Weekly Ponderings

Here are some things I read this week that made me think. Inclusion does not equal endorsement. Caution: Some of these posts contain language (and possibly even ideas) that some could find offensive. Also anything in bold is something I emphasized. Click on the title beneath each quote to read the entire post.

“What this means, is that saying God is in control, while doing little or nothing to alter the planet in any meaningful way is spiritual rebellion. It is a willing abdication of our calling to be makers of peace here. It expects that God will clean up whatever horrible mess we make—and that our prayers alone will serve as the sole request form.

I don’t believe this is true and it isn’t Biblical. I don’t believe Jesus spent three years imploring people to love their neighbors as themselves, to feed the poor, to protect the vulnerable, to love our enemies, and to bind up wounds of strangers—if God had already written the script and we’re all just playing the whole thing out in flesh and blood without getting to improvise and change lines.

And this all matters, because if we are indeed free to choose and responsible for our choices, and these decisions make tangible ripples in the world that alter the planet in realtime—then we had better get to work, Christians.

And that means far more than prayer and platitudes.”

Christian, Stop Telling Me God is in Control by John Pavolitz

“Security may at times require secrecy,” he added, “but embarrassment or political sensitivity never should. Facts regarding the number of airstrikes and their civilian toll should always be disclosed promptly and faithfully so the public, aided by human rights workers and journalists, can scrutinize military operations being conducted in their name.”

The U.S. military’s stats on deadly airstrikes are wrong. Thousands have gone unreported By: Andrew deGrandpre and Shawn Snow

“…There is no refuge in saying that someone else was your spiritual covering and therefore it’s not your fault if their umbrella isn’t big enough to allow you to spread out to your full potential.

That type of blame-shifting is as old as Adam and Eve answering God’s questions about eating the forbidden fruit…

It didn’t work then and it won’t work now. A woman who pleads the excuse of a small husbandly umbrella is looking to the wrong place for her spiritual authority. Jesus is the only source of authority for carrying out all God has given you to do, and he is all the covering you need to reach it fully.

Women, don’t let anyone tell you that you need a husband whose vision is greater than yours in order to reach your spiritual potential. All you need is to follow wherever Jesus leads you, for his vision is great indeed.”

Spiritual Umbrellas and the Oppression of Women by Tim Fall

“But something clicked in me when we got to Canaan. All of a sudden, the appalling injustice of the whole storyline came crashing down on me. I became physically ill listening to our teacher rationalize why it was okay for the Hebrews to rob the Canaanites of their land through violent conquest. Retributive justice, he said, comes from God one way or another, and they had it coming.

For my Sunday School teacher, this was an object lesson in anticipation of the future judgment of the whole world which God would one day execute on the Day of Judgment…

William Lane Craig famously argued that God was acting in mercy when he commanded the execution of those children because they would have grown up to be something awful, like child-sacrificers (Killing babies to appease a god? Anybody besides me see the irony there?) Craig went on to theorize that this was okay because these children would have gone directly to heaven when they died since they had not yet reached the age of accountability (still waiting to hear which Bible verse teaches that, btw)…

In the end it was a belief in Hell which enabled our Sunday School teacher to accept this story at face value because, as he reasoned, if God’s just gonna punish everyone who disobeys him someday anyway, then this mere physical destruction pales in comparison. He had a good point. In the end, the doctrine of Hell justifies absolutely any injustice we could imagine.

Another great irony is that these same people have a habit of telling people like me that ethics without (their specific) God leads to moral relativism. But when I survey atheists I can’t find any who believe you can morally justify the kind of ethnic cleansing this story represents. I’ve never had one even try. They seem unanimous.* But then if I put five Christians in a room and ask them the same question, I will likely get five different answers even though they’re all working from the same religious text.

So which worldview really leads more to relativism?..

I will continue to do my best to foster constructive dialogue with all of my believing friends and family who are willing to have rational discussions with me about their beliefs. But do not expect me to be cool with this one, because I won’t.”

I Drew the Line at Canaan by Neil Carter

“Taken into custody alive, after shooting three people. It’s amazing how white killers are somehow always taken alive, but Black people selling loose cigarettes or pulled over for a traffic violation or running away from police out of fear so often end up dead.”

This is Terrorism by Melissa McEwan

“Parents told their kids, “I wish you had never been born” and even “I wish you were dead.” One week eight young people died by suicide. One night a young girl slept in the snow because her parents told her to leave at bedtime. One Christmas a young teen found himself with a suitcase and no place to go…

And why? Because of the misplaced belief that God hates queer people. That queer people are not born that way, that they need to change or face the consequences of their sin. The still burgeoning field of “reparative therapy” attests to that, with thousands of people to this day subjected to terrifying experiences, including physical punishment, all trying to win God’s (and parental) love.”

