Just read THIS great post from James Emery White. HAD to repost it here:
Ten Things People Would Tell Us If We’d Listen
1. I do not consider myself (nor do I feel like I am) a “pagan.” I mean, really? A pagan? Not sure I like “unchurched” or “irreligious” either, though it’s a step up. Ideally, how about John, or Mark, or Sandra? In other words, my name.
2. I honestly don’t mind it when you invite me to your church, or talk to me about God. Just keep it, I don’t know, natural. Like when we talk about sports or movies. I hate feeling like a project. Let’s keep it a conversation between friends, and as friends. I could see doing that.
3. Please don’t be threatened by my questions. They really are my questions, and I’ve had them for a long time. I would hope that if Christianity is true, it would stand up under any amount of intellectual scrutiny. Anyway, I would feel a lot better if you were less threatened when I raise them. I’m not trying to be a jerk by raising them, I’m just trying to sort it all out. And that means asking you about all kinds of things. I know sometimes it seems combative, or aggressive, but God questions aren’t exactly tame – much less safe. And for me, the answers are everything.
4. Don’t forget that a lot of my junk is emotional, not just intellectual. And it took a lot for me to say that. I almost don’t know how to get into this, but I’ve been burned, disillusioned, hurt…you may win some of our verbal contests, but it doesn’t usually move me forward. It still leaves me feeling cold, mostly because some of the time the intellectual stuff is just a smokescreen for what I’m really battling. Here’s the last five percent: It’s not just whether I can buy into this intellectually, but whether I can buy into it relationally. In other words, are you and your community really safe?
5. I would like to belong before I believe. What I mean is that I’d like to experience this a bit before signing on. Is that legal? I hope so. I think that if I could “test the waters” a bit it would be helpful.
6. There’s a lot I don’t know, and I know it. Don’t make me feel stupid about it, like not knowing much about the Bible or Jesus or whatever. If you could start at the beginning and explain it all to me, that would be great. Like starting with Genesis and moving forward.
7. Can we agree that there’s a lot of weird stuff attached to Christianity and the Bible? Okay, it might be true, or real, or whatever, but can we just agree that some of it is a bit…bizarre? For some strange reason, it would make me feel better to hear you acknowledge how it all looks – and sounds – to someone from the outside.
8. What’s up with all the scandals? I’m sympathetic to screwing up – I do it all the time – but what makes me want to puke is how they’re screwing up while they are telling everybody they don’t, or that nobody should, or…you get my point. It just makes the whole thing seem like a joke. Just own that you have screwed up (that’d be fine with me, really, I do it all the time), or just shut up about not doing it. But this parading and posturing and then being exposed…it just turns me off. It makes me feel like the spiritual one because at least I don’t pretend to be something I’m not!
9. I like it when you help people – care for the poor, house the homeless, tend to the widow, protect the orphan, work for justice against the sex-trafficked – that gets my attention and feels authentic. It’s also convicting, because I’m not doing much in those areas. I agree with it, and write a check now and then, but I’m not on the front lines. When you are, it makes me have to listen to what you have to say, whether I like it or not.
10. I’m really open to it all. More than I let on. In fact, I want to feel good about myself spiritually. But I don’t think I could ever measure up. When I really think about God, all I feel is guilt and shame, so I stay away. It would be nice if there was something in all of this that would make me feel like I could…I don’t know….come home?
~James Emery White
there are too many days where this is the only word to describe how I feel.
done with the people around me.
done with being a dad. (those kids are impossible.)
done with being a husband. (i’m pretty bad at it.)
done with ministry.
done with life. period. just done.
in those moments, i hear, i know there is a voice calling, “you many be done, but I am not done with you.”
so, deep breath in. let it out. look forward to mountain beyond this valley. to the sunrise beyond the night. and move on. not quite done yet.
Sweet quote from the famous artist, Vincent Van Gogh:
“I prefer painting people’s eyes to cathedrals, for there is something in the eyes that is not in the cathedral, however solemn and and imposing the latter may be– the human soul, be it that of a poor beggar or of a street walker, is more interesting to me.”
I am soliciting your input! In July, I am going to sharing some messages with my congregation that are all about what they are thinking/wondering/talking about! The series is called “You Asked for It!” I already have some questions that people have asked and am developing some messages from them:
- “What’s the Skinny on the Dip?” Some people ask why we put such an emphasis on Baptism, and what it is all about. In the message we will talk all about that! (Definitely stole that title, in case you were crushing on my creative genius!)
