is not WHAT a person says but HOW they choose to do it.

                So when commenters spew vitriol, adopt ten different pseudonyms a day, they are going to be outed as trolls. They have self-identified themselves as something plagues the Internet and Social Media.

                When they abuse and bully they will be outed as trolls. It is the identity they wish to be known by and it is a Public Service Announcement to out them.

          • At least two or three of the people who post as anonymous are Joe ACP. I’ve already told people what I am doing with this list.

              • Sorry, Patrick, your quilt square is the one most often used by He of Many Names and that makes me nervous. He of Many Names switches identities left and right to fool people into thinking they are speaking with someone else.

              • Oh my….Gloria is making a list and checking it twice…lol…..its probably next to her list of things she expects others to pay for.

    • And you can call it….Charles’ Merry Blog of Insecure Idiots – where everyone is welcome at the table of heretical lunacy – until Charles, God’s gift to sinners everywhere – feels threatened by a different opinion.

    • Awesome idea, Charles. I’d really like that. I hope you will block all the trolls.

      Edward M would love that.

      And how about actual names?

    • I’ve thought of doing the same thing Charles, except I’m not a chickenshit and am not closed minded and would not limit my forum to those who agree with me. Diversity of thought would be most welcome. But I would wrestle with the ethics of promoting it here and spamming the board the way you and Gloriamarie do to shamelessly promote yourselves.

  22. Okay, that’s it, where are all the shiney happy people? Oh yeah, they are snuggled next to their loved ones and sweet pets curled up by their toasty warm toes. I am saddened by the comments. This beautiful church prose written by John Pavlovitz has been trampled on nastily and quite thoroughly …. *sigh*… time for my bedtime story.

  23. This classic Twilight Zone story, Monsters Are Due on Maple Street, is being played out here. Will the Martians win? Let’s stay tuned…

    Maple Street is full of playing children and adults talking when a shadow passes over, accompanied by a roar and a flash of light. Several adults are slightly alarmed by this, but they carry on with their activities. Shortly afterwards, the residents discover that their power went off, affecting stoves, lawn mowers, cars and phones. They gather in the street to discuss the situation. Pete Van Horn volunteers to walk over to Floral Street, the next street over, to see if it is affected as well. His neighbor, Steve Brand decides to go into town, but Tommy, a local boy, urges him not to leave the street. Tommy has read a story of an alien invasion causing similar controversy, and says that the monsters do not want anyone to leave the street. Furthermore, in the story, the aliens are living as a family that appears to be human. The power outage is meant to isolate the neighborhood.

    At first, Tommy’s theory is laughed off, until another resident, Les Goodman, tries unsuccessfully to start his car. He gets out and begins to walk back to the other residents when the car starts on its own. The bizarre behavior of his car makes the neighbors suspect that Les may be an alien, as suggested by Tommy’s story. One woman brings up his late nights spent standing in the garden looking up at the sky. Les claims to be an insomniac. Steve, acting as the voice of reason, tries to defuse the situation and prevent it from becoming a witch-hunt. Charlie Farnsworth pressures Steve about his hobby building a secret ham radio. Steve argues that the whole idea of anyone on the street being an alien is madness.

    Darkness descends and a shadowy figure is seen walking toward them. Charlie panics, grabs a shotgun, and shoots the figure, thinking it to be an alien. When the crowd reaches the fallen figure, they realize it is Pete van Horn, returning from his scouting mission on Floral Street, instantly killed from the shot. As Charlie struggles to defend his hasty action, the neighbors voice suspicions that Pete had discovered evidence that Charlie is an alien, and Charlie shot Pete to prevent him from fingering him. The lights in Charlie’s house come on, further fueling their suspicion, and even Steve is too angered by Pete’s death to defend Charlie. Charlie makes a run for his house while the other residents chase him, hurling stones, one hitting Charlie in the forehead, creating a bleeding gash. Terrified, Charlie attempts to deflect suspicion onto Tommy. Several neighbors agree, as Tommy was the only one who knew about the aliens’ plans.

