This is the first column I submitted to The Star for my last Faith Walk. It didn't work, for many reasons, but I thought I'd post it anyway:
In my visits to more than 30 places of worship the last couple years, I got really fed up with the works of the church. It started with my former home church, which was more interested in throwing fancy galas and writing checks than actually doing something for the community. Mainline protestant churches were obsessively excited over canned food drives and megachurches spent massive amounts of money translating the bible into indigenous languages. With the exception of a few places, the good deeds aspect of Christianity seemed to be severely lacking. The faith focused on personal relationships with Christ, which left little room for acts of humility within the community.
After not attending church this past year, I began realizing that public service was not only lacking in churches. There is a growing political movement that focuses on self-preservation at any cost. As the recession continues in the Midwest, it is harder and harder to help each other when we can barely help ourselves. And yet there are still people with so much who refuse to acknowledge those with so little. Is this a non-religious problem or just a reflection of a faith that dominates America?
This is when the proverbial Man in the Mirror comes back and slaps me in the face. It’s easy to blame the church for all of the world’s troubles, when in reality, the church is the only place I have ever truly served my community. Building houses, AIDS Walk, Harvester’s canned food drives…arguably all could occur without a place of worship and yet, in the past year, I have done nothing. Without a church, the opportunity rarely presents itself and without faith, perhaps I am less motivated to act.
I have always believed that religious hospitals provide better care than non-religious hospitals because care fueled by faith transcends any job limitations. At the same time, that type of service and dedication requires an element of personal sacrifice that a church cannot provide. Though faith is a motivator, it’s still just faith. We need action. In my quest through the churches of Kansas City, it wasn’t really that the churches weren’t doing enough. The churches were doing as much as they could. It is the people who need to do more.
We never know when we will doubt our beliefs and be stripped of our faith. It was certainly not something I expected. I need to find dedication to my community that goes beyond religion. I am the only person that can take that first step.