Dear Eavesdropped on Couple,
I posted my letter to you on my blog and received more comments on it than I could have imagined. Everyone's thoughts brought me to the realization that perhaps I should write you a follow-up.
From those who are or have been a part of UBC, the response was generally positive. What to you was an innocuous and benign statement-- that you get entertained but not fed at UBC-- was to them something that was, at best, ignorant and, at worst, an attack on the group of people they hold most dear in the world. It should be no surprise that they would come to my defense after my rant.
But there are a couple who were outright bothered by my letter, and a couple more who expressed at least a little uneasiness. Their comments have prompted me to expound on my letter a bit further.
There's an age-old debate about whether the "Word" as used in Scripture refers to Scripture itself or to Jesus. I believe it's an important, even vital, discussion to have, but I've long since lost interest in it. The proponents of both sides have come to their conclusion after much thought, study, and prayer. As a result, they take serious what they have concluded. My comment that those who speak of being "fed the Word do nothing but shit sentences that make no sense to the rest of the world" stung them the deepest.
The comment was effective in that it was humorous and an accurate representation of my experience with many who speak in such a way. But effective is not always virtuous. I could have waited for my irritability to pass and constructed a more thoughtful way to express what I was thinking that wouldn't have been quite as vitriolic. For that, I apologize.
This letter is intended for you, couple I eavesdropped on, but I'd like to respond to a few of the comments from others in the hopes that it helps you understand me and my church better.
First of all, I'd like to point out that Myles made a wonderful point. Those I disagree with do not have a monopoly on shitting sentences that make no sense to the rest of the world. Every group develops a language that is meaningful to them, but can become stale with overuse. If you choose to revisit UBC, you will learn quickly that we have phrases that have become trite, such as "authenticity" and "community." This language means something to us because it helps to define who we try to be, but, ironically, it can also probably seem a little exclusionary at times. We try to keep this in check, but it's not always easy.
Singleton made the comment that you don't "get it" and you can't "get it." Amy suggested I should have invited you to church so perhaps you would have a chance to "get it." I think both of these comments are right on in one aspect, and slightly miss the mark in another. It's no secret why the dozen or so positive responses to my post came from present or former UBC'ers. One thing we talk about is that belonging typically always precedes believing. In other words, you do not understand us fully because you are not a part of us fully. This sounds arrogant, but I don't believe it is because it is true of any church, not just ours. When you find yourself in the daily flow of a group of people you start to pick up on why they do and say the things they do. After a certain amount of time you may decide that particular church is not for you, but you will become a little more hesitant to make silly little comments about being "entertained, but not fed."
With that said, there are too many believers going around these days telling other believers that they "just don't get it." I think there are people who, when it comes to who we are and where we stand, "get it" but don't agree with all of it. These are people I can respect, even though our church membership will probably never reside in the same congregation. My friend Aaron is one such person.
I'd like to respond to Amy's comment that I should have invited you back to UBC with a little of Mike's initial comment about consumerism. UBC is a church. It is not a restaurant, it is not a store. I am not a used car salesman hocking a product, and I won't act like one. I am a part of a community of faith. We are people who are seeking to follow the way of Christ and to be more like him. Most of the time we screw up REALLY bad, but occasionally we get it right. We are always open to others coming and walking alongside us. Most of us, especially me, could do a better job of extending my hand to you when I see you. But initiative cuts both ways. Numerous are the entry points into the life of our community, but your brain controls your two legs and it's up to you to walk through them.
I do not regret my previous letter to you because it was what I was thinking and how I chose to express it. As Singleton has pointed out, I am not Jesus. I don't always respond like Jesus would. I do lament the fact that most of us who are human and passionate about certain things and are somewhat literate, find creative ways to demean and belittle the viewpoints of others with our words. Amy helped me understand that in her response, just before she creatively demeaned and belittled me by asking "and who are you reliant on, yourself or Christ?"
We are all wretched folk. God save us.
This is no longer part of the letter.
-- The couple did peruse Kyle's books, but chose instead to purchase Blue Like Jazz. This was probably for the best, as the God's Will book may have scared them off, while BLJ is a good Introduction-Lite to "the conversation."
-- I LOVED Jen's comment raising her quills and pointing them to the offender. How beautiful is that? Almost immediately after the couple's comment my first thought was "I'm blogging about this." Confrontation in that moment would not have been a good idea. The tone of my post may not have been a good idea either, but much better than confrontation.
-- The title "UBC's Godfather" was bestowed on my by Carney, who knew not of Big Phil. "Uncle Craig" is just fine with me. Less responsibility, more opportunity for fun.