Farting in church

Guilty. Sometimes the pressure builds and I have this incredibly optimistic belief that it won't stink. And 85% of the time it doesn't. But that 15% will peel paint off the walls. The best part about farting in public is people will suffer through it in silence, since the culprit, me, is not identifiable, unless my shoulders are shaking as I try to hold in my giggles (yes, I failed to advance out of that Freudian stage of my life).

The good thing about farts is eventually they dissipate. The distraction they cause is short lived. Babies, however, have no inhibitions when it comes to movements of the bowel. They do not care what is coming out, nor how loud it is, nor the likelihood of its pending stinkiness. They do not care how much of a mess they make.  They do not care how big of a smile they make when they do blow the tanks. Their product's essence will linger until their parents remove them from the room, change their diaper, maybe their onesies, and wipe down their baby seat.

Sometimes the church acts like me, sometimes it acts like me before I was potty trained. Sometimes they are spreading the aroma of Christ and simultaneously processing a big bowl of beans. Nicholas Kristof wrote a glowing opinion piece in the New York Times this weekend about the work of a Christian missionary doctor in Angola, who has stayed when no one else has, through that nation's violent in-fighting. Kristof's conclusion speaks of the aroma of Christ,
...I must say that a disproportionate share of the aid workers I’ve met in the wildest places over the years, long after anyone sensible had evacuated, have been evangelicals, nuns or priests. Likewise, religious Americans donate more of their incomes to charity, and volunteer more hours, than the nonreligious, according to polls.
Yet, Kristof is not alone in wondering why devout Christians are also known for their opposition to government intervention for the poor or preserving equal constitutional rights for minorities (especially in our current context for gays and lesbians). This is the stink. The church has always been a perfumed farter through her history. From her beginning, some wanted to keep her membership exclusively to Jews and treated non-Jewish believers with disdain, while others wanted to invite all takers in. Later on, as non-Jews became the majority, great leaders, like Martin Luther, turned against Jews. While some Christians sold themselves into slavery so they could bring the good news to slaves, other Christians were torturing and killing fellow citizens for not believing correctly. While some Christians fled their homeland for religious freedom, they were also killing some women for practicing, or being accused of practicing another religion freely, witchcraft. While some Christians were conquering nations and enslaving native populations, other Christians were seeking to end the atrocities. While some Christians tried to end slavery, others were trying to preserve it. While some Christians were trying to bring aid to Uganda, other Christians were encouraging the Ugandan government to impose Old Testament laws not only outlawing homosexuality but punishing it with long prison terms or the death penalty. While some Christians are trying to love their neighbors as they love themselves, other Christians are seeking to legalize discrimination against some of those neighbors for religious reasons.

For all those lovely flowers of aromatic delight and visual beauty, they sure seem to grow on top of a lot of manure. The stuff stinks. It doesn't stop stinking for a long time. By the time it decomposes, providing a rich bed for new flowery growth, fresh piles have accumulated elsewhere. Like a herd of diaper-less babies crawling around in each other's crap, the church spreads around the world. The people who fart in church are usually the lonely prophets. No one wants to sit around them. They don't make permanent stinks, but they are seriously impolite. They emit noxious ideas inside the church like "stop hating Jews" or "stop enslaving Africans" or "stop killing natives and stealing their land" or "stop ostracizing sexual minorities" or "stop raping children" or "stop abusing wives" or "stop aligning with politics" or "do justice, love mercy, walk humbly" or "don't judge" etc. The farting prophets don't hate the church, but bombs like this do not make them popular with the church,"The Church is a whore, but she's my mother." -Augustine

When the church loves well, it loves better and with greater impact than any other group, and because of that, when it takes a crap on others, it's especially traumatizing. When prophets pass gas by pointing out the disconnect, churches get uncomfortable. It is not polite to point out her faults when so much good is happening at the same time. That's like saying it's not polite to potty train such a cute child. The cuteness can be missed when covered in shit.

"Resist the devil, and often with but a fart I chase him away." Martin Luther


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