Thursday, July 25, 2013

No Closure

My Uncle passed away last summer and I went with my son and my parents to Chicago for a memorial service. I would like to say the service happened and my uncle's ashes were intered at the family plot but that would be too simple of an ending.

Uncle Jay always dated large boisterous and controlling women who had money. He wanted to spen his paycheck on his boat and to drink every night at his favorite bar. He even knocked up the neighbor lady and when the kid came out looking like him the cuckolded husband sucked a tailpipe in the garage. Many years later he had the garage rebuilt and finally parked his car in there after shacking up with her many years before  the funny thing is the old garage seemed fine to me, so he must have been a little superstitious.

After this long term gal passed away my uncle met a new broad at the local watering hole named Pattie. She looked like Ellen Griswold's mom in Christmas Vacation and was 100% less charming. She moved Uncle Jay to her winter home in Florida and he mooched off her until his death.

My uncle died broke and Pattie needed some cash for the cremation and wanted to dump his ashes in Lake Michigan. We drove 10 hours up there thinking there would be a service and boat to take the ashes out to deep enough water to dispurse them. We met this broad at a restaurant and she said Uncle Jay's ashes were lost and might not be there until the day after we were to leave.  We also were going too meet her at the local haunt to remember my uncle later that night.

We leave the restaurant and sight see for the day and meet up at the revered haunt for dinner. When we arrive it is clear Pattie left our earlier meeting and went straight to the bar and started piunding vodka tonics. When we finally all got seated for dinner she dominated the conversation and was especially rude to my mother and I. I snapped back with some witty jabs but lost interest and just let her blabber. I left that gathering with a huge headache.

We left the next day and the ashes finally arrived. My uncle's final resting place ended up being a stream in a forest preserve because nobody wanted to splurge for a boat. Kind of ironic how all those years my uncle had a boat and couldn't get one last ride on one.  When we are selfish, use people and leave no legacy we truly do die alone.

Ecumenical Gathering

In an effort to force myself to get out of the house I attend an ecumeical gathering from time to time. This is always interesting as a new person usually visits for the first time and you have to see where they stand on theological and social issues. Tonight a new guy showed up and right away I smelled the stink of the type from my past.
I played nice and tried to avoid him but for some reason I look like a nice guy to talk to. He sat down next to me and asked where I went to church. Once I told him elca Lutheran of course the smug apology for my current church affiliation and then the gay issue had to come up. After that blew over he was asking for the name of an arthritis drug and I offered up activia as the name. When he didn't get the joke I said you know I was joking it is shit yogurt. Right then he quit talking to me I learned a new tactic, curse in front mr clean the pious pca schmuck. It works better than Raid on a cockroach.

I really try to be nice but the constant slamming of my denomination is getting old. I am going to fight back creatively and make my accuser feel uncomfortable in a relative way. One way to do that is use a curse word. To quote judge Smails from Caddyshack " I didn't want to it do but felt I owed it to him." No longer am I going to get mad and fume anymore, I am going to have a little fun and give back. Our locale is to friendly toward the narrow mindedness of discounting an entire denomination because they dare include all of us in humanity equally.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

#1 History

Since historical inquiry was one area that lead me to realize  evangelicalism was no longer for me, I will discuss just history in this article. Instead of recounting my sordid history in Christianity and bore all that read it, I will address the need for historical perspective in our lives.

I read books and watched documentaries about history in my free time and saw how people were uninformed throughout history. This allowed the populace to be manipulated by the governmental power structures that were in control at the time. In the church setting I grew up in and went back into as an adult, historical perspective was a glaring omission. All studies were focused on the bible only, with little or no perspective on how this revered book came to be. It was like the Bible was handed down from heaven and was perfect in every way, that is until you read some Bart Ehrman and see that isn't so.

In my experience, fences are put up in evangelical circles to keep outside perspectives and information out. For the rank and file, this is no longer a problem since they are content where they are. For those of us that expand our worldview and interact with those outside the fold, this shallow pool becomes a prison. Through the lens of history, American Evangelicalism is a young movement with no roots and is not any different from current culture.

When this corner of American culture becomes no longer the place for you the road map out is difficult. Most of the people you know are fellow Evangelicals and don't understand why you are unhappy there. The loudest voices that are contra to your position are the New Atheists, but after a while they become as dogmatic as your old position.

When you start to look at the history of the church and see that there is so much more there between Paul and Martin Luther. Studying the church fathers, the Carmelite Mystics and Aquinas mixing Platonic philosophy with Christian thought were a wake up call that I was ignorant of history once again.

Studying church history has given me understanding of the church I grew up in and how it was a mixture of Calvinism and the Wesleyan pietistic movements. The result of this kind of upbringing causes either a strict adherent or a serious doubter/none. It made me realize I was rejecting a form of Christianity that I had outgrown and I needed to give a more historical version a chance before I punched my "none" card.

I made a list of what had to be gone from Christianity before I could believe again. At the top of the list was biblical inerrancy and end times eschatology that needed to be gone for good too. From there I had be in a place where culture wars were no longer an issue since they never get resolved and merely polarize a voting block. Inane modern day praise music gone too, I never sang at church in my past because the songs were meaningless and trite. No more unspoken rules or fences around intellectual inquiries either.

At the time I made the list in the paragraph above I thought that is what being a Christian was based on my past. Thanks to friends and visiting all kinds of different denominations, I realized I could find a church home somewhere. I have joined an ELCA Lutheran church and have found a new home. Questions are encouraged in our discussion groups and my pastor continually presents a historical perspective there and in his homilies.

For me I had ruled out Christianity as an option because the one I knew was wrong. As fun as it would be to bash certain groups, or hold those in my past accountable the responsibility was on myself. With getting married so young anf juggling family and career I never had the time to look at my own history and see why I was where I was. Once I turned inward and looked at myself it inspired change and growth.