I don't know what is happening to me... I was talking to a friend the other day, and he was giving me the top five reasons that the music pastor at his church in Alabama should be fired because he isn't relevant, and how much money his church spent on their building and how ridiculous it is that the kids have somewhere to play, and how old fashioned preaching is and how much money America has and how its been a crappy influence on the church and blah blah... As this friend went on and on, something occurred to me. Something that oddly, living in New York City has shown me: I no longer want to gripe about the church. I no longer want to gripe about America.
I know, I know what some of you are thinking, whilst spewing your double espresso all over your Relevant Magazine. "Well shoot, Seth. How can you call yourself a thirty-something white, hip, American Protestant?" Well, I can't. Never could really. I bought some square glasses a few years back and two days later I lost them. And there is something about those square glasses... they tend to change perfectly good fellas and creative guys into whiny schmucks. And with every single one, somewhere along the way, the church burned them. Eventually they left it, all the while yearning for the potluck dinner of their youth.
I wonder someday if they'll end up like Citizen Kane, alone and isolated by bodyguards, in their state-of-the-art, nationally televised sanctuaries. A stainless steel earth swirls above their still body as they lie on the floor... Finally, they gasp their last breath, open their hand and out rolls their glass-snow-shaky-thingy to the ground. It smashes on the textured concrete and reveals a little white church. As the water drains across the floor, instead of "rosebud," they whisper "pot luuuuuck."
Seems like everyone is putting on cool, square glasses, or beefing up their biceps, and screaming for significance by slicing at the church that raised them, with all the lusty zeal of a teenage party-animal. Then they write a book about it and get rich off it. Then they write books about why their competitors are wrong, calling them heretics and get richer. And then the repeat the procedure, ad nauseam, and get triple rich. Then, ten years later, they write a book about how they were wrong for getting so rich, and get rich again.
I read those books and think, "Yeah, I guess I can see how we are crappy... it just doesn't seem all that bad to me. (Put down the book, rub my belly and yawn) What time is the potluck dinner honey? I'm starving."
Truth is, last 4 churches I've been to, even though they've all had pretty nice buildings, they all seem to really care about things that Jesus cared about: Spreading the Good News and helping the helpless, which would be, according to the bible, everyone. Are they perfect? No. Are they working on it? Yes. Sound a little like me? Double yes.
Then there is America. Last time I checked the news, I saw about 5 countries where people were being killed daily by either a crazy, tyrannical regime or some other sort of natural disaster- famine, starvation...
And as I shake my head and watch the news footage, I'm finally not afraid to admit that I am thankful. I am thankful that I wasn't born in that town in Africa with the lone chicken running down the middle of the dirt road/main street. No, for as long as I can, I'll be just fine to shop at the supermarket for my pre-plucked, de-boned chicken thank you very much, even if my hormoned-bird gives me gradual man-boobs and theirs won't. Because who knows how long that will last?
Let's not mistake "civilization" with "prosperity." Nothing wrong with a supermarket or a paved road, or nice carpet in church for that matter folks. And no, being thankful isn't the same thing as being selfish. It takes true humility to be thankful. And let me tell you, I am one humble dude. Middle name: Humility. I make humility look good baby. I put the hum in humility. (For typing this last paragraph, you may expect the Good Lord to send me to Africa, very soon.)
Seriously, It's what I do with what I've been blessed with that matters. If I'm truly thankful, I'll share what I have.
And last time I checked, if there is any country that is doing something about it, the U.S. is one of them. Are they doing it perfectly? No. Are we working on it? Yes. Sounds like me again.
So I guess what I am trying to say is this: I have nothing to gripe about. I live, eat, and worship in a country that facilitates and encourages, in bounty, all of the aforementioned verbs. Good lord. I just turned into my mother. Seriously. My left arm is a woman's arm that resembles my mother's.
From now on, for every negative thing I say about capitalistic Christianity, I should say something about how it is doing some, no, a lot of good.
This is not a prideful pat on the back. I'm just laying down my rectangle glasses. I'm shelving my hair gel and I'm turning off those Mac Christian adds with the "cool, real Christian and the dorky Christian guy." Cause truth is, I'm dorky. Yes, I like church. For all its funny, quirky, misguided, goofiness. Cause that's me too, and that's where I'm loved. The church has loved me in my worst and best moments. They've loved me, regardless of my idiotic mistakes, and not simply for what I can do to jazz-up the service. And certainly not for how much cash I've put in the bucket.
So when do I get my bar mitzvah?