bonar crump

bonar crump
husband - father - reader - runner - picker - grinner - lover - sinner

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Get out the vote!

Taking a vote:

(Disagree) 1-2-3-4-5 (Agree)

1. ANYTHING that isolates us from relationships with people that do not believe in Jesus Christ is the “offending hand” (Matt. 5:30).

2. Even if the timesuck that isolates you is church attendance?

3. Even if the timesuck that isolates you is bible study?

4. Even if the timesuck that isolates you is 16 hours a day of prayer?

5. Even if the result of the timesuck is volumes of biblical knowledge?

6. Even if the timesuck that isolates results in hearty, rich relationships with those that already believe in Christ?

7. Even if the effort, time, self-discipline all result in a pious, religious, sacrosanct life?

8. Even if your intentions are good and you commiserate with aplomb?

Just wondering…

Monday, September 12, 2011

Marriage is a rubber band--deal with it

Marriage is a rubber band—there—I said it.

And not in a “suffering the welt of a pop” kind of way.
This is not meant to be a deep discussion of marriage. It’s born out of my own day-to-day experience as well as the experiences of interacting in several dozen marriages of friends and family. Some of these observations have been of ongoing successes. Some of them have been of failures.

Ok, I’m already treading on dangerous territory because you might infer from my statement of “some have been failures” that I’m about to leap into a twisted rant about the eViLs of divorce and the uNhOliNeSs of giving up on a spouse.

That is NOT my direction. Far be it for me to determine what is best for all marriages under all sets of circumstances. The only marriage I can speak with any kind of authority on is my own. And even that analysis is one-sided. My wife invariably sees things from a different perspective than I do.

Ok, I’m tiring of the disclaimers. Infer what you want. Marriage is still a rubber band—deal with it.

The rubber band binds us together. It is flexible (thank God) and it smells like rubber (which is completely irrelevant).

The tension of the rubber band is caused by 1 of 3 different scenarios:
  1. Spouses are moving in opposite directions.
  2. One spouse is moving away while the other stays anchored.
  3. A third force (work, kids, inappropriate relationship, finances, etc.) pulls at the band.

We are dealing with the forces of tension daily. It’s one of the reasons that sex is such a critical part of managing the rubber band. Whether it’s romantic and exciting or routine and boring, when we are sexually active with our spouse it’s the only time that we put the rubber band aside for a moment and come together. Everyone needs that tension release whether it’s for 5 minutes or 45. If it takes you more than 45 minutes then you aren’t doing it right.

Also, let’s define “sexually active” just for kicks. Someone that engages in physical activity only twice a month is not, under any circumstances, considered physically active. Similarly, if sex with your partner occurs about as frequently as a full moon then you, my friend, are NOT sexually ACTIVE. Get with the program!

Also, if you or your spouse always seems to be waiting for the tension of  the rubber band to subside in order to value or enjoy the sex, you’re missing the point. You’ve got the cart in front of the horse. Again, get with the program!

Spouses Moving in Opposite Directions:

What’s your example?

Mine is when my wife says, “I’d really like to have my entire family here for Thanksgiving.” My response could should be, “Okay, honey, let’s talk about what that would look like.”

More than likely my response is more like a scene from the move “300”—“Let them come! For in the end, we all must die just as we have lived! On that day, I will either hold my shield or be carried upon it!”

I am a very transparent individual. You always know where you stand with me. I don’t often hold back. I can put severe tension on that rubber band very very quickly. I suck…

One Spouse Moving—Other Spouse Anchored:

Maybe the anchoring isn’t a choice. Kids can anchor one spouse while the other moves freely. Work can anchor. Finances can anchor. Extended family can anchor. Lots of things (both good and bad) can anchor. Some anchoring can be healthy. Some anchoring can be unhealthy.

Either way, the tension of the rubber band can be managed as long as the freely moving spouse doesn’t pull too far away from the other. Some pull away might be good, but stretching it to its limits for prolonged periods of time weakens the band.

Remember, one spouse doesn’t want to maintain appropriate routine for the kids while the other is running all over the place or doing nothing at all. This situation can play itself out in a myriad of ways. Use your imagination…this affects both men and women and is NOT a primarily male disposition. We all do this in one way or another.

