The Quixotic Pastor

Friday, January 11, 2008

Pig Paths, Part 1: Baptism, Metanoia, Privilege and Revolution

Pig paths are the paths we take away from what is planned, particularly as a part of a presentation, bible study ... whatever. They are similar in shape and form to rabbit trails.

Revelation often assumes the form of a pig path in my life.

It's not uncommon for my day to be filled with pig paths and rabbit trails, since my work seldom goes as I have planned.

For instance, I am working today on worship for Baptism of the Lord Sunday and waiting on a phone call about Creating Change ... but, because it is Friday, and I have been frightfully out of touch with my blogging buds at RevGalBlogPals, I thought I would read through some blogs.

I read an entry on Mother Laura's blog, which led me to another blog, which led me to yet another blog [pig path!] ... which confronted me once again with my privileged status as a white, highly-educated, literate person. That I am female and queer offsets my privilege to some degree, but not a whole lot, to be perfectly honest.

I have struggling with this whole privilege thing since I went to the Together In Faith conference back in October. I also have been struggling with the concept of sustainability and the idea that, personally speaking, I have been living an economically unsustainable lifestyle that has been too dependent on credit card use [at least, for emergencies. I am not a big spender type of gal usually.] Over the past seven years I have, for what I thought were good reasons, made some sacrifices and basically have been underemployed [22-30 hours a week] and somewhat undercompensated. I think I can make some better choices around these issues -- especially as I consider my partner's needs as well as my own.

In the meantime, during those seven years, I have gotten in touch with my inner activist, and the necessity of justice-making to living out faithfully my vocation as a Christian.

Particularly in the past 6 months, I have found myself led into a kind of wilderness place of conversion, of seeing sin in myself I hadn't even thought of before, of seeing sin in the world in a different sort of way, those powers and principalities of which the Apostle Paul speaks, systemic sin ... and how unwittingly I have participated in that. And not knowing exactly how to get off the merry-go-round of systemic evil.

And this last leg of my faith journey puts me squarely in the midst of a profound personal dilemma.

I can choose to make more money, to be more financially secure, to take an average 8 to 5 type job, whittle down my debt and prepare myself financially to return to graduate school in my mid to late 40's. The cost of that choice is that it would severely limit my ability to participate in all kinds of justice-making events and efforts.

Or I can choose to make less money [although still more money than I have been] and continue to be as active as I am now.

One bit of cloudy stuff smeared on the lens with which I view these things is that, spiritually speaking, I am a mess right now. I find myself wondering if the church as institution can ever live up to the fullness of its calling and vocation as the Body of Christ. I find myself wondering if I personally can live up to my own calling and vocation as a disciple of Christ.

I have the sense that I am being baptized into something --but what is it exactly that I am being baptized into?

It's like the Spirit is driving me into a wilderness I didn't necessarily choose, to teach me something about myself I really don't want to learn, to follow a Jesus who is crazier and more radical than even I thought, whose calling to follow him will put me into a place of certain intense discomfort and quite possibly death. I am not feeling like losing my life right now --I really just want to crawl into a nice secure cave of 8 to 5 routine as a receptionist or something, or else just remain in my lovely ivory tower of privilege and think about things, without ever actually having to do anything about them.

In one of those blogs I visited on my pig path away from Mother Laura's blog, there was much discussion about the meaning of a quote from Audre Lorde, "The master's tools will never dismantle the master's house." Lorde is using the metaphor of slave and master, and particularly the idea that most folks find themselves outside of the house, which represents a place of comfort, privilege and power built upon the exploitation of masses of people.

Another way of describing my dilemma is that I'm not sure whether or not I want to leave the master's house, or take the risks of casting my lot with those who find themselves outside of it, even though I know in my hearts of hearts it is what Jesus did and would do.

And yes, I can rely upon grace to be sufficient in my weakness --but isn't that kind of grace perhaps a little too cheap?

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  • At 4:30 PM , Blogger Mother Laura said...

    Wow, DQ. Powerful stuff that I am grateful you shared.

    I am glad that someone finally followed one of those links...I read the WOC blogs a lot now and that and linking seem like the least I can do....Trying to educate myself and others is something, but still so little.

    I am going to a protest for the first time in a long time tomorrow up in LA (with School for the Americas watch). Excited, nervous, knowing I need to move more into activism somehow but not sure how much I can do and honor other real vocations...also reflecting on the simplicity and sustainability of our lives which isn't much and again feels impossible with all the time constraints and challenges.

    It's been a big shift this year and I don't know where it's going yet. Feels good but also scary and ambivalent. Let's pray for each other...


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