Seems hard to believe, like it’s been forever but also like it was only a year or two ago at most. Yet six years ago today was my first post here at Subversive Influence. It’s not the six years of blogging that seems so unbelievable (particularly given my lack of consistency over the past year), but the events that precipitated it and the changes in our lives since that time. It was just over six years ago when the pastor I’d been working with for ten years on a in the church I’d been part of for sixteen showed up on my doorstep shortly after I’d gotten home from church one Sunday morning and gotten my kids some lunch. I stepped out onto my driveway to speak with him while he had his wife and kids sitting in the van, and he proceeded to blow a gasket, not only yelling at me and telling me my contributions were no longer welcome, but throwing some of my own vulnerabilities in my face and asking how I dared critique anything they were doing when they were serving? I’d say it was the beginning of the end, except the beginning had really come some years before that, creeping up on us unawares. Instead, this was the proverbial straw that did the camel in.
Even my Wife is Cynical
A friend was telling us about a recent encounter that a mutual acquaintance from our CLB had had — this out of some desire to not let their handling of the coals from the Lakeland fire (or however they put it) fizzle without becoming in some way evangelistic. Our friend thought about a book she picked up about how to stop making God look bad and I characterized it as a drive-by prayer-bombing, but apparently the subject in this case was quite touched and began coming to church. Allowing that God genuinely seems seems used the encounter in this case, I said that I still had a hard time making a pattern of an exception. My wife said that “of course,” this encounter is the one that will be continually touted as a testimonial, ignoring the other “fruitless” encounters (the ones that make God look bad). “Of course,” I replied. “It’s the post-conversion embellishment.” What a phrase, eh? If it resonates, what does that tell you?
Okay, right off I’m going to grant you that I may just be too cynical for my own good… but yesterday I was driving along and thinking about past (bad) church experiences, and what causes us to stay in those situations, even thinking that they are normal or acceptable. We feel affection for or affinity with the leader, we’re “in it together,” and we’re “on the same team” and all that. Then suddenly — sparked by a news story on the radio I think — I found myself thinking about Stockholm Syndrome.