Saturday, May 20, 2006

You gotta lay off

I can't deal with this right now. I'm in the 2nd to last week of classes. I can't take the blog world attacking me because I expressed my opinion. I will try to explain myself but I don't feel like any of you are listening to me at all. Just know that I am crying and despairing and thinking deeply over everything you are saying - and yes, I am taking every last word of it very, very personally. Because that is what I do. And because I care so so so so much about this!!!

You are breaking me. You really are. I want to care - I want to hold up standards. But when I do that I just get SHOT down so hard!! I get called names and made fun of and told that I'm doing bad things to people. I can't take this right now. You've got to lay off me.

God! People! Listen to what I am saying!!!!

I am saying that you should pray over communion. These people didn't pray. They did nothing to help us understand we were taking communion except tell us "Okay, you're taking communion now. Ready? Go!"

I am SURE that in your churches you do more than that!!!! Even with the crackers and plastic cups!!!!! I'm not saying the plastic cups or the juice were what invalidated the experience! But nobody will listen - you only hear what you want to hear and you misunderstand why I was upset!!!!

You have got to realize that I did communion a bad way for 20 years of my life. And yes, now I look back and I DO think it was cheap and fake and invalid. But my experience is not your experience. I admit I'm totally damaged because I sat through shitty communion for a long, long time, and I've only finally found a place where it is life-giving so I just have to refuse to give that up. I can't go back. I can't I can't I can't!!!!

But it was not because of the juice!!!! Or the cups!!!!! In my past life, communion sucked because it was private, it was sad, it was guilt-inducing. It wasn't about celebrating Jesus' victory. It was about mourning his death. We left Jesus on the cross at communion. Or even worse, perpetually heading towards it.

Can't you see that's bullshit??

But I don't care where you are at! Where any of you are at! It's fucking between you and God!!!

It is not my job to make you feel good about your church!!!!! It is not my job to validate every crappy experience people have!!!! If you feel terrible about your tradition then maybe it IS terrible. If you are leaving then maybe there's a good reason. There was a good reason I left.

But I don't care! I don't care if you are doing communion different than me!! But please please please please ALL I am asking is that you THINK about why and how you do it!!! I don't need you to do it the way my church does it - I just need you to KNOW what you are doing. Don't just accept what you are given. Have a reason. Know why you do it. Know the Bible and the history and in your own life KNOW that you will meet God there. I knew I couldn't meet God in that situation - not through bread and juice taken privately in a classroom setting with no prayer prayed over the elements or the people. I simply can't turn it on like that (gee, it's starting to sound like sex isn't it?). Well that's how it was. So I had a moment of just observing, and I comment on these things because I want people to pay attention to what they are doing. That's all! I want to SAVE people from the bad experiences I've had and so I BEG and I PLEAD for them to THINK about their symbols, signs, words, and gestures. Because God wants to be there so badly!!!

But I just don't know how much God can be there when we're so turned in on ourselves.

Can't one freaking person understand that it SUCKS to sit in a room with a bunch of people who are cheapening something that you hold so dear?? I sit there and they rape my liturgy and you tell me to suck it up, grow up, get over it, get off my high horse. You tell me I'm the bad guy because I want communion to mean something. I want it to be joyful and thankful and God! I want it to be about God!!!! I am so sick of it being about US and how we feel!! Why can't it be about GODDDDDDDDDD

Seriously, when you don't pray, when nobody calls and asks God to visit the occasion...even the prayer after was about the bread and the juice, it wasn't directed to God, it was about God, but it wasn't TO God.

You people are in my head and I can't sleep and I can't concentrate on anything because you're nagging nagging nagging me and you're SO FREAKING whiny! I'm sorry! It's late! I don't want to say mean things and I don't want to be the bitch. But I also just need you to take a step back and really try to see why I am saying what I'm saying.

Or at least just resist the urge to comment. Because I have got to get on with my life.

Post Script
All right. Look. Let me explain something.

This is the ivory tower side of me, that's been writing all this stuff. This is coming from a liturgical theologian who is dissecting every worship service she attends and has completely lost any innocence when it comes to church. I cannot do it without analyzing. That's simply been switched on in my brain and now it's part of what I do.

But those of you who seem hurt by what I've said...that's what is breaking my heart. Because I would never never ever say anything like this in a ministry context. This is not the way I am with my friends (except my liturgy geek friends but we make our living nitpicking) or definitely not with my church family or with the people to whom I minister.

This blog...this is a place where I've always been able to vent. And I needed to vent out the scholar side of me that just looked (objectively) at this pseudo-ritual and found many (objective) things that were saying something I don't think the organizers intended.

