"I willingly subsumed my own personality in the collective personalities of whichever church I was attached to at any given period."
From this, Orr describes his eventual attraction to the Roman Catholic Church, in which he has not been officially received, and contrasts this attraction with his recent recognition that all organized Christian churches have essentially failed their believers.
The post addresses the kinds of questions and reservations that undoubtedly plague many Christians today, but it also offers a penetrating insight that contains an encouraging and genuine ray of hope.
I have excerpted some of Orr's excellent post below. I highly recommend reading the whole piece here.
But revisiting my path since that long-ago altar call at that little Nazarene church, I am troubled by the ease with which I did subsume my personality beneath the collective personalities of my peers. I am also troubled by recalling how the very idea of a unique personality, while paid positive lip service by the church members, seemed to be highly suspect. There was forever a subtle pressure to act, talk, dress, and think like each other. Anyone who stepped out of his lane was quickly spotted, and the Peer Pressure Olympics got underway in earnest. The entire experience was similar to what I noticed in the Marine Corps, where lip service was paid to mavericks like “Chesty” Puller and General George S. Patton, Jr….but any Marine who actually tried to march to his own cadence found out in short order that this just wouldn’t do. Individual personalities, especially strong individual personalities, are deeply suspect in the church and in the Corps.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this. And I’ve been thinking of one possible latent effect of the current Wuhan flu idiocy.
It’s a plain fact that the Christian churches — all of them — have displayed contemptible cowardice in bowing to those who ordered them to close their doors, deny their flocks the sacraments they claim are salvific and efficacious, and hide in their homes like mice in a hay bale. Early believers in the Way held meetings in secret places to escape torture and death by murderous Romans like Caligula and Nero, but they met. Compare this to the ecclesiastical reaction when the government mouthpieces ordered churches to shut down their holy work this past spring. We’re told the early Christians went to die between the fangs of wild beasts on the sandy floor of the Coliseum while singing hymns. Today’s Christians sing their praise & worship songs through their capped and whitened teeth, behind masks, while livestreaming on some social media platform owned by people who despise them and the One they claim as Lord. And they do this in the belief that they are being good servants, rendering unto Caesar. And they do this alone, willingly cut off from those who share their beliefs.
Forgive me if my tone seems harsh. I believe most Christians simply do not know how to react to evil, or to government fiats that fly in the face of “We should obey God rather than man,” much in the same way that most men today simply do not know how to fight or how to respond to physical violence. Christians are now almost completely unprepared for real life, which means that anything unexpected throws them into a most terrible panic.
The current state of affairs is not going to improve. Things are not going to get better. There will be no return to what we thought of as “normal” in those halcyon days before March, A.D. 2020. But people will become acclimated to the status quo, and this acclimation will feel like settled dust, and in that state, some of them will begin to think through what has happened. And when this season of thinking reaches a certain point, some of the Christians will realize that they will be on their own from here on out, that their church is not going to spoon-feed or hand-hold them any longer, and that any spiritual insight will have to come from their own efforts, not from denominational HQ.
And when that happens, it just may be that individual personalities within Christianity will again begin to rise. It just may be that individual personalities may lose the whiff of rebellion and taint of sin. It may be that individual personalities come to be seen as important, even crucial.
I may be wrong about this speculation. Christians away from their flaccid and impotent churches may very well form small church groups where they will quickly proceed to…pressure each other to act, talk, dress, and think the same. But it’s pleasant to think that the insanity we’ve seen since last March might give rise to a new vigor in the chests of individual followers of Christ. I keep hoping that the people who are pining for how it once was will come to see the liberty they now truly have, and to discern the shackles they once had fastened on them by the churches who have proven that they don’t really believe what they claim to believe.
After all, when you’re on your own, you are free to be who you are. Did our Father in Heaven really want us to be bland copies of each other, each generation becoming less sharp and more fuzzy? Or did He want us to fully be and experience our individuality? Mind you, I’m not talking about atomized, fragmented, self-serving individuality, but rather a vigorous return to who and what each of us are, determined to walk our own paths with enthusiasm and the spirit of exploration we once had as children.
I am not a Baptist, neither am I a Presbyterian, nor am I a Catholic. I am the offspring of the living God, and I must make my own way on this journey, even while loving and helping those whom I should love and help. I might be the same man, but I don’t feel like the same man who used to read Stephen Charnock’s “Existence and Attributes of God” while sitting beneath the barber’s clippers and razors. Was that ever really me? I don’t think it was. I think it was my attempt to wear someone else’s personality.
What strange creatures we are. What a piece of work is a man. What a beautiful day it is outside.