“Stripping truth down to its original lie”

stripping truth down to its original lie.

My friend Keeley is one of my favourite people to talk with for hours. We sit in cafés and talk about the things we are learning, and we connect new ideas with old ones as we help each other round out our understanding of the world.

Keeley is a writer, too, but of a different kind. She is a poet, able to capture unique glimpses of humanity in lines and stanzas.

Recently, Keeley wrote this beautiful and thought-provoking poem that really resonates with me:

reaching-poem

I have often felt like I am broken. Like what I really am is only a reflection of what I present to the world. Like I need to lie to continue to breathe, to cope.

I often felt like this in the months before and after my mom died in 2008.

Feelings like the ones “Reaching” evokes are also similar to the ones that led to my leaving the church several years ago. Falsity. A sense of shallowness. “Masquerading honesty”. “Skewed perception”. (Disclaimer: I don’t believe all church communities are like this. Mine was. Too many are.)

Go back and read Keeley’s poem again, if you can. It’s so nuanced and insightful.

I want to say more about this poem, but I am afraid of not doing Keeley’s words justice.

So I’ll let them speak for themselves.

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Death of an Idealist

University changes people.

Or, at $7,000 per year for tuition, it had freaking well better!

I remember when I was a naive teenager in youth group, talking about former members of the group that had gone to university, and thinking that that was where they lost their faith.

At the time, I was active in my church. All of my friends were from church. All of my family, immediate and extended, went to church. It was a pervasive aspect of my life, and I didn’t foresee anything different for myself.

In my past life (before university, before my mom died), I had another blog that I called MuSiNgS, where I talked about faith-based topics. One such post in 2007 discussed an idea I took from a book called Velvet Elvis, written by Rob Bell, a controversial figure in the North American church. At the beginning of his book (okay, I’ve only read the beginning), he introduces two conceptions of faith: springs and bricks.

This is from my MuSiNgS post in 2007:

Rob starts the first chapter, titled Movement One: Jump, by comparing faith to the image of a trampoline, then goes on to parallel the necessary springs with the statements people make about their beliefs. Springs are the doctrines that, when working together with other springs, hold up the mat we jump on, or the structure of our faith. In order to make that trampoline work, the springs should stretch and flex, expand and retract according to how the trampoline is being used. Likewise should our doctrines, the truths that give depth and content to our faith.

By comparison, Rob points out that there are those whose faith more closely resembles a wall of bricks that are laid on top of each other. If one gets knocked loose, several more tumble. Brickians aren’t comfortable with questions being asked of their faith, because they haven’t been introduced to the trampoline. They aren’t familiar with the flexing of the springs. Rob cites the case of one Brickian who was adamant that, “if you deny that God created the world in six literal twenty-four-hour days, then you are denying that Jesus ever died on the cross.” Pull out one brick, the whole wall collapses.

When I was in youth group looking upwards at the people who had gone off to university, I was a Brickian. I couldn’t be flexible. Brickians are afraid of change, of new ideas, of anything that will challenge their worldview. I was afraid that my wall would fall down. I didn’t see that there was a trampoline on the other side of it. I probably would have been afraid of the trampoline if I had seen it.

Since those days, my bricks have slowly been falling down, one after the other, and sometimes two or three at a time. I have crossed lines I never would have dreamed possible for me. I have been introduced to the trampoline, and while I know that I am not pushing that trampoline to its limits, it is sometimes hard for me to remember those left behind behind their own brick walls, that may never discover the springs of a flexible faith. trampoline

