Saturday, February 21, 2015

Why Do We Have Fake Churches Along With the Real Ones?

If you're a curious (or should I say inquisitive?) person, you may have asked this question. We’ll try to be as faithful every week posting about a church from a movie as we are posting every week about a real church we visit. And there’s a reason for that.

In the Western world, it's pretty easy for a person to go through life without going to a church or meeting a member of the clergy (for better or worse, you've met me), and it's also easy for a person to think they know all about the church and pastors and priests and nuns because they’ve seen it all in the movies. But all some people know about church is what they get from the media, and more often than not, the movies do a lousy job depicting churches; not just the negative portrayals, but inaccurate portrayals as well. 

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing when churches are portrayed negatively. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing when a member of the clergy is portrayed as crook or a fool or a pervert. Because there are bad churches. There are members of the clergy that are pretty awful. 

But often these negative portrayals are created by people who seem to have no idea what they are talking about. They get all the little details wrong, leading to getting the big picture wrong. And if all the churches and clergy are shown in a negative light, then they aren’t getting things right. Because though Richard Dawkins would not agree, there are some really good churches and really good clergy people out there. Seen it for myself.

If we are a part of the church, and want to introduce people to the real church, we may find it useful to deal with the expectations people have from seeing Bing Crosby as a crooning priest and Robert Mitchum as a homicidal preacher and even Whoopi Goldberg as a phony nun if we consider these things for ourselves.

So we’ll keep traveling to churches at work in the real world. But we’ll also keep visiting the fake ones, because they’re working in the imaginations, hearts and minds of people who need the God who is worshipped in real churches.