A Travellerspoint blog

#16: Secularization

Misshapen priorities...

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sec•u•lar•ize [sek-yuh-luh-rahyz]

verb: to make secular; separate from religious or spiritual connection or influences; make worldly or unspiritual; imbue with secularism; to transfer (property) from ecclesiastical to civil possession or use.
This is the church in which Pascal (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blaise_Pascal) is buried, Saint-Étienne-du-Mont. It is but a stone’s throw from Panthéon, Paris. I had the privilege of visiting perhaps a dozen chapels and cathedrals in France. Each one was beautiful. Unique. Each one contained statues of disciples, martyrs, and saints. Each used window glass, marble, and wood to tell the story of the Gospel.

Yet entering them today, in the age of tolerance, something seems to be missing from these houses of God. I sat in one cathedral for over an hour one day. A religious service was taking place, yet a stream of tourists waddled through, snapping flash photographs of the magnificent architecture. Some paused as they entered, taking in the immediate awe of such a structure. Others hustled through more quickly, just as they’d explore the Louvre or a book shop, consuming with their eyes art created for God Almighty. They ignored the impoverished begging on the church steps. To them, the cathedral was a building.

The Church is a body. The body of believers. The crumbling of cathedrals, spiritually, is a result of far too many years of a church that isn’t the Church.

The Constantinian Settlement can be argued as a hindrance or as a cornerstone to western society. This move bound Christianity with government, religion with politics. It certainly allowed Christianity to quickly spread throughout Europe, but it also left a bitter taste in the commoner’s mouth. For religion and government, bound together, became a sovereign power which was able to manipulate words from God to maintain control. The central powers of Church and State abused their powers, claiming divine favor on their decrees.

There is little wonder why many in Europe now resist religion. They see the power that the Church once held. They see radical Muslims claim lives for their cause. They see the results of the Crusades. They are turned off to religion, viewing cathedrals mainly as tourist traps. Churches have been secularized.

And yet, should this be viewed only as a terrible incident? Is there no good in this paradigm shift? Do Christians want to be associated with a building, when we are a body? So much has turned bitter in the name of God. We have blasphemed the name of Christ in the world. Perhaps we should look at our hearts, particularly in America, where the church is often full of pride rather than poverty, conceit rather than compassion, arrogance rather than authenticity.

We assume that because we are sons of the King, we can behave as royal pains. No, we are called to love. Our relationship with God is not a religion. It is not a political agenda. It is love.

Posted by klewis91 12:37

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