I used to work at the mall. A lot of my employees took the Baltimore City Subway out to the county to work there. Now, this Subway didn’t stop at the mall, it stopped about a half mile away. Those who took the subway waited for a bus to pick them up and transport them to the mall. But there was another way. The subway station backed up to the park-n-ride which in turn backed up to the movie theater which was next to the mall. And one could walk this course in ten minutes time.
At one point behind the movie theater there was a hill, relatively steep but not very tall. And it was here, on this small parcel of grass that I heard stories of people getting raped or mugged. I don’t know the truth behind any of that, I only heard the stories. Whenever possible, if I dropped an employee off at the station I see someone I knew who worked at the mall walking the course or waiting for a bus. I’d pick them up and give them a lift, even if I only knew their face.
(This will go somewhere useful, promise.)
One time I picked up a guy I figured to be gay. I gave him a lift. When I got back to the mall and some guys saw him getting out of my car and I got a bunch of shit for it. Another time one of my employees had walked the course. He told me some girl had slipped down the hill. It had recently rained and this girl’s white jeans were covered in mud, he told me. I instantly thought of Jeannie, a friend of mine, accident prone, who sounded like the perfect victim. Sure enough Jeannie came by ten minutes later covered in mud.
For some folks the world needs to be healed. Others just need a better way to get to the mall.
I’ve lived by this mantra as best I could. I’ve bought new clothes for a friend who threw-up on his own. And I’ve given rides to queer dudes and hookers. I haven’t brought world peace but I’ve brought a piece. I’ve never asked for anything in return, just tried to meet the need where I saw it. I’ve failed more often than succeeded, this much I’ll admit. But I’ve never felt that I put anything before the act of service. Indeed, even the hooker saw Christ in me before I mentioned him.
I thought that by being here I could extend an olive branch. Some of you thought I ranted. Others thought I was here to stir the pot or intentionally throw shit into the fan. I assure you, I’ve never intended any such thing. If you believe otherwise go back and re-read without tone and see if I said what you thought was said.
The only thing I ever wanted, from conservatives and liberals alike, was to stop putting stumbling blocks before Jesus. Stop demanding republicanism or nationalism or feminism or allegiance to anything else before Christ. This is my singular goal. To some people Christ has become the republican party. And others………well, other things. Other movements. Other ideas. Other cultural expressions of our faith. Christ has, to large degree, become topics and movements and isms which must be adhered to without fail before conversation or faith can begin. Even Tony Jones, a father of the emergent movement, has largely admitted it (though most likely unknowingly).
(I swear I’ll be more interesting in the near future)
The frustration felt in posts like “Tired” is a frustration felt online because here, in this virtual world, people are ideas not living persons. And when those people fail to alter their beliefs to fit our own we get frustrated. But who are we to demand that our isms are entirely correct and the way we see faith as seemingly blemishless? Aren’t such things merely stumbling blocks to Jesus?
Someone once said something akin to “Behind every liberal there is a fascist in waiting”. I believe one could say “Behind every person there is a fascist in waiting”. Someone inside all of us just itching to demand that others adhere to our beliefs. The problem is that none are Christ but Christ himself and if we believe we are faultless, as most actually do, then we are equating ourselves to divinity. Heresy.
Seeing my own hypocrisy has stung more than anything else. My olive branch left in tatters. The liberal side of me has been wounded by those who seek absolute allegiance to its agenda. The conservative half of me crushed beneath the waves of neo-con insanity. The mennonite part of me disappointed in seeing little talk of Christ.
I will enjoy the kids on my street. And my own. And my wife. I will continue to enjoy some aspects of church. But I cannot enjoy this board any longer. And I cannot enjoy hearing Church members talk about feminism or politics or any other divisive talk as if one much adhere to some unBiblical cultural standard before coming to a Biblical Christ.
I take a break from my attempts to ursurp totalitarianism from the pages of social justice based Christianity.
Afterall, even totalitarians need not stumbling blocks to come to Christ.
I am gone.