Crazy For God – Again

I’m back. Sorry for the unannounced hiatus. At the end of my last post I indicated that I would be back last week. That obviously did not happen. I was on call as I said, but then my wife and I flew out to San Diego for a weekend with her aunt and uncle who live in Hong Kong most of the year but have a place on Shelter Island right on San Diego Bay when they are in the states. So I went surfing. The ocean haunts me, and I am given life there like nowhere else. We also went up to Beverly Hills for lunch and walked through stores that I wouldn’t buy anything at ($500 jeans is just stupid). We had drinks at Shutters on the beach in Santa Monica. I visited the Nytro triathlon store in Encinitas. We went to movies and ate at good restraunts. I ran along the harbor one morning. It was great. We drank coffee and talked. Just great. Since getting back I’ve been training hard. And now Karmen is OOT to Kansas City. So me and the boys (on their Spring Break) have embarked on a painting project during the day here at the house and then watching Harry Potter movies at night. Plus we have been going to Tae Kwon Do. It really has been some great days with those two boys. I am in love with them. And I am in love with Karmen. I took 11 days off from work to do all of this, and it has been glorious. Nothing like surfing, training, and being with the people I love most in life. No better “vacation” than that. And Karmen gets back to top it all off on Sunday. Can’t wait.

On the plane to and from San Diego I finished Crazy For God. It really is an awesome book, and I may post a lot on it over the next few weeks and months. If you didn’t happen to notice, the author, Frank Schaeffer, commented on my last post about his book. Wow! That just cements in my mind what I already thought, that he is a good guy, and I am tremendously appreciative of what he wrote in this work because it helps me to understand that I am not crazy. Someone else out there, and actually probably a great deal of people as I have learned from people like John and Jason and Luke and Yael, understand the thoughts and confusion that I have found myself within over the last 10 years. I even think I have discovered, after a good amount of emailing, that my Nazarene preacher father understands and shares some of the same challenges. I know for sure that my wisdom infused wife understands. What I feel that Mr. Schaeffer has done is validate all that stuff. The craziness that seems to be there really is craziness on a lot of levels. I want to thank Mr. Schaeffer for his honesty.

I would like to share a passage tonight that made me nearly laugh ridiculously and impolitely out loud on the plane to San Diego after we connected in Dallas. As it was, I contained myself and just let out a snicker. On page 325 and the preceding few pages, the author is describing how he felt he was essentially leading a bit of a double life, saying one thing to massive crowds of the religious right which he and his father would speak to with regularity, but then living a bit of another. Something such as ordering bottle of wine at dinner or commenting that he liked a certain “godless” movie were things that he had to guard against like a hawk. This sort of dishonesty became more and more conflicting for him. On page 325 he is describing how he knew “The Speech” so well that he could give it while thinking about something else. One of those something elses makes me laugh because I know it all to well myself. With just a touch of sarcasm he states: “…for instance, about how I wished God had never made any men or women with a ‘ministry in music.’ I wished he’d strike them all down so I’d never have to spend another minute listening to another fat lady (even the men were ‘fat ladies’ to me) sing another Jesus-is-my-boyfriend song to synthesized violin playback.”

I mean no disrespect, but picking this bit out, to anyone who is a “minister of music.” In fact, I am aquainted with several individuals who fill that role and are very genuine and talented people, believing deeply in what they are doing. But I don’t know how many times I have been a part of something that looked or felt more like a performance more than anything with any sincerity to it (like putting on a huge Easter pagent because it “reaches so many souls” when what it really does is completely and utterly exhaust the participants. I have no problem with Easter pagents. Only the reasons we say we do them. Put on the pageant, but just be willing to say that you are doing it because you like to put on the show.). One time I saw a man who sang at church looking at pornography at the local bookstore. Now I’m not judging (I know I have plenty of skeletons for which I could be stoned) nearly so much as I am saying that I am tired of the faking and posing and of “the show” that church is and has become. I’m tired of hearing “Jesus is my boyfriend” when it is more about performing. Frank Schaeffer was tired of it too.

