I used to blog a lot – because I used to think a lot. I used to think a lot about issues of faith and theology and I am coming to realise that a big part of that was just having the time to think.
I like to think and I like to mentally ‘4WD’ – head down some unexplored tracks and experiment with ideas, but it requires a certain amount of emotional energy and headspace, something I have been lacking in the last few years.
This week on 3 separate occasions I have found myself lacking the mental reserves to really dig into issues that I would like to chew thru more thoroughly. A friend sent thru an article on ecclesiology and I skimmed the first page before realising I wasn’t ingesting anything, let alone reading it thoughtfully. Another friend asked if we could catch up and discuss an aspect of theology I thought about a bit 5 or 6 years ago, but as he asked I realised I didn’t have much to contribute to the conversation – in fact I had pretty much forgotten what I read back then… And then I began a conversation on Facebook asking if there is such a thing as a ‘pragmatic Anabaptist’ and I was going to blog about it, before realising I just didn’t have time time or headspace to really do it justice – although I still think its a good question…
Its not that these things don’t matter to me, or interest me, but they simply have to take their place in the mental/emotional queue and I will get to them when the more pressing issues have been dealt with. They are the ‘luxuries’ in my headspace these days.
Right now my brain is awash with a heap of retic jobs I need to try and get thru before we take a break next Friday. That coupled with an unexpected day off today means I am running a bit behind now. Mixed with that is the knowledge I am speaking to our church crew twice in the next week and I need to get my head around the content there… And then there is Christmas… what do I need to do for that?…
I used to wonder why people in churches didn’t really think about their faith more carefully and critically. Why didn’t they ask more questions and explore more intelligently? My more recent experience suggests that maybe its because their mental reserves are already being eaten into by the stuff of everyday life and the ability to think about faith really is constrained by everything else that is going on.
If that is the case is it any wonder the status quo rarely gets challenged when people are just trying to keep afloat with job and family? If most people come home from work as weary as I do then its not surprising that the brain gets put into cruise control while they veg on the couch and watch another re-run of CSI… (I don’t watch CSI…)
So we’ll just let church roll along and not question what’s going on because to really get into that is to open a can of worms that requires far more headspace than most people have available. That ought to concern us because in the absence of critical thought we don’t progress – we stagnate. But then those who do make time to think and explore will often seem to be mavericks and heretics to those who don’t have time to get their heads around new ideas.
That’s a conundrum in itself! But it explains why most folk in churches simply want leaders who will (creatively) lead them back down old familiar paths and not add to their mental fatigue with unnecessary questions and new ideas that bring discomfort and disorientation.
It genuinely raises the question of how we lead and how we keep (ourselves) from stagnating and simply accepting what needs to be confronted and challenged. Part of me wants to ‘down tools’ in my business and allow the mind to get more active in this space again, but then my hunch is that it really is just a recipe for frustration and angst, because even the best and most supportive people will be in the space I am in now and will struggle to genuinely process even a small amount of what I may throw their way.
While I struggle with the frustration of this place, I have also come to appreciate it because it has made me aware that what I am experiencing is what the majority of our churches experience – people with limited headspace to really work out whether you can be an Anabaptist pragmatist… and let’s be honest no one gives a shit anyway!