I’m sitting here waiting on a call from someone I haven’t spoken with in a long time: a once fellow evangelical minister. Like me, he is no longer in Christian ministry. He lives on the East Coast, and I a few miles west of Lake Michigan. We’ve kept in touch via Instagram. He messaged me earlier today asking if we could talk tonight. Apparently, a lot has changed with him recently.
Oh, my phone is ringing!
My friend is the analytical type, very thorough and exact. However, differing from others with the same gift of precision, he’s capable of adjusting the level of transferable data according to the capacity of his audience.
Since it was me he was talking to, he started by downloading the 5-minute CliffsNotes version. Apparently I’ve lost some of my intellectual capacity through the years?! LOL!
His story reminded me of Kelly Clarkson’s song Beautiful Disaster:
He drowns in his dreams, an exquisite extreme I know… He’s magic and myth, as strong as what I believe,a tragedy with more damage than a soul should see… Such a beautiful disaster.
What he shared was something akin to a tragicomedy, highlighted by abuse, betrayal, false accusations and extreme loss. It had all the makings of the numerous ancient crucified messiah tale.
Apart from the terrible sh*t, he did share some amazing, wonderful shizz. In the midst of extreme pain and loss, he’s experienced his own miraculous version of resurrection! To his surprise, the power that raised him from his grave came via… a lovely humanist!
She shared none of his religious beliefs or inherited convictions. With excitement, he told me, “She doesn’t even believe in God! But, she applies Scripture in context with greater clarity than I ever did as an evangelical minister!”
His story is not uncommon. Countless ones have plenty to share, but remain largely unheard. Pop culture is obsessed with the Kardashians and the like. As it concerns Evangelicals, they are simply ruthless when it comes to suppressing objectivity and keeping things hidden. It’s not so much an organized effort, as it is an inherited culture of denial and blame shifting.
They are masterful with the cup and ball game, always distracting attention away from what they are skillfully concealing. Misogyny, sexual abuse, gender biases, impoverishment, racism and mindless servitude shift from one cup to the next. The faithful masses remain entertained by their divine, loving “Father” figure who knows best, while carelessly tossing their time and money away.
A headline mega-church pastor once told me:
What’s happening with the Catholic sex abuse scandal is nothing compared to what will eventually be exposed in the Evangelical Church.
For many, the only way of escaping or surviving the madness is via self-sabotage or silent compliance. For my quoted mega-church friend, it was self-sabotage. His scandal provided Oprah, Barbara Walters, Bill O’Reilly and HBO a momentary surge in ratings. It was big news nationally, but on the local level the grassroots cup and ball games never paused or stopped. The status quo remained intact.
A New Found Faith
Presently, my friend’s relationship with his lovely humanist has taught him how to truly love himself for the very first time in his life. With this, he’s experienced a new found freedom with problem solving and decision making. Furthermore, he’s learned to place his former zealous faith in… wait for it… wait for it… IN HIMSELF!
Recently, he put his new humanist faith to the test and started his own company. Currently, he’s well on his way to financial freedom! #applause
“Even so,” he woefully confessed, “I’m a complete f**k up; seriously man, I’m just a f**k up.”
What do you say to that?
I completely understood where he was coming from. After all, we both share similar religious backgrounds, trained from an early age in the self loathing art of condemnation and repression. However, I no longer practice those dark arts. YouTube sensation “Sweet Brown” famously said it best when she exclaimed: “Ain’t nobody got time for that!“
So how did I respond? Well, sometimes I surprise myself by saying something amazingly profound. My close friends refer to these moments as “rare flashes of brilliance” — emphasis being on “rare” and “flash.”
In those brief moments, I’m often moved to scratch my rare brilliance out on paper. Thinking, later I’ll put it to text on the background of a cool pic and then post it to Facebook? It’s sure to go viral!?!
Well, thankfully in this particular moment the brilliant wisdom of Instagram was close at hand. Thank you high speed internet! Here are the anonymous wise words I successfully transferred to my friend in less than 7 seconds:
You should give a f**k. You really should. But only about things that set your soul on fire. Save your f**ks for magical sh*t.
And with that, we both sighed and exchanged heartfelt “I love you man” valedictions and promises to talk again very soon.
Goodnight. Sweet dreams my friend.