Sunday, December 27, 2009

secrets and theft

A friend of mine has a secret blog. He doesn't tell anyone about it, and tries to convince the few who know of its existence that it is actually written by his identical twin brother, who is a myth. I only found it because he foolishly left a comment on here using his own blogger account, whenupon I promptly went to his blog and wrote "Gotcha, you weasel." He says it's a secret because he's just sort of thinking things out, but I think it's because he's too lazy to edit.

Normally if I like something someone says on the interwebs I'll link to it, because it is easier. But this would annoy him for sure, so instead I'll just annoy him a little bit by re-posting it here. If it seems raw, it's because he doesn't really edit. If it seems like it obliquely references me a few times ("Canada", "Effup"), it's because it does. Because I am special.

Enjoy.





I Am An Adulterer


I am not a great man. But if by telling you that I am not a great man, that makes me a great man...well...then, I guess I must be a great man.


My friend Canada threw that quote out at me.

And so humility becomes just another tactic...to prove how great I am.

But at what point is the line crossed?

I can tell you that I am a wretch, and you place your hand between my shoulder blades and look into my innocent pale blue eyes and tell me that I am not.

I can tell you that I have lied, stolen, hurt people -- deeply and on purpose, stepped on others in order to get ahead, looked down on nearly everyone around me. For this, you would applaud me for my bravery and willingness to expose my naked soul for all to see.

But my soul is not naked. I am too smart for that. I am humble because I am cunning. It is a tactic, like every other human action. Stanislavski taught me that.

But at what point can I cross that line?

How can I convince you that I suck? When can I describe my actions in such vulgar, profane detail that you might agree with me?

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There is a bit of a dilemma within the modern Church. Somewhere along the line, we adopted the term “Christian.” If you are unfamiliar with the etymology, the word means “Little Christ.” I recently read an article by a man who swore off the title. He suggested that it is arrogant and offensive for a person to call him or herself a “little Christ.” He vowed never to use the term to describe himself ever again.

I agree. I agreed with him on every single point. But then what shall we call ourselves?

I raised this question to my aunt. She is a wonderful woman and quite passionate about Jesus herself. She suggested perhaps we should start calling ourselves Christ followers. It has all the benefits of stating that we are trying to be like Christ without pridefully suggesting that we ARE like Christ.

AWESOME.

Only, I don’t think many people are actually trying to be like Christ. I’m pretty sure we’re all just looking for new and exciting ways to prove that we’re better than everybody else.

So maybe a handful of people can accurately label themselves “Christ-followers.” But I don’t really think I’m trying hard enough to be a part of that crowd. Sometimes, maybe, but most of the time...when I am trying hard to be Christ-like...I’m just doing it so that I can look down on all the people who aren’t trying as hard as I am.

So, what the hell do I call myself?!?!?!

I’m not a Christian. I’m not even a Christ follower! But I don’t believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster either! I believe the whole Jesus story, I’m just not willing to give him a bad name by suggesting that I’m anything even remotely like him.

What the hell do I call myself! I need a goddamn name!

--------------------------------

Once, I interviewed my friend Phil about this thoughts on Christianity. Phil is a great man, whom I deeply respect and admire. He is flawed just like the rest of us -- but he knows quite a few things that I don’t, and he does a slightly better job at pretending like he’s Jesus than I do. During this interview, one little gem stood out to me.

Now bear with me, because this is probably a tired, old metaphor...but it was new to me.

It’s like my house is heaven. Now it’s all nice and clean and beautiful and wonderful. I tell my kids they can go outside and play, but don’t play in the mud. So they’re kids. What do they do? They play in the mud. Does this mean I’ll never let them back inside my house? Of course not! But it does mean that I’m gonna hose them down, first.

He then backspaced a few times on that and decided it was more like a virus with a cure than mud and a hose...and he was right. It’s the more accurate metaphor, because really...what does it matter if your house gets dirty. BUT, if there is a deadly disease running around, it makes sense for heaven to remain quarantined.

But, I like the mud metaphor better. It’s more visceral. I’m a filmmaker...viruses aren’t primal...mud and water...those resonate.

So I imagine it like this. God has a clean house. He wants everybody to have a super sweet awesome party in there, but we’re all covered in shit...literally, shit. We hate our miserable lives because every second of every day, we are covered in shit. It’s all around us. People are throwing it, but even faster than they can throw it -- we are rolling around in it, smearing it into every pore and orifice. I imagine Jesus as the the big fat guy standing at the entrance of the house, smoking a cigar, covered in tattoos and looking like a line cook at Waffle House. He is holding a hose and is more than happy to hose off anybody who comes inside.

