Monday, April 30, 2007

Which kind of Mother Church do you hope will adopt you?

Here's something of interest from The Rev. Jon M. Walton, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, NYC:
Christians have always struggled with two images that describe the church: is the church the Virgin Mother, pure, unsullied and unstained? Or is she an Earth Mother gathering her wayward children to her skirts? In the church of the Virgin, no eye is pure enough to see God, no tongue clean enough to speak God's name. This church is vigilant in covering her children's ears and tries to keep them from seeing or touching the world's impurity. Its clergy are a model to the flock in morality, goodness and self-control.
In the church of the Earth Mother, however, the dirty hands and unwashed faces of her children are a delight. . . . This church's children gather to her like Ma Kettle's kids come in from the barnyard, frogs in their pickets and grass stains on their jeans. What they lack in cleanliness, they make up in joy. Her clergy are earthen vessels.

First off, I'm pretty sure that Walton did not have the Catholic/Protestant divide in mind. I think this "choice" is very evident within Protestant churches. Can't speak to Catholicism.
Secondly, on some level, don't all children want their mothers to be virgin mothers? It reminds me of what a friend told me. He was one of a large Catholic family and he says when he was a child and someone asked, "How many brothers and sisters do you have?" He'd say - "Seven. We're Catholic." He said, "You always added "we're Catholic" because otherwise they might think that your mom liked sex."
Even when you think of the church, I wonder if the deep down feeling is - "Earth mothers - it's a nice idea. But I'm proud to say MY mom isn't one of those!"
And finally, (whew! I hear you say!) the only people who need the Earth Mother church are those who have frogs (and worse) in their pockets and stains on their clothes, and we would rather think of ourselves as well mannered, good kids. It takes a lot of reflection to see ourselves as we really are.

No comments: