Good Natured Grousing … Part 1

Posted: January 24, 2010 in Uncategorized
Monday, November 12, 2007
Good Natured Grousing… Current mood: Grousy Category: Grousy
Life
From my myspace blog.

Monday, November 12, 2007 (11:01pm) Veterans’ Day
Good Natured Grousing…
It’s been almost a month since I blogged last. It’s certainly not for lack of material. Since the last time I blogged, half the state of California has been on fire and I’ve seen up close the impact it’s had on all of us in one way or another. Several more dear friends have lost their parents, or have recently found out they are very ill. I’ve lost some students due to the state of the economy out here and people’s lives being impacted by the high cost of gas and housing etc. I’ve also had to spend a huge amount of time and energy reorganizing my work schedule thanks to all the lovely kid’s sports programs which I will grouse about later. In the mean time I have some great new students to go with the great bunch I already have. Once again I’ve learned a lot about life, and faith and not being afraid of creativity from the younger ones. I’ve learned to keep pursuing my own creative dreams from my older ones. I’ve written songs and poetry. I’ve experienced my own share of grief, and relief and have several epiphanal moments along the way. I guess you could say it’s been a time of toooooo much stimulus overload and too much stuff to process. And since I haven’t had a chance to process it all yet I thought I would just whine about a few things and just dump what’s rolling around in my head at the moment and hope I’ll be able to sleep when I’m done. I’ll leave the quest for deep insight for a time when it’s not 11:00 pm and I’m not exhausted. Hopefully soon I’ll be able to develop some of these thoughts more. For now just some quick random thoughts…

The modern religious system in America…
I’ve seen way too many guys that I have known personally who were either pastors or worship leaders have to step down from their positions because of sexual impropriety of various sorts and degrees, end up back in pulpits, or given new churches in a few years or even months later. When I’ve questioned the wisdom of letting men who have MULTIPLE times proven themselves to be prone to falling that way, have access to people’s lives in those positions, I’ve heard all sorts of justifications for it.. “but they are so gifted!” “God’s gifts and callings are without repentance.” “They are such a great teacher” etc… etc… blah blah blah. My response to that is when does “talent” and “gifting” and “anointing” trump character???? Frankly I think God’s a lot more concerned about my character and how I treat the people that He loves and cares for more than the fact that I can play guitar and lead worship. What has happened to cause us to so casually condone that? What makes that any different than a Catholic Bishop moving a priest who’s molested children to a new parish when people find out… so that other innocent kids can suffer the same fate. What kind of message are we sending to our children and to the world, when we don’t even require any moral integrity from our leaders? Do we really want them to be the people our kids look up to as models for living their lives? Frankly I find it appalling. Anyone else care to comment on it?

The modern educational system and after school sports system…
Once again… I’m appalled. I teach privately and I see kids of all ages and from a bunch of different schools. The common denominator most of them have is that they are stressed out, exhausted, and are growing to dislike their school experience. Thanks in part to the “No Kids Left Behind” legislation, teachers are constantly playing beat the clock to just get through material. They assign way too much busy work homework, and most of the kids tell me they are up late desperately trying to just get it done. Added to that is the whole after school sports program. It used to be that kids on teams would have one or two practices during the week and a game. Now a lot of my students have practice 5 days a week mandatory for two hours plus one or two games a week. You mix that with way too much homework and suddenly you have a kid who has no life, who’s grades suffer and who’s family don’t even see him except for schlepping them to around. I thought my generation was the most neurotic, crazed generation ever but no… we are raising a new generation who is even more that way. I can’t believe we as a generation don’t intervene on our kids behalf and say like that guy in the movie Network “we’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it any more!!!!” You can be sure if 90% of the parents promised to yank their kids and their money from the programs unless something changed and the craziness ended, things would change in no time. Same thing with the schools. It’s going to take parents making a tremendous stink for anything to change. It makes me sad to see kids who have loved learning and who are bright with a bunch of promise tell me again and again that they hate school now.

