Category Archives: Heathen Healers

Heathen or Overthinker?

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Sometimes I go to church and feel like a heathen. Not because I don’t believe in Jesus…but I think because I believe in Him too much and want Him to be someone I can believe in.  I believe He is good and choses love over all other emotions…hate, fear, anger.

It is probably because I spent most of a decade skeptically digging into the Scriptures, discussing faith, debating faith and seeking answers in the earthly and spiritual realms. At the end of that I found a lot of middle ground that most Christians with pulpits don’t seem to like to be near.  I believe He created an evolving creation on His timeline. I believe He mourns and cries out about divorce and the purity of marriage as much as He does about the sanctity of traditional versus same sex marriage. I wonder if He is offended when churches use a one off or annual event as “mission”?  If maybe he wants his name to be praised and lifted up in word as much as deed and vice versa?  If things like a van ministry should be more than just driving people to church and if anti-abortion pro-life movements should operate outside of the church walls as well as in? If those who are pro-life for the unborn, but support and defend governmental procedures like the death penalty, war(s), personal firearm ownership, and profiteering healthcare makes Him shake His head.  If He looks at humanity and wonders how we have taken our free will for granted so much…or if it is just me that thinks that way?

Now before you think I am ragging on some small-town church or specific Christians, I am not. I am talking about all those who identify as Christ follower, Christian, believer in Jesus or followers of the Jesus Way, or however they decide to self-identify.  And all churches are flawed including the one I call home, which spends as much on the decorations for a 200 person dinner as the entire monthly food and supplies budget of a small ministry that feeds the forgotten and under resourced weekly.  We are all at fault in this it seems whether socially, politically, or Biblically liberal or conservative.

I wonder if those red letters (as applied by humans and machines) are enough or if we should follow his follower’s words as gospel too. If the red letters are the ones we should focus on. If the Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount are as important as the Book of Romans. If the Lord’s Prayer is as important as the partially manuscripted verses of the Gospel of Mark 16. If the Golden Rule is as important as the Ten Commandments.

If He lives and speaks to us as much today as in -5 BCE, 28AD and 100AD. Because when I was doubting Him at church twice in the last month He showed up…and those moments were more powerful than any sermon I have heard in the last decade plus.

Which leads me to wonder…

Is it wrong to be a skeptical Christian?

Is it right to claim God’s authority as final on social and governmental issues?

Aren’t we all heathens for worshiping false gods and sinning 90% of the time no matter how hard we try to be exclusive and sinless?

Comments allowed below!

 

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Filed under Heathen Healers, Obese Obsessions, Overthinking, The Jesus Way

Disagreements

 

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A few months ago, I stopped reading and then slowly writing.  I was tired of reading all sides of the same story that was actually the same side from different perspective. So I have started reading things that I don’t agree with. Don’t worry I still can’t read Fox News or TMZ but I did start trying to give another chance to those whom I dismissed previously.

I have grabbed some books off my shelves that have been hard to take and restarted them.

Radical is one.  I never read it because I listened to the author’s preaching first.  I didn’t agree with a lot of what he said.  Specifically hell and how many people were going. I am not sure I agree with a literal hell…but I am not sure I disagree with a hell either, or need to know if it is real for me to love my neighbor as myself.

But I picked it up and hoped to read through it before I made judgments. In the first 6 pages I think I read every Christianese phrase that has made my skin crawl in the last few years.

I agreed with his stories, just the filter it was presented through and the inappropriate emphasis made me put it down…4 times. Then I start skimming in the second chapter and into the third. By the 4th I dropped it again and left it in the car for another week.

Last Saturday I went to get some tires on the car and needless to say it took a while. I grabbed the book and started reading. And started watching the infomercial about a new exercise program. Then read some. Then watched another special presentation on an infrared cooker.  Then read a little before I was skimming 10 pages a minute and glancing at headings.  And well I finished the book before I judged.

But I barely read it.

As I wondered if I was messed up and why I just couldn’t read a book.  Was I really that stuck in my ways that I refused to even listen to a counterpoint.

