Apologies for my silence. As you know, sometimes life has to take precedence over writing. I now have more time for blogging than I did in May or most of June.

Since I last wrote, the question of estrangement from the church has continued to eat at me. I have a few more thoughts to offer, but nothing in the way of An Answer.

After suffering in an abusive relationship, a person needs distance from the former abusive partner. Distance can provide perspective; it also builds a necessary space between one’s former suffering and one’s current life.

In the case of suffering at the hands of the church, it may be necessary to stay away. Staying away does not mean that you have been abandoned by God.

But while you are away, if for no other reason than for healing’s sake, I think it is important to ask yourself where, if anywhere, you found life (or where life found you) in the church. If you can name those places where you found life in the church, then seek those things where you are now.

It’s possible to do this because we don’t live in a dualistic, Manichean world where the only light to be had is in the church. If we are to believe the scriptures, God is working elsewhere in the world than only the church. One way to discern where the leaven is working in the world is to extrapolate from any lifegiving experience you had in the church. God was, is working in that particular place; it is a sign of God’s working in similar lifegiving ways outside the boundaries of the church.

And if you cannot name any such lifegiving places in your experience of church, that’s okay too. The very fact of your finding life outside the boundaries of the church is itself a witness to God’s loving work and compassion.