    Lights begin flashing on and off in houses throughout the neighborhood; lawn mower and car engines start and stop for no apparent reason. The mob becomes hysterical, hurling accusations, smashing windows and taking up weapons as the situation devolves into an all-out riot.

    The scene cuts to a nearby hilltop, where it is revealed the shadow that flew overhead is, indeed, an alien spaceship. Its crew are watching the riot on Maple Street while using a device to manipulate the neighborhood’s power. They comment on how simply fiddling with people’s electricity consistently leads them to descend into paranoia and panic. They also discuss their intention to use this strategy to conquer Earth one neighborhood at a time.

      • I just reposted it from Wiki. NOT my brilliant writing. But was it brilliant that I posted it? Will you be in my fan club now?

        Anyway, that is one of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes and kind of reminds me of what’s going on here in this crazy thread.

        BTW, going forward, I decided to change my style to more like Dosher’s. Just say my peace in one post and stay out of petty arguments.

        • If that is one of your favorite Twilight Zone episodes, then please allow me to point out the aliens in the spaceship are today’s GOP and their leader is Trump.

          To avoide being a victim of this brainwashing and manipulation…

          One way to persist in resistance is my FB group, Gloriamarie’s Progressive Stuff, where I post actions, petitions, info, actual news, evidence, facts. There’s a pinned post that I highly recommend people read. I also ask a screening question so I can keep the spammers and the trolls out. All who read this are invited.

          https://www.facebook.com/groups/gloriamariesprogressivepetitions/

        • Ha ! I appreciated it Joe. It smacked me upside the head but not like the annoying pestering kind of petty pseudo rebukes– that are innuendos and snide pokes– but a good solid look in the mirror rebuke.

          again thanks for posting this this

  24. “ Ever since Homo sapiens first coalesced into tribes, war has been part of the human condition. Inevitably, warring societies portray their campaigns as virtuous struggles, and present their fallen warriors as heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for a noble cause. But death by friendly fire , which is inescapable in armed conflict doesn’t conform to the mythic narrative. It strips away the war heroes veneer to revel what lies beneath . It’s an unsettling reminder that barbarianism, senseless violence, and random acts of death are commonplace even the most just and honourable of wars. Consequently, and unsurprisingly, when soldiers accidentally kill one of their own, there is a tremendous reluctance to confront the truth within the ranks. There is an overwhelming inclination to keep unsavoury particulars hidden form public view, to pretend calamity never occurred. ….As Aeschylus, the illustrious Greek tragedian noted , ” In war, truth is the first casualty.”

    — Where Men Win Glory, John Krakauer

    • Forgiveness, Self forgiveness, Forgiving others and unselfish love of others .
      Nothing changes an person worst than what you speak of above. ONLY God can truly Heal after this terrible act.
      As we, i, you pray, trust, believe, follow, Jesus Christ he will heal and give that peace that nothing can give . life covers up past , Jesus Forgives and Heals past for a peaceful future.

  25. “ Ever since Homo sapiens first coalesced into tribes, war has been part of the human condition. Inevitably, warring societies portray their campaigns as virtuous struggles, and present their fallen warriors as heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice for a noble cause. But death by friendly fire , which is inescapable in armed conflict doesn’t conform to the mythic narrative. It strips away the war heroes veneer to revel what lies beneath . It’s an unsettling reminder that barbarianism, senseless violence, and random acts of death are commonplace even the most just and honourable of wars. Consequently, and unsurprisingly, when soldiers accidentally kill one of their own, there is a tremendous reluctance to confront the truth within the ranks. There is an overwhelming inclination to keep unsavoury particulars hidden form public view, to pretend calamity never occurred. Thus it has always been, and probably always will be.

    As Aeschylus, the illustrious Greek tragedian noted , ” In war, truth is the first casualty.”