Brickians are idealists. They have to be.

~~~

This year in university, I feel like I’m finally getting down to what really matters, things that are world-defining, like democracy and racism. I’m learning that there is very little place for idealism in the real world. Things are very rarely black and white, if ever. There are very few things that you can really know for sure.

Yes, I believe faith can help you be sure about some things. But it can help you hide from others. It can encourage ignorance and complacency. It doesn’t have to. But it can. For me, it did.

What I am learning about the world, my world, is knocking down the rest of those bricks. It’s opening up my mind. It’s causing me to re-assess those issues that I had been too scared to consider before, those things that I had deemed too controversial or too sacred to open up.

It’s a good thing. I may be losing my idealism, which I had thought a good thing, but I am not losing my optimism. Yet, anyway.

I am losing a tendency to hide behind crumbling pillars erected by fearful people, and gaining an ability to see critically. I’m not there yet… but I have another year and a half of university, and then hopefully many more years of life to continue to learn.

To continue to let idealism die, in exchange for wisdom.

 

Christians=Al Quaeda?

Yesterday, Jian Ghomeshi (host of Q on CBC radio) interviewed a homosexual columnist named Dan Savage about his response to the recent trend of gay teenagers committing suicide. Mr. Savage decided to reach out to these kids who are struggling with their identity and bullying by starting a YouTube video project called It Gets Better, where celebrities, etc. are adding their own stories of encouragement to these kids/people.

Unfortunately, Mr. Savage did a very stupid thing by way of defending the bullied teens: he blamed the death of these kids on the church and Christians, saying “They’d rather have dead kids than gay kids… their blood is on their hands”, basically equating “Christians” (he mentioned “fundamentalist” a few times, but didn’t always qualify like that) with the extremist Muslim terrorists that have attacked the USA.

This appalls me for two reasons: a) That there are people that think all people calling themselves “Christians” behave like the the Phelps family and the Westboro Baptist Church, the people that picket soldiers’ funerals with the message that God killed the soldiers because he is punishing America; b) That there are people out there calling themselves “Christians” and behaving egregiously towards other people!

Why? Why do these people persist with their ignorant hate?

And why do other people refuse to find out the objective truth about the majority of the Christians before ignorantly labeling millions of people in a manner similar to the stereotypical “Republican” way of viewing all Muslims?

Limbo: A Return to Transparency

I’ve been on a journey. We’re all on a journey, I guess, but my journey took me into territory I couldn’t have foreseen. It could also be said that it took me out of territory that I DID foresee myself living in forever. If you had asked me when I was 25 what I would be doing in 4 years, I would not have said, “Going to university in Canada after living there for 4 years”! I would not have guessed I’d become a server (and a good one, I daresay), join a local band (or two), fall in love with a local guy, have my own apartment in a tiny hamlet without even a general store or gas station… the story goes on. Key to this blog is the fact that I definitely wouldn’t have predicted leaving my church, growing disgusted with the institution that is the Church, and setting my whole “Christian” life on a little-used shelf in the back of a dingy basement.

Looking back, I can sort of trace my progress out of the “Christian” culture, step by tiny step, all the way to where I am today (which is a sort of limbo, I think). Did I turn the wrong way at those decision-markers? I couldn’t tell you for sure. All I’ve got is where I am today, and a hope that all will be well.

Back to this idea of limbo: I’m definitely not in a faith world right now, nor do I have any desire to be. “Christian” culture and lingo and attitudes continue to creep me out. Worship songs do not stir me; I don’t want to sing along even if I know the words by heart. Churches that I know are working hard at casting out hypocrisy and shallowness still don’t appeal to me.

