[Agent X], Please Report To The Principal’s Office!

Archived 2013

In recent posts I have begun (temporarily) breaking with tradition on this blog and using actual names. So, let’s talk about that a moment.

Since I find the content of a few old journals so compelling and important to share, and since the narratives offered in them are so saturated with names, I will use first names of real people in the telling of these stories as an exception to the overall practice of this blog. It will keep things less confusing (something I have been criticized for in the past when several characters are portrayed as Agent This and Agent That over and over within a single account).

However, I will restrain myself from using any real names of any real people with whom I am in conflict or controversy (including my own name or those closest to me). I also will continue to use pseudonyms for institutions, organizations, and churches. If I attract local readers, especially those familiar with the streets of Lubbock, there is a strong chance they will know who I am referring to, but not necessarily, and people not local will almost certainly not know or figure it out.

Okay, enough with the disclaimers. From this point on, I will copy from the journal(s) with minimal editing and let the entries speak for themselves. I will be happy to entertain questions and fill out more context if needed in the comments section below.

Here is the entry:

Saturday, December 28, 2013, Lub/TX

 

What a holiday season it has been?  [Mrs. Agent X] and I have hosted our street friends to spend the night in our home at least as much as not almost since Thanksgiving.  [H] and [Menace], [Agent J], [Agent D], and Tanya have all come through and spent a few nights with us when [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church (not its real name)] closed and ran them off.

None of that is terribly big news to anyone reading this [blog] thus far.  However, on Christmas Eve, I received a text msg from [Mr. Big] desiring to have an “informal” meeting with me in which another board member or two might “sit down” with me and discuss my “frustration.”

   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

(I am finding myself too busy to write a complete a thought!  It is now the next day, Dec. 29, and I am in San Antonio, Texas [on a matter of family business].)

    *   *   *   *   *   *   *

So, to sum up….  On Friday, Dec. 27, I met at Market Street with [Mr. Big], [Prof. Erudite], and [T-bird].  Suddenly I have 3 (count ’em THREE – 1, 2, THREE!) board members breaking away mid-day from whatever other things they otherwise find important to come talk to me for 2 hours!  I really don’t know, as yet, what I did to get their attention.  They did not say, I have to guess, for certainly I have tried many times, many ways.

I took [Agent MyDad] with me to the meeting.  We offered communion, and all three accepted and joined us in the middle of the Market Street Café.  They also came with gentle attitudes and charitable demeanor.  And they asked to hear from me.

I chose to focus in on one single issue.  I protested the decision of leadership to close the door of [Premier Homeless Pseudo Church] on homeless needy people when it is freezing temps and volunteers are available.

Despite the charitable demeanor, these men did not budge an inch on that issue.  Rather, they characterized my protest as frustration and anger, but [Agent MyDad] refused to let them do that.  Again and again, he rebutted until they relented that my protest was a matter of “SADNESS.”

The conversation went on at length.  Eventually, [Prof. Erudite] revealed that he is concerned about my relationship with the “executive minister”, [Pastor Bates], and he believes I take issue with his ministry-shaping book, When Helping Hurts, which I do.  [However, I did NOT make ANY of that my issue to settle with these men.]  But this was tipping his hand a bit too.

It tells me that I have been heard, and that up until now I was being ignored.  [Prof. Erudite] had to have done some kind of research to learn these things, and now he is invested in knowing me.

But [Agent MyDad] made a comment afterward that still rings in my ears: “They came to the [executive ministers] defense.”  That is a powerful observation.  It says these men really care for their minister.  And I appreciate that!  I doubt my boss(es) would take such a stand for me.  It is especially refreshing to see that in a church/ministry where so often ministers are treated as disposable.

On the other hand, it tells me they view me as a potent threat to defend against!  I have appeared powerful to them in some way.  Yes, they seek to neutralize me, but they did think they need 3 board members who will break in the middle of the day at an hour and place of my choosing to come to the defense of their boy!

I don’t feel so powerful, but I see that I have drawn a powerful reaction.  (More on that [another time]…)

I need to review a moment here.  I came with ONE SINGLE ISSUE to protest.  I have been protesting it for weeks now.  I could have chosen a number of issues, but I have taken on only one.  And I have tempered my concern on that one issue dramatically.  I protest specifically this:

When volunteers are available and the temperature drops to 30 degrees F or below, the door should be open to the needy.

I will relent IF volunteers are not available, but even then I would suggest engaging a program to drum up more.  I find it unacceptable for the shepherds of a church to tell the flock to scatter into the night – ESPECIALLY when fresh volunteers are coming to help!!!

The first time I addressed this, I was told we had “no volunteers.”  That was not true on that occasion, and I demonstrated that I knew better.  And since then I have heard of other cases when volunteers were turned away.  Also, I have spoken to at least one volunteer who told me he has never been called upon!

Then when I addressed it a 2nd time, I was told we were “teaching these people” to take responsibility for themselves.  I refuted that notion as well.  Then I was told I need to merely accept “leadership decisions..”

On a later occasion, when it came up again, the “executive minister” actually told me it was “WARM.”

Now at the meeting with the board members, I was essentially being told to accept leadership decisions, that there are many behind-the-scenes, logistical factors that go into these decisions of which I am not privy (nor invited to become privy) and so I should accept them.