Glitter Is Serious Business: The Story Behind Glitter Ash Wednesday by Marian Edmonds-Allen

“There’s a way Christians could rebuild the cultural power they used to have. It’s simple, really. They just need to use their power for good. Help refugees. Support the poor. Fight for civil rights…

You know: Do all the things that everyone knows Christianity no longer represents.

I won’t hold my breath. If the first month of this administration is any indication of what Christians do when given power, they’re living up to every stereotype their critics have of them. We were right all along.

And we’ll keep fighting until they lose whatever awful influence they have left.”

Despite Having All the Power, Conservative Christians Are Still Pretending To Be Persecuted by Hemant Mehta



“What I’m always mystified by, is one: how we evangelicals/christians think we can have (or demand) a laundry list of special privileges/exemptions etc, yet we are a minority who claim to follow a faith/religion that is so at odds (or should be) with the society we live in – yet we expect to carry on as before, unmolested in anyway whatsoever? That’s illogical. That’s never happened before in the history of humankind – yet we act as if it’s our right to be otherwise! If we have any understanding of church history or Scriptures we should know better…and be a lot more grateful about what we do have and less complaining about the few annoyances that come our way…

Second: How we think we can keep getting away with over-hyping and misrepresenting/mischaracterizing (and nearly lying sometimes – a la “death panels”) situations like this and not pay a price? When you cry wolf or in this case “persecution” over and over again; when in relative terms compared to real persecution; it is anything but persecution… Then how do we expect to be taken seriously, EVER!”


Christians and civilized discussions

I’ve been seeing more and more articles, blogs, and social media posts about how people have become more and more uncivilized towards each other. Christians vs. Non-believers, Christians vs. Christians, Democrat vs. Republican, Independent vs. the rest of the system…. my points here will focus on Christians.

Many people are calling for others to stop vilifying and hating those who disagree with them. “We need to stop seeing those on the ‘other’ side of any issue as evil” is something I’ve seen come up often in these past months. I think this is a good point (although bigotry does deserve to be called out). When having discussions with people othering doesn’t usually get anywhere and rarely if ever convinces people to see things from another perspective.

The problem for Christians is that good and evil are the terms we’ve been told to use in how we look at ourselves and the world. Most of the culture war mentality of the 80s and 90s were about fighting evil. This included labeling people we saw as such (sexual deviants and baby killers were a couple descriptors I remember hearing growing up). But now that people want to judge what Christians are doing (in terms of who or what they supported this past election cycle) we hear cries to stop judging and hating. Umm…. which is it? Do only Christians get to pass judgment? Does no one outside our bubble get to hold us accountable for the consequences of our actions?

One problem I’ve consistently seen in (myself) as well as fellow Christians is the idea that since we are right (so we believe) about who we’ve put our faith in that really makes us wiser (and lets be honest… better) than anyone outside our group. And since we hold to our beliefs sincerely (religiously and politically) no one has a right to judge us for them. Except we act like no one else came to their belief system sincerely but we apparently have the right to force our ‘way’ (via laws, ect.) on to those poor ignorant fools who just don’t know any better.

[Here’s a thought church… try actually listening to and engaging with those outside your bubble. I’m trying to do this and while I don’t agree with everything I come across that doesn’t mean I’m not learning something or trying to take seriously how others see me and my fellow Christians.]

Christians help set up the framework of evil vs. good in our country/culture and now that others view some of our choices as potentially being evil we can’t handle being given a taste of the medicine we’ve been insisting others take.

I understand no one lives up to the standards they claim to believe 100%. Yet when those who don’t claim the title Christian can see the obvious discrepancy between what we claim to believe and how we behave we might try considering that we’ve lost the plot (aka the gospel). And maybe we should try practicing  some humility towards those unlike us instead of digging in our heels and refusing to even consider if some of our critics have valid points.

By all means hold to your convictions just stop acting like you and yours are the only group on the planet who has that right. And consider that when someone tells you that what you are saying or doing to them is hurtful you are in fact doing harm regardless of your intentions.

