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Christianity and the Social Crisis


“In a few years all our restless and angry hearts will be quiet in death, but those who come after us will live in the world which our sins have blighted or which our love of right has redeemed.”
Walter Rauschenbusch, Christianity and the Social Crisis

February 26th, 2019

My mother was a Congo. I like saying that, reminding myself where the spiritual foundation of my life was laid.

I don’t recall attending church with Marge, In fact I recall very little before the age of eight. But after she left, our neighbors the Millers took charge of my spiritual welfare. They, too, were members of what was then the Congregational church, now the United Church of Christ, and took me with them and their daughter Andrea to Sunday service in the building pictured above. Where was Roy, you ask? On his way to open the gas station; for Roy there was no day of rest.

In the mid to late ’50s the Congregational service was an echo of New England puritanism, I was about to say that every woman in the pews was ancient, dressed in dark tailored suits, wearing veiled pillbox hats and white gloves; each and every one a clone of Mamie Eisenhower. I was about to say that until I realized you have absolutely no idea who I’m talking about; Mrs Eisenhower’s name conjures no image, no sense of decorum or reticence.

The Millers moved to LaGrange Park (1030 Sherwood Drive; Fleetwood 2-6762—I remember shit like that) and with their departure my attendance at church came to a halt. Which distressed me not in the least.

It has taken decades for me to understand the religious heritage represented by Congregationalism, part of the Reformed tradition. Merged in 1957 with two other Protestant sects, it became the United Church of Christ, “…an extremely pluralistic and diverse denomination.” And though I no longer consider myself a Christian, it gives me considerable satisfaction to say that the UCC has, along with Unitarian-Universalists, become the most liberal denomination of any size. I only mention that because another mainstream denomination, the United Methodist Church, voted today to reverse its progressive attitudes on LGBTQ issues.

Two thousand nineteen is the centennial year for the building of Asbury United Methodist Church, and now a major schism in their denomination may threaten the celebration planned for the summer. I suspect Rev Candace Varenhorst is saying something about this right now.

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