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Monday, January 02, 2006

Blue, as it relates to crayons and jazz

Noah ate a blue crayon last night. He didn't technically eat it, because there was quite a bit left when he was done. But, as Halle put it, "his teeth were blue, his tongue was blue, even his spit was blue!" It's true; he had blue spit spots on his shirt. We tried to get a picture of the blue teeth, but you can't very well tell a 16-month old to open his mouth and show you his teeth. Well, you can tell him to, but that doesn't mean he will. Sorry, no visual aid this time.

Speaking of blue, I've recently started reading "Blue Like Jazz" by Donald Miller (how's that for a segue?). It's made me think about the origins of my faith. I really like what Miller has to say, but I don't identify much with his early conceptions of Christian spirituality. He struggled (struggles?) with the way Christianity is presented much of the time, like something on a midday infomercial. God and Christianity were introduced to him by impersonal pastors and churches, and so God seemed very impersonal and irrelevant to him. I've certainly seen my share of pastors who didn't really care too much about me, and churches that weren't involved in my life other than the obligatory "How are you today?". But these people are not the ones who shaped my ideas about God and Christianity--it was my mom who did that. My mom and I have a really good relationship, and even though it hasn't always been that way, I think it's the consistency I saw in her walk with the Lord, and of course the way she truly wants the best for me, that shaped my beliefs in a way that is vastly different from Don Miller's early experiences. I think it was because I came to know the Lord as a result of this relationship that most negative experiences with the church were able to roll off me. I've heard my share of legalistic teaching, but, for the most part, I was able to take the truth (if there was any) and discard the rhetoric. I've also known enough Christians who genuinely cared about me and shared the Lord with me to know that He is real and very personal and relevant. Very few of my convictions and beliefs have changed in the course of my life, but I have made them my own, through defending them, questioning why I believe this way, and my life experiences. But what really prompted this whole line of thinking was thinking about how others have reacted to this book as opposed to how I'm reacting to it. Again, I really like what I've read so far (4 chapters), and there are some great perspectives and ideas that push me a little, and some I identify with, and there are some great pictures of Christian spirituality. But I've encountered people who have been totally blown away by this book, so I want to know, especially from you who've read the book: how have your encounters with the church/preachers/Sunday school teachers/religious people/whatever-you-want-to-call-them affected the way you view God, the church, Christianity, etc?

5 comments:

Adam said...

I don't exactly understand what you are getting at and how your question relates to your comments about the book...I'm kinda slow though so that's no problem

Anyways, I can still answer your question. My encounters with all the people you mentioned greatly affected the way I view/viewed God, the church, Christianity, etc. I don't think there is any other option. My experiences growing up in the church, being influenced by sunday school teachers, pastor's, other church leaders, etc, very much shaped what my faith developed into (especially before college). My parents influenced my faith just as much or more, but the influences from within the churches I attended were huge for me in everything I thought, did, and believed. This changed some as I went to college and was exposed to different people and their sometimes difering thoughts and opinions.

Of course throughout this there has been a thread of commonality but I think my faith has changed a lot over the years (particularlly over the past eight or so years).

I don't know if that has anything to do with what you were wanting...

When I look back at reading Blue Like Jazz, Don Miller's dissatisfaction with his church experience etc (as you mention) is not really something that sticks out for me personally in having read the book.

Adam said...

Then again, in a lot of ways my faith is very similar to what it was 8 years ago - just thought I would throw that into the mix as well. It hasn't changed as much as it as developed (if that makes any sense). It has gone a different direction, just deeper in the same general direction.

Amy said...

Let's see if I can explain better. Don seems to have been turned off to God and the church and Christianity as a whole because of his negative experiences with church and Christianity. Because of some of the things he says in the book (that I've read so far), he seems to have encountered a fair bit of legalism and, quite possibly, proud ignorance. He seems to have an overall negative view of the church that turned him off to God for a while--if these people were God's representatives, he didn't care to know this God. , I just haven't had experiences like that--my overall experiences with the church, etc. have generally turned me to the Lord and helped me know him better. So, my question is, have your church experiences been positive or negative influences in your walk with/toward the Lord, and did you identify with where Don was coming from as he came to the Lord. There are several things that prompted this question, but that's another whole blog.

sandycan said...

I haven't read the book yet, but I can comment on my church experience. I was exposed to a really nasty church split when I was young and my view of church leadeship was certainly blemished. It did make me somewhat cynical and skeptical about church when I was a teenager. But, I also was surrounded by some awesome godly people ( a minister at our church for one)and I inherited from my parents knowledge of the truth that is found in scripture.(They were also very good examples and the most committed people I know for going to church) So while I was pretty confused at one point in my journey, I still had a foundation that made me a fertile ground for Jesus to grow inside of me when some of these muddles could be cleared up. I am thankful for both the foundation of Christ I received when I was growing up as well as the yucky experience of my church splitting up and the loss of people I had, for years, respected and spent a lot of time with. While I hate that Satan wreaked havoc on our church, I can now see how the Lord has used my hurt and confusion over that time to teach me about the preciousness of His body, the sinful nature of all people, and the importance of Jesus living inside of us. I am even thankful, as weird as this may seem, that my parents trained my brother and me to go to church whenever they opened the doors. If I hadn't felt guilty for not going, I don't think I would have made the connections that led to me being a part of Wednesday nights where I was really exposed to truth for the first time. How ironic is that? But I guess God chose to take a very legalistic habit and work it for His glory. Now that is an awesome God!

Sealka said...

Well, I guess I've had a lot of negative experiences, but some positive too. My positive experiences come from my parents, and from switching to the Anderson Mill youth group my senior year of high school. There I experienced some real growth, encouragement, and love.
But, my time at my former church, that I was at from the time I was 3 til I was a senior in high school, left me with some bad memories. The youth pastor was all about favorites, and snubbed my brother and me. The name of the game was guilt trips - you better witness to X number of people per day/week or you're not a real Christian... etc. Or, are you sure you're saved? You better pray again just in case. Those kinds of things were really damaging. The general feeling from the youth group was not welcoming, and was pretty judgmental. There were many times both my brother and I would rather hang out with my parents' sunday school class and their friends than with the people in the youth group. As for Sunday School teachers, I guess they were ok, but the general experience at the church left a lot of scars. I did always like the pastor, though. I always admired his faith, especially after knowing what all he went through in his life.

I guess these things contributed to discontent with the church, but I didn't really realize I was allowed to be discontent until I switched churches and found a better youth group and saw what I was missing. However, then there was a church split at this church which provided more disillusionment and led to other thoughts and ideas into college, which EVENTUALLY led me to where I am now. But, it was a long journey.

So, I hope that answers your question...