I realize this may get tricky for people who believe the gospel and its truth will be seen as hurtful to those who don’t believe it (though unfortunately some Christians seem to view being offensive and hurtful as something to be proud of and proof that they’re doing something right). But somewhere along the way I think the sick twisting together of nationalism and Christianity has become something that no longer resembles the gospel. And yet we still keep pushing our ideas and conclusions of how we think God wants us to take over the planet via the passing into law of our religious beliefs that we forgot we are supposed to go out and do as Jesus did.

Help, serve, love and get to know those different than you so that so that the church gains back a reputation of doing all these things from a place of genuine care. And if you find you can’t empathize with anyone outside your bubble and belief system consider why that is and whether you’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere.

All this to say I totally agree that Christians as well as all Americans no matter their convictions should seek to be civilized in how we engage anyone about the situations of our day. But also try remembering (Christians) that we’ve played a significant part in pushing our country toward incivility.

Weekly Ponderings

These are some of the posts I’ve read over the week that made me think and/or taught me something I wasn’t aware of before. Inclusion does not mean full endorsement. (Anything in bold is  something I emphasized)

“In Americanized Christianity we use Christian as a noun when originally, Christian was more of an adjective. It wasn’t so much about something you were, but was more about something you were doing. You were actively living out the teachings of Jesus, and this was easily observable– either you agreed with Jesus and did what he taught, or you didn’t…

…of course, some will ask rightly, “is it your job to decide who is or is not a Christian?”
Since Christian has come to mean something different in Americanized Christianity, these objections are totally valid. Since we are operating in a culture where Christian is a noun, and where anyone can secretly be one regardless of what they think about what Jesus said, I don’t know who is that type of Christian and who isn’t…

But to me, there are only two types of Christian, and the second one– an adjective instead of a noun, is observable. It doesn’t require the ability to judge the individual heart. It is not something that can only be done by a gate-keeper as if they have any power anyway. It is simply the act of returning Christian to an adjective, and being honest in that it does not apply to people don’t want to do what Jesus said to do…”

There’s Only Two Types Of “Christian” (And You Should Be Able To Tell The Difference) by Dr. Benjamin L Corey

“Every time there is a discussion about the role of women in church leadership, someone throws out this verse: I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.
1 Timothy 2:12 (NIV)

They usually expect this verse to be a discussion ender. It’s very clear. The Bible says, without any uncertainty, that women are not to teach men, and they are not to have authority over men. They must be quiet. The end.

If your entire Bible is only 1 Timothy 2:12, then this would be correct. However, there are 65 other books in the Bible, and over 30,000 other verses…

There are many other verses and stories of strong women who spoke up, who had authority, who were leaders, whose prayers and words are given the authority of scripture, and who were anything but quiet.

So the next time someone throws out 1 Timothy 2:12, remind them to read the whole Bible.

So You Know One Verse. But Have You Read Your Whole Bible? by Kelly Ladd Bishop

“It’s not that they have been harassed by a rogue police officer — the mistreatment that captures headlines. It’s the thousand other ways they are made to feel criminalized, less than, invisible.

A hotel employee ignored their family at the front desk, only to help a white customer in line behind them. Was he racist, or did he just overlook them? A white guy at the airport rolled over Frances’ foot with his suitcase and refused to apologize. Was he racist, or simply rude? Kids at school joked that their son and other black students looked like a gang. When will it end?

This is the gulf in America that people of color feel every day. Whites live on one side, largely unaware it even exists. Families like the Waterses live on the other, exhausted by racial questions intrinsic in each day, each hour, each minute.

A black Dallas family ‘did everything America said we should’ but still endures racism daily by Sarah Mervosh

“I know right now why so many of you will feel compelled to make me understand that I’m not talking about you here before you will consider reading further…

We have died for walking with a certain swagger, for reaching for our wallets, for asking for help, for speaking with the wrong tone, for giving a menacing look, for playing our music too loud, for not walking away, for walking away, for marching in peace…

People of color have been begging you to see what you are doing and why. We’ve been begging you to see what you came from and the true legacy you have inherited…

Find yourselves white people. Find yourselves so that you can know what whiteness is. Find yourselves so that you can determine what you want whiteness to be. Find yourselves so that you can stop your loved ones from voting for a definition of whiteness that you no longer want to subscribe to. Find yourselves so that racism no longer surprises you. Find yourselves so that maybe I can try writing fiction for a change.