My example? First year of marriage my wife and I worked different hours. I was a 9 to 5’er. She was 2 to 10. So, what? I’m supposed to come home and wait on her for 5 hours pining away the minutes until my darling wife returned home to my loving arms? Uh, no… I would hit the pool hall, baseball game (we lived 2 miles from a MLB park), or favorite watering hole with my buddies. I was always home by 10. On a good night, I was mildly buzzed. On a not-so-good night, well……

Again, I sucked. I pulled tension on that rubber band 5 days a week and expected our time together on the weekends to be blissful and joyous. This was going to be great if I could just get the wife to get on board with my plan of pretty much doing whatever the hell I wanted to all week long. Thankfully, she never even head-faked at understanding that plan. She’s definitely got some Spartan in her too.

Third Finger at the Band:

This one seems to be a choice thing even when we don’t realize we’ve made the choice or that there was ever a choice to be made.

Work pulls and pulls and pulls and financial obligation makes us accept this ever increasing pull. What I’d like to say here is that money isn’t everything and neither is work so quit letting these things add tension to your rubber band. However, what I will say is that these things are a reality we all have to deal with in the real world and the tension must be compensated for by closing ranks with your spouse. As tension increases and until tension can be diminished, two points of the triangle must come together to avoid breakage.

The same thing applies to kids, outside activities, organizational involvements, and other activities.

Inappropriate relationships are an entirely different animal altogether. The devastating effect of inappropriate relationships as an influential force on the rubber band is exacerbated by the inability of spouses to draw closer to one another as long as one spouse allows the outside relationship to continue. These types of relationships aren’t always sexual affairs. They can manifest themselves in a myriad of ways.

My example is pretty vanilla so don’t get all excited. Give me some breathing room here.

///Deep Breath…….and breath out///

I had an affair with Skoal for the first 9 years of our marriage. Now, in all fairness Skoal had been with me for 9 years before we got married. What?! It was a matter of seniority. She knew I dipped when she met me and I never promised to quit before we got married.

Let me explain why this was an inappropriate relationship for me. It wasn’t as much that I was a tobacco user. It was that dipping was a taboo subject for my wife.

“I promise to love, honor, and cherish you all the days of my life, but don’t even think about talking about my dipping tobacco because that’s all mine. You stay the hell away from that!”

“You know I’d throw myself in front of a bus to save you, baby, but I do not discuss my Skoal with you, remember.”

“I would read to you from our notebook every day if you suffered from Alzheimer’s just so I could spend those special days with you when you remembered who I was and our life together, but if you speak of my Skoal again I will throw a walleyed fit just like I did last time.”

{Inappropriate relationship}

Of course, if you find yourself engaging in a better friendship with someone other than your spouse on a regular basis (emotional cheating) or you are boinking someone other than your spouse, that would work as an example too.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Managing the Rubber Band:

No secrets here. Find a way to shift when the tension builds. Don’t try to see how far the band can stretch before it snaps. Manage the band. Don’t let it cut off your circulation. It’s not the band's fault that your finger is purple. Manage the band. When 18 fingers are all pulling at the band from different directions and the two of you are situated as close to one another as you can get, that’s a good thing. That is oneness.

If your spouse is anchored for no other reason than stubbornness—unwilling to converse and adjust and compromise—then kick them in the ass. No, I’m serious (not physically unless you’re my wife). I mean get up in their grill and force the issue. “You’re being a stubborn jackass and I won’t have it. Compromise is not a one way street, dumbass.”

If your kids are pulling at the band for no other reason than to get their way then kick their ass too while you’re in the ass-kicking mood. Partner with your spouse and do some metaphorical ass-kicking. It can be your new hobby that you share with one another. “If you want to take on Mom then you gotta get through me first. I brought you into this world, and I’ll take you OUT.” This is called “going Cosby on the kids.”

If the both of you are moving in different directions as if you are independent souls enjoying full autonomy from one another, then just stop it. No, I mean it. Resentment is ruthless. It will sneak in and it will jack you up.