    — Where Men Win Glory, John Krakauer

  26. When you trust , believe , cast all your cares on a true, loving, Holy God , He gives you peace in the midst of trials. and rewards when you don’t expect it.
    This peace comes not from where you are in life, what you have in life, where your going, what your doing. But in a Contentment with the knowledge and understanding that you trust God for the outcome. and he makes your ways . He God give to all who by way of Prayer, Seeks to have a eternal relationship with the heavenly father who takes care of his own.
    God is always in control and will make a way of escape if we are truly listening and seeking him.
    the hardest thing in life is following with out listening to the world, and following the self centered life of all my friends and neighbors .
    God cares. He listens , He rewards those who diligently seek him. His will, His way, His direction.

    • One can’t help but notice the many voices of those who are disillusioned by their experiences in various churches in the USA. Hard not to be, really, if one is a critical thinker. Hard not to be when one is a caring, compassionate, tender person.

Refuge is offered in the Facebook group ”Celebrate What Christians Have in Common” where a daily buffet is spread of Asceticism and art, cartoons and quotes, comics and contemplation, memes and meditations, music and musings, photographs and prayers, just about anything that is one of the many voices from the many flavors of Christianity.

      There is one discipline required of all who join: one must not utter a negative word because this space is a refuge, a respite, a place of peace and quiet. If one chooses to engage in discussion one may only write about one can affirm in the selection. No arguments, no vitriolic words, no spammers and trolls will be tolerated,

Please come and celebrate what Christians have in common and let us together remember our faith is based upon God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and not the actions and choices of frail, sinful human beings.

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/


  27. I invite everyone (Christians, Jews, Muslims, Mr. Pavlovitz and everyone else) to quit debating religious doctrine on this thread, roll up your sleeves and get out there and volunteer and make a difference in the world (if you are not already doing so, that is). It takes so little time to make such a huge difference in the life of others (and yourself). I already provided a resource for the Denver metro. Certainly a quick google search will help you find a place closer to your home (or office) to volunteer. Doing so will change more hearts and minds than any amount of pontificating on this blog. If you truly care about the downtrodden, please, instead of spending another minute critiquing the motives of others on this blog, find a local outreach (possibly in your own church) where you can volunteer and make it happen …this week! You will NEVER regret your choice to give back in this way, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how easy it is, and by the depth and richness of humanity you will discover. Who’s with me?

    • Well clearly millions are “with you” because there is work being done every day, but there is still value in examining the doctrine of faith and seeing how the world comports to it, especially those claiming it as their mantle. Are we only allowed to discuss these issues when you feel it is appropriate? I am sure the majority are volunteering, either through their church or some of the other millions of groups and organizations to better society, or if not able, donating to them in other ways, I am just not clear on why voicing opinions (even disagreements) here bothers you.

      • Sandi, I am referring to those contributing to this thread who appear to be missing the point of the original post. Mr. Pavlovitz’ open letter sets up a straw-man by which to lecture Christians against the dangers of building their faith without corresponding works (a danger I agree with). I don’t like his use of stereotyping (which is why I shared my experience), but I agree with his exhortation to think outside the church (or Mosque, or Synagogue and yes, even your own home). His open letter ends with a direct call to action. Unfortunately, the people posting on this thread are taking the occasion to criticize each other (or the church) instead of answering (or even discussing) the author’s underlying call to action. I am inviting those contributing to this thread to respond to Mr. Pavlovitz’ call…if you are not already doing so (or have not done so in a while), go out and volunteer. I hope you all do, and then share your experience here. Sandi, based on your reply to me, I am curious…what am I missing?

        • I think you are missing that those in the church should already know this and be doing this and clearly they are not. If people believe charity and giving needs to be done privately and not by any government program they should be meeting the need that would make that happen. We are discussing those who claim to follow Jesus but don’t do that by volunteering themselves AND don’t support the government programs that are in place. Which is also what the commentary above is about.

          • Sandi, I am so sorry if you’ve crossed paths with Christians that fit your description. I hope you don’t see all Christians that way (just like I hope you don’t lump all blacks or Muslims or Jews etc. into single categories). Whether it is a private Christian charity or a government program, can we agree that the list of needs enumerated by the author can’t possibly be met without direct, personal, hands-on engagement? Given this, are you ready to accept the author’s challenge (and my invitation) to roll up your sleeves and get involved with those in need? If you already volunteer, can you share something about your experience? How did it affect your opinion of charity and of government assistance? Did you meet anyone that said or did something that rocked your world?

