Minutes from the Secretary: On truth, audience, and the allocation of energy.

NB: Hi everyone. I’ve made a fast and dirty podcast of this post with my silly little microrecorder. It might convey my inention a little better than words on a page alone. Cheers, Rachelle

So, I wrote this article about my Easter discomfort, and it threw me into two worlds. The first world is the one I adore, where recovering evangelicals and other misfit truth-seekers cling to each other and celebrate discovering a (rek)new(ed) way to be. The second world is the world of religious debate, in which people–people who I like and respect and admire–spend a great deal of time trying to convince me that “we” are wrong and “they” are right.

I get why this is. I get that in the evangelical/fundamentalist world view, there is a Right and a Wrong and never the twain shall meet. Furthermore, for these folks getting things Right is highly valued. In part, this is because not getting it right results in not being right with God, and ultimately in a really long stay in Hell. So it stands to reason that people who hold this worldview want to debate with you about the places where your ideologies and their ideologies do not match up. Of course they want you to come to The Right. They like you. Maybe they even love you. They want you to fix your thinking because they care. They really care.

The problem with this is that we are experiencing cross-cultural dissonance here. Because in the post-modern world, there is not a Right and a Wrong in the same black-and-white sense that there is in modernist country. In the post-modern world truth is not seen as a concrete, attainable goal, but as an intriguing, slippery beast. To post-moderns there is more than one true way of answering the same question–and so the questions, and not the answers are tantamount. In the post-modern zeitgeist, this is fine, because you can hold two different truths in one open palm. But in the modernist milieu, that is not an option.

So, to use a phrase of my father’s “Let me say this about that.“….My target audience is this post-modern group of malcontented seekers. Malcontented Seekers. I know it’s an awkward phrase, but both of these words are important here.

Malcontented: by which I mean “requiring change, discontent.”
Seekers:  by which I mean “not willing to stay in the discontent, but being eager to create/discover something proactive and positive, something (re)new(ed).” 

I have readers who are modernists, and I thank you for being here. But I’m asking you to please remember that you already have a place to belong. A place to live out your beliefs. A place where others share your convictions. It’s a super well established place with lots of support for your way of being. You can live there in comfort. But the others–the malcontented seekers–not so much. They are out there on their own:  beat up and disoriented; hungry and eager; excited to find something new, and more than a little bit sad that they had to leave the former behind. It’s a difficult place to be. And these folks, they need a safe place, and they need to find each other. That’s what I do here. It’s what I strive to achieve. That is mycurrent calling.

So, if you are one of those lucky folks who live happily in a safe and content place;  one of those folks who know the Truth and the Truth works for you; if  you  feel  confident in your understanding of things like Jesus, and Easter, and Sin and Redemption–I’m happy for you. Believe me, we all sometimes wish we were there with you. But we aren’t, and we literally cannot be there again. So please try to understand. We aren’t rejecting you. We aren’t trying to pull you out of what you know, or convince you that you are wrong and we are right. But your language is no longer our language, your culture is no longer our own, and the basis for how you form your understanding of the world — the idea that the Bible holds all the answers, or that faith is cut-and-dry, or that all our holy stories are literally true–these things  are no longer bedrock for us. So we may miss each other a bit, we may not always connect. And that’s okay. We can still be significant one to another. But we need you to let us explore.

What this means for me, personally, is that I won’t always respond to all the comments from modernist Christians. I just can’t. I’m a chronic pain survior, I’m the mother of several, and I’m an ExPat trying to live in a foreign and difficult (for me) culture. That doesn’t leave a lot of energy for me to play with.  The energy I’m left with I am JOYOUSLY compelled to give to my malcontent friends and soulsibilings who’s questions lead them to seek truth in the margins. These are the edge-dwellers and my passion leads me to them — leads us to each other. So their thoughts and concerns will get the bulk of my time. I hope you understand.

That being said, thank you for all who have commented here, and on BlogHer, and on Twitter, and especially on Facebook, where the discussion is the most active. I appreciate your passion, your concern, and your gorgeous hearts and minds.

And to those of you who have come to those same places to be pissy, or sad, or curious, or hopeful, or all of the above–I am so, SO glad you are here. I know that together we can form a giant pool of wisdom that will allow us to create a way of living that doesn’t do damage to our souls.  Come join me on the picnic blanket, and bring your most favorite passions–especially the one’s you’ve had to keep under that mattress until now. We’re going to have fun!

Karin and Lindord my friends, play us out, will ya please? …..

