Things I Think…

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47 Responses

  1. Duane Arnold says:

    “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand…”

    Yeats had it right, but it doesn’t diminish the pain…

  2. Reuben says:

    Michael,

    This is the last place I have.

    There are almost none here who are anywhere close to my views on god, politics, or any of that, including you. I am here because this literally the last connection to your world, the last connection to the life I burned and salted, an burned and salted again.

    I literally hate Christianity. You know why. You have experienced why. I don’t have any value for what people think of me anymore which is why I don’t hold back in my comments. Some of my comments get deleted from here.

    I am part of a very small faction of people who don’t love this nation, it’s ideals, it’s corrupt “Christian” morals, or even its ideals in how they ought to force down the throats of humanity some god given notion of how humanity should be. I literally HATE Christianity. I am here because I believe I have misunderstood a god who might be nothing like I expect of my own father, my own authority figures.

    I just finished two books that you sent me that have crushed every last notion I had of god, and I still have little inclination to respect one “Christian”. Nobody seeks god. Nobody. This blog with its many institutionalized members have proven that to me. I don’t care of that offends the outrageously bigoted and dogmatic people who frequent here.

    I have held my tongue these last few days, because my rage knows no bounds when it comes to the absolute arrogance of “god’s” people concerning all things. The same arrogance destroyed my entire damned life. I lost everything I was to that arrogance.

    If people want to die on a hill of self righteous horse poop, let them.

    Michael,

    You and one other have earned my trust. You are one of my two “pastors”. I can’t even mention the other because this thread will explode with hatred, and you know who she is.

    Do what you love to do. Burn the rest. It’s refinement. Actual refinement.

  3. Michael says:

    Reuben,

    I hear you.
    My last hope here is to show Jesus outside the institutions that claim Him.

    I know Him and He’s good and glorious and worthy of worship in the truest sense.

    I can’t defend what’s been done in His name in many cases…but He is worth whatever grief life brings me…and it’s bringing it in spades.

    He’s all that matters…because in Him, everyone matters…

  4. Michael says:

    Duane,

    It does seem like anarchy has descended…but I care deeply about a lot of the anarchists.

    This is a difficult time…the Second Coming would be welcomed here…

  5. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael,

    I feel like an outsider most of the time in church …I was single into my early 40s (54 and married for almost 12 years now) and churches are designed around families and their schedules, and then politics and paranoia started to poison our churches, to the point where some pastors are leaving the pastorate.

    This is a place where I found some fellowship and not feel like I’m the spawn of satan for not towing the line politically.

    But honestly the fellowship has thinned as some of there issues stated to poison the air. I like talking about pets and favorite musicians, and I am moving towards reading more. And I need more grounding in the faith, and less news cycle fodder or paranoid rantings.

    I can totally understand if you pull away or pull the plug in this site. You I’ll always be my friend and brother.

  6. Michael says:

    Dan,

    Thank you…you’ve been a solid part of this place and you will remain my friend.
    I’ve pulled away emotional and with my time already…I have enough issues in my own home and health to keep me busy.

    I do think you’ve hit on something else that effects us…people aren’t reading books much anymore and leisure time that was once devoted to grounding in the faith, or music, or reading is now filled with political bile from the source of choice.

    People can do what they want with their time…but I have nothing to offer in that space.

  7. LInn says:

    Michael,
    I really respect your choices. I think I’ve been visiting the blog for about two years, and it seems like there are three or four people running the “action” most of the time. Sometimes they go tete-a-tete with each other, and I’m left scratching my head. I do hope there will be posts every now and then about cats, books, music, helping your neighbor….

  8. Michael says:

    Linn,

    Thank you.
    I’m going to try to do some book stuff….and there will always be a cat lurking in the background…

  9. Em says:

    Michael, never give up
    Perhaps more is accomplished here than you know…
    Anybody?

  10. Michael says:

    Em,

    It’ll stay up in some form for a while.
    I’m 63, in poor health, taking care of a demented mom and other stuff.
    There was a day when I could make it all work…but I’m not cut out for strife for the sake of strife.

    Really want to get involved with caring for feral cat colonies and some other projects…we’ll see where it goes.

    I think we did a hell of a job for a long time…but I’m tired.

