I’ve spent most of the last decade cooling off about the Church. I’ve cooled to the point where I’m pretty cold about it. The frigid air started when I “came out”, which was when I was presented the option of getting rid of my partner (who is now my married spouse) or leaving all my missionary and formal pastoral roles. It took about four years for the Church and me to understand each other: namely, for it to be quite clear that I was not going to withdraw back into the closet and that the Church had no further use for me. Our separation has been quite complete. Any lingering relationship is retrospective, based on affinities with former churches and irrevocable bequests such as my three theological degrees and my status as retired.
I draw on my six decades of commitment and familiarity with the Church to write complex critiques of the Church as a reliable representative of God in Christ, and the Church steadfastly ignores me and what I write. I write for the same reason some people go to cemeteries to talk to deceased lovers. It makes us feel better. But there is no prospect of reversing history.
I’ve come to the point where I doubt the Church and I can ever be reconciled. But if it were to happen it would be sacred music that does it. I was reminded of that this past week when Christmas brought out the grandest and most impressive performances of the Church year. The Church has nothing as profound to offer as the lure, the inspiration, the evocation, and the power of sacred music. Nothing that the Church says, none of the rituals, festivals, events, or feasts that the Church puts on have the potential of thawing a frozen heart as its music does.
Rev. Dr. Kenneth Dobson posts his weekly reflections on this blog.