bonar crump

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

Monday, February 13, 2012

Christian PTSD and a bunch of other stuff

Warning: Stream of Consciousness Ahead—Slow down when approaching the curves.

·         There has to be a respectful way to argue that Christianity may be the greatest threat to the teachings of Jesus Christ.
·         There has to be a way to open up the discussion with spiritually honest folks about the burden of Christianity on the intent of Christ’s message to ALL of humanity.
·         There has to be a meaningful way to investigate the problems generated by Christianity without attacking individual Christians.
·         There has to be a way to criticize the belief system without tearing down the believers.
·         There has to be a way to look at Jesus, the red letters, and the Cross from a first person perspective instead of through the filters of Christianity.
·         There has to be a way to escape the zoo of Christianity and view Christ in the wild—no barriers—no separation—no vendors—no warnings—just people standing right in front of the Lion of The Tribe of Judah (Rev 5:5).

There has to be a way……...but I don’t know what it is.

I’m never so “on point” and cautious as I am when I attend a Christian church service. Most would think that it’s because I’m damaged goods or that I’ve been wounded by church folk in the past and just haven’t healed yet. Well, that might be part of it, but I’m nobody’s punk. I don’t whine about injustices and angrily stomp around fuming over defeat. I have a pretty short memory when it comes to confrontation and even rejection. What I don’t forget easily is disrespect or contempt—both personally and when observed from a third-party perspective.

I don’t carry a chip on my shoulder, but you won’t ever sneak up on me easily more than once.

Let me explain what it’s like participating in a church service (traditional or contemporary—mainstream or off-the-grid—clean-cut preacher or guy with an 8” goatee) when you have all your senses in hyper-active mode at the ready for any type of a flanking maneuver. It’s exhausting!

It’s like playing soccer on a field where there MIGHT be a couple landmines. You’re not sure if they’re there, but they MIGHT be so you’ll need to diligently scan the ground as you “play” the game. All the while the other players on the field joyfully play the game without worries or hesitation. In contrast to them, you play the game like Rain Man trying to get on an airplane.

I like to think of it as Christian PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). Does that mean I consider myself a victim? Of course not! I was a volunteer. No one made me participate in the system dynamic which is Christianity.

Or did they?

No. What am I saying? No one forced Christianity on me; it was a choice I made on my own at the age of 9.

But………..… I don’t know. I mean what other alternatives did I have? At 9, the choice was quite clear—either accept the basis of Christianity as expressed through my particular church congregation or reject the message of Jesus Christ and what his life/death means to me for all eternity.

And THEN radically remodel those Christian ideologies at age 11 due to the different philosophies at our new church community. Then there was the refashioning of those beliefs at age 15 after my parents had given up religion all together and I had to start evaluating doctrine and theology on my own (which meant I would attend the church where most of my friends went).

That was a Christianity based on the sound ideology of: God wants our youth to have a full-functioning gymnasium and lounge areas with pool tables and old couches. That wasn’t a bad Christianity. It provided many of us a place to meet members of the opposite sex that appeared to be like-minded Christians and thereby “safe” for exploring the nuances of dating during our mid-teens. We really took advantage of that one!

Next month’s overnight lock-in—Hell, yeah, I’m gonna be there!

There were lots of other churches with just as many different flavors of Christianity. All of them had good points and bad points IMO. But there was always one thread of consistency that ran through all of them—Jesus. So it came to pass that when I finally got tired of readjusting my own sense of who Jesus WAS based on the plethora of versions I came into contact with (Jesus version 3.7 – Jesus version 20.8) I began to think about what all of the different flavors of Christianity must look like from Jesus’s perspective (confession: I usually type “Christ’s” instead of “Jesus’s” because I’m never quite comfortable with that spelling—too many ssssssses).

I still don’t have any idea what it all must look like from the Jesus perspective. I realized the dangers of that thought process early on. It required me to assume that I knew anything at all about how a creator evaluated his/her creation. However, I think that it was that time in my life that led me to pursue writing. I wanted to know what it was like creating something you were proud to present to others whether they appreciated it or not and then see what it would feel like witnessing what others would do with your creation. Sometimes they tear it apart. Sometimes they OVERLY embrace it. Sometimes they respectfully ponder it and give you a little chuck on the shoulder (those are probably the best).

But sometimes they ignore it. Sometimes they disrespect you and carefully shoo you out of the room so that the “real” grown-ups can talk. Sometimes they label you and your creation too artless or ordinary to be the work of anyone worthy of their time. Sometimes the flaws in what you create are evaluated contemptuously overshadowing any beauty, honesty, or truth you may stumble upon in the process of being creative. Sometimes you’re considered a piece of shit no matter what you have created because it’s not what the “real” grown-ups want to hear or are looking to decorate the walls with.

Dude…did I just hear an “amen” in the distance?

There is a point to this weird post. Let me see if I can find it.

Oh, yes! What it feels like to attend any form of church service with Christian PTSD. It’s exhausting! I know I said that before, but I don’t know what more to say without coming off like some kind of raving lunatic hell-bent on throwing all Christian church-goers under the bus whether they have a “real” relationship with Jesus Christ or are just going through the motions in order to get an invite to the lock-in.

