Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Okay, One More...

Just when I thought I'd run out of things to say on the subject of the church, I've found myself over the last few days thinking often of the recent events at Revolution Church as recounted on SCP.

The fact remains that I still have a powerful, almost physical response to the idea of attending church and I think that this Revolution Church experience has helped to crystallize it for me.

You see, here is this man, apparently quite talented and charismatic, who builds a successful congregation and in the moment of doing what about half of all Americans do--leaving their spouse--ends up traumatizing his entire congregation. Not just because of the thing that happened, but because it happened there. To them. By him, of all people!

People talk often of the powerful sense of community in church, but what I experienced even more strongly than community was a sense of unreality. As in, what happens in church, how people often behave, can simply be unreal. A thoroughgoing dishonesty brought on by an intense pressure to be a certain way, to say the right thing, to be who it is that other people think a person who is a Christian is supposed to be. Church is so painful to me because I simply can't take the pressure of not feeling like I can be who I am, warts and all.

For instance, if I'm having a bad day when I show up for work and a colleague asks how I am, I can shrug my shoulders and say "I'm here, anyway." Then they can either ask for details or shrug and go back to their work. I can fart at my desk or say "Fuck all" if I feel like it. The mask is off, and the only things I keep to myself are those things that I think are none of my colleagues' business.

When I was in church, the one thing I wanted to say more than anything else was, "Bullshit!" Bullshit on people acting a certain way and expecting other people to act the same way too. Hating on their neighbor while they hug and kiss them. Pretending everything is okay when it damn well isn't. Wearing their finest masks in the one place they should be the most real and human. Whatever your experience in church is, I won't devalue it at all. But that's what church ended up being for me.

So David Trotter was full of shit. Probably still is. He's apparently quite passionate about helping people have religious experiences and become personally successful and content, and sees no conflict between that and abandoning his wife and children. I will be the first to say that any one of us is capable of being both great and an asshole, often at the very same time. That's just human. To be human is to be broken and fallible and a mixed bag of goods. But that's just not okay in church. Oh, it's okay to acknowledge it in the abstract, but not to act it out in the presence of your neighbors. Sure, people sin. It's just not supposed to happen here.

Not to us.
Not in our church.
Not with our pastor.

Years later, I'm still angry about the bullshit. Weird thing is, I'm just as angry with the people at Revolution as I am with Trotter. I don't know any of them, but I've been in enough churches to understand the bullshit culture. They just suffered a major, traumatic reality intrusion into their make-believe, happy-talk culture and nobody knows what do to about it.

So let me tell you what they are going to do. I can say this, because I saw it over and over again.

They are going to pretend it never happened. People will cry and hold hands and pray, and notice that within weeks it will not be discussed from the pulpit. When people bring it up to the leadership, they will suggest that the appropriate response is a small prayer and to focus on other things. References to Trotter will disappear from websites and printed materials. Maybe they'll even change the name or move to a new location. The wife and family will move to a new church. The history of Revolution will be cleansed of this painful event so that everyone can go back to pretending that these things don't happen here. Not to us.

I don't know. Call me a cynic. But let me know if I'm wrong, because that would be interesting to see. I hope for Revolution's sake that they break the mold.

I really don't like feeling this way, so seemingly cynical and angry, but I wonder sometimes if the very title of this blog--One for Truth--ends up keeping me honest in ways I never contemplated when I started it, which at the time was when I was fully engaged with the culture. This is the truth as I see it, called out as plainly as I can call it out.

I am already without a congregation because I didn't want to hurt them by trying to stay, to take off the mask and break the mold. I don't want to hurt anybody, and I don't want to find myself without faith. But I can't and won't be a party to the bullshit any longer. Just can't tolerate the dissonance.

Thursday, February 21, 2008


I don't want to be one of those guys whose blog just sits there week after week with nothing new, but nothing really resolved. I have kind of run out of things to say so I'd rather just call it a day.

Thanks for being there with me, and you know where to find me.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Jesus: Isn't it time we took a look at his record?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Amy Enters, RIP

I never knew Amy Enters, but I was sent her obituary today by a colleague. I want to take a moment here to acknowledge from a distance the life and legacy of a woman who is a contemporary of mine, and whose passing reminded me of the increasing fragility of life.

Amy Enters, age 40, of Barrington, Illinois, formerly of Houston, Texas, passed away November 27, 2007 after a courageous battle with breast cancer. Amy was the loving wife of Menno Enters whom she married on September 6, 1997. Amy was born in Corpus Christi, Texas on February 16, 1967 to Carolyn and JR Viola. Cherished sister of Polly (Clay) Wilkins, Kari (Gary) Stadler, and Michael Viola. Fond daughter-in-law of Marina and Jim Enters, and sister-in-law of Karin Enters.

She is survived by sons Matthijs, Marek, and Aidan Enters. Amy was preceded in death by her infant son, Liam. Amy was a woman of exceptionally strong faith, a conqueror, who served as an inspiration to many.

Visitation to be held from 9:00 – 10:30am on Friday, November 30 at St. Francis de Sales, 135 S. Buesching in Lake Zurich, Illinois prior to funeral mass at 10:30am.

Memorial donations may be made to “Menno Enters” in the name of the Enters Family Fund at Cambridge Bank, 1100 South Rand, Lake Zurich, Illinois.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank You

I've been at this blogging thing for about two and a half years now, and it wouldn't be interesting if it weren't for you, my blogging companions. So today, I'm grateful for this experience and the friendships I've gained here on the interwebtubes. Enjoy this day!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Modern Ruins

Photograph(s) copyright Shaun O'Boyle

Modern ruins, as seen through the lens of photographer Shaun O'Boyle. One thing that leaps out at me is that somewhere along the line (and I believe the line was World War II), we lost a sense of art in the design of most of our buildings. People, the photo above was for a power plant. I'm in that business, and I can tell you that they definitely don't make 'em like that anymore.

Thanks as always to Andrew Sullivan, from whom I get most of my good stuff.

Monday, October 15, 2007


Follow this link and see whether you perceive the dancer as spinning clockwise or counterclockwise. Then see if she changes direction on you.

For me, she was all about the clockwise--until suddenly in a blink she flipped the other way, then back a few moments later. I've found that while if I concentrate I can get her to flip directions, it's only for a few moments. The exercise appears to have right brain/left brain implications, though who really knows.