I read. I read like a man saved from drowning breathes. I’ve always been like this but I haven’t always been so disciplined about it. My reading brings me little peace. I seek constantly to challenge what I believe. Sometimes religion, ALL religion (even mine) seems like its all just pretend.
There are two kinds of miracles. The first is a for-granted miracle. Physics is one of these. Life another. The fact that all over the world (and even the universe) the exact same Newtonian laws apply with equally facility is something seen as normal only because we see it everyday. There is no reason for reality to function this way, and the the fact it does is miraculous. Every moment the atoms don’t fling apart is a miracle. Everyday that life resists entropy is a miracle. The fact that a female mammal and a male mammal can join a bit of DNA from each them and create a new member of the species is not less miraculous and wonderful despite the fact that we have the words to explain each part and process.
The second type of miracle is the suspension of physics and the modification of life. This is the kind that is usually prayed for. God is asked to make the blind see, the lame walk, the infertile conceive, etc. Now, this is my problem: if God does this often we should be awash in verifiable claims. But we’re not. Sort of….
The first problem is the statistical challenges. A couple of studies have been done, and claim to be double blind. (the people don’t know precisely what is being searched out and the researchers don’t know who is in the control group and who is in the target group.) The 1st problem is consent. Which means that the people are told they might be prayed for and is that OK? So only people who WANT to be prayed for are prayer for. Further, people know that they are participating in a study on a prayer. So its not exactly a double blind. The first study was only born again Christians praying to their God. (San Francisco General ’82).
Duke University doctors in ’98 did a similar study. They found the results were similar. Off site prayer makes a difference. Oddly, though, for Christians, it doesn’t matter which God you pray to. The results are the same when Buddhists, Muslims, and Christians pray. It hasn’t been tried yet, but I seriously have to wonder? If atheist spoke aloud to entropy and asked it to leave you alone would that count? “Praying” actually doesn’t make the difference. Positive meditation by non-religious people works just as well, btw.
What happens if prayer for people who don’t want you to. What happens if you pray to Satan? (As a child I was led to believe thats what Buddhist were doing anyway…) Know what else is weird? In 20 “distance healing” studies 11 said prayer works, 9 said it does nothing, and 1 said it made it worse!!! Yikes.
One study found it improves healing in mice, which I guess disproves the consent to study bias (placebo) or proves that mice are smarter than we thought…
Know what else is weird? A total lack of this data being cross checked with spontaneous remission stats.
So, basically the stats at this time say “Prayer is good for you if agree to be [maybe] prayed for around 50% of the time. Hmm. 2 choices pray or don’t pray, and of the two choices one works 50% of the time. Anybody else see a problem with all this?
Once upon a time there was land of elves, men, and dwarves. The men lived in the plains and the elves in the great forests. The elves were born to their kind and the men to theirs with many working side in the villages and farms. The dwarves lived were ever they hung their tunics. They were simple folk, and would follow the sovereign of any land. They lived only for pleasure and knew no law or rule but what they must follow to earn bread and ale.
Men and dwarves might be born anywhere, but true elves were born in the forest, and men in the plains. Elves joined Man only by transfer, and when elven children were born in the plain, they grew more man like with each generation until they were men. Contrariwise, the children of men born in the forest grew elf like. The dwarves bore young where it suited them (they did not marry or set up house), but even they were not immune to the forest in there own rustic way. Some walked through forest, staggering into trees and not seeing them, others worshiped the trees, and still others became elves the moment they stepped into the forest. The sages of men said it was some aether in the forest air that sustained the elves, and that all under heaven would be men were it not for this “strange air”.
And so the kings of men were brought together under the bastard child the last of the mighty kings of yore. Reflecting his parentage, he was called simply the Prince. Believing the aether of the forest the cause of all of creatures contention he set out to destroy the forests. Many of the elves left the forest in fear, but not all. At first a tiny remnant, they called themselves wood elves to differentiate them from the masses of elves living among the men and dwarves.
