Seriously?

A man walks into a psychiatrist’s office. He has a raw piece of bacon dangling from each ear and a bird’s nest on top of his head. He sits down and says to the Doctor, “I’m here to talk to you about my crazy brother…”

If you spend much time with people you’ve had a conversation like this. If you do and don’t recall a conversation like this, you might want to check the top of your head for feathers.

Lately I’m feeling the weight of these accumulated conversations.

The simple truth is that we tend to establish our baseline for ‘normal’ from our own experience. Then, in conversations or experiences, our baseline bumps into the norms of others.

My son at University fills me in on the fun ‘facts’ that one of his professors shares in class about the ignorant and evil Americans to our south. My friends from the States send me messages about the horror stories they’ve heard about our terrible socialist system of heath care up here. A friend who has embezzled cash from another friend offers to help me with my finances. Church goers with a proven history of being deceived and chasing rainbows email me to straighten out my crooked theology. Colour blind painters stop by to offer me tips on how to redecorate my house.

Why is it that our most dysfunctional friends are the ones most eager to offer us insights on life and our own dysfunction?

The wisdom of “Physician, heal thyself.” has given way to the insights from those so far in last place that they think they’re in first. Like the woman I saw being interviewed about the meaning of love. “I’ve been married 5 times,” she said with a straight face, “So I think I know a thing or two about love.” I used to think this was the result of them being born with brass gonads. Now I think it is the result of an over-developed sense of denial…pathological denial.

This past week a friend who has the same gig as me was telling me about a mutual acquaintance who suddenly reappeared on a Sunday morning. This person would be the sort of personality that a psychiatrist would write a best-seller about or a movie of the week could be made about and in both cases would be called too far-fetched by the critics. Not too long ago this guy handed me his new business card and told me he had started a new church. His card, and his new church, both promoted what made his church distinctive. I won’t tell you what it is but in the first century it was called a heresy and the apostle Paul suggested the leaders of the group should, well, cut deep. To help straighten out the misguided sheep of my friend’s fellowship this fellow attended a small group in the home of a person slowly but inevitably dying from a ugly disease. “People who are sick?” this guy announced, “It’s their own fault, they’ve brought it on themselves.” Honestly, it makes me miss the days of stoning.

So how do we change this? Is this Oprah’s fault? How do we break free from this Matrix like web of denial?

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in Christianity, Church, denial, Friends, Life, ministry, perception, questions, Rant, reality, recovery, sick, truth. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Seriously?

  1. Natahn says:

    Reading your post made me laugh. A painful laugh, but still some laughter. I imagine everyone in ministry has encountered this more times than they can count.

    I’m not sure how exactly to define it – ‘American Idol syndrome’ maybe? Or maybe a blind narcissism? Whatever we call it, there’s a strong self-life, a deceived self-life at it’s core that leaves little or no room for ‘Christ to live in / through me.’

    How do we change it? I think there are different ways to speak the truth in love that can be effective. But the only thing that I’ve ever experience make a difference is when the Holy Spirit shines light into the dark places of brokenness, pain, denial, deception. Without the power of the Spirit to overcome the work of the Deceiver, ‘the truth in love’ often changes nothing for the good.

  2. I am not sure how Oprah is to blame, but I am willing to make her the scapegoat if it makes solving the problem easier…however, I do very much like Nathan’s comparison to American Idol! Clearly a demonstrated societal psychosis if ever I saw one. I also think you are a magnet for said crazies for some strange reason–I look forwarded to the day when dementia sets in and you lose the filter between what you actually think and what you end up saying.

    • brianmpei says:

      Mostly I blame Oprah for everything. American Idolisis sounds plausible and just as satisfying.

      And yes, I’m a lightening rod for crazy. Thanks for pointing that out. I’ll hold off on the dementia, thanks.

  3. Elle Smith says:

    First and foremost, the church as it has evolved, has NEVER been God`s ideal platform or method for getting the message out…one person was not supposed to be at the helm indefinitely. With that model, failure is imminent. I think anyone who is listening to His still, small voice GETS that part. Plenty of new and even old testament scripture to back this up…

    Brian, you`re a wonderful young man, who loves Jesus with all his heart. After listening to you and seeing the efforts of your ministry and the super support your leadership engenders in those around you, I would be a fool to say anything less. That`s for openers….:-) Having said that I wonder if maybe what you are REALLY expressing via this blog is a whole lot of good (or bad, depending on which side of the fence you straddle) old fashioned BURNOUT?
    Sometimes, we are afraid of people and what they might say, SO MUCH, we allow perfectly rotten, preventable, or at least easily curable, scenarios, remain intact. It starts to look like the Emporer’s New Clothes…
    To sum it up, brother — maybe it’s time to re-examine your role in things. For YOUR sake, primarily, and maybe even that of those “crazies” you seem to be attracting.
    Incidentally — You have pretty remarkable writing skills — mebbe see if you can use ’em to do sumpin’ MORE than writing this blog and Sunday morning sermons… 🙂

    • brianmpei says:

      Let me tell you how much I appreciate your use of the word “young” to describe me!

