Tough Love and Faith

'But I wondered when I worshiped in my middle-class Catholic parishes, as I wonder in my mostly middle-class Orthodox parish today: What do we have to offer the rough, uneducated, poor man who might walk in our door one Sunday, in need of spiritual sustenance? Would he find both repentance and mercy preached, and preached in a way he finds inwardly compelling? Or would he more likely encounter bourgeois self-help nostrums, with or without smells and bells? Would he leave wanting to change his life, or would he depart in boredom or self-satisfaction?

If the latter, then that's not the kind of cheap-grace therapeutic religion the poor can afford. Many of them know that, which is why they seek out the fundamentalist and charismatic churches, which aren't afraid to stand on the old-time religion. In downtown Dallas last Friday, I passed an old black man, modestly dressed and holding up a well-worn Bible like a torch. "Obama can't save you!" he said, nearly shouting. "Only my Jesus can save you! This book is the only change you can believe in!"

You'd never catch bourgeois me doing something like that. I bet Andrew of Crete would have, though. Poor me.'

- Rod Dreher, 'Tough Love and Faith'.


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