Privately, there are times I cast up a prayer; I know God is listening. Every now and then I yearn to be discovering ancient and earth-shaking truths about the divine. Once in a while I think, “God is the only being that knows EVERY. SINGLE. BIT. about me”, a fact which is sometimes comforting, sometimes intimidating (but I wouldn’t want to believe in a God that a; didn’t know me, b; was never comforting, c; was never intimidating). I occasionally miss a certain depth that I was once working on, “down in my heart”, but then I think about how I’m working on balance and knowledge, and, therefore, depth in other areas that were too shallow before this exodus of mine. At university, I find myself interested in the history of the church and the changing trends that led to the traditions accumulated and passed down through the generations.

It’s limbo because I feel as if I’m going somewhere; I’m on a winding path that is nowhere close to being finished. Along the way I’m discovering more about who I really am, what the world is like, where my moral boundaries are, and what I can actually believe in and why. If/when I return to faith, it will be because my path has led me there, because the time is right and things have lined up; it won’t be because of a feeling of guilt over not going to church or praying or speaking churchese or reading my Bible.

So. Limbo… sometimes an uncomfortable place to be, but for me it means that the place I am going is not the place I’ve come from. It also means there IS a forward motion in effect. I’m liking limbo, and I’ll like it until I don’t, and then I’ll move on.

A Transparent Truth

The more observant of my readers may have noticed that all of my recent posts (notice I didn’t use the words frequent or regular), recent being over the last year or so, have been either about grief, ranting, or something superficial.

The reason? Fear, mostly. Fear of what others may think of me, of how those who have known me as The Good Little Missionary Girl might regard me if I delve back into the topic of faith.

No longer. I am recently emboldened, by what I’m not sure, but here it is nonetheless. Please read on with an open mind, knowing that my only intention is transparency and getting back to the roots of this website. I know that people will have strong opinions about these issues. Please don’t take offense, rather take my honesty for what it is, or leave it. I cannot remain silent any longer.

It is no secret that I have long been disillusioned with church as I grew up knowing it, with the “Christian” institution that has become normal. In YWAM (Youth With A Mission, the organization that took me to Mexico and Hawaii, etc.), I was part of a community of believers that lived faith, day in and day out, in our work and play, sharing our possessions, helping each other when needed, and so much more. Going to organized church on Sundays became redundant to us, other than to show our Christian Mexican friends that we weren’t heathens. Shame.

When I returned to Canada, I was excited about a working relationship with the church that I called my home church, assuming the feeling was mutual. I had been on “the field” for several years and had what I thought was some valuable first-hand experience. It didn’t take long before I realized they had no idea what to do with me, and the apparent lack of trust in my gifts and abilities was so different from what I had become accustomed to that I very soon grew disillusioned. I knew the church wasn’t “well”, but it became more and more obvious to me that they had no idea.

I became increasingly frustrated with what I started to call “The Superficial Bullshit” (TSB) that passed for “fellowship” (the Christian F-word). It was what occurred before and after every service in the lobby as people “greeted” each other with “God bless you” (what DO they mean by that?), during every service as people watched each other “worship” (“Look who’s just sitting like a lump during the song service”, “Look who’s praying at the front – wonder what they have to repent of”), and at cell groups and Bible studies (how much of your soul will you really bare when some people bring their children to what should be an intimate place of trustful sharing?), etc. It occurs to me that my observations could very well have been tainted by something changing within myself and not an accurate reflection of many who were participating in TSB, but I desperately longed for something grittier, something less outwardly polished, less publicly fluffy.

More and more, entering the church building made me angry. I realized they didn’t know me and it wasn’t a place I could safely “come clean” about my ideas of what a church should be: they weren’t going to change anytime soon. After only having my membership for a year and a half, I withdrew it with a letter to the board, which brought no reply back. I voluntarily stepped down from the one area I had been involved with because I thought I might be regarded as more of a subversive than a leader. Then, I stopped attending.

