Testimony: Idols and Readjustment

This is, in part, an apology to Scott.  You have no idea how much I respect that man – he’s willing to go forward, trying to do good, trying to create a good world for his children to grow up in – and mine, and yours.  He is true to his values, and he puts shoe leather out there, not just words.   That’s meaningful.  He wants good for not just his people, but all the people.  Meaningful.  Mad respect.

And I agree with some of his statements in the Halloween post.  Yes, if we had a homogeneous culture, many of our societal problems would be immediately reduced (I strongly disagree that race = culture).    I have theological problems with Halloween – but if Halloween would revert to the kind of thing it was when I was 5, I’d probably be a lot less squicked out by it.   And little kids in costumes are adorable.  His kids in costumes are adorable.  (I would like an alternate costume event, please – I can sew….).

Speaking of trying to create tradition from whole cloth, or take up someone else’s tradition – BTDT – pointless.  You have to have community to have tradition.   Homogeneous community – you have to have things in common.   You have to have connection, not convenience.   You have to have more than just your immediate family, or it gets awkward fast.

Scott.  You have no idea how much I get you.  I understand your hunger for that tradition, and may the Lord bless your efforts to give it to your children.   You are in pursuit of a good thing.

The truth on the ground in my life is a lot different, which is where the testimony starts.

Once upon a time, a long time ago… I spent a lot of time reading prophecy blogs and prepper newsletters.  I looked around me, and was immediately confronted with the fact that living where I do is ridiculous from a prepper aspect – we pipe our water in from the Colorado river!  There.Is.No.Water.Here.  So, at the point that our water supplies run out, we have to leave.  (Assuming our neighbors haven’t decided to raid us because they got thirsty).   Yes, of course we have food.  But should we have six months of food?  Nope.  Because there is no way we can store six months of water.

Also, I live on a highly undesirable street, which annoys me in a multitude of ways.  I could list them, but why?  I don’t like it here.   However, my home that I do not like is worth a lot of money, because lots of people want to live in SoCal.  Solution:  Let’s sell this house and move somewhere nice!   This property could buy somethin’ gooooood somewhere else…  Only, that wasn’t cool with my husband.  (He has this pesky point about there not being any work for him that pays more than a fraction of what he makes now where we’d like to relocate).  (Yes, we have a “when we win the lottery” plan that sounds a lot like Scott’s retirement plan.  Only there’s a forge.)

I can’t tell you how long I spent sitting on my butt pouting about that and looking up properties on United Country and daydreaming… years.  During the shakeup of everything else in my life, God made it absolutely clear that my attitude about moving somewhere sane was an idol.  Ripping that out and dragging it to the altar was *not fun*.  It hurt.

But shortly thereafter, I got confronted with a truth – am I here to do God’s will, or mine?  Comfortable and pleasant, that was not.  All my prophecy blogs did the job of convincing me that the Lord was coming back soon.  So, folks seem to think that you should get prepping… my attitude was different.  If the Owner is coming back, what should I be found doing, as a faithful steward?   Probably just staring at the sky isn’t too useful.   I don’t need to know the day and the hour – I need to get busy.

Things God’s given me, in this place I do not like:  A good charter school for my kids – it’s one of the best schools in the country.  A wonderful church, that people rave about (the love of God is palpable).  A nearby beach.  Good weather, mostly.  A gym, where I was able to take back my physical fitness – from walking with a stick to lifting heavy.   A great, stable job with amazing benefits for my husband.   Friends.  Family.   My home itself is comfortable, and we spend a lot of weekends making it even better.

I want to talk about my church for just a second, as that’s a major blessing.   Folks in the thread were talking about wanting a church where they knew the person next to them was really walking the walk, not just showing up.   I get that.  I don’t have that.

