Brian’s Reflection: Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Going to church doesn't make you any more a
Christian than going to the garage makes you a car.
- Laurence J. Peter, Canadian author, born on
this day, 1919
You may not think that you know this guy. But you do. He is the man who famously said, “Everyone rises to their level of incompetence”. It is known as the “Peter Principle”. And I think that Peter was correct. Except for one thing. A very few people have both the self-knowledge and the humility to say “No” to the last step on that ladder that leads to the rejection of one’s true gift. We are few and far between. Those few among us humans are the ones who had the good fortune to be taught by wise teachers - often because they chose their teachers. Most of us are seduced by flattery and self-deception. The result of which is sadness all round.
Peter is wrong however – in my view – that going to Church doesn’t make you a Christian. Oh, it won’t if you just “go”. But if you “go to church” and you deal with both the reality of people that you find there, as well as the Self that is revealed in the interaction with others, God, Self, and Holy Wisdom, you will indeed be made into a Christian. At least in Christianity. “Going to church” means dealing with all the beauty and all the ugliness of being human. It means learning “hard” things - forgiveness, reality, existential beauty, equality, oneness, love, the seduction of power and hate, appreciation, the mystery of sacrifice, simplicity, transparency, servanthood, and a myriad of other things.
Believe me. It is easy to have fantasy views about “church”, and about Life. Living in those fantasies isolates you from reality – and it creates bombasts, bigots, and the self-righteous. But it is the Truth that sets us free.
Drive into the “garage”. Knowing what’s broken makes the repair possible.