***Happy Birthday Mama!!!***
when i was a junior in college, i took an abnormal psychology class. at that point, my major was art therapy. then i realized the extent to which crazy people are crazy. and crazy people is the only accurate description i could muster for the mentally ill. nuts. lunatics. psychos. they're more scary than anything else. manipulative, narcissistic psychopaths. what the class did was make me believe in demon possession. and not want to have anything to do with crazy people. and to change my major. again. at first i just thought that they were weak people, letting go to the darkness that abides in all of us, somewhere.
lots and lots of accomplished people will claim that it's all chemicals and imbalances. and i won't argue that, there are chemical imbalances, but i don't think that that is the beginning of it, or the end. many predispositions are awakened by circumstances, brutal childhoods, trauma. some people emerge saints and others, monsters. the face of reality is generally a reflection of another, more real, more true reality that exists below the radar of human consciousness.
i saw The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe last night. of course i was a little disappointed because the book is so much more, but the scene where Asland presents himself to the Queen... the scene, to me rung as true, if not more true than the caning scene in The Passion. Those hideously deformed creatures represented the souls of
men who have become twisted and foul by denial, lies, addiction and self-absorption.
i finally finished A Million Little Pieces. i loved it because he didn't need to blame anyone. he didn't shove off responsibility for his own series of decisions that landed him that very unfortunate place in life. i loved it because it was an honest revelation that to be fixed we must first be shattered... that the illusion (delusion) of wholeness that we present must come completely undone. i loved it that it took him so long to look himself in the eye. i know the feeling all too well.
with his swift kick in the gut little book, he attempts to eradicate the blaming mentality of popular psychology. and i love that. thanks mr. frey.
for all my life, until i was 14, i wasn't much for religion. God made sense. church was kind of dirty, though. then i got "saved". i felt very sheepish about it, very ashamed. not because of Jesus, but that loaded statement, "saved". my mom asked me if i was going to be a holy roller or a Jesus freak. it made me scared that i might, and maybe i did. i still didn't like church, but i loved the youth group and young life, and the community and the talking about more important matters than most the other kids our age. i liked the cleanness and belonging. and i liked focusing on the bigger things.
then i decided to spend my summer leading stateside mission trips for youth groups. the first week was cool, we worked in ghetto nashville gathering kids from the projects and playing with them all afternoon- singing and games and crafts. i loved it. some of it was heartbreaking, 7 year olds trying to raise their infant siblings, their recounting of parents drug abuse and violence. but it was so good, my heart ran over.
then the second week. assembly of god youth group. i still won't capitalize god for them, because i am very judgmental. all that talk of "baptized by the spirit". i have always been pretty gentle, pretty accepting of other people's opinions and beliefs. but i had never heard the phrase before, and apparently it's a necessary part of salvation. it's when you're supposed to receive this gift of speaking in tongues or prophesying. or.... damning people to hell. there was a convention in pigeon forge at a hotel for all these kids. and most of them already had this special baptism.
early in the day i helped set up the speakers and the chairs, it was all glitter and lights and electronics. sleazy already. i didn't want to go, but it wasn't an optional event. so i went and they played that awful saccharine worship music and i felt guilt and filth for being there, for not being home with my friends, trespassing and roaming around grocery stores at ridiculous hours, dressing up and taking "artistic" pictures.
somehow in 20 minutes, the speaker had 90% of the crowd in tears and soon they were rolling on the ground coughing up demons, gagging choking weeping screaming. speaking in tongues. chaos. the lights were low i think there might have been a disco-ball, that's how i remember it anyway. it's exactly how i imagine hell looking. it was only missing the lake of fire. it was in back probably.
i tried to leave. but there was security. i needed to stay.... you know, get my demons out. for years i was certain that i caught a few demons that night. intense anger at the church, at anyone who didn't stand up and call bullshit on that farce. well, good people rarely cast judgment on the way other people worship. all i knew is that i genuinely wanted nothing to do with a god that was pleased with that kind of display of faith.
thankfully, i was reading c.s. lewis's Mere Christianity at the time. I chose to believe that Mr. Lewis would have stood up and told them that the events of that night were a mockery of the whole of Christianity. I still hold to this.
I left two days later. I tried to explain my discomfort, and i was told that i would probably never grow much in my faith with so little respect for true worship. i wanted to cry and flip her the bird. but i swallowed it. clenched and waited for my dad to come rescue me.
looking back, i think that it's still a sad and gratuitous excuse for repentance. i hate that word "repentance", but falling down, breaking, shattering. burning the mother down and starting over. i think that that is what they were going for that night. but the choreography of it, the publicity of what ought to be so intimate, so private, so alone. it was totally pornographic.
i had similar experiences in college, with "the christians" i couldn't understand how i felt so estranged from these people that i was supposed to be sharing the most meaningful connection available to humanity. i was so disturbed by the cold hard wall building inside me, i left. i left a free education and some really good friends. i don't know if it's the best decision i have ever made. but i know the thing that meant the most to me was hanging by a thread, and if i stayed, i would lose it. forever.
i'm not blaming the assembly kids or the baptist student union, i wish that i could have found the strength to hold tight without a lot of coddling from those around me. i wish i had it in me to do my own thing alongside them, to not need to run so fast and so hard. and to be honest, the church is still a puzzle to me. it's like a nice person that i want to like, but i just don't, i can't. and most likely, it's me, and not them. just haven't found the right one yet.