I said, "No thanks. I don't want to be an elder."
The silence was deafening . . . or was the disappointment shown towards me just my imagination? Certainly it could have been.
But in the evangelical world I was living in, you would almost never say the truth . . . "I don't want to." That would typical unleash all kinds of negative reinforcement towards you. That disappointment would be expressed in spiritual lingo, "I don't know why you don't want to . . . I consider it a privilege to serve my savior." I won't even attempt to deconstruct that here.
I know that I may not be making a lot of sense. I do want to add that the straight jacket is beautiful. I mean, all art is a product of culture. But the mores can be stifling.
When I read the New Testament I see Christians being exalted to be nonconformists. After all nonconformity got Jesus killed. But Christians became like the proverbial frog jumping out of the frying pan into the fire. They resisted conformity to the Judo-Roman world but eventually created their old culture with a conformity ruled by an iron fist. Think about it, the inquisition was about conformity.
So now, Christians are the most conformed. They are terrified to make waves, to look bad, but to live up to some ideal of American, good-citizen, righteous person . . .which no one can really ascribe to.
So, ask any evangelical in town who knows me and they will speak of me being odd, strange, queer (in the pre-1960 definition).
But we know the script. We know what we suppose to say. I will drop this thought here before it becomes even more tangential. But I will say that non-conformity is a great virtue, although it produces lonely people.