            • You are good. Being a Christian, of course I do not “see all Christians that way” but I am honest about what I do see.

              I am not sure there are other categories for Christians but Christian but if you want to give me the list I will see who I think fits where.

              Why do you assume (as you keep hinting) that I or anyone else here is not already offering “direct, personal, hands-on engagement”?

              I think I am done “sharing” on this blog altogether. Too many Christians telling me how “not like them” they are.

              • Sandi, you wrote “Why do you assume (as you keep hinting) that I or anyone else here is not already offering “direct, personal, hands-on engagement”?

                Thanks for asking this question because I know hundreds of them who do this.

                Not sure what you mean by this, but please don’t leave. You are needed.

                “I think I am done “sharing” on this blog altogether. Too many Christians telling me how “not like them” they are.”

                • The exchange with him was precisely what I meant. This place is exhausting. And that is how they drive support away.

                  • Yes, it is exhausting. That is why most days I ignore the various trolls (as soon as I realize someone is one) and concentrate on reading what people such as yourself have to say.

                    I don’t believe I have the power to convince any troll of any thing. I believe only the Holy Spirit can do that and I pray every day that She illumines all of our minds and softens the hard heartedness of all of us.

                    But come to a differnt place, Sandi

                    One can’t help but notice the many voices of those who are disillusioned by their experiences in various churches in the USA. Hard not to be, really, if one is a critical thinker. Hard not to be when one is a caring, compassionate, tender person.

Refuge is offered in the Facebook group ”Celebrate What Christians Have in Common” where a daily buffet is spread of Asceticism and art, cartoons and quotes, comics and contemplation, memes and meditations, music and musings, photographs and prayers, just about anything that is one of the many voices from the many flavors of Christianity.

                    There is one discipline required of all who join: one must not utter a negative word because this space is a refuge, a respite, a place of peace and quiet. If one chooses to engage in discussion one may only write about one can affirm in the selection. No arguments, no vitriolic words, no spammers and trolls will be tolerated,

Please come and celebrate what Christians have in common and let us together remember our faith is based upon God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit and not the actions and choices of frail, sinful human beings.

                    https://www.facebook.com/groups/1409874399270377/


                  • Don’t leave. You make some good points. Just give people who disagree with you a little space and give them the benefit of the doubt. It won’t be so exhausting then. They are good people who mean well. And also allow for the possibility that sometimes you might be the one who is wrong.

                    Peace.

              • I had the same reaction to “what are you doing”. I would like to ask you not to leave, perhaps if we hang tough we can salvage this. You are needed and heeded. I understand if you don’t though. I think the same way several times every day and then I think, Damn they are not going to do this. Peace, Love and Resist.

            • Eric,

              Thank you for the good work you do and for being such a good example. You made the same point I tried unsuccessfully to make–to accept the challenge–“the call to action.” Instead it was used as an excuse to point fingers at other Christians for being hypocrites, etc. That’s sad, but perhaps your posts and your good example will inspire them (and me).

              • Thank you ACP! If you decide to dive in and volunteer, but are nervous about what to expect, I am happy to share my perspective on the joys and challenges of working with the elderly or the homeless. I can also give you suggestions on easing your way into this if it you find it all too intimidating.
                There are very tangible things you can do without stepping too far out of your comfort zone. And, of course, if you live in the Denver metro, I can hook you up directly.

        • You offer no evidence to support your allegations against John P’s words. Please provide them. As far as I am concerned yours is just one more accusatory voice against John. If I am incorrect, please demonstrate with actual evidence.

      • Will you allow people who join your group to make regular blurbs about their own groups and blogs, or will you consider that spamming?

  28. I guess I’m more exhausted by this ugly blog than most. There is only one person who has the ability to stop this and that is John P. And he refuses. It hurts me to say this but he is the only one responsible for this hatred. He only has to stop ONE man who posts under about 20 names to make it look like there is an army of people who agree with his hateful venom. Not true. One man. One man! And John P is obviously ok with this.

