Saturday, June 24, 2006

Evangelical America Can Be A Dangerous Place To Live

Sometimes the business side of writing and publishing just sucks the creative side right out of me. I've spent too long, since finishing SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN, working on press kits, giving interviews, and reorganizing my office. I'm itching to get back to the work I love. Though I find time to blog, read, and write short snippets of story from time to time ... my first love is in writing and editing my novels.

Although I certainly have cleaned out a bunch of clutter. (i.e. no more reading tons of Internet sites, blogs, and cut down on email time.) There comes a time when you've just got to trust yourself, and move in the direction your spirit leads you.

But, I have been meeting some interesting people lately. I made a new friend yesterday. She contacted me upon reading my work somewhere. Our backgrounds are quite similar, as her fundamentalist religious background mirrors my own. We sat and drank coffee and ate breakfast together ... chatting the morning away. These times are refreshing to me ... sharing notes on all those church services we sat in ... laughing about the stuff we lived through. Although quite painful at the time, laughing about it now is part of that healing process. Unless one experiences manipulation to this magnitude, you can't understand how a body can be swept up in it.

I often get asked, "How could that happen to someone like you?" It's a question I've often asked myself. But when you come out of it ... it's like being cured from cancer. You wonder how it started and how you got through it. It's the best way to explain it, I suppose.

My poor husband, who's never experienced that type of mind control, sits and shakes his head. He can't understand the types of conversations I have with people who have been rescued, or broke out of church cults. The man has had his own personal relationship with his creator all his life, and has never depended on any ministry for answers. Lucky duck.

But, here's where we need to clarify. Do I believe in attending church? Yes, absolutely. If you can find one that won't take away all your freedoms. I think people need to be taught, guided, and if the Shepherd is any good, he won't lead his flock into legalism. He will encourage them to seek God for themselves. Do I believe in one denomination over another? No. I know they all have their own way of practicing their faith, but in the end ... I believe that God is neither Catholic nor Baptist. That's all fluff to me.

Personally, when one has been so bruised and battered by pastors, teachers, prophets, apostles, reverends, etc. who are raging wolves in sheep's clothing, then I would suggest you do what I do ... worship in the safety of your home. Guard your heart ... but mostly ... guard your new open mind. There will be lots of leftover residue to wade through and shake off. Your mind is vulnerable and you need to find your own way first, before getting swept up in yet another church or mega ministry. Evangelical America can be a dangerous place to live. Don't kid yourself. Guard your soul, folks.

I have seen the dark side of evangelism. I know the evil that lurks in the minds of those that cannot be reasoned with. But I have also experienced the smiles on the faces that have come out of it. The laughter that takes over as a result of living through it. The laughter at ourselves, our plight, our journey. Once you have been through that kind of experience, I've realized (just lately) that it becomes a part of you. You can never get rid of that past. So you learn to laugh about it ... and you find comfort in those with similar paths.

I was reminded of the scripture, yesterday ... "Touch not my anointed ..." It made me wonder why there are so many wolves out there touching their anointed sheep and ruining their lives. For so long, we were led to believe that scripture was just about "anointed pastors." Can't God anoint all of us? The scripture also tells us "God is also not a respecter of persons."

You see it's all in how it's interpreted. And who's right? You can't boldly proclaim your authority over interpreting scripture when God has the ability to reveal Himself to any one of us.

That's why I worship at home, never push my beliefs on anyone, respect those of others even if I don't agree, and in the process ... I have found peace. Easy way out? Maybe. Do I want my ears tickled? You bet I do. I've sat through enough hell, fire, and brimstone to last me a lifetime. Evangelicals can shout and scream at each other all they want in the confines of their glass walled churches ... I'll enjoy my peaceful worship ... at home.

Blessings to you and yours.

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