I haven’t regularly attended church in eleven years, mainly to avoid being fussed at by dogmatists. So all I could think of last night, as I was being chided up one side and down the other, was the irony of my situation.
An antique-European Christian who doesn’t attend church is in one of those “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” predicaments. The only way out is a path between the Charybdis of church discipline or, as in my case particularly, Scylla (who claims access to esoteric knowledge and takes every opportunity to enlighten poor souls trapped in the prison built by Calvin, Wesley, the Pope and every other demon in Hell — but Calvin especially)! This Scylla can breathe fire from all heads at once — six-barrels of damnation for Shotgun because of bad church attendance!
We fear the Charybdis of church discipline because no church today is really a Christian church — even if we grudgingly admit a few Christians (white-grazers) frequent the establishments. They go in ignorance, not realizing they’re attending an institution that long ago pledged fealty to Satan. We antique-Europeans don’t have the option of remaining silent in face of devil-worship.
It might take months, but eventually there will be blood and the antique-European will get dismissed from fellowship faster than old-hymns from a contemporary song-book. Best to avoid all that.
There’s the choice of not attending, but then we face Scylla, who, being zealously enraged, pulls out her Bible and smacks us repeatedly (leather bound King James’ are soft on impact, but if evenly applied, ensure one gets the joy, joy, joy, down in the hind-parts.)
Ms. Scylla, who assured me that she was well-versed in contemporary theological debate, lectured me on the state of Christendom.
“There are far more than just Roman Catholics and Calvinists” she said. “There are many shades and positions in between! Take me, for example. I’m not a Calvinist, nor am I a Catholic. I’m simply a Christian and I stand on the Bible alone!”
She repeated that last point to exhaustion. She (and only she, apparently) stood on the Bible. The real meaning of it all was pretty simple, says Scylla, so why I couldn’t understand was beyond her.
I avoid Charybdis because I don’t want to be fussed at. But I get fussed at by Scylla anyway!
I wanted to tell Ms. Scylla that there really aren’t different denominations of Christianity.
In the modern age, churches wouldn’t dream of segregating themselves based on something as trivial as race or skin color. Heavens no! But they will segregate (and segregate in a heartbeat) over differences of opinion about this or that rational minutiae. Should infants be included in the covenant with Christ, or should they not? Answer: none is ever conclusively offered. Instead, the factions divide into separate congregations.
Rationalists discriminate among themselves based on allegiance to this or that rational-scheme. And once they’ve chosen a rational-scheme, they hold to it dogmatically (and God help you if you hold to a different one). Drive down any road in America and you’ll see this clearly. There’s a church on every corner and sometimes, two per-corner, all divided up by conceptual-scheme.
Ms. Scylla believes herself free from conceptual schemes; she arbitrarily dismisses the more thorough ones (with respectable pedigrees) and makes up her own, based on naive and uneducated exegesis. She’ll hold to her conceptual-scheme with the same dogmatic fervor as any Calvinist.
There is a real distinction though, and it’s not one between differing shades of rationality.
It’s the distinction between those antique-Europeans who believed in the Christ-myth fairy-tale (as Lewis and Tolkien understood myth and fairy-tale) so thoroughly that they mixed their blood with His blood and those who have succumbed to Satan’s game of rationalistic magic-words so thoroughly, they forgot about holy passion for anything other than conceptual-schemes.
These are the two factions at war within Christendom.
I admit that not having fellowship of like-minded Christian folk is pretty demoralizing.
Call me naive, but Christ ordered His followers to partake of holy-communion and I’ve always feared missing it, as if there’s some sort of magic inherent in the sacrament. I’ve missed it now for eleven years and my fears have yet to go numb on this score.
I need communion with Him and with other saints.
So what do I do?
I dip in the wellsprings of old-Europe.
On Sundays, I sit quietly on the front-porch (weather permitting) or in my library, reading an old novel. I’m reading “Quentin Durward” by Sir. Walter Scott at the moment, but there are hundreds available. I walk through old Europe and live with the farmers, learn chivalry from the knights and learn heroics from white soldiers.
Of course, I pray and read Scripture as well, but without seeing prayer and Scripture through the eyes of my ancestors, they’re meaningless.
How does one “love thy neighbor” if not by following the knightly zeal of Reepicheep? What is long-suffering if it’s not the patience of the Surgeon’s Daughter? What is loyalty if it’s not the friendly-machinations of Don Pedro? And what is martyrdom if it’s not the actions of Hamlet?
I wouldn’t know.