I can hear some of you who know me, wondering: "What's with all the focus on cynicism, Michelle? You don't come across that way. Is there something you're not telling us?"
Well... yeah, I guess so. It turns out the natural tendency (temptation?) for someone who makes a major shift of any kind, spiritually or politically (or any other "ly") is cynicism. I have fought it both within (my own soul needs no help with this) and without (many speak as if it's their mother tongue). I fight to maintain an attitude of hope, to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, to walk my own journey with inward peace ... but that fight has left me weary, at times. And as everyone knows, temptations are far more tempting when we're tired.
So yes, I confess - I've been tired lately. Which meant anytime I saw the word "cynic" on the schedule, I was there... because I knew I needed to be. And I wasn't disappointed.
Here are my raw notes from the talk. You can actually listen to Ian recap his Wild Goose experience, and this topic, here (recommended!)
grief and rage following painful church experience (Episcopalian priest)
moved family to Nashville to reboot - thought would be safe - found it to be most religiously cynical place EVER "people are f*ing pissed in Nashville"
same old narrative: "church sucks, but we love Jesus" - cynicism contagious - running negative editorial in mind
it's in vogue to be self-loathing Christians situated on the fringe of established church
Andrew Byers quote "the edgy spirituality of the jaded"
the event that seeded our cynicism really hurt like hell - whether one event or 1,000 little robberies
"we" reject the fear based spirit of anti-intellectualism, "they" protect their certainty with rage & anger
on receiving end of that when perceived as a threat - it hurts!
there's nothing like religious wounding
realized some things about himself over time:
1. I wasn't enlightened, I'd just become a jerk.
2. Cynicism masks laziness. I didn't want to "be the change", I just wanted to bitch about it.
3. Cynicism is freaking delicious.
decided he must CHANGE - couldn't stand himself anymore - wanted to live as a resurrection person
answer: realistic hopefulness
open-hearted vs a defended heart (pusila anime, "closed soul")
in curvitas se - turned in on oneself, ugly
to live with undefended heart is to live like Jesus, with potential for more joy AND more pain than ever known
Dan Allender: "You cannot hope if you cannot grieve" (work through grief)
you have more to offer the world than your smirk!
Brown quote: "owning our stories and loving ourselves in the process is the bravest thing we'll ever do"
read The Reluctant Saint (on Francis)
need compassionate clear-eyed open heartedness to prophetically critique the situation of the church
don't criticize, just do it better! (Francis of Assisi)
let my LIFE ... BE... a prophetic critique
I don't feel the need to elaborate much, here. I am grateful Ian shared his story, and that he confessed to us as he did. I've not experienced anything like the pain he experienced from "church" - if anything, I've been a "victim" of "1,000 little robberies" over the course of my life-of-faith. But I have tasted the succulent sweetness of cynicism. Ian reminded me (comparison mine) that it can be like Edmund's Turkish Delight - one bite and all you want is more (especially when it leaves you feeling smart and superior). But it's ugly, and it makes me ugly. It makes us ugly. "Justified" or not, there's a better way.
We do have more to offer the world than our smirk.
Ghandi was right, "Be the change!"
Francis of Assisi was right, "Just do it better!"
And Ian is right, "Let my life... BE... a prophetic critique".