Fragments From My Basket

Do you ever wish you were perfect? I often do. Not feel-good perfect, but in the sense of doing things right. I wish I was perfect, but I am quite obviously not -painfully obvious. It doesn’t do any good to excuse moral failures, it doesn’t do any good to rate them on scales of minor to major. The best one can do is humble oneself and start over.

A dreadfully painful process.

I wish we all listened better and tried harder. I wish I did, but I have no solution for the fact that this is not dependably the case. What I have done, usually, is speak for what is right on its own merit, not on my own. I desire my own merit for reasons of self worth, and maintaining support for the veracity of what I give creedance to, including those things pertinent to God, but I cannot depend upon it.

I wish I did this better …. I wish others in my position did it better. We fail all too often. Miserably often.

This is a preamble of sorts… a preface to addressing mistaken notions of Christians. It will be done more humbly than I would like. Although I am sure both God and my adversaries are the happier for that.

Who of us would not like to be so righteous as to smite the evildoer? Admit it, we all want to smite others down to the ground at some point. I’ll tell you the truth: I find this so universal that if you deny that you struggle with it I would not have much respect for your ability to be honest with yourself.

Yeah, that cynical. Anyway, I am going to address the Scheissmistress and Miss Mousie. On Christianity and Christians.

I’ll take the Scheiss post on Mary Poppins, first, because I think she ought to know better.
Synopsis: first, Mamacita has a little fun with Crisco…took me a bit to figure that one out, but mainly she is down on the bad self of Chuckie-style old Pentecostal ladies with umbrellas and how terrible they are to little children with their moans and groans and insensitive worship behavior. You know, those “Holy Roller” people who are so scary.

I was brought up with a prejudice against Holy Rollers and -let’s see…my mom called them…Hillbillies. Hillbillies was a bad word in my house. Uneducated. The unpardonable sin. So I know how easy it is to target these people…until I woke up as one, myself. Not a hillbilly…. that would be excusable in some eyes, but a Holy Roller, a Pentecostal, one of those Charismatics…. the fanatical enigmas who cause so much of societies ills, ….but do they? really.

You can tell this post irritated me. Not just because someone says all these ill-informed things, but because it plays into the building momentum of real prejudice and discrimination that is fueling the dangerous polarities in our culture.

Why pick on Mamacita? A few things. One is that this is a middle aged woman, who appears to describe events from maybe her twenties or so. It was a real enough experience, no doubt, but ensuing years ought to put perspective on such things. This account was not written with perspective of understanding, no effort is made to put people into context. Maybe Mamacita doesn’t have that context. OK. Then she has no business writing inflammatory matter that makes her readers exclaim with horrified glee that these crazy people slathering Crisco are terrorizing small children.

Here is my perspective. They were probably old-time Pentecostal people. They have dress codes. So what? So do old time Catholics and modern Muslims, and Hindus . And corporate offices. So what.

People, and children especially ( that immaturity is what makes them children) , are often scared by what they don’t understand. Particularly if it is loud and seems outlandish. I am sure a Pentecostal service in full swing seemed that way- I reacted to it as an adult, some of it I still react to. It’s strange, not bad, evil or dangerous, but sure not what you ordinarily encounter. That is true of many religious things in many religions. Big people know this. Usually.

The Crisco thing took some thinking. Mamacita didn’t say, but I doubt if it was hydrogenated fat. It was probably oil, but it makes no real difference. There are matters which involve “anointing with oil” – some highly ritualized in mainstream Christian and Judaic faith, but pouring some oil or applying it to foreheads is not out of the ordinary.

For informational purposes the title ‘Christ’, or ‘Messiah’ means anointed. It was anointing with oil, and so the whole name of Christian has reference to this Crisco weirdness.

Truth is stranger than fiction they say.

So Schiessmeister didn’t mind that chips fall where they may, and this how they fall, but when you pepper words and phrases like “stalked pompously”, “making freaky noises”,”outside in a group of cigar-smoking men (can you spell HYPOCRITE?) ” you are setting up a view and attitudes. Deliberately. With no concession to actual perspectives.

If you are termed an ‘Educator” you are doing it with intent and knowledge of your effect.

Who said cigar smoking is sin? There is debate on that, like on dress codes and lots of things. But you know, that doesn’t flame things properly. Nope, you’ve got to roast these sorts of people to give them their just desserts. You’ve got to burn them at the stake. ‘Cause they are terrorizing little girls. And they made you mad.

“I am a Christian, but I am not a bloody lunatic. And adults who look and dress like Mary Poppins should not terrorize a little girl by screaming in her face and hitting her with an umbrella and attacking her with Crisco.”

Are you a Christian, now? And this is why there is so much bitter invective and inflammatory phrasing? Hmmm, very interesting, that.

I’m not going remark on a personality, that is not the purpose here. My purpose is to say that this post while entertaining the basest part of some, did great disservice to all Christians. It villified a sector, and whether I consider those to be off-base or not is not the point, it villified people from a nontextural view which is then projected upon those who do not do those things, but have the historical experience of Pentecost and tongues and don’t have the appearance that you think Christian worship practice should have.

But besides that, villification is wrong. Just plain wrong. I don’t believe those old ladies deserved that. You were in their church service. The ensuing years you’ve had ought to have put some education and perspective on the events that scared you at the time. They weren’t trying to harm you or any little girls. I’m sure you are aware of that…but your readers, now, are not.

There are women getting stoned, murdered, raped, all iin the name of religious strife … there are are lots of evils to address and the type of fanaticism that engenders that. That is not what this post described. It described worship practices that don’t suit your taste. That’s all.

You wanted the scheiss to hit the fan? ….. well, it did.

Can we clean up the mess now?

Poor Miss Mousie must wait for another day….

