Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Irresponsibility Suits Me (part 1)

I was raised in a Methodist family where church attendance was compulsary.  My parents wanted me to be the best person that I could be and  I suppose in their minds regular church attendance would facilitate their agenda.  I hated church, especially in high school.  Getting up for church was not my idea of a good start to the day.  Getting doused with ice water was an even worse proposition, and once my mother proved that she was willing to use such a tactic to get my carcass out of bed I began to see the light.  Forcing a high school kid to go to church with a glass of frozen water is no way to facilitate a relationship with the Holy. 
I moved off to college when I was 17.  I wouldn't walk into a church for eight years.  During that time my theological education was mostly influenced my experiences at the Sigma Nu house.  I was an enthusiastic member of the fraternity and never missed a Friday or Saturday revival meeting.  There, my brothers and I spent countless hours discussing and solving the problems of the world. Our inspiration of course was provided by the likes of such visionaries as Adolph Coors, Frederic Miller and Augustus Busch.  Very rarely did our intellectual discussions ever stray into sectarian ground.  Communion of grape juice and oyster crackers was replaced by Miller High Life and Allsups burritos.  On Sundays I opted for the comforts of the Church of the Latter Day Mattress.  During my first 5 years in college (I was there for a total of 8) I never let other resposibilities such as going to class, or part time jobs interfere with my hedonistic lifestyle.  As a result my grades suffered and I rarely had  money to put into the Hat of Offering as it was passed around the house.  My life may have had no meaning or direction but I was having too much fun to notice, much less care.  The point about all of this is to show that I was a very self centered individual and that I lived for the moment.  In short, I was irresponsible. 

That word, responsible, has been an unspoken theme throughout my life.  My father, an airforce pilot, certainly bought into the military structure that was his life.  Both of my parents were concerned about my lack of motivation  My mother began pressuring me to get a part time job several months before I even reached the legal age for employment.  They were constantly sharing their concern with  me about my poor grades and there was no debate as to whether I was going to go to college.  Simply put, my parents were insistant that I achieve all of those things that society uses to measure success.  They wanted me to grow up and be a responsible adult, at which time they could say to themselves "Our work here is complete, we have raised a responsible son".  Who could blame them, isn't that what all parents want?  The problem is what exactly does the word responsible mean?  By who's standard are we measured?  How do we decide whether or not we are acting in a responsible manner?  Well it didn't really matter at this point in my life because I would have been labeled irresponsible according to pretty much anyone's standards.  However, the meaning and standard of the word responsibility would remain a theme up to this day.

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