Next up at Magpie Girl:  On authenticity, niceness, and the benefits of being pissy . :-)

Silvia April 14, 2009 at 12:11 pm

This really resonated with me:

“So we may miss each other a bit, we may not always connect. And that’s okay. We can still be significant one to another. But we need you to let us explore.

Great post, Rachelle!

Sue April 14, 2009 at 1:51 pm

What a delightful post :)

blisschick April 14, 2009 at 3:25 pm

Discomfort is important. It is through discomfort that we learn the most, I think.

Being content can too easily, spiritually speaking, lead to being just plain ol’ lazy. :)

And I think it is really important to show up to churches and cathedrals and temples with out discomfort and our discontent. (I wrote a bit about this in a post about a cop with a gun at mass.)

I have this argument with myself all the time — and with my partner.

I call myself a mystical Catholic Kundalini yoga green pagan. That Catholic part is super important to me and always will be. I am a Marian and always will be.

But I am also a Lesbian and I am blatantly not welcome to the table.

But I go anyway. Because it is the WAITERS at that table who are being unwelcoming, not the true host of the party.

And I wonder what will happen to that party if we, the malcontents, don’t keep crashing…

blisschick April 14, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Oh, sorry for writing so much but you got me to thinking about this (like I don’t ALWAYS think about this!?!?). :)

Goethe said that everything is a metaphor. I love that. EVERYTHING is a metaphor.

But then there’s a voice in my (akin to Flannery O’Connor, I think), which says “Everything is also, at the same time, REAL.”

Cognitive dissonance applied to our spiritual lives. We can hold it all.

Rachelle April 14, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Dear BlissyBliss :-) –

I totally agree. Comfort has it’s fallbacks, doesn’t it? Sometimes you need to be in the fray, and sometimes you have to duck out and take a breather.

I love the metaphor of the waiters and the Host. Meaningful and clever — two of my favorite things.

I think I’ll have to call myself a Jesusy Jew-ish Yogini Lover-of-Pagans. How’s that for today? And a little bit Desert Mother. Yeah, sounds about right.

Have fun storming the castle….

Cyndee April 14, 2009 at 5:22 pm

Wow Rachelle, this is BRILLIANT!
Thank you! Yes I am a malcontented seeker & a recovering born-again Christian. I just realized this last weekend the part about the recovery.
I have had a TREMENDOUS amount of loss in my life due to this.
And right now I am sitting in the midst of all of that….feeling the intensity of that loss….and then….beginning to imagine….what needs to be created out of all of this….
One of the things I realized recently is that I may still believe, but just use different words…such as rebirth has now replaced born again…when I saw that, I began to wonder if it is just the wording that doesn’t resonate for me. Well, no, actually you hit the nail on the head. Even when I was a born again Christian, I never imposed my beliefs on anyone else. I didn’t live in the field of right & wrong then….and I don’t now…
Thank you! You helped me know that there are others out there like me, when I am here all alone…

Heather April 14, 2009 at 5:39 pm

Girl – why haven’t you written a book yet? Seriously – this is the kind of stuff people are hungry for.

Jolie April 14, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Rachelle– I’ve already told you how much this post helps. I love that you are carving out a space for us. I’m grateful for the knowledge that I’m not alone in this wonky uncertain place. Thanks.

Daniel April 14, 2009 at 6:01 pm

Rachelle, you’re awesome. Thanks for being such a safe place, and for standing up for those of us who can’t fit in the old space anymore.

Here’s a great malcontented seeker quote I found the other day:

I want to seek the company of those who are looking for the truth, but I want to run away from those who have found it.
-Deepak Chopra

Rebekah April 14, 2009 at 7:04 pm

But the others–the malcontented seekers–not so much. They are out there on their own: beat up and disoriented; hungry and eager; excited to find something new, and more than a little bit sad that they had to leave the former behind. It’s a difficult place to be.

That is me, exactly. Thank you, truly, from the bottom of my heart, for putting this words out there and letting the rest of us know that we are not in this metaphorical boat alone.

Elle April 14, 2009 at 8:47 pm

Rachelle, you made me cry – you pinpointed where I am so perfectly and articulated all the things I wish I could say to my modernist friends. All I can say is THANK YOU.

Jennifer/The Word Cellar April 15, 2009 at 5:05 am

I don’t think it’s too much for me to say: I love you.

