I've been wanting to read Churched and even had it in my Amazon cart just before Christmas (the cart I didn't order because one of the things was going to cost $62 to ship 2-day. or something like that. I think they had cloned a Dodo bird and that was going to deliver it and that's what was jacking up the delivery fee).
Last Sunday (being the Sunday before 2/7, which is when I began this post) I saw a girl (woman? lady?) in my church, my small group leader from LBS, with the book. I asked if she was reading it and she offered to let me borrow it and gave it to me Sunday.
I finished it Monday.
I read about half of it sitting in Sullivan Tire waiting for my car to be inspected, trying to not laugh out loud and failing.
It was funny, it hit close to home, and made me thankful my fundy upbringing wasn't infested with that much crazy.
So, since 6 of these have been sitting here neglected for 3 months, here is an almost-top-ten list of thoughts from the book.
1. About his father: "Pursuing God through self-discipline came naturally to him." (knowing smile and nod from me) My dad, too. He likes rules, and believes following certain rules a certain way will bring about the perfect result. While this worked and continues to appear to work for him, it caused me a lot of unhappiness and anxiety. Since I was never "right," I must not be following the right rules or doing them correctly.
2. "Being perfect, separated, and content with living in the dark ages helped us feel born again." I didn't know I was living in the dark ages (or at least a throw-back to when the world was good, like the 1950's) until later. Perfect and separated, yes. It wasn't until I was in my late 20's that I had any friends who were not only not Christians, but not religious in any way. I didn't know how to relate to them. I thought not ordering an alcoholic drink at our team meetings at Chili's was a "good testimony." I was so sheltered I operated under the assumption that drinking = not saved, not drinking = saved. I didn't even know there were perfectly legitimate reasons a non-saved, non-churched person would have to not drink.
3. "Feeling born again was much more difficult that being born again, but to us they seemed equally important." Feeling saved is the key. One thing I could identify with in the book was how scared of hell he was. Just being afraid of hell, or being freaked out by A Thief in the Night, was enough to make me feel not saved.
4. "I needed hell to exist. It helped me focus. It kept me striving toward being a good fundamentalist." That sums up my the first quarter century of my life. I wanted to be a good fundamentalist. Not a good person. Not even a good Christian. A good fundamentalist. I didn't know that's what I was (it's only recently I've been able to label that box and start putting experiences and beliefs in there) but I worked really hard at having the longest skirts, the highest necklines, and the most cliche-ridden prayers.
5. "God, I thought, Do you help sinners? Do you even like sinners? If you do, please help me. P.S. You are awesome." I could sing multiple verses of "Jesus Loves Me" but I never really got it, or knew, or understood that He did. He. Loves. Me. He loves the sinners and gave his life because of that love.
6. "The older I got, the more I began to realize that the life I lived was not only difficult, it was strange and fearful. When I skipped reading my Bible or praying, I feared that God would punish me." I thought that's how God was: He was going to get me because I couldn't do anything right. I was afraid of the house burning down, that my family wasn't saved, that we were going to burn down in the house . . . if I could just get it right, I could keep us all safe.
7. Toward the end of the book, he goes door-to-door with his teen group and talks to a woman who kind of shatters all the fear-based get-saved-quick dogma he's been fed: she tells him nobody can know beyond a shadow of a doubt if they're going to heaven. Because that's where faith comes in. It's a work of God, not of me.
8. This woman, Mrs. Johnson, goes on to say "I don't believe God gives us fear. God gives us hope. Now if I'm his child, why would he want me being fearful and scared all the time?" If I'm afraid all the time that I didn't get saved the right way, I'm not going to go anywhere in my walk with God. I kept trying and trying to be good enough to be saved. Letting it all go also released all that fear that I thought was part of "Christian" life.
9. He finishes the book by describing a meeting with his pastor and telling him he was "not very good at doing church." I spent a lot of years being good at church. Every once in awhile I feel that persona sneaking over me . . . the catchphrases, the mannerisms, the legalistic judgementalism . . . and I hate it. I am getting better at not swinging the complete opposite direction in reaction but to pause and think about what Jesus really calls us to. But now, I'm not very good at "doing" church. And I'm fine with that.
There's no 10. I told you it was an almost-10 list, remember?
My plan all along has been to make this a top-ten Tuesday and a way-back Wednesday post. Two birds with one stone and all of that.
update: I forgot to link to ohamanda's top ten Tuesday but you know where to find her. Also, Matther Paul Turner has a website titled Jesus Needs New PR but everytime I go there my computer freezes so I can't link. Mostly insightful, a lot of funny.
Other update, 2 minutes later: The linky's not closed. So I'm in.