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Freeing Dom and the Pastor Who Walks Away

When I finished writing Reintegration I didn't know what I was going to work on next. I had plenty of ideas and was debating writing a sequel but nothing was catching on for me. It was late one night when an idea hit me.

What if a pastor didn't want to be a pastor anymore?

Surely this is not a unique idea. But I thought I could possibly present a new interpretation to the idea. The idea is rooted in numerous feelings within me. Now, I've never been a pastor but I did want to be one at a point in my life (even interned for one for a year). There was a season of my life, a long one, where I was "on fire" (as some church folk would call it) for God and his Word. Usually this term for "on fire" means you are unbearable to be around and oppress everyone with your thoughts and religious takes on things. Which, of course, I did. Some might argue still do, only through writing now.

But after a litany of life changes, my perspective on things changed. I was tired. Exhausted of arguing with people about God (whether I started the argument or they did). Drained of being the "bible guy" that others would either pick on or ask certain questions of because of my background in biblical studies. It got to a point where I didn't want to tell others of my degree when they asked because I knew it would instantly put me in a box I didn't want to be in. A box I didn't feel like I actually fit in. After a while, it gets annoying when someone cusses around you then turns to apologize as if you're offended or don't allow cussing around you. Things like that become taxing. You just want to be normal.

This might come off as pointless complaining and maybe even whiny, so be it. All I'm saying is I was tired of being the Christian guy. I still loved the gospel and wasn't turning my back on anything I believed in, just wanted to wave a white flag to it all. I didn't want to be the defender of God (as if he needed me to be), didn't want to be someone who others couldn't be themselves around or have an astrik next to my name in people's head. And maybe this is me just overthinking things, which is likely. But that's the roots of this book I wrote.

I imagined a pastor who'd been in the game for so long that he just wanted a break. This is extremely common in the church. I wrote something about this on Mockingbird. Pastors who should quit but don't because of the culture church promotes. Instead of welcoming a pastor to quit and walk away, they talk about burn-out culture and how to avoid it. No one offers the route to just quit and live your life. If you do so, you are looked at as weak and perhaps even, not as chosen by God as some thought. Or, even worse, you're turning your back on God and his calling on your life. With as many churches and pastors that we have, we can more than afford to lose some. And I think it would be to God's glory if we did. There's no need to have people in a position they no longer want to be in. Pastor's families suffer under the weight of such a position and it's swept under the rug. That is, until a scandal arises and by then, the image is tarnished and the stereotype of Christianity, church and God is perpetuated. The cycle goes on while we all pretend we are doing the Lord's work. Well, maybe the Lord's work is waving a white flag and going on to enjoy your life like a normal person.

At least, that's the perspective I explored in Free Dom. And there was criticism for that. In one of my reviews I received a three out of five. Naturally, this sent me spiraling. How could someone give me a three?!? Reality check for myself. But the criticism was a little frustrating. Her comment was that the book seemed to be controversial and contrary to standard beliefs just for the sake of it. This is untrue. But the frustrating part was she continued on to say that much of what is in the book is true...So, is it true or is it contrary? I guess this makes it a success because this is what I tried to do in the book. Paint new pictures for the beliefs we already have, not alter our beliefs. The questions and doubts Dom examines on his path to Easter Sunday are things I myself have thought about and believe. They aren't contrary or controversial for the sake of it but are that way because anything different than the standard viewpoints is going to be viewed that way. That's how discourse changes. It gets stifled when it's shut down as just "controversial viewpoints". Albeit, the reviewer is allowed her opinion and I'll accept it.

But this was one of my fears. That and what another reviewer said. This reviewer gave me a five out of five but also said the book comes off preachy. I had a feeling this would happen. I tried my best to avoid it but with the subject matter at hand it just is a bit unavoidable. And at the same time, a beta reader (who was agnostic/atheist) told me it wasn't too preachy and they truly enjoyed it. She told me to "not change a thing"! This beta reader knew I was trying to write something not just for the church audience but also people scorned by the church or against the church altogether. Belivers and non-believers. She said I accomplished this task, being herself one who doesn't hold to such beliefs. So, who is to say at the end of the day.

The fact of the matter is, I wrote the book and it exists. For some maybe it irks them and maybe for others it is enlightening. Perhaps some think it is preachy and outright cheesy which might lead others to leave a five star review. Hopefully there are some out there in the church that like the ideas in it, that would gladly welcome their pastor to step down and walk out the doors a free man. My wish is for those that have a bad taste in their mouth about Christianity to read it and at least have a different viewpoint to entertain. But mainly, I hope pastors out there know that the church will be fine if they leave. That God, at the end of the day, might actually have a grip on things without us.

Now, this is also not an outright assault on church. It doesn't mean I'm against church or anything like that. To be honest, I wish I had a church to go to. I moved to Ohio in the middle of a pandemic and now have two kids, it hasn't been easy finding a church to go to. Plus, I get too critical. It's something I'm constantly working on. But it's just true. Some churches need to close and some pastors need to walk away. And there isn't anything wrong with that.

On another note. I hate marketing books. I hate posting a bunch on social media and finding ways to get people to read my book. This is where a publisher is helpful and I do not have such help. My passion is writing and creating a book. Once I do that, I'm ready to move on to the next project. I try to promote and what not but just feel like an absolute piece of shit as I do so. Maybe that's something internal I need to deal with or maybe it's just something I'm not into. Either way, it leaves me questioning how to get a book to be successful without a publisher and lacking a desire to do the work of building a street team with newsletters and reminders to do reviews blah, blah, blah. So, instead I have my website which I will do what I can on and will hope that those that preach organic followings being the best aren't pedaling heresy. If you are reading this and you have read my book, any of them, I would ask that you leave a review on Amazon for me just to help it out. And that is all I can do.

Now, I move on to my next projects: Rehabilitation, an article a month on Mockingbird and my two year attempt at getting onto Daily Science Fiction. More on Rehabilitation and it's status in the coming weeks. Also, keep an eye out on this site for new short stories, fatherhood updates and maybe even some theological rants/thoughts (I recently wrote about my experience with being baptized four times, you can read about them here). And one more thing, check out my monthly reads. I am attempting to do three books a month with short, quick reviews just to keep my brain refreshed on what I read and to practice writing. Thanks for reading and subscribing!

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