Thursday, September 21, 2006

Always Sleepy, Never Sleeping

Ever the insomniac am I.

It is now early in the AM. If I precede my nouns and pronouns with my verbs I will feel wise like Yoda, or better yet, I will feel as though the Welsh language has finally become the normalized pattern of thought in my brain. Like that would I.

Being so late/early I must get to the point. I am having a hard time sleeping. This is common coming into October, because I am so busy in October, and in September I am remembering things I should have done as far back as May. This year it is more like that than ever. Sleepy am I, but sleepless am I.

I have been more sleepless this year than any year in my life. I have also been sleepier than at any other time. Of course the two go together. I look forward to a time when there is no sleep. Most of the time I really don't enjoy sleeping. Maybe heaven is a sleepless place where people are never tired - like God Who never slumbers. Would be cool that.

Considering that this has been a sleepless year for me, I wonder how many Christians have lived sleeplessly due to the way they have been treated by Christian leaders. I wonder if I have done that to others often. It might be acceptable to create sleeplessness in someone, if they are awake because they are struggling with positive change, or excited about new possibilities in their lives, but if they are awake because of stress I have created - is bad that.

Christianity ought to be the place of rest. You know the "take my yoke upon you, and learn of me" kind of rest.

I guess this year the yoke was on me. Sorry - bad old pun was that. Is late now. Am tired now. Try sleep now will I. Am not wise yet. Write better when not tired will I.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

When Pastors Hate Going to Church, and When Swords Heal

"I hate the church, but I love Jesus." I can not tell you how many times people have said these words to me. There are a few people in our church who feel that way. They have been coming for quite some time. I guess our church isn't a very good church, because they like us.

A friend of mine who works in a denominational headquarters said today that once he left (which he hopes is soon) he will not have anything to do with "the church" ever again, but he will do his thing with his wife and God, and a small group at their house.

I have met many pastors who have been burned by churches and denominations, and did not want to return to church life ever again. Some have overcome this struggle, and others have not. Today another friend is struggling with this same problem.

I have felt like this periodically in the last year. Sunday morning arrives. I get ready to "go to church." (I hate the phrase "go to church" - it reminds me that we don't know what church is yet.) Then I get a nervous feeling which I haven't felt in years. It has come upon me only when things have been at their worst in the church, but things in the church are great, and I love everything that is happening, and everyone in the church. So what's wrong?

I know what's wrong. This feeling is not connected to the local church itself, but to denomination I was once a part of. A little abuse can go a long way, and the emotions created by abuse have the half life of Bismuth.

I want to go - I don't want to go - I want to go - I don't want to go.... I'm as confused as a kindergartener getting on the bus for the first time.

Sunday night we had a party. It was mostly a surprise to me, and some of you reading this were there. Thanks. I think that I grew up a few grades, and I will not be getting on the bus for the first time anymore.

I was given a sword on Sunday night - a big sword. Big swords are filled with testosterone, and now I feel like a man, not like the little kindergartener - at least for now.

I'll carry my sword to church next Sunday, and let you know how I feel then.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Man Named Phil?

Rose Wolf has been bringing me books. Rose has a Doctorate in Fantasy Literature, and is a walking encyclopedia of memorized poetry, and literature knowledge. She calls herself a Wiccan-Christian, and believes that the old ways point to Jesus.

When I mention something I am interested in, Rose finds wonderful used books at great prices, and gives them to me. I may have to call the library we want to build in The Vault at our church the Rose Wolf Library if this keeps up.

I mentioned that I was blogging about insanity, and a variety of stress related disorders because I noticed the similarities of my responses to a year of heavy stress to psychological disorders of various kinds. So she brought me this book called, "A Man Named Dave." I just finished "A Man Named Dave."

Throughout the book, Dave Pelzer the writer of a trilogy of books about his life of abuse as a child, and his eventual redemption speaks of feeling unworthy around other people. He knew that when his mother severely abused him it was not his fault, but he still could not look people in the eyes due to a deep sense of unworthiness.

This weekend, a friend from my former denomination called. He was in Salem, and happened at the time of his call to be standing in front of our church meeting location. It was extremely uncomfortable for me to talk to this guy. He does not yet even know about the heinous manner in which we were falsely accused by our "superiors" (Man! is that word a sick misnomer or what!?), and that we are no longer in the same denomination. So, he talked on as though things were like they always had been, and I fumbled to find something to say.