Then, I realized I wasn’t the target audience.  The book wasn’t radical to me.  I lived his stories and experienced the craziness of going back to the US church and telling them there are more important things than what color the vestments are….like the starving people we passed on the way in.

I’ve been living it for 10 years now. Giving time and money away. Giving up cars (twice), places (4x) and friends and family (12x).  I have been rejected and called crazy to my face and maybe that is what he wanted.  So maybe this book impacted people that chose the career, spouse or money over the call or sacrifice.

But when I say that it is for others and not me, I am writing in the same style that annoyed me in Radical. The style of the “I am better at this life thing than you”, which I guess why the genre is called self-help…I am sorry “Christian Living”.

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Heathen Healers, Reviews, The Jesus Way

advent

http://www.adventconspiracy.org/

For years now I have made an effort to buy quality gifts when I buy gifts. By that I don’t simply mean not from large box stores that offer low prices on short term disposable items.  I mean gifts that would have a use and not just get shoved in a closet.  Initially it was fruit…then art…then goats in Africa in your name…then cash to a local under resourced family in your name. and that worked for a while until kids needed gifts and second hand was not ideal so I bought wooden or instructional gifts after failings initially.

When I decided to move to Portland a few Januaries ago, local friends told me about this church that was not buying gifts but giving resources for Christmas. The members didn’t keep the money they gave it.  It was amazing and what I thought I was doing. Except as I mentioned earlier I wasn’t giving the money, I was using it on other things.  In my general practice of finances a good bit is given away, but probably not as much as I think.

So this is my plug for Advent Conspiracy a week into Advent.

Advent Conspiracy is an amazing project.  There are others like it but I like this one.  I have been impacted by it.  The money is split up and a portion is given to international organizations like IJM and Living Water International.  Then most says local.  Underage sex and labor trafficking is a major problem here in Portland. As is high school dropout rates.  A portion of the money raised is directed to the city to help them pay for their desirted programs.  Like a high school reentry tutoring program.  Or a temporary safe house for young girls.  A heathen, broken, dirty city receives money from it’s churches!  That is fascinating to me.  In this connection there are also volunteers for the city’s program built in.  The church has people and some money.  And these are gifted to the government instead of a corporation. How novel is that?

I am constantly amazed that the church gives money to the city. There is a verse about that which is rarely applied to paying taxes.  Because taxes are always used for evil …unless you talk to JK Rowling.

At Imago Dei a portion is given back to the members to launch their crazy ideas to save the city.  Ideas like tutoring at local schools, tools for free handyman work in the community, or grants to keep people inside for people on the end of eviction and homelessness.

This may seem complex, but instead of spending millions of dollars on stuff that will clog landfills there is a revolution of people giving practical gifts and giving that money away to make this world better.  Seems like the message of the Season to me.

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Filed under Heathen Healers, Reviews, The Jesus Way

Big Issues

Today I went to a forum on homelessness and affordable housing in the region.   In a small room were Mayor Sam Adams, City Commissioner Nick Fish, City Commissioner Amanda Fritz, Cameron Whitten and many non profit leaders.   I heard a lot of stats like:

 

  • 7 million households are doubled up— 2 + families in a single occupancy home. (nationally? State-wide?)
  • 20,000 homeless k-12 students in Portland area
  • 85% of local homeless services are paid for by local (city or county) budgets
  • 17,000+ people sleep outside nightly
  • 4 housing authorities and 3 work force offices independently offer services in metro Portland (need more partnering)

There were solutions like:

  • We need to offer training for the jobs available. Farming, skilled labor, mechanics, manufacturing
  • stop bank foreclosures and prevent empty houses
  • decriminalize camping, and loitering in parks and abandoned lots
  • provide temporary “rest stops” in the city

Overall, I agree with the solutions. They just seem so difficult to implement.  And I seem to always “get” both sides of a law, which makes things like decriminalizing homelessness complicated in my head.  I was raised to respect authority.  So I do…even when I don’t agree.  That is one of the reasons the forum was nice today.

