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Oct 23, 2006
Jesus: A Problem for the Churches

Father Joseph Girzone has written a new book. “My Struggle With Faith” is an honest, open look at the church (both capital and small "c"). Perhaps the most helpful of his chapters is near the end of the book, entitled "Jesus: A Problem for the Churches?"

Girzone writes: "Only in in my later years did I come the shocking realization that Jesus can be quiet irrelevant in the life of the churches...It is surprising how little clergy know about Jesus...Are we ashamed of Jesus?...is He too simple for a highly intellectual professor to spend time making Him real to students hungry to learn about Him?...Why is He so thoroughly ostracized from our schools and our pulpits?"

It has been my experience too. We love religion, form, power, ritual. We don't know or we don't like Jesus.

Following a day long intensive session with about 15 clergy and their supervisors (District Superintendents) I was standing in a buffet line getting my meal. One of the supervisors approached me and said, "if you don't stop talking about Jesus I will puke."

Some only call Him by his title "Christ"...and most of those really don't mean Jesus...They have some whacked idea that you can separate Jesus from Christ and Messiah from Jesus. Modern "adoptionists" they have "intellectual difficulty" with a real person, flesh and blood, who was and is and will be God.

Yes, Jesus was and is and will be a problem for Churches. He will continually fulfill the prophetic word of Simeon in the Temple...He will be the cause of the rising and falling of many..even many so called Christians who if they hear that name one more time will "puke". Yet for me Jesus is the corner stone, the foundation, the basis, the One, the Lord, the only God our Savior. As such the problem for me is following Jesus, past what was, beyond what is into what will be.

And that will always be a problem for the dead and decaying institution we call the church. The further the leadership of the church is from Jesus, the less healthy it can be and the more it resembles the oldest profession going.

Jesus: A Problem for the Churches..

Book Review:
My Struggle With Faith by Joseph Girzone
Doubleday Press 2006

While this book is at times a bit too apologetic of the Catholic Church, I am amazed at the honesty and integrity the author shows on every page. He is not afraid of facing hard questions (the Pope, authority, celibacy, the way the church shoots it wounded, caring for others as Jesus would care) and he is not afraid to question the status quo. Father Girzone pushed us all to recognize the journey of faith is a constant ebb and flow of questions, doubt, faith, struggle, joy, life and death. And in that pushing he makes some issues resoundingly clear--how to live with Jesus, loving others, embracing all attempts to discover God without losing our place in Jesus.

This book is not a "academic" piece...it is a real story of a real life that struggles (don't we all) with faith, God, Jesus, life, Death, others, church... While Father Girzone says he has found peace with many of these struggles, I think he is most helpful when he allows the reader to wrestle, leaving "answers" for some other time, knowing the struggling is part of the process of learning hard lessons and owning the reality that most of the answers are fleeting, temporary and will change again in the next turn of life.

Above all, Father Girzone has been honest. A rare thing is a "religious" book. In an atmosphere (Christian Church of all brands) characterized by so much intellectual dishonesty and deception, it was a refreshing read.

Chicago, 2004
jeff Patton