LifeWalk

______________________ LIFE, FAITH, ETCETERA

The Vega, The Ghost, and the Rambling Old Man January 19, 2013

Well, we’re a few weeks into 2013.
I can’t count the number of times the world was supposed to end by now.
(Of course, this could all be an illusion created to satisfy us while we’re just being used as batteries to keep the machines running.)


I thought I should write something before the first month of the new year is over. Since I don’t have a specific topic in mind I guess I’ll just ramble.
I don’t get how some people blog every single day! I do think I’ll shoot for a couple times a month.
Yeah. Good luck with that.

58
Oh, I just turned 58 this month.
I’ll talk about that.
Ya know, I keep saying that getting older sucks, and many aspects do, indeed, suck.
But there’s plenty to be thankful for, as well.

Man. 58 years on this planet.
Fifty-friggin’-eight years.
That seems like a long time. Simultaneously, it’s like a flash in the pan.
I feel like I’ve lived a number of different lives in that time. I should write a memoir.
I’d need help from a good ghost-writer. But I know some of the things I’d include.
I’ll give a very, very small sampling.

So many experiences.
Experiences I shouldn’t even still be alive to…
well, experience.

I’ve lost track of how many wrecks I’ve been in.
Crashed into a tree. Into a bridge.
Rolled a car in front of a moving semi.
Flipped a motorcycle.  Just to name a few.

Hey! Ya wanna ride?


When I was younger, growing up on a farm, we used to play “pitchfork toss.” We’d see
how close we could get without actually impaling each other.
We really knew how to have fun, didn’t we?
I don’t know how the hell I survived childhood, let alone live to 58!

I got beat up a lot. (Something to do with having a “smart mouth,” I think.)
Still, they never shut me up.
There! I showed them, huh?

I’ve been threatened at gunpoint. That’ll get the heart pumping.

I had a rather odd (and not much fun) trip to the Grand Canyon.
(And, if I recall, the Painted Desert, Petrified Forrest, Royal Gorge, and the Rockies.)
Four people, camping gear, and a couple weeks on the road…chevrolet-vega-1
all in a Vega.
Yeah. A Vega.

It wasn’t my friends fault that I had a bad time.  It was just a personal thing.

I used to go camping. (OK. Sometimes that was fun. A little.)
I went spelunking once.  The kind where you start by slithering through a
hole you wouldn’t make your dog go through.  I can’t say that I recommend spelunking.
Sure, it had some interesting aspects. Just not enough bang for the buck from my perspective.


Fun Experiences:
White-water rafting. Para-sailing. Flying in a helicopter. Flying in little 2-seater planes.
Trips to the ocean. Trips to lakes. Multiple times sailing and other boating trips. Lots of trips to amusement parks. Trips to Las Vegas.
And many enjoyable memories of concerts (from Alice Cooper to The Monkees, to Marvin Hamlisch) and live theater performances (Like “Les Mis ”, “Cats”, “The Lion King” and “Wicked”.)

I’ve written, produced and recorded two CDs with my wife.
I’ve written (and been paid for) some articles for a magazine.
I was so happy to play a small part in bringing the movie “Blue Like Jazz”  to the screen, and be listed in the ending credits.


Changes.
A less than stable first five years of life.
Then adopted.
Loved, but grossly miscast as a farm boy. Not a lot of friends.
Got in lots of trouble.
Lots of trouble.
Seriously, I was ADHD long before they knew what that was.

I had a number of teenage crushes, and at least one long-term teenage love.
High-school dropout.
Convicted, incarcerated felon.
Late-teen/early twenties evangelical. Pentecostal/Charismatic Jesus-freak.
Right-wing. “Mostly” Republican.
Got Married.
Became a stepfather.

I’ve worked in a lot of factories. I really need to get back to that kind of work.

More changes.
Marriage troubles (mostly my fault.)
Divorced.
“Post mid-life” crisis.
Coke-snorting, multiple drug-taking, party-boy.
Trying hard to find my place.
Trying to distinguish what I know about myself from what I’ve thought I should be.
Trying to distinguish God from what I’ve been taught about God.