Gradually they grew till there were more wood elves then plains elves, but the Prince was nothing if not crafty. He crafted arrows with poisons that caused madness. Further, he removed his seal from his offices and emirates across his empire, replacing it with the crest of the wood elves. Now there were two wood elf brotherhoods, one on the inside and one on the outside. Each said it was the true Way. Then, the Prince surrounded any forests he could find with his men, giving them three tasks:
One, let no one in. Two, let anyone out. Three: wherever any creature slips into the forest, ignore the creature and shoot the guide. Finally, the Prince had many people working in secret, often in such secrecy that they themselves did not know they were in his employ. Some were cripples to use up the strength of the wood elves, letting mercy destroy them and encourage them to destroy mercy. Some were sages of the Prince’s brotherhood pretending to be wood elves. Some were even the Prince’s own imperial guard, evil creatures of great power (not unlike himself) whom had participated in his palace rebellion against the true heir of the empire.
Into this malaise wood elf was born, he was named Struggle, as a testimony to his people. He was born in battle, nursed under arrows’ flight, and raised in the camp, and he was born with a hunger. Some creatures hunger for females, some for food, or sweet drink but this elf hungered for sword. He devoted his life to the sword, even to the extent of not wearing full armor, to swing his sword with greater speed, and drive its blade with greater accuracy.
His sword was swift and his strikes clean, but he was often wounded, sometimes near fatally. The madness of the arrows made his forget his name, or perhaps remember it to well. He would go to the edge of the forest and watch the enemy, sometimes to learn their weakness, others out of lust to be of them and not his own people. Too, without the armor he had no protection from a single glancing blow of his own comrades, and this almost killed him twice. Wounds from wood elves weapons are not poisoned, oft they even heal, but cut far deeper than the random arrows of the Prince.
Struggle was nearly lost once when trying to save a companion under fire. She was the Princes own, sold into slavery long before she could remember and neither she nor Struggle knew she had been sent to the forest as bait for one such as him. The Prince’s brigands had fired a barbed arrow with a cable into her thigh and begun to drag her out of the forest. Struggle was young and his armor weak, though his head was protected, his breastplate was thin. A wide leather belt, shoeless, a wooden shield, and tarnished silver sword was all he had. He took many hits of the mad arrows, stubbling he was hit and pierced from behind with a barbed arrow. Powerless, he watched his comrade be pulled into the Princes camp, fighting with all his life not to follow.
He tried to escape into the forest, but succeeded only in playing out the line from his captors. The Prince’s men were patient. They knew that if they simply jerked the line toward where his comrade had been drawn to, eventually he would follow.
Struggle fought to go deeper into the forest, far away from the battle lines, though dragging behind him the nearly invisible cable of the Prince’s militia. The poison of the arrow was to make him forget it was there except when the cable was cruelly pulled, so Struggle attempted to fight deeper and deeper into the forest, where it was said, a spring flowing with healing water, for the two part reason of escaping the front, and being healed. Along the way, he met a great and mighty warrior of the wood elves named Traveler. Traveler too was heading to the fount deep in the forest. The two became as brothers, sharing the path to quiet and stillness of the inner forest. The road was long. Both met fellow pilgrims and married them. They spoke constantly of what they would do when they found the fount, how they would go again to the front. Neither knew the way and they walked further.
Traveler found the spring first, then Struggle. They drank the sacred water, and both had a vision. For the first time in many years, the vision was not the same. At the spring in that still quite place, Traveler and Struggle continued to walk together, but both were looking for the fork in the road. After much petty quarreling, they parted badly, neither accustomed to it.
And so Struggle was twice wounded. Once by the Prince and once by his brother. He was troubled deeply by this, both cutting near to his heart. He pondered what to do as he had never pondered anything before. Question came instead of answers.
Why had those who called themselves his brothers and sisters hurt him so deeply? Why had he never been able to find good armor. Why was the silver of his sword so tarnished and the edge so dull?
