Deliver Us From Evil

‘The Greek Orthodox Church: an institution that wants the devotion of its subjects badly enough to threaten them with damnation if they don’t attend it, but not badly enough to translate the old-language texts with which it addresses its subjects so that said subjects may be part of the service. An institution that has veered from the essence of its Lord’s teaching far enough to be on par with the Pharisees, whom Christ rose up to confront in the first place.’ ~ THE OTHER DIMENSION

They ask me why I don’t go to Church during Easter. Why I prefer to spend time alone, secluded from others.

Simple. I’m a semi-gnostic / agnostic spiritualist, meaning that I believe in a higher power, a Demiurge of sorts, but have little faith in organized religion. The way the Church goes about its business is ridiculous in my eyes, and so are the ways in which the faithful observe its diktats, especially in this day and age. In the best of times, the faith is a glorified stage performance, and there’s nothing wrong with that, as long as it remains within the confines of civility. Now it’s nothing but a second-rate circus, at least on the island of Cyprus.

Here’s how it works. Going to church in Cyprus is a sure way to feel possessed by the vile spirit of mindlessness and corruption the Christ rose up against in the first place. All around sanctimoniousness and showing-off. I can’t stand the pretense, the noise, the fanfare and carnival. I can’t stand the endless gibberish. Listening to a service delivered in the old tongue, which no one fully comprehends, is a waste of time, not to mention insulting and dangerous. The refusal of the Church to adapt to the times is exactly that, insulting and dangerous, if not self-righteous and mean-spirited.

Above all, I am unable to swallow the irony of it all, the fact that I’m attending liturgies and sermons delivered by self-righteous preachers and their minions in ways I cannot understand or engage with, sermons and liturgies concerned with the actions of someone Whose call to Divinity was His inspired defiance of the corrupt preachers of the day.

The godly rebel known as Christ rose up with great hubris, as almost everyone knows, challenging the Pharisees and Sadducees and all authoritarian clergy and their self-righteous agendas, calling the world to engage with the word of God in terms that made sense on both mental and spiritual levels. He ‘translated’ the Scriptures for the average person using simple allegories to relate their messages to the audience. He bade everyone to apply these creeds in ways that could be understood and shared.

So please tell me, how the hell could I ever go to church today? Why? To hear today’s Pharisees go about their business in a manner that is all too reminiscent of yesterday’s Pharisees — all in the name of Christ, no less, the rebel whose very essence was opposed to ‘business as usual’? The irony is too great. The disrespect to the teachings too deep to ignore.

No. I prefer to spend my time away from church, so that I may stay a little closer to the message of God, for what it’s worth. I stay away from church to keep my spirit a little less tainted and a little more open to the notion of something truly otherworldly.

Watch this space for Part 2…

By Nicolas D. Sampson