I was surprised at the civility of all who participated. These issues can easily cause divisiveness.  Right to Dream 2 aka R2D2 and the city were well represented and respectful even if they are breaking codes and being fined daily. The only interruption was by an occupy related protest group who was also civil and spoke their piece on a momentary break before leaving again.

It is still sad to me that it is such an issue that a forum is held and a movie is made about it.  A movie called American Winter is about the affordable housing in my city. It saddens me that we have to have a social services line. To prevent people from falling thru the cracks in a broken society. From being “left behind” which was mentioned a lot.  Because we don’t train people well. We don’t offer dignity. We don’t offer relationship.  And so we have forums.

At the end of the day, the whole thing renewed my faith in government and bureaucracy to an extent.  I felt like a grown up as I sat next to Commissioner Fritz and was actually corrected by her for not using all my resources available.   The day made me remember that I am not alone. And I live in a great city!

Speaking of which, I have Blazer tickets! See ya!

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Filed under Global Community, Heathen Healers, Obese Obsessions, Three O Clock People

Mentorin’

Originally posted Fall 2010.  I stopped mentoring a few months back and share this in the hope someone else will take up the baton.  There is a need everywhere! 
Mentoring—or more accurately, the thought of mentoring— used to really scare me. Here are the top 3 reasons
  1. I don’t like kids
  2. I don’t understand kids
  3. I don’t like kids
Then, I decided to actually check it out. I had financially supported The Mentoring Project for a couple years. I had a little bit of time then –see “Tired” below—and so wrote a couple emails. Then another and another and another over a year or so. I wondered why they weren’t answered at the time, but I think if I went to a class or orientation the first time I inquired I would have left thinking it wasn’t for me. Doing it after having time to think and study, things changed. So when the time was right I became connected.
I still wasn’t fond of kids and definitely still didn’t understand them. But I was ready to give it a shot. So I met with a guy and then another. I sat through an orientation. Filled out forms. Sat in a coffee shop telling someone about how awesome I was and how much I was willing to hang out with a kid.
The entire time I was stressing about how much I was going to mess some kid up. I didn’t return phone calls for days. Or reschedule meetings until the following week. I thought of every excuse in the book. My work won’t let me leave early— but they did (and in fact have put up with 4 schedule changes in the five months thus far). I wouldn’t be matched—but was… very quickly. My friends would think I am weird—actually they almost all thought it was awesome.
Somehow my delays and struggles and doubts didn’t stop me from showing up at the match meeting. Up until that point I could have run away. It was now too late. I remember leaving that meeting thinking “What did I just do? A year minimum with some stranger who is 10 years old and from a different race, culture, city, socioeconomic status…? Really?”
The first week we met he told me a lot of jokes. I told him some and we laughed. Then we played Connect Four for 45 minutes. About the time I couldn’t go on any more, the time was up. As I drove away I was wondering what we would play the next week. And kind of hoped it wasn’t Connect Four.
It wasn’t. We played SpongeBob Sorry. For 50 minutes. And the next weeks more Connect Four, Battleship, Uno and when it was nice outside we shot some hoops. And occasionally we talked. I started hearing about his family, his absent father, over worked mother who loved him a lot, his siblings, his teachers…
It’s been five months now and I look forward to Wednesday afternoons. We still play a lot of board games and occasionally chat. But I am cool with that.
Work was intense a couple weeks ago. There was more to do than hours available and so I canceled on my buddy. Later that day, I realized that Wednesday afternoons at 4 pm is a positive moment in my busy week. I thought I was supposed to be teaching him and listening to him. But he has taught me how to rest. To sit and play a game over and over. To laugh and smile and just enjoy life. To ask permission and take chances. Things I don’t have to do, so don’t very often anymore. But things that are part of the code a 10 year old lives by.
I kind of like this kid, and what he is teaching me. But I still don’t understand them all.

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Filed under Archive, Dreams, Heathen Healers, The Jesus Way