Find yourselves so that next time you offer up the “white perspective,” you might actually say something that surprises me

White People: I Don’t Want You To Understand Me Better, I Want You To Understand Yourselves by Ijeoma Oluo

I do not know if or how advocates of a gender revolution would sort out this tension. But perhaps, from a Christian perspective, both Richards and Nef are onto something. Nef is right that a nuanced approach to gender must avoid naïve gender essentialism, where we mistake culturally specific gender expressions for the essence of what it means to be male or female. (Blue is for boys! Pink is for girls!) But Richards is also correct that a strict social constructivism (which sees gender as nothing more than a social construct) misses the way gender seems to be inscribed into the core of who we are…

If this is true, then Christians need to be able to listen patiently and sort through the complicated medical, relational, and theological questions related to intersex and transgender persons. For making something of those gender identities is a communal project that requires the church body to be engaged…”

How Should Christians Navigate the Gender Revolution? by Branson Parler

“First of all, white men will seize upon this to add to their pitifully thin file of actual cases of false allegations, to throw about whenever one of their white faves is accused, screeching that false allegations happen all the time. And yet, at the same time, the allegations will be forgotten, because if false, they do not neatly justify the hysteria against Muslims and refugees. The racist genie is out of the bottle, and all that will be remembered is that brown men did some mass sexual assaults. The specifics, and the fact this may not be true, will be forgotten. White men are capable of holding these two conflicting beliefs simultaneously: they have proved they are capable of believing at the same time that all women are liars, and all Muslims are rapists…”

If the New Year sexual assaults were made up, it reveals ugly truths about what white men believe by stavvers

Ending child marriage should be simple….

Consider Sherry Johnson of Florida, who said she was raped repeatedly as a child and was pregnant by 11, at which time her mother forced her to marry her 20-year-old rapist under Florida’s pregnancy exception in the 1970s.

Additionally, teenage mothers who marry and divorce are more likely to experience economic deprivation and instability than those who do not. If the father wants to co-parent, he can establish paternity and provide insurance and other benefits to the baby without getting married.

Legislators should remember that pregnant teenage girls are at increased risk of forced marriage. They need more protection, not less.”

Why can 12-year-olds still get married in the United States? by Fraidy Reiss

But the Desiring God article about the dangers of superbowl ads doesn’t say anything about sexism at all…

They don’t care what the commercial is actually about. They don’t care whether it presents a healthy view of sexuality where everyone respects each other, or a view where women are public property and don’t make their own choices about sex. In their way of thinking, all that matters is that the ad includes an image of a sexy woman. They don’t look at how other people in the ad treat her; instead, it’s the sexy woman herself who is intrinsically dangerous. Her body is dangerous, and good Christians must not look.”

BREAKING NEWS: Purity Culture Adherents Completely Miss the Point by perfectnumber628 over at Tell Me Why the World is Weird

And we will keep coming back—because Samir deserves more than our admiration and praise. He deserves a chance at a normal life. He deserves to be happy, whole, and safe.

He deserves a chance to walk normally to school, to play soccer with his friends, and to be back on his feet, standing tall and caring his family…

Because when you look at Samir, you see more than a boy who was traumatized by ISIS. You see a boy who defied hate, who stood up for his grandmother, who deserves to be just a boy again.”

See Beyond Trauma: Meet the Boy Who Stood Up To ISIS by Matthew Willingham

Confirmation bias happens when we preselect for our attention only those data which support the beliefs we had before we even began our quest to find the truth. As long as we can find quick and easy ways to dismiss and ignore all data which contradict our preconceived ideas, we will find that the remaining “evidence” perfectly supports whatever we thought from the very beginning

These are the games Christians play, and in order to illustrate what I mean by that I’ll highlight three common claims of the Christian religion and explain the rationalizations that kick in to ensure their confirmation and avoid their falsification…

Does the failure of these promises necessarily mean that all religion is false or that gods cannot exist? No, it doesn’t… And more to the point of this post, the mental gymnastics we put ourselves through to avoid losing faith in them should tell us something about our own lack of objectivity in the matter. We clearly have something to lose, and it clouds our judgment. If we learn nothing else from this, we can at least learn to recognize the games we play.”

Making Your Faith Impossible to Disprove by Neil Carter

Wise words on folly (by Bonhoeffer)

Folly is a more dangerous enemy to the good than evil. One can protest against evil; it can be unmasked and, if need be, prevented by force. Evil always carries the seeds of its own destruction, as it makes people, at the least, uncomfortable. Against folly we have no defense. Neither protests nor force can touch it; reasoning is no use; facts that contradict personal prejudices can simply be disbelieved — indeed, the fool can counter by criticizing them, and if they are undeniable, they can just be pushed aside as trivial exceptions. So the fool, as distinct from the scoundrel, is completely self-satisfied, in fact, they can easily become dangerous, as it does not take much to make them aggressive. A fool must therefore be treated more cautiously than a scoundrel; we shall never again try to convince a fool by reason, for it is both useless and dangerous.