  11. Dan from Georgia says:

    Thanks Micheal. Probably this biggest “take-away” I have from this site is the importance of reading and education and building up in the faith.

  12. Officerhoppy says:

    Michael
    You have kept this site up thru some difficult times. You’ve also provided a place for some to spout off, but more learn from the interaction (i am one of these people).

    It would be a loss to many who depend on pxp.

    I remember the day i left my job with campus life/youth for Christ wondering if i had done any good or made any impact upon the kids. I felt pathetic. But months and years later, i started getting letters and emails from kids recounting how impactful the clubs were to them. One kid went on to be a youth pastor. He wrote that when he was in high school, his family was in turmoil. The only thing he had to look forward to was Thursday night and campus life club.

    In my 20 years as lead pastor, i quit the ministry every monday. I can’t preach. I can’t teach. Who the hell do i think i am, i told myself. But about Wednesday, i said, “ok, god I’ll give it one more try”.

    If pxp went down, i would certainly understand. But it would still leave a void in many people’s lives. But at the same time, you might get emails from folks who 10 years ago saying how important the site has been.

    Either way, know you were/ are used by God.

  13. Pineapple Head says:

    Feeling the same these days. Tired of the noise. Tired of the divisions. Tired of the lack of grace. Tired of no fun. I’ve never felt more introverted. Lack of creativity, too. Motivation is waning. I believe a lack of gracious community is slowly killing us.

  14. Michael says:

    Officerhoppy,

    Thanks for that.
    It’s just that after a while nobody wants to talk about anything but politics, I don’t want to talk at all.
    It can’t be avoided…but people are disinterested in the rest of life.
    We’re here…we’ll see where it goes.

  15. Michael says:

    PH,

    I’m an introvert by nature…kind of an extreme one…and conflict for the sake of conflict makes me physically ill.
    The lack of anything but tribal outposts is going to cost us…

  16. filistine says:

    I’ve deleted about ten different comments so far.
    I read them over and they just don’t ring true enough yet.
    Ah, the beauty of the word “yet.”
    Yet is the word of hope, of growth.
    We are not home, yet.

  17. Michael says:

    Well said, fil…and amen…

  18. pstrmike says:

    I don’t think I’ll delete this comment.

    Michael
    I’ve been on this blog for a long time, its been an interesting ride. I’ve met a lot of good people here, and its should be no surprise that all of us move tons of dirt to find the gold. Everything has a shelf life, including our ministries and physical lives. I rather sit on beach with you, dread, hoppy, Reuben, and Duane, have a few drinks and talk about what our future actually might look like, read poetry and the writings of the Christian mystics. I’ll even bring a hatchet so a few of you can bury it.

    I’ve been telling you for years to pull the plug, but then again, those conversations eventually comes down to this being your calling, and your sense of commitment to continue. Better you than me, but then again, you say the same thing about what I do . LoL!!!

  19. Michael says:

    pstrmike,

    We both plow hard ground …and then the plow breaks… 🙂

  20. Muff Potter says:

    Michael,
    All 10 of your points up top make me think of Pink Floyd’s song “Us and Them”…

  21. bob1 says:

    Michael,

    I agree with others on here…you’d be sorely missed. But God’s will be done!

    My favorite part of PhP has always been the book comments and educational stuff, especially from you and Dr. Duane. That’s what keeps
    me here. Everything else is peripheral. At least to me.

  22. pstrmike says:

    Michael,
    Yes it does.

  23. Captain Kevin says:

    Piney and Michael, I’m a member of the introvert club as well, more so as I get older and my health declines. I have no desire to engage in political discussions, especially with nationalist “christians.” I’ve been around the PhxP for about 20 years, and would hate to see it go. That said, Michael, you’ve got your family (cats included) and your own health that needs attention. So I certainly would understand if you need to close shop or scale back.

  24. Em says:

    Yes, what Captain K just posted, but prayers continue also

  25. victorious says:

    Michael
    “ He’s all that matters…because in Him, everyone matters…”
    Priceless

    This is the gold you have faithfully labored to uncover. Many have and are still discovering they matter.

  26. Officerhoppy says:

    Pastor Mike
    “ . I rather sit on beach with you, dread, hoppy, Reuben, and Duane, have a few drinks…”

    When we leaving! Come on!!

