So many of the conversations and communities that I find myself in right now seem like hockey games - you go for the sport, you stay for the fight. It is about winning, about demoralizing your opponent, about scoring points and taking advantage of power plays. But the fun - the energy - the excitement - is when the gloves come off, the fists fly and the fans erupt. It was not worth it if someone' teeth were not knocked out.
Being an American and a person claiming to be a Christian can be much like the wise words of that passed away prophet Warren Zevon:
Hit some, Buddy! It rang in his ears
Blood on the ice ran down through the years
The king of the goons with a box for a throne
A thousand stitches and broken bones
He never lost a fight on his icy patrol
But deep inside, Buddy only dreamed of a goal
He just wanted one damn goal
It's hard and disillusioning when this happens in a church context. People expect more of one another when we put on church clothes and enter a building that is purported to contain God (or a reasonable facsimile). But the reality is that the church is the lint brush of human foibles - it picks up all the muck and crap we are capable of, along with all of the beauty and awe.
Yesterday's Nouwen gave me pause to remember that I am the church and I am a hockey player eager to be the goon and score points:
Forgiving the Church
When we have been wounded by the Church, our temptation is to reject it. But when we reject the Church it becomes very hard for us to keep in touch with the living Christ. When we say, "I love Jesus, but I hate the Church," we end up losing not only the Church but Jesus too. The challenge is to forgive the Church. This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness.
It is important to think about the Church not as "over there" but as a community of struggling, weak people of whom we are part and in whom we meet our Lord and Redeemer.
A survey of deaths in Iraqi households estimates that as many as 100,000 more people may have died throughout the country in the 18 months after the U.S. invasion than would be expected based on the death rate before the war.
I believe the president's education initiative will leave no child behind, much as his "clear skies" and "healthy forests" initiatives will make skies clearer and forests healthier.
I believe that President Bush, just as he promised he would, has restored honor and integrity to the White House and united us as Americans.
I believe the president was right to oppose the formation of the 9/11 Commission, to change his mind but then oppose fully funding it, to change his mind but then oppose granting its request for an extension, to change his mind but refuse to testify for more than an hour, to change his mind but then testify alongside Vice President Dick Cheney so long as transcripts and note-taking were prohibited.
I believe the investigation into the Abu Ghraib prison scandal shows it was the fault of a handful of misguided underlings who simply misunderstood a memo signed by the Secretary of Defense which authorized the use of dogs to interrogate prisoners.
So come along, follow me as I lead through the darkness
As I provide just enough spark, that we need to proceed
Carry on, give me hope, give me strength,
Come with me, and I won't stear you wrong
Put your faith and your trust as I guide us through the fog
Till the light, at the end, of the tunnel, we gonna fight,
We gonna charge, we gonna stomp, we gonna march through the swamp
We gonna mosh through the marsh, take us right through the doors
I am back among the blogging world - a bit bruised, incredibly humbled and more aware than ever of the vitality of community.
I was raised up by a community of people all around the globe, friends from all throughout my life who prayed for me and my family.
Yesterday, I sat in a room feeling like so much of my life hung in the balance. The fear balled up in me - then I could literally feel so many people praying for me, taking time from their lives to remember me. It was an experience I do not know I've ever had, and something I am eternally grateful for.
As I process through the after effects, I am certain that I'll have more to share - but for now, thank you !