Sunday, January 08, 2006

Pastoral Twits and The F Word

If my Mom has somehow found her way to this blog, even though she thinks that blogs cause viruses on your computer, I apologize in advance for the language in today’s post. There is a post that I’ll do later entitled “God Knows About The F Word.” But to sum up – I’m trying to use it only when I’m really pissed off. (see separate post in the future entitled “God Thinks It’s Better To Say “Pissed” Rather Than The F Word, But If You’re Really Angry, He Understands. I Hope.”)

So there are two church services I go to on Sundays, because I am Amy Overachiever, and I think attending two church services will increase my chances of getting into heaven. Kidding! I like certain things about this church, I like certain things about that church. I dislike certain things about this church, and I dislike certain things about that church. So if I go to both of them, I usually get 100% of a full fledged church experience that I can agree with.

I’m not gonna name the churches here because…um, I don’t know. I don’t want to, yet. So for our purposes, they will be 9 o’Clock Church and 11 o’Clock Church.

And I was disappointed with 9 o’Clock Church’s service today, which is unusual. I dig 9 o’Clock Church because they have lessons with bullet points that I can write down and refer back. But today it was more of a free form ramble introducing their next sermon series called “The Great Gamble – Living Beyond Myself.” The only time bullet points showed up was when they said here are four things you should do to start Living Beyond Yourself.

1. – Come to hear the sermon every Sunday this month.
• Great! No problem, I do that anyway!
2. – Buy this book for $10 in the lobby that the sermon series this month will be based on.
• Wha-huh? Um, I’ll be skipping that, thanks. I don’t come to church to be shilled at. Call me old fashioned, but
the only book I wanna read in church is the Bible.
3. – Before you leave the church today, do one simple act of kindness for somebody else.
• Do you suppose telling the Hottie sitting in my row that he is a Hottie qualifies as a simple act of kindness?
4. – Before you go to bed tonight, do one more act of kindness.
• I wonder if I can retro-act my act of kindness to yesterday, when I put Roommate Heckle and Jeckle’s dishes in the
dishwasher for them.

So this service is having an off day, no big deal, let’s just go ahead and get the benediction so I can hightail it to 11 o’Clock Church. And then the Pastor says he wants to do something different. He wants us to take a few moments just to “Wait On God.” You can come down to the front if you feel so led and pray, or you can pray where you are, but “Let’s all just take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and change us from within.”

Well…okay. Oh, sorry, I mean, yes, absolutely, sign me up with twirling pom-poms! If I’m reluctant, it’s only because I ask the Holy Spirit EVERY SINGLE DAY to show up and say howdy. I’d be overjoyed if It did. And so far, nothing. But sure, let’s try again. Maybe it’ll actually work this time. I don’t mind Waiting On God. I read a devotional the other day saying I should do that. Like you’re at a bus stop, waiting for the God Bus to swing by and pick you up, ‘cause you’re going to, um, the Mall Of Salvation. Okay, that’s lame, sorry.

So I close my eyes and pray. "Holy Spirit, please show up in my life. Please change me from the inside, and please do it in a way that I know it’s you, as opposed to some brilliant idea that I came up with myself, because my brilliant ideas aren’t that brilliant these days anyway."

They’ve got the band playing behind the Pastor, and they’re singing a song at half volume, like an underscore to your prayers. I glance up, and there’s plenty of people down at the front, hands in the air, hands on the stage, swaying, standing still, yippee for them.

Waiting on God here. Waiting for Holy Spirit to show up and zap me. Waiting. Waiting, waiting, waiting.

Then the Pastor starts saying things like “Surrender to God! Yield your heart to Him! Ask Him to take away the obstacles to you loving Him more!”

And suddenly, I start to get angry. ‘Cause the Pastor won’t stop. “Surrender to God! Yield your heart to Him! Ask Him to take away the obstacles to you loving Him more!” In that anguished voice, where, if this was a movie, people would be fainting in the aisles because they’ve been Struck By The Spirit.

And I am angry.

What the FUCK does “Surrender to God” MEAN!? What the HELL does “Yield your heart to Him” MEAN!? Don’t orchestrate this whole Waiting On God To Feel His Holy Spirit thing, don’t exhort me in increasingly urgent and louder tones to do shit THAT DOESN’T HAVE MEANING FOR ME!

This Pastor isn’t the first joker I’ve heard saying this bullshit. C’mon, if you’ve spent any time in any church, if you’ve ever cracked a devotional book, you’ve heard the platitudes. Surrender To God. Yield Your Heart To Him. Cast All Your Cares On Him. Let Him Lift You Up. Find Yourself In Him.


