Mood: Waking life
Drinking: Too lazy to get up and get one
I’m all propped up on pillows with my wicked little laptop whilst the LeeLoo sits here staring at me, all wrinkly and doe-eyed, hoping I’ve got a jar of peanut butter or some other tasty niblet stashed in the bedside table. Boy’s side is empty ‘cuz he’s somewhere in Colorado, heading this way by car with our fabulous friend MTB. After years of baldfaced begging and not-so-subtle hints on our part, MTB is taking the plunge and moving from Gnashville to San Francisco, and we are beside ourselves with excitement about the whole thing. So MTB and Boy, who are former roommates and lifetime friends, are doing the male bonding thing by driving through moutains & desert together for a coupla days.
Believe me, if we could relocate all our friends to our favorite city, we would.
Usually on Sunday mornings I wake up, check the clock and roll back over for my one-day-a-week of uninterrupted sleep-in time. But today, for the first time in a long time, I thought, “Hey, it’s Sunday. And somewhere out there, lotsa people are going to church.” And then I rolled back over.
I used to be one of those church girls. I grew up in it. My parents were sporadic church attenders, but since they wanted my sister and I to get a good education, they sent us to a parochial school. We got a good education and more than our fair share of irrational guilt. Chapel was mandatory. And they (not my parents, the school) guilted you into church attendance, too. Not just Sunday morning, but Sunday night and Wednesday night. “Every time the church doors are open,” was the saying.
The story of how I came to be the non-church-attending heathen I am today is a longwinded tale, and my fingers have just woken up and haven’t eaten yet, so they’re not even going to attempt the marathon typing session that would require. I’ll just say that all those preachers in all those ill-fitting JCPenney suits who pounded their Bibles at us in all those midweek chapel sessions, well, they were wrong.
They were wrong about a great many things. But in this case, they were wrong when they made fun of people who favored the solace of nature over church. I can’t even count the times I heard the example of the “backslidden Christian” who said, “I feel closer to God out in the woods/beach/desert/mountains than in a church, so that is where I do my worshipping.” And all those small-town preachers used to smirk and scoff and say “Can you believe that nonsense? THE CHURCH is where you worship. Among God’s people. Do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together! Mutter, mutter, mutter.”
Well, I have forsaken the assembling. I have forsaken it for the woods and the beach. I have forsaken it BECAUSE of “God’s people”. This is not to say that I think all of those who call themselves Christians are to be avoided. My parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, some of my good friends are all church-attending Christians, and I have nothing but respect for them and for the way they lead their lives. They are amazing, loving, kind and brilliant people.
But, truth be told, the majority of Christians I have encoutered in my history of church are to be avoided. And I have done that, rather successfully, for the past 5 or so years.
But there’s this thing that I did that still connects me to the church world, and today that’s what made me wake up and think of pews. Back in 1998, when I lived in Chicago, a friend of mine asked me for a favor. He was speaking at a Christian conference in this really huge (freakish, frightening) church, about Generation X. (Which was, at the time, all the rage.)
Being the GenX poster child that I was, at the time, and being a practiced performance poet (which I also was, at the time), my friend asked me to write a piece about what it meant to be a GenX’er and read it during his session at this conference. He told me that the audience was 99% Baby Boomers and that they had no understanding of my generation.
So I did. I wrote this piece, an essay-type-thing, titled “This is who I am.” And I read it for this audience of Boomers, a couple thousand of them. I read it with absolutely no comprehension of what a big deal it would become.
Seven years later, people still talk to me about that performance. See, it was videotaped. And the video has been copied and sold and sold and sold. It’s been shown in classrooms and churches and conferences. It’s been taken to Norway and Australia and Florida. And this week I received, through this web site, two separate emails from two people who just saw the video.
I would have been a lot more nervous at that performance had I known how long this thing would last. I definitely would have written it differently. Because us GenXers, we’re not the thing anymore. We’re all grown up and having babies and mortgages and making sure our cars have 4-doors. And yet this video, this little speech about a generation gap, it lives on and on and on.
And people somehow still find it relevant. And moving. And powerful, even. And most of these people are church people. They write and tell me they’re praying for God to “bless your ministry.” And although I appreciate the sentiment (I mean, it can’t hurt to have lots of strangers praying down blessings upon you, can it), it freaks me out a little. Especially since my “ministry” consists mainly of being a bitchy, moody, misanthropic poet.
If they come to this website and find this journal with its prolific use of the word “fuck”, I’m sure they quickly figure out that they may not be dealing with a holy roller. (But then, my little GenX piece, while profanity-free, was definitely not a rah-rah sunday school speech.)
It’s just ironic to me that of all the things I have written, the one that has gotten the most attention thus far is an essay written on assignment for the “people of God”.
I have removed myself so far from the land of Christianese that it is always surprising to receive these emails. They don’t come all the time, so usually I have forgotten about the video altogether and then someone will write and say things like, “What a tremendous impact God has been able to accomplish through your efforts. Thanks for being a blessing for the Lord.” And I’ll be all, “Huh?”
I shouldn’t complain. And I’m not, really. I’m just mystified, I guess. And so I sit here in bed on a Sunday morning, all snuggled with the LeeLoo, and to be perfectly honest, just sitting here all contemplative with my computer is better than any church experience I’ve ever had.
So all you folks who stumble across this site having seen that video somewhere, consider yourselves warned. I’m just trying to be up front here: I am not the church girl you might have been expecting. I am happily backslidden. I swear a lot. I worship God in the woods and on the beach. I spend my Sunday mornings communing with my pillow. And I like it this way. I think my faith in God works better this way. Just want to make sure we all understand each other. So I welcome your prayers and your blessings. But not your sermons.
And I am mystified and humbled that a little 7-minute, 7-year-old performance is still making the rounds and moving people enough that they will track me down. But if I were to be completely honest, I would trade all that in-church publicity for a little more name recognition out-of-church.
Because it’s just better out here.
-Lo, who was once asked by a chrome-domed preacher if she was a witch. You know, because “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft” and all.