A reader writes:
With reference to the Obama/Rev Wright controversy: As a practicing Catholic, It took me Holy Week to sort it all out.
I went to church on Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday Eve and Easter Sunday. I stopped counting how many times I heard references in the Gospel readings to "the Jews" and how He was handed over to "The Jews." The name "Judas" translated literally means "Jewish man", so that name is derogatory in itself. Not to mention that I was taught in High School religion that Judas was the Apostle who handled the money for Jesus and his followers (like they would only give that job to a "Jew"). And I heard twice this week that the crowds yelled that they wanted Jesus dead and that his blood would be on them "And Their Children." And all the priests and the whole Sanhedrin sound like a bunch of manipulating sacrilegious liars. Yet, certain words of Matthew are not going to cause me to go out and hate the Jews, or to leave the Catholic Church. I wish those words were not said the way Matthew said them.
I think Obama has a right to wish that Rev. Wright had not said things quite the way he said them. But I would caution any good Christian to think twice before criticizing the phraseology of any church liturgy or sermon. Because there is probably a lot of language in your own church's liturgy and sermons that can be offensive to others.
Or as C.S. Lewis put it in the voice of two devils:
"... the search for a 'suitable' church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil.
What He wants of the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise - does not waste time in thinking about what it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going. ... There is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us if received in this temper."
God knows my own church has hurt me and others as deeply as anyone can be hurt. And I have felt very estranged and lost these past few years. But I cannot search for another church as if it were another club and I cannot and will not leave in my heart the church that taught me the greatest truths about human love and life, and that brought me the astonishing good news of Jesus. Church is like family. It heals and it wounds; goodness knows how it wounds. But it cannot and should not be disowned.