If we are to deal adequately with folly, we must understand its nature. This much is certain, that it is a moral rather than an intellectual defect. There are people who are mentally agile but foolish, and people who are mentally slow but very far from foolish — a discovery that we make to our surprise as a result of particular situations. We thus get the impression that folly is likely to be, not a congenital defect, but one that is acquired in certain circumstances where people make fools of themselves or allow others to make fools of them. We notice further that this defect is less common in the unsociable and solitary than in individuals or groups that are inclined or condemned to sociability. It seems, then, that folly is a sociological rather than a psychological problem, and that it is a special form of the operation of historical circumstances: on people, a psychological by-product of definite external factors.

If we look more closely, we see that any violent display of power, whether political or religious, produces an outburst of folly in a large part of humanity; indeed, this seems actually to be a psychological and sociological law: the power of some needs the folly of the others. It is not that certain human capacities, intellectual capacities for instance, become stunted or destroyed, but rather that the upsurge of power makes such an overwhelming impression that people are deprived of their independent judgment, and — more or less unconsciously — give up trying to assess the new state of affairs for themselves. The fact that the fool is often stubborn must not mislead us into thinking that they are independent. One feels in fact, when talking to them, that one is dealing, not with the person themselves, but with slogans, catchwords, and the like, which have taken hold of them. They are under a spell, they are blinded, their very nature is being misused and exploited. Having thus become a passive instrument, the fool will be capable of any evil and at the same time incapable of seeing that it is evil. Here lies the danger of diabolical exploitation that can do irreparable damage to human beings.

But at this point it is quite clear, too, that folly can be overcome, not by instruction, but only by an act of liberation; and so we have come to terms with the fact that in the great majority of cases inward liberation must be preceded by outward liberation, and that until that has taken place, we may as well abandon all attempts to convince the fool. In this state of affairs we have to realize why it is no use our trying to find out what “the people” really think, and why the question is so superfluous for the person who thinks and acts responsibly — but always given these particular circumstances. The Bible’s words that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) tell us that a person’s inward liberation to live a responsible life before God is the only real cure for folly.

But there is some consolation in these thoughts on folly: they in no way justify us in thinking that most people are fools in all circumstances. What will really matter is whether those in power expect more from people’s folly than from their wisdom and independence of mind.”

Came across this excerpt over at Slacktivist but the source is Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison (anything in bold is something I emphasized).

a god who hates

I have recently read the book A God Who Hates by Wafa Sultan but even before reading it I have often thought about the title since hearing about it and it left me with the uncomfortable thought that many (even most?) religions teach that God hates including unfortunately Christianity.

As one blogger I read puts it many Christians believe in a might makes right God. Yet I don’t see that being what Jesus modeled or what God really claims to be about despite my issues with various passages in the Bible that could be used to make the case for that view.

Fact is I can sometimes understand the pull to be an atheist if the alternative is to believe in a hateful god. I mention this just because I sometimes do wonder what’s the point of believing in any god since they all seem to be very picky and are only interested in “saving” their own while happily torturing the rest who didn’t get things figured out in time.

And the sad thing is most Christians are so use to rationalizing the disturbing aspects they’ve been taught about God they don’t realize they are in a similar mindset to other religions out there. Take Islamic terrorists for example. We wonder how they can believe in a God who needs (or straight up orders) terrorist acts to be done in His name not realizing how much those outside our faith see our beliefs in the same way.

Even with claims of Him being loving in this life we don’t bother pretending He will be loving to most people in the next. But thats ok because thats just the justice/wrathful side of God coming out (so the reasoning goes). But how ‘loving’ can He really be if He has chosen to pour out His wrath and judgement on the majority of those He made? Say you have a parent with five kids and he beats three of those children regularly to the point of bruising, bleeding and broken bones. Does he get to call himself loving because he spared two of his children from abuse?

I recently read of a man who could no longer believe in hell after seeing a video of ISIS burning a man alive. Yet most Christians have made peace with the idea that God will torture most of humanity (in a way similar to this) for all of eternity.

Many Christians will simply state that the God of the Bible is a certain way (translation: their personal/theological/denominational understanding) and we must not make Him into whatever we want (into our image so to speak).

