One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned since I launched The Lasting Supper in 2012 (Wow! Four years ago!”) is that TLSers are generally speaking fiercely spiritually independent.
Let me explain what I mean by that.
When I started TLS, I initially thought it would be a largely content-driven website where I would share my wisdom to the members. The idea of a forum where the members could interact came later. Then the idea of a secret Facebook group came even later than that. I really did think, because I really didn’t know any better, that I would provide resources and support to the members and that they would benefit from what I had to say in ways that would make their journeys through deconstruction more understood and less painful.
But I discovered a couple of things very quickly and it’s changed how I do TLS:
1. TLSers aren’t looking for another guru. That’s right! What most, if not all, TLSers are doing is liberating themselves from abusive systems and leaders, authority, and controlling doctrines, practices, and leadership. The last thing they want is to submit themselves yet again to another leader and his or her influence and ideas. Most TLSers have discovered, since most of them are seekers, that seeking for just the right theology or teacher was the problem! Never again will they surrender their autonomy to another! And that’s a good thing!
As a result, I don’t pump out as much information as I used to. I still experiment. I still throw things against the wall to see what sticks. Letters. Podcasts. Interviews. Videos. Etcetera, etcetera. I now realize I am not your guru and you don’t need any more information. Basically. Some of them work some of the time. But why should I invest in things that aren’t used? No hurt feelings, because I want to do what’s best for you and not get in your way. You’ve decided to learn to trust yourself and to find your own inner guru. A few resources and occasional support is helpful. But you’re going to find your own way. And I believe you.
2. TLSers don’t want to be managed. My religious Christian life, especially as a pastor, was very structured. Now, I live the exact opposite. I’m my own boss, and my life is very, very fluid. The last thing I want is yet another meeting, another schedule, another regimen, another liturgy, another practice, another discipline. Yes, my Old Testament fear of sinning by “casting off all restraint” (Proverbs 29:18) tries to haunt me. But I just tell it to fuck off! I’m free and intend to stay that way. I think TLSers are like me. In fact, just last week a very loving member of TLS wrote me to explain why she didn’t want to take a course I was offering, and it was for this very reason. No offense, but she is enjoying her meeting-less freedom! I totally get it!
As a result, I’m testing what works and what doesn’t work. Right now, I’m enjoying the video hangouts that we do once in a while. Even then, I feel some anxiety about moderating them well and still get nervous when there’s a few seconds of silence. Another kind member of TLS detected this and wrote me after to say that I need to let that go, that there’s no need to control, that there are no expectations for me to be the charismatic leader that keeps things rolling smoothly, and to relax and just be one of us. Good advice! Good because this is essential to what TLS is about… a collection of free peers!
So, this is what things are looking like. TLS is a collective of fiercely spiritually independent people, spreading right across the very diverse spectrum of belief or no belief, who get the most benefit out of just hanging out with other free spirited individuals.
Of course, I’m still going to provide content, like this letter, because some people have said that they like knowing it’s there, and sometimes they use it. It’s good to know there’s something to go to when it’s needed. Plus, it seems to validate my role as facilitator. What I’ve learned from my experience… my story… provides encouragement for your journey. I did it and made it. So can you!
It fascinated me when the Facebook group took off like it did. That is certainly the most vibrant and interactive aspect of TLS. It’s like a huge feast with friends. We all admit the food and wine is good, but we also believe that is just a prop for good conversation, good fun, and good love.
So… I don’t throw a program at you and I don’t expect you to fit into my schedule. We are all learning as we go.
Here’s to you! CHEERS!
(If you’re not in the Facebook group, please email me and we’ll get you in!)