I do not have your hang-ups

I wasn’t raised in the evangelical church or the Catholic Church, and nobody did anything nasty to me in those settings when I was young. Nobody did anything nasty to my childhood friends in those settings either. Of course, most of them, like me, had their church in the pool, the beach and the sun, because we were all competitive swimmers.

The only church I attended as a kid was a legitimate “cult”. We didn’t believe that the physical world, sin, and sickness, and all the naughty bits of life actually existed. A few people raised in that church died instead of going to hospitals, because going to a doctor was not the way of Christian Science, but then, clearly I wasn’t one of those rare cases, nor did I know anyone who was. I was a bit removed from the experience, because my parents were not followers of Mary Baker Eddy. It was my Grandmother who was. So we went to the doctor if we needed to.

I became a Christian in college. That was when most of you were discovering the so-called absurdities of historic Christianity, and the so-called inconsistencies of believing in God, and somehow my experience flipped the tables over on that kind of thinking. You began dabbling in agnosticism and atheism, while I had visited that world a few years earlier, found it as inconsistent as anything around else, and then left it behind to do the absurd Jesus-thing for the first time I my life.

When stories of televangelist deceit, debauchery, or criminality made the news I was not surprised. I simply figured that just like the scientific community, politics, and schoolteachers, we had our own variation of unethical behavior happening. Apparently some of these people did not follow Jesus like Peter and Paul. Peter and Paul actually wrote about these unethical characters, and I could chalk it up to their wisdom.

I did not wholly give myself to any church. I was just a Jesus following kind of guy. When my church leaders turned all commando on me, and started attacking me for doing something that seemed rather Bible-y to me, I didn’t assume the God thing wasn’t working. I assumed they weren’t working the God-thing all that well. I got in trouble for holding my own Bible study with people from my work that did not go to church, because, well, that’s how cults get started. I figured the pastor was just being over-controlling. Years later, when the church I pastored was excommunicated for befriending the Pagan community in Salem, I just figured that some of the people in my denomination were dishonest, and some were cowardly and fearful. Unfortunately, they were the ones in power. But, it didn’t mean everyone in the whole denomination was bad.

I did not assume that organized religion was the bane of true religion. I thought that there was some pretty bad disorganized religion too. Neither one was the answer, and neither one was the problem. I just thought that some people were a problem, some groups were a problem, and some models of organization left a lot to be desired. But, just like scientists can change the world, and politicians can truly serve and make positive changes, there were leaders in religion who did the same. Of course, just like some scientists and politicians, some of the religious people thought that what they were doing was the most important thing in the world. They were, of course, better at self-promotion than anyone else (which ought to be self-evident fact), and they made the rest of us look bad.

Having been through the things I have experienced, I can say that I legitimately have a doctorate in the religious school of hard knocks, and those who know my story will typically attest to this. Yet, I may be as quick to defend religion as mock it. For me, being a Jesus follower is a bit like being Jewish: I can tell the jokes about Christianity as an insider, because I really do know the stories. You can tell those stories too, if you have been there, done that. If you are only telling stories you’ve heard second and third hand – you’re like a white-hooded character telling “Jew jokes” or “Negro jokes”. You can take your obscene little shenanigans someplace where everyone wears hoods as far as I’m concerned. If on the other hand, you legitimately like to talk and discuss things, and this includes with a wild sense of humor – I’m your Huckleberry.

This little rant started, because I wrote a completely disconnected sonnet called, I Do Not Have Your Hang-ups. It’s a silly Dr. Seuss kind of sonnet, but it made me think about the number of people who seem traumatized by church experiences they’ve never had, nor their loved ones have ever had. It made me think about Christians who bash the church without having been burned by it in a real way. It also made me think about the people in Christianity bashing the world outside Christianity, without having any real experience in that world. I am hoping that someday we can all just chill out, and learn to share our worldviews with listening ears on, and minds that believe the best in others – until proven otherwise, of course.

Now, after all these years, I’ve got friends who’ve really been burned. They get to tell all the jokes they want, and I can match them joke for joke any day.

So here’s to signing off with my silly sonnet.
Sonnet #54
I Do Not Have Your Hang-ups

I do not have your hang-ups and I can’t

begin to join your raging and your rants

what he said or the tightness of your pants

what she said or the evil in her glance

I do not care what happened at the dance

or why your mother made you lose the chance

whatever makes you angry, stop these chants

I do not have your hang-ups and I can’t


I do not have your hang-ups and I can’t

begin to care, but something I can grant

that I can walk the dog and water plants

but will not pardon all your words from France


I have my own hang-ups now thank you please

Can we just eat our breakfast here in peace?


April 18th, 2017

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