The Talking Heads and the Bleeding Hearts
It seems to me that in the American Evangelical landscape, there is a growing chasm between two camps – on one side is what I will call “The Talking Heads” and on the other side are “The Bleeding Hearts” (I believe this is how each camp would tend to see the other).
First I will describe “the talking heads”. These are the (mostly men) who discuss and argue Theology and keep it mainly in the cerebral and abstract. They have opinions that are often rooted in “shoulds” and are often perceived as uncaring, unloving and a bit angry. One author referred to them as “bobble heads”: they have exercised the cognitive side of their brains in their approach to scripture so much that their heads have become oversized.
These are the ones who have all the answers to the questions no one is asking. They are highly skeptical of change and often give off an “us versus them” persona. The Talking Heads have a great hermeneutic but are not so polished when it comes to relating to the pain and struggle of the human condition. Truth is, it seems that their cognitive approach may be a defense mechanism from getting to their own interior world. Why? The interior world is messy with emotions and needs and deep rooted areas of sin – it does not look good and it is not a place that is easily controlled.
On the other side are “the bleeding hearts”. For them, the Bible is a source of comfort but it easily is taken from context and shared solely on “what it means for me”. In this camp God is a bit of a Teddy Bear and He makes us all feel better about ourselves. The side of God they prefer is a God who is too loving to ever judge. Their God is all inclusive and bends to our desires.
Here is the odd twist – At times I find myself drawn to both camps but once there I find myself restless and even appalled by them. I really don’t want a Teddy Bear God but I also don’t want abstract Theological arguments when I am hurting most. What is wrong here? Have I become a Spiritual Vagabond without a home? Do I belong on the island with all the other mis-fit toys?
The way out of this dilemma appears simple, but it really isn’t. We all unknowingly promote our own box. What is the Spiritual Life God is calling me to? What does it really mean that I am known by God? Does that knowledge mean He is disappointed? What does it really mean that I am loved by the God of all creation? Is it really personal. These are the existential questions that I am learning to embrace and live with. I don’t think I am alone.
Psalm 63 – A Vagabond Psalm
O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me…