Ok, it’s much later now and it’s time for me to get some sleep. I would love to hear your thoughts on such things… more to come.

HERE ARE SOME OF THE COMMENTS FROM MY MYSPACE BLOG…
 
POSTED BY STACY…

oooooooh Honey….do you really want my comment?I’m not perfect. I will be the first to admit that. I see myself as a David more and more each day. My heart is after God, but my flesh has issues. But I’m also grateful for the Nathan’s in my life as well. Linda B. you are a great Nathan in my life. But thank you for not speaking in parables and telling me straight up that my sh!$ smells!!! So I guess the question is where are the Nathan’s for those in positions?I feel as if we are putting on the wolves clothing ourselves or that we are clothing others to be wolves…anyway….I have so much more I could say, but my brain is scrambled and can’t put it into sentences. Thanks for writing this Linda…..You Rock!!

MY RESPONSE TO STACY…

agree Stacy… part of the reason it’s a problem is that there is not the support network for leaders most of the time where they can really get help with stuff when they are first starting to struggle with things. By and large, the church could learn a lot from AA by creating a safe environment for people to say… I’m really struggling… and for there to be people who love and support them to make sure they get the help they need. I’ve spent a good deal of my ministry life helping people in ministry put their lives back together after they have been torn apart, either at other people’s hands or by their own doing. That’s one of the reasons I’m pretty willing to wade into people’s lives sometimes with both feet and to really look at the tough issues and work through them with them. On the other hand though too, there are some guys who I think are more predatory who have no intention of getting help, or wanting to change. They abuse their power and their position of trust, and won’t take responsibility for their actions or own their own crap. I personally know several people who had people who loved them including friends family, their church staff and the elders of their church trying to get through to them and they still chose to go their own way. Those are the kinds of people I’m talking about in my blog.I’m willing to go to hell and back for people who are willing to deal with the broken places in their lives. One of the things I also try to model is a willingness to take responsibility for my own actions, my own sins, and my own stupidity. I also try to be willing to live out my life in front of people in as honest a way as possible, so that they can see the broken places in my life, but also have a chance to watch the healing and the transformation that will continue until I die. When we let each other close enough to be family and to be able to be there for each other… both to encourage and to nail each other’s butts to the wall if needs be… Then there will be good coming out of the brokenness and pain.

POSTED BY VICTOR CHARLES…
 
i think it’s about time people started standing up for the kids these days. i have friends who have kids who are around 9 and 10 years old and they freak me out when they tell me how much homework they have. they’re constantly complaining about how much stuff they have to do, some of the kids have trouble finishing it all. my friends are freaked out too, but they feel like there isn’t anything they can do. what can a parent do to help this situation?

MY RESPONSE TO VICTOR…

Hi Victor… thanks for stopping by! I’m not sure what the answer is. I think part of it is going to take parents being proactive, and I’m not sure it’s going to happen. I think I would organize a letter writing campaign first to the school board and to our elected officials. Part of it too probably comes down to the parents making some tough choices. In the case of all that homework and the coach who won’t back down on 5 2 hour practices a week, I think I would just have to talk to him and explain that my child still needed to have a life and that his schooling was more important than their particular sport. I do believe that if parents started pulling their kids out and not funding the activities, that the leagues would probably reevaluate. One of my students said something really interesting last week… he was currently dying from the home work at school and playing not one but two time consuming sports a week. He said… “I wish my dad would just let me play my one sport and then go to the park with me and play ball with me instead of playing baseball.” What a novel thing. Out of the mouth of babes.