Kel April 15, 2009 at 10:19 am

say it soultribe sista :)

Lissa April 15, 2009 at 6:35 pm

I came across a blogger today and in her profile she stated that she was an Eclectic Spiritual Being. I thought hmmmm, that sounds like me. Then I hop over here and find Malcontented Seekers-yep sounds like me. Grief pushed what was always lying within to the surface. Yet there are few that I can discuss either with. I have to believe in nothing or exactly one thing all the way or I am a called a hypocrite or just crazy. So glad my journey & the universe led me to you Rachelle for I am so grateful.

Dru April 15, 2009 at 8:17 pm

Thanks for another great post,

I am particularly happy that the space you carve out has room for such a variety of backgrounds. I have become a Malcontented Seeker from a completely different direction, but the ideas you put forward ring true nonetheless.

Gaytha April 15, 2009 at 9:22 pm

Thanks so much for what you say here. I have been confused for quite some time and now that i am a Mom I am more at battle with what I know and how I feel. Just so you know this brought a moment of comfort in that battle and will even refer back to it when I need comfort in the search. Thank you, I am so glad I know you and that I am blessed you are out there .

Sam April 15, 2009 at 10:04 pm

This is just so good, Rachelle. Your description of the evangelical/fundamentalist view is spot on, it’s that strange mixture of knowing that they really do care, and you want them to gently step back and everyone love Jesus as best they know how. I love how you’ve outlined the space that we questioners need – and it’s funny, I was in our beloved home church for years that intuitively gave me that space. I don’t know exactly where I fall, but it’s sure as hell not in a small (Baptisty) parenting Bible study group I’m in now, in this new town – I feel so lost and not good enough, and yet their beliefs are oddly comforting. I fluctuate between wanting to be like them – to go backwards – and then my soul flipflops, knowing that I am simply a square peg in a round hole. My people are out there, I’ve just got to find them.

Rachelle April 16, 2009 at 6:52 am

Thank you all for your comments and support. I’ve recived some difficult push-back this week, some from people I love, and it’s good to have the resistence far out-weighed by the support. I know that I what I do here is powerful, and is meeting a deeply felt need. Furthermore, I know that we are crafting an exisistence together that offers more shalom to our own souls, and thus to the world.

Thank you so much for being on this journey with me together.

Today I have a long meeting and tomorrow is dedicated to email, but I hope to have another post on niceness, authenticy and the benefits of being pissy up sometime this weekend. And of course, my regular weekly post at BlogHer will be up by Sunday midnight. I hope you will all come along and continue the search together.

Much Shalom,


Bethany April 16, 2009 at 11:47 am

Getting to this entry a bit late, but I wanted to let you know how much I love your terms — “soul siblings,” “edge-dwellers,” “malcontent seekers.” Such a deeply refreshing change from the cut-and-dried “fundamentalist” or “liberal.” I often feel like your blog entries are more of a church service than the ones I go to (or skip) every Sunday morning because your writing reaches my soul where it’s at now. I’m sorry about the critical words being sent your way; I experienced some of that last November when word got out that I *gasp* voted for Obama, and I literally had to make a list of every person I knew who was still supporting me so I wouldn’t lose heart. You are heartily welcome to add my name to your list… and I can’t wait to read your next BlogHer article about Jesus’s death!

Lydia April 17, 2009 at 3:45 am

I love this post.

I like that you have chosen to say (and how you’ve said it) that this is a space for the malcontents–instead of trying to keep up debates with those who “know the truth”.

I feel like you’ve given a good name to us–“malcontented seekers”. The definition so describes me.

It’s lonely out here as a malcontented seeker. If I tell people in my church about what I really think–I’ll be looked at differently. I’ll be looked down on. They will feel burdened for me.

I notice that on you’re blog there are usually only comments from people who agree with you. So far this has been a place for the malcontented seekers, and I like that. It makes me feel not so alone, and not so lost.

Yurs_Trulie April 22, 2009 at 11:11 am

By coincidence, a true friend of mine though removed from my life by distance and time, asked me if I knew this blog as it reminded her of myself; an unsatisfied expat living in Cph with a tortured soul.. and I immediately followed the link and found tears coming on as I read through this passage, the realization dawning on me that still, despite the efforts over several years to repress, recover, mend, negotiate, convince and rationalize I remain beaten and disoriented. The lonliness is unbearable.

Life has been shadow since the concept of hope evokes distaste and sneers from within as reactivley as though my shin were hit with a rubber mallet. I never was a religious person. I don’t have nice feelings for organized religion but I held belief in things, ideas, and people. Losing both hope and belief makes it painful to look back and impossible to move forward.

Previous post:

Next post: