bonar crump

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

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stick with what you know

What’s the common thread?

What’s the driving force behind our daily spiritual frustrations?

Why do we see certain things so differently than our critics?

Why are we driven to explain our positions ad nauseam?

I have a proposition so simple as to be considered naïve, ignorant, or merely unsophisticated.

Let’s talk about experiential learning, Experientialism, and experiential knowledge. No fun, you say?! Come on…we’re gonna keep this short and sweet. It’s really not very complicated.

I think it’s helpful if you follow the above hyperlinks, but it’s not necessary for the sake of this tiny little idea. As I’m sure you can gather, the root of each of the terms I’ve introduced is experience…and that’s really what we’re after.

In most of our debates, discussions, and enigmatic descriptions of Christian spirituality there is a fundamental flaw to our understanding—it’s the lack of experience. I’ve written about, taught, and spoken of so many topics over the years that I had no experiential knowledge of that I really have no business presenting this idea. However, “even a blind dog finds a bone now and again.”

I’m not suggesting I’ve stumbled on the missing link. I’m just offering a simple idea…I love simple.

What do our discussions look like if we agree to the absolute rule of experiential knowledge? Like discussions of the pitfalls of alcohol, abortion, and homosexuality to site a very few examples.

I am not homosexual. If I agree to the rule of experiential knowledge then I agree to declare my opinions about homosexuality as subjective. Even better – I reach a point that if I want to discover some objectivity about homosexuality then I have to go speak to a homosexual. However, no matter how much time I spend with that person or how informative they may be, I realize that I cannot speak, write, or teach objectively about the subject because I’ve never experienced it. My opinion of right or wrong, by birth or by choice, productive or destructive is objectively irrelevant. Why? Because I am not gay…yes, it’s really that simple.

This idea of limiting oneself to experiential knowledge comes out of the observation that the most widely publicized dumbasses we encounter on a regular basis are vomiting gallons of subjective knowledge into our mouths as if we were baby birds nest-bound and hungry for whatever we can get our beaks on.

I am the member of a small group of Christians convinced by my experiential knowledge that all of Western organized Christian religion is the “offending hand.” It’s what I’ve experienced, and I am offended by those that attempt to devalue my experience. But it’s just MY experience. It’s purely subjective.

My “church” is the open road. My pew is an ’07 Dyna Lowrider. My pastor is the wind, sun, and sky. I don’t need your approval any more than you need mine. But out of respect for one another, if we can agree to the rules of experiential knowledge then it becomes impossible to judge one another.

Now comes the tricky part…in what ways does our relationship with the Bible change if we approach it with the rule of experiential knowledge? That’s a multifaceted concept better left for another day. Suffice it to say that the vast majority of what we loooooove to pontificate about concerning “what the Bible says” or “what the Bible means” is based on subjective knowledge. We teach it as objective, but we don’t experience it. We label our opinions objective, but we don’t have any experience with the subject matter.


If you aren’t homosexual then maybe you should shut the hell up. If you attend “church” every week, I could really give a rat’s ass. If you don’t drink alcohol or hang with people that do then piss off. If you’re a man then you should keep your piehole shut about the role of women. If you don’t use curse words then fuck off. If you’ve never had an abortion then I suggest you take a flying leap (and if you’re a man talking about abortion then kiss my ass). If you’ve never experienced it firsthand then your ideas, opinions, and evaluations don’t mean diddly squat.

Why did Jesus hang out with the people that he did? Based on what I’ve written here you can guess how I would answer this question. However, it’s only my opinion, so the objective answer for all of us should be WE DON’T KNOW.

Repeat after me:

·         I don’t know what it’s like to be gay.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to be a part of a brotherhood of bikers.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to be 14 and pregnant.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to be taught from the time I’m a small child that because I have a uterus that I’m not as valuable as someone with a prostate.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to grow up in an Islamic nation and never hear the message of Christ.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to bond with people over a bottle of wine, keg of beer, or glass of bourbon.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to have a spouse punch me in the face.
·         I don’t know how good it feels to scream the work “fuck” as loud as I can at the world.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to face foreclosure knowing that my “Christian” friends are going to talk about me behind my back.
·         I don’t know what it’s like to have to leave my child with someone I don’t fully trust in order to earn a paycheck.
·         I only know me…and I’m pretty sure that I’m more fucked up than anyone else I know.

Pity me if you like, but this is my mantra. This should be all of our mantras…

My grandma, who died in December 2010, distrusted “niggers”, but she had no experience. She loathed the idea of the ordination of a gay bishop in her beloved Episcopalian church, but she had no experience. She was very bold in telling everyone that they’d gained weight since the last time she’d seen them, but she’d been a size 2 all her life. She would spew any opinion that she had at the moment as a means of criticism (or personal attack) and then excuse herself with “I’m just being honest,” but she never knew what it felt like to have such venomous “honesty” directed at her.

…..and I loved that woman very deeply…..

Far be it for me to claim experiential knowledge of her life. She was the way she was, and now I’m betting everything I’ve got that she’s something entirely different.

Experiential knowledge –

Next time you meet a blind person, ask him to explain the color Blue. If you do, I hope he jabs you in the eye with his cane.