October 18, 2010


In one of my classes in college we did an exercise on the people of Nacirema.  Of course, what I’m going to tell you, that they didn’t tell us until the very end, is that Nacirema is American spelled backward.  In the exercise they discussed all of these “strange” practices that the Nacirema routinely practiced (for instance rubbing their teeth with horsehair attached to a stick in an effort of vanity and cleanliness) – and by the end of the essay we were all thinking how backward and strange these people seemed.


But I’ve been thinking a lot about these Nacireman’s lately – and all I can think is – if I am to be an American, I want to be a completely backward one.


Knowing I will probably get a lot of backlash for this statement… I think that in some ways, it is very difficult to truly be a follower of Christ in America.  Not due to persecution or lack of freedom, and certainly not due to lack of churches.  No, we don’t lack any of the things that make it easy to be a Christian.  But that is just the issue.

Living in (most parts) of America, it is just so easy.  Easy to be comfortable.  Easy to avoid challenge or true difficulty.  Easy to be completely and utterly ignorant.

Ignorant to this.  Ignorant to this.  Ignorant to this. (that’s right.  Right here in good ole Nacirema.)  Ignorant to this.  Ignorant to the people we pass on the corner with signs.  Ignorant to the woman in our church who is full of pain.  Ignorant to the hurt and the need and what most of the world experiences as reality.


But we live in America.

So we will read these stories, and we will cry, and we will feel so sorry.

And then we will get distracted by the next update to our house, how to make our Halloween decorations look really great, how much we can budget for our next vacation, the fact that I’m not sure I have a pair of shoes to go with this outfit, birthday parties,  our children, our children, our children, and helping to decide what kind of lighting and sound effects we should use in church on Sunday to make people want to come back.


And I hate it.  I hate that it is so easy to do.  I hate that Jesus watches me be ignorant every day and then every night I tell Him how I love Him.


And all I can think is Lord, please don’t let me be ignorant.  Please.  Please don’t let me allow myself to be ignorant.

I’m not sure if Jesus is more heartbroken over all of the change we could be making that we aren’t, or if it hurts him even more to see us trying to find our joy and purpose in all of these things that the world tells us are so great.


Jesus calls us to a radical life.  Lives that no one would live if they didn’t personally know the creator of the universe.  Lives that demand an explanation.  What if everyone in your church did something radical, something way outside their comfort zone to serve God.  What would that look like?  Even just one church living that way?


If I am to be an American, I want to be a completely backward one.  I want to live in such a way that I cannot take credit – that it can only be God who is worthy. 

Because some day I will meet Jesus.  And the last thing that I want to do is stand in front of Him and tell him that I didn’t listen to the burden because I was just too busy getting a good start on my family, that I was going to do it once I got to retirement,  that we just weren’t sure, or that even though I read it in that book He gave me, that the world said it was crazy – so I decided to sit it out.

Lord, please don’t let me be ignorant.


  1. Great post! I have been struggling with this same exact thought process! you nailed it!!

  2. Thank you! I need to be moved and reminded to pray for pain in my heart to love peole this way.

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  4. o maggie.

    it is amazing when FEEL the discontentment that means we finally are FEELING that THIS IS NOT our home.

    i always wondered what that feeling was until my "S" went home to her mom, I finally knew what it was, my soul wanting to GO HOME.

    But while I am here-I am here to work. To be Jesus to people who won't see HIM without us doing something.

    Glad to see I'm not the only one who finds this "lovely middle class" life unacceptable...I finally am starting to get it.


    (Fast Times of...the Wentzels)

  5. We are on the same wavelength today. Thank you for sharing all of these examples.

    We need to support each other in this cause, because you are right, America is a difficult place to do this.


Thanks for commenting!!


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