  27. sarahmorgan says:

    I’ve been lurking around here for a long time (two decades?) — from the highs of serving as a ministry leader in a healthy, vibrant Christian community full of love and friendship and humbleness amidst the palpable presence of God, to the lows of living in the most God-forsaken place I’ve ever been, utterly rejected by the “churches” that exist now — full of fearful people led by big egos who go through the God-motions and say the Jesus-things but you can tell that they neither serve, nor believe in the power of, nor accede any authority to any god but themselves. The group that converses here is not a perfect community, but it’s still a community, and it has value, and all of the participants have value. I find I don’t have much to contribute here from my spiritual isolation and threadbare faith — I just visit and read, and I pray for each of the participants here and their individual struggles — but the knowledge that in this mess, people are still desperately seeking God, gives me hope.

  28. Kevin H says:

    I have been a part of this community for many years now, though not the amount of years as some of the others here who go back to the really wild days.

    I can say without a doubt that this community has been a tremendous insightful blessing for me and did much in helping me to find my voice. And I do call it a community, even as it has been negatively effected by the political polarization that has seemingly effected nearly any and every community in our culture. And I do keep starting my sentences with “and”, because Michael so much appreciates it. 🙂

    Thank you, Michael, for all the service and sacrifice you have put forth in the thankless task of delving into abusive and corrupted situations and then hosting and leading this site for all these years with all of its challenges, difficulties, and straight-out crap that occurs. Although there has been much garbage, there too has been much blessing and profit to the Kingdom of God.

    After persevering and trudging on all these years, if your stage and circumstances of life are prodding you to reduce your investment in this site, then that very well may be what you should do. You have served God well here.

  29. Dread says:

    I’ve been here many years and have never known it to be uncontentious here. It’s woven into the callout nature of the place exposing all sorts of wrongdoing. AND the anti evangelical assault in the comments is near daily. That usually gets politicized.

    I’d hate to see this shut down but I have little interest in cats and you’ve been contemplating the end for a long time. I shut down pretty much everything public a year ago. Frankly, it hasn’t helped much. You’d probably have to shut it to get me to finally quit this too. If you stay I’m staying but I am a source of irritation …

    The lines of all categories are blurred. So…

  30. Michael says:

    CK, vic…thanks.
    Good to have you both here.

  31. Michael says:

    Sarah,

    You should write for us…thank you for your words and presence…

  32. Michael says:

    KevinH,

    Thank you…you’ve added much here…and I’ve deleted many “ands”…we all have issues… 🙂

  33. Michael says:

    Dread,

    I’m glad you’re here…contention for the sake of finding truth is a good thing.
    I think I need to articulate my grievances with one brand of evangelicalism more clearly…we may still dispute, but with clarity…

  34. BrianD says:

    Michael, whatever meaning this website and the people I have met here is completely irrelevant in so far as to your own personal and mental health.

    If you need to shut it down for your soul’s sake, shut it down.

    That said, this blog and your friendship have been invaluable for my own spirtiual journey. There has been much good done here, for so many people who the corporate church could — or would — never reach. There is much good, healthy fruit here; those who would say the fruit is rotten, well, wipe the s*** off your upper lip first.

  35. Dan from Georgia says:

    Michael…if you can and feel led…pursue taking care of the cats. As I age I see more and more of a need to be involved in life-affirming stuff. I will be taking up my hobby of painting again (which has been dormant for about 15 years) and heck, I may even take up some kind of light gardening!

  36. Michael says:

    BrianD,

    I’m keeping it up…I just don’t have the juice to invest anymore than I do.

    I’ll try a limited schedule and see how it works…and thank you.

  37. Michael says:

    Dan,

    Coming out of the fire and then the pandemic…I feel the same urges.

    I feel old…and I feel like I need to redeem the time.

  38. pstrmike says:

    Michael,
    You may have found more than enough to motivate/confirm/bepersuaded/re-energized/etc. to keep going. I think perhaps they best reason is from your own words:

    “I think I need to articulate my grievances with one brand of evangelicalism more clearly…we may still dispute, but with clarity…”

    That’s iron sharpening iron. Identifying and understanding the reality of our present milieu is best done in community. There are as many outliers today as there are players in the game, separating the wheat from the chaff has never been so difficult. Benedict is teaching me more about the importance of communal engagement in the shaping of our souls. That can be a hard pill for someone who is almost as introverted as you are.

