I love the metaphor of a “spiritual journey.” We move from one place – be it physical, spiritual, or a combination of the two – and wind up somewhere else entirely. This sense of journey is present in a good many pastors (and other Christians) who come into a church and quickly discover that they are going to have to move on from their original expectations, and though dark waters, in order to come to uncharted shores (which appearto be friendly). Many refuse to make the journey. Instead they establish themselves as caretakers – never daring to hope for more, but never really challenging anyone else either. More, sadly, get lost in the caves of bitterness. Unable to reconcile their original hopes and expectations with reality, they turn inward and become toxic to both the institution and themselves. Some, however, manage to navigate the course and land in a sunnier space, which I’ve labeled “cynicism.”
Now, cynicism often gets a bad rap as being a destructive and toxic influence in it’s own right. I disagree. Cynicism is actually a constructive impulse which enables a person to look at the foibles of a group (in which they invariably include themselves), compare them to how a group thinks of itself, and laughs. The laughter is important because it says, “Oh just go look in the mirror at that zit, already, hiding from it won’t solve anything!” Cynicism is, in fact, what often causes me to not only point out the elephant in the room, but also invite it up to the table in order to do a show for the crowd. Then we can see how silly we are, how big our God is, and perhaps journey to a healthier place – together.
You have to love any impulse, after all, which leads a speaker to attribute a quote, “We’re doomed” to “C-3P0 Human-Cyborg Relations.” Right?