      Burnout? Could be but I hope that what I’m expressing here at CV is both my head and my heart and the strange perspective I seem to have on the world I’m passing through.

      I think I attract bacon & nest fashionistas because I am one, by times and because I refuse to pretend that I don’t see the bacon and nest on other people as well.

      And I think the church, for all our faults, is still God’s preferred method for getting the message of love out to a hungry world.

      🙂

  4. Judy says:

    You nailed it! Denial. The Matrix really does come to mind. People living in Christendom, looking like everyone else, thinking they have it all together, and in reality not understanding they are poor, miserable, wretched, blind, and naked. Hm. Sounds familiar.

    Perhaps it comes from what Paul called “falling from grace.” Not what we think of as that (and there are so many recent examples in the media), but in the book of Galatians he pointed out that those who had started in Christ and now sought to be justified by the law (rule-keeping) had missed the whole point. These “super moral Christians” had fallen from grace, from the simplicity, from the relational intimacy that God so longed to have with them. When that intimacy is there, one really does want to get to know Him and to be whatever it is He wants, whenever He wants, with (or to) whomever He wants. One asks Him to reveal His will and teach His ways, rather than forging ahead and possibly driving off a cliff spiritually.

    I really don’t know how to change it, except to say that God wants relationship with us, real connection, not platitudes and not religiosity; He wants us to hear His heart for us, for each other, for the world. Those not walking in intimacy with God cannot hear His heart. I’ve been known to be deaf to Him a time or two myself – (like WAY more than that). At such times it’s easy to hear a voice inside and assume it’s God’s – but it isn’t. It’s His arch-enemy’s, speaking through our own preconceived notions and prejudices. Thumping us over the head with “shoulds” – using shame as a teaching tool. That’s not God. God encourages, accepts, loves. Why do we have such a hard time accepting that and living in it? do we think that we have anything at all to bring to the equation? – from where I’m sitting, it’s all about Him, not about us.

    • brianmpei says:

      “It’s His arch-enemy’s, speaking through our own preconceived notions and prejudices.”

      It’s my preconceived notions that I find I’m still spending a great deal of time and energy un-learning.

  5. Dede Nicholson says:

    I just got home, it’s late and I checked emails and decided to read this. I have an image stuck in my head of me standing there with bacon hanging from each ear and a bird’s nest on my head. Either I am too self absorbed or just too tired. I will definitely reread this in the morning. Oh and I haven’t seen an episode of Oprah for at least 12- 15 years but was thinking of taking in a couple since it is her last season and all. I am in worse trouble than I thought!!! Maybe Dr. Phil can help me with the bacon and bird nest thing. Tomorrow is a new day. 🙂

    • brianmpei says:

      Haha – well, I wasn’t thinking of you when I wrote this! 😉 The Oprah is worth another watch if it’s been that long! I think the general rule about bird nests and bacon is that if you are willing to check to see if you’re wearing you probably don’t need to check if you’re wearing! A resolute conviction that there’s no nest on you, never has been and never will be is almost a guarantee that you’ve accessorized.

  6. Michelle says:

    Something I’ve learned from you is just how important it is to reconsider my version of normal. Every now and then I glimpse a feather in the periphery.

  7. Great post. I’ve come to realize that we develop a keen awareness of our own weaknesses through our own efforts to deny them. Because we spend so much energy denying our faults we become keenly aware of them in others. Faults actually incite a part of the brain that causes us to want to fix our mistake (this is actually where OCD folks gets stuck, the brain doesn’t shift gears when the fix is made) which, when addressed, shifts gears in the brain releasing some sense of satisfaction and allowing us to move to the next task. When we are hyper sensitive to a fault and find some way to “fix” it in another there is a compulsion to do so. I’m sure it is pathological for many, which doesn’t help. But the way I navigate it (when I’m not altogether put off ) is to accept they are trying to help but are really not in a position to help. That looks like lots of nods and smiles.

    Now where did I put my bacon hat?

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