Grace.
Lots and lots of grace.
Re-married (same woman).
Became a grandparent.  Twice.
Co-pastor. Elder. Sunday-school teacher. Worship leader. Counselor.
Ex-co-pastor. Ex-elder. Ex-Sunday-school teacher. etc.
(Still a pastor and a counselor in a more “real-world,” organic kind of way.)
Ex-member of institutional religion.
Left-wing. “Mostly” Democrat.

Speaking of leaving the IC:
I tried hard to maintain some of the relationships I had there. Sadly, no one was really interested. Religion can so entwine some people that, to them, leaving a man-made organization constitutes leaving the friendship.
There was one man at the institution I used to attend who, I have no doubt, would have remained a close friend to this day, had he not already transitioned to the next part of eternity.

So, I went a few years without much positive social interaction. Recently that changed when I associated myself with a group called “Lifetree Café.” It’s a conversation cafe, which I’ve hosted a number of times.
We’re currently on hiatus.
A few friendships evolved out of that, as well as a 4-man discussion group/book club.

58 years.
So many changes.

Philosophical.
  World-view.
    Religious.
      Spiritual.
        Social.
          Political.

All of those areas of my life have seen more change in the last 3 to 8 years than I would have imagined or thought possible.
good-newsI’ve been freed of much of the horrible theology I used to accept and promote.
I learned that the “Good News” really is good.
I was pretty young in life when I was “born-again/saved/converted/came to know Christ,” or whatever you wish to call that form of spiritual awakening. I used to think that during all of the “troubles” I’ve mentioned that I somehow lost that “salvation.” A couple of the more important revelations in my life were, first of all “salvation” is not primarily about what happens after this life, and secondly, I couldn’t disconnect from God if I wanted to.
Ignore God; live out of selfishness and greed; Yes. But be separated from God; never.

2012 saw me more politically engaged than I have ever been, financially and actively.
This engagement was, for me, simply an extension of my faith and of my love for God.
I won’t go into much detail here because I’ve explored many of those issues throughout this blog.


Sexual/Spiritual healing.
I’ve learned to accept myself the way I am wired as a sexual being.
(If you haven’t already done so, you can read more about that aspect in my “Tribbles” article.)
I’ve learned to reconcile my sexuality with my faith, and with my life as a happily married man, without having to deny, dislike, or fight that inner part of my soul.

My wife, Kathy, is truly the best part of my life. I don’t recommend divorce as an avenue for making your marriage better, but it seemed to help us. I’ve now spent much more of my life with her than without her. Neither of us, of course, are the people we originally said “I do” with. We’ve grown together, and evolved together in amazing and unbelievable ways.
Sidelight: I can’t imagine spending all those years together – the good, the bad, the ugly, the beautiful, and all the in between – while being told that our love wasn’t worthy of being called a marriage just because it was looked down upon by someone else.
Tragic.

Onward.
58 years, so far.
Sometimes I wish I knew how much time is left on my clock. Sometimes I’m glad I don’t know.
Some nights I call it a draw.”
One day at a time. Despite what we may try to believe, there’s really no other option. (That doesn’t seem to stop me from often borrowing tomorrow’s troubles.)

Kathy and I are discussing our retirement plans. We know we won’t be living high-on-the-hog, but we figure we should be modestly financially stable. We may still need part-time jobs, unless we retire in another country. That’s a real possibility.

I hope, in retirement, to spend more time volunteering for causes I support.
I have a deep desire to do at least one more CD.
I’d like more opportunities to put my multiple counseling studies to good use as I continue to “pastor.”
And maybe someday, I’ll connect with that ghost-writer.

– df
.                                                                             .  ghost-writer

 

She’s Free. Her Friends Aren’t Happy. December 4, 2010


I got a call from a dear saint I’ve know for years. For some degree of privacy, we’ll call her “Jane.”

Jane’s been struggling, also for years, in religious bondage, fear, and worry. We’ve had a number of talks throughout our friendship. She watched and listened as the journey my wife and I were on led us to new depths of freedom in the Lord. There was a longing in her eyes. Our words rang very true, but she couldn’t seem to find that place she longed for.

