Pink. (better to look stupid than be dead)

I’m reading a book called “Drunk Tank Pink”. It talks about the many things that influence human behavior, many of which we are unaware of.

One of the chapters talked about a number of studies that tried to determine what makes people act when something bad is going on. Some of the events were real and some were staged. The book cited the story when a woman was stabbed to death in 1964 in full view of many onlookers, as well as another case were a homeless man was attacked and died, also in view of a number of onlookers. Then there was a study where a student thought that he was talking to another student (in another room, unseen) who acted as if he was having a seizure. In another study, a student was waiting in a room with other students (who were in on the study) and smoke started to appear under the door.

What caused people to act or not? The determining factor was the number of other people. The more people, the more everyone thought that someone else would take care of it. The more people, the less happened.

People don’t want to cause a fuss. They don’t want to be out of place. They look to others to act.

Problem is, what if we all do that, and we all burn to death in that room? People die when nobody acts, or acts too slowly.

I had a thought when I was reading this – instead of doing a study to find out what makes people act or not, why not have a class that teaches people how to act in such a circumstance? Who to call, what to do? That kind of stuff. Teach everybody how to be a first responder. Teach everybody to be able to handle it on their own, rather than expecting someone else to take care of it.

Because if you wait for someone else to take care of it, someone is going to get hurt.

I was in a tiny restaurant that had big glass windows. A big storm came up. My husband and I were sitting by one of the windows. I asked to move, and we took everything over to a corner, as far away as we could get from the windows. The bathrooms were nearby as an escape route.

I had been in a similar situation once when I was a child. My family had gone out to eat and an equally bad storm came up. The storm broke the window at the table we were sitting at, and my brother’s head got sliced open by the glass. The rest of the evening was a blur as my parents drove us to the doctor’s office to get stitched up. I’m not sure why we didn’t go to the emergency room – but I suspect it was because we didn’t have health insurance.

But this time, at this restaurant, it caused a little bit of a fuss to move everything, and the other patrons decided to speak up. They started making fun of me.

I’m still angry thinking about this.

I’m moving to safety. I wasn’t telling them to move, nor was I preventing them from moving. There was no reason to mock me.

I’m glad I stood my ground and moved. Funny to say it that way, but that is how it is. I would have taken care of them if they had gotten hurt, but the only way to be able to take care of others is to be safe yourself. I saw no reason to take a chance with that storm and that window. It was a bad combination. Ideally, I wouldn’t have even gone out that night if I’d realized how intense that storm was going to get.

So maybe that is also part of why people don’t get involved. Not only do they not know what to do, not only do they think someone else will do something, but they have previously been chastised for doing or saying something.

Eh. I’m going to speak up. And I’m going to move. And if it means I’m going to look stupid doing it, so be it. Better stupid than dead.

“Do you trust me?”

Sometimes, when I’m praying, Jesus says “Do you trust me?”

I say, I’d like to, but not really. I’ve committed myself twice. And now I’m talking to myself.

Or at least, that is how our society would label this. Lilly Tomlin said that if you are talking to God, you are praying. But if God is talking to you, you are crazy.

I’m afraid. I’m terrified of going too far and losing control. I’m afraid of going over the edge. I’m afraid of having to go into the hospital again. The last time was 12 years ago. Who wouldn’t want a nice break from work? But the bills don’t pay themselves. And mental hospitals aren’t that awesome. The last one I was in one of the workers tried to molest me. This is especially evil since I was on sleeping pills.

So when that little voice in my head says “do you trust me?” and I think it is Jesus, I don’t know. So not answering that question really is answering it. It is saying no. No I don’t really trust. Because I’ve been over the edge before, and I don’t like where I landed.

So why is it that all the churches I’ve been in (mainline Protestant, mostly Episcopal) don’t teach people how to hear from God, and how to know what is the voice of God and what is the voice inside your head? Isn’t that the point of church? The stories in the Bible are full of people who talked with God. They knew God was talking to them.

God asked them to do some crazy things. Take everything you have and pack it up and move to some place far away. Take your child and sacrifice him on an altar to Me as a test of your loyalty. Or, you are going to give birth to the Messiah.

You know, stuff like that. Crazy stuff.

Yet our entire faith is based on people listening to a voice in their heads telling them to do crazy stuff.

Our culture says that if you are saying that God is talking to you, you are crazy. Even my former priest (Episcopal) said that she thought I’d fail the psych exam for the deacon discernment process I was in.

Meanwhile, I’m properly oriented to day and time. I get to work on time, I get the bills paid. I have friends. What is “crazy” but simply not adapted well? I’m starting to think she is crazy for thinking that serving God is all about trying to raise money by getting more people in the church. I think that serving God is all about waking up the ones who are there to hear the voice of God.