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15 responses to “Crazy For God – Again

  1. Hi Frank Schaeffer again: I’m grateful that you finished reading my book. I have gotten a lot of email from readers who seem to share our journey, and like us, are still sorting things out to do with our backgrounds, God, faith, and what we believe or now find we were conditioned to believe. If the reaction to the book did anything it has helped me see that those like you and me are far from alone. All the best, Frank

  2. Some of our performing may be laughable to God, too. What God really wants is humble honesty and sincerity. Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” Our honesty can get lost in our desire to impress each other with our spirituality. Humble honesty requires courage and intentionality.

  3. Sounds like you had a great time away. I used to live right on the Pacific Ocean and then on a beach, for four years! Those were the days….I love the ocean but ended up back in Minnesota….hey at least we have lakes and rivers everywhere.

    The double life….yeah, having to give a testimony that wasn’t really true, but included the right words, having to sign belief statements which I didn’t believe so my kids could go to Christian schools.

    So different than the d’var I gave at shul earlier this year where I said that I looked back on my life and realized how could all of this happen just by accident; that I almost believe…but I still don’t quite. Can you imagine me saying this during my seminary days? No way. But, in my shul this was no big deal, most people feel the same.

    Yet, people aren’t all that different inside, no matter the religion they follow. There is no magic belief pill certain religions get to swallow while others don’t. I told a born Jewish friend at shul the other day that we are lucky we can be honest. Many people in church feel the same way we do about all this only they’re never allowed to admit it. Most won’t even admit it to themselves. I got so tired of the pretense. I like being able to say to Rabbi, “God threatened to destroy 600,000 people because of the actions of 3,000? Isn’t that being just a bit extreme?” And for Rabbi to say, “Exactly!”

    Modern Christian music turns my stomach. I think it ends up being a competition. I love Jesus more than you kind of thing that turns into pure sappy foolishness. Men singing that stuff is just weird, women singing it is yuck. Like who wants to have sex with God? Nish, nish.

  4. wow dude. you painted a picture and it is beautiful. glad to hear ya happy, content, and in love with your family. it’s a beautiful thing to read.

    how strange is it that although we’ve never met face to face… although we have no plans to make contact. i feel like i know the canon pretty darn well. not well enough to predict your every move, but know that y’all are brothers and sisters. just cool. and weird. and wonderful.

    Christian music sucks. can’t stand it. love yael’s comment on it! brilliant. what really got me was a Christian party song that started off awesome “we’re gonna paint this town…” and then turned awful “…red with the blood of Jesus.” greeeat. if Jesus ever comes back (if you hold that belief literally) we’ll have to guard him from this band! eeeeek! ;-)

    peace bro!

  5. Yael. I hope to live on the beach someday. Starting off every day on a board riding a wave would do my soul good. Agree with you on the Christian music thing. Even when I was a teenager there was something about it that seemed uneasy to me. I now understand why that is. Every time I think about the “Jesus is my boyfriend” comment from Frank Schaeffer, I laugh inside. Glad to have you back in the regular mix of the canon.

    Luke. Well I would say that we need to make plans to meet up. All of us. Somewhere central to all of us. I too feel I am understanding all of us a bit better. I look forward to all of your comments and checking out what each of us is saying. Good stuff.

  6. “Well I would say that we need to make plans to meet up. All of us. Somewhere central to all of us” (Doug)

    Great idea – but how’s about we all ‘write a collaborative book or something’? It’s not like we are all not bantering about many ideas that many – and I mean many – people would like to hear being said or explore deeper? Just a thought.

    I still really like Steve Taylor – for some reason he never got boring to me as a Christian musician – but in general – I don’t listen to anything branded Christian music – it blows (musically & creatively). I need more rap in church to be honest – or some raggae or something…some flavor.