That was a year and a half ago, and I still feel as if I have been set free! I don’t miss it at all. I DO miss the faith community I had in YWAM, though. I miss the level of transparency we had with each other, the “real-ness” of relationships, how we weren’t afraid to be honest with each other, how we held each other accountable in many areas, and so much more.

Then, a little over a year ago, my mother died. She was a single mother who had raised me and my five siblings alone since 1994. She was a beacon of faith, a pillar of godly truth, with a degree in religious education from a Christian university college. We were very different people, with different personalities, but we both held faith very close to our hearts.

When she was sick, I couldn’t handle it. Being the oldest child of a single parent, I have always stepped up, been responsible, done more than I should have. But in this case, I couldn’t get far enough away. For the first time in my life, I didn’t want to be responsible. I sat in the living room while my siblings did the food and dishes for Christmas. Perhaps the implications of her being weak and dying were too much for me to process, I don’t know.

Then she died a little over a year ago. I wasn’t ready. I thought I had more time, thought that I could say good-bye, ask her forgiveness for being so distant, get some understanding as to why I felt I had to get away rather than stick around to be with her. But she was gone.

It shook my world, rattled my being to the core. She had been the centre of my existence, my own personal pillar of strength for so many years. Suddenly, the world was different. I had to grow up, get my own apartment, my own vehicle, my own insurance policy. I inherited a bit of money that I had to invest. I became co-executor of her estate, co-guardian of my youngest brother. I had to make decisions

My goal isn’t to air a list of grievances, but rather to chronicle my journey.

“I’ll bet Jesus likes you more now” – Stephen Taylor

A Transparent Truth

The more observant of my readers may have noticed that all of my recent posts (notice I didn’t use the words frequent or regular), recent being over the last year or so, have been either about grief, ranting, or something superficial.

The reason? Fear, mostly. Fear of what others may think of me, of how those who have known me as The Good Little Missionary Girl might regard me if I delve back into the topic of faith, or get as truly

A Day in My Life, June 2008

I had a sudden desire today to chronicle and compare the different stages of my life, as I look back and notice that my life in June 2008 is remarkable different from that of June 2007, June 2006, June 2005, and so on.

I invite you to be a witness on this journey.

June 2008 finds me 27 years old, living in a two-bedroom second-floor apartment in the only apartment building in a tiny town in East Huron County called Brucefield. This town is known for it’s flashing light, yellow if you’re driving between Clinton and Exeter on Highway 4, or red if you’re coming from either Seaforth or Bayfield. There is one elementary school, one church, one drive-in restaurant, two mechanic shops, one Asian/Home Decor/B&B/Lunch Room location, and one fire station.

My apartment overlooks a cornfield, the view of which is mostly obstructed by a lovely birch tree. Said tree helps me feel more confident walking around in my apartment in less-than-decent clothing on summer nights. After all, who would be driving by slowly enough whose gaze could penetrate the birch branches in the split second I happen to be passing through my dining room, several feet from my beautiful picture window?

I enjoy living alone, though sometimes I do wish someone was there to care whether I came in or not, or to wonder where I was, or to motivate me to do dishes, finally! My neighbours are understanding and quiet, the area is safe, and I actually have a place to call home. MY home. I’ve immensely enjoyed painting and decorating my apartment, putting all of my good taste to good use in a place where I’m the boss, now and forever.

Another addition to my life is that of Trixie the Toyota, a pretty, dark-green 1997 4Runner who goes with me everywhere I go. She hauls the accoutrements of my life and hobbies without complaint. She has survived being rolled over in the ditch after skidding out on an icy country road, being hit-and-run by some unknown person, a not-so-successful attempt at backing up a trailer, and carrying some of my more treasured furniture.

Not so enjoyable are the bills that go with being established and mobile, namely cell phone, rent, insurance, hydro, phone/internet, groceries, gas, repairs, etc. I can’t say as I ever yearned for that part of nesting, but I take it in stride, usually. I’ll be much happier when I can finally get my tax returns done (for the past 2 years), pay off my credit card, and have money set aside for winter tires.

