I’m returning to the fun-filled topic of deconstruction (purposeful unlearning of values, principles, thinking, feeling, and behaviors that separate, isolate, and reduce ourselves, each other, and our relationship to the bigger story). By my way of thinking, deconstructing has to be connected to building something. Otherwise, rubble is trash instead of building material. It is regenerative and healing to come together and pick up pieces curiously. As an isolated individual, I have access to only one historical perspective and I, in no way, make claims to its exclusive wisdom. I was a bible studying, church-going, heaven bound christian capitalist, youth pastor, elder, teacher, and participant in the patriarchy. Not one piece of that story is left as it was 20 years ago. Some are completely torn apart but it is all in a new story. I respect the bible. I have faith. I suspect there is a God who is much different and cooler than I previously imagined. I do not lead or participate in religion in a way that is at all similar to my past participation. I think patriarchal systems have done unimaginable damage to women, men, communities, and cultures. I’m trying to avoid hubris and my tendency to get preachy. Both are in defense of my own egoic insecurities. I’m inviting you to a collaboration where we build the kind of real belonging where everyone and every thing belongs - to believe it is possible and be curious on the way there. If you read this far, and sense this is possible - you are feeling the truth that you already belong.
I want to heartily resist blaming individual people for the misunderstandings of the church. I know pastors, elders, and leaders who, at the deepest level of their awareness want to love, care for, and guide helpfully. I was one of them. It is also not helpful to blame a particular group of people. Blame gets useful when it is shared and translated into a regenerative effort. When we recognize that what is wrong with what our religion has become came from the complex interplay of philosophical, economic, political, psychological, religious, and even biological influences over many generations that we have all contributed to, we can start changing.
I do not want to take anything away from the pain. Some of it is really devastating. From misdirection to deep disillusionment to really heinous abuse of all kinds - the church structure has hurt people and not helped heal them well in far too many cases. For my part in that, and it is both specific and general - I thought, felt, did, and taught things that did damage and helped build a system that did damage - I am sorry. I regret that so much of what I thought was helpful was in fact harmful.
As my personal and social experiences, awareness, perspectives, and willingness to explore outside the confines of a (mostly) man-stunted point of view have expanded, I am excited. In spite of my regrets, wounds and anger, I am excited to find that God is cooler, science is a useful and self-correcting partner, my old enemies (gay people, Buddhists, people who sleep in on Sundays, etc.) are wonderful friends and life-givers, it is good and safe to be my real self, eternity is not a threat, everything is connected and self-organizing, and our trauma fits into the scope of the story.
Some key helpful phrases: “I think,” “in my opinion,” “the way I see it,” “what I’m wondering is,” “what do you mean by?” “how do you experience?” “thank you for sharing”
If you are feeling attacked or defensive even though no one is talking to or about you specifically, consider considering a bit from a different perspective if you are going to respond. And if you don’t have anything that builds up, encourages, or heals - consider that you don’t need to offer, you need to take. And it’s ok to ask for what you need to be seen, built up, encouraged, and healed. You belong just as much as anyone else.
I write in a geeky, sciency, hopefully poetic way about belonging, storytelling, community building, deconstruction and construction,