bonar crump

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

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

From Zoo to the Wild - Spiritual Madagascar

The reason I write stuff like this is more often than not to work out some of the noise in my head. The noise that says: why can’t you just play nice—why don’t you go with the flow—aren’t you worried about risking your family’s spiritual growth because of your baggage—when are you gonna accept that you’re a lunatic?

Self-analysis is my means of weeding out static from the Morse code sometimes embedded within that static which is what I understand to be God’s voice.

It kind of pisses me off sometimes. How do I (and many others like me) profess this omniscient omnipresent Creator of the universe and, yet, God evidently chooses not to communicate with us via our ears. Seriously, that makes me mad at times.

If you want me to get to steppin’ on something, God, then talk to me for crying out loud. Don’t make me have to guess about it or seek someone else’s counsel about it. Just tell me with spoken words! How is that so hard?

Maybe my 6 year old daughter is right. One time she told me that God’s words are too loud to be heard by your ears—you have to hear them with your heart. Maybe…I don’t know. Maybe God doesn’t know how to whisper and a simple “how you doin’” would blow out the windows in the truck while I was driving and cause a massive wreck on the highway. Whatever…

So the whole point of Lady and the Tramp meets Shawshank was to lay the foundation for what I think might be a universal model that explains why much of what we do, see, hear, and struggle with via religion seems so useless, irrelevant, and downright abusive.

·         Tame—an animal which accepts the control of humans.
·         Feral—animals that live in the wild after having been domestically reared.
·         Wild—the natural, free state of an undomesticated animal.


If you were born into a Christian home and have been nurtured by Godly parents, you are spiritually tame. That’s a good thing. That’s a fantastic thing. I, too, am raising my daughter in a home where we pray together and discuss God on a nearly daily basis. There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you are spiritually tame.

Spiritually tame folks get along well because they are more dependable. They are more likely to be peacemakers. They have hope for things like joy, peace, and love. They are a part of things. They guard our traditions and remind us of our heritage. These folks teach the Gospel well because they’ve been around it since they were weaned from the teat. These are good people that we should never ignore, dismiss, or reject.


From a purely Christian perspective, if you were born into a non-Christian, agnostic, or atheistic home then you are spiritually wild. Same wholesome values sometimes, but without the Christian deity involved. Spiritually wild folks challenge us. They keep us on our toes. They keep us honest with ourselves. Christians might think of spiritually wild folks as criminals or perverts, but that’s not the case. That’s getting into behaviorally wild people and that isn’t what we’re looking at. Besides, there are plenty of Christian criminals and perverts sitting in our pews and preaching from our pulpits so be very careful if your knee-jerk is to label folks by their actions or appearance.

Spiritually wild folks such as atheists are intellectually lean because they are able to engage the world without the confusing effects of mysticism. Not that they don’t acknowledge the mysterious nuances of the human spirit as expressed through love, art, music, literature and such. No, these people are appreciative of the mysteries in life and the world, but they don’t tend to attribute those mysteries to an unseen deity who comprises the ability to create and destroy at his/her discretion.

Just imagine how much simpler it would be as a Christian to explain your worldview without having to refer to an ancient text written only by men thousands of years ago. That’s what I mean by being intellectually lean—you save all that bandwidth by eliminating the need of carrying around all your mystic beliefs.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Spiritually wild folks that do not believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and savior to mankind but do embrace some form of religious mysticism are some good folks, too. They might not share the core beliefs of the Christian, but they will usually line up very well with the Christian when discussing matters of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (fruit of the Spirit).


If you were spiritually tame at one point and are now wild then you are spiritually feral.

The spiritually wild person fears the spiritually feral one because if the feral crossbreeds beliefs with the wild it might disrupt the fragile ecosystem and adversely affect the harmony of the wilds’ balance with their natural habitat. This is why a feral person must hide their residual churchy-church vocabulary and worldviews when amongst the wild ones or else they will be perceived as weak-minded and rejected. In nature, the reason that a pack of wolves may turn on a sick or injured member of the pack and kill it is because of the natural instinct that one weak member makes the entire pack weaker as a group. This perception is quite valid. Christian views hard-wired into the brain of a once spiritually tame individual WILL dilute the integrity of a group’s non-Christian viewpoint.

Likewise, the spiritually tame person fears the feral one because feral beliefs crossbred with tame beliefs disrupt the fragile Christian ecosystem and adversely affect the harmony of the natural habitat (church). This is why feral people must hide their worldly vocabulary and competing worldviews when amongst the tame groups or else they risk rejection. Same scenario applies—the worldly views and mannerisms of the feral person must be killed as soon as possible lest they weaken the entire group via a dilution of the integrity of the Christian belief system.

All of this makes it hardly worthwhile to jump the fence of organized religion and disappear into the surrounding forest. The very real risk one faces is a rejection of the wild and of the tame folks. Perpetual spiritual purgatory is never really a favorable selling point. The feral Christian risks everything if they wish to experience anything outside the fence.

