Thursday, February 21, 2013

Canis Christianus

I once read that dogs run away to die.  I used to wonder why they would do that.  After all, I'm scared to death to die alone.  But I think humanity has some similar vestigial instinct in our compulsion to hide our pain.  Pain implies weakness; weakness generates shame.  I don't know if a dog feels shame, but I know how humans feel it.  I know both men and women have lied, stolen, murdered and died to avoid it.  Entire cultures have regulated behavior, morality and social rules based on fear of shame.  The church has at times relied on it exclusively.

I have often felt that the scriptures do us no favors here.  I have my suspicions as to why Martin Luther called the book of James an "epistle of straw."  "Count it all joy my brothers," says James, "when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance."  Here's my knee-jerk response to the esteemed successor of Peter to headship of the Jerusalem church:  Don't be such a prick.

Offended?  Yeah, well, me too.  That is, until I recognize that it's not the words of James that trouble me so much, but it is hearing them as platitudes from religious people that evoke this overpowering urge to wretch.  How dare you hurl scripture at me as if it were a balm!  Away with your inevitable, "I can do all things through Christ Jesus."  In the mouths and hands of the right people, even scripture can be venom.  You feed guilt with guilt.  Must I be ashamed even of weakness?  "Buck up boyo!  We've no time for your self-pity.  Don't harsh our vibe."

Other people's misery troubles us.  Keep your shit to yourself.  But if you dare to bother us with it, we're going to make damn sure you fix it - and pronto.  We love you too much to let that shit smell up this church.  We've got a kingdom to build, and nobody wants a shitty kingdom.

Honesty is ugly, isn't it?  But there's a whole lot of ugly between here and there.  You can turn your back on it and pretend its not there.  You can sweep it under the rug.  You can build cathedrals over it.  It won't go away.  The alternative?  We can descend into it as Jesus did.  You can build Christ's church in the middle of it.  Where the love of Christ is, there is redemption - even if it's clouded by our own weaknesses.  God make me brave enough to go there with you.


Tiggeriffic said...

WOW~! Guess I have never felt like this before.. or have thought of it this way before.. maybe you need to go to my blog and get some happy thoughts coming your way.. My blog is called Birds&Nature..
Holly and I miss you terribly..Have a great day down there in the south.. We are suppose to get lots of lovely snow..5 to 8 inches of the white fluffy snowflakes.. One flake at a time. Yeah~!
ta ta for now ~!

Scott Dossett said...
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Scott Dossett said...
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