Tuesday, October 27, 2009

why don't you just leave

Over at Preacher Mike's, once again, this "rhetorical question" is posed by a commenter.

I'm not going to add this post to the "Women in CofC" series officially, because it's a rant. It's my blog, and I started it specifically so that I could rant on it. Most of the time, I don't. But today, I do. If you like rants, read on. If they bug you, skip it.

I can't even begin to tally up how many times I've fielded this question. From professors. From students. From colleagues. From my therapist. From my best friend. In blog comments. In absentia, even, on discussion forums by people who don't even know me. Why don't you just leave.

It's something I've blogged about before. Why don't I just leave? After all, my husband did. And he's a better person and better Christian for it. Unburdened from the constant stress and frustration of seeing a better future for the church from within a church that doesn't want it, he can now preach and teach with an honesty and integrity that was not even welcomed, let alone understood, before. I see it--I'm sure everyone else who knows him does, too. For Brent, leaving was not optional. It was necessary, and too long delayed by his overdeveloped sense of responsibility.

Why don't you just leave. Well, thanks for the suggestion. Believe me, it's occurred to me. And you make it very tempting. Your invitation to leave is nicely bookended by the proclamation on every sign for the Episcopal Church I've seen: "the Episcopal Church welcomes you." You invite me to get out. This other church--this denomination--invites me in. To stay. Hmmm.

Why don't I just leave.

Why don't we all just leave, we dissidents who just stick around to moan and piss and bitch about the things that we don't like about church? We're a drag. And we're like the little boy who cried wolf, we're constantly droning on about something, aren't we, so we just get tuned out. We're ineffective advocates for the change we purport to desire, we whiners. Our yucky whiny voices turn people off, turn them away from the point we think we're making, not toward it.

Sure. That's who we are, we gender justice dissidents. We pillars of the church who give our time and our money, who lead in the ways we can--whether that's leading communion or teaching kids or making casseroles, who patiently accept the baby steps when they happen, who find their community of support online because they can't find it at their church, who wait for the teachable moments and struggle to endure the long stretches in between, who pray for discernment for that moment when "the well-timed complaint" may be heard and who then speak, not in a whiny yucky voice, but with prophetic conviction, and fear and trembling.

Oh wait, am I whining again? Damn.

Remember, it's October: sarcasm month and clergy appreciation month.


JJT said...

In case you missed last night Daily Show commentary on the Vatican's outreach to disgruntled Anglicans and the Anglican response, http://www.thedailyshow.com/full-episodes/252508/mon-october-26-2009-susie-essman

here's my take on Jon Stewart's take on church leave-taking:

CofC, "why don't you just leave" = Anglican, "God bless you as you seek that place on your journey" = Stewart, "Go f--- yourself, then."

*K* said...

Can I repost some of this on my blog? (linking to you, of course)

It is a question that can get under ones skin--quite rant-inspiring... kind of like someone asking when I'm going to have a kid 'of my own.' Well, I do have a kid of my own. A church of my own too. If you don't like me, you can leave.

JJT said...

re-post all you like, I love a good co-rant.

BTW, I attempted to send a timely facebook thanks for dinner only to find that I totally sent it to the wrong person somehow, with abs no idea how that happened...so a belated thanks! it was delicious and relaxing and marvelous all 'round.

Keith Brenton said...

I've had my share of the question Why Don't You Just Leave?, too - and my fill of it. So the linked post above was my response.

The real reason I don't leave is not because I'm employed by the church I'd be leaving or because people want me to or because I'd just find similar (or different) problems wherever I went - all of those are true, by the way - but because I'm enough of a stubborn cuss to think that as long as I stay and I keep loving, that God just might still be able to do some good through me right where I am.

That ain't a-gonna be true for everyone everywhere, and some of my dearest friends have left the congregation and fellowship of the church of Christ where we used to worship together.

But we still worship together, I'm convinced, in different buildings in the same city because I believe God still shows up there, and is willing to keep loving and holding out open arms at least as long as I am.

lisa b said...

This question always blows my mind. "Why don't you just leave?" Is that code for "We don't really want you here anyway?"

But why should I? Why should I have to leave the movement that nurtured my faith? Why should I have to leave the place that encouraged me to look at scripture with fresh eyes and not be bound to man-made dogma and creed? Why should I leave the place that taught me to love God with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength? Why should I have to leave the movement that members of my family have been part of since its earliest days?

I love the purity of the restoration plea, but who says we have it all hammered out and there's nothing new to consider?

I shouldn't have to leave. WE shouldn't have to leave.

lisa b said...

And in case you haven't read this:


Scott said...

I respect your ability to stay.

JJT said...

meh. I stay because this is (inexplicably?) where I want to be.

I think Lisa B. nailed it: it's code for "we don't want you." Or possibly just, "we can't be bothered with you right now, why don't you run along and play church somewhere else."