Recently, she found it.

Jane came over a number of weeks ago to talk with us. We re-emphasized many of the truths we had shared before. My wife made some observations that were hard for Jane to take, but she knew they were true. She knew things had to change.
Still struggling, she had decided she was going to leave the institution she was currently attending.
She had close ties there, and didn’t want to just walking away without talking with one of her closest friends.

She called her friend, and asked if they could go out to breakfast soon, so they could chat. Her dear friend of many years said, “I don’t think so.” Jane kind of chuckled, knowing it must be a joke, and asked again. “I don’t think so” was, again, the response.

When I left the institution, I had relationships I tried very hard to retain. One in particular. That gentleman, whom I still love deeply, simply doesn’t want to keep that relationship. Like Jane’s friend, this once-loving, dear brother saw leaving the institution as leaving the friendship.


How sad is that?


If that doesn’t show the power of the perverse grip of religion, I don’t know what does.

Jane’s friend knew of her struggles. But rather than rejoicing in Jane’s new found joy of the Lord, she
couldn’t see past her dedication to her religious institution.

These people aren’t intentionally evil. The power of religion that enslaves them, however, is!
Like the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day, they hate and fear the freedom of God.
They talk a good talk, but truly never understand the “scandal of grace.”


I’m glad Jane called me, knowing she would have someone to share her joy. It has renewed my commitment to continue to stand against oppressive religion, legalism, and much of fundamentalist evangelicalism. If there is an anti-Christ spirit alive today, it is, as Carol Harper has said, the thing we call “Christianity.”

Today, I rejoice with my sister, while sharing the sadness of friendships lost. Her friend told her the exact same thing mine told me: “It will never be the same between us.” Sadly, that is true only because they make it so.

On the up-side, the “good news” for Jane is finally good news. She has felt a heavy burden lifted. She is entering a new rest, and a truer understanding of grace.

Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Gee, I Guess We’ve All Got It Wrong! June 23, 2009

Filed under: Church,Religion,Social Issues — lifewalkblog @ 2:51 am
Tags: , , ,

Part One: The History

Jeremiah 18:18

Then some people   said, “Come on! Let us consider how to deal with Jeremiah!   …   Come on! Let’s bring charges against him and get rid of him!   Then we will not need to pay attention to anything he says.”

Job 15:9-10

What do you know that we don’t know?
What do you understand that we don’t understand?
The gray-haired and the aged are on our side, men far older than your father.

John 9:34

They replied,  “You were born completely in sinfulness,  and yet you presume to teach us?”   So they threw him out.

Acts 6:13, 7:54,58

(After Stephen called the religious leader “on the carpet.”)
“This man does not stop saying things against this holy place and the law.”
When they heard these things, they became furious and ground their teeth… [and] they began to stone him.

Joan of Arc

Tried by an ecclesiastical court, and burned at the stake when she was nineteen years old for asserting that she had visions from God.

The Inquisitions

The various inquisitions that started around 1184 had jurisdiction over baptized members of the Church.  Pope Innocent IV’s papal bull Ad exstirpanda of 1252,  authorized and regulated the use of torture in investigating heresy.



Part Two:  The Present

OK.  Maybe institutionalized Christianity doesn’t burn people at the stake anymore.  But it still has little tolerance for those who dare challenge it’s reign.  If anyone points out how far from Christ it’s teachings are, it still says what it’s always said:

“We don’t need to pay attention.  What do YOU understand that we don’t?   You presume to teach US?!?!  Gee, I guess we’ve all got it wrong all these centuries!” 


Well, actually, yes…you have.
Over and over again.

Religion has always hated the prophets.  That’s what Jesus said.  It’s still true today.  But any “new truth” is, of course, nothing new.  It just keeps getting buried under the oppressive thumb of religion.  Every time it’s “rediscovered,” the so-called church again cries “Heresy!”  It still sarcastically says, “Gee, I guess we’ve all gotten it wrong, and now YOU understand.”

Some of us just understand that we don’t understand it all.  I think that’s a good place to start.

 

 
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