Sunday, October 02, 2005

Mole Hill Mountain

As the son of a minister I was brought up a certain way. I was brought up to have respect for my church and I was often told by my father that I was a model for other kids to follow, I do not know if I truly felt the same way, but that was one way, I think he used to keep me in line.

Most of my father's minsistry was in smaller congegrations, no more than 500 (at most) communicant memembers. The church he served in Maryland was small, but it was also in a small rural area as a result, more people knew who I was than I knew who they were. I was known as the "preacher's kid," seriously. As a result of this I knew, or was led to believe, that what I did not only refleced on me, but more importantly my father and his ministry. That is quite a burden to carry around as a kid, but I got through it and did the best I could with it. When I turned 21 I would not buy beer or go to a bar in the town we lived because I didn't want someone to see me and start a rumor that "the preacher's kid" is a drunk.

As I have grown I have come to the conclusion that there are basically three types of pk's. The first is most well known (if not the least true): the wild preacher's kid. I'm sure you've all heard the tag line "you know what they say about preachers' kids." I know I have. Okay, granted I like to jokingly say my "theme song" is "Son of a Preacherman," by Buffalo Springfield.

The second type of preacher's kid is the uber-reverant, looks-the-nose-at-folks type. I've known a few of these type, not many, thank goodness, but a few. They aren't fun to hang out with and can be downright frustrating. Luckily, this type is also a minority, at least in my experience.

The third category falls somewhere in between. This is my category. I can be a Hell raiser and I've done my fair share, but I can also be pious son of a gun, too. I was "trained" to be this type, I think. My parents were pretty easy going, but they trusted me and let me make my own decisions. Many people are shocked to learn that nothing was censored for me when I was a kid. Books, movies, music, etc. I could watch what I wanted to, read what I wanted to, listen to what I wanted to. I asked my parents about this one time because I have talked to other PK's whose parents did some serious censoring and, as a result, when they got under their parents' thumbs they went a bit overboard and found themselves in the first category. What my parents said was this "we figured you could figure out what was right and wrong. We knew you had a good basis in Christian faith and you could figure out what was God pleasing and what wasn't." They were right, to a point I suppose. They think I have strange tastes in movies and literature, but for the most part I stay away from unseemly things.

Another thing that was drilled into my head at early age was how to dress for church. Its not very often, but every once in a while I'll wear jeans to church (usually on a non-communion Sunday). The are clean jeans, but after weariing a shirt and tie all week sometimes a pair of jeans just makes me feel better. However, one thing I do not wear to church is sneakers. That is the absolute of absolutes when it comes to church-wear: no sneakers. Today, I wore a pair of black Doc Martens, a long sleeve blue shirt, and jeans. I was clean and casual and most importantly-- comfortable.

What brings this long winded entry? This: last week when I was worshipping at the church I grew up in the pastor's son was there. He is a teenager, a senior in highschool. They have a soundsystem that he was running which was cool, but I almost fell out of my pew when I saw him come to church. He was wearing a pair of shorts, athletic socks, a t-shirt, an Oklahoma University hat, and sunglasses. He wore the hat in church up the front, by the altar as he went in to get keys to open up the sound system. That struck my sensitivity level hard. That, to me, showed a lack of respect not only for his father's ministry, but also the church and its members. I had almost a visceral feeling. I felt like jumping up and knocking his hat off, for some reason I was really angry and irked. I leaned over to my mom and told her "good thing grandma Esthers, the Dillons, and the others aren't around to see that. They'd be pitchin fits." (All of them are actually in their heavenly reward).

I guess it just boiled down to respect for me. It went against "my training." I'm pretty sure that there aren't any stipulations about what to wear to church, its more important to be there than what it is you're wearing, but it just hit me in the "disrespect" section. And that bothered me.


Anonymous said...

It's cultural. What's the difference between wearing jeans and wearing a hat. If everyone wore hats you wouldn't blink an eye. Granted it is distracting if the majority think jeans are ok but not hats. Then the majority is distracted by the one. But was worship any less reverent or relevant in the heart of the one?

The one may (still thinking on it) have a responsibility to not wear a hat or athletic shorts if the majority are distracted by it. He is responsible to his brother's and sister's to not draw undue attention to himself and away from worship.

The question I ask - is it really wrong?

Anonymous said...

Should be brothers and sisters no apostrophe. oops.

dave said...

I agree with your three categories of PKs. In my own mind I call them angels, demons, and merely mortal. I think most PKs get labeled as an angel or a demon while they would just as soon be considered merely mortal. Life in the fishbowl often makes PKs long for anonymity.

On the clothing for worship issue, what passes as overdressed at one congregation might be underdressed at another. My father once served a small mission congregation in Houston, and for my confirmation there, my mother went out, bought a pattern and some fabric, and made a suit jacket for me to wear that day. That Mom went to such effort on my behalf was a source of pride to me as I wore that jacket every Sunday after I was confirmed. Later that year my dad took a call to a large congregation in Wisconsin. Shortly after our arrival there, my parents took me to the store and bought me another suit jacket. Whenever I got ready for church wearing the "old" jacket Mom made, she encouraged to go back and get the "new" one instead. It didn't make a whole lot of sense to me at the time since the "old" one wasn't even a year older than the "new", but I didn't put up much of a fuss. I complied and went on to church. Later on I figured out the sad truth that my handmade jacket didn't meet the unwritten and unspoken standards the parishioners held their pastor's family to.