Room Inside a Box

"There is no room inside a box." ~Doug Pinnick

Location: Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, United States

I started this blog as a soundboard for some much needed therapy during my separation with my wife throughout much of 2005. It was truly a blessing to get my thoughts out there through the writing process. Thankfully things have worked out between us. I would have continued to blog, but ever since I started my teaching career, I have found it impossible to do as much blogging as I would like to. So now I hope to periodically post as time and energy allow.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My kids are napping and Ann's at work so I finally have some time to write

So my brother had this quiz on his blog and I thought it'd be fun to take. I predicted I'd be either an emergent/postmodern or a classical liberal, and judging from my results, it seems to me the quiz is pretty reliable. Jason scored a modern liberal (That's John Shelby Spong's pic, by the way, next to Jason's results. I have three of his books and highly recommend him as a writer and thinker, for he has definitely helped shape my worldview.), which I would've guessed for him, with emergent/postmodern a close second; so again, the quiz seems to me to be pretty reliable. I thankfully scored a 0% on the fundie scale. I used to be a fundie and have worked hard these past few years to shed that abominable skin.

Here's what my results are:

You scored as Emergent/Postmodern.
You are Emergent/Postmodern in your theology. You feel alienated from older forms of church, you don't think they connect to modern culture very well. No one knows the whole truth about God, and we have much to learn from each other, and so learning takes place in dialogue. Evangelism should take place in relationships rather than through crusades and altar-calls. People are interested in spirituality and want to ask questions, so the church should help them to do this.
Emergent/Postmodern - 82%
Neo orthodox - 61%
Classical Liberal - 57%
Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan - 57%
Modern Liberal - 46%
Roman Catholic - 29%
Charismatic/Pentecostal - 25%
Reformed Evangelical - 25%
Fundamentalist - 0%

I was thankful to see that the emergent/postmodern score was so high for him. I've been worried for quite some time about some of his thinking. I keep meaning to write about this and engage in some dialogue (online, that is, but if there's enough time and alcohol, in person would certain;y work) with him, but because of my former fundie skin, I feel sometimes I come across as a judging proselytizer when really I'm just trying to be an informed educator. And I don't want to ruin a good relationship. I certainly don't want to argue or bicker. I want to have an engaged dialogue, an exchange of ideas that might somehow lead to some enlightenment--for both of us, because I certainly have a lot to learn. You see, many of my brother's hang-ups and issues I too went through, though at a much earlier stage. Many of the things he bemoans about the church and religion and all that sound so familiar to me because I've been there and done that. So many of the questions he has insufficient answers to I have already worked out myself. I spent years reading some of the great thinkers, philosophers, and theologians, and still spend time engaged with some amazing professors and teachers I have been blessed to know and be with. Unfortunately I think he spends too much time sifting through fundie propoganda just to root out its errancies and hypocrisies and not enough time reading quality thinkers and writers. He also probably spends a lot of time reading liberal and secular humanists who tell him what he wants to hear without challenging him at a deep, spiritual (not Christian, mind you, just spiritual) level. So between the idiots on the far right and the ideas of the far left, I think he's missing some key components to a deeper understanding of this thing we call life. But aside frm all of that, I think the biggest difference between us, and probably why we have arrived at some differing conclusions (not that these conclusions are written in stone, forged and forever to not be altered; we are both too open-minded and critical to say we have it once-and-for-all figured out) is because I never had to deal with homosexuality. That's a monster of issues waiting to fuck you up for many a year if you grew up in the environment that we did. So I envy him not. I'm sure it fucked him up and tore at his soul for a long, long time. It's a hell I hope to never endure, and I applaud him for coming through such an ordeal as sane as he is. He's certainly got a good head on his shoulders. One caveat, though, and of course it cuts to the heart and soul of things: where I never lost sight of the idea that some higher power existed somewhere and in some form, it seems that he has come to the conclusion that none exists.

