Saturday, April 03, 2010
Spent a lovely evening at “Journey Imperfect Faith Community” on Wednesday...... as they hosted Peter Rollins and company for the...... “Insurrection Tour”.
The “Company” part ... Padraig O Tuama (poet/singer/songwriter) and Jonny McEwen (artist/DJ)-
Two truly brilliant artists!!!!
“Journey” was really a perfect place to pop open this bottle of “incendiary theology, haunting soundscapes and musical lament”. The welcome was grace filled... with couches, candles, coffee and noshes... making it feel more “living Room”. It felt like a soft landing for what could potentially be a pretty intense and controversial tour.
I’m not using “controversial” in the pejorative sense, in fact life would be pretty boring without it.
However, if the aim of the tour is to challenge thought process and “strip everything from us, incinerate everything we hold dear and inaugurate a new year zero”; that’s bound to ruffle more than a few feathers.
Thing is, least in my opinion, the nakedness of doubt isn’t a “new” concept at the bare bones of it. Sheer authentic introspection on why and what makes up our “belief systems” is essential to growing deeper. It does have a cost though, and that is the part of angst.
Pardon my self referential moment here, but i’ll try to explain a bit of my journey in relationship to why i find putting a flame to everything i hold holy and sacred..................“refreshing”......
I’ve always been somewhat, if not more than slightly recalcitrant on matters of church and faith, stemming back to my childhood. I was raised in a Irish/Italian Catholic home in a quite diverse working class neighborhood in the North East. My Father had a conversion encounter with Jesus and started going to the Baptist Church, just down the street from the Catholic Church we attended. It did not go over well with my mother and basically caused a religion war in my home.
I was always asking questions as a child and had a pretty amazing experience with Jesus at 6 years of age; so i was already getting into “trouble” in school for challenging (what i didn’t know at the time, was Catholic theology).
I started sneaking off on Sunday mornings, leaving out the back door of the Catholic church and going over to the Baptist church to hear what was so “awful” that caused my parents to be at such “odds”. I enjoyed the “teaching” aspect of how things were presented, though in retrospect, it was just as black and white in it’s presentation as the Catholic church. But what i didn’t understand was why it had to cause such a fire storm.... in my mind, and i was 12 at the time, i couldn’t understand the concept of “they vs us” - and perhaps in my childlike mind, THAT was a good thing.
So i was vocal in my thoughts and questions - which added even more to the family B.S.
Both streams of religion, believed in God and Jesus, so i didn’t see the problem. Thankfully, my grandmother, a small but quite feisty Irish woman... (she could cuss the wall paper off a wall and did it with such a brogue it almost sounded beautiful) came to my defense on matters, as she had seen and lived first hand in a religious war torn country. Long to short, that didn’t last as she died of cancer..... and at that point, i was officially “disowned” because i was not walking out my faith in a Catholic manner.
The rational behind that was even more confusing.... as i was adopted. According to my mother, she had taken a vow to bring me up Catholic, and my choosing to walk away from “THE FAITH”... was causing her to break her vow to God and therefore, she was now going to hell. Quite a head mash to say the least. (What kind of GOD was THAT???)
Suffice to say, that caused me, at a really young age, to ask some “more” of those hard question as to what i believe and why. You can’t make sense out of nonsense and it’s a futile endeavor to even try on some matters, though i did try... to reason, explain, and all that.....
It was heartless and cruel and the rejection and abandonment aspects of it were excruciating. It would be nice to have a happy ending on this, but that has not happened.
But it caused a stirring in my heart/mind/spirit to CONTEND... and to keep CONTENDING on matters.
It was a forced “deconstruction” on matters, yet that stripping caused a positional shift of my heart. If it was Baptist Vs Catholic, then both had to be wrong on matters and both had to be right on some. Nothing was black and white any longer (since your family was supposed to love you unconditionally and be there for you.... and THAT obviously didn’t happen..... what else or other structures of thought and belief was i co-dependantly clinging to.)
I do refer to those years as jesus and i being in “Therapy” and on some matters.... i guess i still am in “therapy” with God.
I wish that some of the more open dialogue, as with the Insurrection Tour, would have been around back then.... It was hard, lonely and i struggled with even my will to live in some of that.
I’ve lived my life..... at His feet or in His face. If there is a God (and i say that, tongue in cheek), then He’s not having issues with my doubt, and certainly not offended by heretics, just pharisees and hypocrites......... so i’m in good company. (yet if i’m honest, i’ve been all 3 at some point or another)
Perhaps it’s the brutal honesty that i appreciated on Wednesday night more so than anything else. Though it was in performance format; that level of artistry is a living representation of internal dialogue presented in the market place. It is the outer court of the Temple where things get fleshed out in the bartering for ideas and visions, but also an invitation to the inner court where it’s just you, God and the pain that opened the door.
Padraig’s songs and poetry brought my spirit to an aching. His transparency of love and lifestyle gently forced a re-evaluating of how many would perceive “Queer”. No matter what someones perceptions on that topic matter, his quiet and powerful reflections drips with the authenticity of being. His stories of the questions posed by the youth of his parish remind that perfect praise does come from the lips of babes, no matter how harsh the framing. In light of what i shared about my personal journey, it would have been such a healing salve to have had someone like Padraig to have shared my frustrations with the Catholic way of following Jesus.
Jonny’s presence is also quiet in regal form, his mixing the magic of musical and visual landscapes from a side position was Emmaus like in texture. In meeting and talking with him for a bit, this is one person you would want to have your back in the middle of the heat. Had to laugh on some of the technical issues that were going on, though they were annoying ... it was par for course and i loved his ability to just take it in stride and flowed through it!
Pete........ what can i say, but brilliant. When i talked to my friend Mark Berry (another amazing dude doing some off the charts kingdom antics) about going to the tour... Mark was pretty quick to say how much he really respected Pete and that i wouldn’t be disappointed. He was right. Actually, i never expected to be “disappointed” on any matter........ I’ve listened and read some of Pete’s stuff on line. The term “insurrection” gives rise to all sorts of potentials on matters, but i sooooooooo appreciated Pete’s lack of pretentiousness.
If you could gently and tactfully invite the concept to question everything you have believed and do it with a bit of cheeky humor you have accomplished quite a task. That’s not to say that the tone wasn’t strong in points; but gentle strength is a powerful force.
I guess what i’m wondering, is it seemed to bring you up to the brink of Easter Friday..... the point of Jesus dying on the Cross.... and that “Gap space”...... where the disciples were in angst.. ... and not yet gotten the “good news”.........
Then what do you do with the knowledge that “someone” trumped death, grave and hell........... cuz if we took it seriously........ tables and mindsets would be over turned...... and has our faith waxed so cold - that it really is more punching time clocks on Sunday mornings .....and trudging through the mundane of everyday life.
What would it look like ..... IF we actually Lived what we say, proclaim and aspire to believe .......... just asking the question here.......