1993, 04/28. “Christians Don’t Take Vacations.”

Wednesday, April 28

Now sitting with Paul in the diner at 42nd and 11th. Making the day (so far) as relaxing as possible. Right now there is an Anita Baker song playing. It reminds me of everything that summer is or could be. Certain kinds of worldly music make me relax and stop. I step off the merry-go-round maybe for a few minutes. In fact, the music was the only thing that made me stop and reflect for a while, and to get unhooked.

Whether this is a good case for picking up a tape or two of this music, I don’t know, but I like it.

12 midnight

I’m pretty much going blank over thinking about what “life” is like here. I am boxed in, there is nothing I can really do. I can’t talk to anybody. (Except maybe if I “came to the light” and confessed and forsook all these thoughts. Then the admission of crime and my guilt over it would be acceptable. Because it is either crime or signs of mental illness.) I can’t get out of this situation. There is nobody to talk to. I can’t say anything to anybody, much less to Stewart. Do you realize then just how much of me is buried underground? I go about functioning as a face in the crowd. I wonder if everybody here is like this. I have learned to keep all or most of me underground.

Thursday, April 29

If Stewart were more honest, he would have just come out and said, “You can’t have vacations here.” Or, “By the way, I say that you can’t have vacations here.” Instead of using the question and answer format, where he put it as a question for us to work on, as if our thoughts on the matter made any difference, or as if he was putting it up for a vote, for us to decide on.

(I think that’s part of the deceit. Stewart put it to us in a discussion format, the kind that would be used if people had a choice or an ability to vote on the matter. Somehow, it’s all a part of the process to weave us more deeply into bondage; something like the Communist question and answer dialog format. Instead of it hitting us full on, our reaction was masked by having to “struggle” to answer the question. Instead of what would we say if Stewart told us we can’t have vacations, if he just said “you can’t” and letting our reactions be what they may, he hit us with it, then guided our reaction to it, directing it through the question and answer format. I felt as if something foul was afoot.)

[At a meeting, Stewart put a question to us to answer. “Why don’t Christians take vacations?” It was then up to us come up with reasons, our reasons, why Christians do not take vacations. Then the reasons would be our own. That way he was not telling us we were not allowed to. A more honest statement would have been, “I’m telling you that no one here is allowed to take a vacation.” But there might have been objections, our feelings might have been real. No, better to put it to us as a question to struggle to come up with reasons for. I understood that a law was being laid down. I sensed that, so I spoke up and said, “Spurgeon took vacations. Of course, that’s because his doctor told him he needed to go to Italy to get fresh sea air for his health.” In other words, I stated that a prominent Christian pastor took vacations, but yet, I groveled by saying it was for health reasons. But I was the only person who raised an objection to Stewart’s statement. The rest who spoke came up with a list of reasons why Christians don’t take vacations, such as, that our fight of the faith is full time and we can’t take a break from it.]

For the record therefore, I am committed to taking mini-vacations whenever possible, though I would say that the balance of power is decidedly not in my favor, and that I am pretty much overcome by all of this. And also, “vacation” is a loaded word – at least it is here – with implications of “Disneyland” and “indulgence,” serving as a catch-all to eliminate the possibility of even taking a few days off to pursue something else entirely. Essentially, we are slaves.

Riding in to work with Paul, I began to go “blank” – frustrating emotions that have the effect of incapacitating me. There is nothing I can say really. I have been skipping and avoiding all meetings. It is now Thursday; it is going on three weeks that I have not been in a meeting of any kind. I will be working at Ariel and Michael’s tonight. The truth is, I hope to miss many more meetings – especially any gatherings with Stewart, although I have no special predilection for any brothers meeting where I might be a topic of discussion

This morning, several new brothers didn’t have food. It is a real hassle trying to ask anybody just how these brothers get fed in the morning, getting blank stares from everybody. Ron T. said he doesn’t know. Really, they don’t care enough even to see if they get fed. But when the new brothers don’t want to work, they are told, “He who does not work, let him not eat.” Really, the view about these brothers is that they are just a problem.

3:45 p.m.

I am now reposing on a park bench at 73rd and Riverside (flyering with [new brother] Robert S.). I just don’t have the motivation today. (Possibly refer back to what I wrote this morning about the lack of vacations.) I couldn’t resist the call of the park bench, luring me from down at the end of the street.

I’m sitting on a park bench admiring the emerging spring foliage. There are a lot of people out here. I had been wondering before if I would ever take a day, or just a short time, to stop and see that it is really spring. I guess this is it. My April pause to stop and admire the season, wandering into a park and vegging out, though one might say that the aimless drifting around putting carpet cleaning flyers in doors is the drifting. Next time I will have to go to Roosevelt Island. This area has been covered so many times by flyering teams.

But for now, a repose from my wall to wall schedule. I can feel the gentle breezes, smell the scent of the maple trees and the salted river water flowing by. I should put more of this into my life. It’s refreshing, a sedative for my mind. Deep down inside, I feel or fear that there must be some retribution for doing this, as if God were keeping a time sheet, recording all the hours I put in the church business, making notes on any shortcomings.

I hear a cardinal or some other bird singing.

Read the next section of the journal here: Arrogance.

::

These journal pages are part of the source material for my book, Captive Congregation: My Fourteen Years in the Church of Bible Understanding, which is available as a Kindle book or in paperback

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