Being a pastor's kid who grew up to be quite frustrated and resentful of the Christian culture that I grew up in, I became bitter, bitter, bitter. I hated Christianity and I hated Christians; but I loved Jesus intensely. I found the "Emerging Church" and they helped me vent for a while; but they really never helped me recover. During this period I learned what a lie I had been living; that the whole era of Christianity in my life was a complete sham and the total opposite of Christianity. I was so put out with the hypocrisy, the nationalism, the capitalism, the conservativism, the "culture war", the scare tactics about "going to hell", and the naivete of it all that I had missed out on real life. I had instead lived a reality that Christian culture said I should conform to; which sucked, but I never would admit that because I wanted to be "saved", I wanted to avoid hell, and I wanted to be accepted by someone-- because being a large man with a brain, a knack for cult humor, and a affinity for all things ironic isn't all too popular in adolescence.
Me and my father eventually had a falling out. I had had enough of it and his expectation for me to be a Christian culture Christian; because I knew good and well that CC was a sham to underwrite Protestanism's power in Western democracy more than it was about the Kingdom of God. One day I wrote to my father, "Dad, if what you are suggesting to me is Christianity, than I am not a Christian." That hurt my father deeply. We've had a rocky relationship sense, but being that we are both very compassionate guys, we insist that we learn to love each other. And so, we've set up boundaries to where we can talk but we don't ever talk about faith; its too big of a scar for me and him and we can never agree on anything.
Anyway...that was when I started to realize that I was becoming the very thing that I hated; a self-righteous, confrontational asshole-- only I was just a bit (ok, a lot!) more liberal. I discovered that I was going down a path of self-destruction. This is what Christian culture does; it sets people up for a lifetime of denial or a lifetime of resentment. Either way, you become a self-righteous asshole and you have no openness in your life and instead replace openness with what you need in order to protect yourself.
I then found radical Christianity; writers like Karl Barth, Stanley Hauerwas, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jacques Ellul, John Howard Yoder, Rob Bell, and Greg Boyd; and their voices got me into a mode of changing. But, nevertheless, the more I realized how much CC misses the damn point, the angrier I got at it.
But then I found your blog. Your blog is like a death metal show. Its a place where angry outcasts can come to a safe environment and find communion in their anger; cry together, laugh together, and share our very real stories. In this, they are enabled to find some peace, because quite frankly most people scarred by CC are incredibly isolated and feel completely alone (as I was for years until I went to seminary!). Whenever we express our anger, its like a mosh pit. Its not so much that we are angry at that other person as much as we are deeply scarred people who are trying to transcend their lives that were saved from perpetual denial or perpetual resentment.
And so, I'm pretty sure that SCCL helped save me from a pit of despair and resentment that I would have had a hard time pulling myself out of. For that, you are a Godsend, because you make Christians laugh at themselves again. You make us laugh at ourselves, because at the root of laughing at ourselves is humility and openness; both virtues that seem to discipline our lives with the openness needed to avoid the patterns that CC begins in the lives of people and many have a hard time recovering from.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
email of the year
Every so often I get nice emails about my Christian culture blog and it makes me emotional because the blog is really cathartic for me. There's a little community around it that is so healing and I feel really fortunate to have it. So here's one I got today: