Saturday, July 30, 2011

Stages of Conversion

I don't think I have ever lifted a complete blog post from someone else's blog (though I've quoted and recommended a few... very few).  Silouan posted this on Facebook and I read it. It is about the process of "converting", something many or most of us have done.  I'm posting it because I don't want to take the chance that you won't take time to click the link.

Wisdom, let us attend!
It doesn't seem to matter what version of the Christian faith you join, because this seems to be a near-universal process:

Phase 1: The Cage Phase
So you've found your new tradition, and you've finally discovered all the answers to life's problems encompassed within it. You've also read a few books that explain how every other Christian tradition (especially the one you just left) has absolutely ruined the piss out of the Christian faith as a whole. As God's apostle to the unconverted, it now falls upon you to save the world (especially your friends and family in the old tradition) by enlightening them as to just how perfect everything is about your new tradition and how stupid and wrong everything about their current tradition is. It is very important for you to have a blog during this time so that you can enlighten as many people as possible.

Phase 2: Addiction
After having ruined all your relationships from your past life, you are now disillusioned with the willful ignorance and impiety of all those outside your new church. Let the heretics stew in their heresy. It is now time to busy yourself with drinking as much religious Kool-Ade as you possibly can, preferably until your skin becomes the same color as Purplesaurus Rex and your body's pH levels are completely thrown off. You need to read every theological or devotional book you can, buy lots of the assorted trinkets associated with your tradition, and make lots of pilgrimages to either theology conferences or monasteries, depending on how your church rolls.

Phase 3: Apostle of Renewal
You've recently noticed that most of the other people in your church are not nearly as obsessed with it as you are. They aren't reading those books, and they aren't buying all that crap you've strewn your house with. They're more concerned with paying the bills than why those awful sectarians are wrong. They even have friends outside the church! Many of them are not aware just how right and perfect their church is, or how great their lives would be if they would just fling themselves with total abandon into the kind of obsession you yourself have. This is clearly a problem that must be fixed, for it threatens to destroy the purity of the faith. As God's chosen agent of change, you busy yourself with trying to whip up everyone in the congregation into the same frothing devotion you yourself exhibit.

Phase 4: Beaten by Reality
You've finally faced the harsh truth: The people in your new tradition are, at their core, a whole lot like all those people from your old tradition that you despised so much, with all the same foibles and failings. You give up on saving the world, on restoring your tradition to its purity, and have lost your confidence that God himself has appointed you to fix everything. You've discovered that your new church in fact has a lot of ugliness in its history, has a lot of jerks in its power structure, can't solve all of life's problems, and isn't always all that consistent or believable in what it teaches or what it does.

Phase 5, Option 1: The Rat Leaves the Ship
Clearly, you were had. You thought you had found the One True Perfect Tradition, but you were deceived. You know what you must do--find the tradition that really does get it all right, because it must be out there. Back to Phase 1 for you!

Phase 5, Option 2: Complete Disillusionment
You have realized, perhaps after going through this cycle several times, that you are perhaps the only sincere, thinking Christian in the world. Everyone else is a hypocrite or a dunce, and all these corrupt denominations and hierarchies have ever accomplished is completely screwing up everything. Completely embittered at the idea of organized religion, you isolate yourself in order to go be a true follower of Christ without all those awful other people screwing things up. If you meet some like-minded folk, you start meeting up with them in order to transcend organized religion by organizing a religion. It's very likely that you eventually realize that all religious people are deluded fools and become an atheist or agnostic.

Phase 5, Option 3: Partial Disillusionment and Accommodation
After facing the harsh reality in Phase 4, you've further realized that phases 1 through 3 ought to be renamed "Jackass," "Nutjob," and "Know-it-All," respectively, which suggests that you are, for the most part, much worse at being a decent human being than all those people too stupid and impious to realize how awesome your new religion is. While many of the reasons that you had for joining your current tradition remain, and thus so do you, you decide it's time to cut yourself, your church, everyone else's churches, and rest of the world some slack.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

On B.S.

I spent a couple weeks in Montana visiting my sister and brother in law.  I've met him a few times, but hadn't spent much time with him. Like me, he is a construction guy with college degrees. My sister told me Todd has insomnia and stays up at night and writes.  She said it was good stuff.

