Sunday, February 26, 2006

On This Here Rock

I think my mom should apply to study at the seminary. She would do well there. She did write her master's thesis on the Black Church and she identifies with it. She is not really a risk taker, but being retired, why not? Maybe she should think about it. Lately she has been asking me about paradigm shifts and stuff like that (can you freakin' imagine?). I have some books on critical theory and cultural studies I am sliding her way.

I went to the Christian publisher with my mother who has been trying her holiest to get me to work for. It was an essential stop for her as she prepared for her church focus group presentation. And it was an essential part of her learning to be a leader and learning she does have what it takes to lead a ministry. She wanted me to come so I could give my opinion about the books. I just sat there and read each selection she was deciding on. The theme was pastorial care. I got into the subject matter and so did she.

The interesting thing is that I did not know that critical theory has had such a long rang effect on how we communicate. There were all these discussions on paradigms, other discussions on minisitries that deal with people that are outside of the traditional church community. People like HIV suffers, prostitutes and drug addicts were given special attention. I found the critical aids to be really useful for people that do that kind of work. Ultimately, we all have to learn not to judge. There were discussions on how to impliment pastorial care in a small town church, or in the larger community. There were books that dealt with African-Americans and Jewish Americans, both the clergy and the regular followers. It was very eye opening and I helped mom choose 2 out of 8 possible books.

After I sat there with a cold, and talked loudly for a couple of minutes cause I was tired of one woman in the store running around acting as if I did not read and could not possibly be interested in books, or maybe she thought I made a mistake by coming into a Christian store. I do have an heretical profile in the right light.

The small frame sales attendent launched a psychic attack by asking if I needed any help. Her body language was as if I was a giraffe in the middle of a crystal shop. The silent body language ceased when she realized that I was my mother's son. The other women were cool, they were so quiet and seemed not to notice or care. The first of the two women looked like the grandmother in all the Tweety Bird cartoons, but she wore pants. Her hair was in a bun the exact same way. The second was not so descript. Something about her made her an Everywoman. The third, the zoo keeper, was young, thin, frail and wore braces. She would smile later as she gave me the bag, but that was much, much later. I talked loudly on purpose just to be an uppity negro. I don't see why I should even deal with that stupid publisher.

I went to a job fair near TSU one day last winter and there they were there, Thomas Nelson, with their own booth. I gave them my resume and they talked to me like . . . well, first only the black woman talked to me. The white guy looked at me as if I was lying about my resume. I stood there in my suit and realized that I have no business trying to crash into this Christian publisher's mix, and they had no business acting the way they were to me. My visit to the store confirmed this in a way. Though I did see that they have some interesting titles in the store. I am not so sure about their list.

I was mostly interested in the history of the Methodist church. It has been on my mind because of the things that I am preparing for my creative writing project. What is this methodist thing? Anabaptist? And I mean, what is it really. I grew up Baptist, but I am shocked by how little history concerning the Missionary Baptist movement that I know. And this is religion. This is what should be given to me without asking I feel.

That said. The only other interesting thing that happened was during the minutes between me trying to figure out where to put the books we did not need and my mother buying her two books an old man stopped me. He must have heard my loud ass explanations concerning this and that, and my stern tone (I really did not want to be there . . . I sometimes feel like people perceive me as vampire . . . I am not a vampire . . . I just don't agree with the current theocracy that I am leaving under . . . but it is home). This guy that dressed like the farmer guys that fixed tractors in the fields far off from my house when I was a kid, or the men stacked 3 deep in a truck on their way to Ashland city, stopped me and said: "I want to know more about Jesus." I looked at him and there was a level of pain and longing in his eyes, the way he spoke sounded like a wounded child. He was clearly missing teeth. And the bottom set that he had were all yellow, not the caked yellow of too much white bread, but the sucked smooth yellow of a lemon cough drop. The tips were white though, a confection white, the same way a hard candied marshmellow Easter egg is sucked revealing glacier ice white underneath. I did not know what to say. He really wanted me to tell him. I felt first a little embarrassed that all my loaded talking had attracted a man that was genuinely looking for guidence from the Lord. Then, I also felt like I understand how people view me. My mother, my friends, my church all think that if I get a PhD that I will lead them somewhere. It means I will be able to speak to them. It means that I can take their spiritual and social wills and bind them up like a string of charms. I am to sit in a pulpit somewhere and wear that charm and that responsibility. My struggle for the last year has been trying to get them to leave me alone, but too many times I am cornered by the faithful. The women watched in the store. I simply said I don't work here and I don't know.

We bought the books and left.


Mendi O. said...


You should try to get a job at the Methodist Publishing House or UM Com.

Littlemilk said...

Sorry for the delayed answer. I am in Atlanta (saw more of the city, I like what I see)

But you really think so?
Do you know anything about these places?