Categotry Archives: Rantings

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Pastoral Manipulation

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Categories: My Story, Rantings

Oooh, now that’s a provocative title. 🙂

Church pastors can be the most co-dependent people in the world. (Being a recovering co-dependent myself, I ought to know.) I don’t say this to slam well-intended men and women of God; I say it because I believe the institutional church system promotes codependency among its leaders.

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The Chocolate Button part 2

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Categories: My Story, Rantings

Okay, time for true confessions…

I spent most of my childhood and adulthood in the institutional church system. I was a proponent of it, and ::wincing:: I looked down my nose at those who had a problem with it or abandoned it. I passed them off as anomalies, as people who fell through the cracks, as people with issues of their own, predisposed to being negative, etc., etc. I blamed the devil for it. All sorts of denial.

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The Chocolate Button part 1

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Categories: Rantings

Ever have one of those random things you read/watch/hear end up sticking with you to the point that it flavors your vocabulary? Years ago I read a newsletter from a well-known ministry in which this guy was talking about going to a fast-food place and ordering a chocolate shake. The teenage cashier went to the machine, pushed the chocolate button, filled the shake cup and gave it to the man–but the shake was vanilla instead of chocolate. The man returned the shake and explained that it was the wrong flavor. So the teenager went to the machine again, pushes the same button, and out comes the same shake–vanilla, not chocolate. Then it happened a third time the same way.

By this time the man was getting impatient. “I ordered a chocolate shake, and you keep filling the cup with vanilla. Something must be wrong with your machine.”

The confused teenager’s reply? “But I pushed the chocolate button!”

Despite the man’s continued attempts to reason with him, for some reason this kid could not wrap his mind around the idea that the machine was broken, that someone needed to open it up and make changes. In his mind, if he pushed the chocolate button, what comes out must be chocolate. He did his job; he pushed the chocolate button. Anything else was outside his reality.

The first thing that comes to mind is some scathing social commentary on how we’re not teaching our children to think anymore–we’ll save that for some other post. But I never forgot this story, and when I see similar examples of shallow-mindedness or incompetency–usually at fast-food places–I’ll say aloud, “I pushed the chocolate button.” My family chuckles knowingly; other people just look at me like I have Turrets or something.

Funny as this story might be, it paints a picture in my mind of something similar happening on a larger scale. Over time, I’ve come to see institutional Christianity–the system most of us Christians have lived in–as a machine. It’s a machine that worked for awhile, produced some results, but now it’s not doing so good. We’re losing touch with our culture despite our attempts to “stay relevant.” Lots of people are getting hurt, being alienated, and walking away. And spiritual leaders (and their husbands, wives, and children) are caving to the pressure and falling left and right. But most of us–and particularly leaders who rely on the machine for emotional and financial stability–still can’t bring ourselves to admit that the machine isn’t working the way it used to. Something is wrong with machine, but we keep pushing the chocolate button, hoping that this time the milkshake will come out chocolate.

This analogy will carry us for awhile, so when I mention the chocolate button again in future posts, you’ll know what I’m talking about. 🙂 More soon…

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De-constructing

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Categories: Meanderings (look it up), Rantings


One of the dangers in opening up a discussion like this–when you start asking questions about things like religious systems and institutional church–it can create the impression that you are simply anti-whatever-it-is you are questioning. In reality, I’m more for true relationship with Jesus than I am against something else. But when you’ve been engrained in the religious system as long as I have, you have to spend some time de-constructing what is in place before you can re-construct something better. We usually don’t have any motivation to change something unless we can see what needs changing. So for awhile, it might seem that I’m just “raging against the machine”, but track with me for awhile, and things will get better. 🙂

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Great expectations, part 2

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Categories: My Story, Rantings

In my last entry, I made a rather blunt remark that great expectations can be a terrible curse. I’d now like to pick up that thread and explain that statement.

It’s not that we shouldn’t strive for excellence, have vision and goals, or just go through life by the seat of our pants and all be under-achievers. That’s not what I mean. Great expectations are when people are so enamored with your gifts and your perceived potential that they fail to see the real you. And those kinds of expectations are so weighty that the greatest of men and women buckle under them. Why? Because there is no such person as super-Christian, and none of us were meant to carry that kind of burden. I’m convinced that this is a huge reason why we’ve seen so many high-profile “celebrity” ministers fail morally and financially. We just aren’t built to be worshiped that way.

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Great expectations, part 1

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Categories: My Story, Rantings

So…some more about my background…and with it, some of the cracks that started to appear in my religious foundations…

I grew up as a “good kid”. I said my prayers (usually), I ate my vegetables (mostly), I obeyed my parents (except for a few compulsive behaviors). But even when I didn’t do everything right, I tried very hard to please. I hated to be in trouble. For the most part, I was all about following the rules. Not only did I consider it my honorable duty to keep the rules, but I felt it was my moral obligation to help everyone else keep them, too. If I noticed my mom slightly speeding, I’d point out the speed limit signs. When I saw a classmate breaking a rule, I’d helpfully remind that person that we weren’t supposed to do that.

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