I have spent more than a year at the same job, as a server at The Brew’n Arms English pub and restaurant in Bayfield, Ontario. Earlier this year, I graduated to keyholder and Dining Room Manager, as well as Kitchen Painter and Orchid-Caretaker extraordinaire. My bosses are wonderful people who have become friends and family, as well as the most understanding and flexible supervisors anyone could ask for. They make me want to stay and do my best for them, for their business, for their town.

Last year at this time, I was also working as a drywaller, and, shocker! I don’t miss it a tiny bit. I do enjoy my refined house-painting skills, which I have recently put to good use in a “cottage” in Bayfield, and hope to expand as a second job. If you hear of someone looking to hire a house painter, give them my number!

I’m not attending church because I couldn’t handle the one I had called “home” for years. I’m generally fed up with the institution that is what church has become, with all its expectations and traditions and legalism. I would enjoy a faith-based community of believers that is honest and open, a group that can laugh and be reverent in an informal way. I really could expand this paragraph to a whole essay, but suffice it to say that I have not encountered such a community, but I still seek to hold onto my beliefs. I am discovering more of what life is like on “the other side” (outside the Christian bubble), and it’s very educational, despite occasionally dangerous.

If it were possible to live on coffee, I’d do it.

I’ve joined the wonderful realm of BlackBerry, as I once dreamed of doing. And I’m paying for it, too.

Writing is still my best communication method.

I rarely see earlier than 10 AM, or close my eyes earlier than 1 or 2 AM. I’d like to change that.

The music in my life has developed over the past year as well. I am the youngest voice of the all-female cover band, Cactus Jam, and I love it, despite playing mostly Legions. I was also privileged enough to be part of Noted!, a project sponsored by the United Way in my county, which is helping to boost the music careers of the 17 women chosen to participate. We got to record 14 tracks in a professional studio, and a great-sounding CD is the result. This past winter I also ventured out to sing a few times at Open Mic nights at a local pub, and have been the featured soloist at two church events.

This year finds me recently motherless, a drastic blight on anyone’s life, and definitely on mine. It has changed so many things and finally propelled me into nesting in the first place. It also made my brother and I guardians of our youngest brother and launched me further into the land of disabled children in Ontario. I now have a lawyer, communicate regularly with several case workers, get all kinds of official mail, and have to return junk mail still addressed to Mom.

June 2008 also finds me blonde, and with an even greater fashion sense. I love that about growing older! I predict I’ll still be stylish in my 80s. If I’m not, remind me of now.

I’ve discovered I love flowers and plants, doing the Toronto Saturday Star crossword, Pinot Grigio and Shiraz, premium beer, CBC Radio, brie on melba rounds with semi-dried tomatoes in duck confit, Dollarama’s plain candles, serving dessert, mom’s old couch and armchair (with my apartment’s decor built around them), C&E used furniture in Goderich, Americanos from The Bean, and living in Huron County!!! (Sorry, but that deserved more than three exclamation points)
Being Sarah Elizabeth takes different shapes all the time, and I’m enjoying the process. Here’s to another year!

A Long and Meaningful Conversation Gone Public

(I’m on the right, in purple, and my friend is the one not on the right or in purple)


14/11/07, 11:45 PM


u still chillaxin?

yes, i still am chillaxin’

haha
i thought you’d be asleep by now
are you back from work?

yeah
we closed a bit earlier than 10 so i was home by 10:30

sweet
so, what do u do when you have a little bit of extra time?
how do u spend it?

right now? online
i also read and watch the west wing, private practice, house, grey’s anatomy, and the office… all downloaded shows i watch on my laptop

no, i mean, when u have “you” time, what do u usually do?

that’s what i do

sweet

if i’m out, i get coffee and read
11:50 PM

yea, u r a reader

and i write every now and then, too
can’t live without books

i like ur blogs

thanks!
looks like i’m about to get a whole new design and i’m STOKED!!!

design?
i thought i’d have a great time at youth tonite
i got up early this morning
had a great meeting

and not so much?

had an inspired moment
wrote down what i thought would be a great message
was very excited about it

yeah my blog site is really generic… i’m gonna pay to have it overhauled by a pro with an original design, etc.