Remember that person you said you loved with all your heart? You can wind up sitting with friends a few years later talking all about what a piece of shit they are. The weird thing is that you might love them til the very last moment and then, suddenly, when the divorce papers are filed and you look over their demands with your attorney all the filters inside your heart will flick off revealing what a truly horrible person they were. But you’d grown accustomed to the immense tension on the rubber band so much so that your finger grew callouses.

What’s the Freakin’ Goal?

I think the goal is NOT just to adjust to the tension on the rubber band generated by life. Likewise, I do NOT think the goal is to avoid all tension on the band. I think the goal is to work as a unit to manage the band through all different seasons of tension with an eye toward the 65 years we should all intend to manage this very same band.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the rubber band is much more flexible or stretchy in the first 10 years of marriage. I think that’s a design feature. It flexes well and snaps back to its original size. It is resilient even when we don’t think it’s all that resilient.

Don’t treat your rubber band as if you intend on replacing it in 10 years even if you do. Likewise, don’t accept long term extremes of tension on your band if there’s something you can do about it.

Marriage is a rubber band—there—I said it.

Friday, September 9, 2011

"Perfect" Jesus

One of the things that I believe is incongruent to a fundamental understanding of Jesus is this notion of perfection. There is no question in my mind that the idea that Jesus was perfect in every way shape and form psychologically hinders us from interacting with him in anything more than a ceremonial manner.

I live in Austin, TX. Sandra Bullock, Matthew McConaughey, and Lance Armstrong live in Austin, too. I am 100 % positive that if I spotted these three folks sitting together at a table in my favorite restaurant I would NOT pull up a chair and introduce myself. I would snap a picture to post on Facebook, but I wouldn’t get very close or be caught staring for fear of coming off like a creep. These guys aren’t perfect, but they’re celebrities. Most of us are sensitive to the fact that there is way too much “cool” happening at this table for us to handle. If we sit with these three we might think that we are trolls by comparison. What could we possibly add to their conversation that would justify our presence?

Same thing happens with “perfect” Jesus.

I’m not questioning the “sinless” Jesus. I’m saying that “sinless” may not denote perfection.

Here’s my personal mental image:

Jesus is a celebrity and his disciples begin to take on the role of a buffer between him and the crowds he draws. He’s speaking to a group of MOPS over here and, obviously, surrounded by a contingency of pre-school kiddos. It’s kind of hard to hear what Jesus is saying over the chatter and play of the kids.

As self-appointed buffers, the disciples begin to shoo the kids away so that Jesus can continue without interruption. But Jesus rebuffs them saying, “Dude, don’t mess with those kids. They are as important as the rest of us.” (Matt 19, Mark 10, Luke 18).

So he kneels down to speak with the kids and tousle their hair when he sees a turtle close by. He grabs the turtle by the shell and holds it up at eye level with the children just to show them how cool it is. While Jesus has this turtle in his hand, it abruptly sticks its head and legs out of the shell and flails around a bit in an attempt to escape. In doing so, the turtle scratches Jesus’s finger with its claw, thereby, causing Jesus to drop the turtle to the ground and jerk his hand back reflexively from the sudden surprise.

Here’s my question: Can you imagine Jesus jerking his hand back like that or dropping a turtle or being startled from sleep by a loud noise that made him sit straight up and look around wildly? Or was he way too cool for that?

And if Jesus ever was startled or surprised or flinched as a bee flew right past his ear does that mess with your “perfect” image of him?

When we think of Jesus as this beatific, haloed, or perfect being we stop thinking of Jesus as a person—a person just like you and me—a person that any of us would join at the table by walking up and introducing ourselves.

What a shame it would be if our “perfect” mental façade of Jesus prevented us from ever feeling comfortable enough to approach his table.
What a shame it would be if our “perfect” mental façade of Jesus kept us from allowing others to get to know him as well.
What a shame it would be if our “perfect” mental façade of Jesus caused us to act as his buffer instead of sitting at the table with him and waving other people over to join us.
What a shame that would be…

Sisyphus Revisited says, "There is a force at work that would exalt the church. There is a force at work that would humble it. It is necessary to discern this."

