Been putting this off awhile. Writing about it, that is. But it needs airing out, I think, both for me to read in the future, and perhaps for my children to read sometime in their lives. Supermousey may read it soon, since she still finds what I have to say amusing if not entirely relevant. Ha. She wrote a post over at her place the other day that I told her I wished she had fleshed out a little more, it read like something she threw up quickly, and that’s OK, since I’ll do it more often than not, but I thought the experience deserved just a tad more introspection and thoughtfulness on her part. Now, I’m proud as hell that she blogs, and I was proud of her decision to stand up rather than stay mute. We have talked before about how silence is tacit approval. But I think part of my job as her father is to teach her to take her writing seriously, to apply herself as she would to a less demanding habit, like, say, shopping.
But that incident and many others have caused me to observe and indeed lament over the rituals and language we devise to make bonding with each other incredibly difficult. Even when we manage to break free of our own inner circle of family, neighbors, and friends, we soon find ourselves unconsciously acting as both sentry and stranger, in a world chock full of groups whose sole purpose is to distinguish it’s members from everyone else. And pick your poison…ethnicity,religion, political party, career, sport conference, hobby, entertainment preferences, even what one might choose to eat can make us card-carrying members of some sub-group or other.
There is little doubt that this trait is encoded into our very DNA, as long ago, it must have been very dangerous to deal with the world all by yourself. Though, I’d argue that it is perhaps more dangerous than ever to do so. I know we do this by our very nature, as evidenced by the response of my young son’s friends when I engage them. If I drop the appropriate jargon into the right situation,(“Dude, you totally pwn’ed that newb!”) I’m accepted and pronounced a “cool Dad,” or, at least, someone who can be allowed in from time to time… a friendly, if you will. Fortunately for me, the same gifts that enabled me to instantly earn trust in a sales situation also allow me to quickly assess what habits, traits, or jargon to employ when I want to be accepted by a particular group. One of the most difficult groups to win over isn’t even comprised of humans…its horses. They communicate with barely perceptible ear twitches. Plus, they can suss out fraud in record time. If you are troubled when you are in their vicinity, its best to admit it to yourself , horses can deal with conflict, but despise fraud. They force me to be transparent. Earning a horse’s trust, and respect, is something to take pride in, I believe.
Whats all this about, you ask?
I went to Church last evening! Last week, while I was tearing out some material I bought at a salvage sale, I met a nice family, and we started to talk. Turns out there is a non denominational church nearby, and they are members. Now, I have two non-negotiable perequisites that must be met before I would consider joining or even attending a church. First, it must not adhere to any one religious doctrine. Second, and equally important, it must have a gymnasium with a basketball hoop. This church qualified. A friend of mine asked me why I am interested in returning to church. My reply sort of paraphrased Willie Sutton…”Because thats where the Christians are”.
I grew up playing ball. Any kind of ball. I remember spending hours on warm Summer nights, and on only slightly cooler Winter nights (God blessed California with great weather) throwing a ball against the garage door and catching it in my glove. Or, I would shoot hoops. One day, when I was 7 or 8, a neighbor kid invited me to the Boys Christian League. I spent the remainder of my youth boarding a bus every Monday, Wednesday and Saturday to attend Bible study, practice of some sport, then a game to cap off the week. I went to their Summer camps. Equal emphasis was placed on Worship and sport fundamentals. The worship part didn’t stick. But I can still field a hot grounder, shoot a freethrow, and God have mercy on the receiver coming across the middle once I have the angle.
But I actually enjoyed the Bible study. The Counselors told stories, and they were entertaining, sort of an early version of Veggie Tales, which, btw, I really love. Once puberty hit, spending three days a week in all male pursuits didn’t have the same draw, for some reason. So, eventually, I stopped going. I still played ball, and still do. But there is something to be said for fellowship. Before moving to Nashville, I used to play basketball with a group of guys that all attended the same Catholic church. The games were fast and physical, these guys had some game, and I really miss the adrenaline rush I felt when the guys and I were in synch, five guys all on the same wave-length. It really is special to not have to look to throw a pass…you just know your guy is there. After working up a good sweat, we would stand around and talk about life, soup to nuts, as The Primary Wife would say.
I really miss that. So, I decided that the time may be right for me to fill a void in my life by playing hoops again, and, perhaps fulfill a desire to talk with people of faith and offer a different perspective on things like politics and even Faith itself. The thing is, I’m pretty rough around the edges. I’m quick to become combative. I punctuate with cursewords. I’ve been known to take a drink. I have a sharp tongue and I can be stubborn on seemingly inconsequential matters. I’m sure I will test their faith…
I may well be able to pronounce the “h” sound, and thereby gain entry, but time will tell if I will truly be embraced for who I am. Or, in spite of it. Ha. I may well be taken outside and beheaded as a returning Ephraimite.
Seems worth the risk.