On being lost, and found.

It is really fascinating to see different people’s reactions to when they hear why I don’t go to my old church any more. Every now and then members of that church come into the library where I work. Sometimes they ask why they don’t see me anymore. Sometimes they don’t ask and I tell them anyway.

I’ve pared down the story to what is essentially an elevator speech. It is short and to the point. I explain how the church experience that we are being served doesn’t match up with the Church that Jesus came to create. That it isn’t about us giving all of our tithe money to support a building but the Body of Christ. And that Body isn’t just the church members but everybody. I point out that Jesus didn’t tell us to have ministers or a division of lay and ordained.

It is interesting to note the reactions. Some people start to turn away from me, to actually try to leave. I think they feel threatened by my ideas. An alarm clock is certainly threatening to people who are asleep.

I would have had the same reaction to anyone saying what I’m saying about five years ago. How dare you attack my church?

But now I think about what church is, really. Who are we serving? Who are we following?

One person I talked to said that the church is being run like a business. He said that the former priest did the same thing. And yet he still goes. He said his wife refuses to go to that particular church because of the priest who is there. I’ve met others with the same sentiment.

But it isn’t the minister. It is the whole idea. We are doing it wrong.

The minister is being duped too. She’s bought into the system. She has the most to lose, so her ego is tied to it.

And sometimes I find a sympathetic ear. Sometimes I find another rebel. Sometimes I find someone who feels the same way and is also searching, also feels that something is wrong. Sometimes they tell me that they are going to other churches. They are shopping around.

They haven’t yet realized like I have that the problem is bigger than that minister or that parish.

We have to strip the whole thing down and start all over again. We can’t fix it from the inside. I tried that. I was viewed as crazy. I still am by many of those who still go to that church. Declaring someone as crazy is the fastest way to discredit someone, after all. It is the fastest way to silence someone.

I’ve not gone silent. I’ve just gone away. And in leaving I’ve found a large community of people who are just the same as me. They love Jesus, but they weren’t finding him in the church. We can’t all be crazy. Perhaps there is something more going on. Perhaps we are the only sane ones. Perhaps it is just like with “The Emperor’s New Clothes” – perhaps we are the only ones who are seeing things the way they really are.

Painting and drinking

I keep finding out about opportunities to paint and drink at the same time. This seems like a fairly new idea. You get together with other people and you all paint the same thing and you either bring your own alcohol or the venue provides it. All the instruction and paint and canvas and brushes are normally provided.
For me, alcohol would just get in the way, but I see the point. Plenty of people have a hard time getting in touch with their inner artist. They essentially need permission to create. They’ve shut that side of themselves down for so long they’ve forgotten it is there. Drinking a little helps people unwind. It doesn’t make them creative – it lets them be creative.
It is like drinking when I paint. When I paint I get high, no alcohol needed. I step into a new world where the rules change and anything can happen. There are always surprises. That is why I paint. Painting is an escape.
I don’t paint very often though. Painting is messy. Painting takes up a lot of space. I can’t do it just anywhere. I need to have enough room to put down a tarp, so that is always in my craft room. I don’t spend a lot of time in there actually crafting though. I should probably call it my craft supply room instead. It is mostly where I keep the materials, but not use them. I’m getting over that.
I’ve thought about going to one of these classes and not drinking. But then I remember that the classes aren’t free form. There is a goal. There is a pattern. We are expected to copy the pattern as best we can.
For me, the best part of painting is the discovery. I don’t want to walk along a set path with a guide and a bunch of other tourists. I want to wander. I want to wonder. I want to find new things and be amazed by them.
Perhaps I’m making my life more difficult with this attitude. Perhaps if I learn from someone else how to paint I might learn something that would help me when I’m painting on my own. Perhaps I’ll learn some tip or trick or technique, in much the same way that I learn when I watch cooking shows. I rarely cook what they cook, but I learn how to cook what I want in a different way.
I resist following others. I resist fitting myself to another’s pattern. But then I struggle with things on my own because I don’t know how to do them. I’m realizing this and adjusting accordingly. I can learn from others without copying them.