    There are some brilliant thinkers in this group and everyone has experiences that are valid. Experience, however, needs to be put in context, which is something that takes a long, long, time, with a willingness to be vulnerable and work through the process. That was part of the problem here years ago when some pastors from a particular group (thank God that Greyhound’s gone) were in such angst over the work being done here. I actually think the wrestling of painful experiences caused them to look inward from a number of different angles, and it was not something that they wanted to do themselves, nor allow that for anyone else. It upset the status quo of the fatted calf that no longer wanted to be sacrificed on their personal altar. Let the reader understand.

    See you and hoppy at the beach……..

  39. Michael says:

    pstrmike,

    I think I understand that the place has a function and it has always been a calling.

    Energy is a whole ‘nother story…

    Communal engagement is the only way forward…the question is whether we engage in war to defeat the other or to build together…

  40. Em says:

    We have a store keeper up here in the mountains who is dying of cancer. He smokes pot to cope and I find that beyond sad. How do you reach someone with a “medicated” brain?
    It does make me realize, however, that dear Michael’s ministry may be reaching the end. Do what God leads you to do Michael.
    Surely everyone here has you in their prayers…… 😻

  41. Michael says:

    Em,

    You make sure the cancer victim has the best stuff he can smoke….his brain is fine, his body is what hurts.

    Thanks for praying…Gods will be done…

  42. Rick says:

    Michael, I think I understand. Community is an interesting concept–I heard a secular author speak about a preacher from his youth. He was described as someone who would not “foul his pulpit” with politics. I love that description. I am convinced from Scripture that Jesus and the early church lived their lives as though the political powers were irrelevant to the practice of their faith. That both Matthew the tax gatherer and Simon the Zealot were called and, as far as we know, lived in harmony together, I think, is evidence that a healthy Christian community would have the full spectrum of political beliefs expressed by members of their community. That so many churches seem to be homogenous politically is, I think, a bad sign indicating a deficit of authentic love in our midst.

    I don’t engage with the political discussion here, not out of lack of respect, but simply because I think it distracts me from loving well. I have observed Christians, both conservative and liberal politically, who give to the poor and love them well. At the micro-church level I see amazing acts of love and grace. I sometimes wish that fewer Christians would take to national media and social media with grand pronouncements. A comment attributed to Shane Claiborne, I think, about the church getting smaller and smaller until it takes over the world makes sense to me–humility and grace are our entrance to societal relevance, not political power.

    But, my perspective may be clouded because I am dying–I have Stage 4 lung cancer. I do not want to waste my time with things that are out of my control. What is in my control is the grace I can show to the person on my right and left. I appreciate all the commenters here; I mourn for the agony that so many experience as they look at the circumstances we find ourselves in societally. Michael, I so appreciate you and Duane–again, all your commenters that I may or may not agree with–but I am glad we share the Kingdom. “The world goes not well…but the Kingdom comes” (Tales of the Kingdom, by David and Karen Mains)

  43. Michael says:

    Rick,

    That was worth showing up for.
    Very well said.
    Thank you…and our prayers are with you.

  44. Robin says:

    This division is happening all over the world, my country just decided to elect the son of a former murderous, thieving dictator that we spent so much time trying to remove. This was brought in by on-line trolls and misinformation. It has been terribly divisive and I feel our nation is torn apart. It only took a few years of social media to do this, what more when the alternate world that Meta is building goes on line

  45. Rick says:

    Michael, thank you. These are fascinating times; I mourn for the loss of innocence in the relationships between clergy and those they are called to care for caused by political beliefs. If I have learned anything from years of interaction with quasi-authoritarian church leadership it is that unity and peace does not require agreement on peripheral issues–if we agree on the Creeds, I can live and let live with anyone. Grace and respect for others earns trust.

  46. Duane Arnold says:

    Rick,

    Know that you will be in my prayers morning and evening…

  47. Rick says:

    Thank you, Duane; I know that it is prayer that has carried my wife and family through these times.

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