Friday, October 28, 2011

portishead and religion-induced panic attacks

Oh God. What's been going on? I'm at the library. It's my last non-working Friday after like nine years of working Monday - Thursdays. Now that both the kids are in school all day I'm going to 40 hours a week instead of 32...not sure how I feel about this. Kinda excited. Will miss my Fridays of Target and library and giant iced coffee from McDonald's. But hey, more money. And I will finally get to experience full Friday workweek joy where everyone goes IT'S ALMOST FRIDAY YAY FRIDAY'S HERE TGIF LOL ROFL LMAO

Ahh what else. We went to Portishead on Sunday with Tori and Bobby. By the grace of holy God I am friends with the Supergrass tour manager and he is TMing for Portishead on this tour so he texted me and said "How many backstage passes would you like?" So we took Tori and Bobby because they're in the Seattle symphony and Portishead has strings, right, but turns out they weren't touring with them this time. NO MATTER it was extra fun and we got to go straight back to catering and try not to bug the band before they went on. We were watching Man U (like I give a shit but it's cute to watch Englishmen get excited about their little soccer games) and there was amazing food and I got caught up on what the Supergrass lads are doing from Mick the TM and Gavin the lovely roadie who I met when he was touring with Hotrats last year. It was kinda fun going out from behind the curtain to where the big stadium was and Mick said "sorry you're in with all the plebes" - ha! Because we WERE. There were these skanks with tube tops and butterfly tattoos on the back of their necks and they were dancing like it was a Dave Matthews show. It was hilarious, and angering, but mostly hilarious. The set was gorgeous and I love how understated Beth Gibbons is, she was just wearing jeans and a t-shirt and they did this sparse version of Wandering Star that gave me chills. David put that song on his first mix tape to me. I put Glory Box on my first mix tape to him. Oh Portishead you helped get us married. Maybe.

I've been wrestling with sadness that's been resurfacing from the break with church last year. Just so sad. I have to feel it. I can't believe this stuff goes on, but it does.

And today I've got a bee in my bonnet about Mark Driscoll's latest post on his pastormark.tv site, he posted this article called Dating, Relating and Fornicating (classic) and I felt really sad and upset while I was reading it. Some quotes from this article that especially caught my attention:

"[At Mars Hill] tend to verbally beat boys who can shave (men who are adults chronologically but kids in terms of responsibility) like drill sergeants. The ones who don’t leave to blog about their hurt feelings tend to stay, grow up, man up, and eventually get married to a nice gal who would like to have babies but does not want to be married to one."

"A guy told me it was very important that his future wife love rock climbing, until I explained to him that it’s not the ideal activity for a pregnant lady."

"The greatest love story in the Bible after Jesus and the church is Ruth and Boaz." (According to who?) 

"Ladies, the Bible teaches that the man should lovingly lead as the head of the home."

"Also, when dating someone, remember that the goal of Christian dating is not to have a boyfriend or girlfriend but to find a spouse." (No, this is a goal of Christian culture, not the sole goal of a Christian who is dating.)

"Sometimes there are habitual sins, such as porn addiction, that need to be addressed." (There's that self-diagnosed Christian culture porn addiction again.)

"Grow as a Christian under solid, qualified elders and leaders." (Qualifed by who? Mars Hill's subjective unbiblical rating system of which people are valuable to your 'church or organization' as they say? See their rating system here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/photo.php?fbid=10150520474258782&set=pu.130933208781&type=1&theater)

"If you have decent families, honor them." (Is the subtext here "don't honor them if they're not decent"? Christians are to honor everyone whether they're 'decent' or not.)

"Talk with the leaders at your local Mars Hill Church about opportunities for singles." (Subtext: only a Mars Hill church?)

"Any guy who takes a woman away from godly family and community is dangerous and up to no good." (Reminds me of the families of Mars Hill members who have shunned their families for their 'covenant sins.' See this post, especially the 2nd comment from the bottom: http://freedom4captives.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/47-still-around-and-new-comments-posted/)

Anyway. I put all of this at the Stuff Christian Culture Likes facebook page if you wanna take a gander. People are still commenting, which is good times.

Oh! Want to hear about my religion-induced panic attacks, Simone's hickey-covered coworker & presenting tacos as ID? GOOD cause it's all on the latest Dongtini.

This library computer says I have to go now so...k bye!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

panties is the grossest word

On the latest Dongtini: Simone and I talk about gross words, placenta agriculture and and Taco Bell rage. Is 'panties' a gross word? Take our urgent poll. And, Simone does not agree that moist is gross! Is this an Australian thing or something? Listen here homeskillets.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

a year later

Weird, blogspot says this is my 800th post. That's kind of poignant because this is going to be a big entry. Not a long one, but I just want to speak to the fact that a year has passed since we left our church that we'd been at for twelve years. A year ago I was entering the darkest pain I've known since my parents disowned me. Our church laid off the chief musician artist-in-residence. When anyone is fired from a church it's a horrible thing and the people who do the firing always acknowledge this. But in every instance the firing makes things easier for the people who are the Big Bosses of the church. No one is ever fired for going along with what the main pastor person/people want, they're fired for having too much conflict with the leaders, in whatever capacity that means. Every single time. I'm a preacher's kid and my husband is too and we've seen this tens and twenties and thirties of times. Never thought it would happen in our church home. Sometimes I wonder why I let my guard down and I always think immediately afterwards that I'm glad I did. I don't want to live with my guard up. I've worked to lower my guard and everything is more beautiful and it hurts more this way.

