no pity party

no pity party cartoon by nakedpastor david hayward
“No Pity Party” (by nakedpastor David Hayward)

Well, the rant is already embedded in the cartoon. You get my meaning.

I get served pity every day. I don’t want it. And I don’t need it. Actually, I’m healthier and happier than I’ve ever been.

For example, some people have a misconception about the membership of my other site, The Lasting Supper. They think the hundreds of members there are composed of people wounded by the church. Sure, we’ve all been hurt by the church at some time or other. That’s beside the point. All the members there I know are strong, courageous, funny and intelligent people who have left the church because they know how to take care of themselves. Mostly, they’ve left for reasons the woman in the cartoon gave. Of course, some of the members have never been a part of the church, and some are still within it.

I think people who pity those who’ve left the church have unrealistic ideas about the church, and that it is unquestionably required and beyond question. They see those outside the church as outside of, well, salvation and lost. Second-class citizens. Plan B. Spiritual invalids.

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  • Lou Lange

    Thank you for the insightful cartoon and commentary. The woman’s rant in the cartoon is EXACTLY why I left the church. When they try to tell you how to think and what to believe, it is time to get out.

  • Carol

    My daughter has chronic clinical depression and has learned to recognize the toxic symptoms of self-pity. As soon as she feels like she’s going there she stops and announces, “Pity party, table for one.”

  • that’s awesome carol. tell her i love that! i’m going to use it.

  • thanks lou!

  • Awesome! See it all the time. People are sorry you had experiences that caused you to leave – if only you had known their subset… then you would get it, then you would know how wonderful religion can be. What these folks never get, can never understand, is that you do get religion… and that you left and remain gone with eyes wide open – and that life has never been better!

  • I left because of wounding, but after the healing, I tried to go back and discovered that the person I’d become was so much healthier than the one who left, and that this new me, who loves being the creative-out of the box – child of God I was created to be, can no longer live within the confining cage of denominational/organized religion. Fact is, every time I’ve tried to go back, I get depressed: the weight of so many rules, conditional grace, orphanism, grasping, and incestuous myopisim, is suffocating. I’ve tasted fresh air and can’t find it in me to go back to the stale, recycled air of religion. Besides that, I meet the most fascinating people out here LOL!

  • Looking over past comments for this blog, my overall impression was that there was a lot of pain represented there; a lot of people who have been hurt deeply by the instituional church. I realize that this would not accurately describe everyone here; and that there are others who, though they have been hurt, have moved through/past that hurt. It still makes me want to cry sometimes and tell you all that I’m sorry that Christ’s name has been so misrepresented and abused.

    Sometimes we need to apologize, not out of pity for the one we’re apologizing to; not necessarily because they need to hear it; but rather because we need to say it. Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be broken down in recognition of the evil that our hands, or the hands of those we stand with, have caused.

  • Gary

    David this is perfect. It is something to behold when you discuss your decisions with someone on the inside (both physically and mentally) and they realize you are not wallowing in self pity or anger but rather living your life by a conscious decision with real purpose and conviction. They have a real deer in the headlights kind of look as they try to comprehend something completely foreign to them.

    The last person from my past I shared my convictions with was dumbfounded. Everything we are taught in the church promotes the notion that EVERYONE who leaves churchology is either wounded or running from God and in a backslidden state. They cannot comprehend that it is possible to be outside the institution and healthy.

  • A lot of churches are run like “Christian Boot Camps’…and should be left.

    My pastor says (in this short 6 min. audio) that he understands fully why many are sick and tired of hearing the pastor “tell me what to do”.

    It’s a shame that so many churches are in the vice to virtue game. Instead they ought be in the virtue to grace business.

  • Carol

    Shawn, I can relate to that.

    I can’t spend too much time in the ecclesiastical sub-culture without getting cultural claustrophobia.

    With all of the exciting challenges and new tools to meet them in this wonderful world of ours, I can’t understand why anyone would want to spend their life in a time warp, the 50’s for the conservatives and the 60’s for the liberals. We’ve been there, done that, bought the T-shirt already and neither ushered in the Utopia that it was supposed to in either our ecclesialstical or main stream secular culture. Time to move on already!
    While neither our secular or ecclesiastical culture is perfect, there seems to be more fear and hate in “the church” than in “the world.” Since I believe that fear, not agnosticism or even doubt about creeds and dogma, is the opposite of faith, I am wondering if most local churches have not become religious collectives rather than authentic spiritual communities or maybe just nominally religious social clubs.

    Anyone who knows their OT knows that faith empowers us to “soar like eagles” not cower like capons.

    “I’ve learnt in life that you will never soar like an eagle if you insist on surrounding yourself with chickens” – Mario Cortes

  • Carol

    Gary, the institutional Church is not the Kingdom and Churchianity is not Christianity.

    “The Institutional Church (ecclesia) has killed only two kinds of people: Those who do not believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and those who do.” — Will Durant

  • Carol

    This is one of my favorite blog posts:

    I like the idea of the process of spiritual growth being more like moving from ass-hole to saint than sinner to saint. Sin requires both knowing and willing (cognition and volition), most of us just fall into it without any conscious premeditation.

  • Gary

    “Gary, the institutional Church is not the Kingdom and Churchianity is not Christianity.”

    I agree with this 100% Carol. Would that this truth were more easily discerned by those within “Churchianity”.

  • Carol
    So true. Yet there are some ministries there are culturally relevant; ones that truly work within the community for its good, rather than as means to feed the machine. As far as the ‘hate’, that too is a sad thing. It’s as though ‘Christians’ are becoming the very thing they rail against…which Scripture does warn us about. But God…if he brought us out, then he can bring bring others out as well. Who knows, the 21 Century church may begin to look more like the early church sooner than we think.

  • ccws

    Sad that even those who are the most adamant about “not putting God in a box” can’t process the idea that you shouldn’t put PEOPLE in a box either.

  • Gary – there is still hope! Some of us can see the difference!
    Carol – I think that becoming the thing you rail against is a constant danger.
    ccws – Thinking about God is interesting, or rather, mind-blowing. I remember thinking about God’s omnipresence and omnipotence, thinking about God as a rubber band stretched out infinitely large and then thinking about how forcing God to be constantly stretched out was actually a limitation of His omnipresence and omnipotence. It’s like thinking about God being outside the box, and then thinking that God [i]must[i] be outside the box. But at this point “outside the box” just becomes a new box that we’re forcing God into.

  • Jonathan
    Love the analogy. How can a limitless God be thought of in limited time/space/thought.
    Watched a brilliant talk on Youtube by author Rob Bell called Everything in Life is Spiritual, where he talks about the limitlessness of God in relationship to man’s limited thoughts, comprehension, understanding; and how God is continually stretching us, pressing us, getting us out of our box, then removing us again from the one we will invariably re-create to accommodate the new thoughts, and so on and so on.

    I try to image my ability to understand and comprehend ‘God’ is like the universe: continually expanding and without end. My prayer is, “Lord, don’t let me believe the same thing about you tomorrow that I do today.” In other words, if my view and understanding of who he is and what it means to be in this incredible intimate fellowship with him isn’t constantly evolving and changing, then its dying – an therefore, whats the point?

  • “In other words, if my view and understanding of who he is and what it means to be in this incredible intimate fellowship with him isn’t constantly evolving and changing, then its dying – an therefore, whats the point?”

    If there was a “like” button, I’d push it.