Truth and consequences

So there we are, sitting in church. No seriously. We belong to a church. Me. And Jim. We go to church. No really. This is new for me, newer for Jim, and unfortunately and much to my own surprise, he is far more open to it than I am.

So there we are, sitting in church, and much as I did back in my grade school days at St. James, I found myself sitting in church and being as judgy as possible. If you could peek inside my mind, my thought process was something like this:

Why is that woman wearing that SHIRT? Lady, that haircut is doing you no favors. Maybe next time they could get less tone deaf people in the choir. That kid needs to be smacked… oh man, his Dad shouldn’t hit him so hard in church! Man, I want a taco. You don’t have to be rich, to be my girl, you don’t have to be coooool, to rule my world….

Yeah, that weekly time of reflection… I generally use it to daydream and give random strangers the stink eye. Godly? Not so much, I guess. But I do tend to pay attention from time to time. My loss of ability to pay attention usually happens when the choir is on the fifth verse of a song that was too long at verse number two — and you just KNOW they’re going to hit the chorus again, twice. For some reason, I revert to the attention span of a first grader when this happens.

But yesterday, we got to the second reading, and it came from James. It compared the tongue to the rudder of a ship, that a ship needs huge sails and strong winds to move, but the tiny little rudder is what actually guides it. Much the same way as you have this body and this life… but how you speak determines where you go. “From the same mouth come blessing and cursing,” the passage read.

Naturally, I found the reading very political. It immediately made me think of Mr. Joe Wilson and his shout-out at the President the other day.

“YOU LIE!”

It made me think of the moral superiority that people in this country believe they have versus the rest of the world. It made me think of Keith Olbermann referring to Mr. Wilson as “stupid,” and of Glen Beck referring to the President as a “racist.” It made me think of a little girl committing suicide because a grown woman, disguising herself as a teen boy, was cruel to her on Facebook. It made me think of the kid we harassed mercilessly at St. James. It made me think of Rush Limbaugh’s nastiness toward the President, and Al Franken’s nastiness at Rush Limbaugh.

Naturally, there are some people who rip apart others, and I think, “right on.” And at other times, I think, “well, how dare them!” But while I found myself agreeing with the passage, that it “ought not be so” that we curse some and bless others with the same tongue, I also thought, it’s impossible NOT to. It’s impossible not to curse those who hurt you, and praise those who help you. It’s impossible at least for me.

I considered that maybe I was taking the passage too seriously, too literally. That it wasn’t about forcing us to NOT speak badly, to NOT be judgy, but instead, to think about it before we speak, because our words have consequences. Like, say, if you utter out nastiness at the President before thinking about it, suddenly your opponent has an additional $1 million in his campaign fund. Or when you call the President a racist, your advertisers don’t like you so much.

But then again, when you spout hate against the President every day, sometimes you are rewarded with a huge audience and an eight-figure checking account. And when you write books calling someone a “big fat idiot” in the title, you are sometimes rewarded with a seat in the United States Senate.

So what gives? This is the kind of thing I struggle with as we return to church these days, is understanding the lessons brought forward. I hate to be so cynical, but sometimes I think, get real already. It’s naive to think we can all just be nice to each other. It’s just not going to happen.

But I’ll continue to sit in church on Sunday. Not because I am looking for absolution. But hopefully, I’ll start taking the lessons to heart, and hear them as a way to live rather than as a political commentary. I’ll try to listen to the whole thing, rather than get lost in Prince songs and dreams of Taco Bell swirling around my head. I’ll try to ignore the fashion choices of the woman sitting in front of me.

I guess we’ll just see where this goes.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Truth and consequences

  1. Kayla

    yup. I do the same thing..

  2. Mom

    Try to listen with your heart. I know that I was not a good example of a Church goer but I know that I learned to listen with my heart. It works for me. Love Mom

  3. Mandy

    I catch myself people watching sometimes too.

    But sometimes I enjoy the simple messages. It makes me think I need to simplify my life a little.

  4. Nancy

    Seriously??? You found that political? ‘Cause I didn’t get past “tounge” thinking about politics. I’m not trying to be glib or sound like a 14 year old boy – but that whole passage just did not scream politics to me.

    • Marney

      Are you saying the tongue part made you giggle? Because that too for me… it was when I went back and reread it, plus listening to the sermon, that made me put it in a political sense.

      Dude, I see politics EVERYWHERE. It’s on my damn milk carton.

      • Marney

        Also — with the tone of poiltics these days, and the incessant name calling and talking heads on both sides doing nothing but oozing nastiness toward eachother… you don’t see any politics in a reading about how you should be careful what you say?

  5. Brother Tom

    Maybe Serena Williams and Kenye West should have gone to church with you.

    Sometimes it is the simplest messages that are the hardest to understand.

  6. Carolyn

    Hi Marney! I’ve been reading your blogs all night. This one hit my heart. I probably sat next to you as a kid at some time or another in St. James and was probably thinking the exact same things as you. Oddly, somehow, it seems a lot of us picked up some really good foundations, even though our minds wondered. So glad to hear that you’re going to church. Our family started going to a Christian church a couple years ago, it just worked out better for us, guess we needed something a little simpler. All of a sudden I didn’t notice people around me and I finally, finally, found an interest in what was being said. Now, I’m a bit addicted to the good word. Your mom is right, listen with your heart. Church has a funny way of hitting on issues that we personally need to hear, when we need to hear them. Our pastor once commented that when we hear a message, it’s not a good idea to nudge the person next to you who you want to ensure is listening, rather, just open your mind to ponder on the lessons and follow with an obedient heart. It has taken me years to finally be content. Hopefully if our generation takes time to educate our kids on the bible, and we raise them to live by it’s teachings, we might see the world clean up quite a bit.

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