Monthly Archives: April 2022

An ex-christian reflects on Keith Green

The Keith I remember; photo from the Last Days Ministries website: http://www.lastdaysministries.org/keith/photos/13.jpgLast Days Ministries

Keith has a special place in my heart. His first album came out when I was 17 and he then made six albums in the span of seven years, every one of which I bought, listened to on the 70’s version of repeat, and learned every word. I remember where I was when I heard he had been killed with two of his children and others from the ministry on July 28, 1982. Since this was before the days of the 24-hour news cycle, I didn’t actually learn about it until a few weeks later.

I decided to revisit Keith’s music today. Unlike some other christian musicians, Keith seemed to be absolutely earnest in his faith. He became a believer at age 21, and he died at age 28. His fervor was the faith of the young believer, passionate about this story of good news that changed his life so drastically.

I loved Keith and his music. I actually still do.

In some ways, nothing was different back then. People were still people; there was brokenness; there were many who professed to have “The Answer,” but *we* knew what the real answer was, didn’t we.

He knew how to write worship music that had meaning.

“Oh Lord, You’re beautiful, Your face is all I see, For when Your eyes are on this child, Your grace abounds in me. … I want to take Your Word and shine it all around But first help me just to live it, Lord, And when I’m doing well, help me to never seek a crown, For my reward is giving glory to You.” (Oh Lord, You’re Beautiful, 1980)

He inspired me to be better, to take care of people in need. But he also tapped into my shame in songs like Asleep in the Light, “How can you be so dead, when you’ve been so well fed? Jesus rose from the grave, and you! you can’t even get out of bed.” and My Eyes are Dry, “My eyes are dry, my faith is old, my heart is hard, my prayers are cold.” and How Can They Live Without Jesus, “For maybe they don’t understand it, or maybe they just haven’t heard, or maybe we’re not doin’ all we can, living up to His holy word.”

He spoke my heart in a lot of his songs, both in my natural desire to be a kind and compassionate person, and the pain in my heart which came from being in need and having Christians either hurt me because of their own brokenness, or hear me ask for something and say like Keith sang, “And you turn them away as you smile and say God bless you, be at peace and all heaven just weeps, ’cause Jesus came to your door and you’ve left Him out in the streets.”

I think the pinnacle of his music was The Prodigal Son Suite. Here are the lyrics. (I’d love it if readers took the time to listen to this beautiful song.)

There’s obviously a lot of water under the bridge between the years Keith was making music and where we are now. I’m sure there are developmental phases that I have gone through that have contributed to where I am now and I’ve retained some of what he inspired in me and have rejected some of what he spoke about me as a christian and a person.

I truly want to love people. Kindness and compassion are my jam. And I do it in the context of having struggled my entire life with believing I am enough.

Christianity told me I most certainly am not enough. See Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.” (ESV) Colossians 3:5 says, “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (ESV). I know I have a few readers who are familiar with the Bible and who will want to explain how these verses do not mean what I think they mean. The point is that the Bible is about an external standard, through and through, and humans, because they are born with a sin nature, can never measure up. That’s the whole point of Jesus; he makes it possible for us to measure up.

I no longer accept this premise. What I loved about Keith is that what he cared about was living for and like Jesus as best as he could (as far as I could tell). But he was also subject to the shame and guilt which rose from not being enough like Jesus. Guilt and shame have not been productive in my life. Christianity did not bring forth a pure heart, a renewed mind, a willingness to hate my family in the name of god, no matter how hard i prayed, submitted, read the bible, went to bible study, and applied my will. Sure, you can say that’s owing to my failings. But I say no. Humans are human, and there are other explanations for our humanity besides the Bible.

The Bible was also written a long time ago and we have learned so much about the human brain, about parenting, about developmental psychology, about socialization. Explanations for things in biblical times were appropriate for then, but they are incomplete or even incorrect for now.