Now there is this other front that [Prof. Erudite] brings to bear in which he wants to broker peace and harmony between the “executive minister” and me.  And I am hopeful that we might find fruitful results in that.  I promised [Prof. Erudite] to devote myself to caring for that evermore so.

Yet, I also think about how once upon a time leadership in Alabama made a decision that black people sit in the back of the bus.  That decision made a lot of sense to leadership and a lot of white people too, and was intended to be accepted without question.  And I am mindful that Rosa Parks may have been angry, cranky, and hard to get along with.  [I don’t think her feelings/attitude undercut her protest at all.  I think it stood or failed on the merits of it’s own reasonability.]  But I bet she did not imagine the overwhelming POWER she brought to the table – nor did leadership – until it was unleashed.

I am really having trouble with a leadership decision that gets defended with untrue statements of various kinds [smokescreens] on the one hand and broken philosophy and hegemony [powerplays] on the other.  I do not accept that.  And the fact that these answers are changing as they do, and that THREE board members would break away mid-day to suddenly come caring about what I have to say tells me that there is a lot of nervous energy going on at headquarters and a lot of POWER knocking on that shut, locked door.

We opened that meeting sharing communion.  A meal the “executive minister” was once invited to join, but which he declined saying, “I already ate a big meal” and then asked us (shortly thereafter) to leave [the “church” property].  His bosses came to the meal.  [The one he rejected.]  The invitation still awaits the “executive minister”.  Hopefully, he will come and hopefully Jesus will be revealed, the ministers reconciled and the flock gathered into the fold!

 

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2 comments

  1. T. F. Thompson · August 15

    “A word means exactly what I say it means. Nothing more and nothing less.” Alice in Through the Looking Glass
    Apparently the above statement is also true with this church. Cold is NOT cold, it is warm. People are NOT homeless, they are maligned with career choices or the lack thereof. There is no such thing as genuine anger or righteous indignation, there is only sadness.
    You are damn right one is sad and one is angry and sad because an organization situation and committed to assist the homeless has a sign on the door that says, “CLOSED” except when the cameras or grants are rolling in. So you see here, there are no words here that deceive for the words mean nothing in themselves. The fact that the homeless are NOT welcome is the issue and for that I am afraid Alice would simply have to remain in Wonderland and she would remain as she would not be welcomed to sleep at Church which is her home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agent X · August 15

      I inherited this job.

      Practically no one knows it, and it may not matter anyway, but I inherited this gig.

      I have to rely on my dad for this info, because Grandmother died before I was born. But she was a passionate Christian. Not terribly well educated, but she could read her Bible and she LOVED Jesus.

      I don’t know how she got caught up in the Church of Christ, but she did. And though we are (historically) known as that hard-bitten bunch that thinks we are the only saved bunch, the TRUE CHURCH that does it RIGHT, AND that we refuse the use of instrumental music in our worship (judging all other denominations to be DAMNED because they do), this thin slice of insight is just that. Thin. It ain’t even the whole story. It’s just the headline your dear old Aunt Edna read about us.

      No. We had all manner of squabbles and claimed it was all about right doctrine. Baptism, kitchens in the church building, Premillennialism and a host of other controversies.

      And yes churches of Christ split again and again over these matters and more.

      Well, one of the issues quite sensitive among our ranks IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS was childrens homes. Yes, that’s right. Some people were FOR and others AGAINST.

      I am oversimplifying the matter, actually, but not by that much. It had to do with the funding and whether the CHURCH was directly involved or not. You see, everybody CARED about the orphans, and would even send money to help them, but a lot of us were quite staunch about how that is just NOT official church business and so a church could not be involved. If you want to help, great, but it was just as foreign to church as public school in this view.

      Well, my dear grandmother put together an aid package for the Navajo orphans in New Mexico and tried to drum up support AT CHURCH!

      OMG!!!

      This upset some sensitive souls to no end. It came to the attention of the elders who called Grandmother in for a good talking to.

      This was back in the 1950’s.

      As a woman, she had NO VOICE.

      As a shepherd at my church once told me recently, you can scream at the top of your voice, but we are not listening! Well, Grandmother faced that garbage too but faced it in a world where there was NO OXYGEN for the notion a woman might be right and all the elders might be wrong.

      She took up her collections in the parking lot after that – well away from the church building sanctuary. An end run around that lunacy.

      The issues are all different now. I would sooner argue that opening the door to the poor is a matter of sound doctrine! But the shepherds could care less about that. They want the CASH! My insistence that we adhere to Jesus’s teaching will cut the flow of cash or at least threaten it.

      Seriously, there have been precious FEW attempts to address me biblically. And the few there have been have come at about that level of this [Mr. Big] cat who thinks we need to teach these people to earn a living by the sweat of their brow. Yes, SWEAT OF THE BROW is a Bible phrase, alright, but even an IDIOT can see its not in a passage about serving the poor. Rather its a curse placed on those who disobey God by eating the forbidden fruit! If that passage really had bearing, then the shepherd citing it would be suggesting we need to curse these people!!! Think of it. And JUDGE them too!

      But that is getting into the differences between Grandmothers situation and mine. My current point REALLY is that I come from a lineage of prophets who point out to the powersthatbe how terribly wrong they are. And we are not higalutin geniuses doing it. This aint rocket surgery. It’s just basic Bible and LOVE.

      Thanx for commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

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