In it, Peter Rollin's book, How (not) to Speak About God, is quoted, and I must confess, I started the book years ago, but was never able to finish it. After reading this excerpt, perhaps I'll add it to my summer reading and give it another go.
We Teach Others How to Treat Us
2009 June 8
I’m a fan of what Peter Rollins does with his Ikon ‘community’ in Belfast. This section (below) of a recent interview caught my attention.
I have seen too many people I love get upset at ‘the church’ because, after they withdrew from involvement and disappeared for weeks, ‘the church’ didn’t call them. I could write all day about the consumeristic assumptions behind those kinds of sentiments that I simply don’t share. But more simply, that view lets ourselves off the hook for building authentic relationships and puts all the accountability on others.
The fact is (rightly understood) we teach others how to treat us. We actively receive care and concern from others. We communicate that we aren’t interested in receiving concern and care when we don’t participate, don’t show up, don’t take responsibility, and don’t ourselves call to show concern about others. How others treat us is often an accurate reflection of our own commitment (or lack thereof) to the community.
Here’s Peter Rollins:
Paradoxically, I say, “Ikon doesn’t care about you. Ikon doesn’t give a crap if you are going through a divorce. The only person who cares is the person sitting beside you, and if that person doesn’t care, you’re stuffed.” People will say, “I left the church because they didn’t phone me when my dad died, and that was really hurtful.” But the problem is not that the church didn’t phone but that it promised to phone. I say, “Ikon ain’t ever gonna phone ya.” Pete Rollins might. But if he does, it will be as Pete Rollins and not as a representative of Ikon. Ikon will never notice if you don’t come. But if you’ve made a connection with the person sitting next to you, that person might.
Ikon is like the people who run a pub. It’s not their responsibility to help the patrons become friends. But they create a space in which people can actually encounter each other.