Saturday, November 23, 2013

Back and Doing the Entrepreneur Thing

I haven't posted in a while. I've been wandering a bit spiritually and honestly, didn't want to share too much of that here. I've left my church of eight was hard, but necessary in sparing myself the bitterness that comes from being an outsider in an insider congregation. I've tasted that before in staying too long in the church I was raised. I know not to make that mistake of fear again.

That said, things are quite bright! My job has degraded from bad to saddeningly ludicrous. I've had to question and revisit my sense of self, my identity as a "worker" and an organizational participant to survive. Through all these years, I've been blessed not only with the drive, idea, resources and emotional motivation (I'm kinda done with the word "passion"'s a bit played isn't it?) to start, and sustain a teeny-tiny business. That is what I'm going to write on, at least for a while.

Christian entrepreneurship is strange. I'd prefer to call myself an Entrepreneurial Christian because honestly, I see what the Church does with business. I see how it, and religious groups have picked up the very Western attitude of businessman-as-savior and dislike it. I dislike it precisely because I know it. My MBA studies were warmer and fuzzier than most, but business is the applied science of people, and science is inherently cold and calculated.

My business is also in the world. There is nothing inherently "churched" about it. I deal with Buddhists and Atheists and pan-theists on a daily basis...getting in their heads, talking their ideas of community and watching how they deal with people. Somehow, I've found encouragement in my faith as a Christian, not just as a "good person", but as a Christian, in working with them. I've also met believers so amazing it makes my heart sing.

It's been hard...and amazing. I see more difficult decisions, more scary steps, more emotional ups and downs coming...but that's part of the deal...and I cannot thank God enough for that moment, when, in a moment of panicked threat to my health (spurred on by my doctors warning that a bacterial infection I had could kill me in a few days), he reached it, blew away the fog of my fears, and reminded me, how scary my own good can sometimes be. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Celibacy outside of the church

A close Christian friend of mine came out to me years ago. Not as gay, but as asexual. She talked of her challenges of not wanting sexual contact, and the expectations of that even within the church. Another friend of mine just sent me this article about Tim Gunn coming out as asexual and the fact that he hasn't had sex in 29 years.  I was floored by the reactions. He was "gross" and unnatural. I'm still in disbelief. How is someone gross for not having sex? Am I revolting because I'm sitting here right now just typing?

The whole discussion made me think back to what she dealt with...feeling like she had to be in a relationship with a sexual component because of social pressures...feeling like she had to be in a relationship at all because of church (and social) pressures...not knowing how to navigate advances from men, Christian or otherwise. It reminded me of how shallow the discussion of sexuality is, both inside and outside the Church. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

1 in 5 non-Christians don't personally know any Christians.

That stat came from this article on Christianity Today. Their conclusion as to why? Existing populations don't reach out into new communities.

We're just too comfortable. Too comfortable in our habits and our celebrations. Too comfortable in the kinds of parties we throw and the language we use. Too comfortable in our friendships and our relationships. This is why that statistic is what it is. Christians in the US have the unique blessing of living in a country that has not only the legal and social framework needed to breakdown the ugly, separatist nature of humanity, but also immigration patterns that create environments ripe for interaction...but most of us stay comfortable. We squander the opportunity for people to see what the life of a person working out their faith looks like up close, on a day to day, human level.

I read quite a bit of Seth Godin and he talks about the "lizard brain" a lot. It's that part of your brain that wants food, shelter, that second slice of pizza when you're on a diet. It's the one that keeps you from starting an exercise program, speaking in public or taking a leap into an uncomfortable new project. That's...all that's going on here.  

Sunday, August 18, 2013

It's not about sex.

I really didn't think I'd be back to writing about singleness, but blogging is funny.

I went to a private school up through 8th grade. We had all the talks about no sex before marriage and STDs and teenage pregnancy. Twenty years later in life and the discussion around sex for single adults doesn't seem much more sophisticated. I've seen rejections of the idea that the Bible prohibits sex before marriage, and thankfully, have read more personal discussions of the reality of chastity. Still though, when I think of actual, applicable advice in navigating potentially sexual relationships, I'm not coming up with much advice...sad, because married and committed folk could likely benefit from a more honest discussion too.

I train in a martial art. Brazilian jiu jitsu to be exact. If you talk to anyone that's stuck with it a while, they'll mention the difficulty, the physical closeness, MMA, but universally, you'll hear about the bonds. Father to son, woman to woman, stranger to stranger, everyone mentions how training has helped them connect with a spouse, reconnect with a child or find a new or second family. None of that is accidental. BJJ, in all its closeness and difficulty, provides an environment of physical and emotional openness that fosters fast bonding. Safety+Vulnerability=Connection. It's just how humans work. It's why people in this photographer's experiment felt closer after just ten minutes of posing together. It happens even with people you don't like.

