-Pastor Melissa Fain-
Madonna had been excommunicated by the Catholic Church.
According to her, it was three times in all.
It was amazing for her image. After the fact, people loved her even more. I can still remember the very first time she was excommunicated. I had forgotten that it all started with Pepsi.
But I did remember the song in question: “Like a Prayer.” She skyrocketed once the Church openly declared she was outside of doctrine! They basically formed her into what she was going to become, and she was going to become a scandal to the Church and their systems.
It was the first time I realized getting real attention to positively change a system required being absolutely hated by some.
Not for the sake of being hated. I think there are those of us who love being hated just to be hated. Those are firestarters, and fires to just watch the flames are rarely good.
No, I’m talking about a group hating you because it upsets their status quo in a way that points out hypocrisy, and usually by those who are the most comfortable. I somehow always knew I needed that kind of hate to really get something done.
But I am nothing.
More specifically, I’ve been “nothing’ed.” It’s what you do to people and groups that leave no sort of real impact at all. You say, “neat,” and move on, then in 8-10 years you think, “Oh, remember that thing Melissa did? I wonder how it’s going.” You search me up and either see I’ve quit or kept going. Your curiosity has been filled, and you once again put it all out of your memory and move on.
I’m not saying that to be angry. To be very clear, I’m not. I’ve done it too. We can’t help but do it, and I’m one of the most forgettable people on planet Earth.
Like so forgettable that when I would sit in a classroom the teacher would yell out, “Where’s Melissa?” and they would be looking right at me while saying it. So forgettable, that my first church job wrote out their history for their anniversary and I was completely written out. (It was a very small church. Only two jobs and I worked it for three years and held two positions.) So forgettable, that I was sitting in on a planning meeting for a Scout Project, a project I had been intimately involved in for the previous two years, and someone looked me in the eyes and said, “Who are you?”
I am nothing. I have always been nothing. No one wants to hate me, because no one can remember me long enough to form any lasting opinions of me.
I want to be hated.
I know that’s hard to understand. Why would anyone want to be hated? Being hated doesn’t feel pleasant. It doesn’t bring accolades or fancy houses and cars. People don’t strive for hate.
Only in my world, every day the time has run out. Either it ran out for some congregant or minister that was on the wrong side of a congregational power trip, or it ran out for a person that was on the wrong side of Clergy Abuse. Every day someone new is added to the displaced, broken and abused. It will always be better to be hated and stop the abuse, rather than being liked and know that brokenness continues. Or ignored. I’m ignored.
I would love to be hated by Matt Walsh. He’s a theological idiot who has a following. But, instead I hate Walsh and in disliking what he says and does, he gets the focus.
I’d love to be a thorn in Joel Osteen’s or Franklin Graham’s side. Only, no one wants to be theologically critical of American Evangelism aside from saying “Osteen bad!” and ignore a trend that continues to cause terrible things in local churches.
More than anything though, I’d hate to be hated by the Christian Church, (Disciples of Christ). I love that tradition. I’m a Campbellite for life. There are people there I deeply care and love. Only…
The tradition I love has chosen ignorance as their weapon against me and others.
They have chosen to ignore me and hope my “sidetrack” magically ends. Did you know that the General Church has no idea that Fig Tree and I left the denomination? I took myself off a mailing list, and instead of getting a clue, I keep getting emails telling me I’m on their list and I really should re-subscribe to get information important to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). If I just come back and begin helping them again, they’ll go back to pretending to help us. It’s that easy.
And it’s not like that tradition deserves to exist.
There have been some toxic churches in the system.
There have been power hungry clergy who brought down others through their power.
There have been regions that quietly helped toxic churches get new ministers, and toxic ministers to get new churches.
Their sins are easier to hide because of how much power the congregants hold within the denominational system. The thing I loved has been weaponized.
I don’t want to be Madonna, wanting hate by the Church for the sake of publicity.
I just know, if what I do actually makes a difference, it will probably be the Church who yells out in anger. I won’t be gleeful when it happens. You won’t see me enjoying any of it, but I’ll know we are not nothing anymore.