But the more I’ve thought about this and considered many of the attitudes and beliefs of Christians I know (including myself here) the more I’m realizing we are already guilty of doing this. Take hell for example. Look at our world with its love of violence and dare I say revenge (particularly in areas of justice) and you’re going to tell me Christians acceptance and sometimes even boastful attitude of certain people “getting whats coming” in hell isn’t a reflection of bloodthirsty, violence loving sinners?

I often think of this quote by Anne Lamott.

” You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”

And most Christians have made God in our own image to some degree.

But lets just say for the sake of argument that you really do think that the most objective understanding of God leads to seeing Him as being fine with eternally burning the vast majority of people He created. And lets also say that He can do whatever He want for the simple reason that He is God.

Seems like God is wasting a lot of lives (in regards to potential in this life as we’ll as the next) to prove some sick point about being in charge. As one writer put it we seem to believe in a two faced god.

And yes I’ve read and heard the arguments about freewill, predestination, His sovereignty and the like but it still hasn’t helped me get this idea out of my head: that God, even the one in three persons, hates more than He loves. And this is why I think I will always have questions and doubts.

Weekly Ponderings

Here are some blogs/articles that I’ve read this past week that gave me something to think on. Inclusion does not equal full endorsement.( Anything in bold is a point I thought was especially well made.)

“The “monster god” is thus not a god who is only angry, but a god who is deeply loving to those on the inside and full of wrath towards those on the outside.

This “two-faced God” (to borrow a phrase from Michael Hardin) means you can go to church and sing songs about the love of Jesus, and then hear a sermon by a very angry white dude about how we should fear our nation being corrupted and destroyed by [insert name of scapegoated minority group here]. In short, we experience love and compassion on the inside, but are taught that those on the outside should be feared and hated. They get wrath. This reinforces people’s natural tendency to feel love for their own family, race, nation, and religion, and to demonize, criminalize, and dehumanize those outside the boundaries. That’s why evangelicals can experience love themselves, and yet lack compassion for others, being instead driven by fear and anger towards them…

In other words, the problem is not simply that the person has gotten an angry picture of God, and now simply needs to hear of the love and grace of Jesus. They have experienced a God who is both loving and hateful, and as a consequence they have been damaged by that. To the extent that they have preached this non-gospel of “God hates you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” they have hurt others…

Simply preaching God’s love is not an antidote to this, because they have been taught that there is no contradiction in God being both loving and hateful, nor is there a problem with their being both loving (to insiders) and hateful (to outsiders) themselves. Instead of their experience of God’s love leading them to follow the teaching of Jesus and caring for the least, this two-faced God theology has taught them to ignore the love they experience, and instead be driven by fear and anger which is pounded into people’s psyches by what they hear Sunday after Sunday, not to mention their diet of angry pundits and media that they consume 24-7…”

Evangelicalism’s Two-Faced God by Derek Flood

It clicked for me: the fundamentalist link between knowledge of certain Biblical truths and your salvation will never bring comfort. You always have to be studying, always have to be discerning, always have to keep rehashing the same arguments over and over again, because if you get in a car crash today and die and you believe the wrong thing, it’s too late.

You can’t afford to be wrong…

Because, in fundamentalism, your love for others, your love for God, your good intentions, your desire to know the truth at all costs — none of that matters (because good works don’t get you saved, see) if you don’t actually know the truth.

God doesn’t factor in your frailness, your journey, your intellectual or social or even spiritual roadblocks to understanding the truth.

But by the way, don’t rely on your knowledge either, because even if you know all the right things and do all the right things, Jesus can still say to you, “Depart from me, for I never knew you.”

But don’t worry! The peace of God brings certainty! Stop striving! Why do you feel the need to question your salvation?

That is the most wearying, oppressive part of this whole mindset: even though it demands the unconditional understanding, accepting, and promoting of the truth in order to be saved, it will never be enough….

I heard it last summer, when someone kindly informed me that my intellectualism had blinded me from actually knowing God.

When I got that email, I screamed. I screamed for a lifetime of never knowing enough, not knowing enough, or believing enough.

“Why can’t I just love you?” I screamed at Jesus. “Why is that never enough?”

When Belief Becomes a Work by Bailey

“3. So, what does this mean in practice if you are a decent human being who doesn’t want to imagine people being tortured forever?

4. It means you face constant anxiety about risking your salvation over any little concession to a more “liberal” Bible reading you make.”

