Spent the evening with a glass of McGuigan‘s 2004 Black Label Shiraz watching The Lake House with the wife. Good movie, about people connecting from two years apart. A nice wine too — and though I usually skip the Flash intro’s, I recommend McGuigan‘s for the quotes that go by… Martin Luther, Henny Youngman, and others.

Anyway, the movie is set with Sandra Bullock in 2006 and Keanu Reeves in 2004, which causes a bit of a pickle in the overall plot. It’s 2006 now and I’m drinking a wine from 2004… and I remember the last bottle of wine I opened also happened to be a 2004, and I remember thinking… where was I in 2004?

Well, my second blogiversary is coming up in just over a month… which means that two years ago now I was falling out with my CLB. It was about two years ago then, that I hacked, coughed, spluttered, and spat up the blue pill and swallowed the red one instead. I unplugged from the matrix. Okay, that’s enough Keanu Reeves movie references for one post.

A lot of change two years can bring… some subtle, some not. It didn’t take a lot of reflection to tell me that I’m happier today than I was two years ago. Two years of detox…

I read Roger’s House Church Blog entry, “Life After Detox,” in which he says that the sense of relief is still with him almost four years after leaving the institutional church. I still feel it, and hope not to loose that sense of freedom, as expressed by a pastor he quotes in his post before going on to reflect on what life is like after detox.

On the other hand, I wonder when “after” is? I’ve been reading (slowly) Paul Vieira’s Jesus Has Left the Building, and there I read yesterday:

Changing the structure in and of itself is not the magic cure. If you still think in an old way, meeting in homes is worse than going to church on Sunday. At least in “church” there is a crowd and some live music to keep you awake. Meeting in a house and yet still having a “bricks and mortar” mentality is the worst of both worlds.

I learned this the hard way. Years after leaving institutional forms of church, I still found that the system was inside of me. The very things I hated lurked within. Getting out of the “organized church” was only half the battle. Getting the “organization” out of me has been nearly impossible to do. This was much the case with the Hebrew slaves that were delivered under the ministry of Moses in Egypt. By the hand of God, Moses was able to lead the people out of Egypt, but was helpless to extract Egypt out of the people. Egypt was more than a place with roads and buildings; it was a system that permeated the hearts of those who had grown up within its walls. I find that even though I was out, the ideas that were engraved upon my mind by religion were very difficult to undo.

Of course, some will take offence at the metaphor of the institutional church as Egypt, but this misses the point… the point is that in reality, it matters little… because it isn’t the institution, the outward form at all. The issue has to do with the religion that’s in our hearts, and for many of us, the the institutional church was the context in which this inner religiousity flourished.

I reflect on my own path of detox. As I’ve written before, I believe it began while I was still in the instituional church, feeling disillusioned for several years before leaving. At that point of course, the pace and depth of detox increased… and yet it remains a continual struggle to resist the negative aspects of religiousity that continue to rear their heads, familiar as ever.

But like Roger, like Paul, and like the pastor in Roger’s blog post… I am free. And though they didn’t express it this way, I suspect they would all agree — not only am I free, but I am being freed, and one day I will truly be free. So to end with a suitably mixed metaphor, although the blue pill always awaits, I won’t be going back to Egypt.

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