Let’s be Honest

I have three kids.  The second and third live in this amazing environment where I come and visit them.  I only gave them one rule.

Their uncle came by and convinced them to break that one rule.

Now, I have to let horrible things happen to them.  I don’t cause the horrible things.  But if they hadn’t broken that one rule, I might have protected them for those things.  Because they did break that rule, I have to let crappy stuff happen to them.

Fortunately, my oldest son has never broken the rules.  That’s why he can bring the whole thing back into balance.  I’m going to have to let him die horribly.  I’m a loving father.  I wouldn’t let him do this unless he really, really wanted to.

Sure, he cried pretty intensely the day before it happened.  In fact, he was weeping blood.  But I could tell.  He still really wanted to do it.

After suffering what can only be called torture he experienced a separation from me for the first time ever.

But it was o.k.  Because I brought him back after he died.  And then the rule that my other two kids violated, it didn’t count anymore.  They are on their way back to the amazing place they were headed for.


second meditation

Let’s just be honest, o.k?  That story doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  There is absolutely no way to explain that story in a way that does.

We can play word games.  We can hedge and haw, we can mix up cherry picked scripture with powerful little illustrations from C.S. Lewis.  We could summarize little homilies from needle-stitched pictures.   We can quote that old fashioned preacher in the bad suit that our grand parents used to watch on television.  We can try and capture the nuances of the explanations offered from that hip young pastor with the soul patch.

Ball as Lucy, Vivian Vance as Ethel on the &qu...
Image via Wikipedia

But in the end, we can feel a lot like Lucille Ball.  We look at that story, and we got lots of ‘splainin to do.

Please don’t misunderstand me.

I believe the whole story with all my heart.

But I don’t believe it because of the explanations.

And I don’t quite know how to say this nicely.  So I’m just going to say it.

In my opinion, the people who think that the explanations work, they are out of touch with just how bizarre the whole thing is.

It’s part of our brokenness: Something repeated long enough loses it’s weirdness.

This is the cornerstone of brainwashing.  Exposed to claims over, and over, and over again, the subjects’ resistance to these claims gets warn out.  I am not suggesting that we are brainwashed into Christianity.  But we are subject to the same forces which operating on the victims of cults, or among the citizens in countries run by despots.

I am not saying that others’ words haven’t helped.  It’s just that, for the most part, they haven’t explained.  They’ve illuminated: Cast light on one aspect of a thing rather than fully explaining thing, reduced it to something fully understood.

And so this is where I find myself completing this exploration of mystery: Considering the very nature of the story we find ourselves in.


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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.

3 thoughts on “Let’s be Honest”

  1. Ah, Jeff.
    Whether unwittingly or through some amazing stroke of intellect you’ve stumbled on what i believe is the nature or ALL things: break things down to their simplest components and nothing makes sense. How and why the basic stuff becomes what it does will remain a mystery… at least in this life.

    What you’ve described is the tendency of man to take himself too seriously in the midst of all things goofy.

    The question then becomes, “is there something wrong with or mysterious about us?”


  2. Why Garret, you never struck me as an existentialist…
    Accept, actually, know that I think about it…
    You kind of do strike me as an a bit of an existentialist.
    (Rather interestingly, existentialist traces it’s roots back to Keirkegaard, who was a Christian, and Nietzsche, who was so mindlessly reacting TO Christianity that he was more enslaved to Christ than most Christians are.

    For my money, the very fact that we expect things to not to be mysterious is a sympton of modern-Enlightenment knuckleheadness. I think that we ought to embrace the mystery and stop trying to explain it away.


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