Our church is geared towards evangelism and loving on people.  We’re GOOD at loving on people.   If you talk to someone new at my church, that’s what you’ll hear.  That they didn’t believe how much love they were going to be hit with.   We’ll take you where ever you are in life.  Recovery ministries?  Check.  People with really ‘interesting’ histories?  Double-check.   But.  We give out the truth and we don’t budge.  So – you were doing dope yesterday?  K.  We have a ministry for that – but don’t be expecting anyone to say it’s okay for you to do it today.  You won’t be getting it.   Living with your boyfriend and want a pastor to marry you?  Forget it.  You’d best be moving out first, and then planning on staying out for a long time while you do marriage counselling.  Etc.  Anyone can show up, but you should hear the process to become a deacon!  Any leadership position anywhere in our church is a vetted process, even volunteering is vetted.  We’ll find you something to do – but if you’re best suited to cleaning up the parking lot on Saturday morning, guess what?  And do you know what this produces?  A church full of people who look like, “she who was forgiven much, loves much”.  It’s an AWESOME place to be.

It was more comfortable in my old church… everyone knew the unspoken rules.   Trad church.  Great music.  Everyone dressed nicely.   Everyone knew the parables, and who Jonah was.  And… when I went back, pregnant and my finger swollen out of my wedding rings, what I got was side-eye.  My old church is a quarter the size it was … it’s not the preaching, they’ve always had talented preachers.  All the trad churches in my areas are suffering.  The people there are pretty on the outside, but you can see the pastors getting ready to rip out their hair, because they ONLY want to be pretty on the outside.  They want to be seen-to-be-good.  They don’t want to get real.

My church does.  I’ve learned so much here.  The booklearning has been good, but the life-learning has been amazing.   I have been humbled, speaking to people with half my education… because they live out the Word, daily.  I have learned about the power of God.  My old church was cessationist.  Oh, my church now treats the gifts of the Spirit with tongs (folks get a little crazy pretty fast) but they expect them.  Daily.  Holy monkeys, people – the elders council won’t move until every member is in agreement, and the pastor is there because multiple people heard the audible word of God.  (Which is the ONLY way he’d have been called – his health is horrible).   Do you know what it’s like to go to a church that leans on the Holy Spirit?  -shakes head-  It’s wonderful.  And frequently somewhat crazy.  But in a good way.

The whole last 15 years of my life has done nothing except break up all my pretty ideas about a perfect life and replace that with a willingness to do good where I am.  I can’t be satisfied with paint on the outside of a sepulcher now.  I was, when I was a girl.  I would still like to be somewhere with fewer drug dealers and homeless people.    I would like to have the same cultural expectations, and the same language would be the bomb.  But whatever.  I am willing, at the end of the day, to say, “Not my will, but Yours be done”.   I have an amazing life… I *refuse* to be the person who says, “Give, Give” (Prov 30:15), even though my flesh would dearly like me to do so.    And you know, I’m getting to like this whole, “getting real, getting raw” stuff.  It’s GOOD.  And it keeps me low on the hypocrisy meter, which I have a tendency to set off.    I’m learning so much, every day.  The more I talk to people not-like-me, the more I learn.  It’s good.  So good.  I am blessed and growing and grateful.  If I’d lived the life I wanted to live, I wouldn’t have a tenth the spiritual blessing that I’ve received.  I am so blessed.  It’s hard, and it doesn’t look like I want it to look, and I’m not in control, which is irritating.  But God is.  And He’s righteous and just and faithful – and I choose to trust Him, even when I can’t say why and don’t have a clue where I’m going.

But yes, I’m still flesh, and if DH gets transferred to Idaho, I will be singing hallelujah choruses while I pack.   But I don’t expect that any time soon… so.

So, Scott.  Yes, you’re right.  You’re completely right.  Cultural homogeneity would reduce our social problems radically.  And that sure would be nice.  I don’t figure it’s too likely, but it sure would be nice.  May God bless you and your family, and keep you safe from all harm.

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23 thoughts on “Testimony: Idols and Readjustment

  1. Elspeth

    The part about the lack of homogeneity? Check. But we have built a beautiful community of people who share our values. A few look like us. Many don’t, yet unity in Christ reigns.

    The part about the man not moving where he can’t make comparable decent bank? Double check. He grew up spending his summers working hard on his GP’s farm. He knows stuff. But…no.