Maybe that is what she is afraid of. Maybe she’s never heard from God. I find it interesting that I’m not the only person who feels this way.

I’d like to propose that it is crazy that when a minister finds out that a parishioner has a desire to help people and wants training and oversight, she then thinks that the person is called to ordination. Isn’t the desire to help people normal? Isn’t it part of what everybody in church is supposed to feel? And the training – that is to make the person better able to help. Isn’t that the point of church?

Or is the point of church to be a social club? My old church had a few social outreach ministries – Second Harvest and Room in the Inn. Both are very good things, the very things that church is supposed to do. I know that the first one met with a lot of resistance when it was proposed. Meanwhile, the normal activities, the stuff that takes up the majority of the time there, are book clubs (not all are religious), ice cream socials, outings to hockey and baseball games, and karaoke night with frozen margaritas.

I feel it is crazy for people who say they want to join together to serve God to be distracted with these kinds of activities. You can have fun and serve God at the same time. Instead of hanging out at a game, why not hang out at a widow’s house and help her with house repairs? Why not volunteer to teach an immigrant how to read and write?

And make sure that you don’t make a requirement of membership in the church for getting help from the church.

I asked for oversight because I’m bipolar. I want to make sure that what I’m hearing is the voice of God and not the voice of Betsy. But the more resistance I got from the priest, and the more I started looking around at the activities in the church, I didn’t feel like I was going to be lead anywhere there.

Now, I knew even from the beginning that I was going to not be a member of this church forever. I prayed beforehand, upon returning to church, as to if the Episcopal church was the right one for me, and God said that it was the closest there was to what I needed right now. So I knew it wasn’t forever. I knew it was going to end, I just didn’t know how or when.

When the priest attacked me for my blog post called “My Problem with Church”, that was it. April 17th, and I’ve never been back.

This is hard, and strange. I’ve identified as a church-going person for many years. I’ve been a confirmed Episcopalian since the late 1980s. Gone. There is a sense of freedom, and of fear. I’ve been asked by some members to come back to lead the way for others, to wake them up. How can I, when I’m silenced by the priest?

And more importantly, I don’t want to lead, or teach. I want to be fed. I want to learn.

So yes, really, I do trust Jesus. I trust that I’m being led in the right direction. I don’t know where I’m going, and I don’t know how I’m going to get there, but I’m in good company for that feeling. I know that if I was going to stay in that church I’d be even further from God’s path.

Playlist

Remember this? This was popular as a meme on Facebook in early 2009. It is still amusing. It is like using your iPod as a crystal ball. I’ve put in my answers to this – feel free to copy and edit to produce your own list.

RULES:
1. Put your iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc. on shuffle.
2. For each question, press the next button to get your answer.
3. YOU MUST WRITE THAT SONG NAME DOWN NO MATTER HOW SILLY IT SOUNDS.

IF SOMEONE SAYS ‘ARE YOU OKAY’ YOU SAY?
“Rolling” – Soul Coughing

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOURSELF?
“I Know” – Barenaked Ladies

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
“Walk On” – U2

HOW DO YOU FEEL TODAY?
“Sugar Free Jazz” – Soul Coughing

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE’S PURPOSE?
(Came up as “Unknown” – it is a recording that I took of the sound of chipmunks at Grandfather Mountain) I find this hysterical – it is like God saying “It isn’t that easy!”

WHAT’S YOUR MOTTO?
“When Love Comes to Town” – U2 with B.B. King

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
“Buddha Rhubarb Butter” -Soul Coughing

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
“Ansari” – Tartit (From Mali, the name of the band means “Union”. Ansari might mean “supporters” It is the name of the tribe to which Tartit belong.)

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT VERY OFTEN?
“Eha Ehenia” – Tartit (According to a description of this album on “Crammed Discs” – “this is a song about a woman who is a disgrace to her family – she’s a bad host to strangers and even to her inlaws”)

WHAT IS 2 + 2?
“Leather” – Tori Amos

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
“Freaky Hijiki” – Beastie Boys

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
“Scale Down” – Rising Appalachia

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
(another voice memo) I’d titled it “Flip’s Theme Song, it sounds like a superhero song. Cheery, a bit cheesy, like a 70’s TV sitcom theme song.

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
“When I Fall” – Barenaked Ladies

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
“So Thankful” – Nahko Bear and Medicine for the People

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
“Dramastically Different” – Beastie Boys

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST??
“Everybody” – Paper Tongues

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR?
“Same Thing” – Barenaked Ladies

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
“Collapse” – Soul Coughing

WHAT DO YOU WANT RIGHT NOW?

“Beautiful” – Moby

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
“Casiotone Nation” (live) – Soul Coughing