Can any Pastor out there, can ANYBODY out there go deeper than this Hallmark Card bullshit!? Can’t ANYONE tell me EXACTLY what “Surrender to God” means!? What do I have to DO to surrender to Him!? TELL ME! Don’t stand there and give the gentle platitude because it sounds nice and spiritual to the swaying masses at your feet. GO DEEPER THAN THAT! I dare you, I double dog dare you, I TRIPLE dog dare you, to go deeper, and say exactly what SURRENDERING TO GOD means.

Because I have. I HAVE. Given the fact that Surrendering To God is an abstract concept anyway, I’ve done the best I can. I’ve asked the Holy Spirit to show up and say Howdy a BUNCH of times. I’ve tried Casting My Cares on Him as best I know how (which to me means praying about it every single day. Maybe I should take it to some sort of symbolic level and throw rocks off the Santa Monica Pier. A future post, maybe.) And nothing. I’ve gotten NOTHING. I’m operating in a vacuum here, much like posting in cyberspace. I have no idea if I’m getting through to myself, to anybody, to God.

Yield My Heart!? WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT MEAN, YOU PASTORAL TWIT! Saying things that sound religious and have no practical meaning. Yield My Heart!? What, I’m supposed to rip it out of my chest and lob it at the Twit onstage? HERE YA GO! SEND ME THE HOLY SPIRIT PRONTO PLEASE! Actually if I had a knife handy, and if the Hottie wasn’t sitting in the same row as me, I might consider it.

You’re a Pastoral Twit. I don’t give a fuck if you’re a Pastor, you’re a Twit and I wish I had the balls to tell you so to your face. Because I have the very sneaking suspicion that you don’t know what Surrender To God means. Because if you did, you’d tell us. Spouting off something like “Cast Your Cares On Him” puts the burden of figuring out what you mean on ME, so therefore, if I don’t get it, it’s because I’m not doing it right, not because you didn’t tell me. So if I DON’T happen to feel the Holy Spirit at this moment, (though I’m feeling Mr. Furious And Pissed Off pretty hard), it’s not YOUR fault, it’s all on me.

I’m pissed off. I’m so fucking pissed off, and I’m in church. I think the preacher is a Pastoral Twit. I’m going to hell. Sorry, Mom, did my best.

Finally we wind up this mini revival and I hightail it out of the church and on the walk back to the car I start the talk with God and it went something like this:

“Okay, this is not directed at you, God. That Pastor is a Twit and I’m pissed off at him, not you. I don’t even care if the Holy Spirit forgot to stop on my brain when It made Its rounds through the church just then, because that’s business as usual in Amyland. But I demand a deeper answer than Yield Your Heart To God. I DEMAND A DEEPER ANSWER! FUCK THE PASTOR, I WANT AN ANSWER!”

Can I do that? Can I demand stuff of God? Isn’t that, like, begging for a smiting or something? Little small person shaking my ineffectual fist at the Almighty? Standing on the cliff in one of those Road Runner cartoons, and the bolt of lighting hits the thing, and I fall down and splat on the canyon ground accompanied by a sound effect? SHOW UP, FOR FUCK’S SAKE!

I was working with a counselor last year, Counselor Gladys, and she often said that it’s not a recipe, you can’t mix flour, add two eggs, a half teaspoon of vanilla, bake at 350 degrees, and POOF, instant Presence Of God. A mainstay of a formula for connecting to the Almighty. Because if it was that easy, everybody could do it, right?

My frustration is that I’m trying SO HARD to do the shit that you’re supposed to do to connect with Him. Even if it’s different for everybody, there’s still, like, basic building blocks. Go To Church. Read The Bible. Pray Daily. Wait On God. Be Nice To People. Put Roomate Heckle And Jeckle’s Dishes In The Dishwasher. I do all of that, and I still get nothing but listening to a Pastoral Twit exhorting me to do abstract shit. Fuck off, Pastoral Twit. Fuck the fuck off.

I make it to the 11 o’clock service, which has a guest speaker talking about his adventures in Morocco, which isn’t resonating with me either, but at least he doesn’t say crap like Surrender To God. It’s the little things, I guess.


Yummyteece said...

OK, i LOVED this.

I once had a conversation with a woman, one of the most open, surrendered spiritual women I know. She was fighting a deteriorating disease, and losing. And thus, we talked about anger. And she spoke saying that anger is energy and anger is real, and anger is a God-given gift, as any emotion is. It was her belief that we wouldn't have been given anger if we weren't supposed to experience it. And that the higher being loves us, anger and all.

SO perhaps, being truely present in your anger what exactly how your surrender looked that day.

just an idea.

Richard T said...

You know, Amy, I almost wish I didn't know you so well or I would be promted to post things that I would feel might help lead you to some sort of epiphany.