One of the most important realizations I have come to is that Jesus can die for our sins all day long and twice on saturday, and unless we forgive ourselves, we forgive ourselves, we are not able to really appropriate what it means to be forgiven. Unless we can believe that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” or just magnificent by virtue of being human, we will continue to struggle with believing we are worth loving, that we are indeed good enough, just by being perfectly imperfect.

Life is a journey, and I want to be present for it. I’m learning. The present is what we have. Now. This moment. That’s it. This is the moment I want to focus on. And so right now I take the plunge and press publish, even if this piece is only at best perfectly imperfect, just like I am.

Be Like Kepler

Last summer, we decided to hire a personal trainer for Kepler. He had 30-minute sessions for several months, and graduated to hour sessions in February. His trainer, Pete, is creative, caring, professional, and a perfect fit for Kepler. One of their favorite activities is light saber battles, which usually happen near the end of the session. The pièce de résistance of the session, if you will.

Please note I am unable to post videos on my blog anymore, but this is a safe link to see an actual light saber battle (40 seconds long) between Pete and Kepler. https://imgur.com/1rhITkQ

Somehow there have been no injuries in all these months, even through all the thrusting and parrying. Finally, on Wednesday, Kepler accidentally poked Pete in the eye with his light saber. Kepler was devastated. He was very quiet in the car. Finally he said, “Mom, I’m not going to do light saber battle anymore.” I just said ok. No need to try to talk him out of his feelings. Here is the text exchange between them Wednesday evening.

I’ve noticed that Kepler has learned the skill of actually processing emotions and moving through them. He calls it “changing my heart.” So it’s been a couple days since the eye poke, and he was ready to respond to Pete.

After feelings those feelings, they began to dissipate and he was ready to accept that accidents happen and it wasn’t the end of the world. Having had many experiences of my own where the hurt feelings or shame or embarrassment got stuck right down in my bone marrow, I find Kepler’s emotional intelligence to be inspiring.

Be like Kepler!

HELLO MY MANY READERS

Hello kids!

It’s been a minute, hasn’t it? I do love the illustration of my last post which was written way back in November 2020. Not to diss My Many Readers, but I daresay everyone has enough to read and ponder already, so probably no one has missed ye olde blog. Be that as it may, I did have a dream this morning where I was just trying to get home, but the dang street and the equally dang street signs went round and round in circles. It was like a Bollywood film set in a city in India, with people teeming, buildings looming, and my home and street eluding me. Finally woke myself up out of that to discover that my credit union played an April fools joke on me by deducting a $4000 check out of my account twice! Except it wasn’t a joke and they really did it.

In the meantime, Mr. ClearingSpace4Joy was off at the dentist getting his front tooth extracted. Yes, his front tooth. Seems that having a crown on a tooth for 50 years can sometimes make the tooth weaken and last evening he knew it was coming out. I let the Tooth Fairy know to be on the lookout, but I think he left the tooth at the dentist’s office. Came home with stitches in his mouth, an upper lip that doesn’t work right, a temporary bridge, and lots of pain. I reminded him that snitches get stitches but he didn’t think that was funny.

So I’ve been thinking about what I want to be when I grow up. But nothing comes to mind. I’ve tried a few things and didn’t like them, but even though I am a few years north of 29, I still think it’s possible to come up with some ideas. However, my Pesky Depression continually tells me that I’ll never amount to anything. Thank you, Pesky Depression. One thing I do think I’d like to be is a writer. Whether or not I have anything to say that more than a dozen people would want to read remains to be seen. And “a dozen” might be a little <optimistic> (wrong word but I’m waiting for the right word to enter stage right).

Today’s blog post is just my way of letting Pesky Depression know that it’s not winning today. It tried, bless its heart. I’ve committed to writing 750 words on 750words.com every day in the month of April. I love the first of the month, like I love Monday, and a new year, and any time there is the possibility of starting anew. This year started off pretty rough with a sad and traumatic event happening out of the blue, and this month also started off a bit rough (thanks, credit union!) but that doesn’t mean it has to continue that way. All I have is the present moment, and in this present moment, I choose to be a writer. Thanks for reading.