Piercings are a transgression?
February 11, 2013
When I look around most mainline churches, I find everyone looks pretty much the same. Most people come from similar economic and cultural backgrounds and have many of the same peers. It reminds of Clone Wars from the Star Wars series. Maybe the church should be suing Lucas…it’s had this idea for a much longer time. I just thought mainline denominations such as my own would be better at it because we’re more “liberal” and “open.”
Recently, I was at a minister’s meeting and a missions strategist in our denomination began to talk about something near and dear to my geeky heart. A powerful moment occurred when he asked the church members present, “Are you willing to allow people with piercings and tattoos into your congregation?” That question, powerful though it be, brought out my cynical side as I turned to a colleague and whispered, “When are we going to be willing to let ministers like that in our pulpits?”
You see, my denomination doesn’t have too many freaks and geeks in our pulpits. (At least ones who will admit it.) It’s not a common thing among us though I see it among many people in the “emergent church movement” as well as in many nondenominational churches but there are very few in the United Methodist Church. But we’re the liberal ones, right?
After mulling on this leader’s statements, I began to talk with other colleagues. Many of them shared stories of how they’d been told not to wear an earring or nose ring. Some mentioned how they’d been taken aside and informed it would “be best” if their tattoos remained covered.
Then it hit me…I’m not the only one! Yes, I’ve got some ink (rather recent I might add) and have had my ears pierced for over 25 years. I’m not ashamed of it. It’s a part of who I am. Everything has a meaning and memory behind it. The sum of these parts of my past and present inform who I will be in the future.
And this is why I find my journey difficult…I look around my denomination and other mainline churches and wonder, “Where are my people? Where are the freaks and geeks?” I realize I’m missing the outsider, the one who is different, the one who is estranged and then it dawns on me…my people aren’t here. I’m a missionary to a culture in which I didn’t grow up and I want to find a way to bring these two strange, different worlds together.
How do I begin doing it? I’m not sure. I think I’ll start by asking some of my strange, odd friends who don’t go to church because everyone looks the same.
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