Why did no one seem to want to fight the enemy? Around the sacred spring was a crowd: refreshed, strong and ready with sterling armor and blades that shined like fire. Yet they neither guarded the spring, nor when to the edge of the forest to guide creatures in. All dwarves believed in nothing at all, but why did some do work that helped the wood elves? Why did some elves live outside the forest, and become men, but dress and speak as elves? Why did some men become elves and others did not? He though often of his fallen comrades so he had known deeply others merely in passing. Why did they turn away from the wood elf way? What did he really know at all? What was the way of the forest and what was merely empty tradition passed down to him? He was crushed under the weight the questions.
Finally he stood resolved. He took off his armor, even his flawless helmet. He lay down his sword and walked naked out of the forest. He followed the cable that still pierced his heart, to the place where his sister had fallen. Though she had long left that place of failure he found her eventually. Together they cut the remaining cords, and parted ways at last.
He spoke the sage
s of the Prince’s many faces. He saw the way of the forest buried under the Princes half truths. He began again to wear the flawless helm of a wood elf. But what of the rest of his story? Will he ever see Traveler again? Will he return to the forest? Why doesn’t he have the rest of his armor? Tune in next time.
Nature is everything that is around us, from the atoms to the galaxies to the tools we use to see such things. All that exists is nature. Every thing man has invented is part of nature, and everything that will be invented. All the parts of everything that will be made already exist basic or raw way.
Man is nature as well. Man’s body is made of same things as makes all nature, nature sustains him while he lives, and when he dies, his body goes back to the earth, in one form or another. In nature, man differentiates between what is not alive (forces of nature, laws of physics and science) and that which lives: plants, animals, and himself. These things are organized by order of freedom.
Forces of nature have no choice. They act without mercy or malice, and they wind down, slowly disordering and dissipating. Life, however, is anti-entropic. It does not slowly dissipate, it grows. It does not wind down, but up. It reproduces itself and passes on to each generation abilities. Thus ability pass on useful traits from generation to generation makes life inherently valuable. Even the life of a bacterium has value. It is bulwark against the sterile chaos that exists where no life is present.
Plants grow. They “learn” resistance to other forms of life and thrive, but they have no thoughts and little or no choices. Animals, however, chose. The brain of even the simplest animal is differential engine, weigh options and making selections. As the brain of the animal grows in complexity, so does its ability to differentiate between things. At the peak of the pinnacle is man.
Man has greater ability to differentiate and categorized than any other species. This difference of ability is orders of magnitude greater than the same difference between any other species. Human beings truly are amazing, but it not this mundane ability to chose that gives man his value. Only man has the ability to chose between good and evil. It is for this reason than man is intrinsically sacred.
All animals are capable of behavior which merely destructive, to themselves, their species, their, young, and their environment. Many animals can and do kill for play rather than purpose, but man is alone, not only in his ability to cause purposeful harm, but his ability to revel in the suffering such harm causes others. Similarly, while many animal parents will die to protect their young, and few will suffer harm to protect the lives of distant relatives, man alone will undertake a lifetime of hardship for the cause of other men a world away. Thus, every man is capable of acts of unspeakable evil or angel humbling acts of love and kindness. This capability is limited only by his ability.
The great problem of Good and Evil is not its existence, but its subjectivity. When good and evil are general issues, all of mankind agree on what is good and what is evil and have for thousands of years. It is when the moral question is specific that men can no longer agree. The question of morality is further complicated by the varied nature of man. Perhaps 10% of mankind will always be moral under all circumstances. Perhaps 10% will do evil under all circumstances. This leaves around 80% in a state of constant flux. Their actions are subject to the constant demands of expedience.
Some men are evil, and some good. These men, saints or devils live without choice. The vast portion of men must chose whether they will be good or evil with everyday. The ability to chose is called freedom. Without freedom there is no morality. Doing the good thing, because you are coerced isn’t necessarily good. Doing the evil thing because you are coerced isn’t necessarily evil.
All men must have freedom. Though he may use it for good or evil, without it, man becomes simply the cleverest of the animals. Because all men must be free, sometimes man must have some of his freedoms limited so that the practicing of his freedom does not rob another man of his. The robbery of freedom is called exploitation, and it is the beginning of a great more many evils.