See, what the scholar worries about is how these things that are glaring to me but are not a big deal to other people - how will those things play in the congregation? What are they telling people? Are they telling them something true? Are they leading them towards encounter with God?

In the end, the scholar is motivated by the pastor. And the pastor's heart breaks. But the scholar cares just so so much because I know that in the end it does matter how we do these things. I know because I've been there when they were wrong and I know the damage that can be done.

But I guess I just wanted to come back on and tell you that this is not how people are in the churches. Definitely not at my church anyway. And this is not how I act with the Body of Christ. Sure, I see everything they do, right and wrong, and I'm constantly critical. But when I am at worship I try to drop all that (if I can't, it's not usually very good in point...well, we won't go back there). But I do wish people would be just a touch more critical of what they do in church. Just long to meet God a little more.

The scholar wants to crack the code that will lead to the inevitable God-meeting. Of course that is not possible. But it's the dream.

The pastor just wants to love people towards God.

And as much as it hurts me that you are saying these things to me...and that I have hurt the end you don't have to like me. And I can't stop saying these things. Because I feel like I'm supposed to call you to better worship.

God wants to meet you so badly, don't you see?

Please don't settle for less than that.


Anonymous said...

Beloved God, creative power of earth, oceans, and skies. You are the overturning and ever-renewing power, the source of love, life and grace. You are the balm that our hearts need. You are the loving parent that enfolds us in hugs. You are the hope for all of us, and the promise of your victory sustains and nourishes us.

As we do our best to follow you, in the example of Christ Jesus, lead us and guide us. Help us be still enough in our hearts to hear you, and help us to know how you are calling us to be compassionate to each other. Help us, your body, treat each other with the respect we deserve. Each one of us is very precious, and is working as hard as we can to let your grace shine through. We know we can follow your leading in confidence.

Beloved, bless the Feminarian. Please bless her passion and her studying and her writing. Help her to know how very much she is loved, appreciated, valued, celebrated, wanted, cherished. Pour out your grace on her, because she needs it like all of us do. Send her the peace of your loving presence because she is working to her limits and she needs your comforts like we all do.

Beloved, please bless all of us who read this blog, everyone who cares and writes and struggles. Help us to know how very much we are loved, and what we can do to love each other better.

In Christ Jesus we ask this of you, heart of hearts and king above the kings, creative power of the universe.

Christine Bakke said...

Hey, it's really hard to be vulnerable enough to put our thoughts out there and then have a thick enough skin to deal with the inevitable criticism isn't it?

I'm sorry this has been so rough on you, and while I haven't changed my mind on anything I said, I do feel badly if it upset you. That really wasn't my intent, just as it wasn't your intent to upset your readers.

And yeah, your further clarifications did help quite a bit. I agree with Seeker on that.

I too am glad for your obvious passion, sincerity and integrity of heart and mind. May you be able to give yourself lots of grace in this journey.

Anonymous said...

I appreciate your comments and realize you had no intent to hurt anyone. I've read your blog for awhile and respect what you have to say. I am sorry that you felt attacked by my reaction to your expression of your opinion.

Blogs like yours that I've been reading for the past several months are one of the main reasons we're looking at high church. And of course you're right in that there ARE good reasons we're leaving. I admire your passion and hope that we can find a faith community where people care as deeply as you do.

God bless you during your last few days of classes.

Anonymous said...

This is with regard to your postscript. Intense study of anything changes the way you view and experience it. After formal music training in college I cannot hear music in the way I did before the formal study. I'm a much better musician for it and I love music no less because of it. However, the bottom line is that I don't listen to music in the same way not because I wouldn't like to, but because I can't. My perception has changed.

Similarly, after becoming certified as a soccer referee and working at it for several years, moving up the certification ladder, I don't watch soccer the same I did when all I had ever done was play it. The rules are the same, but you think about them differently. It doesn't make the game less pleasant to watch, but it is different.

Being initiated into the mysteries of any system changes your view of the system. You've studied religion in such depth that you cannot view the elements of worship (I daresay any worship form, not merely Christian forms) in the same way non-initiates do.

One result of being an initiate is that you have to be careful about how you share your experience of an event (a concert, a World Cup match, a communion service) with the uninitiated. I love my wife with all my heart and soul, but I don't generally discuss music with her except in generalities. If she asks ahead of a concert about a piece I know well (the Saint-Saens Organ Symphony, say), I can tell her some things to listen for. [long digression into form and analysis deleted]

I think perhaps some of your readers were taking you to task because you were telling them too much about something they may not have particularly wanted to think about.