Click to read About First Church of the Streets.
January 2005 (Updated by the 15th)




Photo Copyright © 2004
by Jessica Kuzmier

     What is the world today supposed to be? What is it about, and why? Is there any reason to even care about asking these questions anymore? What is a church of the streets, anyway?

     The church of the streets is a means of answering these questions. It is non-sectarian in the sense that it doesn't rely on any one religion to satisfy these answers. Neither does the church of the streets negate religion for comfort in secular classic philosophy. With it not being constrained to any particular dogma, the church of the streets can employ any or all of these methods. It is also free to use those schools which are considered too foolish to answer anything by so-called higher thinkers, such as popular culture. Just as religion and philosophy seem to give comfort to many in times of uncertainty, to many, popular culture is a refuge and an oasis. In this respect, it is as much a part of the church of the streets as anything else.

     This so-called worldly church is a type of exploration. It is one that expands boundaries of paradigms that are comfortable, but stagnate if you don't move from them. A way of seeing the world may seem right to some, and it may become easy to reject any threat of change to it. When this denial becomes extreme, one can find themselves frozen in one place. It takes a lot of effort to move from that comfortable place. But sometimes, the journey of life demands that one undertakes a journey to a new place of thinking, which what the church of the streets seeks to do.

     Explorers have always been mavericks, whether they are the concrete type, like Lewis and Clark canvassing the American West, or mystical explorers such as Sai Baba or Meister Eckhart. Explorers have a tendency to go beyond what is expected, what is considered to be standard, and what is established as conventional bounds of a life. Instead of accepting that life has a concrete definition, they take steps to surpass the known and make the known world a larger paradigm, whether everyone else is ready for it or not. That doesn't mean that their journey is fun or comfortable. Going beyond the limits of known reality isn't the kind of thing designed as a relaxing sojourn. The undertaking is such that a person has to be really motivated to be able to undertake it. If you try to stretch the limits because you think you should, it will probably be so difficult that you'll go back to what you knew before, regardless of how good or bad it was.

     A church is one form of convention that is accepted as a standard of society. Most churches will, at least on paper, allow anyone to join its midst. But for the most part, spoken or unspoken, there is a code of behavior that one has to accept in order to join the ranks of the particular church. This isn't necessarily bad; it's just a way to have the one church stand out from the Presbyterian church down the road and the Baptist one in the next town. It really is just group identity. Each church looks to have a cohesive personality, so to do it, it sets its own boundaries as to define itself. If you don't like it, there is generally another church that you'll feel comfortable with, even if it's in the tavern, and not the tabernacle.

     The idea of a "church of the streets" may sound at first that it is populist, revolutionary, and ready to take on conventions that are ostensibly outdated and will speak for the common man who isn't reached by the pulpit. But it really isn't that at all. To some extent, that sentiment can be just as judgmental as the ethos it is purporting to challenge, namely, that the fundamentalists are all wrong, those who are in power are all wrong, society is all wrong. It's just a substitution of semantics, at best. It also precludes the fact that those inside the church walls or halls of power are "different" from the ones on the outside. They don't have the same feelings or experiences. To be fair, one may say that if those in power did have the same feelings as others, why would they be so harsh to people who are struggling just like them? In other words, if love is what all people want, and love is all you need, then where is all this love hiding out? But those in power most likely think the same thing of the powerless; believing that if they wanted the same things, they would lay down arms themselves, and all would be well. Again, a universal phenomenon, but no unity or solution is reached by this consensus.

     Really, a better way of defining "church of the streets" is to ask, can God be found? Is God just at the door of your heart, to be found anywhere, or is he so beyond definition that his definition is all, therefore, nothing at all? Is it just by living that one experiences God? In other words, when you hear a Baptist preacher say that God is rationally defined in the Bible, he is right, because that is an experience of God; but by going about your business, paying bills, going to work, taking the trash out, that is also an experience of God? Is it possible that separation of church and state does not exist, because neither exists by itself? Can God exist even when his name is silent, because he is Silence?

     The delicate weaving of experiencing God without defining Him is a strange journey that gives many directions, but no clue as to what the last arrival holds, Each day is a journey, and each molecule holds the universe that is God, and beyond that. To paraphrase the author Annie Dillard, since we are on Earth, we may as well get the feel of the place. Each day is a mirror in which to expand our definition of God, as well as each encounter with all life. The church of the streets is a road by which one travels, where there is no destination, but each step grows in possibility.


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