I have to start this by saying I'm religious. I'm not all that big on clapping hands and calling on the spirit. But I think the Judaic and Christian teachings in The Bible are basic to understanding the world, and how to act in it. I belong to the United Church of Canada. I've often led services - you know - giving the sermon, the whole spiel. I was born into the United Church, became an atheist at the fashionable age of 19, and discovered much later, as a news commentator, that my view of political affairs was shaped by Judaeo/Christian teaching - and, without realizing it, I was still religious.
I say this to help explain why I won't soon be going to a church.
As I watched the spread of privatization of education, the attack on public schools beginning with standardized tests and school ranking (all contracted out to private business), and as I saw the greater privatization that is soon to come, I realized it was all based on private greed. It was and is private greed that wants to use our children for its own profit. In the process, it does serious damage to them. I saw that as a Christian and moral problem.
So I phoned a United Church minister in Moncton to see if he thought his church might be interested in discussing it as a moral issue. The minister sounded bored, obviously so, and said he had to rush off to a church ladies' afternoon tea. I sent e mails, quite brief ones, to fifteen Moncton clergy, putting the same question. Not one even acknowledged receipt of it.
A Catholic priest (contacted by phone) was the only one who showed understanding and interest. That didn't surprise me. I had learned in Montreal that the Catholic churches tend to be more active in putting their faith into social service than the Protestant ones are. For all their love of ritual (which I find really boring), Catholic churches seem to be far more active in playing a practical role in society. Protestant churches tend to "jump for Jesus" a lot, but to avoid Christian action as if it were something that would soil the cloth.
Christianity is an eminently practical religion. Jesus gave eminently practical advice. Forgiving is not just a goody-goody thing. It's practical. If we don't forgive, we can never understand why people act as they do. To understand the middle east, you have first to forgive BOTH sides. If we don't forgive, then we can't understand why they act as they do; and we can only hate and all join into a mutual dance of destruction. If the chuyrches are not about everyday life and how to deal with it, they are about nothing at all. And they deserve to sink. That will give real Christianity a chance to start over.
I like Moncton. It's an attractive city. The people are friendly and remarkably courteous. I get frustrated at the pettiness of the politics and at the fear of engaging in any serious discussion. The universities are out to lunch so far as the community is concerned. But one can find that in many places. The only disappointment I have had, and it's a crashing one, is the irrelevance of the churches.