    The part about wistfully dreaming of the much greener and pusher meadow anywhere but here? Check. It took losing my daddy to make me stop, reevaluate, and come to the conclusion that I am where God wants me to be. And if he wants me to be somewhere else, he’ll move on SAM’s heart to take me there.

    Oh yeah, I join your strong disagreement with the idea that race=culture.

    Lastly, like you I have immense respect for Scott and his heart for trying to find the good and protect his family. I think the life he has built with Mychael for their kids looks beautiful. I was outspoken in his thread with my disagreement but at the end of the day I think he and Michael know I think the world of them.

    Thanks for sharing your testimony.

    Reply
  2. RichardP

    Jesus. use me,
    o Lord, don’t refuse me,
    surely there’s a work that I can do.
    even tho’ it’s humble
    Lord help my will to crumble,
    tho’ the cost be great, i’ll work for You.”

    Hearthie: Use me oh God. I wanna be a missionary. Send me to a foreign land.
    God: Don’t worry about it. Stay where you are. I’ll send the foreigners to you.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      I never wanted to be a missionary, lol. Just “used”, however He saw fit. Evangelism isn’t my gift. Encouragement/counsel/that kind of thing is more my streak.

      Reply
  3. RichardP

    Going out on a limb here. Maybe you know. Maybe not.
    Hopefully you have a way to play this music.

    She = the soloist
    He = the choir director and her husband
    from 1992 – Christ Church Choir in Nashville; concert at the Opry House

    She – burried her husband, the director, today. Kidney cancer since 2013.

    There is a Hope

    Being the hands and feet and heart of Jesus. It’s what we are called to do.

    Reply
  4. Scott

    I’m entirely sure the apology is for, but it is good to be gracious, so it is appreciated.

    I have repeatedly said in many ways that my difference with so many of my beloved generic American Christians is only one dimension. That we differ on how bad the damage is.

    I hate what has happened to America just the same. I am just reading the tea leaves here. A “nation” must have dimensions of homogeneity. If not race/ethnicity, something else. I don’t so much care what, as long as its Christian. That has been my position from the start.

    What is next for “us” is the wild card.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      I’m a girl, I like my friends to know they’re my friends, and sometimes I do friendship maintenance when I perceive a distance. Since I’m a girl, sometimes that happens when there isn’t one…. but better safe.

      I don’t disagree about what’s happened in America. Or the tea leaves. We see the same thing coming.

      And race is less a proxy for culture here than elsewhere I suppose. White-girl who shaves her eyebrows half off and dresses like a cholla is … a cholla. Black dude in a polo shirt is just a dude. There are enough other ways to communicate culture beyond skin tone, and Californians are very good at those nuances. I’ve noted before that Californians are okay with whatever it is you want to be, but we want to know what that is from 10 paces, please.

      Reply
      1. elspeth

        Friday night I was in the car (actually our daughter’s car because tiny and burned less gas) in a part of the state that is not particularly minority-heavy. He as meeting a guy there for something and w estopped for gas.

        SAM went to crank the car up after filling it and the battery was dead. That was all kinds of strange, but it was dead. He was under the hood and almost immediately, a good ol’ boy in a Ford pickup walked over and said, ‘Hey, man. You need a jump?” He jumped the car, chatted about 2 minutes with my husband about cars and whatnot, they shook hands, and we were on our way.

        My husband was in Dockers and a dress shirt- still dressed from work- and I don’t know if the guy would have been so quick to come over if he wearing saggy pants and dreadlocks, but to reiterate Hearth’s point, I’m sure he made certain assumptions based on the fact that my husband was not just a “black man” but a “well dressed, professional looking man.

        But then we are in an area, while probably not as colorful as So Cal where Hearth lives, is one where race is not at all a strong proxy for culture as much as clothing, speech patterns, and observable behavior.

      2. hearthie Post author

        Same thing here. I’m thinking something about you if you’re wearing a lot of red and not a shred of any other color besides black. That something gets a + for race (the races, yes plural, in my town that are usually in that gang) but my antenna are put up by the clothes, not the skin.

  5. Scott

    The only other thing I would add here is that I have not argued that race equals culture.

