Sunday, June 26, 2011

Moving Ahead . . . and A Midnight with the Legends of the Pen

Here's my problem. I had been gathering some interesting thoughts over this past week . . . thoughts about the same old issue, trying to be a Christian while living in reality.

I had the notion that I would spend my Sunday afternoon typing out a well-thought-out essay. But instead, I've spent the last four hours working on my new business and now, once again I'm typing like mad just to put together a few loose thoughts.

The reason I decided to start this business (headache clinic if you are curious) was because last fall I was becoming an empty-nester, and I knew that I was destine to be empty myself. That means, spiraling downward in depression and loneliness.

Having worked in headache clinics for most of my life, I had always had a dream of creating a better one in the back of my mind. Last fall, when I committed to doing this, it was like grabbing the horns of a rabid (and add Mad-cow disease infested) steer. It has bounced around between a hellish nightmare of financial ruin to euphoria and back again . . . but always, consuming. That's why I've felt frustrated that I could not put my thoughts together here in a coherent way, nor could I feast on the thoughts of other bloggers the way I should.

The good news is that my plan worked! I never had time to drown in the melancholy wasteland that I'm so familiar with. Where I sink into the muck up to my waste and can't walk out. Besides, Ramsey, my last (of five) child is sitting with me right now and has been almost every week end since he "went off to college."

Okay, enough of all of that. I will say I have some thoughts that I wish I could express to someone.

It was an interesting night last night. On Friday night I worked in Bellingham, where my clinic has a second office. I noticed that the small theater down the street was showing Midnight in Paris. I first heard of this movie through my third son, Tyler. He is the one that got me turned on to fiction. Two years ago he was playing in a band called Caulfield and the Magic Violins. Since then it has been shortened to just "Violins." Their theme song (and biggest "hit") has the chorus about saving the children who were falling off the cliff while running through the rye field. Believe it or not, I didn't know what that meant. After all, I grew up in the Bible belt where the very wise (dualistically speaking) school board had banned most great novels. Any novel that had words like damn, shit, suggestions of alcohol, sex outside of marriage and certainly "sonofabitch." So we, even as high schoolers, were left with Winnie the Pooh and not much else. So, in the past two years I've been introduced to more Christian truth by the likes of such word-smiths as Joyce, Faulkner, Lawrence and Butler than by a thousand Baptist preachers.

So my fifth child, Ramsey said to me (actually at this very table where I'm sitting right now but two years ago) "Dad, if you really want to get inside Tyler's head, you've got to read a Catcher in the Rye. I read it . . . and Holden changed my life. A boy who wanted to see life as it really, really was . . . and realized that we are all a bunch of phonies.

So, to make a long story short (or at least shorter) I gave Tyler a call. "Hey, Midnight in Paris is playing in Bellingham, want to go?"


So at 6 PM, Tyler, Ramsey and I loaded up in the topless Jeep (which I had cut the top off with a Bowie knife when the windows broke) and drove the cold twisty road, which hugs the cliffs above Puget Sound, up to Bellingham.

It was very enjoyable movie in the typical Woody Allen style (it reminded me a lot of Purple Rose of Cairo). A surreal and causal journey across realities. But it was a lot of fun to ease-drop on Fitzgerald, Picasso and Hemingway during their Paris "artist gang" days.

Afterwards, the three of us (at 10 PM) went out to dinner at a nice Asian restaurant overlooking the bay. We had a wonderful talk about art, novels and music. Tyler was saying the same thing that Jeff Dunn was saying the other day on Imonk. basically the music world has collapsed (like the literary world) around corporate hype. As Jeff said, deep thinkers who are good writers and have something to say, are invisible to publishers. However, the famous are stalked by publishers for their name . . . so they can get a ghost writer to create a book for them.

So, in the Christian world, the big sellers are Jon and Kate Gosslin teaching people how to have a Christ-centered marriage. Sad. Tyler was saying that the music world is reflective of the same mindset. So, Lady Ga Ga can make millions . . . woops, I mean billions, for someone, but does she have anything to say?

Hemingway certainly couldn't get published today or virtually any of the top novelist . . . not unless they had had sex with a senator first.