Some men are devils, and some saints. Most are just men. To prevent exploitation, good men, must take away the freedom of evil men. This is called government. Government must have rules, and these rules are called law. The great challenge of law and government is that as mentioned, most men agree on what is good and evil when the issues are large and conceptual. When the issues are localized to single person, place, and environment, the consensus, grows shaky.
The writing of law must be based around six ideas: (1.) Man is valuable. (2.) Man’s freedom is valuable. (3.) Most (though not all) men will exploit others if given the chance (4.) Governments are composed men very much like the ones they govern. (5.) Governments and law should be put in place by the same men whom it governs (6.) The purpose of government and law is to prevent and punish exploitation (ie, a person or group removing the freedom of another for some sort of personal gain.)
With a framework to judge man, law and government in hand, it it time to list the limitations of man, law, and government. Law and government are for most men, not saints and not devils. Saints need no government, they will always do the right thing. Devils will not be dissuaded from wrong no matter how harsh the penalties. It is not for these ungovernable men that law is written or executed. It for the common man. Because of this, many compromises must be made in the writing of law. The saint must be burdened with laws he does not need, and the devil with laws he will never follow, so that the common man may be governed. However, the saint and the common man both need not burdened with laws written solely punish the devil. Such laws burden the good and actively benefit the evil, for devils will have their vices, and if vices are banned the devil will simply be better paid.
No government can make man not prone to exploitation Further, no government in history has ever figured out how to produce saints but many have figured out how to produce devils. The common man is not easily pushed toward sainthood and his toehold on morality is precarious, but he will slide toward evil with great ease. This must be considered not only in the laws which regulate the actions of the common man, but those which regulate the actions of the government itself as well. After all, a government is nothing more than body of common men.
The last limitation of government is funding. Since man is prone to exploitation, and the government prevents it, few men will voluntarily pay the government to govern them. The government must collect its funding by force, called taxes. Since man’s freedom is valuable and taxes are coercively collected, the government must be as small and efficient as possible to make this loss of freedom as negligible as possible.
The last limitation of man is how he acts in groups. A group is number of people who have some cohesion to each other for some purpose. Groups have many benefits to man but present two enormous drawbacks to his freedom. The first is the mob effect. The second is organizational. They are worst when combined. Without governing the only limit to these problems is the size and cohesion of the group. Groups of men, being composed of men, should have all the freedom of a man, restricted only by the groups power to exploit other individuals and groups.
Almost all men have a moral compass called the conscience. The strength of conscience decides the man’s capacity for self government, and thus his need for governing. Groups tend to not only dull the conscience of the individual who belongs to it (which is bad enough) but even replace the conscience of the individual with lowest common average of the groups con
science. In essence, the conscience of group is less than the sum of its parts. As the group grows in size and cohesion the individual’s conscience is hijacked and replaced with the conscience that the group’s leadership approve of. Though this is not always bad (armed forces in particular are famous for using this principal to encourage moral behavior) in general this principal is applied for exploitation.
The second problem of groups is organizational. While the conscience of a group is less than the sum of its parts, the power of group is much greater than the sum of its parts. The danger which groups can pose to the freedom of man is obvious: as power increases (either through cohesion or size) conscience is reduced proportionally. Power without conscience is license to do evil.
With these limitations the path is clear: groups, not having consciences, are not afforded the benefits the doubt that a man is. A group is not permitted freedom until they use it to exploit. A group must have its freedom restricted proportionally to its size and cohesion. A government is merely a group of men, thus the same rules apply. A nation of voters are a large group, but generally lacking in cohesion so their group needs few if any restrictions of freedom. A national government also represents a large group, who have not only a cohesive vision, but also, to do its duty, more power over others than any other group. As such, the national level government must be the most restricted of all groups.
Corporations and religions represent very challenging groups for government. Both are excellent for the the people. One encourages wealth and hard work, the other moral behavior at work and at home. However, despite these benefits, both can contain very large, highly cohesive, and very effective groups. These two types of group have enormous potential to exploit others. As such their freedoms must be restricted proportionally to any other group of the same power and wealth.
