November 12, 2005
Expletive Undeleted 2: The F-bomb Fallout
In part one of this post, associate editor Skye Jethani reported pastor Mike Sares's tough decision: should he allow a poet to read the F-word during a Christmas Eve service at Scum of the Earth Church? Here's the rest of the story, the Christmas no one would forget.
Sares called Makkai and gave his permission to read the poem, but he explained to her the likely consequences of this decision. â€œI told her I would pay a heavy price, but I was willing to do that. I was not going to censor her, but she had to decide in her own heart what to do.â€?
After wrestling with the dilemma Makkai came to what she considered a compromise. Rather than carpet-bombing the congregation with some 16 F-bombs that were in the original poem, she edited it to include just a handful of precision guided F-bombs. To be fair, she struggled greatly with the decision. Even during the service, she asked a group of strangers if the language would offend them.
Before Makkai stood up to read, Sares thought it best to issue a disclaimer. â€œI told the congregation that the next piece was R-rated,â€? Sares recalls.
. â€œIf anyone was offended by street language, or if they have children, they may want to leave the sanctuary. We really donâ€™t have any children at Scum, so that really wasnâ€™t a factor, but I wanted to be safe.â€?
Makkai then rose to read her poem called â€œLost and Found.â€? When she finished her emotional and stirring presentation there was absolute silence. Was the church in shock, or awe? After three seconds, Sares reports, the place erupted with thunderous applause. â€œIt was the single most powerful moment I have ever had in a worship service. People were weeping, it was incredible.â€?
After the service, Sares received e-mails from a number of young adults in the congregation:
Mike, I just wanted to express my appreciation for the risk you took. My sister, she's 17. We grew up in the church. But she has been drifting really far, doesn't consider herself a Christian anymore. And she came.
We were driving home. She said that the poem really touched her. She talked about how it was so real. So raw. The emotion. How it is so true that to see stars, the sky has to get dark. She was really touched and encouraged by the poem.
So. I just wanted to give you encouragement. Let you know that I agree with the decision. I am praying for you. Take care.
Hi, Mike. Merry Christmas.
I know this is kind of random, but I wanted to tell you what I thought about last night's Christmas Eve Service. That service was one of the most powerful Christmas services I've ever attended, and I have been brought up in the church.
In her poem was a picture of how God meets me. How he speaks to my heart. It was one of the most poignant pictures of modern day redemption I have heard. It moved me to tears. And I watched the faces of my friends, whose hearts have been jaded by the hypocrisy in the church; and they softened. I hung out with dozens of kids after Scum that night. And all they spoke of was the poem. How it was real. How it was raw.
It was a shock that church was real. Which meant God was real. And if God wasn't shocked by the language they used everyday, maybe, just maybe, they could talk to Him.
So I just wanted to thank you Mike. Because it took a lot of courage to allow that in your service. I wanted to say thanks--from all of us that left there shocked--shocked that God was that real, and we could be that real with Him. And all of us who said, "Now that is why this is my church." Thank you.
Unfortunately, not everyone responded so favorably. As Sares suspected, there was significant fallout. A number of his supporters who attended the Christmas Eve service left offended and hurt. â€œOne of my closest supporters was there,â€? recalls Sares, â€œand his wife had brought her mother, who had been a missionary for years in a very conservative church. He escorted his mother-in-law out after I gave the disclaimer, he was very angry. His daughter was in tears.â€?
The supporter chose to withhold a large donation to Sares. It took time, but eventually Sares reconnected with his friend. â€œWeâ€™re still friends,â€? Sares says, â€œbut he just doesnâ€™t get Scumâ€™s ministry. For the most part that relationship has now been restored, which is wonderful.â€?
In the years following the Christmas Eve bombing, Mary Kate Makkai has grown in her faith and now holds a leadership position at Scum. Sares reports, â€œThe prodigal poet is back 100 percent.â€?
â€œSince that Christmas Eve service we have done regular poetry readings; itâ€™s just a part of what we do at Scum. And we still give artists a lot of freedom to express themselves. That is always going to make some people upset, but sometimes you have to use the dark strokes to bring out the bold colors.â€?
Posted by UrL on November 12, 2005
TrackBack URL for this entry:
Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Expletive Undeleted 2: The F-bomb Fallout:
» F-bombs, poets, and church. Or, “When church goes intentionally awry!” from BlogRodent
On the time-worn religious use of the word F— The obscenity f— is a very old word and has been considered shocking from the first, though it is seen in print much more often now than in the past. Its first known occurrence, in code be... [Read More]
Tracked on November 12, 2005
» Pastor Mike Sares' R-Rated Christmas Eve from Slice of Laodicea
In case you missed the second part of the article from Christianity Today on "Pastor" Mike Sares at Scum of the Earth Church, here it is. When a woman in his church wanted to read a poem on Christmas Eve... [Read More]
Tracked on November 17, 2005
» The Best Comments of 2005 from Leadership Blog: Out of Ur
With the new year upon us this seems like the right time to highlight the best comments from the most popular posts of 2005. True, Out of Ur has only been in existence since October, but if mediocre sitcoms have... [Read More]
Tracked on December 27, 2005
» risky blogging from djchuang.com
Blogging is risky; risky business. The internet has a profoundly long memory of all that someone has written, thus a political and professional liability. Yes, everything that I’ve written can be found by someone who does a Google-style backgrou... [Read More]
Tracked on December 28, 2005