So, yeah - What if all the scripted defensiveness of congregational "church" were a deception? At some point, someone should respectfully ask the simple question: could it be that we are worshiping the organization and the belief system which exalts it in defiance of God's will?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Response to Chris via comments on "open to the elements"

"Open to the elements"

Chris, I think you're right on. Hence, I don't intend to try to convert you to the "dark side". You've gone to a great deal of trouble to explain your position and I respect that. Again, I agree with your perspective wholeheartedly and have argued the same points many times.

I think that the root of our disagreement is a difference of perspective. As in, you're drawing a picture of the same tree I am, but we're standing on different sides of the tree and at different distances from it.

When you've been away from congregational "church" as long as I have you loose your perspective on the people and it becomes all about the failings of the system. I realize that isn't the most objective means of analysis. However, I would suggest that those involved in the congregational "church" have an equally subjective view which elevates the individuals and ignores much of the institutional failings.

Here's the rub - the ones that we're trying to mirror the love of Christ to are OUTSIDE the institution and often very very far away. They cannot see past the institutional expectations of conformity, grabbing for money, and imminent hypocrisy bred out of a misguided marketing of holy living. I won't patronize you by going any further with this...I know you get it.

I spent 18 years in various levels of ministry from teacher to director to deacon in Southern Baptist and Methodist churches. I've written a book all about my frustrations with the system and with a nod to what I speculate it could all look like 20 years from now. I did my undergraduate work in English - Poli Sci - History at an uber-conservative Southern Baptist University. I miss the people I taught, debated with, and partnered with trying to change from within. Some of them are still close friends. Most of them turned their back on me when I could no longer accept the "status quo."

Here's what I'm looking be able to combine my distant perspective with a closer perspective, like yours, in hopes of developing a comprehensive perspective that actually begins to bridge gaps instead of making them bigger. There has to be a reason why so many are leaving the institutional "church" in favor of social causes. I'm all about embracing change with an eye toward accepting whatever form it comes in. I, personally, believe that the change is a spiritual revival too large to be confined by the statutes of organized religion. My reasoning behind this is far too lengthy to go into in a comment box. You have to combine the ideas of about 30 different contemporary authors, speakers, and theologians currently taking up the mantel of change to even begin to get a full whiff of how big the next quarter century will be on a spiritual level.

Again, I agree with you about just shouting down the institution and throwing rocks through the stained-glass windows - I don't want to be THAT guy. I'm a problem solver. The reason I blog is that I'm still trying to find my voice and work out what this is all suppose to look like. The frustrating part for me is that I'm convinced that the problems of institutional organized religion aren't fixable. It seems like a house you love which cannot be remodeled any more. Best practice may be to just leave it be and move down the road to build something entirely new.

I also realize that all of this might be a result of my own baggage, but that thought seems to diminish the more I do this and the more I discuss the matter with those folks sitting far away from the institution. Those "outsiders" need more than a bridge - they also need a motive to use that bridge.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Confetti in my coffee

There were small colorful pieces of confetti in my coffee when the waiter brought it to my table.

I was cool about it. I gently dipped my pinky into the coffee to extricate the bits out of my beverage (pinky works best, trust me). It’s a trick I’ve always used to get unwanted things out of a beverage—a fly out of wine, for instance. It virtually always works if you remain persistent.

Then there’s the little trick I play on myself that goes along with this technique. It’s called the self-hypnosis head waggle. It’s subtle and usually lasts for less than a second. It marks the moment after I’ve removed the offending insect or bit of trash from my beverage that I convince myself to take the next drink.

The rule is that if you can take the first post-impurity drink without any detectable altering of beverage quality then what you removed did not, in fact, have any type of negative impact on the beverage. As a matter of fact, once you’ve made it past the second drink without incident then you can convince yourself that whatever had been floating in your drink never really existed. Now that the self-hypnosis is complete, I am free to move forward with whatever activity, conversation, or thought I was engaged in at the time I noticed something in my cup.

Let me back up a minute…I know that it happened, but if I’m able to wipe it from my memory then I can argue that it might as well have never happened. You know—if a tree falls in the woods and no one’s there to hear it… It’s that kind of a thing.