One last note on government and groups. Groups are the very reason for government. Government and group are interdependent. One person existing alone, without touching the life of an other person, need only govern themselves. A family needs few rules, rules which regulate how the family relates to its own members and rules which regulate how the family relates to other family. A nation is no different.
The study of government is the study of human history and the study of human history is the study of failure. When history is viewed through a narrow lens, it is the story of great triumphs and awesome failures centered around colossal figures. Sometimes evil men triumph and the innocent die, sometimes Good wins. But viewed through the wide angle lens, nothing really seems to mater. Good or evil, just or injust, all men die alike. Yesterday’s revolutionaries become today’s establishment. Morality becomes legalism. As competing religions grow in size they become more and more like each other. Revolutionary governments begin to abuse the very powers they fought and died to end. As a species, we become what we abhor.
Every revolutionary group is Utopian. Any group founded on the idea of change, either at a micro or macro level, is doomed. The group effect of increasing ability with decreasing conscience begins to create the conditions for hypocrisy (ie, a difference in the values group proclaims and the actions it takes). The quantity and quality of this hypocrisy is proportional to the power that the revolutionary subgroup has in relation to group it seeks to change. Though history is replete with examples so well known as to be common knowledge, perhaps the most obvious for Western readers is Christianity.
Christianity began as a sect of Judaism, differentiated from its parent religion primarily by the Christ, and his profoundly revolutionary teachings. Three simple and undeniable teaching of Jesus are: First that there is not mediator between God and man, but He. Second, morality is not about following the right code, morality is primarily about treating others with love and respect. Third, pacifism (to the point of aiding an occupying soldier, and even allowing him to strike you.) is moral and good. The first ends the priesthood, the second ends legalism, and the third ends holy wars. Between those teachings (and Jesus had many more) religion as most people understand it ceases to exist.
But a mere 10 generations after Christ, Christianity is established as the state religion of Rome.
The name of a man who said he was the last priest, that morality is in the heart and not a rule book, and was committed to pacifism at the cost of his own life was invoked to form a highly legalistic State ruled by priests and constantly at war. The late medieval Catholic church achieved levels of hypocrisy which still astound us today (consider the “Ballet of Chestnuts”).
History is very, very clear about this: No revolutionary group will survive. Groups will be corrupted proportionally the power the exercise over other groups. The example of the Church is not even remotely unique. The story of Islam is similar. The story of communism in Russia and China is no different. For every king toppled, every constitution written, and slave freed, there is a tyrant established, a constitution ignore or made impotent, and freeman sold. It would be ultimate folly to conclude that any person or people could be so wise as to create a group to seize power who will not be corrupted by their own success. No group, no plan, no manifesto is a bulwark against the erosion of the power hungry.
In the military people talk about getting out, how stupid the management is, and above all sex. They say Eskimos have 17 worlds for snow. People in the military may have only one word for sex (it starts with F and ends in K and isn’t firetruck) but they talk about it like Eskimos talk about snow. They talk about good sex, bad sex, fun sex, sad sex, clean sex, dirty sex (they sort of specialize in that…), angry sex, happy sex. Sex alone, sex with one friend, sex with many friends sequentially, sex with many friends simultaneously. They talk about methods of sex, techniques, tools, toys, and what in a more innocent time was called marital aids. They talk about pictures of sex, magazines about sex, videos about sex, books about sex, DVDs about sex. They trade all of these things back and forth between themselves, just as they trade ideas about them.
I have to ponder things that I don’t feel comfortable hearing about or it tears me up inside, so I try to think about why all these conversations bother me, and I stumble into the fact that 10 years ago these conversations would have been exactly the sort of thing I wanted to hear and know. Strange to be bothered by a certain presentation of facts (for it is the presentation and not the facts that bugs me) that would have delighted me not so very long ago.
