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The Battler

the battler

Originally written in 2010

The Battler

When he battled liberal churches and preachers, they loved him.

When he battled Democrats, they loved him.

And then he became too liberal for them.

When he battled Fundamentalists, they loved him.

When he battled those who preached cheap grace, they loved him.

And then he became too liberal for them.

When he battled the institutional church, they loved him.

When he battled mega-churches and TV preachers, they loved him.

And then he became too liberal for them.

One day he realized that he had spent his entire life battling, and to what end?

No one stood by him.

The great battler stood alone.

Along the way, he had changed.

And when he changed, they walked away.

He learned a hard lesson.

They never really did love him.

They loved his smart writing.

They loved his stand for truth.

They loved his personality.

They loved everything about him except what mattered.

When he needed them the most, they were nowhere to be found.

He made them “uncomfortable,” they said,

He had changed.

He wasn’t what or who he used to be.

What happened to him, they asked?

Perhaps the real question is this: what happened to them?

He often feels like a one-night stand.


He still fights the battle.

But now the battle is within.

He battles the demons of the past,

He battles the reality of the present.

And he battles fear of tomorrow.

He is forced to forge new relationships.

Why does he feel closest to people whom he has never met?

He used to laugh at the very notion of internet friends, yet where would he be today without them?

They read what he writes and offer their opinion.

They agree, they disagree, but they let him be who he is.

They require no fidelity or obedience.

What’s a battling old preacher to do?

The fires still burns.

Passion still stirs in his being.

But the old battles provide no fight.

So he looks for new battles to fight.

Maybe he will fight for those scarred and damaged by the gods.

Maybe he will fight for those who cannot or fearfully will not fight for themselves.

Maybe he will fight for those whose lives have been ruined by People of the Way.

Maybe he will fight for a better world for his children and grandchildren.

There are still battles to fight.

Choose who and what you will fight for.

And forget those who only loved you for the battles you fought.

Bruce Gerencser, 66, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 45 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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  1. Avatar
    Kate Bartlett

    I wish you had a ‘like’ button because I often don’t have the words but I’m enjoying reading you so much.☺️

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    Been lurking on your blog about six months and I have to say, the image of you as a bruised, battered, disgusted Archangel Michael who tells his holy commander to eff off and goes to fight battles of his choice is pretty wonderful. Really nice piece. I have tremendous respect for you, man, keep writing!

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    dale m

    As I said so many times B 4. You’re the man to lead this fight. You’ve been there, deep in the lions den. And if there’s anything a den of lions fear most, it is to discover a fire breathing dragon in their very midst. Spit your fire deep into their den of inequity. The other politically small creatures who often find themselves prey, will love you 4 it !

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    I like this even better now than 5 years ago. I’m just sorry that my health made it too hard for us to be in person friends yet. Hopefully when this pandemic subsides I can also see Polly again…she is delightful! (Please tell her I said so, although I should spend more time on Facebook.) Plus, I was plotting that you should meet my husband, since he is a former pastor (albeit not for too long) and current atheist. It could happen…as long as this pandemic doesn’t kill us. (((HUGS)))

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    Tessa Goodpaster

    This was a touching way to remind me that you still hurt. I’m sorry because my husband and I only have enough energy to help our family from the IFB church abuse, but certainly hope you and your family keeps healing.

  6. Avatar

    This is great. It shows the pain of growing up in a tradition that taught you your whole life that you aren’t enough- that a deity had to die for you to be worth anything at all. Following the rules makes you worthy. Stepping outside the boundaries makes you tainted. And you’ve been learning that what you were taught isn’t true, and that you are worthy on your own.

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