Sunday, March 04, 2012

pastor plants a church by flipping a double bird (at Jesus' leading)

You may want to play this short video of Hugh Halter talking about his book, "Sacrilege: Finding Life in the Uniorthodox Ways of Jesus before reading my excerpt below about the "double bird."

Nothing can prepare you for the story that he tries to prepare you for at the end of the video(:

But if you can get past this pastoir sayibng ":Holy crap!" in the clip, you may be ready fior the story(:

Suffice to say I love this book.
The introduction (about Israel trips) and the aforementioned story;; the opening story from chapter 1 alone merit a five star rating (!!)

Here it is.
I see it's nowhere online yet.
It;s about to be,
It deserves to be.
Read it..but buy the book.
Five copies.

I told the story in church today.
I read it directly.
So I could post the podcast of me reading it.
You'd hear that few words into it, our people were into it:

Spoiler and sacrilege alert:

I have to give you a warning before I share the following story.  Some will yell, "Sacrilege!' and close the book, too offended to read on.  But I implore you to suspend judgment.  This story took place in my own backyard.  It was the starting place for this book.  It motivated me to write about the difference between the real Jesus and the sanitized Jesus of religious tradition.

About eight years ago we were in our first year of starting a chrech.  A gal next dooe was very close to our family and offered to help in any way she could.  She wan't a Christ follower but she had a huge heart for people  and for us personally as friends.  She became very involved on our children's minsitry, but her husband, "Big Billy,"  was not fond of me, God, or anything that resembled the traditional church world in which he grew up in inner city St. Louis.

What I knew of Billy is that he beat up my neighbor in a fight, got shot through the eye by his friend while out hunting and walked out of the woods to live another day, and left St. Lous bevaise of his mafia/gang connections.  I wasn't sure oif that last one was fact or olegend, but suffice it to say, Billy was one tough hombre.

One day while mowing my backyard, I looked up and saw Billy on his deck waving to me.  As ny eyes focused, I realized he was really flipping me off.  You know, giving me the bird.  I didn't know quite what to do, so I just gave him one of those head nods, hoping to communicate, 'I see you, buddy, but I am ignoring your finger .  I made one more pass with the mower and looked up again, hoping he'd be gone, but there he stood like a statue, his finger saluting in my direction.  Was he kidding?  Was he serious?  What did he think I would do?

I've been in many interesting situations, so this doesn't seem as strange as you might suppose.  But I do remember thinking,  Now, hmmm, what would Jesus do?  (This was before the WWJD craze).  I have always been intrigued by how people find faith in God, and I try to be playful in situations like tis.  I could have been more textbook, I suppuse, but in all my seminray studies I don't remember a chapter on how a Christian leader should handle the bird.

Nevdertheless, I figured I'd best make a decision fast since one more pass by him without a response  would communicate that I was (a) afraid of him or (b) offended.  Neither response was what I thought Jesus wwiukd do.  A quick prayer and some deep theological analysis brought me to the conclusion that I needed to alter the playing field a bit--you know, do something this guy wouldn't expect from a pastor, or a "vicar," as he called me once. (I initially thought vicar  was a derogatory swear word, but come to find out, it means  ":priest in training.")

So on my next pass I parked the mower right next to the fence where Captain Hook was standing and let go of the handle, which shut down the motor, creating an awkward silence.  As the robins peacefully chirpoed  in the background, I reached back into the archives of my adolescence and lifted bith hand high into the air, responding tough Billy with the "double bird."  That's right, the pastor oine-uopoped him.  Two birds for one stoiner!  I didn't just give him the double bird; I held my hands up and stared at him with a kind of Clint Eastwood glare.  But even while glaring, I couldn't help picturing Big Billy jumping over the fence and beating me ovetr the head with my own  mower., St. Lous mafia style.

To my great surporuse, Billy slowly cracked a smile and started laugjing. "F---, you wanna drink?" he asked.

From that moment on, Billy became my neighbor.

Fast-forward.  It may seem like a   fairy tale ending to Godgather IV, but I swear it's true. Billy's family became a part of our faith communitry, and they are dear friends to  this day.
--Hugh Halter, Sacrilege, pp, 30-32

1 comment:

  1. I have not read Hugh Halter's book. It sounds like he is simply recognizing 1) That Jesus challenged the Temple cult in Jerusalem of his day, and that 2) the American popular Church has become the Temple cult of our day and needs to be overturned. I don't "flip the bird" (it is just not in my vocabulary) but I'm glad Hugh got over his fear of coloring inside the lines. All Temple cults are about compliance and getting people to color inside the lines.


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!