    He doesn’t read the comment? Then why have them?

    He doesn’t have to respond but he certainly should stop this or he’ll only have “Joe” and his many names to follow him. Monitor this, please. John P you know who he is. You can smell him. Everyone else can.

  29. Pingback: Today, Outside the Church Building – FairAndUNbalanced.com

  30. Pingback: Bait and Switch | The e-Word in Season

  31. My apologies to Sandi and anyone else I may have frustrated on this thread. All I am asking is that if you agree with the author’s post, please consider responding to his call to get involved. If you are confused about my motives, consider this thought experiment: If Mr. Pavlovitz and all the folks commenting on this thread (including me) agreed to get together on a regular interval to volunteer (as a team) to help the needy somewhere, the tone and content of the conversations between us would change dramatically over time, as would the way we treat each other. Mr. Pavlovitz cast a light on some unmet needs in our society, and is calling out to Christians to get involved. I agree with his call, but this is not just a Christian issue. It’s a humanity issue. Therefore I am inviting the author and all the commentators on this thread (who may not already be volunteering, regardless of religious background), to respond to Mr. Pavlovitz’ call. Equally powerful will be for those already volunteering to share stories from your experience to inspire others to do the same. My concern with threads like this is all the bickering and finger-pointing does not lead to anything good. We have the power to change all that. Responding to Mr. Pavlovitz call to get involved would lead to much good for all involved. Fair enough?

    • Eric, yes that is fair. Thank you for speaking up. It took courage– even though some, in a knee jerk reaction, misunderstood what you were saying. Thank you for your persistence.

    • Eric S continues to imply that commenting on a discussion board is somehow not “answering the call” as he puts it.

      Believe it or not, people can do more than one thing at a time. You, for instance seem to be able to drag yourself away from your sacrifice in service to comment and follow conversations here…

      People here, myself included, may well live all over the world much less the US so “getting together” is confined to this blog unless someone here is wealthy and offers to fly us all around. You mention you are in the Denver area, but I am sure many of us are on the east coast with Reverend Pavlovitz.

      How I volunteer my time and money is really not your business and will you accept it if I say I do both to the best of my ability? Or will you next insist on proof? You are starting a slippery slope.

      Sure I can tell you about taking some furniture to a family and seeing their tearful gratitude. Sure I can tell you about letting a driver who hit me from behind go without calling the police. Sure I can tell you about our food bank donations. Sure I can tell you I do not take a tax deduction for my donations. Sure I can tell you about the organizations I donate money too. Sure I can tell you how I help people who come in my path and need some human kindness. Sure I can tell you about a lot of the efforts I have made and still make, but to what end?

      Does that mean I cannot have and express the opinion that the Catholic Church (and others) storing up riches on earth as so many suffer is an obscene interpretation of service? Does that mean that I cannot notice those who deny and decry the poor as “lazy” and “bringing it on themselves” even among fellow Christians? Does that mean I should not notice those who claim to follow Jesus voting for politicians who promise to take from the programs that help “the least of these” while promising to build more nuclear weapons? Does that mean I should ignore those who preach and decry abortion only trying to stop it by legal decree rather than supporting women, children and education?

      You keep issuing this challenge as if you are implying we are not doing our part with absolutely no evidence to base that on. Why do you feel the need to talk about your own good works or ask about those of others? Is that an instruction from the Bible?

      • Good comment. I was taught to do your deeds quietly so that the people you are helping don’t lose their dignity. I also seem to remember something about not boasting. Could be wrong.

        • Having been at this blogging thing for so long, I can tell the difference in a welcome to the effort and an effort to shame and silence. I am not too familiar with Denver but I am sure the churches there have hypocrites and “Pharisees” too. Many want Reverend Pavlovitz to stop. I hope he does not.

          • I hope John P doesn’t either. He is a sane, bright spot in a dark insane world right now. I like how you handle ACP and the others. After I read your posts I think “yup, that’s what I mean”. So thank you and keep on. Peace, Love and Resist

      • It’s wonderful that you did those acts of kindness, but you didn’t need to slam a very generous Catholic Church in the process.

