Inconsistencies

We humans can be really hypocritical inconsistent.

1.  Some Mormons once told me they were forbidden to drink any coffee or tea, because caffeine was addictive.  The restriction, which I believe was universal, i.e., not specific to a ward/district, excluded herbal tea, which is not tea, strictly speaking, and which contains no caffeine at all.  On the other hand, Mormons were allowed to drink hot chocolate, which does have caffeine.

Hmm.  And we won’t even get into the rather blatant, blasphemous inconsistency presented by the very existence of the Book of Mormon.

2.  As I understand it, Amish citizens are ruled by local bishops, at least in some respects; some of the rules do change by the district/area.  I know of one Amish man who agreed to advertise his repair business through a local community theater, which was at the time producing The Sound of Music.  Leaving alone the generally wholesome nature of this particular show — it ain’t Gypsy or Rent, after all — I found interesting the connections between racial/religious persecution (well known in Amish history) and the Alpine area from which this Amish man’s family originated.  He had no prior conception of the show, but there developed a conflict.  His decision to advertise in The Sound of Music program was overruled by his bishop; the man retracted his ad, but generously, strangely allowed the money to remain in the hands of the theater organization.

Hmm.  Didn’t want to be associated with something in print, but allowed his money to support the enterprise.  It’s commonly known that Amish folks are forbidden to have telephones as communication devices in their homes, and yet some are allowed, by special dispensation.  Telephones are either tools of the devil or not, right?  Amish folks do not have electricity, yet they run hot water heaters on diesel fuel.  So many inconsistencies.

Please know that these paragraphs are not intended as a special indictment of the Amish.  We live near quite a few of them and consider one family our friends.  All the Amish I’ve ever interacted with are pleasant, charming, industrious, decent people.  Although they attempt to live devotedly plainly and unspotted from the world, they are, in another way, quite like the rest of us:  they are inconsistent and have some really silly rules.

3.  Churches of Christ are notorious for disallowing women from participating in certain roles.  One particularly striking, stark example is that, traditionally, women do not serve the elements of communion while standing and passing the trays from row to row.  However, women almost always pass the trays from side to side on a given pew.  Perpendicular service is not okay, but parallel service is?

Hmm.  Contrast the above lack of opportunity to serve with the frequent identification of church women as very good cooks who serve wonderfully at congregational meals.  In one case, we forbid serving, and in another, we essentially require them to serve.

Inconsistent?  I think so.

I see another inconsistency in the common notions of “Sabbath”:  despite the biblical fact that there is no Christian Sabbath — it was a Jewish thing with no documented, post-Pentecost manifestation — we look down our noses at those who rake leaves or wash their cars (do laundry? wash dishes? pick up toys?) on Sunday, and yet we have church staff who are required to work on the same day.  Here, we could eradicate church staff altogether and solve the problem,  😮   or we could at least stop holding tenaciously, with what I tend to take as false piety, to an a-biblical idea.

What are some other inconsistencies found within Christendom?

* * *

Recently my blog has attracted a dozen or so regular followers who don’t appear to have Christian underpinnings.  I’m glad for these new readers.  But I’m sometimes embarrassed about the inconsistencies seen within Christianity.  Those from without can see them; why can’t we see them from within, and make adjustments in our thinking and practice?

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7 thoughts on “Inconsistencies

  1. Rachel 10/05/2012 / 8:17 am

    So this post isn’t about “Sabbath,” and yet the statement is still there. I see your reasoning in not calling it “Sabbath,” but I’ve been pretty convicted (stronger use of that kind of word than I would usually use) about the whole rest/setting apart thing recently (as in, the past few years). I don’t have a great list of reasons to support it right now, but how can you justify that being the *only* 10 commandment we’re not expected to follow?

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    • Brian Casey 10/05/2012 / 12:32 pm

      First, riddle me this: 🙂 Are you challenging me on this because of philosophical or biblical rationale, or because of personal need/circumstance? 🙂

      OK, I’ll go ahead & reply instead of annoyingly waiting for another reply to my little jab there. . . .

      Actually, my reply got so long, and this (extended) topic is so crucial, that I’m writing a whole new post on this before anything else. Please look for that, and poke back as you wish.

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    • Brian Casey 10/05/2012 / 12:06 pm

      Thanks for writing, Scott. I don’t believe we’ve had any interaction in the past. It’s an interesting dichotomy you imply. I think I’d like to challenge it, but not being sure of your background or intent in this brief comment, I’m not sure how important this is to you.

      Doctrine is simply *teaching *or *that which is taught, *isn’t it? Things taught — whether by fiat of a created denominational body, or by near-universal assent, or by practice in a local congregation — would be doctrinal in some respect, yes? In the historical, orthodox sense, which I have limited use for in general, there are more codified bodies of teachings that become thought of, for better or worse, as “doctrine” above other scruples, positions, interpretations, and opinions. I do get that.

      My point was that we humans are inconsistent, regardless of the perceived level or status of the teaching or doctrine. Perhaps your point is that doctrines are more (surely you don’t consider them wholly) divine in origin, and therefore open to less discussion?

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  2. ozziepete 10/15/2012 / 12:39 pm

    Yes, it’s hard to be consistent. The bigger a body gets the more difficult consistency becomes. I don’t have anything against telephones or coffee, but I do agree with your observations about women serving. Somewhere along the line it was determined within CoC circles that serving = leading and leading = men.

    A couple of issues there. 1. the Bible never discusses “leading”, it talks about authority and teaching, but not “leading”. 2. serving in a worship service does not equal authority. (I get servant leadership, but I don’t think passing communion plates on a Sunday morning counts.)

    Here’s an interesting CoC perspective on the topic from late 1800’s. Too bad the voice got lost since. http://tinyurl.com/ctn32a6

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    • Brian Casey 10/16/2012 / 6:50 pm

      With thanks again, I’ll spend a little time with these Hicks writings in the coming few days. 

      A lot of this is semantics, or at least relates to definition of terms.  My experience of the abuse of positional authority in churches moves me quickly and decidedly away from anything that might smack of presumed authority, yet I can surely learn more about what scripture says w/regard to authority in Christian community.  “Leading” might well have come to be, at least in some instances, one manifestation of the “exercise of authority.” 

      “Serving” certainly is not the same as “leading,” although we see the morphing in the CofC similarly.  Whoever decided that passing trays has anything to do with leading?  I wish who whole thing weren’t so official.  Yeah, servant leadership is of course a good ideal, but neither am I sure that that ideal has much to do with what some of us (you, me, others) do in the assembly.  There’s probably a better way to speak about what happens when people influence other people’s thoughts, i.e., through meditations and talks, planning and executing song sets, putting words together in prayers, reading scripture, preaching, making announcements, and more.  All these things “lead,” but perhaps don’t have much to do with the passages in which the English word “lead” appears in scriptural documents.

      The use of the term “service” may muddy the water further, although everyone of course knows what is meant.  Thank you for reading and leading some of my thoughts.  🙂

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