Saturday, February 16, 2008

Bad Attitude

I'm sitting here trying to finish my sermon for tomorrow, and having a very bad attitude.

Part of this is due to the distractions of everyday living: Fellow Traveler caught the nasty bug that came down with right after our vacation, and is lying in bed in misery right now, so I am on solo duty with Gertie; I have spent all day taking unacceptable things (asthma inhalers, eyeglasses, electrical cords, bills, handknit Christmas slippers) out of her mouth and replacing them with one of the approximately 50 dog toys lying on the living-room floor. (I think I've now been officially designated Boring, Mean Mama.)

And part of this is due to a general funk. I confess to you, my sisters and brothers in Christ, that I don't really find a lot to like in Christianity right now. No, it's not about any quarrel with the creedal affirmations of historical Christianity. Fact is, I am so sick of Christian fundamentalists because of their mindless, slavish obsession with following the letter of Scripture; and that in turn makes me wonder about the wisdom of being "People of the Book," when the Book seems to make so many people stupid and crazy. Ah, Brother Martin, what hath thou wrought? I'm just sick of it. I'm so sick of people who think that their biblical literalism is earning them eternal brownie points for "obedience" or "faithfulness." I'm so sick of people whose decision-making regarding every detail of daily existence literally revolves around finding supporting Scripture texts. I don't want to be like these people; I don't want to be with these people. God save me from these people.

All of which makes preaching on a sermon text particularly ironic, as well as challenging. It depresses me to think that, thanks to our current religious Zeitgeist, people are going to be sitting there listening to me trying to hear a rule to keep them on God's good side.

During Lent our congregation is going off the Revised Common Lectionary in favor of a thematic series, "Shadows of the Cross." My text is from John 13, describing servant leadership. I am very tempted to ditch the bureaucratic sermon helps I was assigned by the Worship Committee, and instead work from a comment a friend of mine -- a refugee from a church obsessed with a kind of otherworldly holiness disconnected from daily living, as well as a parent of several small children -- who observed, "I don't want to be part of a church whose spirituality doesn't include the spirituality of changing poopy diapers." Or, I'd add, the spirituality of tucking the covers around a feverish, virus-exuding partner, or of shoveling puppy poo away from the back door. I am so tired of people aspiring to some sort of presumptuous, special holiness over and above the holiness of seeking to live as a decent person in this world.

All of which is to say: I'm really sick of "Christians" right now. I'm even sick of the C-word. I wish I had some alternative moniker. I want to say, Keep your "specialness" and "righteousness" and xenophobia and judgmentalism and anti-intellectualism and emotionalism and Bible-based bigotries and perceived otherworldliness away from me. AWAY. GO. GO! AWAY!


Haus said...

I'm with ya.

Sometimes it almost makes you want to just hole up somewhere and become a hermit.

But, the people you speak of need to be challenged by people like yourself, otherwise they win out.

I know this isn't about winning or losing, but your presence and ideas need to be out there.

My prayers for you in your sermon.

P.S. an after-thought said...

There are some people at another church near by who have been heard to say, more than once, "There are some Christians in the RC and Lutheran Church." Well, turn that around, now why don't-cha? Since when does judgementalizm rank high as a Christian trait? Maybe your quarrel is with their stealing of Christ's name.

LutheranChik said...

P.S. Oh, yes -- I've heard that too: "Oh, there are some Christians in the __________ church." Why, how gracious of you, kind sir or madam! Gee -- I hope I might meet your criteria for Real Christianity [tm] too!...


Who in the hell do these people think they are?

If this is the kind of person that "born again" makes you, then I'm happy to spend my time around the born-once heathen.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention that they need to be reminded that it is impossible to follow "letter-for-letter" a set of 66+ (depending on who's counting) books written over a period of 1000+ years in Ancient Hebrew, Ancient Greek and a bit of Aramaic, some of which explicitly say they do not contain all truth, or supersede some of the others, and in which many different sides or emphases are presented to all sorts of vital questions. Maybe God wanted us to think for ourselves, study, and look around us more often than we decide who's in and who's out?

P.S. an after-thought said...

I had an extended conversation with one of our youth this morning. Turns out that he is very active, thoughtful, and also on the church council. After attendng the youth group at our church on Wed. evenings, he gets over to the ___ Church to finish out the evening there. He said that there is often conversation about so-and-so and how that person isn't really a "good Christian" because he/she does such and such. It really bothered him.

He does know that even little sins, gossip, for example, separates us from God and is as bad as big sins, and that is why we need Jesus.

I told him to tell those people that there isn't such a think as a Good Christian.

Apparently that church, which I do admire for many things, is teaching people to be judgmental.

LutheranChik said...

That's a pitfall of "decision theology." If it's all about you "making a decision for Christ," rather than about Christ making a decision for you, then your decision is going to be constantly challenged by other people who feel equally invested in having "made a decision." So of course they're teaching people to be judgmental.