    Race however is a fairly decent proxy for culture and there is a very large genetic component to that.

    This rough screening measure allows people to get through life and make everyday decisions easier in a very complex world.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      PS I refused to give a white girl parked alone in a dark alley a jump the other night. Because there was no reason she should have been back there in the first place. Stupid I am not. (I directed her to the gym full of people).

      Reply
      1. Maeve

        OMG Hearth, I have to laugh at this! My girls have OTW IQs, and yet, honest to God, I swear they are dumber than dirt – to wit: Iseult new freshman at CofC – “Mama, I got a job today”; Me: “That’s great Pookie, where is it?” Iseult: “Hostessing at Hominy Grill”; Me: “Uh….how are you getting there and back?” Iseult: “I’m walking”; Me: “You’re wakling downtown Chucktown BY YOURSELF LATE AT NIGHT??????” Iseult: “It’s OK Mama – I’m always on the phone with someone while I walk back to the dorm and it’s only like 20 minutes”.

        THIS – “I’m on the phone” WHILE WALKING HOME IN THE DARK – notice how there’s no mention of “and I’m paying attention to my surroundings”.

        BTW – totally agree that Race DOES NOT equal culture – have found that religious persuasion has far more to do with “culture”.

        Lame-o Hugs to you and Els!

      2. hearthie Post author

        They have these new screamy things for personal protection on pinterest… or maybe some pepper spray? How about a stun gun?

        And yeah. My son thought we’d be fine “since he was there”. Um. No. We don’t know if there’s a weapon – or someone else in that minivan. No, sweetie.

  6. Maea

    I spent some time thinking about this and agree with Elspeth’s point. The problem I see here isn’t a lack of homogeneity, it’s tackling the reasons that allowed self-segregating and enclave-type communities. People create and support today’s segregation, and we need to address that first.

    America was never a Christian nation by policy –it was understood its culture has Judeo-Christian roots and we honor them. It’s become complicated because there’s groups of people who think honoring one’s roots means upholding or praising unjust systems and people (like taking down the statues).

    Americans as a whole don’t agree on the country’s history, so how are we supposed to agree on what constitutes a homogeneous culture? If it should be race/ethnicity, who needs to leave? I hesitated bringing it up (for obvious reasons) but these topics always have that elephant in the room and might as well talk about it.

    Reply
  7. Novaseeker

    I don’t think we ever really did have a homogeneous culture in the US. What we had was a culture that was heterogeneous under the broad/rough rubric of “Protestant Christian” (not any particular flavor, and including Deism for example) in values, while underneath that there was a lot of heterogeneity in the culture, whether regional or otherwise.

    I actually think we are heading back to that model, albeit with a different core.

    Right now, we have a fight going on, culturally, as the people who more or less believe in the “old” broad/rough rubric of loosely “Christian” values are duking it out with the “new” shared value system of tolerance, affirmation and equality. The new system is winning, I think we all know that. It will replace the old one soon enough (not tomorrow, but soon enough), and we will go back to being more culturally at peace, with a broad/rough rubric of tolerance/affirmation/equality as a shared value structure over a proliferation of heterogeneity underneath it.

    Of course the new culture is “thinner”, when it comes to shared values, than the old culture is, that’s true, but it is likely just thick enough to hold together the radical heterogeneity that characterizes our country and its culture(s) — that is, once it ultimately prevails. It should be obvious that this will not be a great time to be a Christian in our country when that does happen, but at least one not terribly unlikely scenario is that the remaining Christian subculture which is “orthodox” (i.e., not the Christians who have adopted the new shared ethos of tolerance/affirmation/equality as the supervening value system that they share in) will be tolerated as an eccentric, anachronistic, yet powerless, minority group in the culture.

    Reply
  8. Maea

    It should be obvious that this will not be a great time to be a Christian in our country when that does happen, but at least one not terribly unlikely scenario is that the remaining Christian subculture which is “orthodox” (i.e., not the Christians who have adopted the new shared ethos of tolerance/affirmation/equality as the supervening value system that they share in) will be tolerated as an eccentric, anachronistic, yet powerless, minority group in the culture.

