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..: Sick of the Truth

I discovered recently that the postmodern movement is more an anti-movement than a stand-alone movement. Darn. What that means is that everything the postmodern believes requires being jaded by what came before. For those of you of the cynical persuasion, you know that being upset about so many things requires dedication and hard work. Ah, and that work is never done.

Perhaps no recent example better describes the frustration of those living the anti-movement than an article that appeared in the November 2001 issue of Harper's magazine.

The article title: "Welcome To Cancerland: A mammogram leads to a cult of pink kitsch."

The author Barbara Ehrenreich, a breast cancer patient herself, describes her entry into the commercialized community of suffering cancer patients. That world, she says, is a suspiciously enthusiastic, over-branded one filled with cheap paraphernalia and patronizing energy that portrays the cancer as a lifestyle, a way of life, even a blessing in disguise. A serious illness cloaked in the guise of something disturbingly sentimental and hope-filled -- thanks to smart marketing, big fund raisers and the unique opportunity for corporate exposure and financial profit.

That's right, profit. The industry pulls in between $12 billion to $16 billion a year. "It is the very blandness of breast cancer, at least in mainstream perceptions, that makes it an attractive object of corporate charity and a way for companies to brand themselves friends of the middle-aged female market."

But that's not what we're going to talk about today.

Ehrenreich's journey into Cancerland had her seeking out support in online chats and message boards with fellow sufferers. When her posts pointed out what she saw in her new world -- the "barbaric" treatments, unrelenting insurance companies, and "sappy pink ribbons" -- she got responses filled with criticism. Worse, when she expressed her true emotions -- anger, bitterness, resentment -- her online fellowship rebuked her, insisting that she immediately seek therapy and counseling. Her communication of reality had been interpreted as instability by those who had long covered over their own feelings with a new Cancerland lifestyle that now defined them.

Who am I? I'm a citizen of Cancerland. The movie Fight Club says it best: "You are not your bowel cancer." Ladies, you are not your breast cancer either.

Next door to Cancerland, just beyond the tea cup ride, is Churchland. You'll recognize Churchland by the costumed characters that roam the streets. All those here are sufferers not of physical illness but a spiritual one. Their eyes have been opened to a horrible diagnosis: Their spirits are filled with a cancer that will kill them for an eternity. In this life, and in the life to come. You wouldn't know it though. All I see from here are Churchland parades and Churchland rides.

Years ago, I began to speak up about the imbalance in Churchland. At first I went to authorities, and they told me my perceptions indicated I wasn't Saved. Better make sure you have accepted Christ, they said. That sent me into 2 years of doubt and crisis.

The next time I spoke up, it was about my honest pain. The pain of living with spiritual illness. Doesn't anyone else feel this way? I was rebuked: Brother, you need prayer and healing. Speaking up must be against the rules. I could hardly get through describing my prayer requests before the small group had prescribed my prescription. Just shut up, they were saying.

So I imitated the citizens of Churchland. Kept my mouth shut, covered over pain with lousy carnival rides and pink cotton candy. And I was miserable.

Recently, I have found a small haven from Churchland and its visitors: on Saturday mornings I meet with a group of fellow sufferers. We are free to be honest. Here, even the most stoic is open. The fifteen of us share and study together, struggling to unravel what the Man of Sorrows left for us: the very difficult teachings and actions of Christ. All my years as a Christian, never have I heard such disturbing Truths as the ones we are dusting off.

[Hold on, we're about to change metaphors with a run on sentence.]

These Truths are disturbing in the same way that Thomas Anderson in The Matrix was disturbed to learn that the world he thought he knew was a massive computer simulation designed and maintained to convert human energy into electrical energy for the evil machines that rule the devastated world of the future.

It is a nausea-inducing, please-let-me-wake-up kind of truth. It is also a eureka-I-knew-this-world-was-fishy kind of truth. And it keeps unfolding, expanding. A lifetime of living in the Matrix is not easily forgotten. Here on the outside, in the Kingdom, my muscles have atrophy, my eyes have never been used. Show me the reality too much or too soon, I'm going to puke on you. I, like Neo, am starting off this new life totally naked, in every way ill-equipped for the world of the Kingdom. My muscles of Love and Compassion are particularly useless. Sometimes I overhear my companions, and they regret not taking the blue pill.

But I'd rather be out here, in the reality of the Kingdom, than in the machine of deception.

What's next? Build up the muscles. Get used to the new reality. Then when it's time, head back into Churchland, and maybe help free some minds.

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