Yesterday Gideon Strauss posted a review of the movie "Thirteen".
Gideon quotes Walt Mueller:
As the movie unfolds, viewers are treated to a host of disturbing and sometimes graphic portrayals of the pain Tracy feels as the result of her decisions. Her cries are not always verbal and direct. At times they are silent. Dean Borgman accurately connects Tracy's cries to her relational brokenness, a reality he's seen over and over throughout his years in youth ministry and more frequently in recent years: "In one dramatic way after another, adult society has shoved young people into silent margins; there they must tell their stories — if not in words, in silent, self-destructive acts or bold outbursts of violence...
Gideon is reviewing this movie as a segway into discussion on church renewal and the role of the church. As you should know by now, I see the church as emerging "Morally Beautiful Community" and I beleive that it is a limited view of the church, as dispenser of grace or church as filling station, that undermines our ability to witness and to minister. So with that I return to ..
The first draft of this was sown in tears…I feel a bit vulnerable…here goes..
By the time I was ten or so, my parents had upgraded our status a tad. We moved to a new neighborhood. This neighborhood was not good for me. I began to realize how other kids were one way in private and another way altogether in groups. I was the youngest kid in the group of kids that hung out together. My brother was the oldest. I learned to hate the whole male pecking order game. At this early age, I already began to simply refuse to play these games that simply seemed wrong and cruel and petty.
At school, I had some pretty good friends. My friends were other kids that were in the mentally gifted classes. We played a lot of basketball and basic sports like any kid but the dynamics of the neighborhood certainly stamped a deep sense of alienation on my person that would remain for many, many years. Right at the height of these awkward years…Something very pivotal happened.
I remember walking home from school on a sunny fall day during my Sophomore year in high school. I was still a child at this time as I was a “late bloomer”. As I entered the drive way of our home, I saw my older sister in the driveway. She is 11 years older than me. She said in a very matter of fact but forceful way, “Get in the car. You need to go to my house.” I got in the car and we drove to her house. She sat me down on the couch and said the words I will never forget, “Mom and dad are getting a divorce.” I can still feel the shock of it as I write. My head started to spin. The room literally was moving around me. She might as well have said, “I am an alien from Mars”. The idea of my parents getting divorced simply did not compute. We were a very proud family. We were perfect. All the kids got straight “A”s. My father was the boss. He never missed a day at work. I really do not remember my parents arguing. My childhood mind was simply unable to comprehend that my family was breaking up. GONE…
At first, I lived in our house with my mother. I do not have really any memories of these first few months. I do actually but I can’t dare to put them on paper. As I write this I am reminded of scenes that my young mind simply could not even dare to feel at the time. If you were a play write, I do not think you could think of images of abandonment as keen and as devastatingly clean as the scenes that are flowing through my mind as I write. Basically, I went from a normal kid to living as a homeless kid in my ex-parents house. Total emotional chaos. It was literally like my parents died in a car crash and no one knew but me. At least if they died in a car crash people would send flowers or visit or I would be shipped off to my sisters. The only real difference between my parents dying in a car crash and my parents divorce was that, at least I didn’t blame God. Instead, I blamed my mother, but, either way, I was completely alone.
My New Parents
I still remember the first show I went to. It was a band called 999 at the Whiskey a Go Go. It was probably late 1978. The pain I was feeling fit so perfectly with the self-destructive and anti-social zeitgeist of English punk rock. I used to buy every import record I could find. The LA scene hadn’t really started yet, but, from a far, I could begin to experience the fellowship and the freedom of rebellion and anarchy. No one I knew listened to this music, so I really couldn’t commiserate with any other co-conspirators at this time.
Then, in the summer of ’79 I was so bored and lonely that I decided to call some people cold turkey. I went through the phone book and called a few people from high school. The second kid I called must have been equally bored because he hopped on his scooter and picked me up. I had a new friend. His parents were likewise pretty distant.
I was at that awkward age where a child really needs answers to how life works and how to survive in a very cruel world, and I had found my new source, the new sages, my new parents. Joe Strummer and Darby Crash, Bob Marley and James Joyce. These were my new role models, my new significant adults, my new parents.