Why do I feel ashamed when my situation was caused by someone above me ("above me?" is that another poor way of describing authority?), and we had done our best to rectify things in a graceful and Biblical manner? I realized I was behaving like Dave. Does this happen to all people who live through abusive situations?

I in no way received the damaging treatment Dave did, but we did live through Hell brought on by someone who acted like the Devil, and now I am the one hanging my head. What's up with that?!

I suppose it is a result of abuse. Just when I think I am over it all, I find another way in which I have been affected by our experiences. I realize that this is a lesson not just for me, but for the the whole church, and so from this experience which relates to "A Man Named Dave" I find there is a man named Phil, and his experiences teach me that abusive church leadership leads to Christians who live with shame, and that shame may not belong to them but to the abusive leaders themselves.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I Want to Sit on a Curb and I Want a Pet Chicken

A curb in front of 7/11 would be fine.

A curb doesn't have an address. It doesn't have a mortgage. If I park myself far enough away from a public phone booth, no one can call with their demands, or questions. As long as I have enough change for an occasional Diet Raspberry Snapple, and a bag of Crunchy Cheetos I'll be fine. I can get some hot cocoa in the winter, or move to a curb in Palm Springs.

Some people become workaholics when they are stressed. I don't have that problem - well actually - let me rephrase that: I don't have that blessing. I would rather check out, and find a place with no expectations, and no responsibilities.

A curb is a great place to go.

When my son was young, I used to tell him that when he turned 18 we would set him up for life. I would get him an extra large felt pen, and a large piece of cardboard. Then I would take him to the grocery store and get him a shopping cart. All he would have to do is get himself a pet chicken, and he would be set for life.

Back in Oceanside, there was a man with a shopping cart full of all his belongings, and the man had a pet chicken which sat on the handle bars of the shopping cart as he pushed it down the street. Elijah and I thought the man with the pet chicken was cool. I think he had it made. His only cares were his shopping cart, and his pet chicken, but if I were the pet chicken man, I would scale back, get rid of my stuff in the shopping cart, and keep my pet chicken.

I understand how people choose to live outdoors - well maybe not here in New England, but back in California I understand it. No cares, no responsibilities - just a strange socially inept freedom.

I have occasional moments of lapsed living. I am not sure what to do next, choices can be hard to make, and taking action on little issues can take more effort than it seems they are worth. Over the last year the sessions of lapsed living have increased. Could it be that stress strips many people of personal impetus, and drive? Could it be that some of the people sitting on the curbs have given up their mortgages for the free life? I wonder if some of those people left the church for the curb.

I know that I won't check out and take up residence without an address, but I have moments in the day when I really want to sit on a curb, and I really want a pet chicken.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Justice versus Vengeance versus Nobility

Oh the horrible constraints of holiness! How is it that even things which are good and correct, can be convuluted by the human heart into harmful actions?

I wonder to myself this morning about finalizing an issue of justice. To do what I have been preparing has the potential of protecting other pastors from being abused in the future, but also would cause the abusive actions of a sick leader (who did me great wrong) to be opened up to a larger audience of his peers, and the leadership over him. Of course, this action would carry a sense of vindication for myself, but I must ask myself - would this action be taken for my personal satisfaction, and sense of vengeance, or is it for the benefit of Christianity, and its need for health?

The answer is not simple, because both purposes would be fulfilled in one action. So the question is one of personal health versus greater church health. Is it nobler to overlook this serious sin in the leadership of the church, and believe that God will do His work of justice, while I keep my heart protected from the desire of getting vengeance; or is it nobler to speak up, understanding that judgment is suppose to begin in the house of God, and that I will need to work on dissecting my own heart from the vengefulness which it sometimes tends toward?

I realize that "letting go and letting God" is the common expression some might apply to this issue, but how many others before have said that same thing, and how many good people after me might be abused in similar or worse manner than we have been. There is no doubt that the church has been negligent to judge an abusive leader, who has lied and harmed others for his own ego. To remain silent is to hinder justice. To speak up is to potentially give in to my darker passions, and risk the recompense of sowing and reaping - those who rejoice in judgment will receive its rewards after all.

Of course, in all this consideration, I must also realize that the church which has been so negligent until now, may simply bury its head, and consider continued negligence to be the safer path. They could choose to ignore the sins in their own camp, and that also leads to another thought - by taking action could I set myself up for negative emotions to be strung out longer than they need to be strung out?

How is it that right things can be made so twisted and difficult by the human heart? I at least comfort myself in the fact that I ask my heart these questions. To act without pondering these deeper issues would only evidence a darker heart, and a complete lack of nobility.