Look—I know that there has to have been some kind of fly residue left floating in the wine, but it’s cool if it never actually happened. Ok, it did happen, but I’ve intentionally wiped it from my memory so it NEVER actually happened to ME.

Alright! I know that if I analyze my “pinky technique” it involves pinching the offending insect between my finger and the side of the glass. I also know that this type of pressure is certain to produce further contamination of insect particles and “juices”.

Aaaaaa, self-hypnosis head waggle X 3!

I’m good. I’m good. Never happened. Whew. Where was I?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So, there’s this confetti in my coffee. I remove the three bits of paper and begin to enjoy my mug o’ lifejuice. It’s an inconsequential moment that never fazes me. No harm—no foul. We move on. Life’s not perfect. Confetti is always better than a bug because it’s easier to forget the confetti than it is the bug.

I’ve now spent 10 minutes writing about something that I’ve told you doesn’t matter and might as well have never happened. I must be losing it, right?

What if you go to that same restaurant once a week…twice a week…maybe even every day and each time they bring you your coffee it has a few tiny bits of confetti floating on the top? Aren’t you gonna start asking questions? But, if it didn’t matter the first or second or third time, why does it begin to take on a whole different level of significance thereafter?

But it does matter. Confetti doesn’t belong in coffee. It’s out of place. It has no business being there the first time, but it sure as hell shouldn’t be showing up on a continual basis.

What if this took place at every restaurant you went to? What if, suddenly, every cup of coffee you ordered began to show up with a few tiny bits of colorful confetti floating on the top? Wouldn’t you start to get a little freaked out?

And then you notice that everyone else is methodically going about removing the confetti with their pinkies without a second thought before enjoying their hot beverage. Now things are beginning to get truly bizarre. When did everyone but you get the memo that confetti was expected in coffee?

Freakin’ weird, man!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here’s my rant:

The inconsistencies and peccadillos of organized Western Christianity aren’t as much the problem as the consistency with which they occur. I really shouldn’t have to say any more.

The bigger debate should be about if these things are simply confetti on the surface of the coffee or are they flies floating in the wine. There is a huge difference…

If it’s all just confetti then I’m very wrong concerning my assessment of church politics, theology, worship of doctrine, and passive aggressive mind control. A little confetti thrown into the coffee shouldn’t keep me from enjoying the fantastic migas they serve at this restaurant I frequent so often.

But if it’s flies, gnats, or any form of living creatures floating in the drink then I’m afraid the quality of the food being served isn’t gonna matter. If you can’t keep the bugs out of my drink and don’t care enough to at least remove them with your own pinky (which is dishonest and entirely gross on another level) then I don’t even want to think about what might be in the omelet. Erp!

That’s not all—the fact that the waiter seems indignant when I’m not willing to perform my self-hypnosis head waggle every single time this happens really pisses me off. “None of the other customers seem to have a problem with the impurities in their drinks, sir.” What a prick!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


I don’t expect perfect. I don’t even expect “very good” every single time. It’s a restaurant. People run restaurants. People are never perfect. Groups of people are very rarely consistently good every single time.

My problem is that I think I see legs on this “confetti” and I’m not interested in someone else’s self-serving analysis of MY drink. Even if I’m wrong about the legs…doesn’t it seem weird that the beverage always has to be skimmed before I can enjoy it?

What in the hell is up with that?!

Monday, September 5, 2011

Religious Misfit

I am a spiritual rogue, scallywag, and rapscallion. I forage for revelation and enlightenment through the trash heaps of the fundamentalist evangelical religious practices that I've grown up with.

I am a Christian wanderer looking for a congregation inclusive of all humanity. I value religious practices for others and find no value in them for myself. My mantra is, "Truth, be my guide," but I'm unsure if I recognize Truth anymore.

I'm holding out hope that even if I don't understand anything about the Holy Spirit--that it's presence in me will still guide like a rudder.

My "church" is the road. My pew is my Harley. My pastor is the sun, wind, and sky.

I've been rejected by being ignored. I am a spiritual orphan. But that's okay.

My hope is in God...not religion. God hasn't let me down even if organized religion has.

My wayward shrine is the side of my daughter's bed where I pray for her to survive my failings. I pray for her soul while she sleeps and then I lightly rest next to my wife-angel (always in a heightened state of protection).