came together pretty good
wrote it all down
prayed about it
got ready
and by the end it felt like junk
it just didn’t feel right
it felt like it sucked

so did you switch it up?

i hate that
no
i was very confident all the way until i actually begin to deliver it
and because i thought it was very good
i tried to deliver it all
but as i was sharing it it didn’t make sense

11:55 PM

shit
i mean, crap!

hahahaha!!!!
shit!!!! u r funny
i love your “realness”
seriously

yup.
i love that i discovered the edginess of swearing at the right moments
hahaha
12:05 AM

u r funny

u r right

r u chatting with a thousand other people?

just one
right now
and looking into buying a book
and emailing the blog designer

which one?

which book?
No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog

u r a nerd!!!!!!!!
ha!

pretty much
but this blog thing is important to me
and i want it to be a truth destination

yeah, i can see that

not just a journal about what i’m having for lunch!

i admire it

i wanna inspire people to be more honest
which is a challenge for me ’cause it means i have to be really honest with myself

well, to be honest
u do inspire me

well right on!

12:10 AM

i am inspired to be honest with myself too
and working on being more honest with people
and to be honest, i am not doing the best lately
being in the US right now has taken the life out of me
i do not feel alive
like my regular self
it sucks!!!

for me, i think it’s living outside of YWAM

i love God so much
but i feel like an alien here

i feel like an alien outside of YWAM.

i don’t know
life is just different

could it be part of that yearning for heaven thing?
feeling lonely ’cause we need more of God?

i think so
being heaven bound

or maybe part of the church culture that exhausts you?

yeah
that too

i really just can’t stand it all
i mean, church, en si*, is good!!

it just always feels like you are the odd one around
yeah

but it’s just how we’ve come to do it that eats the life out of people!

yeah

just read a really interesting and truth-full book called So You Don’t Want to go to Church Anymore by jake Colsen

ok…

it’s the fictional story of Jake and how he meets a man named John who seems to have known Jesus in person, that’s how much he has the truth of God deep inside of him
12:15 AM

cool

each chapter is about a different conversation Jake has with John and how John helps Jake find God’s truth for himself, which happened outside of a church building
but it’s very clear that it’s not anti-church or anything

that sounds like an interesting book to read
yeah, i know

just talks about how we’ve made church into a self-serving institution
that teaches people how to fail, pretty much

it’s so hard to look at church and see what is wrong with it without being negative

free-thinking is frowned upon
programs are emphasized, etc.

yeah

anyway, it was very enlightening and an easy read… pick it up if you can!

i have had a hard time trying to figure out what is worth saying and what is not at youth group

hmm yeah i have the same struggle with youth people themselves

haha

i have a study group that’s me, a 25-year-old guy who was raised catholic and has been reading the bible and discovering faith for a year
then a handful of 16-18 year-olds
some of whom grew up entrenched in the pentecostal church

interesting
wow

and another who only recently “got saved”

“got saved”?

and knows virtually nothing about “christianity”

ha!

well she uses that term now because that’s how all the pentecostals called it
but i personally don’t love it

yeah

and i’m afraid she’s already getting a stilted view of what faith is, just like her christian youth group friends have grown up with

man…

it’s a very crazy mix… me growing up one way and then almost flipping over to have a faith that looks SO different!
i feel like a doctor in theology with them

hahaha!
i know

anyway, i talk to them about faith and church, and i really have to try hard not to diss the church that most of them attend
because that’s their reality!

yeah
i struggle with the same things

but i try to talk about other perspectives and point out ways that could be better to do things, and how i have my own personal opinions, and some things work better for other people

12:20 AM

like we do not think we are better

but i DO think their (recently it was mine, too) church is sick and i’m actually scared of what they might learn there

just more aware, maybe, of the futility of this life and are longing for that “more” in Jesus

well, and the freedom that comes when faith doesn’t have to take the rigid shape of sundays and wednesdays, tithes and small groups!

that is where i am, at least
yeah

where people desire to gather and they do, spontaneously, and God-conversation happens over meals because poeple are hungry for him, not because you’re striving, planning to have people to gather because that’s what christians DO!

