The phrase, sour grapes, has been used before to describe the SCP website and our commentary and opinions here. Looking online at the origin of this phrase, here is what I discovered.
To pretend that you do not want something after you have tried to get it and failed is known as ‘sour grapes.’ In other words, you are hiding your disappointment.
The origin of ‘sour grapes’ is from Aesop’s ancient Greek fable of a fox trying desperately to get some grapes from a tree. After several attempts, the fox walks away saying, “They are probably sour, anyway!”
I just don’t see how this saying applies to what we are about here at SCP. We are not in any way, shape or form trying to hide our disappointment with the modern American church. Exactly the opposite. We are boldly proclaiming our disappointment. We are not hiding as some have claimed. Our names, emails, pictures (as bad as that may be) and even our families are mentioned regularly on the site and in the podcasts.
We are also not pretending that we don’t want something after we have tried to get it and failed. We are desperately wanting something after we have tried to get it and failed.
In Aesop’s fable, the fox looks on from a distance and imagines that the grapes he is reaching for are a succulent, lip-smacking treat. After straining and giving his best efforts over the course of time, he walks away proclaiming that they probably weren’t even worth it. Yet in his mind, he knows they were. He is fooling himself to believe something he knows isn’t true. He is deceiving himself.
I am not deceiving myself when it comes to the church. I am speaking for myself and my experiences within the church after many years of being a full-time pastor. I look on the church and I already know it is sour in many ways, so I currently am tired of reaching for this thing that I do not believe will completely satisfy me.
Never in my life have I more identified with “far from God” people. This is a difficult confession to make. Having been through some personal issues of late I have sought solace from the church on one hand, and found myself retreating on the other. The pastor of my church has been there for me with the occasional phone call and for that I am grateful. A couple of others within the church have reached out to me once in awhile as well. However, when I attend my church, I do not experience God’s presence. I have spoken of this before on this site. And I am not laying the blame of this at the feet of the church…however… why go? What’s the point.
It is possible that I am not having a church crisis, but a faith crisis.
There is another person close to me that is going through a marriage separation and has yet to recieve anything from their church. She did get a call from the pastor right after the situation developed, but not one other person has reached out to my friend. She is alone. Not one woman from the church has called her to check on her and how she is doing. No one from the leadership of that church has called to inquire where she has been or to see how she is doing. She was the one that left the marriage, so maybe they are not sure what to say. Maybe they think she is “in sin”. And so what if she is? Isn’t that the purpose of the church…to reach out to people irregardless of their condition. So maybe this is my real issue with the church….cause it isn’t really how the church is treating me, it is how it treats people like my friend.
You see…the friend I am speaking of is my wife. Our marriage is breaking up. But nothing about our separation is causing my faith crisis. Here is what is causing me to be so pissed…at the church and at God. She left me and the church has abandoned her. I am so angry about this I am never ever ever ever going to church again. I can more understand my wife leaving me for someone else then I can the church abandoning her…. for what? If the church is God’s example to a lost and dying world then they can fuck off. They don’t love. They don’t care. They are really and truly only concerned about the four walls. They are more concerned with “breaking ground” then they are with “broken hearts”.
I cannot carry this burden anymore. I am sorry God. I still love you I think. And I guess you still love me. I think you exist but I even not really sure of that anymore. It’s just that the hands and the feet you want to use to show this are broken…worse they are amputated and no longer useful. I am just going to bow out gracefully. I am done. Good bye!
So from a place of paralysis I started this blog. And I have gained strength on this journey.
Now don’t get me wrong. Please read the next sentence very carefully. I love the church. I believe the church (defined as followers of Christ gathering locally) is God’s expression to the world to reach people far from God and to minister to all people groups socially, emotionally, mentally and most importantly, spiritually.
The church and the people within it that I have relationships with have been extended family. When my father passed away when I was twelve and my mom and I were left alone to face uncertain days, the church came alongside of us. At the age of 16, when I was involved in a car-crash that took the life of another person and then subsequently my family was sued, the church helped us through that.
At 18 when I became involved in ministry for the first-time, my church stood beside me and helped me navigate my calling. I was ordained in the church. I was married by the church. We dedicated our children in the church. Involvement in the church has shaped my life.
The church has also been the source of my greatest disappointments. There are many that have burdened my heart with disillusionment. And it is wrong to generalize I know, but much of my pain and frustration has come from the system that the church is embodied. No specifics are necessary because my intention is not to cause damage to any particular person or group.
But just like each of us has problems, questions and issues with our families of origin, I have the same feelings towards my adoptive family….the church!
Are questions wrong? Are opinions wrong? Are observations wrong?