I will defend against anything that threatens this family...including religion.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Open to the elements

I want to live out in the open where I get to see the trees sway in the wind and feel the sun on my face from time to time. Sure, living in the open presents its hazards, but there’s nothing like watching a gentle curtain of rain approach from the West atop a hill. Isolation is highly overrated—especially when the far-reaching result is isolation from other people that need us and have much to teach us in return.

Most of my Christian friends are convinced that they have something genuinely wonderful to share with the world around them. The problem is that sitting in their spiritual bunker doesn’t quite lend itself to sharing anything with anyone.

Come out into the light, folks! Take a breath of fresh air! The mission field is OUTSIDE your spiritual bunker.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Fully Man:

This Jesus didn’t party with hookers, IRS agents, AIDS patients, and criminals with a disapproving scowl on his face. He spent time with them as you would at a family reunion. He listened to their stories, laughed at their jokes, and played with their kids. This Jesus wasn’t HOLY or SACRED. This Jesus rebuked those that considered themselves HOLY and SACRED. This Jesus told funny jokes, walked hand in hand with prostitutes, and was genuinely moved by people’s stories of tragedy in their life. This Jesus was UNHOLY and UNSACRED. 

Fully God:

This Jesus is entirely HOLY and SACRED. This is the heart of Jesus. This is the word, as it were, that can coexist as flesh (fully man)—
John 1:14.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

We are being called to be both.

We are being called to serve one another.

To serve denotes humility and bestows honor even if it hasn’t been earned. To serve is to treat the OTHER person as if THEY are HOLY and SACRED.

We treat them that way regardless of their beliefs because we are Jesus—because we are Jesus (fully man) with hearts of Jesus (fully God).

When we set ourselves, our beliefs, and our actions apart and adorn our t-shirts with the word REDEEMED across the chest we are not representing any form of Jesus. In that moment, we are representing only ourselves.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

So mock me all you want. Shout me down. Quote scripture AT me. Pray for me to change my “wicked ways.” I appreciate your concern, and I will indulge your ignorance. But at the end of the day, I am a missionary to a very foreign land with its own customs, language, and sense of morality.

I can walk into that biker bar feeling right at home with my vulgar t-shirt and my tats and my fixed blade knife attached to my hip in all my UNHOLY UNSACRED glory and partner with the people I meet there—you cannot. I know their language. I know their customs. I value their beliefs. They can smell a phony a mile away. You are not welcome. Don’t even try.

But many of us in that bar have hearts that are HOLY and SACRED even if you can’t see it on the surface. We readily admit that we don’t understand all the inner workings of God and the complexities of the Bible. However, we do know that there is a God and that He/She loves us deeply enough to saddle right on up to the bar here with us and buy a round of drinks for everyone.

Say what you will about protecting your faith through the judicious management of your outward appearance and actions. Jesus (fully man) said that it’s the heart of the lesbian – biker – criminal - pro-choicer – Buddhist – atheist - Muslim that matters. Guess what—Jesus (fully God) loves them all.

Why not worship Jesus (fully man)? Because He isn’t worthy of praise. Worship Jesus (fully God). Worship THAT Jesus through the service of others—not in a pew singing old tired washed up songs at a wooden idol on the wall. It’s the heart of Jesus that matters and it’s the heart of us all that must carry THAT Jesus into the world with great honor, vigor, and resilience.

"Hi, my name is Bonar and I'm a heretic."

Welcome to my mission field. It is raw…

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What Swanny learned in prison

What I Learned in Prison
by Brian Swan "Swanny"

"Then one day it hit me like a ton of bricks. The church I attended was nothing like the church I read about in scripture, it was the small group of inmates I met with that felt like community to me. To me this was what helped me determine what “church” really meant, and one of the main reasons I left the “institutional” church.
The talk in prison was about one thing only.. Christ. And, when we talked we spoke from the heart. There was no hiding behind a fake facade and acting like somebody we were not. The only difference between the inmates and me is that they got caught. Transparency was there every time, and we shared life together. We were all just a bunch of sinners sitting around talking about the only thing that mattered… Christ."