I don’t know where it starts or ends. Oh, wait! What about that Alpha and Omega thing? Isn’t Jesus the beginning and the end? Give me a second to Google that…

I knew it: Revelations!

You see, all those different forms, flavors, and versions of Christianity kept teaching me that Jesus was the “first and the last, the beginning and the end.” They kept telling me that, “Jesus is all you need, son.” They kept telling me that the spirit of Jesus lives inside me somehow as a guide or conscience or something like that. They all pretty much unilaterally agreed that I was safe as long as I was walking alongside Jesus following him to our next venue or just sitting atop a hillside watching a rain cloud come our way.

And then they turned the tables on me. They told me that I needed their approval. They told me that I was taking some of this Alpha-Omega talk a little too literally. They said that THEY were commissioned to be my shepherds and that I should get back to the flock. And do you want to know what I finally found in the midst of all of this conflict, chaos, and confusion that gave my soul a peace it had never felt before?

Jesus—Lion of the Tribe of Judah standing four foot in front of me on the savannah grasslands without a tree in sight—nowhere to run—nowhere to hide. I stared that Lion square-ball in the eye as long as I could anticipating some answers. I stared him square-ball in the eye—a bold man daring the Big Cat to attack. I grasped a knife in each hand and prepared to TAKE whatever answers I could get.

But in the end there were no answers. In the end, I dropped my knives, knelt reverently on my left knee, and began to weep.

I wept for all the people I had failed instead of all the folks that had failed me.

I wept for all the times I made others feel like shit because they didn’t know the right scripture or where a certain book was located in the Bible.

I wept for all the people I had forsaken because they were reluctant to buy into my version of Christianity.

I wept because I had planted some of those landmines on the soccer field hoping to expose those that didn’t believe the way that I did.

I wept for about 2 years.

And when the weeping was over I looked up to see the Jesus lion still standing there staring at me. He locked eyes with me for a moment as if to say, “you good now?” and then he turned around to leave. He walked a few steps away before turning to look at me over his shoulder. Then he said, “you coming?” (I know Lions can’t talk, but I swear on a stack of Bibles that this Lion said, “you coming?”)

I’ve been following Jesus ever since in a way that defies convention and tradition and ritual. It’s all so clear now. I didn’t need answers. I needed experiences. I needed time with Jesus. I needed to watch how Jesus loves.

Now I get to witness this same scenario playing itself out over and over between Jesus and other folks as I stand back about 50 feet and just watch the stare down until each individual, in their own time, bows to one knee and weeps however long that they need to. Then we all follow together as we move to the next venue or sit atop a hill watching rainclouds gather. It’s all very surreal and yet it seems so normal after a while.

This is all based on a totally real dream that I had once, BTW!

I’m still traveling along watching and learning as the Big Cat (that’s what I call Jesus sometimes) gathers folks from all cultures, creeds, colors, and walks of life. I still don’t know where we’re all going or exactly what’s on the horizon, but these people I hang with are radically different than any of the folks I grew up going to church with. I’m not trying to say that they are better or worse—just different.

I’d much rather attend a 1%er function than a church service any day – any week – any month – any year. I feel safer at an outlaw mc gathering or bar than at any Christian function. What I mean is that there’s definitive protocol in the biker world. There are expectations and consequences that don’t shift or change depending upon the situation. You can always feel secure around a bunch of 1%ers as long as you know the rules—and the rules are always the same. Show respect and you get respect—act an asshole and you are sure to be treated like an asshole.

Church isn’t like that. Christians aren’t like that. The varying forms, expectations, and beliefs of different versions of Christianity can switch up on you so quick you have no idea what you’re supposed to do or who you might offend in the process. You might even be the BIGGEST asshole in the group and be honored because of it. It just doesn’t make any sense and it is NOT the least bit consistent.

Jesus makes sense. Jesus is consistent. He loves. He leads. He rescues. He bleeds. He roars. He finds YOU. He doesn’t care what you look like or what you THINK you know about anything. He wants you to watch HIM work. Pay close attention. He leads.

He leads because not only is he love, truth, honor, and majestic Lion but also because he is RESPECT.

He is respect to others. He is respect to our planet. He is respect to all of HIS creation. He places value in his creation whether we do or not and expects us to respect it (all of it) as well. This protocol does not waver. This protocol is a constant.

The lion demands you to respect yourself. If you cannot respect yourself due to the ongoing pressure of whatever group you belong to then you need a new group. You’re welcome to join me hanging with bikers, but you’re gonna need to know the rule of respect first.

I’ve found more personal discipleship at the hands of patch holders in the mc world than I ever did in 25 years of bible studies, retreats, or church services. What’s that supposed to mean to someone like me? I’m still trying to find out. I will tell you that learning the very specific means of conveying respect whether in the mc world, military, or any other organization which highly regulates and values honor, respect, and loyalty can elevate you spiritually to a place that looks down on Christianity. Yeah, I said it!

Give me the respectful cadence of a biker rally any day over a Christian function. At least with the bikers I know what’s expected of me. With Christians, you never know what they’re gonna spring on you. Hence, you have to always be on your guard with your speech, actions, and even body language.

That kind of hyper-active sense of uncertainty doesn’t bode well for the Christian PTSD victim and neither does participating in a game of “watch your ass” played on a minefield of expectations.

You get my drift……… 

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