Tuesday, October 9, 2007

One Life Two Life Red Life Blue Life

OK, so maybe not a full-on CIA spy secret agent double life. Just a secret life in my brain. The one where my questions go around and around and around, in loops that get smaller and smaller until I shake my head and lose sight of them. I know the rhetoric so well that I can't quite escape it.

I doubt!

God accepts doubt.

But I doubt God!

That is OK, David doubted God too.

No, really, I mean I really doubt.

Ask God for wisdom and He will give it to you.

But how do I ask him for something when I --

He gives to those who ask in faith without any doubting.

Yes, like I said, I --

If you ask for wisdom, you will be free of doubt.

I am quite, quite sure I am not the first person to have noticed this teeny tiny bit of circular logic in the book of James. I remember debating it in youth group in the late 1980's, come to think of it. We didn't come up with an answer for it then either.

One doubt, two doubt.
Red doubt, blue doubt.

Black doubt, blue doubt,
Old doubt, new doubt.

This one has a little star.
This one has a little car.
Say! what a lot of doubts there are.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Sunday School, more or less

I tried to get out of Sunday School, but it didn't work. I floated a trial balloon by my husband last night and it pretty much bombed. I told him that it made my skin crawl to think of having to go hear about ways to witness. He frowned and scrunched up his face, which meant I was going to be coming to Sunday School in the morning, at least if I wanted to preserve the peace.

So I went to Sunday School this morning, albeit half an hour late. That was only partly my fault. I definitely took too long of a shower, dawdled over e-mail, and took my time with my hair. But it wasn't my fault that my son was really hard to get out of bed, or that I spilled apple juice all over my clothes and had to go change. I got there at 9:35 and missed the bit where we had to summarize the gospel on our little worksheet. Good thing ... mine probably would have read,

"Ha, ha! Lucky me! You poor bastard!"

Well, OK, maybe not "bastard". That probably would have freaked out Mrs. Winters pretty badly, because I don't think she has ever said anything worse than "darn" in her entire life. But still, that's the basic sentiment.

Why, again, do I want to collar strangers on the street and tell them this? I forget ...

Monday, May 28, 2007


I wonder if you can be an enabler for faithful believers, like the wife of an alcoholic who doesn't drink herself, but buys beer for her husband.

I can't worship, not really -- not the way you're supposed to, with all your mind and all your heart and all your strength. I can sing a lot of the words and recognize that they are true, but when the truth makes you angry, it's hard to have that lovin' feelin'.

The thing is, a big part of me is every bit as committed as I ever was to worship in the church, ironically enough. They want me to come back, but if I do, it will require some doublespeak if not outright lying. I do want to make it so other people can worship, even if I can't do it myself right now. If they can have those feelings, I want to make it so they can express them. Myself, I can't get past the walking dead outside our church walls, but that doesn't mean the rest of the church shouldn't sing on Sunday mornings. I don't think that's the attitude the church leadership wants for their worship team, though, and I don't quite have what it takes to just spill it all out there.

Maybe that's the wrong metaphor, the enabler and the alcoholic. Maybe it should be the permanently injured baseball player who sells peanuts at the ballpark because he can't get the game out of his blood.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Losing My Religion

I'm supposed to be practicing my offertory this morning, but instead I'm starting a journal that I've been writing in my head for months. I guess everybody's got a tipping point -- mine was a little boy in Chicago named Cameron Smith. His mom's fighting in Iraq, and her boyfriend beat Cameron so badly that he died. Cameron was four, the same as my son. It's not the first time in human history something so horrible has happened, and it won't be the last. It'll probably happen again today, somewhere in the world, only it won't show up on Yahoo news.

This incident, like a few others I've heard about in the last year, caused an internal click when I read it. Cameron, dying alone in his bed in pain. Joshua Minton, age two, suffocating alone in panic when his babysitter taped his mouth shut when he wouldn't be quiet for his nap. Sammy Boehlke, age eight, with the same diagnosis of high-functioning autism as my son, dying alone and cold in the woods of Oregon when he got separated from his dad on a camping trip. All of these made something in my heart snap shut. Something about this is wrong.

I know the rhetoric -- when Adam and Eve sinned, sin came into the world along with its consequences. God chooses not to step in and stop every evil thing from happening. Bad things happening to innocent children is just a side effect of the fall. God doesn't kill people, people kill people.

I just don't know if I can buy the rhetoric any more. Did God hold those little boys close as they died, their systems shutting down and the world going black as their eyes drifted shut? Did he comfort them and tell them they were loved? Then why didn't he alert someone to their presence? Those "miracles" happen every day, when someone steps in just at the right moment to avert a tragedy. Why not these? What kind of love watches a child die instead of calling 911? God is the ultimate emergency service, and he chose to watch these children die rather than save their lives.

I still believe all the basics about him. He is holy, he is just, he died for our sins. But I no longer know how I can come to church and sing about his goodness and his love. I can honor him. But love him? I'm no longer sure how to do that.

Well, church starts in just a little while. I'd better go look through my piano books and find something to play, preferably not something that burbles about the joy of the Christian life. There are three little boys in graves today who never had the chance to live the Christian life, or any life at all.