The Christians are the ones who are out in the shit storm telling everybody about the fat guy with the hose. Only nobody’s buying what they’re selling. And I’ll tell you exactly why. Because the Christians all pretend like they’re not covered in shit; all you have to do is look at them to know it’s a big fat lie.

I walk up to you, all three of you who read this blog...I, personally walk up to you. There is a mixture of shit covering my entire body. I’m talking dog shit, horse shit, cow shit, rabbit shit, llama shit, cat shit, human shit...everything shit. It’s in my hair, all in my hair -- lathered in like shampoo. It’s caked down my face like makeup on a prom queen. When I grin, you can see it between my teeth. It’s in my ears, under my fingernails, it’s so heavy it weighs down my clothes and causes them to stick to my body.

And I’m not talking old shit, like all crusty and dried out after a few days. I’m talking new, recent, wet, stinky shit.

So...I walk up to you. And I say, “Hey, you’re covered in shit. Wouldn’t you like to be clean, like me? And totally NOT covered in shit?”

I can’t imagine you would take my solution very seriously.

See, the problem with Christianity is that it’s just one more tactic in our never-ending quest to prove that we are better that everybody else.

Hobbes said, “I put for the general inclination of all mankind, a perpetual and restless desire of power after power, that ceaseth only in death.” And he was pretty much the smartest stuffed tiger I can think of.

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Christianity is a fairy tale. It’s stupid. Only stupid people could possibly believe in it. Stupid or else naive. It is imaginary, a religion of wishing upon stars.

But if I learned anything from Pinocchio, it’s that wishing upon stars is never a bad idea.

We “Christians” spoil that illusion. If I tell you a beautiful fairy tale about a selfless and elegant man who loves you despite the fact that he knows exactly how unlovable you are...you might just be inclined to believe that He exists somewhere out there -- because you so greatly yearn to be loved, and especially by someone who knows just how unlovable you are.

But if I tell you that I am even remotely like this man, the illusion is broken. Because you smell the bullshit that I am covered in. And if this man is anything like me, he can’t possibly be as great as all the fairy tales say he is. Because I don’t love you. (I’m pretty sure that nobody really loves anyone, to be honest. Not in the way the Bible talks about. In fact, I’d be willing to bet my life on that.)

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I was reading through the Old Testament -- specifically the prophets. To be more specific, it was Amos, I think. I’m not certain. There was a verse in there where God likened the Israelites behavior to adultery. The prophets are DENSE with this terminology. I have a feeling, actually, that adultery may have been Jeremiah’s favorite word. Over and over and over, the prophets call the Judites and the Israelites “adulterers.” And yet, they never call anybody else adulterers. The Philestines are awful and wicked, but they’re not adulterers. The Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians -- the term is never used on them.

Why? Well, obviously, they never entered into a covenant with God. If we’re using the same metaphor, these people groups are merely fornicators. People who get into bed with idols and false gods, but have every right to do so...they never entered into a relationship with God. They never committed their lives to him. They never admitted His existence.

Which led me to the realization that I had found a new term for Christians. We are the adulterers. If we truly realize that praying that silly prayer in which we state that we believe in a fairy tale does not make us into some kind of sinless perfect person, then we are forced to admit that we are still sinners. We are still covered in shit. And if we believe in our silly little fairy tale, and we continue to sin...then we are adulterers.

You can argue semantics if you like. Or, you can ask ten people on the street which is worse: sleeping with 100 people before you married or having 1 affair. I think all ten would agree.

We “Christians” look down on those horrible fornicators, forgetting that we have committed a far more serious transgression.

Perhaps instead of wearing crosses, we should wear Scarlet letters. Only, the Scarlet letter would quickly become a symbol of pride. What we Christians need is a symbol of shame.

I am ashamed to call myself a Christian. And for the first time in my life, it is not because I don’t want to be associated with “those people.” This time, I’m pretty sure I’m the one bringing down the rest of the group.

So I’ll call myself an adulterer, for at least as long as it’s trendy for me to do so. I may even have a scarlet A tattooed across my chest just to remind myself what a massive effup I am.

2 comments:

  1. Josh, I don't know if you ever read comments on posts that are almost 2 years old, but this is one of the best essays that I've ever read. It almost brought me to tears because, sadly, it describes me to a "T."

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Paul. Blogger actually lets me know whenever anyone comments, so I'll be sure to pass your comment on to the author. I know it'll mean a lot to him.

    ReplyDelete

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