7 thoughts on “Fragments From My Basket”

  1. You are, of course, as entitled to your opinion as I am to mine.

    I wrote about what I saw, that night, in that place. I do not expect anyone to believe that this experience was in any way typical of intelligent Christians, for it was not.

    It was, however, an accurate account of that one night’s experience, in that one church, with that particular group of people.

    And if it’s white, greasy, and resides in a can labeled “Crisco,” then I believe it was, indeed, Crisco.

    You are quite correct when you say that my post described worship practices that did not suit my taste. Quite right indeed.

    These people terrified a little girl. That was my point.

    I can not sanction anything or anyone that would do that, whether it was intentional or whether it was simply a result of a common practice in this particular congregation.

    I’m sorry you perceived disrespect for all churches and Christianity in general, in my post about this memory. That was not the intention at all.

    One night. One particular church. One group of people. That was it.

    And they WERE dancing on the piano. I saw it.

    Why didn’t you just comment on my blog, or email me, if you found such offense with my post? I had to find this tirade, with my name on it, via Technorati. I would never use YOUR name in an inflammatory manner, behind your back.

  2. “Villification is wrong” – then turning around and villifying. Hillarious.

    It’s the kind of “do as I say, not as I do” strategy you wingnuts are so eager to employ. Self-parody must be in your genes.

    Sad thing is, you’re too stupid to recognize the inconsistency of it.

    Not exactly a glowing recommendation for Pentacostalists.

  3. First, I didn’t deny that the account was as you saw it, that wasn’t the issue.
    You say:”in any way typical of intelligent Christians, for it was not” but I say: it can be typical of intelligent Christians. It is old-time Pentecostalism, and today’s worship can be as strange to you as that. My point is that it is just strange to you- that it is in no way sinister.

    I took issue also with the deliberate condemnation of Pentecostals.

    Trackbacks and public blogs, plus the fact that I did leave comment on your blog with my url attached means nothing was done “behind your back” . Some people are more offended with said tirade left in their comments. You take your chances.
    “These people terrified a little girl. That was my point. ” No. These people worshiped in a way that the little girl did not understand and she reacted. Naturally. They did not deliberately set out to abuse and terrify any little girl. There is a difference which you refuse to see.
    The Crisco thing is a red herring. It was simply obtuse- and took awhile to figure out, but the whole point of “anointing” seems to be missed, still, by you. It is Christian practice- just done in different manners.

  4. Well, Nino, I may be stupid. I may just be another really stupid Pentecostal- experienced sort of hypocritical self-parodist. That may all be possible.

    But I believe there is a difference between villification and exposure. I believe exposure of a problem is necessary, I believe that propagandistic villifying is dangerous and wrong.

    There are ways to point out -using ones experience- how others may be spared alarm or how things appear to others and explain why one has a problem with that- without using the inflammatory accusations.

    You can even make fun of people without turning them into villians. But the fact is that post used words like “terrify” and “attack ” with the sort of self-righteous tone that polarizes people- which can be seen in the comments that followed. I blogged about it.

  5. LOL! Excuse me- I overlooked the dancing on the piano thing! I am really smiling now-just cause I believe you- I can imagine some of them dancing on a piano.

    People are funny, aren’t they? Weird and funny. but people can very, very horrible and dangerous, too. In the perspective of people and the things they do- I just find dancing on pianos-or swinging from light fixtures ( something I always heard, but never saw) as just kind of funny.

    They do roll, however, and twirl around in a dancing motions. I’ve seen that.

    But seriously, when you bring disrespect for one part of the family -it reflects on all the group. The Pentecostals might seem the eccentric part of the family, but they are Christians… and some of the strange things they do are found in the Bible.

  6. OK, I see now.
    The thing is, you can’t feel embarrassed for other people. If they aren’t embarrassed for themselves, then there is no problem. I laughed at the crisco thing, but also I got it. In the Holy Roman Catholic church, on special occasions, like baptisms, the faithful are “anointed” with Chrism, which is some kind of oil mixed with frankincense, and ashes from the leftover palms from Palm Sunday (once they are blessed, we rather recycle than discard). A little is rubbed on the forhead as a symbolic gesture, and reminiscent of some scripture, I’m sure. It is all done in a very ceremonial and civilized way. No one is hurt, if anything it is pleasant, and you smell like Opium perfume the rest of the day.
    It’s not as funny as being randomly slathered with a brand-name rendered animal fat, right off the supermarket shelf, but as a religious ritual, it certainly isn’t any more ridiculous or worshipful.
    When getting in touch with our spiritual nature, the devil is in the details.

  7. atmikha, I found your comment very interesting on a couple points, if you don’t mind I’d like to address them. You say”very ceremonial and civilized way”, but where is it written that things must be “ceremonial and civilized ” as in your subjective opinion? this is the whole point of accepting others religious views, you let them express it as they have conscience before God- not before you, or any other man.

    What makes us think that the Christian religion is considered civilized? Civilized in what sense? Just what we are used to? How reasonable is that, based upon an honest view into the Bible.

    I fully know what Catholicism involves- I studied it in view of converting to it at one time. I have attended many a high mass in the context of worship, funeral and wedding rites. You went away with your good feelings- and some go away with as good feeling from some wild and wooly Pentecostal services. Is yours better because you prefer it? Is it more acceptable to God?

    “the devil is in the details.” This is where we differ. If he is, I intend to rout him- and I really do not care the consequence. I think it is wrong to vilify people and accuse them of deliberately attacking and frightening a little girl. I just plain doubt that, from the story given. And I want more assurance, as a reader, from the writer that either there are facts that this was indeed done deliberately or some modifying of the tone.

    I’ve heard plenty of humor at the expense of religious groups and most of it is OK by me, but nothing that paints them as dangerous to society. You have to have facts for that. Or I will write what I write.

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