Confessions of a Christian Fake

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Looked in my “drafts” folder and found this from 3 years ago. I never finished it, so here it is… got any other suggestions?

 

A couple weeks ago I was taking my oldest son to his drum lesson at a local music shop. On the way to his practice room, I saw this book on the shelf: The Easy Christian Fake Book. Of course, being a music shop, this is a chord book that has simplified chords to Christian music. But I still wish there was an Easy Christian Fake book. It might have advice like this:

If you want to fake being a Christian, here are some easy things you can do…

  • When you’re asked if you had a good time with your friends, respond with, “We had great fellowship.”
  • Put a fish sticker on your car. Extra points if you get the fish swallowing the Darwin fish.
  • Talk about being “blessed.” The Christians know what you mean. Everyone else will be a little confused.
  • A “God’s Gym T-Shirt”

(I could keep adding to this, but I really do have more important things to do… any suggestions?)


Pesky Questions

Through the summer, we’ve been teaching a series at our church called “Sunday School Stories,” where we’ve revisited stories from the Hebrew Scriptures that most of us as adults haven’t heard in many years. As part of the series, two weeks ago, I taught the story from 2 Kings 2, where some youths taunt the prophet Elisha, who curses the children whereupon two bears emerge from the woods and maul 42 of the boys.

By nature of personality, I tend to ask pesky questions. I think I’ve always been this way, as long as I can remember. Pat answers don’t usually satisfy (which is what drives me week in, week out to study, study, study). As a side note – in many religious contexts “pesky” questions aren’t very welcome, and I’ve spent much of my life feeling like a theological outsider to my traditions.

Anyway, I was disturbed as I researched the Elisha and the Bears story to find that the most common answer was something along the lines of “God’s ways are not our ways.” Which is true, to a point. But I still have questions. And while “God’s ways are not our ways,” may be a satisfying answer to some religious types who believe in the essential goodness of God, it’s not very satisfying to those that aren’t already convinced.

One of the hallmarks of Christian theology is the idea that God desires to be known. That’s what the incarnation is all about – God seeking to be known by the creation. And while we, as finite beings will never be able, by simple definition, to comprehend an infinite being, I think we’re supposed to try. We’re supposed to seek, to ask pesky questions, to be unsatisfied, to ask again and to keep searching. So when we come up against stories like bears mauling 42 youth, we ought to ask hard questions about the nature and character of God.

A couple weeks ago, I was talking to this Jewish guy and he told me that one of the things he values in his tradition is the sense in Rabbinic Judaism that there is never a “final word,” but instead an ongoing conversation between individuals with the Scriptures and tradition. This excites me so much. It excites me to know that there is almost more to know. (ya know?)

Anytime I don’t have a lunch appt., and I eat alone in my office, I watch a TED talk. It’s just my thing. But, many days, I have a hard time finding a TED talk that interests me. I’ve seen most of the ones that interest me. But, what if this isn’t true of our conversations about God? What if, there is an endless supply of doubts, questions and conversations to be had?

I know that might freak some of you out a little, but it excites me.

So, just for fun… what are some of your thoughts, questions and doubts these days?

A Pep Talk to Myself

Hello world.

I’m still here.

I’m going to start this by quoting a good friend of mine, Steve Wiens:

For a few weeks, I was feeling dark and stormy, and I didn’t know how to find the sun. When I’m like this, it’s hard on me, and it’s hard on my family. During one particularly cloudy conversation with Mary, she suddenly stopped, looked at me, and smiled. Then she said, “I like you.”

With those three words, the sun peeked out from behind the trees. It was just a glimmer, but there it was. In the middle of my darkness, when I actually wasn’t very likable, Mary offered me some of the extra. And I ate it. It covered me, and trailed after me. (“On Eating the Extra”)

Yep. That’s where I’ve been. Except its been more than a few weeks. It’s been a few months. Oh, I mask it really well. I mask it with my abundance of energy and my well-honed ability to deflect conversations away from talking about the state of my soul. There’s been a lot of anxiety, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of boredom and mindless eating.

More than once I’ve had good ideas to post, but when I feel dark and stormy, it’s really, really hard to write. Some would-be writers find it easiest to write in their ennui. I find it nearly impossible. I write stuff and I throw it away. I start a paragraph. Reread the paragraph. Select all. Delete. Shame myself for being a hack. Play Clash of Clans on my iPad.

But in the last two or three weeks, I’ve started to come back. “The sun has started to peek out from behind the trees.” I had lunch with Tim, talked to Steve for a long time on the phone, had a late night beer with Kevin. I’ve named my dark places to people who care. I’ve talked about my loneliness, my self pity, my anxieties. I’ve found love and support and encouragement from people who believe in me much more than I believe in myself.

This isn’t a pity party post. And it’s not a “please affirm me” post either. It’s a post to say that I’m back. I’ve been practicing good sleeping rituals, I’ve been eating better, I’ve been reading again. And now I’m going to start writing again. I’m writing this as a sort of commitment. I’m determined to write through the “blah.”

I’ve had friends ask me before, “how do you preach when you’re not ‘feeling it?” And I tell them, “that’s what a pro does.” A surgeon operates even when he doesn’t feel like doing surgery. A therapist listens even when she’s sick of listening. A teacher loves his students even when he’s rather be home in bed. Pros do their job because it needs done at a high level every single day.

I’m trying to become a writer. I don’t feel very good at it, but I’m trying, in this season to become a pro. And that means pushing through even when I don’t feel like it.

Look for more posts soon!