In my private journal, I, being at a loss for what to write, decided to list 100 random facts about myself as they came into my mind. There are some things that are more important that did not make the list but it's the list. Who knows if I'll ever put the whole thing up? Probably not. But it was a thoroughly enjoyable exercise. Here's #98.
98. I love God, I really do, but it's so hard for me to see him past the smog of Christianity. I want to innovate, pioneer, create, but all I see is the same depressing mass of Thomas Kinkadian art, all I hear is the same cacophony of songs that sound the same, the same small set of jingos and catchphrases, the same plans that leaders try to copy from each other, the same desire for numbers, for "growth"... God, I love you, but how can I be a Christian when THAT is what a Christian means when we speak of Christians? If there's anything I think that's beyond my own power to achieve, it's to try and change what it means to be a Christian in our time. God, I would ask for strength to do this, you certainly are capable of granting it, but I don't know if it's worth the cost. I know, or at least believe I know, what the cost is. I respect it. If I want something big, I'll have to pay big for it. I get it. But I just don't know if I want it enough.
The Vikings, particularly the Norwegians had the figure of the Askeladden, the free-thinker, individualist, who no one expects to succeed but does because he's bold and tries new things and questions what others hold to be fact. God, has there ever been a group of Askeladden? Isn't it very nearly a contradiction in terms? A group of people who don't care for being in groups, who think on their own? Why are the Christians I see such sheep? Not in the good way of those who know and heed their Master's voice -- their lives clearly say no -- but sheep in the sense that their only defense mechanism is to huddle in a xenophobic group? Why the hell do they love safety so much? You sent them out as sheep amongst wolves but all this bleating, cowardly mass wants to do is to stay among the sheep. Why won't they act until they're in the position of power? Why won't they stop being so cowardly? Why do I have to keep counting myself amongst their number? I don't want to leave you, and in fact I don't believe I ever will. But is it my lot to continue to suffocate in their wooly ignorance?
God, I have no ability for art. Please show me a Christian who does bold, daring and creative work, someone who's not fluffy, not soft lighting, not afraid to be post-modern, not afraid to put the ugliness in your world front and center. Not dull it, not dim it, not shy away from the fact that you are Lord over rapists, child soldiers, favelas, cancer, poverty, AIDS in Africa and tuberculosis in Russian prisons, in precisely the same way you reign omnipotent over mountain creeks, deer and sunsets over forest cottages with thatched roofs. Are there yet 500 who haven't bowed the knee to Baal? Are there yet 50 who don't give a damn about contracts and BIG IMPACT just so they do something worth doing? Are there kids in youth groups who are willing to practice until the skin strips off their fingers, who don't care about hanging out with their sunday school buddies so they can go and write music? Are there youth groups who say "Sit down and shut up, parents. A child who has this kind of dedication should be cultivated and supported in his Christian walk."? Are there parents who say "To hell with you, youth group. Dedication isn't idolatry and it isn't sin." God, show me a philosopher who's faithful, who's bold and courageous, who believes that you are truer than logic and who's willing to think critically about everything. Give us someone who's not going to attack the weak points of other religions and belief systems. That is not the way of kings. God, give us someone who's willing to fight strength and against strength because of his utter conviction in your reality and his utter submission to honor and fairness.
God, I have no idea how this turned into a prayer. But I'm praying now. I'm praying that middle America god-damn moves out of the god-damned middle. Throw away the 401k, the college savings, the college debt, burn your bridges, no safety nets, do something worth doing. I'm praying for the downfall of idiots like Benny Hinn and for bears to maul Creflo Dollar. God, damn this HappyShinyPlasticanity all the way to hell. Wake people up to how ugly life is and how beautiful it could be. God, show people that sedated, easy living is hell in slow motion. I don't like C.S. Lewis much anymore, though I do owe him quite a debt, owe YOU quite a debt really, but that scene from the Last Battle works perfectly well. Joel Osteen and the rest of the Prosperity Pulpits, feed us rotting cabbage and moldy bread while we fail to see, smell and taste the impossibly rich feast around us. Who the hell cares what your neighbor Mary Jo Rottencrotch thinks and gossips about us, what import are her words when we are truly alive? God, oh God, my God, why does no one consider it a sin to leave this magnificent world that you created for our pleasure, untouched while we wage war and do violence over dime-store delights that never satisfy? Why does no one care about this? Why do pastors want to do another boring, staid, run-down, worn-out revival meeting when no one knows how good your gifts are? Who the hell wants to be a Christian when this is what a Christian looks like? Dumb, sheepish, gossiping, clannish, cliquish, cowardly... What conclusion will others draw about you, God, you who are supposed to be Most High, Most Exalted, Most Wise and Most Strong, when your followers exemplify your antipodes and rarely, if ever, draw closer?
God, give me the balls to ask that I go forward as one of these pioneers. I mean really, the nail that stands tallest gets hit the hardest. Who wants to be that nail? And who would be that nail for such a backward, wayward, stupid, sheepish, troupe? These are the kinds of people who burn at the stake the one who discovers fire, straps to the electric chair the one that tames lightning, and crucifies the one who comes to bridge Infinity and Mortality. No, that's not me asking. I'm still a long way from asking. I'm just asking that over the course of my life, as I grow, as I enjoy my life, that maybe one day I'd see this as something worth fighting for. I don't know. I'm actually OK with you choosing someone else for this. Let someone else charge up that hill. I feel like I've bled enough. Seriously. But if you give me the big, brass orbs to ask you. Then go all the way and grant it to me.