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.