So a year ago our friend Phil was fired and as we began to learn the reasons why this happened, which boiled down to the pastor wanting to change the vision of the church, my heart started to break into pieces. This isn't how church is supposed to be. Plans and vision aren't more important than the people in the church. Yes, it's how the western Church acts and is widely deemed acceptable, but my intuition and also Spirit told me that it wasn't right. The Church is where we bear each other's burdens but history with church hasn't been that people really come forward with a lot of transparency and vulnerability, but that IS when real Church happens. We bear one another's burdens and it is an honor and it is beautiful. I don't know how much of this is a Christian culture thing, but it is really rare to see people be forthcoming with their struggles in a church setting because struggles are embarrassing, sometimes really embarrassing. I feel that rather than confront these things in ourselves and ask for our church family to gather around us to help us, we don't talk about them and get busy doing other things, and that's when church starts to operate like a business instead of a family.

When I was in the very dark time following Phil's firing I was scraping around for hope and was so scared that I'd never find any. I cried so much that David asked if I would get dehydrated and the kids stood at the foot of our bed and had these big eyes and touched my ankles and I told them that I was going to be okay, I just had to feel my sadness and I was grieving our church and I was grieving what had happened to Phil and Robin and Flora and Chet.

Now that it's been a year I wonder if the church family we left is happier without Phil's ideas and personality posing conflict with their ideas and personalities. We are still living with this pain every day. I wonder if they feel any pain, but I don't know if I really want to know. I will ask them directly if I feel like I'm in a place where I need to know and if I can handle their answer.

I wonder what would have happened if the people who felt Phil should be fired had gotten the congregation's opinion first. That is the kind of church I need to be at, one where the hierarchy doesn't play so strong a role. And I didn't know that while I was part of that church. I trusted the leaders a lot. And I'm glad I did because I loved that church so much, they were truly my Seattle family, especially since my parents disowned me. They helped me through the initial part of that and were a wonderful support. I felt so provided for; I was provided for. That bond with them made the firing that much more painful. If they could let go of Phil that easily, how much more easily could they let go of the rest of us? We met with the leaders in different assortments and varieties five times over the next few months, and when they told us that they would be glad to send us to another church, without our asking for their blessing, I had half of my answer, but not the full one. Then when I told the leaders that my intuition was telling me that something wrong had happened, an elder told me "your intuition is wrong," and I had my answer. I had to go. I couldn't be part of a church whose leadership would tell me my intuition is wrong. The Holy Spirit speaks to us through our intuition. S/he tells me stuff and sometimes tells me to tell others and I really wish s/he wouldn't because it's a giant pain in the ass, but s/he really gets after you about that sort of thing — not exactly pushy but s/he won't leave you alone about it. So I kept going to them and telling them what I needed to, and at our final meeting (the night before my birthday actually) I had my answer. I had told them everything I could and it had been revealed to me that I needed to go. I wrote a letter saying how much they had meant to me and our family and how grateful I was for how they'd been part of our lives, and I told them why I couldn't be part of the church body anymore, and I had a strangely horrible and wonderful birthday. I felt free but so scared. I didn't know if I would ever find a church or faith community or whatever that would want me, really want all of me. That was the hardest stretch of time, and a year later I am still feeling it. Phil and his family live with it much more closely than we do. Their pain is so vivid that I can feel it when I'm around them or when I talk to them on the phone, even if we're not talking about what happened. I'm feeling it now as I'm typing about it, the heavy shattered feeling of being disposable. I don't think the story is over, not even close to being over. Big and good things will happen and I have no idea when or how. We need to feel this pain and move through it. I want to honor it by writing this and giving shape to it. It needs to be spoken to. It may be the most spiritually traumatic thing that will ever happen to those of us who have been affected by it. For the people who made the decision it might seem like a very distant memory and not anything they really think about much, I really don't know, but I do know that many of us still feel immense pain every day. These kinds of wounds take a long time to heal. My counselor said to give myself twenty years to really feel resolution. It may happen sooner, and a significant amount of healing has happened for me, but hardly any has happened for others.

So I just wanted to speak to these huge events that most of us who were there for them would rather forget because they're actually still happening; they are affecting us. I would like to check in again in another year. I wonder how much healing will have happened by then? I will actively hope for lots.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

why i think mars hill church in seattle is dangerous

I know a lot of people who have been harmed by Mars Hill in Seattle and Mark Driscoll's teachings so I talked about it some more on this podcast, if you're innarested.

