As a child I attempted several times to become a collector. My mother worked in the antiques and as she called it, “junk” business. We would go from the South Georgia Cotton Fields to the Rolling Mountains of Tennessee every other weekend to craft fairs, art shows, and antique shows. My mother tried to get me interested in collecting things. For a while, I was interested in collecting coins. Foreign Coins. Then it was buttons. Then it was beer steins. I would always decorate my room as a child with strange things- like steins from Germany, Gi Joe Figures, Stuffed Animals and old coins, old maps, old globes. As an older child, I started collecting James Bond Memorabilia. Then it was the Grateful Dead. And somewhere in my post-adolescence years I told my mother I loved Winnie the Pooh. My collection spawned over night.(she’s a compulsive shopper) I had a Pooh Bear Alarm Clock, a Pooh Blanket, Pooh Socks, Pooh Shoe laces (to go in my Doc Martens)…YOU NAME IT, I had it and it was POOH Bear. Odd, huh. I collected and collected.
My collections started to change sometime after I started Bible classes. I stopped being so occupied with material things and more occupied with what mattered NOW. Don’t get me wrong, I was still a pig eating at the slop trough of consumerism and still give into that evil gluttonous sin occasionally. But, I had a shift of thought.
So I started collecting people. No, Not some weird gross psycho-killer movie kinda stuff. I didn’t have fingers or toes or ears in jars, or around my neck.OR in my freezer. cannibalism never appealed to me. I did however, enjoy collecting interesting people for friends. I felt like this collection of mine was more of a quest. A quest to find the people who would believe in me and I could believe in them.
In December of 2010, I hugged more of my growing collection than ever before. I met many outlawpreachers. It was truly my first large ecumenical and emergent conference ever. I had been searching out voices that sounded like Jesus. Some who were prophets. Some who shared my pain and common rejection from traditional church. Some who loved God but really hated christianity. They were tired of church. Tired of a hierarchy in leadership, where one person (usually a middleaged white man)was the sole interpreter of the Bible, or society, or art, or anything. They longed for an inclusive community. They wanted to share their questions, doubts, and revelations without being marginalized or called HERETIC, ANATHEMA, TICKLING OF EARS, PERVERTS, or FALSE PROPHETS. They wanted to see social justice happen. They wanted to take care of the poor. So i found another group to collect. They were my #outlawpreachers.
I collected people from every background through the outlawpreachers. Some Lakota medicine men following the way of Christ. Some kids of a televangelist. Some Lesbians letting go of the fundamentalist churches that had hurt them, Some Mainline pastors working to do new outside of the box ministry, Some Goths and Freaks and Hippies who wanted to be Jesus to foreigners, prisoners, farm people, poor people, HIV positive people, oh and even BAR people. Some who shared my love for the Holy Spirit cloaked in celtic worship of God and intrigued by the Christian Mystics, Some tatted up guys doing ministry for every person, some guys who drank white lightning and talked about grace, some guy from Chicago with a heart bigger than a bear, and a guy who gave a damn about the hurting in Alabama. OH and I found a new father, who I called Papa. He helped me know something- His touch was healing. And through him, I felt as if I was truly born again. That makes no sense, I am sure. But I saw my childhood state in grace, I was something beautiful. no longer the guilty fat boyish child who was dirty and stricken with sexual abuse, BUT a golden-locked girl with blue eyes, swinging and laughing in the sun knowing God loved me.
So yeah, i will keep on collecting and seeking out these great people. Maybe you should do a little searching of your own! Check out the OutlawPreachers. Or as some would say- the smoking section of the emergent movement.