i've been back for a week and half or so now and i've been:
*talking with a lot of people - a friend who works for episcopal relief and development and i'm meeting with someone in the mission office at the main office of the episcopal church (affectionately known as 815 due to its address of 815 second avenue in nyc).
i've also been talking with priests, pastors, nuns, and laypeople because of some thoughts i was having before i left for africa but put to the side because i was so focused on getting to africa. now that i'm back, i am having these thoughts again. and here's what i'm thinking. when i go to church and i watch the priest bless the bread and the wine i'm reminded that since we lived in caves, humans have always had a need for shamanism/magic workers/religion/spirituality. i think that's what the ritual of the church fills - when the priest stands there wearing big, colorful robes, waving his or her hands over wafers and a fancy goblet of wine ... it looks like a magic show or something to me suddenly. it looks incredibly silly. i've been going to the same church since i was 12. before that, i went to catholic school and i've been watching priests do this since i was small. i don't believe in transubstantiation and i'm not required to thank god (literally) but i've never thought the eucharist was silly before. now, i really have to ask myself - what is the purpose of this? why is this priest wearing that silly outfit that (s)he would never wear in normal life. why is (s)he waving her/his hands over these bits of bread and wine? what has this to do with the christian message? with the good news of jesus? with love your enemy?
i think part of it is that i'm just not feeling it at church these days. it feels like motions to go through, not a genuine reflection of god's love for her people.
i'm looking at emerging church. i did some research and found anglimergent and some emerging churches in manhattan. i also watched brian mclaren's keynote speech to the diocese of d.c. at their convention which i highly recommend.
i also found some stuff about neo or new monasticism. you'll just have to google that one, i can't include all the links. there's a house in north philadelphia that i'd like to visit. it's called the simple way. closer to home there's radical living. just looking at the websites they seem like intentional living communes. they're neither of them episcopalian but they are christian. they don't pray together like how traditional nuns do the daily office but they are living the message. st. francis once said preach the gospels. use words if necessary. that's what they are doing.
but, this is just the beginning of my search.