“Forgive, O Lord, my little jokes on thee and I’ll forgive thy great one on me.”
This Blog may not sit well with some of my Christian friends. It’s not intended to be offensive, or insulting. It’s just a simple essay that is a result of my curiosity, a tongue-in-check poke at religion and all of its variations, versions, and interpretations. So, take it lightly and let your sense of humor show through. Really, haven’t you ever wondered? Come on, fess up.
I spent 12 years in parochial schools. I became discontented with all the fear and guilt thrown at me by the nuns and priests. In the years following high school I started to wonder, and I became curious if there was something else I could experience that was not so harsh. I became curious as to why there are so many different interpretations of Christianity, so recently I took a spontaneous trip through my Oxford Dictionary and Thesaurus and found no less than 13 names for “places of worship.”
All of which I imagine are structures of one type or another and probably range from old store fronts, to an ornate mosque, to a towering cathedral, to a tent in a field. That’s a lot of different kinds of places to worship. I wonder if they are all necessary. In 2012 I let my fingers do the walking through the local yellow pages and discovered 119 categories covering several denominations. This activity didn’t explain why there are so many alternatives, but it made for an interesting journey. Have you ever wondered?
Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, and Lutheran
The Baptists – now there is a versatile bunch of folks – they have 14 different sub-categories listed. The Catholics have 8, and the Presbyterians have 7, and the Lutherans 6. Those four total 35 religious groups making up almost 30 % of the 119 total categories. In those four religious groups there are 35 different versions of what Christianity is supposed to be. That is 35 interpretations of Christianity as taken from the Bible, the best selling fictional work ever written.
But wait; there are really more than 119, right? We can’t forget the Jewish folks, or the Muslims, or the Buddhists, or Hindus, or Amish, or Mennonites. They are all entitled to their version. It’s a free country, mostly. If you were to go to Wikipedia and ask for a list of religions you would get a list as long as your arm, maybe both arms. Hmmm! It makes me wonder.
Some Christian churches, and I use the word churches to cover all the structures described above, are named in accordance with their geographical location such as:
>2nd Avenue Baptist
>Downing Street Lutheran
>Westminster First Methodist
>South Broadway Christian
>Platt Park Church
Most Catholic and Episcopalian churches are named after Saint this or Saint that:
>St. Francis de Sales
>St John’s Cathedral
There are inventive folks in all denominations that just can’t resist a little showiness and have such names as:
>Church on the Move
>Good News Community Church
>Eternal Life Temple
If I wanted a church, I don’t know that I would want a church on the move, or one that scores victories because that infers there must be a non-victor, or a loser. Now good news is good, but is it the mission of a church to announce good news? Isn’t that for newspapers and TV? And, we all know there is no eternal life. Isn’t that an oxymoron? Next thing you know there’ll be a “Fake News Neighborhood Church,” maybe an “Alternative News Church.” Right here in Denver we have a Marijuana/Cannabis Church, for real, yes we do. It’s called the International Church of Cannabis and has over 200 members. It’s on South Logan Street. Go to this link and check it out.
Then there are those that tend towards the overdone with:
>New Hope Church
>New Beginnings Church
>New Song Church
>New Testament Church
Any name with a “new” in the title must mean that the “old” version wasn’t working and a new interpretation was needed. It’s like advertising a new detergent that shouts – new and improved. How do you feel about “Living” in a church name? I guess it’s better than the opposite:
>Lifeless Word Church
>Dead in the Water Church
>Absolutely No Hope Church
>Stagnate Water Church
>Lousy Song Church
There are some that get flamboyant in advertising their church:
>Warm Exciting Worship
>Advancing the Kingdom
>House of Joy Miracle
>Experience the Truth
>Relevantly Real Biblically Accurate
I don’t know about having a warm and exciting experience in a church, seems a little kinky to me. Whose kingdom would be advanced? Some of those preachers have advanced their financial kingdoms at the expense of those that follow them. Does the word joy necessarily go with the word miracle? Do you need both? Wouldn’t a miracle be joyful anyway? Oh yes – “Experience the Truth” – because what every other church has told you is not the truth, it’s a lie or an exaggeration. What makes that particular church think it is the only one that knows the truth? Hmmmm! It makes me wonder.
Free to Choose
Everyone is entitled to their individual interpretation of what those ancient authors wrote and what beliefs they choose to follow. All are free to choose whatever denomination appeals to them, or choose none at all. In this country we have freedom of religion and freedom to worship whomever and whatever we choose. But I’ve been wondering if any of those ancient authors have it anywhere near correct. If they did, why are there so many different denominations, definitions, and interpretations come from one man’s teachings? Hmmmm! I continue to wonder. Do you?
“There is but only one religion, though there are a hundred versions of it.” George Bernard Shaw