As if I was there to chew bubble gum and kick @ss

When Roddy Piper showed up at the bank lobby in the movie They Live, his special sunglasses allowed him to see that some of the patrons, a teller, and the security guard were not the humans they were pretending to be. The glasses enabled him to see the skull-with-red-eyes that was truly the face of a conquering alien race. The aliens were able to somehow cloak themselves so that they could move freely through the population while folks went on blissfully unaware. So, when Piper, pump shotgun in hand, sees the room mixed with aliens and humans he famously says, “I’m here to chew bubblegum and kick @ss and I am all out of bubble gum”.

I really like that movie. It was exciting when it was new. It is iconic and funny in parts if I watch it today. Like the expression red pill, the sunglasses have been used to describe the awareness of men’s issues that are cloaked by the normalcy bias.

I finally had an empathetic experience with Piper’s character.

The past few weeks our church has shown a video to segue into the sermon. This has been done quite well. They make the videos themselves and it is usually someone from our relatively small congregation sharing some personal anecdote. Yea, I know, lots of churches do this. I was specious when they started. I had seen too many of these that were more testimonial adverts for the wonderful church or pastor than any truly God honoring expression of awe or reverence.

They have been great. For example, a man I know by face and nod only, who sits a few rows in front of my family, was featured a few weeks back. When he began to speak it was clear something was wrong with the moving parts that form voice. It was the result of one of many radical surgeries he’d had due to multiple recurrences of some form of cancer. He is 49. And he shared an experience that if it left anyone unmoved, they are already dead.

Good videos for several weeks. Then last Sunday I must have had my special sunglasses on. A thirties-ish attractive blond woman began to share how her trial was that in her divorce they had fought over custody of their child. She spoke earnestly that she was begging God to see to it that she won, that the judge would render in her favor. It seemed to me that when custody is at stake, that meant one or the other parent having custody. That the dad lives in another state, which she revealed, did give it a tone of gravity and consequence.

Then it got weird.

In the end she weepingly said things did not go in her favor. She explained (I paraphrase), “Child will be with dad three weeks in summer and every other Christmas…….so forth”. I was stunned. BUT, she added, since the child had subsequently accepted Christ, she (the mom) felt God was telling her that this custody arrangement was OK because the dad would have a little witness around him.

I was in shock. And I was alone in shock. “Custody” wasn’t at stake here at all. That is a clever choice of wording that a woman would uniquely choose for the drama and empathy inducing power it contains. What was really at stake was, a dad did or did not get to spend time with his child. Further, that the man is in another state, and not knowing anything about the case, we must assume there is not even hint of a reason the man should not have his child for significant bits of time. If there were any issues with the dad that could remotely be construed as harmful to the child, it was obvious the mother would have had those at the forefront of the case. Yet the judge said the dad gets some time with the kid.

Knowing how that kind of case skews statistically, I’m safe assuming we have a fit father who was going to be defrauded time with his child. If unfit, dad would have had zero chance.

So, the takeaway was that she was praying for God to win her case for her. That God would choose up sides in a case like this. Then, when God didn’t respond the way she wanted, it was God’s grace that settled on her allowing her to see that actually this is OK because the child will witness to the daddy and that is such a wonderful thing.

Until now there had been nothing irritating my man-nerve at this church. I couldn’t discuss it with anyone because no one would even understand what I was on about. I didn’t check, but I’d bet there were women crying and rubbing circles on the backs of husbands who managed to look sufficiently vicariously disturbed by the plight of the pleading woman.

I wrote to the pastor. Ive engaged him a few times on lighter topics. Never anything even relevant to the things of this blog. He may have been shocked when I opened with “The idea of a woman praying for God to render, via a judge, that a fit father be denied time with his child is morally repugnant.” I went on to state that I neither had, nor was a curious to have any back story. But, I told him, judges do not do what that one did if a father is unfit. they just don’t.Regardless the circumstances of the divorce, I cannot cede the point that this was not inspiration for the ending of some future made Christian version of Eat Pray Love.

My email was four or five paragraphs. Rewritten and edited many times to take out angry voice, remove redundant points, like that. The pastor replied the next day. He opened with “Thank you for your candor”. That was good.

