Thursday, October 18, 2007

Jim's comments

Jim henderson recently replied to some of my thoughts in this post. I wanted to repost here with my comments. Jim starts out by quoting me. He says

you said
"It has been my experience in churches in general, especially in this country, that we are not allowed to engage our negative emotion. Like you're not allowed to feel really really angry and super super sad and at the same time to think "god's a bastard, the world's FUBAR". And if you do start thinking/feeling along these lines, you get corrected. But I think that's pretty toxic."

I had to leave church for some similar but different reasons. Bottom line Church is not and never will be a support group or therapy group. Church is based on the "family" model which brings a lot of baggage and expectations and limitations. One of which is to not say everything you are "really" thinking. Families need to hold stuff in in order to stay together for the long haul.
Jim, I'm thinking maybe not. Gottman found that couples have three models of conflict which all work equally well. The three models exist along a continuum from conflict avoidance (we just agree to disagree) to total conflict engagement (when we disagree, we just furiously engage). The way that any of the models work in the long term is that the couple needs to have 5 times as much positive interaction/engagement as negative. As you can imagine this means that the "furiously engage" model couples (Megan and I, for instance), if their relationship is working well, have a whole ton of furiously positive, delightful engagement. (yippee!!)
All sounds quite innocuous until you compare it with some of the more radical things Jesus said which definetly look more like a group on a mission - where talking in real time is critical so you can accomplish what you need to together.

I think AA and 12 steps (not church version) gets much closer than church ever will.

I stopped going to church not becuase it pushes the same buttons it does for you but because it makes me crazy in other ways.

Now I go to church whenever I meet with people I like.

I know that I could not live up to your expectations if I was a pastor- Church requires some limiting realities. I chose to disengage from the Sunday morning ritual because I couldn't figure out what it is doing.
I'm not convinced that you would disappoint me as a pastor, but I can see what you are saying. Zimbardo talks about how frickin' difficult it is for people who are inside the system to overcome that system--they are the heroes, and they are inordinately rare. I understand what you are saying in that I know for sure I'm not a hero, and the only way, generally speaking, that I've been able to overcome the system is to leave (or, more often, get kicked out). So you are saying if you and I were still in that system, you as pastor, me as layperson, then we would probably both find out that we weren't heroes, and either I'd leave, or you'd kick me out =). There's something to be said for the idea that system is so badly broken that it *should* be dumped (i.e. "church sucks"). The problem is that taking this position too strongly leaves one in a position where it's very difficult to be human with the people still inside the system. I think OTM strikes a good balance here.

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