Fact of the matter is I do know you. And I know no matter how much anyone tells you anything you piece it together when you need to get to it and no sooner because you have a thick, brilliant and delightfully overactive skull.

Likewise, I guess, with this really wonderful blog of yours. I have a million reactions to it all, but ultimately I know none of it will be useful to what it is you need to do, as they're all rooted in the crap *I* believe, no matter how sure *I* am of them.

So let me leave you with this: I love this blog of yours. And I'm not even gonna tell ya why. Nyah!

Looking forward to more!

Jamie said...

From late July to early October of 1998, nearly every morning I got up at around 5 am, drove to Lake Michigan, found my special place down some busted shorelining, waited for the sun to break through the water, took off all my clothes and jumped in the ice cold lake. Bobbing up and down on the waves, I would pray - "Dear God I surrender myself to you. May you cleanse my spirit, heal my heart, clear my mind and make me whole. May my life be yours and may you guide me in all things. May I choose love always. May I know you as you know me. Bind us all together in your love and bless the world with your miracles." And I felt on most of those mornings what I can best describe as an orgasm all over my entire body - inside and out. Whether it was the beginning of hypothermia or God, well, who knows. I do know that I lived in another world at that time.

I'm not saying to head to Malibu and get naked. Every person's path to God is unique. It is through faith, however, through complete vulnerability that we surrender. And yes, you are on the right track that it requires patience.

I wish I could say that I still maintained a disciplined spiritual practice. I do not. Out of that profound peace which I lived for about six months, I fell very very hard. I have never quite forgiven God for it. And yes, I swore at God, cursed God, yelled at God, threw things at God - no smiting, so don't worry about that. I don't think God really does that - at least not anymore - strictly old Testament stuff when God was like teenage God and a little more moody.

Anyway...we live in a world in which it is virtually impossible to walk around with an open soul, giving freely of our love and kindness, but that is what God asks us to do.

I miss being kind. I miss the soul shuddering waves of emotion and goodness that would wash over me. I miss falling in love with every person I meet. And, yes, I miss God. But, I'm not as brave as I once was.

When you finally surrender, tell God that I said hello. Bless you on your journey, babe. You'll get there, just don't expect to stay - well, unless your dead - but that subject is a whole other post.


Anonymous said...

Whoever Richard T is, he knows you. Maybe he's God. Or should I say, "Maybe He's God." (the devil is in the details) I dunno, kiddo. I kind of think God is the mystery (sorry...The Mystery), and we're not supposed to figure it out. And if we say we have, then we're bogus, too (to quote Sean Penn in "Fast Times"). But a spiritual quest needs a thesis statement, and now you have yours. Just remember: God invented laughter. Next to water, it's probably his best work. So rage a little less, laugh a little longer. And settle on the one church that gives you peace.


Craig said...

Here's a question-- what do you want God to give you? What more do you want from God?
As for the pastoral twit, yeah, he was just winging it. You don't throw out your best stuff when everyone's up at the altar in an "altared" state of consciousness, swaying and weeping and speaking in tongues.
Love the blog, and you!

mickeycaputo said...

I am very happy that you are doing this blog. How f*'n theraputic! I like what Richard T. said and after our conversation that we had at NORM's that night..We all have to find our own truths and you don't have to be Christian to find God(blasphomy!). Isn't 'sinning' fun?
My question is this:
'Why go 'searching' for something that is already right there next to you, beside you, right now?
That is like a cat chasing his tail saying 'I wonder what it would be like to have a tail..In the meantime I will just chase this furry thing attached to my butt for a while...if only I could find a tail then ecerything would be great'.
So you are saying to yourself 'that makes no sense Mickey' and you would be RIGHT!
Maybe it is your idea of God that is getting you into trouble. Look at all the things that you have right now and you will see God.It's just that simple. Maybe your starting to believe in all the BS that they sling in church to an idea of God that is simply false.
Miracles happen mostly on small scales in everyday ways. Just look at your body(Rrraaaarrgh!) does all that stuff work on it's own? Is that not a miracle in itself?
This BLOG is an F*'n miracle! It's funny, inventive, honest and entertaining and it came from YOU so that makes YOU a miracle. BAM!!
And why do you keep comparing yourself to other people? The only 'bar' that you have to measure up to is the one that you created yourself...I am talking about the mirror thing.I am sick of hearing beautiful babies like yourself thinking that they are unnatractive-BO-RING!!
Get over yourself and shake your hottie 'junk'. That's all for now.

Anonymous said...

i googled "surrender to god," and found this:

which begins: "surrender to god - what's the phrase really mean?"

i skimmed it and it actually didn't seem any deeper than what it sounds like you got in church, but here it is anyway. perhaps you'll find something in there...