Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Watching the Wheels: An Interpretational Remix

"Time you enjoy wasting was not wasted."
(John Lennon)

Well, now for something just a little bit different. Please do not take this post too seriously; it's just a random musing.

I confess, in my past life I was a huge John Lennon fan. Recently, perhaps for nostalgia's sake, I purchased another Greatest Hits album on iTunes of this hero of my youth. In addition to the old 8-Tracks, 45's singles, full vinyl albums, cassettes - and now digital iTunes - I sure have bought a lot of the same music over the years. LOL. As I listen to my latest purchase, I feverishly drummed my fingers on the side of my laptop as I sang virtually every song by heart. The roll back to yesteryear was strangely therapeutic, given some recent events in my life that I won't regurgitate here. It occurred to me that, all these years later, it's really quite amazing how much Beatles pop culture continues to have an effect on me, even now, almost 35 years since the musician's death in 1980 at age 40. But I've already digressed from what I wanted to talk about in this post.

"It's weird not to be weird."
(John Lennon)

One of the old Lennon songs in particular had a strange, almost spiritual, application for me as I listened to it this time around, which I found really bizarre. I certainly didn't think of its in any spiritual sense before. As I listened to "Watching the Wheels" I suddenly had this weird thought: This almost sounds like John is singing about my institutional church past and my current post-evangelical season in life. Yes, you heard that right, but I'm not sure what to do with it. Weird, huh? As I looked back to where I came from since leaving my last pastorate, I too found myself "watching the wheels" of institutional religion that I too was once involved with, but one which some fourteen plus years ago, I too realized that I "just had to let it go."

Of course, John Lennon had something else in mind with that song than my spiritual pilgrimage, but for me personally, suddenly the man who once claimed to be more popular than Jesus, strangely had an almost prophetic (if I can call it that) message for me; "watching the wheels" of religion go round and round.

Think for a minute on the lyrics, and if like me you've also become a post-institutional Christian, continuing to love Jesus but no longer finding man's institution relevant, I'm willing to bet that you too can insert some of your recent faith experiences in between the lines of Lennon's tune.

People say I'm crazy doing what I'm doing,
Well they give me all kinds of warnings to save me from ruin.
When I say that I'm OK they look at me kind of strange,
“Surely your not happy now you no longer play the game.”

People say I'm lazy dreaming my life away,
Well they give me all kinds of advice designed to enlighten me.
When I tell that I'm doing fine watching shadows on the wall,
“Don't you miss the big time boy you're no longer on the ball?”

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go.

Ahh, people asking questions lost in confusion,
Well I tell them there's no problem, only solutions.
Well they shake their heads and they look at me as if I've lost my mind,
I tell them there's no hurry, I'm just sitting here doing time.

I'm just sitting here watching the wheels go round and round,
I really love to watch them roll,
No longer riding on the merry-go-round,
I just had to let it go.
I just had to let it go.
I just had to let it go.

Again, please don't take this too seriously, for I am not either. However, did you catch some of the parallelisms?

Do well meaning institutional church people think you're crazy for leaving the church?
Do they tend to give you all sorts of warnings to save you from (spiritual) ruin?
When you say that you're OK, do they look at you kind of strange?
Do they give you all kinds of advice, designed to enlighten you?
Are people asking you all kinds of questions, lost in confusion?
Do they shake their heads and look at you, as if you've lost your mind?

And what about those wheels; those religious wheels? Once you're out of the system and looking back in, it really is as if you were on a merry-go-round. Yes, I'm still mesmerized, now almost fifteen years later, I still do "really love to watch them roll." I still pray for my institutional brothers and sisters, and I still fellowship with them whenever possible. But as for me, I'm "no longer riding the merry-go-round, I just had to let it go."

"The more I see, the less I know for sure."
(John Lennon)

"The more I see, the less I know for sure." Sometimes I feel that I can echo those words as well, which really shouldn't surprise me. After all, as the Apostle Paul said, "Now we see but a poor reflection ..." (1 Corinthians 13:12). So while I occasionally still find myself "watching the wheels" of religious institutionalism, I've long since stopped dwelling on what I perceive to be wrong with the church, but rather through love and relationships, focus on what's right with it. For more on this, please see my post Celebrate What's Right With the Church. So while "I just had to let it go," I've also come to discover that I can still go and sit on a pew from time to time and be OK with it. 

Anyways, thanks for stopping by and listening to this old former pastor's random rants and musings. Peace & Blessings.




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