Monday, 4 May 2015

Excerpt from "I Was A Teenage Pharisee"

...but I grew up with people who unthinkingly turned poetry into law. Took what had been inspiring descriptions of perfect love like the love God has for us, like Jesus showed us when he lived on earth, and turned them into tools for judging others with. 
     Instead of feeling hope at the promise of what the fruit of the Spirit was going to cause, in you, you could despair over how far short you fell, from this ideal standard of rule-keeping.  
     The original message of "Christ died, and his spirit working in you will transform you into a more loving person, a beautiful person like himself" has been utterly subverted into "If you keep these rules, these rules will give you the outer appearance of a more righteous person."
    You want to see how to do that trick yourself? Watch this (picture this being read slowly by Morgan Freeman, while gentle music plays in the background):

love is patient and kind;
love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrongdoing,
but rejoices with the truth.
love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.

Poetry.  Beautiful.  God is love.  This is what love's like.  
     But, just by numbering those and making them into rules, you can badger your children with them, making them keenly feel how  very much they fall short, every single day of their lives, of perfectly manifesting the love of God by using their fleshly willpower to fail to keep these rules (picture this tacked up in a kid's bedroom. YOUR bedroom): 

The Fourteen Love Rules In God’s Precious Word
  1. You have to be patient. For example, with your sister. She's only little.
  2. You have to be kind. You are often unkind to your brother.
  3. You have to not envy. Not even David Jefferson. Or anyone who is showing off his family's wealth like that.
  4. You have to not boast. Not like David Jefferson always seems to be doing.  Pray that the Lord teach dear David some humility.
  5. You have to not be arrogant. Again, don't play with David Jefferson. "A little leaven..."
  6. You have to not be rude. Like you were to your mother last week when she commented on your attire.  She didn't mean anything by the words "homeless person."
  7. You have to not insist on your own way, like you always do. You have to do what *I* insist you do. And your mother.  And your teachers.
  8. You have to not be irritable or resentful. It really annoys me when you act like that. You've been very grouchy this week. Not enough sleep. I've had it with your grouchy nonsense.
  9. You have to not rejoice at wrongdoing. When John says bad things at school, you should pray for his soul, not laugh at him. And movies and TV shows and video games which involve guns and stealing are wrong, this verse tells us.
  10. You have to rejoice with the truth. You have a pretty sour face sometimes. Stop your pouting. It doesn't suit you.
  11. You have to bear all things. Even multiplication tables.
  12. You have to believe all things. Listen to Mr. Plank at Sunday School.
  13. You have to hope all things. I've heard some very negative talk from you lately. Negative talk is very unhelpful.
  14. You have to endure all things. Again, don't complain when I make you empty the trash or clean your room.
p.s. you suck at loving. Be loving like me. And your sister. Your sister is far more loving than you, in general

If you really wanted to feel crippling amounts of shame, all you had to do was take the above verse (the "poetry" version) and replace the word "love" with your own name and laugh ruefully at what a poor description of you it really was.
      Edith says:
I grew up with my Mom badgering "Be ye kindly affectioned one to another" any time my brothers and I fought. She thought that beating us on the head with that Scripture was enough and she didn't need to model kind affection for us to copy. She modelled the exact opposite.