November 25, 2004

Marjorie's Hypocrisy

This is the second time I'm writing this. I wrote one account and as I was proof-reading it we lost power. Its so awful to see something that was hard to write and with which I was pleased to vanish. Of course, I imagine that my neighbors cooking Thanksgiving dinner weren't too pleased to lose their power either.

I put a teaser for this post in a comment a while back and feel its time to put up and shut up. This post isn't as exciting as it might seem. My hypocrisy is that I've been spiritually arrogant, I've turned into part of what made me hate and fear the church to begin with -- the smug, self-righteous individuals who judge who is and is not spiritual. My parents were judged as not having a Christian marriage because they were not interested in taking group Bible studies or in going on marriage encounters or taking part in other church activities (though they were active in the church in other ways). If I understand correctly, Larry has described such thinking as tribalism, you're one of us or you're not and consequently not worthy.

So, one aspect of my hypocrisy is turning into the sort of person whom I blamed for making church what it is -- controversial, unwelcoming, judgmental.

Another aspect of my hypocrisy is my pride of having studied the Bible. Before I started taking Bible study three years ago I was a Biblical illiterate. I had been embarrassed about this for years before I finally took a Bible study or even tried reading the Bible. However, this did not stop me from judging those who don't study the Bible. I didn't grant them the patience I granted myself.

I took part in a small discussion group through my church last year. This was a mistake and I think the only thing I contributed was negative energy. I joined the group at the request of a priest who was looking for people to join it. I thought maybe I could help him and also learn something myself. What I learned about myself I didn't like. I was smug and judging and dissatisfied because most of the other women had more money than I did, different priorities than mine and thought differently from me. The only one I felt really connected to had been taking a similar Bible study for years.

The nadir of my group experience came from one discussion we had about the difficulty of knowing what was the right thing to do in a certain situation -- I can't remember any of the details. One woman said, "well, didn't Jesus say 'what is truth?'" I was flabbergasted (I don't have a poker face). I said, "that was Pontius Pilate." Of course, in addition to my shock, I felt very self-righteous that I was able to spot this error. The irony is that a little more than a year before this conversation I would have shrugged off the comment and not known the answer. I was either feeling relieved and superior or perhaps unconsciously afraid that I was capable of such a perversion. I haven't even read all the gospels and I'm feeling superior? Upon reflection, I really think my overreaction is my awareness of how little I know and that I will likely make (or have already made) similar mistakes. Perhaps recognizing my hypocrisy and the true feelings that underlie it will teach me humility and meekness.

I've given up taking this particular Bible study. I had a niggling (David's term) that it wasn't good for me and this was crystallized when I met Larry on-line. This is not to lay any responsibility for my decision at Larry's feet (he actually discouraged me from quitting the study), but to thank him for his part in opening my mind. You see, based on the theology underlying that Bible study, I would have to shut out Larry for his low Christology view which would be deemed blasphemy. How can a man who loves Jesus so much that he posts an on-line Bible and commentary be seen this way? It doesn't make sense to me and it was the sign that I couldn't move forward with this Bible study. Since then, I've met wonderful people on-line and my heart has opened to those I meet in person at my church.

Funny thing about the effect that Bible study had on me -- while it taught me so much about the Bible and Jesus and God it also closed me off to those who believed differently than I. I am now coming to the understanding that we are all on our paths and that others are as deserving of respect as I am -- before I felt that the path had to be the certain, prescribed journey approved by a particular dogma.

I am very thankful to the wonderful friends I have here and especially thankful to kwakersaur, David, for bringing us together on this blog to discuss the Bible and spiritual matters. You have filled a void for me. Finally, after months of avoiding it, I've had the desire to start reading the Bible again, I didn't know if the desire would return. It has, though in a different way. I don't study the Bible to know more than the many who don't (which was probably an unconscious motivator before), I read it because it is Life. I'd love to be able to inspire others to read it, but I can accept that it might not be part of their path, now or ever.

Blessings to you all.


At 2:33 p.m., Blogger crystal said...

Hi Marjorie :-). While it was hard for you to post your comments, I'm glad you did - now I know I'm not alone in questioning my behavior and feelings. You don't sound like a hypocrite to me but instead, a thoughtful and reflective person.

At 2:42 p.m., Blogger david said...


Like seriously. You blew me away here.

First of all. We all have doubts and we all have a gap between what we believe, who we beleive in, and how we live our lives. Hypocrits aren't people with bigger gaps. They are people who turn away from the gaps to pretend tehy are not there.

I am so glad this place and your on-line friendship with larry have been a help in your walk. I hope we continue to be.

Say Hi to Larry when you see him. And God go with you; the Holy Spirit walk beside you.

At 7:06 a.m., Blogger Marjorie said...

Crystal said: now I know I'm not alone in questioning my feelings and behaviors. You are not alone, and thats what has taken me awhile to understand. I thought I was alone in my searching and at least part of me thought I was better than others. I'm realizing I'm not alone at all, though I might be a bit more vocal than some, there are many people out there and some are looking for some company. I can't be company to them if I'm not paying attention to them -- thats where I'm going, I'm trying to pay attention now instead of judging.

David had asked earlier what the next step is -- I don't know, other than trying to refine myself to be ready for whatever comes my way. Not only have I experienced the help of others, but I've been thanked for being a help -- I think thats the most important part for me right now.

At 12:09 p.m., Blogger Ellie15 said...

Posted by Ellie 15 on behalf of her husband, Larry, who is traveling and unable to make contact:

Hello All; especially to Marjorie for her heart warming and inspirational comment. Yes, Marjorie, you are a hypocrit, and some am I, and so is David, and so is everyone. It took me a while to understand what a hypocrit is; David has made an excellent distinction between what we might call good and bad hypocrits; we are all good ones of course!!!

Now the psychologists talk about projection; many books on the shadow. Projection is when I see my own faults in someone else; then I jump on them feet first. "Oh, you're so bad, you shouldn't do, say, think that". After some reflection, if I'm lucky, I may come to realize that I saw my fault in my neighbor, and rightly condemned it; of course the condemnation should be at me, not him or her.

That's the way we get to know ourselves. First projection, then introjection, confession, healing. Hurrah! That is the WAY.

You, Marjorie are the least hypocritical (most honest) one of us all, the first to confess, the fastest to grow. But it's sinful of me to make these judgments. Yes, we are all going and growing at God's chosen rate for our eternal salvation.

What I love most about Narnia is in The Last Battle, when (as I remember it) the children were winding along a mountain trail, heading for heaven, and looking across the gorge they see a similar trail, heading in the same direction on which THEIR PARENTS WALK.

Praise God, it was heavenly for me recently to receive the forgivenss of my 45 year old son.

God bless.

At 4:58 p.m., Blogger david said...

Welcome aboard Ellie the 15th! Hope you had a happy turkey-fest.

At 10:19 a.m., Blogger Meredith said...

Dear Marjorie,
This post was refreshing. I like that you are so honest, seeing your 'self' through these experiences, and trying to see through to your 'self'. I see so much growth here, a dropping of that which does not fit for you, and a refreshing new you emerging - without so much identification. Once a dear friend of mine told me that he thought I was arrogant. Well, this was a shock - I never saw myself this way. But as I looked more honestly, there it was, popping up everytime I compared myself and thought myself better. Seeing through this has been an effort, but well worth it. Dropping this quality leads to greater compassion, this leads to greater capacity for love - pure love. Anyway, I got off topic a bit, but I want to thank you for your humbleness and authentic growth. You are a blossom, being graced with a beautiful flowering.

Peace to you,


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