Why Worship?

To be completely candid, I haven’t got the first clue.

I know why we used to worship – we worshipped to appease an angry God beyond the clouds who had some pretty out of control ego needs. Then, way back in the 1960s the space program got us into a little problem. They went beyond the clouds and didn’t find God. They orbited the moon and didn’t find God. On the other hand, while they were in orbit they took a picture of Earth and it seemed to many people like they saw evidence of God in that picture. People started to understand that maybe, just maybe, God wasn’t some sort or superhero on steroids.

Then they told us that while God might not need us to worship God, human beings certainly needed to worship God. We bought that one for a while, because marketers of all types are constantly telling us what we need. We need a new car, the latest fashions, the latest technology, a hot partner, a new home, a better job – our entire economy is dependent on consumers buying into the idea that we need what they are selling. So, the Church set about pimping God and for a while that worked. Then we came to realize we didn’t really feel any better after having worshiped, most likely because the image of God they were trying to sell us didn’t even realize there was a space program and that it had failed to find God. What kind of God struggles to keep up with current events? What’s more, most everything else they told us we needed to do at least made us feel better for a while but after we went to church we either felt guilty, sleepy, or both. So, we stopped going. Imagine our surprise when we didn’t feel worse for not going! Surely they weren’t trying to sell us some nonsense…

The truth is that eighty percent of America isn’t in church on a regular basis and they don’t seem to be any worse for it. In fact, most of us feel pretty good because we haven’t subjected ourselves to sitting quietly while someone tries to convince us that God cares more about what we do with our genitals than about racism, classism, hunger, poverty, education deficits, and the fact that in our blindness we fail to see that when we go to war the soldiers that return may be less fortunate that those who don’t because the truth is we don’t care enough about them to provide for their psychological needs. In truth, humanity tends not to be very humane at all, and a great deal of the blame lies squarely at the feet of institutional religion that continues to prop up an antiquated, peeping Tom God who seems to care more about who we might be fucking tonight than who we are killing tonight. The proof is that many of you are more upset because I wrote “fucking” than you are over the immeasurable, needless suffering we cause every minute of every day. Can we really be expected to worship that God?

We need to ask ourselves where we find holiness, for where there is holiness there is Divinity because holiness is evidence of indwelling Divinity. We also need to realize that holiness has nothing to do with our sex lives or colorful metaphors like “fuck” and everything to do with how we treat one another. Are we compassionate? Do we analyze our actions in terms of how they will impact others or are we so damn selfish we don’t care whose drinking water we are polluting when we dump our engine oil in the storm sewer? These, and other much larger questions, are the stuff of authentic spirituality and holiness – the things about which we need to concern ourselves when we gather in our spiritual centers to sing, dance, pray, speak, and listen. These are the things of God, who dwells not beyond the clouds or in the peep show booth we seem to believe heaven is but in the same groundwater corporate megalomaniacs like the Koch brothers, Governor Scott Walker, and others like them who couldn’t give the tiniest little damn about their actions  because they see raping our world as their right. The true and living God dwells in the violence in our streets, weeping at the loss of life and the stupidity, greediness, and hatred that cannot see the problem is caused by our corporate greed machine that has abandoned our cities and been exacerbated by puritanical religious bigotry that created a war on drugs to provide us with a scapegoat for all our problems in the very victims of our collective greed and injustice.

I could go on endlessly, but my point is that if you want to offer true and holy worship you will need to get off your ass and do something to change the system. By all means, find a spiritual community to support you because you will need it, but then go out and make change happen. My friend, colleague, and brother The Rev. Gerardo Serna will be hosting a meaningful and impactful conference seeking solutions to violence in Chicago August 1st through 4th. I will be there, and we need you to be there too. More details will be forthcoming on my website. It’s time to take our world back. That may be the ultimate form of meaningful worship, an act of worship that we do, truly, need

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