Like a statistically significant percentage of the United States population, I spent part of the holiday season in prison.
Some readers will eye that statement with a snort of amusement while others will goggle.
Thursday evening I visited the state prison in my community as is my wont. This time was different. I packed in a movie - Cotton Patch Gospel - and 80 bags of popped microwave popcorn. Yes, a sizeable percentage of my Thursday was spent irradiating a species of grain with high intensity radio waves in an effort to cause the water locked in the kernels to superheat, thereby making the starched interior of the grain seed explode.
Last year I did the same thing - excepting I told the inmates for several weeks running that we'd be watching a movie and having popcorn for Christmas. This year I merely said we'd have a special service.
24 guys turned out. Two left before the opening ceremonies were complete.
The remainder enjoyed a movie, multiple bags of popcorn and reported it was a grand evening.
I've opined on the subject of my visits to prison before so I won't do so again. Eventually, maybe, L and I will get around to reposting all my old blogs here so you can read about prison.
I only ask - what is the real difference between you and those men? You are perfect, never broken the law or committed any kind of infraction which could result in your being put into the Iron Bar Hotel?
Anyway we were leaving, me to home and the men to the dorms, one asked me where my church is.
I told him "Right here."
He asked again. "Right here," I replied. "This is my church."
Indeed it is. The men there call me Pastor. To them I am a pastor. I do not like being called a pastor, but I accept it because it is the truth. The idea make me nervous, anxious and makes me want to run away and hide. I do not want to be a pastor, but in the words of my late Dad, "Sometimes you have to say, I don't want to do this, but I'm going to do it anyway."
I tell you know with the exception of watching my kids perform in the Christmas production, I have not been inside a "church" in months. I opined on church a while back and don't intend to revisit all that here. I do not know if I will ever set foot inside a formal "church" ever again, except to see my kids perform, a wedding or a funeral.
Why? Because I am not welcome there, a subject which I have already written on and so won't bore you with it again.
Yassee in a thread in another forum, the thread author attacked me (typical response from intellectual dullards with an exaggerated sense of cerebral achievement) and suggested I am the problem instead of the things I pointed out as possible problems.
Indeed. I am the problem. There are certain items I will not compromise on. I will not give in, back down or apologize for. I also admit to massive ignorance, which is a major crime worthy of the death penality to the mediocrity mentalists.
Yes, in the spirit of the season, Yes Virginia, I am the problem.
I won't morph into the role others want for me. I will not bow gracefully to dictates I see as inane. Many call me Rebel without a cause because of this. I have a cause and if you know it, please join me. If not, I shall not explain it to you. Knowledge must come it its due time.
You may accept me as I am or reject me as I am. You may expect me to live to your standards for me. I probably won't, but don't let that stop you from having your Great Expectations.
I have my own hypocrisies and even my own standards for excellent. I even have standards by which I judge others, including you.
You may call me a hypocrite (which I admit to being) but I ask you, by which standards do you judge me and judge others? Whether or not you announce the verdict is irrelevant. Do you measure up to the standards which you hold others accountable to?
I have been called hard and untrustworthy. I accept those adjectives. Don't trust me. Do not look for surcease from me because there is not rest to be found here. Because you see, yes, I am the problem.
No one is ever satisfied when they look in a mirror.
My church is not confined to a man-made structure with organized rules of who may do what, how often and more attention given to how much is collected in tithes on a given day. My church is wherever my foot is. My church is wherever my hand reaches out in help, happiness, anger and malice.
My church is me, a flawed temple trying to remodel and repair while storms assail it inside and out.