And lately it seems that the only music I listen to is Gregorian chant. Other than a brief blip in my music world (when I got a wild notion to hear Perry Como sing “Papa Loves Mambo”—go figure) for the past few weeks I’ve listened to nothing but the Gregorian chant station on Pandora.
What does this strange behavior mean?
In early October I resigned from the church that I have been attending for a few years. I started going to the church when it was first planted. I became attached and watched it grow. It’s not worth rehashing the details, but in my mind there was a miscarriage of justice and a failure of leadership. I still believe that resigning was right thing to do; it was what my conscience was telling me. And, yes, I prayed about it and the Lord never indicated I was making a big mistake. After leaving I tried another similar church for a couple of months. It was a good church with solid teaching and seemingly a God-centered group of members. But it was so similar to my old church that I had trouble trusting that I would not end up in with a similar sad, disillusioned departure.
Going home becomes a question, not an answer. I’ve been considering going back to the Catholic Church, the church I was born into and belonged to for most of my life. I can’t think of the church without its obvious flaws—clergy who abuse trust and power, a history of draconian rules and practices, and a lack of focus on God’s own word in the Bible. But I found that evangelical churches have flaws too—like pastors with big egos and little formal training or experience. Is fervor for the Gospel enough to qualify a man to preach and lead?
Both the Catholic Church and evangelical churches relegate women to the same diminished role of servants, unworthy of real leadership. The music is different and there’s a different style of worship service. The Catholic Church has strength in the centuries of tradition and the sacred nature of its liturgical worship; it feels more spiritual and worshipful. Perhaps this is why I am recently drawn to a steady diet of Gregorian chant. The evangelical church has strength in its teaching and building cohesive communities. At my evangelical church I knew the pastor well and knew nearly everyone in the church. We ate together and prayed for one another. In the Catholic Church there seems to be little focus on building community. The parishes are all very big and it is not easy to develop relationships and interact with others in the church. You go to church on Sunday, perhaps nod to the people who always sit near you in the same pews at the same time every week, but real engagement in Christian community seems lacking.
I have always loved and admired the social justice undercurrent in the Catholic Church, love that radical element that reaches out to do the work that Jesus taught us Christians to do. Yet there are some (perhaps many) things about the Catholic Church that I do not admire and cannot embrace. Many Catholics just ignore the things about Catholicism that are troublesome Can I return to the church—what I still consider my church—with the attitude that I will accept what I love about it and dismiss the rest?
I don’t know the answer to that question. So, for now, I spend Sunday mornings drinking coffee and reading the paper. It seems odd, empty. Maybe there’s a happy middle ground. I’m praying to hear from God what He wants me to do next.