    This is what concerns Christians, and why the idea of having a homogeneous culture is an alternative to what we have today.

    I recently discussed this with another Christian and he believed if it comes to this, Christians won’t be tolerated or treated well. No Christian wants that, because what kind of world are we putting our future grandchildren and great-grandchildren into?

    Reply
  9. Novaseeker

    I recently discussed this with another Christian and he believed if it comes to this, Christians won’t be tolerated or treated well. No Christian wants that, because what kind of world are we putting our future grandchildren and great-grandchildren into?

    I think actually what will happen is that most Christians will apostatize into the new value system. Many have already done so, in fact. I think that trend will continue as it becomes clearer that the new values are becoming hegemonic, and that the “struggle over values” which has been going on for a few decades now is actually coming to a conclusion. Most Christians will go along to get along — as I say, many already have done this, at least many in the pews have if surveys are any indication.

    The issue then becomes this: what of the “orthodox remnant”, that remnant of Christians who embrace orthodox teaching on moral issues on which the new value system disagrees. I expect that what happens will depend on what this group does. If the larger culture feels that the impact of this group, politically and culturally, has been effectively neutered, I think that they will be allowed to persist as an eccentric, small group of oddballs, kind of like the Amish or the Hasidim. If this group tries to mess around with the culture and politics, however, it will be utterly crushed and suppressed — things like taking away tax exempt status, mandating the teaching of state-values curricula in private religious schools, banning homeschooling and so on. So I think it depends on what the remnant does. If it switches focus away from trying to change the culture directly or through politics, and focuses instead on saving individual people and the Gospel, it can survive, but it will be tricky to do that, I think, because many in this group will not be eager to lay down arms in the culture and political wars.

    Reply
    1. hearthie Post author

      One of the factors that plays into this whole thing is one’s views on end-times stuff. The evangelical crowd (of which i am a member) is expecting the “time’s up” bell to ring any minute now… and as part of that, isn’t hugely surprised by their progressive demonization. Dr. McGee was famous for saying that it was going to be the liberal Christians who would be coming after the orthodox, not the World.

      I don’t think the word has gone out that we should be expecting persecution between now and “times up”, even for those of us who hold the pre-trib rapture view. (McGee said that, Missler says that… “what makes you think you’re so special that you’re going to avoid what most Christians through history and the world have experienced?”) So there’s a really WEIRD paradoxical view where we are somehow hanging on to political power, even at the cost of orthodox belief/behavior (always a bad plan) and simultaneously are a persecuted class. It’s one or the other…

      Whatever comes, it’s going to throw the lot of us through the refiner’s fire, which is why I have the back of any believer who agrees on the essentials and will walk that out, no matter what their outsides look like. I am *not* expecting us to regain political power or be able to decide who gets to be homogeneous … I’m pretty sure whoever is “in”, it won’t be me or mine. Or you, and yours.

      Reply
  10. elspeth

    Whatever comes, it’s going to throw the lot of us through the refiner’s fire, which is why I have the back of any believer who agrees on the essentials and will walk that out, no matter what their outsides look like. I am *not* expecting us to regain political power or be able to decide who gets to be homogeneous … I’m pretty sure whoever is “in”, it won’t be me or mine. Or you, and yours.

    What Hearth said.

    Also, contrary to the fantasies of those who wish for a second Civil War to wipe us “undesirable” dark-skinned folk out of their view, what we will see happening is pretty much what Novaseeker described.

    The True Believers pushed into a marginal subculture, left alone -for the most part- so long as we don’t politically agitate. I think some of those subcultures will be segregated racially, but many, many will not. And when push comes to shove, assuming we’re dealing with True Believers here, there will be times when they need one another as the heat gets turned up.

    Reply
    1. Maea

      And when push comes to shove, assuming we’re dealing with True Believers here, there will be times when they need one another as the heat gets turned up.

      We already need each other. We’re going to have to help fight for each other’s rights to not be constantly pushed around. One of the ways to do that is to support Christian businesses and causes, speak with our feet, and put our money where our mouth is.

      Reply

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