    The dis-honesty thing is ‘very true’ about being ‘all churched up’. It’s like a constant hiding game – that soon creates alter-ego’s for the believer – a dualism of personalities (good and bad). It’s actually very unhealthy and I am glad I left church as young as I was (25) because I didn’t get too into the ‘act’ or the ‘show’ – and decided to make a life-long committment to exposing the hypocrisy of those ‘cats’. And I am.

    I guess, in my life, I value honesty and sincerity quite highly – but that’s what u learn ‘from being burned’.

  7. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of a collaberative book. I have had a burning desire to write a book for years but have never known what to write about. Frank Schaeffer’s piece has actually really fueled that fire within me even more. What say everyone else? How would we do that? Anybody have any experience?

  8. When I get done with the Velvet Elvis, really need to get a copy of Frank’s book. It sounds right in line with what I’m dealing with. How fake can someone be? Who are they trying to please? Whatever you do really needs to be the same all the time. There are a lot of people that are “all churched up” for the weekend only. And they are all singing, “Jesus is my boyfriend”.

  9. I think Crazy For God is an outstanding book. It really deals with just about every facet of fakeness and falseness that exists in the “religous right” and churches today. My only word of caution would be that Frank Schaeffer is very, very honest. The book is mostly in the form of a memior, him recalling what it was like to grow up under certain conditions, what it led him to do, what it led him to think, and where he is now. Because of that, he is completely honest about sexual experimentation, substance experimentation, anger, lust, deceit, and sometimes uses a bit of language that most in the church would find offensive enough to just put the book down. I don’t have any problem with his level of honesty, and it is definitely very pertinent to his story. To clean it up would be to do the very same dishonest thing that the church does today, that being veneer everything in a sort of spiritual cleanliness when right under the surface there is some really very ugly stuff that needs to be honestly confronted. I highly recommend it with that bit of a disclaimer.

  10. “I LOVE LOVE LOVE the idea of a collaberative book” (Doug)

    You and me both – that makes 2 votes.

    Idea: Well, we are 5 writers (Jay, Doug, Luke, Yael, and John) that call ourselves the ‘canon’…let’s write what we write – use our blogs as chapters (including the commentary) – and maybe call it something like ‘5 voices from the canon’ – including a uniquely Jewish perspective (maybe some bio’s explaining who the hell we are at the end or beginning). It can invite people back to our blogs to comment on the on-going blogs we run – interactive and stuff (from book to on-line – into the real time environement).

    Just a thought I fleshed out a while back.

  11. Got to thinking about your guys book deal. It really would not be that hard to do. I know a couple guys that have written books and they only wrote the forward. All the rest of the chapters were written by other people. Each chapter dealt with a focal point or sometimes an experience (revelation) they had in life. Just pulling a couple blogs I have seen from you guys would do that. On publishing there is all of people out there that could use your money. Just some thoughts.

  12. Scott. Thanks for the info. I really the idea of a book. Have always wanted to write one. Jason and I have weighed in on this and we need John, Luke, and Yael to do the same. If they don’t find this discussion going on here in the next couple of days, Jason and I will have to go out and get them and hold their hands to bring them into the loop.

  13. I saw the discussion here and have been thinking about a response. I am honored at the invitation but….I have been declining almost all requests to either submit material for a book of my own or to take part in a collaborative effort. Although I will be included in two books that are in the process of being published, one book on Judaism due to be released this year and the other on religion in America, I am hesitant to contribute to any others at this time.

    Obviously I enjoy blogging with the canon or I wouldn’t do so, but a book is a whole different ballgame. There could be many ramifications to my being involved in such a thing. I may try to explain on my blog why this hesitation on my part. It’s complicated!

  14. I really like the idea of a book. Im not sure what I could add to it though. One thing I notice is that the rest of the Canon come from a very religious background. Though the ideas intrigue me, I feel somewhat underqualified in writing about it.

  15. I’m not so sure that I agree. The value of a book with all our inputs would be putting everyone at the same table by example, not just in word.

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