Thursday, February 17, 2005

Dang It

I'm not in the best frame of mind right now. Sometime between leaving work yesterday and getting home last night, my disposition got all muddied up. I can point to one thing that probably did it, and looking back on it from this morning is completely nuts: during my son's basketball practice, before finally getting home around 7:30pm, I read a chapter in a book, and I got ticked off by what was happening to the main characters.

I'm previewing The Last Word, and the Word After That by Brian McLaren, last book in the New Kind Of Christian trilogy. I guess I've gotten to know these characters over the course of the two previous books and several read-throughs and discussions, mainly online since so much of this type of thing tends to run people off in "real life".

Anyway, right there in chapter one, Dan is on administrative leave - for "doctrinal issues" - from his pastoral position, and he's questioning some huge deep theological things. Then in the next chapter, the council seems to be taking the church, in Dan's absence and in reflexive response to what they think is happening, on a completely different path than before. Dan is furious, throwing a coffee mug against the wall and stomping out into the chilly winter air - and I think I entered into that anger with this fictional character. I've never been a senior pastor, and I don't fully know what the whole experience would be like to shepherd a flock and then to have the sheep turn on you to "save you from yourself" doctrinally and to protect their own self-interests. I know that when this happens, people are basically doing what they think is best - but is it their best? And is it necessary to tinker with a man's livelihood and career just because you disagree with him on various issues?
"But what do they expect?" Ky asked. "Do they really expect that a pastor comes out of seminary at twenty-six or whatever and has all the answers? Do they really expect a pastor to never change or grow or rethink things? That's so unrealistic. It's worse than that - it's unhealthy. Gosh, when lawyers learn and change, they call it professional development, but when pastors change, they call it..." Ky couldn't find the right word, but Carol supplied it: "Heresy." (TLWATWAT, copyright 2005, Brian D. McLaren, p. 14)
I've seen it, and experienced personally what's happened as I've changed, as I've reformed and been transformed into someone different than I started out. I've seen friends give up on me, protecting themselves from what they see pulling me away from Christ. I've been accused of heresy, and told that I need to repent for leaving the truth. But the worse thing in all of it is that the conversation ends - and that is so wrong. As long as we can talk, and learn from each other how our ideas and fears and experiences are being played out in real life together - as long as there's a conversation, fellowship can continue. But as soon as that door is closed, all others slam shut - often, harshly, hurting people on both sides.

While I feel like I've forgiven those who've been a part of similar situations with me... Well, evidently I'm still nursing some backdoor grudge or something. I took it out on my kids last night - nothing they could do was right in my eyes, and it wasn't fair for them to be collared by that. I think I took it out on my wife, just being standoffish as we cleaned the house and took piles of stuff to the attic. I slept hard, snoring so loud it ran her out of the room, which usually only happens when I'm really tired and/or really frustrated. And I dreamt all night - stuff I remember, that woke me up at various times, about conversations I was having or decisions needing to be made.

It's been a surreal few hours since my evening commute yesterday, and the only thing I can really point to is reading the book and getting a bit ticked off along with the protagonists as people do and say, with all the best and "right" intentions, the absolute wrong thing.

Must be a good book to have that effect, huh? I can't wait for chapter three, but I'd probably better warn my family first.


Blogger Brian said...

Nice! I still have to read the second one. They're both on my list. Sounds like it's good stuff.

Hey Rick, let's get Indie Allies going in Columbia. Holla some time soon! :)

17/2/05 8:45 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Just happened to come across your webpage. It is really interesting. I enjoy reading your thoughts. I am in the middle of "A New Kind of Christian", I am loving it. What do you think of the whole series?--David

18/2/05 1:05 AM  
Blogger Rick said...

good series, thoughtful series, opens lots of good discussion - we've got a discussion list at Yahoo! NKOC.

18/2/05 12:41 PM  
Blogger Nakia said...

Now I want to read the books just because of your blog!

18/2/05 12:41 PM  
Blogger DJ Frizz-C said...

Thanks for coming back to my site the other day. That was cool. I don't get alot of visitors - so it seems. Anyway, I wanted to comment on your post here - it's really interesting. Sometimes I get stuck in my head, too. And I'll act standoffish or angry to people that are close to me. When that happens, I try to take a deep breath and focus on why I feel angry or upset. If the people I'm acting angry towards aren't the reason, I try to immediately put a smile on my face and focus on appreciating my family for loving me. Sounds like your kids are great, your wife, too. Look forward to reading your blog more. ;-)

25/2/05 9:50 PM  

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