  32. Sandi, thank for your honesty, and for all that you are doing, which I do not doubt is the best you can do. I applaud you and invite others to do the same. I am not judging anyone for their level of outreach, but the author sure did, and he did so very strongly (which you disagree with…none of his business, right?). I, too, wish more people were more directly engaged (and that I could also be more engaged). Mr. Pavlovitz’ post was not about the Catholic church storing up riches, and it wasn’t about giving to charity or funding government programs. It was about doing the hard work of caring, directly, for those in need. For me, the most life-giving comments on this post would be how people are already taking action (as you did…thank you), or were inspired to take action, getting their hands dirty in hands-on outreach, how it affected them, how we could improve it, and how we could invite more people to join us in meeting the long list of needs the author mentioned, including debates on the effectiveness of various programs to help the needy, based on directly witnessing what works and what does not, etc.. You and I will probably never agree on whether unrelated doctrinal bickering (as we’ve seen in these comments) helps to further the author’s call to action. I am not trying to minimize how important your perspective (or that of any other commentator) may be…I engage in and respect good doctrinal debates, and you come across as a caring and respectful debater (with an edge…I respect that). But that’s not the topic of this post. I fully respect your choice to bring up any topic you chose. I hope you likewise respect my effort to steer the conversation back to the original post…which just happens to be on a topic that I (and Mr. Pavlovitz) care a great deal about. “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…” (Luke 10:2).

    • Absolutely “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few…” Which is another reason why Christians fighting against government programs to help the poor, elderly, disabled, imprisoned, immigrant, and refugee makes absolutely no sense.

      The work is immense! The need is overwhelming! The pain is real. And whether we want to admit it or not, the church as a body is not meeting the need. My tiny church, where 32 is a big attendance Sunday, does much in our community including offering a food bank with supper once a month, community suppers several times a year, funeral and celebration dinners, a clothes closet, a prayer bead gift at the cancer center, on top of the individual ways many find to serve and show love, BUT the Trump voters will still stand and tell you government should not be running programs and tell you how bad immigrants and refugees are, how lazy many “on welfare” are and how hard it is to deal with “modern issues” (gays and Muslims) and even how they don’t much care for “women preachers”. So to the good Reverend’s point, many so called Christians are missing the very message they receive in that building and are not taking it outside with them. If that is too hard for you to admit, you are not alone.

  33. Bravo Sandi! I will add, once again, that this is not someone else’s problem. This is OUR problem. This message has been there not for 40 but for over 2000 years…this is nothing new. We did not get here because our politicians (or fellow voters) have failed us. They couldn’t solve this back then, and can’t solve this now. We got here because our communities (including the church) are not doing enough. If our respective churches (or community groups) are not addressing the list of needs listed by Mr. Pavlovitz above (government programs can never address most of those issues), we need to ask our pastors (or community leaders) how we can help start an outreach program in our own church (or community) that does.

    If our churches or community groups are not bringing the downtrodden directly into our communities, and the needy are not worshiping from the seat next to us or participating in community activities with us, we need to ask why, and figure out what we need to do differently. Sandi, my church was about the size of your church when we started our outreach program. Even the tiniest of churches can make a HUGE difference in the community, and your little church will grow significantly if you keep up your focus on outreach. I am confident this is why my church has grown to the point that we can provide the services we provide. Our emphasis on outreach has probably also helped us attract outreach-minded people, which has been a huge blessing in itself. Keep up the great work!

    Does my church have the same problems as every other church, where some prefer to remain hands-off outside of Sunday service? Of course! And I am just as guilty as the next guy for treating this problem as “out of sight, out of mind”, as I rest in the comfort of my safe home while others sleep in the snow on the streets. This post has convicted me to re-engage, and with greater vigor.

    I have found it is much more effective to strive to solve the problem directly rather than blame others. If any of you have a pastor or community leader that is struggling to get such an outreach program started, or struggling to get volunteers from your church or your community engaged, please put them in contact with my pastor (or with me) and we can share our experience, what works, what doesn’t, the joys and the challenges, and hopefully set you up for success. Likewise, if your church or community group is doing something amazing that my church can learn from, please share! The change Mr. Pavlovitz seeks starts with us. Let’s do this!