But I will end this now as I must, unfortunately, go do the books at my business and see if I have enough money to keep the doors open in July. I hope to work in a kayak paddle before the sun sets.

I will try to come back tomorrow and start what I wanted to post. After reading on Imonk the debate about what is "abuse," I thought I would like to create a narrative of deconstructing what spiritual abuse looks like at the local church level. Not whining about stuff I've been through, but creating a totally fictional account.

Sorry about the typos but once again I'm late.


Eagle said...

MJ…I typed a response from my Android when I was traveling. I didn’t have the means of writing a long answer.

I really appreciate your blog. It’s one of many that gives me solace, comfort, and tells me that I am not alone in my troubles with evangelical Christianity. The first time I found it was over a year ago when I typed into Google, “Where does a Christian go during a spiritual crisis..” Your blog was one of the hits that popped up. At the time my faith was in a crisis, and in a meltdown. I had horrific experiences in church and the “answers” I knew from the Bible were not working either. None of my friends could understand what happened and their responses just angered me more or added to the problem. Then I lost a number of people while others I drove away. I wish I could tell you that I have all my shit together…but I don’t. I’ve made mistakes, am overwhelmed with doubt, am very skeptical toward faith and God, and view the world today from a different mindset than I did 5 years ago.

I don’t know what I believe and depending on the day my answer could vary. One day I’ll think the Christianity is but a cancer on this earth and I’ll think of the fa├žade, dishonesty, 100% certainty, and the circus that it has become. Other days I’m holding on by a thread…at least it feels like it. I care enough to still try and find answers to my questions and find out how others have dealt with this. I don’t want to die as an agnostic and be this skeptical.

But your blog has been awesome. It has kept me sane and you’ve articulated thoughts and feelings that I have, and others that I couldn’t put my finger on but knew there is a problem. Maybe you don’t have to update as often and do it at your own leisure.

But please don’t shut down the Christian Monist.

jmj said...

Eagle you're certainly not the only one who doesn't have his shit together.

markshriv said...

Dear Christian,

In the IRS 990 form for Grace To You for 2009 listed under "Contract Services" it's shown that GTY paid $667,000 to The Welch Group. What is The Welch Group and why is this of interest? It's interesting because The Welch Group is a corporation whose CEO/founder/owner is Kory Welch, John Macarthur's son-in law! Now do you think there could be just a little conflict of interest going on here? And just thinking out loud....but doesn't the Word admonish Christians to avoid even the appearance of evil?

Amazingly (but not for those who know the truth about Macarthur), it appears that the GTY financed, The Welch Group, has done a "concept ad" for Starbucks, an extremely anti-Christian, pro-homosexual corporation! But then again, why discriminate when there is money to be made?

Also of interest from the 990 form: John Macarthur's propaganda minister, Phil Johnson, was well compensated again in 2009 earning $225,000 while seven other board members earned in excess of $150,000. Oh I almost forgot to mention...who is the treasurer of GTY? Matt Macarthur, John Macarthur's son, while Macarthur's other son, Mark, remains a director. Just keepin it all in the family....

A Concerned Christian

Anonymous said...

So, in the Christian world, the big sellers are Jon and Kate Gosslin teaching people how to have a Christ-centered marriage. Sad. Tyler was saying that the music world is reflective of the same mindset. So, Lady Ga Ga can make millions . . .

Don't forget the Christian Sex Comedy ("Just like 40-year-old Virgin, Except CHRISTIAN!") with the Celebrity Guest Cameo by Ted Haggard...

Seriously. My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic has far more depth, skill, and style than any of these. Maybe that's the reason it's gotten such an all-ages following.

Headless Unicorn Guy
(back from vacation)

P.S. Eagle: Was in DC (aka The Steambath) last Tuesday for a Smithsonian crawl. Maybe next year I could give you a heads-up and meet at the Mall.

P.P.S. Northbound on Hwy 15 between Gettysburg & Dillsburg, there's this big "Where's the REAL Birth Certificate?" billboard. On the way to the biggest used bookstore in Harrisburg, my writing partner pointed out the logo in the corner indicating that it was paid for by World Net Daily. Welcome to South Park...