Saturday, November 04, 2006

quote of the week and a dilemma


quote of the week: from gladly suffering fools: "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. There are Transformers, more than meets the eye. Transformers, robots in disguise."

This made me laugh uproariously. Ihope it may do as much for you.



I ran into this dilemma after revolution conference this weekend. I went away from the conference thinking "ok, I'm going to pursue kindness and justice". And almost immediately I was really unkind to my mother, which I didn't want to be. This was complicated by the fact that I was being unkind to her because I was furious over her (seemingly to me heartless) stance of injustice towards the people of iraq. I had a rather vitriolic argument which ended with her saying outright "If I have to choose between voting for someone who is going to bomb Iraqi children, or someone who is going to bomb [allow for the bombing of] this neighborhood/my children/grandchildren, I'll vote for bombing Iraqi children." god I felt furious, and I was unkind in my fury. Let me just say that I think this is a totally fabricated choice which doesn't exist in the real world. Moreover, I *want* to choose to suffer violence rather than perpetrate it. Furthemore, I think this is the *real* Christian choice (...ahhhh, like duh! the Cross!). the thing is, I just can't seem to translate this *want to* into anything concrete (or maybe I don't *really* wanna!). dilemma dilemma.


Dwight Friesen spoke over the weekend about how maybe being christian means identifying those places/relationships where we are doing the us vs. them thing, and choosing to *be* the "and" which replaces the "vs." in that equation. That is, he says, maybe christ calls us to lean into the relationships where we most experience the us vs. them thing. The problem I see with this is that I hate the way I behave in those relationships, and that's *why* I lean away from them. Dilemmas and paradoxes--how can I escape these mazes and traps? (ahhhh, duh, you can't, you're human!).


At the risk of carrying on at far too great a length, I also want to say that I am enormously happy for Ted Haggart, who can at last begin to experience reality and thus experience god. and I am enormously pissed off at New Life Church in Colorado Springs Colorado, who in their recent press release glaringly display the very attitude which at least 50%ishly led to this whole debacle--namely, a massive refusal and inability to see or acknowledge their own toxic codependent traits and attitudes which led them to be attracted to and live with an addict for all this time. What's enormously sad is that if (that is, as/when) they continue to refuse to look at themselves and ask "now what about *us* made us choose to sit under this addicted person and be so deceived?", then they will just hire a new guy who covers his stuff up better. Very very sad. And if you don't believe me, go ask Jeff Van Vonderen, who deals with this shit for a living.

19 comments:

me said...

hey ben. i am on a similar journey about the us v them experience, so have no answers. I also find that the relationships of the 'me' v 'them' are the ones that show me for who i really am - and i hate it. but i am finding that it's not just my sin (selfishness, arrogance) that keeps the 'dividing wall of hosility up) but also my pain - things that have hurt me in the past. I am trying to work it out so that i can be authentic. I hate 'false'. but its often what i find myself being in those relationships. Oh coounterfeit soul! And yes, i am human, but if christ lives in me, then i know that if i keep trying to give myself - pains and joys, dilema's and sin, to him, stuff will happen. (please god!) ... I too would like to have something tangible to express the 'revolution' of justice and mercy that jesus calls us to. For now i am working on me, in those 'us'/'them' relationships. Will see what happens!

Interested to hear what you think the church you cited should have been doing that it was not doing ...
thanks for the post ben, R

Benjamin Ady said...

Rhea--thankyou for your gracious words! and what a great question! What should New Life have been doing that it was not doing? I'm rather averse to shoulding on myself or other people.
I just wanted to point out the lie. So can I rephrase your question? What is the truth? the truth is that ...pastors are not a different category of people, and that people regularly screw up and hurt each other and do things we wish we hadn't, in biggish ways. so choosing to be in relationships where the regular mutual acknowledging of this isn't part of the relationship is toxic. So I would ask the question--how many people at new life ever heard haggard honestly and *specifically* acknowledge the current reality of brokenness in his life. and if they weren't regularly hearing that, what lies were they telling themselves to allow themselves to believe in the facade?
I have largish suspicions about the inherently toxic nature of mega churches. does the very idea of a mega church have built into it fake (that is, toxic) relationships? Perhaps mega churches are inherently suburban, and suburbia is inherently toxic because there is *no* real community. oh dear, this could mean that this means me. Never mind. I take it all back. I don't wanna have to change.

byron said...

I loved the quote!

Too much to say about the dilemmas, so I'll just say 'ouch'. Nobody in Australia had heard of Ted Haggard (or very few, even Christians), but he still made the font page of the Sydney Morning Herald (albeit down the bottom in a small box). Crash and burn stories sell papers.

me said...

So, you feel that if relationships were built around the pastor in the right way, in a way that acknowledges that everyone sins, this situation would be less liekly to happen? I hope so. altough, the nature of sin is that it draws us away from honest relating because we feel ashamed. but that's what you r saying i guesss, knowing this, we should plan for it? That encourages me to do this with people in my life. I am no different ... thanks :)
as to community and church ...
In my experience,community is the best and the worst. i have been transformed by god through communities of honesty and faith, and they have been painful at times too ...
you could look at it in terms of- what are the benefits, what are the costs. is it worth it? Or is there a better question?
i am interested to know what your idea of a good community of faith would look like.... Ta ben, R

Benjamin Ady said...

