From the Desk of Mr. Zissman

The musings of an over-stimulated mind

Archive for November 2009

Goodbye Yellowbrick Road

with 2 comments

Wow, another blog entry so soon? I know, I’m just as surprised as you are. But I have much to share about Churchgate 2009 and things have taken a turn from the worse. Allow me to explain…

As I said, I skipped church tonight since my mother had requested a private meeting with the Pastor and, once there, several things were discussed that really broke my heart. As I’ve mentioned before, I find myself “tuning out” a lot of times in regards to the lessons and sermons preached by my Pastor. It has nothing to do with him personally, but I can only hear about gay marriage, abortion and how the King James translation is the only true translation so many times. The problem is that I want to LEARN, I want to explore the depths of Jesus and really dig nose first into the scripture.

I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:2

See, this is how I feel. I want solid food, meat. I want to study the Hebrew and Greek, learn more about 1st century Jewish culture and lessons and teachings. I can only hear “Gay marriage is wrong!” so many times. Yes, I won’t be marrying a guy anytime soon, nor will I be getting an abortion. Now what? Teach me! Educate me, help me learn.

Because of this, I won’t lie, I sort of “tune out” when the lessons fall into the repetitive nature of The Big 3 (Abortion, homosexuality, King James only) and I check my Facebook, blog or text people because I’m honestly not paying attention. When the lesson does go towards something that is new and interesting, I shove the phone back in my pocket and pay attention. So because of this, a member of my church saw me do this constantly and was curious what I was doing, so they did a Google search on my name and found several of my social media websites. Well, they were simply horrified about the content of my tweets, blog posts and such, and made several copies of several pages of this information. Keep in mind; this is all being done behind my back.

Now the “dirt” on me is given to the Pastor. The Pastor decides to not call me because “he wanted my Mom involved” (NOTE: I’m damn near 30 years old, for crying out loud!) and that’s why he went to her instead. The Pastor also pointed out my exceptions with the repetitive nature of some of his lessons, and with a completely straight face asks my mother “Does Stephen really have a personal relationship with Jesus?”

…?

Now keep in mind, I have attended this church since I was 12-13. I’ve taught in Vacation Bible School, do the weekly slide show, attempted to start-up an eNewsletter that no one bothered to sign up for, I teach Sunday school and often give more on services then the Pastor’s own family! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to sound like a Holier Than Thou, as I’m merely flesh and blood and have a lot of self improving to do. But one glance at my track record will show why such a question is ridiculous.

By this point, I’ve gone beyond angry and just feel hurt, violated and betrayed. Am I perfect? Hardly. Do I sometimes make off-color jokes and run R-rated language? Yep. But how I act on Twitter, or Facebook is NOT how I act in church. And when I teach the kids on Sunday it’s never anything controversial or too out there, in fact, I take great strides to make sure what I teach is in line with what the church believes. Regardless, it’s become clear to me that the proverbial writing is on the wall. I will work on a resignation letter this week and quit my church (again!) and shall attend this Sunday at my grandparent’s church. I’m not happy with this decision, but I feel the odds are against me and it would be an uphill battle that I cannot win. So I will walk away and hope for the best.

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Written by MrZissman

11/18/2009 at 10:52 PM

Glass Houses

with 5 comments

Today I had the privilege of having dinner at my parents, as my mother was making a fish dinner and she knew how big of a seafood eater I am. Hopping into my car, I whisked away on the US-30 with dreams of fish and crab dancing in my head. My mouth was watering with delight as I entered the door to their house, the delightful aroma of fresh fish tickling my nose. My stomach roared with a mighty rumble, as it demanded a sacrifice of only the finest aquatic cuisine.

Like a crazed zombie from a Romero movie, I dug into my plate, my fork surgically slicing the fish platter into bite sized morsels, mixing them with the mashed potatoes and green beans that made a strong supporting act for the Fish Main Event. Mom causally watched Judge Judy as we made small talk, sharing stories and laughing at some of the amusing antics of my young niece. My Dad was heading home from a hard day at work and would soon join us, and by all means and accounts, it seemed like a normal, family gathering.

That is until my Mom dropped a bombshell on me.

It started off innocently enough, with just a simple question, but quickly revealed something that not only hurt me, but made me question a lot of things I held near and dear.

“Are you going to church tomorrow?” she asked. [Tomorrow being Wednesday 11/18/09]

“Probably.” I said, still munching on my delicious fish flesh. “I figure I’ll just stop by here after church and I can ride with you.”

Mom took a heavy sigh as the next words seemed painful for her to say.

“Stephen…I hate telling you this, because I don’t want to push you away from the church, but the Pastor called today asking about you.”

Hesitantly, I rested the fork on the plate with a tiny klink, focusing my attention to my rather sullen looking mother.

“Yeah? What did we have to say?”

“Well, apparently someone from the church found your Facebook, or your blog, or Twitter and said you had pictures of some of the Sunday School children? Well, you didn’t ask the parents permission and this person would like them removed.”

Now honestly, I wasn’t really that upset about their first gesture, as I can understand their concerns for privacy. However, I was more upset that they went to the Pastor about it and the Pastor called my Mom. Couldn’t they have just called me or talked to me in private Wednesday night or Sunday morning? Still, I figured there was no harm done and deleted all the pictures of my Sunday school class. Problem over, right?

Wrong.

See, it turns out there was a second problem to this Anonymous Member’s complaint. Apparently, after reviewing several of my social media websites, they were unhappy with my language and had concerns with “inappropriate words” that I had used. Again, instead of coming to me about it, they decided to go through the Pastor, who instead went through my Mom.

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.” ~ Matthew 18:15-17

Plus, the photos of my Sunday school class were several months old, so for Anonymous Member to find it, they would had to have looked for me on the internet. You just don’t stumble across my social media websites by accident, but rather, a deliberate, and I fear malicious attempt for ‘dirt’, was made to secure gossip about me like a Jr. High cheerleading table.

My social media websites are my personal thoughts shared with the public. They are a complete and separate entity from the church, and in no way reflects poorly upon the church. I will fully admit that I can sometimes rend a potty mouth to my thoughts, but that is between me and God. Like the verse in Matthew says, go to me about it privately if the language on my personal thoughts offend you. If so, I would be willing to sit down and talk to this person about it. However, it gets passed on to somebody, who passes it on somebody who finally tells it to me.  What I say on my social media websites is of no concern to Anonymous Member or, honestly, my Pastor. He/she is free to disagree with me as much as they want, as that is the basic freedoms granted to us by God and the United States. However, I feel it is highly inappropriate to run and “tattle” on me as if this were a wide-eyed kindergarten student telling the teacher that Little Billy said “butt” by the monkey bars.

I’m really hurt by this whole mess and I feel like my moves are now gossip fodder that will become frantic water-cooler-esque talk that will result in the situation being over-blown and grossly magnified way beyond its original proportions. I will be skipping church this Wednesday, as my mother had requested to speak with my Pastor privately about this issue. I do plan to attend on Sunday and am bracing myself for whatever confrontation may take place.

All in all, I hope this can result in a happy ending for both parties involved. I do not wish to leave my church, as I love it dearly, but if my actions outside of the church are going to come into question as second-hand information, I am unsure if this is the place I would want to continue to worship. For now, I just pray about this earnestly and honestly and ask for God’s direction.

Written by MrZissman

11/18/2009 at 12:02 AM

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