I’ll not reveal any more of what he said, nor anything more about the subject family. But I do intend to try and have as conversation with the pastor about the bigger picture. In my email I left him with a question, and he answered it. My question was, “was mine the only email you received about the video, was it the only negative email about the video, and if the answer to the second part is yes, can you fathom what that is telling you/us?”

He didn’t answer that directly. Indirectly I could infer it, however, and plan that as my opener for any discussion we may have.

I didn’t think, “I’m here to chew bubble gum and talk to the pastor” had much moxy as a title.

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16 thoughts on “As if I was there to chew bubble gum and kick @ss

  1. A couple days back, I wrote about an e-mail sent out by a church men’s group and my response to it. Since that post, I was contacted by the pastor, who informed me that he had been contacted by the men’s group leader who claimed that my response “promoted pornography.” He would probably say that you are “promoting abuse.” It is sad the willful blindness in the church today.

    “Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house.

  2. Actually, I think it would have been a great title since most would have gotten the reference immediately. The thought that you went to the pastor upset would have been front and centre off of the top.

  3. Since her “trial” involved her conceding some extremely ordinary visitation, clearly this was mere humble bragging on her part, about how God worked it out so she could get rid of her husband and all, just the way she told Him to.

  4. Ironically the close of that sermon had mention of a marriage conference being held at our church in the coming weeks.

    I had written a VERY long email to him, tying together lots of points, and I realized (almost every time to fall into it) that I can get a bit Unibomber-esque with these screeds that make perfect sense to me but cause eye glaze in the uninitiated. I wanted to express suspicion about the content of the pending conference based solely on that video. But that would have been wrong. Plus, nothing Ive heard from this lips behind this pulpit has alarmed me one iota, even when topically related to my sensitive nerve areas.

    Ahhhh, but I went and read about the group offering the conference and I gotta write another post. Now, about some of the content I found there.

  5. This posting is one of your best. It is very clear and makes the point you want to make.

    Personal twitch: as soon as you mentioned a video segue to the sermon, I started shaking my head and thinking “Nothing good is coming out of that”. Because it elevates emotion, and encourages humblebragging and/or self pity partying exactly as it played out. Might want to consider suggesting that as well.

    Short email is best when dealing with an issue like this. Hope you don’t get what Joseph of Jackson got.

    Extra double special bonus points for starting off with a reference to They Live in a manner that fits right in with the topic.

  6. Empath:
    Good for you for standing up for this. It’s too bad—from the sounds of things—that you were the only man who did.

  7. AR:
    Oh, stop it. There’s no comparison between what Empath did and what Joey Jackson did. Empath took a moral stand on behalf of men; Joey Jackson tried to infiltrate a church with his Game-cult crap. People like Joey SHOULD be thrown out of churches. Empath should be applauded.

  8. The video sounds like a great opportunity for the pastor to discuss the reasons for divorce with the woman. I would agree that unless the reason is adultery or serious abuse/crime, it’s pretty repugnant to pray for the father to lose custody.

  9. I’ve already broken every single one of my New Year’s resolutions, even after giving myself a pass for January 1. For example, I didn’t do any more pullups yesterday, and I’ve already been commenting on blogs this morning.

  10. I’ve told this story elsewhere but I doubt anyone here has read it. A few years ago I was hosting a frequent Men’s Breakfast group, sometimes weekly, sometimes occasionally. Too often the topics discussed devolved around the women in our lives, especially of course our wives, and I instituted a rule resolving that, after proclaiming the rule, the first man to talk about a woman would have to pay for everyone’s meal.

    It got kind of quiet. And I forgot my own rule and I lost, badly, within the first minute, without meaning to.

  11. Bike Bubba

    Lacking danger to the child from the dad, there is no other valid reason to pray for deprivation of a father to a child.

    The grounds or lack of for the divorce, in my opinion, are a separate (even if potentially germane) matter

  12. Second jf12’s request for anything you wish to share re: marriage conference / meeting / session. I’d post this at Dalrock’s but it likely would be too far down the comments.

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