Family reunions can be interesting. I have concluded that many people have no idea how they come across to others. Having been fully involved in church life, I'm sure that I have been guilty also. I tried to maintain a low key, but when you are immersed in a culture, you don't always realize the "air" about yourself.
At our family reunion last weekend, I observed that I don't fit the churchianity mold very well. Of course, I never let on. I'm used to silencing myself, holding my cards close, maintaining a poker face. Of course that's not very authentic, but honestly, most people don't want more than that.
My charismatic cousins and aunt and uncle spent the weekend going on and on about how excited they were about what God was doing. Of course, what God was doing just happened to be what was happening at their church. They knew it was God because the Big Name Prophet told them so. Yada, yada, yada....
My evangelical brother-in-law and uncle spent the weekend discussing church government issues, comments like, "We don't want to have a vote of the people, even though the denomination says we should, because, you know, people, they are just too emotional, and they don't know what's best. We certainly don't want to work with the people who have volunteered, they are sure to have an agenda. Well, yes (deep religious voice) God appoints leaders (like us). Blah, blah, blah.....
Withholding my own thoughts and feelings (except from my blog!) is pretty much a life pattern. I learned in grade school that the kids tease you if you raise your hands too often in class. Life lesson: just because you know something doesn't mean you have to tell anyone.
Josh Brown just finished an excellent series at his blog called Exodus where guest bloggers described their experience of leaving traditional church. It is amazing that they have experienced so much disillusionment by 25 years of age. In his own post, Josh described well the process of learning to hide your thoughts in order to blend in:
"...I had this feeling like I no longer “fit in”...I always felt like that if I was totally honest and open about my thoughts on God, politics, relationships, theology, etc. that I would no longer be “esteemed” or respected like I was. Again, to be quite fair, I never really fully gave anyone a chance to hear my full thoughts on things. But anytime I stepped outside the box and stretched things out a little, I was quickly confronted with words and faces that reminded me of my place."
I think, to a degree, that all of us package ourselves in appropriate ways for the group we are with. Do you ever get the feeling that people couldn't handle a full dose of you, a straight-out-of-the-bottle, unrefined, undiluted 100% dose of the real you?
Sometimes I withhold my most fanatical thoughts from the blog. Partly because I don't want to be held to them and partly because I apparently care if you guys think I'm a heretic. Given enough time, maybe my heretical ideas will become proven. Consider this a confession - I have far-out ideas, wild imaginings, and dangerous dreams, much too scary to put in print.