but u feel so odd because everyone else thinks u r a heretic, a crazy son of a gun

yup
sorry – i’m passionate about this, as you can tell

of course

and i have to work on the balance of not hating on the entire church as a whole!!

well, i need to hear it and share it too

recently i heard that the vast majority of north american churches are gaining people only because people are switching churches from “dead” ones
few new converts come in and few churches are being planted
wow, huh!?

yeah
i had heard that
most of the growth is people switching chrches
there is really no outreach mentality
it’s all programs
and tradition

yup
grrr it makes me just… i don’t know… it makes me feel gross!!!

and religious institutional shit
ooops
crap

haha there you go!!!

sorry
yup

12:25 AM

hahahaha!

um. I’M not offended!

i know
i am just laughing hard right now

hahahaha
nice

it’s cool to have a friend like you

one of the things that turned me off most about my church is what i call the Superficial Bullshit that hits you in the face as soon as you walk in the door

i am so glad we can talk about this

like…

superficial “hey, how are you?!” ‘s when people don’t know ANYTHING about you besides who your mother is and where you work

yeah

like feeling the need to say “God bless you” to every person you see… because that’s the loving thing to do
what does that even mean?

i feel so bad because there are people in church who really need God

i mean, i know God can and does bless people, and isn’t it sweet to wish that for someone, but is it actually heartfelt??

and yet, we are so burnt out doing the “other things”

i found such a lack of deep relationship, hardly any pursuit of friendship outside the doors of the church, a group of people who don’t KNOW each other, they just know about each other

that we do not have the energy to give any more because we are spent by everything else

yeah, so burnt out trying to keep people in our churches!
right??

right!

imagine if we weren’t so close-fisted about our buildings and our schedules and our rituals

i think this is the longest chat conversation i’ve ever had
!!!!!!!

haha you don’t hang with me often enough!

ha!
i guess

12:30 AM

continuing on…. imagine if we didn’t try to make sure our financial butt was covered, if the majority of a church’s finances weren’t focused inward

well

imagine if our kids could ask “why” questions about God and faith

love it
i think for me the most riddling thing is why leadership is so concerned about image
and what things might look like
and the lack of communication and trust
and the lack of confidence and team work

yeah. HATE the image bit!!

right now at our church no one seems to be enjoying working together
brandon** left already

wow! didn’t know that.

nancy**, (one of the staff members with the longest tenure) and one of the most faithful is thinking of leaving too

and why are they leaving?

the new pastor is just basically calling the shots and not communicating real well with anyone

yikes

and anytime one of us shares an idea or even points out a few things about his ideas, he basically shuts them down

oh my
classic for practically sending people running from your church!
i see why you don’t work at your office!

12:35 AM

like, my wife and i have gone a few times into his office to share with him how we feel and stuff, without complaining (or trying not to) and just wanting some communication or feedback, but none was given
ha!

yeah

i feel bad
cause i feel like i do not really like him
and i am praying that i learn to love him anyways

but you work for him

regardless

and you’re supposed to like him, he’s your pastor
yeah

God is good
and he is really, really faithful
we are here, and we won’t give up until our work is finished
but man, it just seems to get harder every week

sort of heavy, huh?

yeah
but, oh well
life wasn’t meant to be a joyride
specially in the ministry

no, but we were meant to have freedom in Christ

we know that

i mean…

yeah

you do have a purpose there, i’m sure

of course

and we all have to sacrifice

even though at times is hard to see
or remember

but you can still live in freedom
from the things that bind many “christians”

yeah, like drinking a beer tonite

sweet

and hopefully others will be inspired

nice!!
hey i’m thinking of putting some of this conversation on my blog site, edited, of course… would you mind?

nope
i’d be honored

sweet!

hey girl, and friend, i gotta go
sleepy time

okay. buenas noches

bye

Edited for spelling, clarity, and anonymity.

* “en si” – in and of itself
** Not their real names

Catering