Comfortable Certainty” Wears You Out: The Abusive Evangelical Hamster Wheel to Nowhere by Christopher Stroop (these are tweets on storify)

“As the culture evolves, people who benefitted from the old ways invariably see themselves as victims of change. The world used to fit them like a glove, but it no longer does. Increasingly, they find themselves in unfamiliar situations that feel unfair or even unsafe. Their concerns used to take center stage, but now they must compete with the formerly invisible concerns of others…

He isn’t aware of hating anybody. He just wants to preserve the world he grew up in, and can’t be bothered to picture how others suffer in that world…

Confronting this distress is tricky, because neither acceptance nor rejection is quite right. The distress is usually very real, so rejecting it outright just marks you as closed-minded and unsympathetic. It never works to ask others for empathy without offering it back to them.”

Distress of the Privileged by Doug Muder

“Make America Great Again,” the dear leader bleats and tweets, as millions wish for America to simply resemble America again.

But as Lincoln’s letter reminds us, this has always been America. We have always vacillated between lofty precepts on paper and the refusal of white men to apply them in practice. This refusal has resulted in slavery of African Americans, genocide against Native Americans, internment camps for ethnic minorities…”

It’s Already Happened Here by Sarah Kendzior

“Racism and sexism aren’t just about beliefs. They’re also about behaviors. Someone who truly believes in racial equality but for whatever reason refuses to hire people of color to work at their company is acting in a racist way. Someone who doesn’t care one way or the other about race but helps elect someone who repeatedly states an intent to violate the civil rights of particular racial groups is also acting in a racist way. I get that it’s difficult to think of your actions as having consequences when elections are decided by millions of votes, but the fact that millions of people are equally responsible doesn’t mean you aren’t.

…acknowledging the bigotry of the Republican base is, honestly, a vital self-care tactic for marginalized people. Over and over we have been told that it’s not that, it’s that they love Jesus and want to spread his love, it’s that they’re worried about their taxes, it’s that they want to see their values reflected in our culture just like anyone else would, it’s that they want their jobs back, it’s that the Democrats have ignored their needs, it’s that globalism has shut down their factories so of course they’d be against trade agreements, it’s that some of these immigrants are probably bad people so naturally we should vet them carefully, it’s that the police have very stressful jobs so you can’t blame them for freaking out sometimes, it’s that Jesus was persecuted for his beliefs and so are they, it’s that marriage is supposed to be for procreation, it’s that if you work hard you won’t be poor or homeless, it’s that if you do something sinful like have premarital sex it’s only fair that you should have to face the consequences, it’s that fetuses are living babies, it’s that they miss the way things used to be when everyone knew their place and nobody asked for more than what they got, it’s anything but the fact that they simply believe that men are better than women, white people are better than non-white people, and LGBTQ people are disgusting abominations altogether…

Naming bigots as bigots allows us to stop blaming ourselves for our own oppression…”

The Importance of Naming Bigotry  from Brute Reason







Because no matter how noble the intent, it’s a demand for conformity that encourages people on all sides of a debate to police each other instead of argue and convince each other. And, ultimately, the cycle of attack and apology, of disagreement and boycott, will leave us with fewer and fewer people talking more and more about less and less… the bottom line is, you don’t beat an idea by beating a person. You beat an idea by beating an idea.
– Jon Lovett

Weekly Ponderings

Here are some blogs and articles this week that made me think. Inclusion does not necessarily mean full endorsement.

“They think justice means that a person gets what he or she deserves or they interpret it as satisfying some demand of the law. They have never been taught the concept of restorative justice that pervades the prophetic tradition and the Gospels…

Many Christians get the part about mercy, but not about justice. Justice and mercy go hand-in-hand, but it’s important to understand the difference, because mercy is not enough.

Whereas mercy responds to the immediate needs of the homeless and the poor by offering shelter and food, justice confronts the systems we live in that create homelessness and poverty in the first place.

While mercy is about giving a hungry person some bread, justice is about trying to change the system so that no one has excess bread while some have none.

Mercy is about helping the victims of war; justice is about peacemaking and eliminating the conditions that lead to war…

I refuse to believe that so many Christians in our country are so tribal and selfish and protectionistic that they do not care about the plight of refugees and undocumented persons. I put the blame on Christian leaders who have failed to teach their members and parishioners about the kind of justice God requires.”

