I hope it’s worth the 20% she saved

A couple nights a week I work at this book store.

This book store offers a discount to teachers.   For items used in the classroom.

Tonight, I was chatting with this lady.  She was telling me how much her son was into World War II.  And she had another son that was seven.  She was talking about how she’s never waited this long to do her Christmas shopping before.

I rang her up and she produced the teacher discount card.  I did what they tell me to do: ask her if it’s for the class and then just take her word for it.

All of it was either appropriate for a seven year old or was World War II related. 

She stated that all of it was for the classroom.

There’s a level on which I truly don’t care.  I think it’s a stupid policy to be run that way.

But the thing that drives me crazy is this:

She teaches at a Christian school.

I don’t think that Christian’s are morally superior to anybody.  This incident clearly indicates that.

But I do think that whenever we advertise our faith comitment, we’d better be prepared to demonstrate that we hold ourselves to the standards we’re claiming.

This lady had no way of knowing where I’m at spiritually.  Her little display of hypocrisy could have been the thing that made the difference for me.

I know it’s not hip to be calling people out like this.  I guess I’m supposed to offer up the idea that I sin too.

And I do sin.

I guess I just want to offer up the idea that we have an extra obligation whenever we identify ourselves as Christians.  We need to expect that there is somebody watching.  And our displays — for better or worse– these make all the difference.


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The stories that speak to our soul begin at a home where things are good. Cinderella is happy with her father. The three little pigs have grown up and are ready to move on. Bilbo Baggins knows his shire. Adam and Eve walk with God in the garden. My story isn’t much different. There was a time and a place where it was so good. There was a community for me. And there was joy. We were filled with a sincere desire to do what God wanted us to do. We possessed explanations and understandings that went a certain distance. We offered security and tradition and laughter. For a lot of years, that was enough. I have this sense that it was also necessary. I have this surety, now, that it certainly wasn’t everything. There were some things that became increasingly problematic as time went by. There was a desire to package things up so very neatly. Sunday morning services were efficient and strategic. Responses to differences of opinion were premeditated. Formula began to feel more important than being real. A real desire for everybody to be one of us, but also a real sense that there is an us, and there is a them. They carried a regret that it has to be this way, but deeper than this regret was a surety that this is how it is. I began to recognize that there was a cost of admission to that group. There were people who sat at the door, collecting it. Those people wished they didn’t have to. But I guess they felt like they did have to. They let some people in, and they left others out. There was a provisional membership. My friends did possess a desire to accommodate people that are different… But it would be best for everyone concerned if they were only a little bit different. I did make many steps forward in this place. Before I went there, there were lies that I believed. Some of the things that I learned there, I still hold on to. But that place is not my home anymore. Those people are not my community anymore. There were times it was hard. I am engaged in a different community now. And I am working hard at finding a place in many different places now, embracing many different kind of families. I don’t always get it right. I am trying and I am learning and I am moving foreward. I have this sense that I am not alone in these experiences. I believe that we are tribe and we are growing. We are pilgrims, looking for a new holy land. Perhaps we won’t settle on the same spot of land. But if you’ve read this far, I am thinking that we are probably headed in the same general direction. I have begun this blog to talk about where my journey is taking me. In every space, we find people who help us along. And maybe we can get to know each other, here. We embrace ideas that provide a structure for the things we believe, and perhaps we can share these too. Maybe we can form a group, a tribe, a community, if we can figure out a way to work through the shadow of these kinds of groups, if we can bigger than the us-and-them ideas that have caused so much trouble in the past. As important as they are, I think the very nature of online interactions will lend itself to something equally powerful. I am stumbling onto these practices that my grandfathers and great grandfathers in the faith engaged in. I am learning about these attitudes and intuitions are so different than the kinds of things we call doctrine today. I don’t know about you, but I am running out of patience, and even interest, in conversations about doctrine. I hope that maybe you’ll share a little something about where your journey is taking you, and maybe our common joys and challenges might help each other along, and we might lift each other up. Thanks for doing this journey with me.

One thought on “I hope it’s worth the 20% she saved”

  1. SO true.

    I have another post from a slightly different slant percolating at the moment. Meanwhile–thanks for calling us ALL out; I suspect we all have our pet hypocrisies . . . and I don’t think they’re really worth it.


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