If a man may be called a slut (usually men are not called that, even if the moniker fits) then I always thought of myself as a slut. I was always willing to sleep with someone I didn’t care about at all. However, I never did, and I never understood why. I had ample opportunity and several bold faced offers. Sometimes with beautiful strangers, sometimes with friends, and something in me always recoiled with horror at the thought. For a long time I blamed this fear of losing my virginity (heck, you only have it once) but after I lost my virginity, I still felt that way, so that couldn’t be it. I wondered if was a conservative Christian up bringing, but I’ve dropped all the baggage I know of that is being conservative merely for the sake of being conservative, and I still feel that way. I considered the idea that I really loved these girls and I wanted to be “part of the solution” and not “part of the problem”. I think that is basically crap. Some of those girls I really did love, some of them I didn’t even like. But always the answer that came when it was time to do the deed was “Ewwwwww! NO!” In fact not only sex, but even sexual behavior like kissing, making out, etc. just sort of creeped me out.
Through the lens of what I know now, my teen years look even stranger. I surrounded myself with females, many of whom had serious social and emotional problems. I obsessed about them. I fantasized about them. I knew the company of my hand probably more than was really healthy. I looked at more internet porn than anyone really should. I would pray every night for girl. Someone to hold, to kiss, to know. I was desperately, pathetically, emptily lonely. Sex, intimacy, and even the plain warmth of the human touch were my constant disfiguring hunger.
And through all that, the first girl I held hands with and put my arm around, I broke up with.
Why? She really wanted me to hold her. Nothing serious, mind you, just hold her a bit. I though I wanted too, so I would put my arm around her. Touching her didn’t make me feel happy. Nor did it make me feel guilty for “leading her to sin”. It DID did obviously arouse me, which was absolutely mortifying, though she never noticed. It made me feel a little panicky. Above all it made me feel a sort of emptiness, a sort of “I weighted 16 years for this?” coldness.
I decided to fake it till I made it. Every night we would sit on the park bench that overlooked the pool. It was regular routine: sit down, put arm around her, be totally humiliated by my erection, etc. Gradually the panicky feeling went away and the cold, dead feeling got stronger.
She wanted to get serious (we had known each other for 14 of my 16 years on earth), and the more serious she wanted to get the worse I felt. And I didn’t know why I felt so awful. Wasn’t this what I wanted? What I’d prayed for?
I broke up with her. Badly. It turns out that there is sort of an art to breaking up with girl and having her think its her idea. I must have missed that class. Anywho, my budding sexuality continued on in that fashion for several years. Always with the touching came that empty feeling. Why? Wasn’t I a slut? Wasn’t I willing to sleep with someone I didn’t even care about? I know my heart, so I knew I would. But I never did.
The other day one of the guys at work asked me if I planned on cheating on my wife when I got deployed. I feel like a honest question deserves an honest answer so I said,
“Well, I won’t stand up on a soap box and say ‘I’ll never do that!’ because thats asking for trouble. Saying ‘Never’ is a mistake because then let your guard down. But I will say its very unlikely. One, girls don’t really go for me like they do other guys so I don’t have to say no as often as other guys might. Two, I’ve really got to have things spelled out for me to even know a girl is looking for sex, and women have usually moved onto to greener fields by the time I even know whats up. Three, the kind of woman who will just walk up to me and say ‘I want you for sex’ isn’t the kind of girl that anybody wants anyway”
Now, I knew this answer wasn’t quite right, but I had to think about. The answer really surprised me. I might be tempted to sleep with someone I don’t care about, BUT I can’t sleep with someone who doesn’t care about me. AND since a woman who cares about me wouldn’t ask me to cheat on my wife, it keeps me out of a lot of trouble. Upon further reflection it made a lot of sense, actually. I don’t even like to shake hands with someone unless I really feel like it. When I pretend to give a damn, and that pretending requires me to touch someone it makes me feel dead and fake. Even shaking hands with a pastor at a church that I visit makes me feel really lousy.