Monday, October 3, 2011

a nice email i got

"Steph,

I've written you so many emails in my head, but the events of the last week on the FB page have compelled me to follow through. I know you don't know me from Adam, but I stumbled on the SCCL blog several months ago at exactly the right time. I proceeded to read everything--I started at the beginning of the blog and read each post and every comment. I then read your Adverbs blog, (and the Hammerhead blog...OMFG!!!! hahaha) and I also read as far back as FB would let me on the SCCL page. What I found was a haven of different opinions, and my God, it was healing. The grace that had never been offered to so many of us was freely offered to even the most offensive commenters. And more than that, I felt like I came to know you. You have the most amazing way of putting your soul into your writing, and when I sit down to read your stuff, I feel like I'm sitting down for coffee with a kindred spirit.

Almost all of what you write about could have been lifted from the pages of my life. I was born into a cult, and I coped with the abuses by fitting the mold as best I could, and I was good at it. I planned to stay there for the rest of my life. The only reason I got out is because, in spite of everything, I'd met real Jesus there (that's what I call him to differentiate him from flannelgraph jesus, the jesus of CC...haha) and it was through that relationship that I knew I had to go away to school (Bible college, of course). I was gone for 5 years before I began to see the church for what it really was.

The point is, when I finally began to see what was really going on throughout my childhood and into adulthood, my world collapsed around me. The problem with a black and white worldview is that the moment I realized ONE piece was grey, my entire world no longer made sense. In that one moment, I realized my understanding of the world was impossible. Suddenly I didn't trust anything I had ever learned, heard or believed. Not one. fucking. word. Even my relationship with real Jesus was out because I could no longer trust myself at all--if I had bought in to all that abusive shit all those years, how could I trust myself to have any kind of real relationship with anyone, especially someone invisible? I moved into agnosticism and then became full on atheist. I still remember the moment when I was sure that He didn't exist--I have never, ever felt more alone.

This quote from your Adverbs blog was like reading my own diary: "...I am only a part-time atheist and not a full-time one... and even when I'm an atheist I still hurl my trust in Jesus and sob in my Father's arms - the arms I hope are there. Because during the times I don't believe in God and trust in him anyway, that's when it's faith."

When I was a full-on aethist, I prayed this prayer over and over "I know you're not real, I know I just imagined you. But, please, please can you just pretend to be real? Because I can't take life without you." I felt like the one thing that I'd thought had gotten me safely through all the shit had turned out to be a crutch of my imagination, and I was left without the one safe place I'd thought I could trust. It took me 2 years after that initial world-falling-apart moment to begin to even be able to consider taking some steps toward dealing with the shit and moving toward healing.

I eventually found a therapist and began sorting through the past in earnest. Slowly I moved back to a more agnostic place, and now I'd consider myself a part-time aethist/agnostic/real jesus person (Xtian is still an off-limits label for me and may always be--too triggering). Some parts of me believe real Jesus exists and have relationship with him, some parts of me believe he exists and think he doesn't give 2 shits about me, and some parts of me are still sure that I just made him up to get me through the shitty situation I was born into. It's interesting living in the gray after so many years of having everything so neatly labelled and sorted, but I'm loving it. I feel alive and connected to the world more often than not for the first time in years.

And that's where SCCL comes into the picture. I'd gotten to the place where I'd realized that I do not buy into the all-or-nothing, inerrancy-of-the-Bible, we-have-it-all-figured-out-and-everyone-else-is-wrong sort of Xtianity that I'd grown up with, but that left me lost and broken-hearted. It felt like if I didn't believe that, then I was without hope of being able to be part of any sort of church or faith community again. All I'd ever experienced was a dogmatic community, and I couldn't fathom being able to find a place where it was OK that I held my understanding of real Jesus loosely and that I didn't necessarily toe the party line on a lot of 'fundamental' ideas about Jesus and the church. That's when I stumbled into the community that has grown around SCCL. You all gave me hope that I could find real, meaningful community with people who believed all kinds of things about God and the Bible, and for the first time in a long, long time, I didn't feel so alone.

My life has shifted drastically since I first came upon the SCCL community, and I'm really grateful. For the first time in years, I have not only considered church a possibility in the far off future, but I have actually visited a few churches. If you had asked me 6 months ago if I would have gone to church last Sunday, I would have laughed in your face. But instead I found myself at an Anglican church, (scandal! I judged the 'chosen frozen' so harshly in my growing up days) crying through the whole thing and connecting with real Jesus in a corporate setting for the first time in years. This is nothing short of a miracle for me.

So in light of the drama this week on SCCL, I wanted to let you know that what you do has meaning and you have had a real, tangible effect on my life. I know you've gotten a lot of shit from people over the years, but from my perspective, this bout with Jeff has been particularly brutal. I want you to know that though we've never met, you are on my heart and mind often, and I've thought about you almost constantly these last few days. It's so disconcerting when someone like Jeff starts thrashing about in the haven that SCCL usually is, and I especially hate it for you, since I know you have your own personal shit going on. I wanted to let you know that I'm sorry and I care that church stuff has been sucky. I will continue to send love, comfort, courage and peace your way. Thanks for being you."