Head First: The Point of All This.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

The Point of All This.

Mine is kind of a weird site. Unlike some, I don't think I really have a theme to speak of. I just post whatever's on my mind, a lot of complaining and scattered silliness, with an occasional point. To tell the truth, most of my best writing gets done commenting on other people's sites (you're welcome).

JimmyBob raised an interesting question about whether all this bitching does any good. Maybe not the bitching so much as the way we do it. He specifically questions the use and purpose of ridicule as an effective means of addressing "a church gone astray." As I responded with a rather lengthy comment, some things began to coalesce in my thinking regarding just why I do this.

I need to stop here and say that I love JimmyBob. We look at a lot of things from two very different places these days, but I know he loves God and I know he loves people, and that's the common ground from which we can build a conversation*.

Here's my comment to his post:

"Interesting point, JimmyBob. And I absolutely agree that faith can endure any attack. As my brother always says, If my faith can't stand up to the questions, then it's not a faith worth having. But let me challenge your perception of those "on the outside" a little.

I certainly don't speak for everyone who has left the church for whatever reason, but I need to say that I no longer consider ANY of my opinions nor methods the answer to "a church gone astray." I don't consider my use of satire and parody to ALWAYS constitute ridicule, nor do I employ such in an effort to induce change within the church. I have spent YEARS (as you know) attempting to impart and induce sensible scriptural perceptions among the brethren. And to some degree, I have succeeded (except with the brethren who hold the power of change in a religious death-grip).

Now I find myself on the outside--my sincere and loving (I believe they were--at first, anyway) attempts to provoke broader thinking and effective praxis now vilified as rebellion and conspiracy (they were certainly neither).

My use of humor, however biting (and it only bites because of the truth of it), is not aimed at causing church leaders to recognize their apostasy. I consider many of them to be irretrievably delusional. I'm looking more to connect with others who have read about Jesus from the gospels, listened to His words, and recognize the great distance that exists between that and the American church. My message is not just bitterness and resentment (although I admit it's there), but hope that we can find some form of fellowship that revolves around the real Jesus, not the American flag-waving Republican caricature of Jesus that I was offered Sunday after Sunday.

You seem to suggest that those who criticize are likely on the road to rejecting Christ. Not so. Here on the blogs, there have been several instances that I have responded to a mischaracterization of Jesus, by saying something like, "If that's who Christ is, then I want no parts of him." Please don't mistake the meaning there. Such a comment does not mean that I'm might reject the real Jesus. All it means is that I want no part of THAT misrepresentation of Christ.

Unlike Voltaire, my aim is not to discredit the truth about Christ, but to redeem it from those who have manipulated it into a self-serving entity whose primary purpose is to keep itself going.

Personally, I don't hold out much hope that the institution-at-large can be brought into line with what I perceive to be scriptural priorities, but that is not to say that no good thing happens there. For all its shortcomings, the church (small c) gets some things right, and bears some fruit. That's fine. But a lot of people think Jesus is way bigger and His message way broader than that to which the church has confined them.

To answer your question, though. Pointing out hypocrisy and unscriptural practices does not necessarily constitute ridicule. Even if it does, such commentary is not offered in an attempt to correct. It's too late for that. It's offered as context for the rest of us. We must be self-aware as we proceed.

And a lot of the time, it's just venting steam, to keep my head from exploding."

* ©2005 Emergent. "Conversation" is a registered trademark of the Emergent Theological Conversation. All rights reserved. Used with permission.


BruceD said...

That could be the most intelligent thing I've ever heard you say. It could be the most intelligent thing I've ever heard ANYONE say!

Recovering said...

I agree completely with your assessment of the church (small c) and feel similarly. (Although Jesus was a card-carying Republican) :)

ninjanun said...

But Jesus rode in on a donkey, not an elephant. ;)

Great post,Dorse. My sentiments exactly about the current Americhurch, as well as the approach in pointing out how it's all gone pear-shaped.

Society's Elite said...

I love your use of the trademarked word "Conversation" from Emergent.

Now you just have to sign off on all your posts like this:

Dorsey Marshall

You'll definitely get props from Pope McLaren!

Kc said...

I don't want to press this argument if it's semantics but based on all you've said I don't consider you out of the Church. You might not be assembling as God would please but even that I can't judge. You might be doing exactly what you know you should. Either way I consider you my brother in Christ and as much a member of the Church as anyone I know.

As for your conversation it sucks.

(hehe just kiddin. Love ya bro)

dorsey said...

Kc, when you and I are talking, I always regard us as Church. You know I differentiate between the church (small c) and the Church.

Capital C, count me in. Small c, blow it out...well, not so much.


Kate said...

I can definitely relate with your willy nilly approach to blogging. I have some Type II ADD that keeps me from being able to concentrate on one topic for too long, as well. Good post...good blog!

JimmyBob said...

Bruce, you shouldn't swell Dorsey's head any more than it is with those intelligence comments. If his brain gets any bigger it might explode. Didn't you see that picture he posted on April 25th? Adding any pressure to that much intelligence could be fatal.

Herobill said...

here, here. waytago.

"irretrievably delusional" is a nice phrase, btw! ;)

Kris said...


Ex Pastor's Kid said...

I admire your transparency regarding what you believe. I wish I could do the same thing. I'm too scared of people right now.

dorsey said...


I understand how you feel (about this, at least). For me, it got easier once I realized that many (but by no means all) of the people I was afraid to offend were only interested in me for what I could do for them/how I could make them feel. Once I was out of ministry, it's as if I never existed. I no longer consider their opinions of any value.

Thankfully, there are a select few who still love me enough to hear the cry of my soul without rejecting me. I pray you have someone like that, too, even if you don't yet realize it.

Steve said...

Hey Kris...



Caro said...

bruced- I fully concur! So often we experience a vague uneasiness in situations, including church, but find no way to articulate them. What a joy to find someone who will give words to our feelings (pains) and let us look at these as on an examination table. Vell, Herr
Doktor, vas ist das?
Thanks too, Dorse. The wretched remnants of my rebellious youth have once again found a kindred soul
Love the brethren!