Not Of Or On But In

by John Blase


I think we’re all going to pay a high price for our inability to face the truth.
~ Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides


He was scheduled to write a blog post for a site called Deeper Church. He’d agreed to be a part of the monthly crew but felt the old man of the group, not old enough to be wise by any stretch, just older. The truth was he was in a strange season. He didn’t give a rat’s ass about christianity’s current state. He used to, but not anymore. It was like he had acquired some strange spiritual erectile dysfunction where on the tissue level he felt he oughta be aroused by such things but alas, the thrill was gone. If he heard one more major voice bitch about the church then trot out their message of how we’ve been missing it all these years he thought he might self-rupture and become a creek or at least a beaver pond. And all the hoopla over the gender wars had just about cracked his enamel. As the husband of a fiercely classic beauty of a wife and the father of two daughters who followed in her footsteps he was verily pleased with the emergence of the female voice; its about damn time. Still, he was hesitant to go full hog for in his opinion not all but much of the current wrangling boiled down to one word – power. And he feared hearing his daughters’ voices in a decade or so: Dad, the driver”s seat is not all its cracked up to be. 

Truth be told he felt himself falling deeper into the world. He knew the verse about not being of the world but from what he’d seen, and he paid attention, a lotta church folks were simply on the world, the old ‘justa passing through’ gig even though many would deny that at least three times before the sun rose. The difference in those prepositions seemed to make all the difference, now that he was older. He wanted to be fully in the world, in the whole rapturous revelry that was everything from the brain-scouring short stories of George Saunders, to the bloody attraction of The Walking Dead (Sunday nights on AMC), to feeling rather tingly inside when his wife cooks her poblano chicken chowder, to having to pull the car over one fine day and weep when the radio played How Are Things in Glocca Morra?, to popping the ibuprofen like a hatter “cause the rotator cuffs ain”t what they used to be, to watching his parents suddenly rapid aging, to waiting for the lilacs to bloom outside the windows in June, to anticipatory grieving for he knows that beagles don”t live forever, to praying to Jesus for his only son as he tries out for lacrosse, to being ever so thankful the family got the corner table once more at that Italian place they all love at Christmastime.

The truth is now he wants to stand before St. Peter, or if he’s lucky St. Joan (of Didion), and hear one or both of them say Well, well, here’s one who loved this present world too much. And hopefully a weeping willow standing stately by the river whose streams make glad the city of God will whisper for any who care to hear: Well donewell done.

So he started chipping away at that post for Deeper Church. He felt older, but that”s okay.


32 Responses to “Not Of Or On But In”

  1. Christie January 11, 2013 at 6:03 am #

    My favorite “deeper” post ever. Thank you.

    • John Blase January 11, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      Thanks, Christie…it felt rather shallow at time of writing.

  2. Gwen Jorgensen January 11, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    Thank you. Feel steadied… a part of me is breathing again.

    • John Blase January 11, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      Gwen, steadied? Well, I like that, I like that alot. Thank you.

  3. Seth January 11, 2013 at 9:27 am #

    Well done.

    • John January 16, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

      Thanks, Seth. I’ll take that.

  4. Sarah Bessey January 11, 2013 at 9:56 am #

    The best, John. Truly.

    • John Blase January 11, 2013 at 10:38 am #

      As always, good to hear from you, Sarah. Thanks.

  5. Tina/ @teenbug January 11, 2013 at 10:02 am #

    Man alive! John, you are the real deal.

    I hear you on the “he felt he oughta be aroused by such things but alas…”

    I’m so grateful for this beautiful piece of writing and you.

    • John Blase January 11, 2013 at 10:39 am #

      Tina, anyone who uses the phrase ‘man alive’ is okay in my book. Thanks very much for your comment.

  6. Kelly @ Love Well January 11, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    You mean it’s OK, the way some things grow pale and some grow wildly vivid as we age?

    I’ll be 41 on Sunday, not much younger than you, if I’m calculating right (which you shouldn’t bet on; we writers aren’t mathematicians) and every cell in my being resonates with this.

    We need your voice, John Blase. Older and wiser and rich. Don’t stop calling back.

    • John Blase January 11, 2013 at 10:40 am #

      Your words mean a great deal, Kelly. I’m grateful.

