Monday, July 24, 2006


It started like this: I peered at the caller ID display. "Christ Life A G," I said towards the hallway. "What the hell is that?" *

"I have no idea," Mindy answered from the office next door.

"Well, I ain't answering it. Maybe they'll tell voice mail what they want."

They did tell voice mail. Three times in the 10 minutes before I sucked it up and returned the calls.

Never once has the Catholic priest called me. Nor the Presbyterian minister. Likewise the Lutheran pastor has never felt the need to contact me. My own minister hasn't even called.

And that's a good thing.

I do hereby apologize to evangelical ministers everywhere. We, your congregants, have done you the horrible disservice of measuring your success exclusively by the number of our fellow pew-warmers that you attract to each and every church service. This need for numbers has driven us all to do some pretty dumb things.

One of those dumb things is calling me to explain that even though John Q. Sinner has been screwing up his probation, all is well because you (and Jesus) are intervening in his life. No matter how sincere John Q. Sinner is, never - ever - call the probation officer. And if you must call, please don't tell me how J.Q. Sinner, after you spent five hours with him on Friday afternoon, eventually prayed "the sinner's prayer".

(I also apologize for responding to this grand revelation with a terse "And?")

(Nah, I take that back. I don't apologize. If you spent five hours with me I'd be willing to say whatever it took to get your money and get you out of my hair.)

C'mon y'all! We evangelicals appear to be the only ones falling for this bullshitola. Its getting to be embarrassing. Even if J.Q. Sinner is for real and becomes involved in church, he is likely only going to stick with it for a few months. We have to face the fact that our churches are middle-class institutions. J.Q. probably isn't compatible with a middle-class institution. He doesn't really want to fit that mold. I know it surprises you, because it damn sure floored me, but he'd have to give up a lot of good things to live a middle-class life. Its culture/class-centric of us to think he wants to be us.

I hope J.Q. is sincere. I know that you are. So, kick him in the butt and then work right along side him as he takes care of business. Show him that God isn't going to make life easy. Teach him that God will give him strength and purpose. But stop trying to park him in a pew.

And don't stand between John Q. and I. I've got my butt-kickin' boots on.

*It was Christian Life Assembly of God.


Pastor Christopher said...

got it. is bullshitola Greek or latin? hope all is well.

Jim said...


Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

~grins~ I just freakin love caller I.D.

SpookyRach said...

Christopher - you'll be pleased to know that blogger's spellchecker thought bullshitolla was actually "blessings". I laughed.

Things are unchanged. Thanks for the well-wishes.

Quotidian Grace said...

Glad to know you have no time for "cheap grace." (See Dietrich Bonhoeffer)But then, I never thought you would!

Captainwow said...

again. good for you fer callin bullshit on that action.

Miss Kitty said...

A great post! You have summed up the problem with "cheap grace" as I never could have. It irritates the hell out of me, too.

I have a distant cousin who, when he's not strung out on meth, is strung out on Jesus. His faith is an addiction when he doesn't have the drug there. Scotty's parents think it's wonderful when he's "high on the Word of Gawd," preaching/yelling at people on the town square, going to church every day he can, obsessively quoting Scripture...but something, somewhere goes wrong, and he's right back in trouble with drugs and the law. His faith doesn't help him deal with life's unfairness. It substitutes for the "Tina" when he can't get it.

I hope that made sense. Your post sure did. I wonder whether my cousin's pastor has called his probation officer? He probably did after Scotty shot up the neighborhood last summer.

Linda (FM) said...

It strikes me, reading this post, how similar the job of seminary admissions director is to that of probation officer. I'm reminded of Sonny and Bubba BigAss who showed up in October one year, UHaul behind their pick up, ready to start seminary. They'd prayed the sinner's prayer two weeks earlier, heard the call to ministry a week after that, AND *with the blessing of their pastor,* loaded up everything they owned to move from So Cal to No Cal BEFORE ever contacting the seminary to apply. They wanted to start classes that day. I shared a few choice words with their pastor.

SpookyRach said...

Miss Kitty - we all have a cousin Scotty somewhere in the family, don't we? ha ha!

Linda - BWAAAHAHAHA! That is so sad its not even funny, but I'm laughing anyway.

grandma1 said...


Linda (FM) said...

It was sad, but comical at the same time, kinda like being in an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies. The ones I hated though, were the pastors who would call on behalf of prisoners coming up for parole who had made a profession of faith during the pastor's ministry in the prison. I'd get great stories about how the guy had turned his life around and was ready to serve God, and wouldn't we please give him a chance, because admission to seminary would sure help him in his case for parole.

Funny how they never called making the same plea for women.

SpookyRach said...


You get the Zinger award, Linda! Surely they didn't call because women don't get into trouble and go to prison. Don't you think?

Patti said...

Where's my comment? It must have gotten eaten. I wrote about how parents call me and say their kids lost/forgot homework but it's not the kids' fault...I always reply, "Whose fault is it, then?" I try to get the kids to own their actions, but sometimes it's hard.

Songbird said...

rach, will smama and I are LOLing!!

Linda (FM) said...

Exactly, Rach. An oversight on my part. ;-)

Greek Shadow said...

Cheap grace is present in the parable of the sowers. The seed that lands in shallow soil. It springs up quickly, but withers and dies because there is no room for roots. Being in farm country you should know that's the laziness of the farmer who didn't till the soil adequately. Dip 'em and drop 'em Preachers. Baby Christians need nurturing, sending them to Seminary is expecting a new born to eat a steak dinner!
Preachers also forget that God may have forgiven them, but the legal system plays by a different set of rules.

Mary Beth said...

You go girl!

Kick 'em in the pants...JQ's and pastors, too!

beth said...

My ex-brother-in-law down in the Lone Star state gets arrested, then gets saved. Pretty soon, he does another turn with an illicit substance, gets arrested, and then gets saved. Most recently he beat the snot out of his beautiful new (second) wife, was presented with a restraining order, went to rehab, got out and got saved.

His mama really thinks it'll take this time.


Princess of Everything (and then some) said...

~applaudes~ Wow...wonderful comments!!

Poor Jesus...he is always *found* at jail or prison. He tends to lose his way out there alot.

Rev Dave said...


I was relating your story (not with your style and panche, though)to someone last night and she said, "Well, why doesn't she tell the pastor if he truly believes this guy is saved, then let him move into the pastor's house with his family? If he's really repented of his wicked ways, there should be no problem, right?"

God Bless

see-through faith said...

wonderful post - and comments.

I am so ashamed of church and leaders sometimes. But you at least made me laugh about it Rach

God does give second , third and nth chances - but we are called to be accountable for our mess ups ...and no priest pastor whatever should blur that boundary

Rev Dave loved your comment - and as for the hillbillies ... and seminary ... ROFL ...

Headless-in-GR said...


Yes. I would have read the whole post for just that word. Gosh I've missed the internet!