Mercy is Not Enough by Chuck Queen

“…So don’t lie to me and pretend you’re suddenly concerned about the common good right here at home and that that’s why you oppose doing even something as depressingly minimal as sheltering 10,000 refugees. Don’t lie to me and don’t lie to yourself by suddenly pretending that you’re concerned about homeless veterans here in America…

So if any tiny part of you actually, genuinely cares even the tiniest bit for actual homeless veterans — not the abstract, imaginary ones that live in memes and in your head, but real people on real streets — then you need to cut the act…

Helping homeless veterans — really helping real people — is good. Stop talking about refugees or anything else as some imaginary competition to that and just jump in with both feet and really do it…”

Still This: Please don’t suddenly pretend you care about homeless veterans for just as long as it allows you to oppose helping refugees, because that’s hurting both veterans and refugees and it’s making you miserable by Fred Clark

“We understand these conversations are unknown territory for you, and that sometimes you are scared and confused by them. If you are wondering how you can interact with us around these topics, please keep the following in mind.

We have spent our entire lives learning the intricate nuances of your views, not just the broad strokes. Please take the time to approach our views with genuine curiosity and learn about them too. For a while, this will require you to do much more listening than talking.

Please understand we live in a different world than you do. The gay community, the immigrant community, the minority communities, are tangible to us. They are represented by faces and stories of people in our actual lives. They are not a concept we debate; they are people we love. When you are talking about “them,” please talk as respectfully about these communities as you would about your own friends…”

An Open Letter to Conservative Christian Parents from Your Liberal Children by Deb Link

“The problem the privileged have with ideas of trigger warnings and safe spaces is the same they have with most pushes for inclusivity and education: being asked to consider someone else’s feelings…

If you are going to call for the end of trigger warnings and safe spaces, then you have to call for an end to all of them, including the ones society bends over backwards to provide you. Be ready to throw away all the little ways the world coddles and protects you from reality. But of course, the people mocking the ideas of safe spaces and trigger warnings are the first to demand calm tones or immediately shut down dissent when they are called out or attacked for their lack of compassion.”

Easily-Triggered Privileged People Have Turned Society Into Their Own Giant Safe Space by  Na’amen Gobert Tilahun

“There is no punchline in racial discrimination.

You cannot joke in that area of life and it not have some root in your heart or mind…

I’m banning hate speech, racially charged jokes, and insensitive jabs at others’ identity in my classroom.

I can’t change Trump’s decision, but I have influence in my sector of life and I plan to use to promote good.

You do the same.”


“However, here is where the problem arises. Somewhere between walking out of the church building and walking into the restaurant, we lose the intentionality of being witnesses for our great God…

The following comments make me believe that the Sunday lunch hour is the most hypocritical hour of the week:

“No one ever wanted to work Sundays because of church crews. I never understood how they could go to church but less than 20 minutes after leaving be the worst example of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.” – Katie

“I absolutely hated working on Sundays having to deal with the church crowd. They were always the loudest, most demanding and rudest people, especially when they came in as a group. They would run you like crazy and then leave the most pitiful tip and a Gospel tract.” – Richard

Brothers and sisters, we have to do better and correct this perception that many of our server friends have of Christians. The above comments should be enough to cause us to re-evaluate our actions and prayerfully challenge us to be more self-aware…

Engage with them, love them, pray for them, share Jesus with them if the opportunity arises, and for the love of God … tip them well!”

When Christians Mistreat Restaurant Servers Right After Worshiping God by Shane Pruitt

“You know, I am really tired of hearing that it’s not about Muslims, it’s just about national security…

Do you know what is easy? Pointing the finger at radical Islamic terror. Painting “the other” as the threat has always been easier than dealing with threats in our own groups. Given the conservative outcry at the Department of Homeland Security’s report on right-wing extremism several years back, this move today isn’t surprising—it’s a way Trump can please his base on all fronts, feeding their hatred of Islam and fear of Muslims while assuring them that people who look like them and talk like them are always the good guys.”

It’s Not About National Security, It’s About Scapegoating by Libby Anne

“Donald Trump is delivering for the religious right — more than they could have hoped for. In other words, when everyone questioned their judgment, they knew just what they were doing. And they turned out to be right…

So what did the religious right understand about Trump that many others missed? They weren’t fooled into thinking his faith was sincere. But I suspect they caught something else in his rhetoric: The willingness to state clearly that he was on the side not just of some abstract “religious freedom,” but for Christians specifically. For Trump, it’s all about Us and Them. Christians are Us, and everybody else (particularly Muslims) is Them. He has already made clear that when it comes to refugees he intends to give special preference to Christians…

In his usual unadorned way, Trump was proclaiming his willingness to pander as shamelessly as necessary, and give the religious right whatever they wanted. They got the message. And now they’re getting their reward.”

The religious right understood Trump perfectly. Now he’s delivering for them. by Paul Waldman