The Taser's Edge


A Parent, A Gardener, A Sex Tip

One of the themes of the conversations at Church of the Holy Spirit in Roanoke, VA (see previous post) was the idea of taking risks in being faithful to God’s calling.  This feeds into something that God has been working into me for a while–the idea of being more adventurous and truly seeing the freedom that there is in God and in my calling to Christian ministry.  Few people have spoken more truly of God than Mrs. Beaver spoke of Aslan–“He’s not a tame lion.”  And while I’ve been warned that there’s some kind of political subtext to that statement, I still take it to mean a very simple and important truth about God: God is far, far, far more adventurous than Christians want God to be.  This is especially true for this Christian, especially when God calls me to live into the adventurous part of the image in which I am created.

If you don’t know me at all but have read at least two of my blog posts, you might already realize that I think too much.  Realize that I know this, and I’m working on it in different ways.  As my AMP group talked Friday afternoon about faithfulness and risk-taking ministry, I began to dream up how that would be great for a church.  Set aside time each week for the staff to dream ridiculous dreams together.  All of the dreams just thrown out there so that they can be heard.  Although I’ve been warned (and believe) that the church shouldn’t emulate the corporate world, it’s hard not to think of Google’s elevator to outer space idea.  The point behind such a practice (crazy dream sessions, not transporting goods to space) is that too often we turn our brains on too soon, and it chokes both our imagination and God’s work in our lives.

When I was doing my senior seminar at Concordia University Wisconsin, Dr. David Krenz provided us with a metaphor (or is it an analogy?) of two parts–parent and child.  The child (who didn’t make it into the title due to the close proximity of the word “sex”), Krenz said, is the part of us which has all the creativity, the wonder, the wild abandon, and the ability to make wide-ranging and sometimes ridiculous connections.  The parent is the part of us which clamps down on that child to make sure that everything in our lives is respectable and looks good to the neighbors.  When you write a paper, he said, make sure that you let the child play for a good, long while before you let your parent step in.  Although you do need the parent to work things together for the finished paper, if you release her too soon you will lose those creative sparks and intuitions which are so important.

To put it bluntly, I have an overactive parent.

To turn to another metaphor (and this time I know it’s not a simile), my mind is a garden.  My ideas are its plants.  Some are full and flourishing, while others are just coming up from the ground.  But my overactive parent has now become, very unfortunately, an overzealous gardener who has also undergone a sex change.  He looks out over the garden plot, and as the tiniest shoot is coming out of the ground, before he can even see what kind of plant it might be, he makes a judgment of whether it will survive and be something desirable, and on that poorly informed basis decides whether to pluck it.  He usually plucks it.  He also usually decides to keep only plants that look fairly similar to plants he’s seen before.  And while I like snap beans alright, I don’t necessarily need 37 varieties; sometimes I think I might like some variety in my diet.

I’m not a violent-natured person, so rather than strangling my gardener (he is, after all, my mother, to continue mixing the metaphorical metaphor pot) what I want to do is sit down and give him a stern talking-to.  But that would be overthinking.  Instead, I want to try this: journal without thinking.  I journal from time to time, sometimes with great regularity and sometimes only a couple times a month (a little more regularly than this blog).  What makes it onto the page are my thoughts, but I think that sometimes they hit the page in a too highly developed form.  I strain out all kinds of things, making sure that I really think something or really feel something, or that I’m not going to change my mind in two minutes, or that I haven’t changed my mind since yesterday.  I don’t consciously think all that stuff, but there is a whole lot of refining, and I think it needs to stop.  I need to write my perceptions in that particular moment and not feel guilty that my impressions may be wrong or self-deceived or fleeting or whatever else.  I need to copy it onto the page, otherwise I think that I am missing beautiful sparks of the imagination and beautiful and risky visions of God.

What exactly am I fearing if I were to change my mind on a subject?  As I always say, “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.”  (Then most of the time I follow that up by admitting I don’t always say that, but Emerson once did.)  I need a place to pour out all those imaginative thoughts and dreams because otherwise I often won’t see them for what they are, and I’ll miss some beauties.  Let the child keep playing.  Who’s he hurting?  Let the plants keep growing.  You’ve got plenty of soil and you might as well see what those new plants turn out to be.

You might just find that you even like those random rutabagas better than your snap beans, although I doubt it.  I’m told rutabagas are gross.  I’ve never tried them to find out and I swear to you I never will.

Bonus tip: Sex can also be better when you turn off your brain.


1 Comment so far
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I can apply both the parent and garden metaphors to my own psyche, but I think I may have the opposite problem. The parent (and the gardener) don’t step in enough. Thus (to stick with the garden), I have a very lush garden that’s about knee-high. Every square foot is covered, but nothing’s been pruned or taken care of enough to allow it to flourish.

To return to the parent/child relationship, I’m afraid my child my be the type that knocks over displays at Dominick’s while my parent may be the type to beam and say “boys will be boys.” Seems like there ought to be an ideal state of both the garden and the relationship, no?

Also, two typos detected in the first paragraph of the gardener metaphor (although one may be the intentional use of a nonstandard spelling- it depends, after all, on whether one views language as descriptive or prescriptive, does it not?).

Comment by Zack J.




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