Is the Church a Crack House?

Is your church a crack house?  My buddy Pete argues via video that the church is the place many go looking for their fix.  Like a crack house the same people go week after week going to feel good for a bit only to go back again.  We aren’t going to born our brokenness and move beyond our present situation to something more beautiful or new – we just repeat and repeat the exercise of a momentary divine escape.  While I can think of situations the crack house image may apply, I like the ambiguity Karl Marx had about religion and its institutions.

Marx famously stated that “Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people.”  The ‘sigh-heart-soul’ part of this most infamous quote shouldn’t be skipped over too fast.  It may even resonate with the singer-song-writer or the stand-up comedian Pete references.

Roland Boer, my favorite Communist Calvinist (it’s a small and elect list), clarified Marx’s famous statement about religion being ‘the opium of the people’. He pointed out that “the image is quite ambivalent, for opium was perceived as both a common medicine and source of poetic inspiration, and, especially towards the end of the nineteenth century, as a social curse. It was both vital economically for the British Empire and yet it led to some of the worst elements of colonialism. Marx himself used opium as a medicine for his many ailment.” (you can listen to the interview at the 25 min. mark)

Pete may have his crack and Marx his opium but I will stick with beer.  The church is like a brewery.  It can make some of the most tasty beverages you’ve had to pair with the perfect meal OR it can market chilled piss during the super bowl with iPads and breast implants so you feel cool sippin’ on trash.

Got any other metaphors for the church, religion and the predicament of institutions?

Crack House Church from The Work Of The People on Vimeo.

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8 comments
Toy_Adams
Toy_Adams

I see the church as a gas station. I'm sure some might have heard this link before, but I have a slightly different spin on it. If the destination is to progress deeper into 'The Kingdom of God' then we do have a journey to be made. There is travel needed. Therefore, without regeneration, we are on empty. We are cynical and broken. I think Pete and Mark might suggest what usually happens. People fill their tank up and then drive around the same block until they are on empty again [approx. 7 days later]. Then they go to Church, fill up their tank, and repeat. It becomes a fix to allow our monotonous life to continue. But I propose that instead of going around the same damned block each week, we are to go to church to equip ourselves for the journey we face. Church should operate to break the monotony of our lives. We are empty, broken, and need something. We go to church, wears refreshed by the resurrected Christ, and we go out and drive! We progress toward deeper kingdom living. Then as we need more regeneration, we go to church for the next outpouring of grace. Then we travel more. This only can be possible through genuine community coping with their brokenness together. While some churches do this, others don't. And I think Pete hit the nail on the head that most churches are trapped, driving around the same block, and getting their fix. That's my two cents! Shalom.

mattmoorman
mattmoorman

Tripp, this reminds of the time in high school we all went down to see Earthsuit in Fayetteville or wherever it was. "Youth camp junkies don't get enough to make the buzz last."

BoEberle
BoEberle

At the same time, is the Church the place where we still go for a bit of "fictive buzz" as in the buzz you get from a few beers with dinner? Then the point would be to get that buzz in the context of rich community (the good meal, the higher quality beer) rather than by drinking shit in which the drink+meal+experience enriching buzz is reduced to a mere escapist buzz (there is no meal, no community, no quality in the beer itself). 

Randall808
Randall808

Jesus had a pretty good one with his bit about a den of thieves.

trippfuller
trippfuller moderator

@BoEberle the other Bo calls me a 2 beer Barthian... That is not the buzz U R looking for

BoEberle
BoEberle

 @trippfuller  @BoEberle That's almost what I'm saying... do we need a little buzz to actually believe the things we're supposed to or want to believe? And that's not necessarily and indictment. In any case, I'll look forward to what happens past the threshold of 2 beers at Subvert the Norm... 

waterwasntbuilt
waterwasntbuilt

 @BoEberle  @trippfuller On one or two occasions I have been the six beer "I'm a better atheist".... Pro tip: Overly enthusiastic drinking and radical theology don't mix, especially when you're meeting people for the first time.