We the Cynics (A Confession)

“Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.”
~Prov 19:12-13

Yesterday afternoon I stumbled across a little church-welcoming video on the internet, one of those “welcome to our casual, laid back, grab a donut and cup of coffee on the way to the rock band worship,” videos. A thousand presumptions popped up before I could shoo them. I love the church. I suppose it’s going to take the better part of a lifetime to learn to stop judging her and her body parts.

In any event, this morning’s Psalm speaks to it all, or so I interpreted it to. I penned a little piece as a sort of altar.

We the Cynics (A Confession).

Some presume fault in the church house coffee shops and bookstores, in right-wing ideologies, in the suspended can lights or dangly twinkly ones that are used to create an otherworldly ambiance. Maybe they see pure Christ in radical activism, in selling the things that own them, or rather might own them under the worst of best circumstances. Or maybe (just maybe) they’ve never liked the assembly in the first place. Not the church house. Not the home group. Not the family living room.

Some presume fault in the wanderlust of the mission, in irresponsibility of socialist ideologies, in the risk. Really, is it any surprise? We’ve all known missionaries with a penchant for play, for vacation, for an honest month’s sleep. Jesus had a job, too, and if he was God he must have worked perfectly hard in the infinitely mundane. As in to-the-bone hard. That’s their presumption, anyway. Maybe they see the purity in doing the next menial task to the exacting standards of a virgin-born carpenter. Or maybe (just maybe) they fear the winds that blow ships across stagnant waters.

Some presume fault in both camps, in fog machines and lazy missionaries alike. In the monetary and theological false-walls that hide an ancient way of being. In skinny jeans and fresh-pressed khakis. Maybe we the cynics are seeking something more balanced, more abundant. Or maybe (just maybe) we are death-bearers of presumptuous sins.

Photo by soundman1024, used under Creative Commons license.

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24 Responses to We the Cynics (A Confession)

  1. Brenna says:

    Ugh. All my cynicism is being exposed this week, especially as it pertains to our missionary brothers and sisters (says someone who needs a word that goes beyond cynicism given her dealings in that community and her own failed attempts……) I suppose I need to work that out…..
    Thank you for sharing this morning!

  2. Jessica Y says:

    Just broken. That’s my vote. For me, at least it’s where my cynicism resides. In my brokenness.
    Jesus come quickly.

  3. The most amazing thing happened a few weeks ago . . . Austin and I have felt prompted by the Spirit to integrate ourselves in a particular formalized church that meets in downtown New Haven (long story) (doesn’t replace our non-formalized church), a more passionate group of hipsters I have never met. Anyhew, we were participating in their one-year anniversary celebration a few Sunday’s back and about half way through their worship set, the smoke machine made an appearance. I was standing in the balcony when the fog started rolling out on stage and I waited a moment for the REACTION that was CERTAIN to rise up in me . . . But, it didn’t come! I didn’t react! Immediately I began crying, silent tears rolling down my cheeks because there was no cynical reaction waiting in the wings of my soul for something to trigger it. I felt SO free. Because I. didn’t. care. anymore.

    Praise be to God for the good work He continues to do in me.

    Amen. And the end.

    P.S. You’re the Good People. And surely you should be saving all these stellar posts and confessions for DC?! 🙂

    • sethhaines says:

      So glad you shared that story here. We need to celebrate the letting go of cynicism, the coming to terms with people who have it wrong… just like we have it wrong… ’cause we all have it wrong.

      Thanks for your words here, E`$. AND… sometimes the words just work themselves out and to save them might be (just maybe) impolite to the words.

  4. I love the body of Christ – but it’s not an easy love. We have enemies in the church and sometimes I’m one of them, and I’ll look across the tops of the heads of those sitting in front of me and I’ll be broken of those “presumptuous sins” and beg for the grace to love rightly.

  5. Adam says:

    “Cynicism is the sickness of my culture, we
    undress each other with an evil eye.”

    • bhirschy says:

      True – but there are certainly parts of what we ‘do’ that deserve to be dissected and looked up with some sort of cynicism. What do you think?

      • sethhaines says:

        I don’t know about this… I don’t know…
        The dissecting or deconstruction (especially of other bodies of believers) can be a tricky/dicey thing. The things it can do to your heart to pick others apart… oi…

  6. kiki malone says:

    Man, I love smoke machines.

  7. Reading this – and the FAB comments – well, it just made my day sort of fall into some sort of harmony. That Kiki makes me laugh out loud some days.

    There is always something to be critical about, something that is suspect – no matter where we fall on the spectrum of right to left, formal to informal, small to large, whatever. We ain’t none of us perfect. And it’s good to remember that truth on occasion – thanks for the good reminder today, friend. (and I’m with Erika – this sounds like a perfect DC post)

    • sethhaines says:

      This is true, Diana… so true. There is always something that is suspect. I want to stop trying so hard to identify it and just move one in love and mercy. That’s a tough’un, though.

  8. bhirschy says:

    I’m just looking for honesty from all parties.

    I’m looking for those who realize church is effed until He comes back and un-effs it.

    I’m looking for grace WITH the cynicism – not throwing out the cynic out, but not letting him play judge.

  9. Jessica Y says:

    Just ran across a good Josh Garrels tune. “Cynicism”

  10. Pingback: The Saturdaily–The Death of Cynicism | Seth Haines

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