Now this idea is relatively new in human history, and was en vogue not too long ago--in human history terms, that is. Reason and science have done much to undermine the human spirit (let alone spirits at all) of which any higher power must be, as this higher power certainly does not dwell among us--at least according to our discernable senses. And many a person has fallen under the spell of this deicide. I wish not to tell anyone what to believe or how to believe. I wish not to judge anyone, nor to condemn anyone. It's not my place for any of that shit. But I do wish to say, in the simplest and kindest way I know how, to show my brother that there is an alternative to atheism, that the world does not have to be carved up into Jehovah vs. Nothing. Seeing his score on that quiz tells me that there is a window here for that type of discussion, but I could be wrong. I think that Jason would resonate with the emergent church and its ideals; I for one cannot get enough of it. It might be a little too postmodern for me (I've been labeled a romantic postmodernist, a kind of oxymoron, but one that I like), but that's the age we live in, and I cannot help but be affected by the current wave of postmodernism in our meta- and subnarratives (culture and subculture, if you will) and react to it as best I know how.

So my kids just woke up from their naps. I have to go. They're hungry. I didn't know where I was going to go with this, and I'm not even sure if it goes anywhere at all. I just know that my brother has been on my mind a lot and I want to be a good older brother because I was such a shitty one for so long. I read his stuff and I want to say things, but I don't know if I'm welcome to as I've gotten burned in the past and I don't want to relive that pain again.


Blogger Jason Hughes said...

I certainly hope I've never made you feel unwelcome, for that has never been my intention with anyone, let alone you, dude. I have too much respect for you to chase you away... well, unless we're playing touch-tag football, and no one could ever catch you anyway...


June 19, 2006 9:39 PM  
Blogger Kelly said...

You say that you wish not to tell anyone what to believe or how to believe, but yet you want to show your brother that there is an alternative to atheism. Uh, what? Why would you so graciously show an alternative if you don't want to change what he believes?

It sounds like you're undermining his atheism because you don't think it could be the result of much thought and consideration. Does atheism bother you? Or is it just that your brother's atheism bothers you?

And you'll probably get annoyed, but maybe you're not as openminded as you like to think if you're still wanting to show him an alternative...

Don't get mad. It's just a thought.

June 20, 2006 9:20 AM  
Blogger terriamachine said...

Hmmm... I see this was read before my addendum which I just posted two minutes ago. That was not meant to be. But since we're down to one computer in the house and Ann had to work on some school work, I didn't have time to publish my missive in time for the critics. Jason: Did I ever tell you that I used to have dreams where you or Mike would actually catch me in a game of tag or football? I will have to get back to you, especially since I now see you responded more at length on your site. I hope you realize the time constraints on me and will fogive if I don't respond as quickly as you or I would like. Kelly: I think what I just wrote, especially toward the end, might answer some of my supposed contradictions (and since I am writing so quickly without any editing, I'm sure there are contradictions, but that's because I don't have time to fix everything and make it slick). And you ask some tough questions which I have already asked myself. I'll try to get back to you on those as well, but again, I think I covered some of your criticism in the addendum I just wrote. Maybe, anyway. But quickly before I let Ann take over the computer: Just because one wants to show other people different ideas doesn't make one closed-minded. You have a valid point, though, even if you said it unclearly (like I should talk... my recent posts are exercises in unclarity!). No one, including you, is completely open-minded, and that's not even the goal or even possible. We all have convictions or beliefs that we cling to and will probbaly hold for most--if not all--our entire adult lives. But that doesn't make us closed-minded or open-minded. What makes someone closed-minded is not even wanting to bother with alternative ideas while blindly clinging to ideas which were handed down to them through society and culture. What makes someone open-minded is giving a sympathetic ear to all ideas from everyone while prudently clinging to ideas and maybe dropping others they've gathered from many social and cultural backgrounds. Life is a journey. I used to be closed-minded, blindly following what the church taught me. But as I learned more from other ways of thinking, I droppped some ideas, adopted others, and am even right now experimenting with others. What I say now I might not say next year. And what I might believe 10 years from now might surprise the hell out of me now. Don't mistake convictions and beliefs for closed-mindedness, unless those same convictions and beliefs are there throughout one's entire life through lack of education and fear of opening one's eyes.

June 20, 2006 5:53 PM  

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