Thursday, December 13, 2012

An Insider's Review of Fundamorphosis

I think it's pretty clear that when it comes to being a pastor and a pastor's wife, Robb and I are not what most people are used to. We cuss. (Mostly to make one another laugh). We drink. We watch the same movies and tv you do (maybe not if you watch Honey Boo Boo, but I'll try not to judge you...much). I don't play the piano for church (anymore) or teach Sunday School.  We have been known to refer to a worship service as "kickass." We don't post verses as facebook statuses and we don't worry at all about "what the gays are doing to America."  I can only guess that people from our past lives assume that we have gone liberal. Maybe they think we are rebelling. Or that we have gotten lazy in our faith. That we are not as committed to following Jesus as we were 16 years ago when we started at our first church. 

I can tell you this: We love Jesus deeply. We read the Bible and pray with our kids every morning. Our lives our centered around serving people through our church, Vintage Fellowship. We have given up every kind of security and wrestled with God for this faith. We are on a journey with him that has taken us in a direction we would never have guessed, and in my case, I'm pretty sure I initially wouldn't have wanted to go. The story of this course-change is Fundamorphosis.

Curiously, the words and chapters of Fundamorphosis would have been totally different if I had written it, even though I was part of most everything that happens in it. I would have told different stories that changed my heart and mind. But the change still took place. And that is what we are learning about how people are left after reading the book....that there is something common about the change. That they find themselves in the stories. That they are finding words to express what is happening inside of them.  That's why Brian McClaren said it "could be the start of a movement."  And another reviewer said that "the butterfly might be the new symbol of Christianity for a generation."   Uh. Hey, we're just regular people here. Seriously, a movement?

There have been times over the years when I have asked pretty relentless questions of Robb. 

"Seriously. Tell me the truth.  Did we just walk away from everything we know so we can wear jeans to church and have a band?" 
It's not about the external changes....those things that make people from our old lives uncomfortable. The reasons that they say they won't read the book. Those are just a by-product of what has changed in the way we understand God and the way we are in relationship with him.  For a long time, I thought we were a very small group of people who saw things this way.  I thought of our church as a little haven for a small niche of people who have been deeply wounded by their churches or who just need a big theological yard to play in. What I am starting to understand is that, like Robb writes, we are all theologians on some level. That we are all on a journey with God and that we all need the space to grow and change in that journey.  Unfortunately, many of the churches available to people don't allow for this journey. They don't allow for growth and change.  And they don't allow for questions....only answers. Fundamentalism has become a hindrance to people's journey...like trying to take a long, exhilarating walk on a circular driveway.

It goes without saying that if your faith in God has suffered in a fundamentalist church environment, you might want to read Fundamorphosis. It will likely encourage you that you are not alone. That your questions matter. That God is gentle with your doubts. That there are other ways of living a vibrant Christian life than the way your pastor has delivered it from a high and lofty pulpit above you. If Facebook Christianity leaves a bad taste in your mouth, if "God said it, I believe it, that settles it" leaves you feeling ashamed and deeply unsettled, if you are tired of feeling afraid of the future of America and marching as an embattled member of God's army, Fundamorphosis may be meaningful to you. I won't promise anything, but you might want to try it.

But I also want to suggest Fundamorphosis to those of you who watch Fox news every day, listen to Christian radio, attend a "Bible Believing church", and sincerely pray that the world become the same kind of Christian as you. You can't imagine how a real Christian could vote Democrat. Your conscience would never allow you to drink a beer at dinner or casually use an expletive. You fear for your children in such a dark and godless world.  You are vigilantly involved in your church and deeply immersed in the rhythms of your traditions. I want you to know that Robb is not trying to change your mind. Fundamorphosis is not an appeal to be just like us. It is a story, an explanation, of what it is like to be here.  What it is like to ask the questions and to live with the consequences of what you believe.  You may not agree, but maybe it will help you understand your child who is gay. Or your co-workers who just got another tatoo.  Or the people who are leaving your church and never coming back. Or the people who would never come there in the first place.   Robb and I have been there. We have a deep love and hope for you and your faith journey too.






6 comments:

jess said...

You are one of my favorite Christians on facebook and in life. :) If we lived in your town we would go to your church. :)

Vanessa said...

Jess, you are one the people that makes me certain of God and his love for me. I would settle for getting to meet you in person!

Journay through Life said...

Your words sound much like the Jesus Movement of the 60's. You should check the history out of Calvary Chapel's which spawned from the Jesus Movement.

Robin said...

Great blog Vanessa. I see Robb finally asked you "please." I want to add that I am neither a fundamentalist nor one of the unchurched. I come from outside the tradition.

It was so gratifying to see that people inside fundamentalism have the same questions I do. Their pat answers never rang true, and that really turned me (and lots of other people) off.

But Robb's book has really helped me to see that fundamentalism is a movement of love and true desire to do God's will.

At the same time, his willingness to admit he did not have all the answers, combined with his authentic and blatant love for Christ, has finally allowed me to sit more comfortably in my questions.

As Robb communicates so well in this book, questions are not blocks to faith. They are invitations in.

Vanessa, I guess you know you're next. You said your story would be different but similar. How intriguing...

natalie said...

oh, lady. tears here :) thankful for you & robb. your relationship together & your leadership at church has forever changed my life. love you both! p.s. luke is hogging the book... i can't wait to read it!

Holly said...

Good point about reading the book to help people understand their loved ones better. Brian Mc. helped me understand the direction Derek was headed years ago and I am so very grateful.