Monday, December 27, 2004


Guaco Brand Brain Soap LL

"How was your Christmas?"
"Pretty good, Canny. Did a mountain bike ride. Some climbing around on rocks the day before. And the Mosaic Christmas Eve celebration, which was nice."
"I suppose I should have done that. Go to church so I can be brainwashed."

A few weeks ago I was at the life group meeting. Debbie and I were talking when a friend of theirs dropped in on the conversation and started telling us about himself. He talked about finding his purpose and all of his art. I'm normally quiet in such circumstances but for some reason I spoke up and told him about my sand sculpture and about how the Holy Spirit helps me carve. The conversation went on with other subjects, but I kept telling him about how God participated in my life.

I don't need to be embarrassed about any of what God does with me. He is an honorable God, and is working to get me to live the way he'd always intended. When I got home I felt this kind of glow, as if God were very pleased with the evening. If God gives high-fives, that's what they feel like.

Ever since then I've had problems. Cranky, out of sorts, short-fused, irritable and working hard to hide it. When Canny mentioned brainwashing I just jumped right in. "God doesn't brainwash anyone. Churches might, but God doesn't. He helps us find truth." No matter what that looks like from the outside.

The tide was rising, and waves were working on the foundation of that word-sculpture. What is brainwashing? The connotation is that it's an unwilling conversion of one's thoughts to what someone else considers more suitable, using various invasive psychologic techniques.

What is it called when the victim walks in through the door and asks for it? Brainwashing still, if the results are a narrowing of life's experiences. Churches and cults both do this and I've always resisted, most strenuously, attempts by others to change my mind. Surrender your mind, you surrender your soul. I may not have any grand plans, but I don't want to board your train just because of that. Leave me alone or I'll wall you out. Or I'll run. I'm well trained.

Things started to fall over as I waited for the bus home. Then the big one hit, leaving me in shock similar to what happens when you experience a pain so great you just can't cope. What I really want is to please God. Oh, shit. Now what?

How could this happen? Pleasing someone else? Forget it! Life can't be lived under those conditions; once you start trying to please others the list of necessary tasks becomes endless. Just one more miracle, one more act to prove you love me.

I remember that evening at the life group. Was God just petting me as he would a faithful dog leaning against his leg? Am I just a dog-in-training? "Run, boy! Fetch! That's a good boy!" And another pat on the head. Dogs get off on this, but I'm a man!

What choice do I have? Once the Holy Spirit invades, life changes and it pretty much goes the direction he wants. I can resist, yes, but the results of that are even worse than what he does. Better a live dog than a dead Berean. I guess. And it's not as if I'd placed limits on him. "Do whatever it takes," I told God while looking oblivion in the eye.

I've managed to accept his changes, one by one, and many times with ill grace. I guess I'll be able to accept this one. Wanting to please God. Who'd have thought it.

It's not quite like the dog situation. God does leave me alone to think for myself and the results have become fairly dismal. I have no reason to care about much of anything. Larry qua Larry seems to be evaporating in favor of some sort of holy automaton. But the problem is that I asked for it, I need it. I just don't understand it. I don't know where we're going. What it looks like from my current point of view is another kind of death. Losing my mind that I've worked so hard to protect. I just give it up to God.

I may have to go back to Canny. "You know, you were right. I am being brainwashed. What the ultimate outcome will be I don't know, but I do know that I was pretty dirty at the outset. Maybe I needed brainwashing."

Accept no substitutes! Others say they're as good as Guaco Brand Brain Soap LL, and they might even be Guaco Brand! But unless it says LL (Long Lasting) on the package you're being sold a poor rigid imitation of the real thing. Guaco Brand LL. Powered by the Holy Spirit. If you decide to get your brain washed, trust it to someone who knows you better than you do. Then open the door and kiss yourself good-bye.

2004 December 27

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