So I just finished reading “Carry On, Warrior” by Glennon Melton and it’s a totally life-changing book and I wasn’t prepared to return it to the library yet but apparently someone else is ready to read it and I would never deny them that privilege so before I return it (and before I get my hands on my very own copy…which shall get high-lighted and written all over for certain) I wanted to put down some of my favorite quotes here so I can re-read them and so can you because they’re amazing. To me, anyway.
“Christianity is not about joining a particular club; it’s about waking up to the fact that we are all in the same club. Every last one of us. So avoid discussions about who’s in and who’s out at all costs. Everybody’s in, baby. That’s what makes it beautiful. And hard. If working out your faith is not beautiful and hard, find a new one to work out. And if spiritual teachers are encouraging you to fear anyone, watch them closely, honey. Raise your eyebrow and then your hand. Because the phrase repeated most often in that Bible they quote is Do Not Be Afraid.” (p. 141)
“Much of the Bible is confusing, but the most important parts aren’t. Sometimes I wonder if folks keep arguing about the confusing parts so they don’t have to get started doing the simple parts.” (p. 141)
“I have confused feelings about the abortion issue.” I think that “issues” like abortion are really just “people” so it’s best to think of them as such. One at a time. One person at a time.” (p.197)
“The only meaningful thing we can offer one another is love. Not advice, not questions about our choices, not suggestions for the future, just love.” (p. 197)
“Sometimes as I listen to a song, an angry song, about poverty and dead ends and the hopelessness and the violence that are the inevitable results, I think, Jesus would love this song. I don’t think he’d cover his ears and turn up his nose and run away because of the crudeness. I don’t think the coarseness would offend him…I don’t think he’d tell his people to turn off the radio. I think he’d tell them to turn it up and listen, even if it made them uncomfortable. He’d tell them to listen to the stories of people who’ve been oppressed and marginalized and are crying out for someone to hear them and step in.” (p. 202,203)
“It’s easy to spend time in the shallow end of faith. It’s not a real commitment. You can just hop in, stand around in tight circles and people watch…I think the reason we don’t hear from the people in the deep end as often is because they’re actually swimming.” (p.204)
“When people ask me if faith, if church, is comforting to me, I say “sort of.” But mostly it’s challenging.” (p.219)
Just a few that jumped out at me. It makes this book sounds like it’s all about God and stuff but its’ really not…it’s just her thoughts on faith really resonated with me and where I am right now.
I am not an early riser by nature. I enjoy sleeping in and just lazing around in bed. It’s one of my favorite things about summer vacation, the relaxed schedule that allows for this. I like to lie in bed and listen to the rest of the house wake up around me.
But occasionally I will get up early for important things. Like hair color.
Today I have a job interview before I go into work. Which means I have to hustle the kids over to Grammy’s a little earlier than usual. But more important than this-I had to color my hair.
I am extremely jealous of my friends whose hair has not betrayed them by going prematurely grey. I look at Janell and Felicity and am envious of their silky brown-all-the-way through hair. It’s a little early in the month for me to be coloring but I was not going to go into this job interview with my little skunk stripe showing. Because surely that was what my interviewers would notice…not my qualifications, enthusiasm or experience. My grey hair leaking out. (The fact of the purple blotch on my temple where I missed wiping off the hair color will not be discussed further.)
Combine this with the fact that I sleep like total crap when Bill isn’t home and I was up-and-at-’em at 6 am this morning. I left my sleeping boy in the bed where he had crawled after a scary dream involving him falling out of an airborne trampoline and headed to the kitchen. Put on the coffee and then my hair coloring shirt.
Yes, I have a hair coloring shirt. It’s a huge, black and yellow tie dye left over from when we were at Wake Forest. And the neck has lovely purplish/black stains all around the neck. It’s very sexy.
After years of coloring my hair I’m pretty quick at applying the color, of course this means I drip lots of hair color around the bathroom. I mostly manage to mop it up before it turns dark brown and stains eternally, but there are several spots on the cabinets and the door in my bathroom that can attest to the fact that my hair color is no longer my own.