POSTED BY RHONDA…

Wow… where to even begin with such a complex issue?! Candidly, I struggle with much of American evangelical Christianity. We hold our leaders to a higher standard, yet make it unsafe for them to seek help for issues they struggle with. If they recognize the warning signs and ask for help, their church boards look at them as a liability and find a reason to fire them. Even worse, there are few counselors who make it safe for a pastor to speak honestly about their personal lives. I know from firsthand experience that many “clergy treatment centers” claiming to offer “confidentiality,” often share information with church boardmembers and fellow clergy under the guise of “accountability,” often without the consent of the pastor/patient.As a result, pastors typically suffer in silence, trying to keep their churches, families, and communities together — while they fall apart. When the private failures become public, pastors end up losing their churches, careers — and often families — anyway. Damned if they get help, damned if they don’t. I’ve seen it happen over and over in the lives of far too many now-former pastors.I’m not sure what the answer is between accountability and authenticity. We absolutely need leaders that demonstrate ethical, moral lives. At the same time, we have to recognize that our pastors are people which means they are not perfect. Like us, they need safe places and people to be honest with about their own fears and foibles. In my humble opinion, however, until we stop treating our pastors as spiritual superstars we will continue to put them on pedestals only to relish knocking them off when they fail to live up to our expectations.As for education… I am going to leave that for another day since I’ve already pontificated enough about your first grousing!

MY RESPONSE TO RHONDA…

You touched on a lot of what I was planning my next blog to be about. Like I mentioned above to Stacy, I do think a big part of the problem is the who dynamic of how we do church and what we expect. I agree that pastors are in between a rock and a hard place a lot of times. It would seem to me, after working at churches with all sorts of stuff going on that was unhealthy, that there is a fundamental breakdown of how to really deal with our broken lives bumping into each other. One of the local churches here has a very low tolerance level for pastors participating in illicit activities. They know going in that there is a zero tolerance policy. But they are also one of the most compassionate churches around when the pastors do fall or struggle… they make sure they get counseling help, they also have a transitional program to help them transition into another job, helping to provide for them while the process is going on. They also provide that for pastors who are fried and feel like they need a change. Rather than leaving them hanging and feeling like they have no other options but to keep things hidden, and keep pastoring, they help them walk through the stuff. They are also great about reaching out to other hurting pastors and their wives. In a perfect world, denominations or loose church groups would have pastors to pastor the pastors. If one of the pastors was exhausted spiritually, or struggling… they would take care of them financially while the pastor and his spouse could get the rest and help they need. They would provide someone to assist at the church if need be, and make sure the pastor and his wife got the counseling and any other help they needed to really deal with the issues facing them. Unfortunately, as Tonio K sang… “this ain’t no perfect world.”I agree that we need to have a realistic view of pastor’s and their families as human just like the rest of us and in need of love and family and care just like the rest of us. That’s the way I always try to approach my friends who are involved with ministry. I want them to feel safe and like they can just be themselves with me. I think most of them would tell you they do… (even if I am a bad influence on them.) With my current pastor, I expect him to be human, to do stupid stuff, to have truly inspired moments sometimes, and to not be sleeping with someone who’s not his wife. (which thankfully he’s not doing and he loves his wife like crazy.) He’s young and still in the middle of his own pastoral learning curve, but he’s moving forward and he’s not afraid to let people see him in process… and I love him for that.Having said that, I’m torn a lot of times between loving my friends in ministry and caring for the very real people in the church who are impacted by the pastor’s careless activity. I’ve seen first hand the devastation that kind of turmoil causes in the lives of the people in the church. I have scores of friends who won’t go to church any more because of being in a church that was torn apart by scandal. I have seen several pastor’s who saw the damage they were doing to their churches and their families, stepped down and found a job doing other things. Some of them never went back but discovered that a whole new world of ministry opened up to them while they were going about their business, living their lives like the rest of us. Some of them eventually really worked through their issues and ended up back in the ministry. And then I’ve worked with pastors and had pastors who refused to take any responsibility for anything and went on with the behavior. Those guys I have no patience for.

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Comments
  1. Couldn’t tell if this was a re-post, from the two dates above. Either way it was a good read. The problems you mentioned eventually caused my wife and I to seek a church that was more about the Eucharist than the Sermon. For us it reduced that problem of charisma abuse. Of course faith and religion aren’t the same thing. We can practice our faith anywhere, but we also like the community and participating in music together.

    (I blog about philosophic topics including faith issues, and about the arts.)

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