Friday, April 15, 2005

Refuse to Participate

I'm wearing a Hawaiian shirt. Yes, I live in Michigan and, yes, it was 39 when I left home at 7:30 this morning. No, I didn't wear a jacket over my shirt -- which is a thing of beauty, by the way, replete with red and green flowers, the word 'Aloha' a dozen times or more, and something that looks like a passion fruit that has suffered grievous bodily harm in some unspeakable incident. Why would I wear such a shirt on such a day? Simple, my friends: while winter may not have relinquished its strangehold on Michigan, I refuse to participate in it any longer. You can find me in "Spring", thank you very much.

I will confess that this is nothing new. I have never in my life received a little happy hace drawing in the box beside the line "plays well with others." Irascible, ironic, laconic and said to be in need of a colonic, I have played on the outskirts of humanity, never once being tempted to leap into the conga line of normality. I choose not to participate.

I'm constantly being told that I have to watch this or that show on television, or that I have to hear this or that speaker. I remember the TV tease blurb that announced, "Tonight, Barbara Walters and Brad and Jennifer. This is the interview that you just can't miss!" I proved to them and to the interview that I, indeed, could miss that interview... and not miss it at all. (I hope that wasn't the cause of their breakup...)

At a lectureship a few years ago some men came up to me after my little speech. I knew they were preachers for they wore lots of polyester (I'm serious. You take preachers of a certain age and rub them against the carpet and stick them on a wall) and carried supersized Bibles. They told me that there had been problems with some churches in the area and wanted me to come into an adjacent little room and give them my take on things. I told them, "No, thanks." They then repeated their story and request as if I wasn't there two minutes ago. I waited for them to finish, smiled politely, and said, "No, thanks." They asked me why not and I told them: because I don't have to. Sacred gossip is still gossip and I don't have to participate. Besides, what do I care what some preacher said to some church in Texas or Tennessee? I'm trying to convert Detroit and that keeps me a little busy!

I don't have to participate in church gossip. I don't have to have a nice day just because you told me to. If you want to argue with me, I don't have to participate. If you think church must be a solemn affair, sorry, but I'm not going down that dark road with you. Just because Kohl's or Penney's has a sale, I don't have to go look at it. I don't have to go mad in March.

And just because it is (now) in the mid 40's in Michigan, that doesn't mean I have to act like it. So I'm going to sit here in my office with my shirt that is louder than an AC/DC concert and slightly less tasteful, strum my ukulele between phone calls and emails, and refuse to participate in winter. I have a choice. I'm making it. Aloha.


At 4/15/2005 09:01:00 AM , Blogger David U said...

Patrick, I admire you for NOT participating in church gossip. Thank you for your example.

Now the not having a good day thing, you might want to work on that! :)

Have a GREAT day!

At 4/15/2005 12:53:00 PM , Blogger Dee O'Neil Andrews said...

I really identify with today's post! And, because of today (and although you may refuse to participate), I just added you as an "official" blog on my blogsite that I read, which is an honor, whether you accept it or not!

Your description of the preachers in polyester was priceless. I would recognize them anywhere, too -

"I knew they were preachers for they wore lots of polyester (I'm serious. You take preachers of a certain age and rub them against the carpet and stick them on a wall) and carried supersized Bibles."

That brought to mind Garrison Keillor's story of when the 25 middle-aged Lutheran ministers came to Lake Woebegone on an "advance" (they didn't want to call it a "retreat"!) to study "rural churches in the midwest" all dressed in "earth tones and Hush Puppies" when they got off the yellow school bus. They went out on a 26 foot pontoon boat on Lake Woebegone, which ended up dumping them into the lake in five feet of water where they all took their step toward "total immersion," Keillor said.

We just THINK we're the only ones with church problems, you know?! The longer you listen to Garrison Keillor talk of the local Lutherans and Catholics, the more you realize that we're all in the "identical" church setting. Talk about "sacred gossip." His is the only kind that's amusing.

At 4/15/2005 03:21:00 PM , Blogger Bane said...

Very nice. Nice to see another person who can scamper and skip, as well as walk with God. Nice blog.

ps: Don't go to mine. I say Bad Words.

At 4/15/2005 06:27:00 PM , Blogger Difster said...


I just found your blog because Bane linked to it. I visit his blog even though I don't like the bad words.

Feel free to visit my blog, there are no bad words.

Keep preaching brother!

The Gospel and common sense ARE compatible.

At 4/16/2005 11:01:00 PM , Blogger Niki said...

Oh how I've missed your humor! Until today I didn't even know you had a blog! My friend Jeff has you on his links.

I met you in Wichita (Westlink) last year when you did our family/parenting seminar. My husband was the big, bald youth minister that wears hawaiian and other loud shirts! (kindred spirit?)We've since moved to CO.

I have often thought about what you said regarding your son being involved with foreign missions and people worrying about you protecting him/keeping him out of harms way. Patrick, that one story changed my outlook on raising my children and I want to thank you for the challenge!

I thank you for the laughter as rebel(with God's cause)!

At 4/18/2005 02:45:00 AM , Blogger Alnot said...

Hey, I am a son of the church of boogerheads. I had always marched to a different tune until Christ interfered with my infernal plans. Now evil man that I am worship a God who has no equal with a family of believers who have God's laws written on their hearts. I am still me but somehow transformed and hungry for the things of God. It is nice to find a brother blogger in more ways than many.

At 4/20/2005 12:42:00 PM , Blogger Miss O'Hara said...

I've got one up on you, darlin'. I've been going without stockings and wearing sandals since mid-March. ;)

I think you are right about the "just because 'x', I don't have to 'x'!" I was just telling my Beloved the other day how fascinated I am with Americans' fascination with sales, and 'must see/do' events, et cetera.'s about being free who God wants us to be, and that means freedom from the world's ideals and standards, living up to His instead, doesn't it? And it feels so much better that way.

(Oh, by the way, the 30 degree weather means the windows and sunroof open.)


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