I watched a documentary about the Amish last night. It reminded me of drives to St. Jacob’s for the farmer’s market and Amish bakery. Sour Northern Spy apples. Giant sugar cookie pigs. Sweet buns and fresh bread. The quaint characters we craned our necks to see as we zipped past in modern convenience. But most of all, it reminded me of me.
The program explored this strange subculture, both good and bad. The ones who left. The ones who stayed. Neither ones the villains. Both the victims, in their own way.
The customs. The secrets. The lines drawn in the sand. Tradition. Conviction. Fear.
And it all sounded so familiar. Not only from family stories of our strict Brethren sect, but from my life here and now. Because we draw lines in the sand too. In different places, but they are still there.
This is something I wrote a few months ago. It is a little different. I usually keep the rambly “poetic” pieces securely hidden in journal pages, but I’m running low on time and energy, and feeling a bit brave today.
How do we separate “us” and “them”?
We try to wrap our skinny arms around it, digging in our nails, gritting our teeth. So we can throw it down and beat it into submission.
We’re the church, we’re big on submission. Not the doing, but the saying.
White knuckled and wide-eyed. You can almost smell the fear. In whispered rumors and wild innuendo… cause that sort of thing is contagious, you know? We have to keep that shit, excuse me, sin out. We cannot let them win.
So we create our own. Our own music. Our own slang. Even our own breath mints.
But we are them.
And they are us.
No matter what brand of candy we chew.
Culture was never the problem. Creating a new one won’t save us. Bullying “them” pleasantly, with our kind intentions, until “we”, happily deluded, feel safe.
But we are them.
And we are as full of shit as anyone.
And it’s clear enough, isn’t it, that we’re sinners, every one of us, in the same sinking boat with everybody else.
Our involvement with God’s revelation doesn’t put us right with God.
What it does is force us to face our complicity in everyone else’s sin.
Romans 3: 20 (MSG)
So here’s me, and yes, I used the word “shit.” If that’s all you can think about, then you probably missed the point anyway.
And I’m not kidding about the breath mints. “Testa-mints” – has anyone tried them? They’re like Certs, with a righteous after taste.
June 5th, 2012 at 8:38 am
Brilliant! My favourite line: “Culture was never the problem. Creating a new one won’t save us.”
And I laughed out loud about the righteous after taste 😀
June 5th, 2012 at 10:25 am
Thanks Grant. I wrote some of this after getting one of those crazy “christian” rumors in an email fw. I can’t even remember what now, but it was totally absurd. And I have my own things that I’m extra judgemental about… Guess I’m a recovering Pharisee.
And the mints, I’m sure they are a joke. I choose to believe they are, cause, come on!
June 5th, 2012 at 5:42 pm
God is not concerned about the outward appearance of man/woman or where they have come from.
Gods main concern is whether our hearts are right with Him or not.
We may not like how others perceive God, and whether they travel by car or buggy, that is not for us to judge.The question does remain for a lot of people, whether Amish or not
Have they been to Calvary, and is Jesus Christ their Lord,.
If one can answer yes to both of the above, then everything else is irrelevant.
When you get the chance if you have not seen it already, get “Amish Grace” from your library, very powerful DVD.
June 5th, 2012 at 8:29 pm
Thanks for your perspective. I certainly do not mean to attack the Amish lifestyle. It is the cruelty of shunning and the pointlessness of legalism which I object to. It just doesn’t fit the tone of Jesus’ own life or the highest commands to Love God and others.
June 6th, 2012 at 1:48 am
I know, it was in no way meant to attack you or the Amish as I share your views on “Legalism”
Jesus himself was not a legalist for in Matthew 16:18 He says that He will build His Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
But if we are honest with ourselves, because of our sin nature, we will all have a certain amount of Legalism in us to some degree.
June 6th, 2012 at 3:23 pm
I definitely agree!
June 13th, 2012 at 9:19 pm
I think that’s why it seems to me (sadly), that it is often easier to make new connections and friendships with ‘non-church’ goers. Often seem much more open to new experiences and new people.
PS- there’s lots of research supporting the psychological and social benefits of swearing in certain situations so i think you’re in the clear on this one!
June 14th, 2012 at 9:23 am
I have to agree. Non church people just do what they want (not always a good thing granted), but they don’t endlessly analyze and judge every action and person to death… to just live life without the angst… that sounds more like life to the fullest to me!
P/S Hells Ya! Sorry that was gratuitous.