It’s About Time!

I’m having a hard time sleeping right now, and I have to get up in three hours.  Hopefully, blogging will be the lullaby that lulls me to sleep!

I was thinking of something after I read Rachel Held Evans’ post, On Resenting Anne Jackson.  I clicked on Rachel’s link to Anne Jackson’s blog (www.flowerdust.net), and I saw the provocative title to Anne Jackson’s book, which is published by Zondervan:  Mad Church Disease – Overcoming the Burnout Epidemic.  An advertisement for the book asked, “Is the church interfering with your spiritual journey?”  And you can read a free chapter on forgiveness, which may relate to forgiving the church.

It seems as if books are coming out that speak to my problems with church.  I’m not so narcissistic as to suggest that they’re catering to me specifically, but there have been many times when I’ve wondered if anyone cared about the sorts of problems that I have with church, or if others had them too.  Now, there are such titles as Introverts in the Church: Finding Our Place in an Extroverted Culture, by Adam McHugh.  I read some of the Amazon reviews for that book (see here), and people complained that their fellow Christians deemed them less godly because they were introverted rather than extroverted.  Since many in the evangelical sub-culture equate extroversion with love, it’s no surprise that introverts feel on the margins.  It’s about time that people are pointing that out!

I used to google “Introverts in the Church” repeatedly, only to get no results.  I thought somebody should write that book!  I’d have done it myself, but my book would mostly be a rant or a plea for attention, not a constructive suggestion on how to deal with the issue.  Now, 2009 has just passed, and a book with that title has finally been published!

But here’s my problem: am I still interested?  Back when I was looking for a way to make evangelicalism work for me, I was definitely interested in an evangelical book that would address my alienation from church, while including the testimonies of evangelicals with similar issues.  Now, my agenda is a little different.  I’m bitter against evangelicalism for a variety of reasons, and I’ve found things that satisfy me more: Latin mass and Alcoholics Anonymous.  I feel like Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi, when Luke asked him to become good: “It is too late for me, my son.”  It’s possible for a person to be on a path for so many years, and to get to the point where he’s hardened on that path.

I’d like to get to the point where I’m a little more open-minded.  I should read those books!  I should read Rachel’s book when it comes out.  There are plenty of people who want to live in faith, without totally embracing the narrow-mindedness of conservative Christianity.  And they can offer more to the dialogue than rants, for they propose constructive ways to look at the situation.  Maybe I’d agree with them.  Maybe I’d disagree at times.  But I hope I’m not totally hardened against hearing what they have to say.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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4 Responses to It’s About Time!

  1. Thanks so much for the shout-out, man! This is such a great post, because I have a feeling you are not alone. I think there are a lot of folks who got frustrated with the conservative evangelical culture, looked to other denominations/groups for new ways of expressing faith, got involved in those other denominations/groups – only to look back and see the evangelical community addressing with new clarity the very issues that made us leave!

    Sometimes I don’t know whether to be frustrated or delighted!

    Oddly enough, one of the things I love about evangelicalism is its capacity to evolve quickly. Thanks to folks like Scot McKnight, Anne Jackson, Adam McHugh, and Richard Stearns, I’m feeling a lot more optimistic about its future these days.

    We came very close to joining either an Anglican community or a Methodist community before getting sucked back into the evangelical world by a progressive church plant in our hometown.

    Seems I just can’t escape!

    And yes, you should totally read my book. Of course. 🙂

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  2. James Pate says:

    I’m looking forward to it! In the meantime, I’ll be reading your blog archives. I’ll probably write a post soon on masculinity in the church, in reference to your post on that, and others people have written.

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  3. anne jackson says:

    if you downloaded the free chapter, i hope you enjoyed it. we just started attending an anglican church. it’s been refreshing. this journey is just that…a journey. thanks for linking & sharing.

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  4. jamesbradfordpate says:

    Hi Anne! I just read it. I get hurt if I’m not accepted by someone, which is for various human reasons. What I don’t understand is why a person would be so evil, so as to lead you on, then undermine you at your job. But I guess that happens a lot in this world. And, I agree, it’s even more baffling and hurtful when it occurs in the church.

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