Leaving a Church

When a person is dissatisfied with life in church, what is he or she to do? If, for instance, the people on the right and left in the pews are just too complacent about the surrounding community, or disinterested in growth by study, one asks, do I accomplish by continuing here? Do I work against the faith by hanging on so? Should I keep my misgivings aside, or do I need to depart?

The Prodigal Son

A congregation has powerful means of shaming one who contemplates leaving. The prodigal son comes up. One of the brothers fails to respect and appreciate the father’s love, pulls out his stake and leaves. When he comes back, the one stayed loyal, who hears the rejoicing over his brother, has only the rewards of a stalwart. The father has to entreat him to come in to the festivities.

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A Cainish Cri de Coeur

In what follows I ask the reader to accept rather much of the vertical pronoun; please forgive.

I am not a pious man, but a crooked man  to whom ours is a very wily god (Psalm 18:26–27); a sinner in a relationship with God that reflects the fact: thick, and loaded with ironies.


When I joined my Episcopal parish, I hoped the other members’ acceptance implied communality in some large matters. There is little reason to think so, because we seldom actually discuss ideas—especially not theological ones; as with politics, it’s bad manners to do so. However that may be, I suspect this is more than the predictable letdown the morning after the prodigal’s arrival.

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