A Perspective From the Trees 



Some people enjoying looking at the wood while avoiding the forest.  I suppose it’s the same kind of characters who still find the old adage, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” both humorous and wise. How the vision of a soapy baby sliding over a window ledge followed by bath water, ever got absorbed into our wise English sayings, is beyond me.

It’s funny because who would be so idiotic to forget to take a baby out of the bath before chucking the water? But wise because you know some poor, overly stressed soul, must have once done it for the saying to have been born.  I suppose it’s just a clever and slightly kinder way to say, “Don’t be stupid, stupid.”

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water” someone snarked at me today.  Really? I wanted to snark back. Can’t you find some twenty-first century wisdom for me to hang onto lady?  If I got rid of my baby with the bathwater this evening, that’d mean she’d have to swirl round and round the base of the tub, like a cartoon character, until she was swallowed down the drain along with the last bit of bath water…so no. No I won’t. It’s physically impossible. Thanks for the advice though.

…And so we persist to cary on with old traditions, even when they no longer translate. Why?  Cause we like the heart of the message.  Sometimes in life it is nice to see things for what they no longer are, but what we have traditionally explained them to be.  Just as it’s sometimes nice to look at the branches of the tree from the tree. Resting in it, on it, among it.

Life is about perspective. I’ve been told I’m a wood-looker.  An old saying sayer. I like to crawl right up close to things, especially religious things or political things and try to find a new perspective I’ve somehow missed. Maybe I’ve missed it because I love my traditions. Maybe I’ve missed it because of my own sociological or emotional blind spots. Logically I know we all have these. So I look. I climb right on up into the tree of thought and shave off a small piece of bark and prob.

Right now I’m doing this to the Christian church in America. Really this means I’m examining me and my place in it. Because I am part of it. But I feel as small as Zacchaeus, and as desperate to see Jesus.  How is it that we can be surrounded by Christ followers, yet still not see Him?

I was out of the Christian church seen in America for about twelve years and now I’m back. Maybe it’s still culture shock, but I feel very lost as a believer in America.  I don’t get it.  I am part of it. But I don’t understand what we think we are or what our mission is. Or what our message is. I’ve been a part of the American Christian movement now for five years. It seems we are really, really, good at trading Christians from our churches. And really, really, good at making fun of ourselves for our perceived weaknesses.  But I’m not sure if we know who we are anymore. In the words of the Spice Girls, “What do we want? Really really want?”

So I did what I do and I went hunting for perspective. I pretended for a week I was no longer a Christian. I lost my faith. I knew very little of Jesus and even less about the Bible. And I tried to start over from scratch.

I decided to:

  1. Listen to our talk radio, music, and adds
  2. Look at our social media
  3. Observe what Christians talked about the most. Learn their favorite movies and topics.

What did I find?

1. Talk radio, music, and adds                                                                                                                               I was told how to get out of debt by the Christian radio, and also how I could boost my evangelical witness by injecting botox into my frown lines and how to transfer my IRA into and IRA equivalent.

I was informed how to think about Zionists, vote Republican, which people groups to stand against and who to be afraid of and how America was pretty much going to hell in a hand bag cause it was no longer run by Evangelical Republicans…like it use to be…

2. In Social Media

There was self help, religious group promotion, promotion of sales items, books, magazines, personalities, not as many Charities as I had thought I’d see. A lot of church groups, but virtually no free Christian material being promoted.

3. Christians top topics 

The irritating qualities of those close to them, food intolerances, money, politics, weight loss, weight gain, health issues, debt, the end of the world.

Media favorites :  Apocalypse, reality shows, talent shows, food shows.

Then I listened to the non religious.

  1. The non-Christian talk radio, music, adds
  2. Looked at social media
  3. Observed what they talked about most.

It wasn’t too different. Less Republicanism and Zionists, but the same passion for politics, food, diets, debt, and “reality” shows. Same promotion of books and selling of material on social media. A few more good works groups promoting green living and charities.

What do we want? Do we really really want as a Church in America?

It seems we want to be thin, free from interpersonal responsibilities and conflicts, financial security, and more “me time”.

So what did I do with my Christianity after this week of research?

Well I definitely didn’t Throw the baby out with the bath water,  but I did try to make a conscious effort to not be sucked into the American Christian culture vortex. I chose not to be political on Facebook, but to be more intentional in the spiritual encouragement I was offering, AND feeding myself with. I opted for less “reality” tv and more reality….and I thought.  I’m still thinking.

What do I want? What do I really really want?

To understand Christ’s heart for this world more. That’s it.  He Loved it so much that He gave up EVERYTHING for it.  And I’m suppose to be following His lead.

Anything that does not lead me in that direction is a waste of my “me time”.

More Questions to think on:

Has the church as a whole in America become the Temple?

Are we one big money table that needs to be turned over?

Are we just trying to find new and better ways to make money in Jesus’ name? What does us knowing Jesus mean to the life of those nearest to us?