Once I mopped up said drips (including one on the carpet, thank you Spot Shot!), I headed out to the porch to drink some coffee and let the poisonous chemicals work their magic. It was a beautiful morning…I listened to my neighbor water her flowers and talk to her dog. The other neighbor’s fountain into their koi pond a constant trickle in the background, with the bullfrog that lives there offering up his occasional burps of contentment. Watched a drunk cicada bash itself around in the trees and a confused bee get very excited bumbling around my cell phone case. All sorts of assorted birds singing and greeting the day, while clouds straight out of a Maxfield Parrish painting sailed overhead, tinged pink by the rising sun. Even the gunshots from the firing range seemed sublime on such a peaceful, pretty morning. I was wishing I could head out for a run, sans ipod, but that would get DFS to my door and likely scar my kids for life if they woke up to me gone, so I will save that for a day when my husband is home.
Then my son staggered out of bed under the weight of approximately 5,000 stuffed animals, his boy bed-head sticking up in a million different directions.
Let the day begin.
A few weeks ago we drove down to Myrtle Beach for vacation. After you get off of 95 you’ve still got a long back road to follow before actually getting to the beach. A long back road littered with churches of all shapes, sizes and beliefs. As we drove down this road passing church after church, all of whom differ on beliefs both big and small, I found myself feeling more and more discouraged with each one I passed. All of these people think they are right and the next church down the road is wrong. They think they have cornered the market on “TRUTH”. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Is anyone right here at all?
I came home from the beach and found a book at the library that I’d been wanting to read…it’s called “Does Jesus Really Love Me? A Gay Christian’s Pilgrimage to Find God in America” by Jeff Chu. It was a remarkable book. I was moved and frustrated. I thought, I really want to hang out with Jeff Chu because he seems terrific. It was hard to read.
One of the reasons it was hard to read followed directly with my observations from the road to the beach. The church in America (and the whole world I guess) is completely broken. In this book, Jeff visits Westboro Baptist Church (he is braver than I am!) at one end of the spectrum, and churches where pretty much the only members are LGBT and a whole bunch in between. I came away from his story feeling totally discouraged and wondering why on earth anyone would follow a religion that is so disjointed and sending so many mixed messages.
The problem as I see it is that all of these disparate sects think that they are RIGHT. And others are WRONG. They can interpret and use scripture to back up their positions. ALL of them. They accuse the other side of twisting scripture to support their own sinful position. They all think they are acting in love.
Even Westboro Baptist Church in some sick way firmly believes that protesting at funerals, calling people “fags”, and telling pretty much everyone they are going to hell is LOVE.
Here’s what really rubs me the wrong way about this: we’re not just talking coffee vs tea, Yankees or Red Sox, tomato/tomahto. We’re talking “If you don’t do/believe/follow what we say is right, you will go to hell.” Eternal torment and punishment or eternal happiness. Life or death.
Them’s fightin’ words if I ever heard any.
I honestly can’t make heads or tails of this thing called Christianity anymore. I can barely separate who I think Jesus is, who I think God is, in the midst of what all these denominations, all these churches are shouting at me and insisting is RIGHT and TRUE and THE ONLY WAY. It makes me want to say “the hell with it!!” and just forget it altogether.
I can’t do that though. I’ve been closer to atheism the last year or so than I ever have been in my entire life. But I can’t seem to quit God. I can’t look at the amazing way the world is ordered and not see him or her or whoever. The kids found a birds nest and in the incredibly intricate and sturdy way it was constructed-by a BIRD without HANDS-just screamed God at work to me. I can’t see the beautiful way people care for one another in need and love one another throughout the world and not see God. (of course depending on the day there are likely just as many things I see that scream “There is no God!!!” quite loudly but I just can’t go there. Maybe I’m just a chicken.)
I’m totally sick of church. I know there are churches around the world doing beautiful things but right now all I can see are the shattered pieces of an organization that claims to follow a guy who told us that next to loving God, loving your neighbor as you love yourself was the most important thing. Not what songs you sing. Or what building you hold church in. Or tattoos or clothing or race or financial state or even (gasp!) sexuality. And yet all those things are the “truths” we hold on to. We argue about. We kill over. I want to see the church universal as a beautiful thing but right now to me all I can see is an ugly, broken mess.
I don’t know what is “true” anymore. I have some thoughts that “seem right” to me (that’s in the Bible right there…”It seemed right…”) in my gut…a lot of people would tell me I’m wrong about them. Dead wrong about them. And you know…maybe I am. But maybe they are too. And God’s grace is either going to be big enough to handle my being wrong…or it’s not. I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s not a hell of a lot I can do about it.
Maybe that’s why people shout so loudly about being right. Because it makes them feel like they’re in control of something they’re totally not in control of.
Ugh. This is really a depressing post isn’t it?