  34. BTW: We still have a number of issues we are unable to get past that I am wondering if any of you have solved. In particular, a sizable amount of the growth of our church (and outreach) has come from the “once-homeless” community. As part of our inward-facing ministries, we have set up “life-groups” which are smaller groups that meet outside of church time for community building, fellowship and bible study. Many of our regular members are part of these life-groups. The problem is our church community is geographically diverse, meaning the life groups tend to be formed by shared geography, such that some of our members of limited means who don’t have a car, and may not have public transit options, may not feel there is a good life-group option for them.
    Only one life group (the one I belong to) is central and meets at the church, but my life group’s emphasis is on support of adoptive families (as such, all the members have adopted children). Our central group is not a good fit for those that live near the church (except those who have adopted kids!). Have you guys run into this, and how have you solved it? Any thoughts? Should we ask the other life-group members to chip in on an Uber to get remote members in? And wow should we message this out to the church community respectfully? Ideas are welcome!

    • Eric– you are awesome and inspiring and you made my day . Growth of a church is not measured in numbers rather by it’s love and outreach to a broken world. Do the outreach not to bolster attendance but to serve those who don’t or can’t make it to church. Have church in the places where there are no churches.

      Have you ever heard of under the bridge ministries ? Or lost sheep ministries? A conservative friend told me about one in her area and there are in many places across the country. Rather than bringing people to your church bring the church to people.

      🙂

      • Thank you for the kind words, Kathy! But please don’t give me the credit (read on to see why). I am not familiar with those ministries, but I will certainly look to them to see if we have some synergies. It does not look like Under the Bridge operates in Colorado, but Lost Sheep does.

        Here is why I don’t deserve any credit. When we started this ministry, we had no idea how it was going to grow. But something wonderful happened that we had not anticipated. As we were able to help folks get off the street, the once-homeless folks have become a sizable group in our church membership. These folks maintain strong connections to the homeless community from which they came. It is an amazingly powerful place to minister from, as some of these same folks now volunteer in our outreach. These wonderful people have some serious street cred, while being living examples of hope, as most if not all have conquered serious addiction (by the grace of God and with the help of a supporting and nurturing community) to finally liberate themselves from living on the street. I am in awe of the bravery, dedication and strength it must take to lift oneself up from such a low place.

        It brings tears to my eyes (in a good way) when I get the chance to work side-by-side with these amazing folks as we minister to folks still struggling to make it through each day on the street. We encourage as we can, hoping and praying we can get just one more of these folks off the street. And it breaks the heart when someone falls back to what put them on the street in the first place (that’s rare, thankfully).

        I so wish everyone could come and be part of this. Our volunteers (regardless of background or religious affiliation) extend complete respect to the needy, providing dignity to even the lowliest of these. All of my kids (10-17) serve, and now love to serve. They don’t fear homeless, poor or elderly people…rather they are able to see the beauty in each person they serve…to extend the love and respect each deserve. Meanwhile, their young hearts hurt knowing most of the folks they are serving woke up on the street that very morning. This ministry has flourished primarily because of the folks who came from the street that now provide the “anchor” of this ministry. I am a but a very small player in this (but strive to be an even bigger player, thanks to the author’s call to action).

  35. I met a kind lady yesterday who drove a friend in for lunch and to get groceries from our church pantry. She has a heart for providing comfort for the homeless in the form of a shelter. While there are many homeless shelters in downtown Denver, the homeless we serve in our church area do not have local options. Has anyone on this thread been involved in starting up a shelter, and if so, are there folks we can talk to who specialize in kick-starting a shelter ministry? Our church does not have a facility capable of providing this level of service, and I would like to learn more about what it takes and who we might partner with. Does anyone on this thread have any experience with this? Thank you for any information you can provide! Note: I will look into Lost Sheep to see what they can provide as well. Thanks!

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