I got him to let me read some of his essays.  I brought the hard copies home with me and told him he should set up a blog and if he didn't I was going to steal his stuff and pass it off as my own because I'm running out of stuff. So, he set up a blog. He's posted up a few essays and more are on the way, on work, life, economics, faith, God, and recently one on "bullshit".  A quote:

"There are other forms of bullshit that don't mean anything. Food packages will say things like “30% less fat.” 30% less fat than what? A block of pure fat? “Fresh Frozen Food?” “Fresh Pickled?” “Fresh Smoked?” “How are you?” “I'm fine.” “Mission Accomplished.” “That's really something.”

Bullshit is not new, and philosophers including Kant, Hume, Locke, Hobbes, and Frankfurt have attempted to define it and its role in society. I think by this point we have become so glazed over by bullshit's residue that we can at least recognize it by contrast to what it is not. It seems that when you see something that isn't bullshit, it is striking. When someone speaks a simple truth or does something genuinely good, it momentarily captures our attention as if it were something rare and precious. The Lord gives us the darkness so we can see the stars." 
From my brother in law's blog  "Truth, Ire and the Night" 
Check it out, check back frequently.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Curmudgeophan on TV

I think we need to do an Orthodox version of this with Curmudgeophan and some cranky monks and priests.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Where Does the Time Go?

Where has 30 years gone?

In five days and about two weeks shy of turning 59, I begin a new career as a high school guidance counselor and will finally be using my college degrees in an "official" capacity.

This week I'm working 14 hour days wrapping up jobs, notifying my clients (some of whom I've had for 30 years) and going out this weekend to buy "office clothes".  My wardrobe consists of jeans, t-shirts and stuff I wear under a cassock on Sunday that no one can or should see.  I had one button down white shirt that I wore to the wedding and we discovered we left in Montana the morning of my second interview.  I found another shirt that faked it well enough to land me the job as long as I didn't take my sport coat off. 

There's a lot of mixed feelings to say the least. More later when I can breathe....

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Where I've Been

Those of you who check in regularly know I've been gone for a few weeks. The Wifey and I went to southern Montana for what was supposed to be about a week for our son's wedding but then ended up a visit with my sister in northern Montana and turned into almost three weeks. While were in Kalispell we attended the Fourth of July Parade down Main Street. Here's some of the "floats":

There were actually TWO cement trucks...and the Flathead Lake Rollerderby Queens team.

This was the front-loader with a bucket full of rocks.  I thought they should have taken the time to at least paint the rocks red, white and blue or stick a flag in them or something...

This was the "marching band".

The kid wasn't a bad drummer for sitting in the bed of a moving pickup truck. I'm sure he was tired after two blocks of wailing away on the drum set.  I didn't get a picture of the random Toyota Minivan that took a wrong turn and got stuck in the parade.  The occupants looked a bit embarrassed.

The wedding was held at the bride's uncle's ranch.  Here is my son and grandson with a fawn that they had found abandoned by its mother.  Not something you get to see in the big city.

The Wifey made me wear my suit and tie for the wedding. The last time I wore it was at the daughter's wedding about 8 years and 20 pounds before. Ouch.

This is Mom pinning the boutonniere on the groom

This is the bride and groom in a "private moment".

The reception was held outdoors. A friend of the family has a BBQ restaurant and catered the reception.
After the reception, a sparkling send off to the bride and groom....

A double blessing of the wedding was we got to meet our new grand daughter.

After the wedding we got to travel some of Montana and Yellowstone National Park. We drove the Beartooth Highway, deemed the most beautiful drive in America. I can't argue with that.

One of the things I discovered on the way home is a "biker bar" used to be a place where scary Hell's Angels hung out.  Now it is an upscale watering hole at a trendy destination where middle aged men with 25,000.00 toy Harley Davidsons and Goldwings go for vacations.

All in all, a nice break. I was in 78 degrees and on a pontoon boat trout fishing when it hit 118 in Phoenix.  It was hard to come home.  But in the end, there's no place like home.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

What I Learned on My Summer Vacation

I just got home from a couple weeks away. Pictures of the wedding, scenery and events are coming later. A lot of life can happen in two weeks. Even when you're on vacation life does not take a break. One of the places we went was Yellowstone National Park and went to some of the hot spring areas which look like a Martian landscape.

But even in the middle of acres of sulphur, crusted salts and boiling acidic water there is life. But life only springs up in places that nurture it. I needed to be reminded of this.

Sunday, July 10, 2011