- “Beer, Cigarettes and R-Rated Movies: How Free is Our Freedom in Christ?” Yeah. Do I need to explain this one? I expect it to be a little bit controversial, but a message that will encourage growth, nonetheless!
- “Apocolypse: 2012!” What is the deal with end times, armageddon, and all that other craziness?
Anyway, what I need from you, loyal GU readers, is more fodder for the sermon canon. If you go to DCC, what do you want me to talk about? If you don’t, what do you wish your preacher would talk about? If you don’t go to church at all, what nagging questions would you love for a preacher to address?
“Where’s the heart sticker for Daddy?”
Those are the words I heard as I came in from lunch. It seems everyone else had already been endowed by the five year old with a sticky symbol of love, and one such symbol had been saved for me.
It was tiny, maybe a half inch wide. “What am I going to do with a silly little sticker?” Of course as she took it off the paper, and looked up at me, I knew she was saying more than ‘wear a silly sticker’. She was saying, “Even though I love stickers and only have ONE left, it means more to me that YOU have it. ‘Cuz I love you, daddy.”
So, I told her to put it on my forehead instead, so that everyone I see the rest of the day will know that I have a five-year-old who loves me.
Sometimes, when you are five, the only way you know how to say I love you is with a silly sticker.
Sometimes, when you the five-year-old’s daddy, the only way to show her that you accept and embrace that love is to wear a sticker on your forehead.
(And yes, I am back to blogging. Did ya miss me?)
This is a blog from a guy named James Emery White. You can find out more about him HERE.
It’s Not My Fault…You Can Look it Up!
The new and improved “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,” the psychiatrist’s Bible, is now out. After a decade going over the latest scientific literature, consulting scores of international experts, the first draft of the fifth edition is out. Anyone can read the draft, and even submit a comment, until April 20 of this year at dsm5.org.
But no worries. You can breathe a huge sigh of relief. Whatever it is you’ve done, or are doing, it’s not your fault.
You’re just mentally ill.
In an editorial in the Times of London, Richard Morrison skewers the new text in light of its proclivity to treat every human foible and fancy as symptoms of an unstable mind.
So you lounge around every day on a sofa, watching trash on the television? You’re not lazy. You apparently have “sluggish cognitive tempo disorder.”
You like to complain about the weather, your boss, your in-laws or your neighbors? You are most likely suffering from “negativistic personality disorder.”
Do you find yourself offering some choice Anglo-Saxon insults at drivers who pull out in front of you without warning? You might have “intermittent explosive disorder.”
Mary Wylie, a senior editor of the Psychotherapy Networker, calls it “the one organizing principle standing between the mental health field and sheer diagnostic chaos.”
Morrison suggests a new game. One contestant confesses to some minor peccadillo, and then the other would have to dress it up in pretentious psychobabble.
Spreading too much butter on your toast? That’s a clear case of “obsessional dairy product disorder.”
Finding it hard to get out of bed on cold Monday mornings? You are obviously suffering from “compulsive duvet disorder.”
Fuming because the subway train is down? Careful, you’re letting people see your “irritable tunnel syndrome.”
Constantly worrying that you have hopelessly overspent your credit card? That’s not your fault. You have a “fixational impecuniary disorder.”
I know, as does Morrison, that there is nothing funny about true mental illness. But that isn’t what’s going on here. Morrison is right in noting that what is becoming pervasive is “the abdication of responsibility for our own behavior. If we can attribute all of our bad-tempered outbursts, insensitive comments and callous or cynical misdeeds to a medical condition, then we are absolved of carrying the can for our own conduct.”
Morrison carries this to its logical conclusion, which is the very notion of free choice, will-power and morality being rendered irrelevant. We are merely creatures of our disorders. We act the way we do because our conditions force us to behave that way.
Morrison concludes by saying, “I don’t say that psychiatrists should stop trying to find ways to unravel the perplexing knots of anguish, anger or nihilism inside the human mind. But I wish they would stop giving healthy people excuses for behaving badly, when we are perfectly capable of holding back many of our worst impulses if we try hard enough. As regularly used to happen in less feckless eras.”
Don’t like this?
Sorry, I probably just have “chronically misguided cultural assessment disorder.”
James Emery White
- To read the draft of DSM-5, log on to dsm5.org.
- “It’s not my fault, I just have irritable columnist syndrome,” Richard Morrison, The Times (of London), Wednesday, February 17, 2010, Times 2, p. 5.
- “A diagnosis in the book has power to change lives,” USA Today, Monday, March 8, 2010, p. 8D.