The domesticated person (spiritually tame) has many advantages. They are fed well and often. They are safe behind the fence of religious expectations. They rest peacefully without worrying about what stealthy hunter might silently kill them in the darkness of the night. They can trust in the safety of their numbers. They are comfortable, happy, and content folks who are excited by wild ones that wish to convert via accepting the confines of the fence in exchange for regular meals and security.

However, it is imperative that wild ones willing to convert must follow the rules that maintain order within the compound. These are expectations that have proven for many years to sustain the order and safety of the tame lifestyle. To live within the yard, it is very important to respect the sanctity and righteousness of the fence. The fence is there to protect. The fence is there to defend. The fence is there to offer peace of mind.

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The spiritually wild lifestyle has many advantages as well. They eat food sources that thrive naturally and without cultivation. They stay alert even when at rest which sharpens their analysis of reality. They, too, trust in the safety of their numbers as they readily form packs. They are comfortable, happy, and content people but in a different and equally as valid way as the tame folks.

They aren’t as excited about converts that have been raised behind the religious fence. The thought is that formerly tame people cannot ever fully put aside their preconceptions and worldviews. Simply put, wild folks remain skeptical of newly escaped tame folks because the tame ones are always trying to trick wild people into coming into the yard. It’s like the tame people want everyone to be like them—to the wild mindset that is completely egocentric and maniacal.

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In all of this analysis we see two different groups separated by fences, rules, opportunities, worldviews, beliefs, traditions, etc. What the tame have to embrace as the core of their mission is Matt. 28:19.
·         But does this mean that the tame are being called to entice all of those that are wild and feral into voluntarily setting aside their lifestyles and beliefs in exchange for life inside the fence?
·         Is life inside the fence the goal of discipleship?
·         Has the fence been built by God or by man?
·         What is it that is so harmful and scary about living in the wild?
·         Does God have authority over the wild areas as well as within the fence?
·         What kind of psychological and physical stresses are placed upon a wild beast that is brought into captivity?
·         Is this enough bullet points?

I’m still working on the answers to these questions. To tell you the truth, I don’t even believe that there is a fence at all [1].  I think both tame and wild have blindly accepted the reality of the fence for so long that they haven’t stopped to verify its existence in a very long time.

Because of this suspicion, I’ve developed a working hypothesis that the spiritually feral person seems to be the only one that can truthfully evaluate what is real and what is not. One that is capable and willing to function within either group brings a useful perspective to the table. They are able to discern the positive value of domesticated lifestyle as well as its negative implications on the soul. Likewise, they are able to evaluate the harmony inherent within the wild lifestyle as it conforms and adheres to the environment as well as understand the kinds of stresses and difficulty these things impart on the soul. The feral person is in a position to embrace the values of both and potentially bridge the gap between tame and wild. The feral person jumps whatever barriers exist at will.

If this is true then I boldly assert that the contemporary Christian generations of post baby-boomers who seem to be abandoning the ideas of domesticated lifestyle and jumping the fence are not moving away from spirituality or the church. Instead, they are moving toward the great commission of Matt. 28:19 but in a new and uniquely different way than anyone has ever devised before [2]. We’re not talking about a once-in-a-lifetime scenario—we’re staring at a once-in-a-civilization event.

They are becoming spiritually feral (sometimes at great societal risk to themselves and their relationships with older generations). But is this a bad thing?

As a lone feral animal roaming about the deep forest with no pack to protect you and uncertain about food sources or the location of water—yes, you can be in great danger potentially preyed upon by all varieties of creatures more likely to consume you than share their resources. However, as packs of feral animals begin to form providing legitimacy and knowledge of resources we begin to envision a scenario ripe with possibilities. We begin to see the abandonment of fences, divisive ideologies, and behavioral signposts.

What eventually emerges from the proliferation of a spiritually feral population is a new kind of revival—a renewed sense of loving one’s brother as we love ourselves (Mark 12:30-31)—a removal of the barriers we’ve long been devoted to as the source of our protection and safety. The reality is clear that these religious fences have failed to keep evil away or believers in check. The reality is clear that barriers and beliefs and rules of behavior do not create disciples or save lives or teach love, loyalty, or respect.

Robert Frost’s Mending Wall is oftentimes remembered most for the saying that, "Good fences make good neighbors." But what Frost is actually writing about is that traditional values are all that keep us mending these gaps in the wall. He hints that the barrier between he and his neighbor doesn’t make sense—that the futile upkeep of their divide serves no real purpose that he can discern. I like Frost’s questioning of tradition versus reality.

I think Frost would rather have a glass of bourbon with his neighbor while laughing at all the effort they’ve wasted over the years maintaining something that was completely irrelevant. I think Frost would rather blur the boundaries between he and his neighbor and so would I.

I think Frost would agree with Jesus’ teachings of inclusiveness and embracing the leper as an antidote to fences and their upkeep.

Something there is that doesn't love a wall, 
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.

I think God is that something.

In order to raise people’s expectations you have to challenge their preconceptions.

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