  7. Erika Morrison January 11, 2013 at 10:56 am #

    WOW. (And #fistbump for The Walking Dead)

    • John Blase January 11, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      Thanks, Erika. Yeah, can’t wait for Feb. 10 – new season.

  8. Josh January 11, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    Thanks for that, Mr. Blase.

    “A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)

    Though the devil may rule this world for a season, I consider that it was created and called good by God, and that He placed me here to experience and be experienced as part of a whole. It is His will and His gift that this be as much a part of my journey as whatever awaits hereafter, and so my hope is to live fully in this place, in this moment, in obedience and thankfulness – even though I fail distressingly often.

    • John Blase January 11, 2013 at 2:01 pm #

      Good words, Josh…good words. Thank you!

  9. Cherry Odelberg January 11, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    Wow! A string of words and I am undone. Feeling this, oh so feeling this from the aging female perspective.

    • John Blase January 12, 2013 at 7:00 am #

      Hi, Cherry. Thanks for taking the time to comment. This aging thing is quite the hoot, huh?

  10. colleen in melbourne January 11, 2013 at 3:12 pm #

    Well flamin’ Nora, I want to be of this world if it means revelling in the words and ideas of John Blase, Pat Conroy, and the like! (while listening to Dave Brubeck, as I am right now.)
    “It was like he had acquired some strange spiritual erectile dysfunction where on the tissue level he felt he oughta be aroused by such things but alas, the thrill was gone”….a masterful way with words, John.
    More, some wonderous ideas to mull over.
    Thank you thank you thank you.

    • John Blase January 12, 2013 at 7:02 am #

      Thanks, Colleen. I have vowed to begin using the phrase ‘flaming Nora’…that’s magic.

  11. Diana Trautwein January 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm #

    Vintage Blase, and oh-so-welcome. I, too, find myself sometimes simultaneously exhausted and exhilarated by some of the palaver going on about ‘issues’ in the church today. Yes, they’re important. But, please. Tell me a story, okay? Don’t hit me upside the head with another argument. DEFINITELY getting older over here, that is for dang sure.

    • Sarah Denley January 11, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

      Diana nailed it– “Tell me a story, okay?”. These stories, these words, so beautiful. We *need* more of them. I’ve twenty seven and these words resonated so. Maybe a few of us could figure it out sooner if you keep blessing us with your words. Thank you for this.

      • John Blase January 12, 2013 at 7:06 am #

        Sarah, thank you for your words too. Twenty-seven? That’s a very good year…

    • John Blase January 12, 2013 at 7:04 am #

      Diana, ‘story’ appears to be all the rage these days, but all too often I still hear a lesson or an agenda or something. Thanks, as always, for writing.

      • Diana Trautwein January 12, 2013 at 10:16 am #

        Is it possible to write anything at all without some sort of ‘agenda,’ John? I guess it depends on how you define the word. All I know is that it is easier for me to hear anything if it comes at me on the slant. Which is precisely why I love your writing. And God only knows what your agenda is. :>)

  12. Katherine Willis Pershey January 13, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    Reading this post felt like breathing mountain air, minus the terrific cliche. Wow. Thank you.

    • Joan January 13, 2013 at 7:08 am #

      I loved this article. I have a daughter who started going to Campus Crusade For Christ on her college campus, and she has sadly almost become a robot. She had such a random, funny, wonderful personality, and now she wants nothing to do with things of this world excepting saving people. She no longer enjoys anything that she used to, and it breaks my heart. If I try and talk to her, she only becomes defensive. I hope someday she will truly see the light.

      • John Blase January 13, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

        Joan, I’ll hope along with you. Thank you for sharing those words.

    • John Blase January 13, 2013 at 7:22 pm #

      Thanks, Katherine…I like that description very much!

  13. Tamara January 15, 2013 at 5:22 pm #

    I am so glad that the first John Blase post I read included a masterful allusion to the male organ. Talk about enjoying the blessings of being in the world.

    I’m an immediate fan.

    • John January 16, 2013 at 8:47 am #

      Tamara, an allusion, yes…masterful, probably not. Hey, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. I wholeheartedly agree – there are a lot of blessings in this world.


  1. In which I link you up (vol 1.9) | Sarah Bessey - January 18, 2013

    [...] Not Of or On But In by John Blase for Deeper Church [...]

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