Friday, March 04, 2005

Slappage

An old buddy and coworker of mine – ex-Marine, Vietnam vet, Zen Congregationalist, hunter/angler, baker, gardener, musician, writer, surrogate brother; one of those riddle-in-an-enigma people we should all have on our life list of friends – was one of the most serene, peaceloving human beings I have ever known. But every so often some person or situation would rile him to the point where he could be heard to murmur, quietly but with great depth of feeling, “I’m just about ready to go out and commit slappage.”

That’s how I’ve felt for the past couple of weeks, toward a number of my sisters and brothers in Christ: I’ve wanted to commit slappage. Not only slappage, but in some cases knee-in-groinage. Hurtage.

When I encounter another bloodied casualty of Christian bigotry, ready to leave the family for good because it’s just too painful and tiring to endure any more abuse, I want to commit slappage.

When I encounter histrionic, culturally aggressive Christians like one of my state's legislators, who this week is embarking on a dog-and-pony show around Michigan with a slab bearing the Ten Commandments -- I want to commit slappage.

When I encounter Christians who so egregiously don’t get the holy mystery of the Eucharist that they kvetch about it, muttering and pointing at their watches even as it’s being celebrated (“It makes the service so loooooooong…”), I want to commit slappage.

When I encounter “usual suspects” online who delight in dropping rhetorical bombshells on Christian discussion forums because for them it’s all about “wrangling over words” and pissing people off, or who use the most tortured pseudo-logic imaginable to argue ridiculous points (“Be not yoked with unbelievers” = “We shouldn’t pay taxes”; I still haven’t been able to do the math on that one), I want to commit slappage.

If I were the Grand Wazoo of Christianity, I’d be doing the French Foreign Legion thing right about now: Leather glove in hand, stalking down a row of assorted Christian screw-ups, snarling, “You are a disgrace to the name”…miters flying, stoles ripping, WWJD necklaces yanked off necks…slap…slap…slap...slap...

So I’m reading this Sunday’s Gospel lesson. Great story. Jesus heals a blind man on the Sabbath, adding some guerilla-theater flair by kneading mud and spit into an ointment for the guy’s eyes in direct violation of the no-kneading-on-the-Sabbath rule. The religious bigshots freak out and direct their ire toward – hello – the (formerly) blind guy, kicking him out of the synagogue for having the audacity to get well on the wrong day of the week and not be as offended by this as they are. Jesus finds him, introduces himself (the guy having been...well, blind when Jesus healed him) and makes some caustic comments about who the “blind” and who the “seeing” really are in all of this.

I’m reading this, and suddenly the extremely uncomfortable thought pops into my head: I am a Pharisee. I am someone who wants to whap the rest of the Christian community into shape by making everyone else think and do all the right things, all the time. Because, deep down, I embrace the conceit that I have it right, or righter than most. Whatever noble intentions about "living Christ into the world" motivate me, in the end it all gets twisted into hitting back, into “those stupid [bleeps],” into “winning,” into what the old Transactional Analysis types called “Now I’ve got you, you SOB.” And instead of pulling more people onto the bus, I find myself wanting to push people off.

Now I want to commit slappage on myself.

8 comments:

Andy said...

Great post. I struggle with this myself sometimes. In fact, it's one of the main reasons I stopped participating in the C2CD board on Beliefnet.

But you know, there are some people who just need to be slapped. :-)

LutheranChik said...

But it gets tiring being the dominatrix of the C2CD forum.;-)

Ladybug6472 said...

Well - it's good to see I am not alone. Although I was a relative newcomer to Beliefnet, I have decided to not post for a while - I do read other posts however. I was very disappointed at the unfriendly contention and strife (oxymoron?!?) But you have hit the nail on the head for me, Lutheranchik! So I will dutifully stand in front of my mirror and slap away until some of this inclination leaves me. Then maybe I will be of some use to the Master.

Reverend Ref + said...

The important thing is that you recognize that you also need to be slapped occassionally. When we recognize that, there's a sense of humbleness that other people can (hopefully)see as honesty; and that's a good thing.

LutheranChik said...

"Who can tell how often he offends?
Cleanse me from my secret faults.
Above all, keep your servant from presumptuous sins;
let them not get dominion over me;
then shall I be whole and sound,
and innocent of a great offense."

Ladybellringerm said...

Ahhh, self-righteousness. It is the downfall of so many. Just when I think I have "it" right, I realize that I've fallen into the trap of self-righteousness.

I've decided that, during confession, if nothing else springs immediately, and painfully, to mind, I'd better confess my self-righteousness, because undoubtedly, I've been indulging.

Peace and grace to you, LutheranChik

Harriet said...

Wow! I have missed reading the "T" over on that other board for years.

Really enjoy your blog, and this message, in particular, this morning. There ARE certain people that need a good slap, unfortunately, the ones I am thinking of would probably just sue.

Except me. I would never sue myself.

Harriet, aka "Mom/Mommo"

iwhosawtheface said...

Lutherans!

(you've got to yell it like that dude yelled "Spartans" in 300.)