Writing stuff that’s going to be read by everyone from your grandmother to the kids in the youth group where you’re a leader to some guy you met once to your former boss is complicated. It really is. Not joking with you there.

Do I go with slightly funny or can I possibly launch into mocking Canadians, Mexicans, Hawaiians, the Dutch, or those from the H.C. (Huron County, where I currently live), because I know all those people groups well and I can do it? But one of them might be offended, eh! I’m thirsty (translation: it’s 2:58 pm. translation: coffee time)!

Should I stay away from mocking church and its tribal nuances, as Drew Marshall so eloquently put it, because some of my readers think church is the best thing, like, ever, hallelujah, amen?! Or will there be enough church-goers (I’m one of them, I guess I’ll admit) that can laugh at themselves to make it worth the risk?

Can I swear (because I’m okay with that every now and then, when it’s appropriate)? Or should I be concerned about what Mr. Board Member might think of me should he happen to hear about this website and come over to read this exact post? Might I get “fired” from being a youth group leader if I say “what the hell” instead of “what the heck”? Even though we all know “heck” is a substitute?

There are things I’d like to write about that I don’t want to expose while living in my hometown, where people that have known me for years (and know that I consider myself a “missionary”, which means I’m holier than everyone else, obviously) can look me in the eye and stare in shock. In that one restaurant that everyone goes to for brunch. I’d like to talk about my church, but not when I live two blocks away and my next-door and 9-door-down neighbours attend there, too. They might hear about this website, and then they’ll look at me differently, you know they will! You just can’t escape gossip in a town of 7500, although I must say it seems to be better than living in CLA-n, town of closer to 3000 with one main corner in the centre of it.

I also wonder if those people who get the being-online-24/7 thing (they’re the ones who get “24/7”, too) and know what blogs are actually want to read my stuff if it’s longer than a few lines and doesn’t include pictures? If I don’t make references to rap or raves, and if I don’t say motherf****** at least once every 30 seconds, will they understand me?

Like I said, complicated. I wish I didn’t care. I wish I could just write whatever I felt like, whenever. One of these days, I’m gonna write a tell-all book and then it will be too late for me, wherever I live, but I feel much better about that somehow. It’s as if getting published in print adds an air of legitimacy to would-be scandal, whereas publishing your own subjective words online is suspiciously subversive.

I strangely want people to know that I AM scandalously and suspiciously subversive, but I want them to figure it out without my telling them face-to-face. Because that would just be awkward. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned growing up in a small town, it’s that when things get awkward, either get drunk, or get outta there!

Jeans: The Key to Levitical Rebellion

Yesterday I had the privilege of chatting with a girl who is, like me, a singer and worship leader at an evangelical charismatic church. We began to share experiences, compare notes about practices, styles, expectations, etc. And then we came to something that has had me curious for a handful of years: being part of the worship team at her church comes with certain expectations.

Those expectations stipulate a code of conduct befitting a group of Levites who lead a congregation into the throne room of God: no drugs, no premarital sex (some of these are obvious), no drinking, no jeans on the platform on Sundays, etc.

Wait. Reverse this train. No jeans on the platform? No jeans on the platform on Sundays?

Please understand the tone of this blog isn’t meant to be abrasive, but simply, well, incredulous. We can scripturally justify no sex before marriage, but what about the rest? Sure, most would argue that drugs mess with the temple of the Holy Spirit, and many would say that alcohol does, too. I’d be interested in delving into those standpoints with you, if you’d like, particularly the drinking one, but let’s get back to the jeans, and how wearing them, on The Platform, on Sunday, should be frowned upon.

Don’t get me wrong… I get it. I’ve done the dress-up-for-church thing for, well, all of my life. But why do we dress up? And why should those on The Platform dress any better than those not on The Platform? (Hint: The answer “We’d put on our best clothes for the queen of England, why not much more so for God?” isn’t going to be accepted in this discussion.)

I want to exacerbate this topic, right here, right now, but it’s becoming increasingly difficult to carry on a one-sided discussion. Thoughts?