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






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