So thats it. The whole I-thought-I-was-a-slut-but-how-come-I-never-really-got-laid problem. Now I can hear all the meaningless sex talk at work and know that (praise God) I’m not wired for that. Its strangely calming. I’ve always wondered with the kind of thoughts that make up a day in my head why I am able to be faithful to my wife. Well, simply, the grace of God, both in the “here’s some grace, kid” sense and most recently revealed to me the “I made you, your brain and your gonads, this how I wired it all together” sense.
I got an email from my old church today (I’m still on the autosend list.) . Its time for the annual “family reunion” when everyone from the all of the house church plants nationwide get together for a week of fun and fellowship.
I heard once that it is so painful to watch someone you love die that it doesn’t even hurt. The pain crosses the threshold of feeling just and becomes a sort of post-amputation numbness, but in the soul. You watch the events happening through your eyes as if they were someone else’s, and don’t remember what happened correctly. The person slowly becomes less of a person and more of the vessel in which a person once resided. At some point, sometimes very clearly, sometimes hidden over long time, the soul is gone.
One of the reasons that I can’t write the church and ask them to take me off of their auto-mailer is… I owe it to my own memories to watch it die. And its dieing. The church dies like the Roman Empire. An organization is not person. The soul doesn’t just go out of it, the soul is changed little by little as the body stays the same. The Roman empire never fell. If you asked anyone who lived there at the time, it didn’t fall. They saw the way it was as the way it should be. Its only when you are an outsider that you can see the truth.
With each mailing I get I see the church turn. The requests for money grow louder as the talk of the providence of the Lord gets quieter. Words about the organization’s oversite into members affairs slip little by little into statements about the the members affairs. The church used to have a revolutionary mission: to be church whose only priest was Christ. The still have a revolutionary mission: to be a church who takes the gospel and American wealth into the developing world. And thats good, but did you notice the change? Once our leadership spoke of training us to replace them so they could take the message elsewhere. Now, they speak of training others to take the message elsewhere. Unspoken but clear is the fact that they stay in charge, and the new leaders they have trained go far away.
Words like “qualified” and “organizationally approved” suddenly precede the words “house church leader” in the church documents. The final statement of the 4 elements of house church is that the organization will guarantee you a perfect house church experience only if you and your other members dwell in Christian perfection. It states that house church can ruin people’s lives if its not done right. All true, but in essence they absolve themselves of any responsibility. If your house church sucks it is from the bottom up, and you need to fix it.
However if your house church is rich, responsibility goes from the top down, as shown by the nature of tithes.
All the money goes to the organization who takes out 10% for the continence of the organization, 50% for the organzation’s missions and returns 40% to the house churches. Each “designated” leader is totally responsible for his house church, but receives only 40% of the money he needs to do his job. We were told when we first got involved with the church to take ownership of our local house church. They said, “Its not just God’s House, its yours! God is looking for people who want to be a part of the Church, not people who want to keep a pew warm. This is a partnership!” Now, only qualified leaders get ownership, and only 40% at that.
(The person who holds the purse string holds the true power in any relationship or organization. Its not about the money, its about who has the right to spend it.)
I broke my heart to believe in the message they preached. I came to believe on a sort of heaven on earth that would come about if everyone who wanted to love people went out and started house churches. Everything we, the church, did was to facilitate that goal. We all read the books and went to the conferences. Moreover, we worshiped with abandon, prayed with bleeding hearts, opened our very souls to each other, and sought the will of God is fasting and prayer in all the things we did. It twas not an easy thing to swallow. Pride in tradition was lost. Pride in knowledge was lost. Pride in sophisticated disbelief was lost. Pride in clever theories was lost. I was dressed like stone and purified like steel (by fire and hammer). And I BELIEVED.
And I still believe. Thats why it hurts to this day, and why I had leave them. I became the sword that my mentors wished to craft, my edge was too keen, and they refused to use me. Now, I am the outsider, watching the dream of a city die from my vantage point on the hill. I remember a wild free place where men and women danced for the glory of God. Where the music uplifted the soul and broke the heart on a holy alter. I remember teaching of hard truths, and healings.
Now I read about qualifications and see my leaders begging for money to continue building their little empire. I sickens me, and I weep for what might have been.