This is such a heartfelt, beautiful lament.

It is, I believe, one of those both/and situations. It (church life) could (and apparently was) a positive experience. But, it was in many ways insulated from the world, the realities of a not-so-positive, not-so happy world outside the walls.

I saw a video the other day where one participant claimed the 1950s were the apogee of "Christian faith." The interviewer pressed him to name a particular year in the 1950s that typified this. With every year chosen ('54, '58, etc.), there was a litany of issues which Christians either blithely ignored or — worse — were on the wrong side.

Perhaps the better phrase is: The 1950s were the height of Christian attendance; not Christian faith.

And Confirmation! The uninspired trying to teach the uninterested about the unexplainable. Good luck with that.

My last assignment was "... a church that’s just barely getting by. A church with a few kids and a ragtag choir. A church with a part-time minister. A church with a building that’s constantly in need of repair. A church whose building isn’t primarily used for worship. A church with an organ or piano that’s out of tune."

In that setting, I actually felt I could do my job as pastor.

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Oct 18, 2022Liked by Rev. Angela Denker

Wow, just wow! Well done, Angela...I will become a paid subscriber now. I follow you on twitter, but this is what you are meant for: long pieces with thoughtful nuance. Thank you. (I'm also an ELCA pastor). I grew up in the Catholic Church after Vatican II. Had much of the same fun times that you describe.

- "While we often think of America’s past as a devoutly Christian one, instead statistics show that church attendance in the U.S. likely peaked in the 1950s." I didn't realize this, but it makes so much sense.

- "A sense that in the 1950s all was “as it was supposed to be” betrays a hint of racism among white Christians, because these years were not equally good ones for Black Americans, and for non-white Americans in general." I often remind folks of this fact when they lament about the 'old days.' Thank you for writing it.

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Oct 18, 2022Liked by Rev. Angela Denker

Wow! You nailed this! Thank you. I was that mom I’m the 80s and 90s doing the whole church thing and I was in my element. Now I look back with such a very different perspective. I don’t attend church now and neither do any of my grown daughters. But I look at the way you ended this article and I too have hope. We are doing life differently than I thought. I’ve grieved some of it and I celebrate other new ways of looking at what it means to be Christian. So thankful for your writing that articulates all of this.

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