Monday, July 2, 2012

pondering wild goose: Ian Cron and post-cynical christianity

It couldn't have been a coincidence that "Wonder for Cynics" at 1:00 was immediately followed by "Post Cyncial Christianity" at 2:00.  I wonder how many of us walked straight from The Exodus tent to The Shadow tent Friday afternoon?

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.

I had to run the kids to their tent, first, where I ran into my friend Meredith.  She agreed a talk with "post-cynical" in the title sounded like something she wanted to be a part of, too, so she came along.  But she knew something I didn't: the speaker, Ian Cron (whose name I didn't think I recognized) is an author.  She was describing his book, when I suddenly realized, "Wait - I read that book, too! I love that book! Oh!...."  ( wave of realization).  Jesus, My Father, The CIA and Me: A Memoir... of Sorts is a great read.  In fact, I remember reading it thinking, "I'd like to write a book like this one day" - smart, compelling, inspiring.  Check it out.

 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".


1 comment:

Eric McConnell said...

Talk radio had become my "Turkish delight" several years ago. It was addictive and left me feeling not just superior to "those people" (whoever the host was railing against at the time) but also bitter and angry.

The greatest freedom I've experienced in many years came when I decided to turn off the radio. I also discovered at that point that I actually did care about other people - something that frankly was harder and harder to do when I was reveling in the false 'superiority' that the talk radio hosts kept feeding me.