Byron--

the armed forces know better than we do, that crash and burns don't just happen. There is a traceable series of events, and the series (now I mean the plural of series--annoying word that doesn't have clearly delineated singular and plural!)tend to have similar elements. But the papers won't talk about that, and they won't follow the redemption--cause redemption doesn't sell papers.

Benjamin Ady said...

rhea--glad you were encouraged to "plan for it" with people in your life. I do this, and it totally saves my bacon on a daily basis. In terms of cost benefit analysis of community vs. no community, to me that is sort of like a cost benefit analysis of life vs. death. and that's a serious, not a flippant, remark. Because given my druthers (god i love that word--druthers), I'd choose death every time. it's so much less painful. but god (the bastard) isn't into giving people (or at least not me) their druthers.

Benjamin Ady said...

in terms of what a good community of faith would look like: so far, the ones that work for me are 12 step groups. so a good community of faith would look more like a 12 step group than a sunday morning church

Kate said...

Ben,

What do you like about 12 step groups? I don't know alot about them, apart from cliches in movies and the scenes in "A Million Little Pieces" which is only pretending to be real.

me said...

Hey Ben, about your serious comment above - thankyou for being honest...there is so much to say in response, and yet nothing would do it justice...

i guess in a small way this (chat) is community too. Thank you :)

A big ups to communitys of authenticity that allows space for us to be real and grow ...i get it from prayer group - a group of 7 girls that i meet with, and then at from church (becuase it is that kind of church).
R

Benjamin Ady said...

Kate--"What do I like about 12 step groups"

--emotion wise--they feel like the safest place on earth to me. This is for several reasons--one of which is I am safe from engaging in my worst behaviors while I'm at a 12 step meeting. Another is this was the first place in my life I ever regularly experienced the strange and mind blowing intersection of all the "good" stuff (that is, god, hope, love, real connection...etc.) and all the really bad stuff (fill in the blank) in the same room. Another reason is that this is perhaps the only *group* setting where I know I'm 100% safe from being criticized, rebuffed, looked down on, thought down at, condescended to, condemned, etc. Another reason is that is is perhaps the only group setting where I know there will be 0% fakeness (which I detest). I could go on.

Benjamin Ady said...

Rhea I am megastoked for you that you are part of "that kind of church". it's been rare (that is to say, the limit as n goes to infinity has been zero) in my experience.

byron said...

druthers - what a great word. I don't think I'd ever heard it before. And yeah, you're totally right, crashing and burning isn't random.

I think I know what you mean about 12 step groups - some small groups I've been in have been something like that - feels like you can get past so many of the usual defences and talk about what's really going on - and people actually listen and really care. But it's not common and takes a lot of trust.

me said...

partially inspired by this blog,our prayer group shared at a new level tonight. and it was guud! (tried to make it sound american)...
thanks for 'stuff'. R

Benjamin Ady said...

Rhea--awesome, and glad to hear it, and thankyou. This is the second occasion over the last little whilish that I have had positive feedback on my willingness to be honest about negative stuff--this after years of zero positive feedback about that (although probably this is explained by two other things: 1.I've become more "mature" (whatever the hell that means) or more diplomatic or less purposefully offensive (nah, actually, probably this simply isn't true)and 2.I've changed (the tiniest bit) in the direction of not beating the crap out of myself all the time, so maybe it's just that I've grown more able to *hear* the positive feedback.
You crack me up with the "guud"--when I read that, I heard Megan's voice, who sometimes mocks my american accent by doing exactly this-trying to sound american. Hilarious.

Benjamin Ady said...

not common! exactly! uncommon. But here's the really wild thing: *very* common in 12 step groups. (could this be what the church is *supposed* to look like?) (could this be the *real* church?) check this out--I can drop in on a 12 step group anywhere--(that is to say, London, Seattle, the outer banks are 3 places I've been) and it's like this--it's common. wild.

Anonymous said...

Any 12 step groups I've heard of are for people with addictions - drink, gambling, drugs...

Benjamin Ady said...

Anon,

This is a very appropriate title for you, given the subject.
There are 12 step groups for an absolute ton of stuff under lots of different guises. Yes, originally they were for alcoholics, and they they branched out to other types of addictions, but now they're much more ...diverse. For instance, there are 12 step groups for: ptsd, clutters, emotions, ... here's a web page with a few: 12 step groups

Helen said...

Hey Ben
Sometimes I think, how can we judge people so quickly when we don’t give them any help? We are often so disappointed and judgemental of people who get divorced, or have an affair or any other addictions, or who just simply struggle in their faith. But how many churches create an acceptable environment for people struggling with these things? My Anglican church back in vancouver started a discreet anonymous group for people with pornography addiction. To me, not only does it help the poor people who struggle with this, and no longer have to feel alone in their sin, but it signals to me that it’s a church that permits sinners and therefore I could belong. I agree with you, New Life church has a more positive future ahead of them, if they wake up to some things from this experience. Whether they can - as you say, a mega church to me goes against the idea of community.
In the press release on Ted, it talks about the journey of 'healing'. i hope this is healing for Ted that they refer to rather than the church healing. if so i think this is gracious - and recognises the fallibility of us all?
Helen

kate said...

I read this quote today; don't know the origin:

"The church is the only army that shoots its wounded."

I also remember another quote:

"May he who is without sin cast the first stone."