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  • Writer's picture Brian E Pearson

Owning my Own Stupid

Updated: Feb 18, 2020

When I write a piece like last week's blog (February 10th), I suffer the self-recrimination of the intemperate personality. Genuine reflection took me there--why do biblical literalists seem to leave reason behind when it comes to their faith?--but hyperbole took me over the top, calling them "stupid for Jesus." So here's an admission of my own stupidity.

My faith journey has been costly, as all life journeys are, almost by definition. In Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Quest," an amalgam of similar myths that show up across all cultures, the hero leaves the tribe to suffer a dangerous journey on the tribe's behalf. The journey is chosen by or, more often, forced upon our hero, who will return with a boon, a gift, for the community. But the hero will have suffered en route, sometimes mortally. Think of Frodo in Lord of the Rings. He suffers trauma and injury on his quest to defeat the evil lord Sauron. But when Frodo returns triumphant, he no longer belongs. He has seen too much, and suffered too much, to settle into the old routines with his friends back in the Shire.

My own quest--for an honest faith that arises from my doubts as well as from my assurances--has cost me friendships, undermined a marriage, and given me sleepless nights. The boon I brought for my tribe was a ministry grounded in the real world rather than lost in speculations about the next. It was soulful and deeply respectful of human experience. But it alienated me from other Christians whose faith was a matter of certainty rather than doubt. It cost me a place at the table in the councils of my church, and when I left, no one beyond my congregation said goodbye.

My stupidity is in thinking it could have been any other way. My journey has been just that, my own, not that of others. But it has made me resentful of those who seem to have returned the ticket for their own hero's quest, preferring the comfort of conformity and the easy rewards that come their way as a result of doing, and believing, what they're told. So last week I struck out at them, calling them names, like a child in a schoolyard.

The truth is, I am deeply grateful for my faith journey. If it has separated me from my tribe, from the church, who has rejected my gift, I am no less grateful. I feel privileged that my journey has brought me this far, and excited about whatever's coming next. So really, I don't need to bash those whose journeys are different from mine. We all suffer our own forms of stupid.

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 Brian E Pearson
Brian E Pearson
Feb 17, 2020

It's hard, isn't it, to find ourselves outside the church, looking in. I don't feel I've been listened to either. But I'm not sure the church can listen to voices of dissent at all these days. It is shrinking, and it knows it, and it's circling the wagons to protect itself. I'm starting to think it may be more important to start asking what could replace the church rather than what could reform it. And THAT actually makes me hopeful. Thanks for your comments!


Feb 17, 2020

Thank you. I’ve shared your experience, but I don’t know what to do with the insights I’ve gained. The lingering enemy is cynical fatigue or tired cynicism; I don’t believe I’d be listened to. How do you convince an institution that, for most of its existence, has called all the shots that it must now adapt to reality as it is, and that the Gospel overrules tradition?

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