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Broken theology… October 23, 2018

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Life, Poetry, Random Musings, Theological Reflection, Theology.
Tags: , , , , , ,
1 comment so far

My theology is broken.
I am not ashamed of that:
I live in a broken world,
amongst broken people;
and I, too, am broken.

I worship a broken God,
and he (or she) is not ashamed of that:
s/he accepts my broken worship
as her due,
sings along with me
in a broken duet.

She watches over me,
her broken worshipper,
and watches over you,
though you may not know her:
she watches over her whole broken creation
and weeps broken tears.

Why does she not let go,
give up,
let me go
and let you go?

Ah, but she does,
daily,
as her tears fall to the broken ground
and gently, gently caress the world to life.

Without her brokenness
there would be
no life,
no world,
no you, no me:
we belong together, broken together.

And broken together, we learn:
we learn to mend, to repair, to rearrange
our broken things and broken hearts.

Do not despair,
my broken ones,
for in the brokenness there is a gap,
a space,
a space for love to flourish
and grow.

It is, of course, a broken love,
but it is true,
for it is real:
there can be no pretence
in brokenness,
no hiding
from the messiness.

Broken am I,
broken are we,
and broken, we welcome all
who are broken
to come, dine with us:
be who you are
and be not ashamed.

In your brokenness find life.
In your brokenness, find wholeness.
Seek no escape now:
the brokenness is real
and the real is what we must face,
head on, heads unbowed.

And if you are foolish enough
to argue theology
with me
and if I am foolish enough
to argue back,
do not expect consistency
or sense,
for my theology is broken,
like me…

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Acceptance September 23, 2010

Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Church, Life, Mental Health.
Tags: , , , , ,
16 comments

THIS POST is for all my friends in the madosphere, those amazing people blogging, facebooking and tweeting their way through the traumas of mental illness: you know who you are and I salute you. But mostly it’s for Karita, whose recent posts DistasteStuntedHonesty and Lies – Part the Second and Honesty and Lies have set me thinking.

It’s a strange business, the way our society treats people with mental health problems, almost like lepers … perhaps even worse than lepers: leprosy is a disease that you can identify, pin down to a particular bacterium, and treat. But mental illnesses come in all sorts of guises and all too often, it seems, even health professionals don’t know how to deal with them and people struggling with mental illness find themselves sidelined or stigmatised.

Part of it comes down to fear, of course: fear of what may be lurking inside our own minds, sometimes hidden just below the surface, sometimes buried deeper within. Fear of looking into the abyss of the human mind and having to face up to the fact that when push comes to shove, we’re all the same. Then there’s pride: the foolish belief that somehow I am above these problems, that mental illness is a sign of weakness when in fact it’s simply part of being human, no more a sign of personal weakness or failure than cancer is a sign of physical weakness or failure. I think A Broader Mark summed things up well when she left this comment here the other day:

I’m beginning to suspect it’s their own pain that people can’t accept. Maybe they avoid looking at the pain of others because it reminds them of their own pain – forces them to see that they’re just as human as the next guy. Everyone hurts (almost always more than other people know, I suspect); it’s the human condition – there ain’t no escaping it.

It seems to be even worse in some Christian circles: many Christians seem to think that they shouldn’t be mentally ill, shouldn’t suffer from depression or anxiety or personality disorders or any of the other 1001 or more manifestations of mental illness. They’ve been taught to believe that Jesus will make all their problems go away and if their problems don’t go away then it must be their fault somehow because if they really, truly trusted in Jesus then their problems would be solved. Sing another sycophantic “God is Great” happy song and all will be well. Forgive my bluntness, but that’s complete bullshit. In fact, it’s worse than bullshit: at least with bullshit you can use it as fertiliser — but with complete cockamamy beliefs like that, there’s nothing useful you can do at all: you just have to throw them out of the window and hope there’s no one standing underneath…

Simple fact: Christians are screwed up human beings the same as everyone else. What Jesus offers to those who can or will accept it is acceptance itself and a bit of light in the darkness. What he doesn’t do is turn the light off or walk away or snuff out a flickering candle or break off a broken reed. Instead, he sits down beside the flickering and broken ones and gently puts an arm around their shoulders and says, lean on me. Then, together, with him wearing his crown of thorns that people like me awarded him for being our champion, they weep. Maybe they struggle to their feet and stagger a few steps together … he has bloody, broken feet because people like me smashed nails through them when he wouldn’t make like the God we wanted him to be, so it’s one hell of a journey…

But the important thing is, it’s a journey; and we’re all in it together. A broken god come to the rescue of a broken humanity. An impossible journey. But one that I happen to think is worth taking — and which I count it a privilege to share with anyone who has travelled this far with me. And if you, dear reader, aren’t religiously inclined, don’t worry about it: the god I believe in isn’t religious either and doesn’t give a fig about what you believe about him — what counts is he believes in you; and he does, my friend, he does…

Did I mention his hands are broken too?

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