The sport is 90% male, so as a single, heterosexual female of reproductive age, all of that has created some interesting circumstances--particularly with three guys on my team. Like I mentioned before, BJJ puts you in a position where you develop a physical, non-sexual as well as an emotional intimacy with your training partners. You learn to listen to their breath and heartbeat to read their physical state and intent. I still remember the first time I sat with my ear on a teammate's bare chest, listening to his breath, trying to decipher when he might attack. I've come to accept that they squeeze, grab and touch all the parts of my body that I hide and accentuate with clothing. The bodily functions of gas, odor, sweat, bleeding, drool, menstruation, shedding hairs...they're all out there and everyone has to accept them, and the vast majority of the time, it's done in acceptance. It's all honestly one big study in breaking down cultural norms. There is no personal space. Respectfulness comes from behavior, not so much from restraining bodily processes. You watch each other get angry, frustrated, cry, lose, win, fall down, get back up, and again, and almost always do so with an attitude toward personal growth. You're left, stripped down of all sophistication and pretense, to be beaten down and humbled, again and again; and in that humility, accepted, again and again. It is almost impossible to do be vulnerable and hurt and then met with safety and acceptance, and not connect with someone. Which brings us back to the three guys.

Four years into training and I haven't been involved with anyone at the gym. (It's advice I give to any woman training, regardless of her attitudes toward sex because, if you want to continue training in an already difficult and delicate environment, sex makes things tricky.) That said, sexual intimacy is just the icing on the cake. Things can go WAY awry before then...

  • Hot Guy: No need to beat around the bush...this is the guy that EVERYONE notices. Not one straight woman in the gym, single, married or otherwise, hasn't commented on his physique. I remember when I first signed up and saw him walking across the parking lot...he has an intensity about him that's almost audible. He is very alpha and I noticed him noticing me. I decided immediately that this would not be an issue--not "I won't sleep with this guy" but instead, "I will not interact with him on a level that conveys interest". So no flirting, kidding, playful touching. The third class, I was working technique on the mat and heard a loud "snap". I looked up and saw him, just having whipped a towel, standing in his underwear, staring at me intensely. Considering the environment, that's not quite as out of place as it sounds, but his message was clear. Didn't matter though. Didn't matter that he was single. My lines were drawn well before he decided to flaunt his abs. Friendship happens though, and today, we talk, both at the gym and outside, but that's it. I've learned to not be so extreme as to not connect with men who I may be wary of, but I know the lines.  
  • Married Guy: He's basically Hot Guy, but taller, more muscular and with a more engaging personality. Everybody loves him. I was instantly attracted to him, but kept my distance...not because of some extreme holiness, I just know that you never know the circumstances of anyone in a gym. A couple of months after he started training, he awkwardly introduced me to his wife. I'm very glad he did, because while he may be married, his door is quite open. Men who aren't directly open to cheat on their can feel that a door is closed, even if there's an attraction. I haven't known Married Guy as long, but I limit my interactions. While I'm open to having and have had long phone conversations with Hot Guy, Married Guy isn't something I can toy with on that level, precisely because there is attraction from my end too. 
  • Buddy: A constant conundrum. He's not my type physically and vice versa, but he is a fellow INTJ and we clicked instantly and easily, which, for our personality type, is rare, so it results in a honeymoon of friendship. It's a relief to meet someone who thinks, feels and processes the world like you do, so you begin to share in and celebrate that relief with each other. We've spent hours on the phone discussing frustrations, food and music (he's a foodie and musician too), school, business, life and BJJ. We text literally every day. When I met him, he had a I didn't like much. That aside though, I know myself and my natural penchant to playing semi-girlfriend and the personal pain that comes with that. I've managed my connection with him very carefully. When he first broke up with his girlfriend, I was reluctant to accept invitations to dinners that would have been innocuous with anyone else. They've separated again, likely permanently, but for my own sake, I didn't allow myself to be a support system. When he came to me asking advice as to whether he should stay with her, I remained neutral on the subject. I believe it's part of the reason that now, we have a viable and growing friendship. While there are still awkward moments, I very much appreciate our relationship for what it is. 
I wrote this post mostly for myself, but also because I've met many Christian women struggling with relationship statuses with the men around them. These struggles are the pre-cursors to many of the affairs, pre-marital sex, bad relationships  and out of wedlock children that the church bemoans so, but seems to be missing the mark when it comes to getting at the root of the problem. It ties in a bit to my previous post about churches not offering much emotional safety or support to single women. Without that, many women find themselves looking elsewhere for this support, and it's a difficult field to navigate. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Churches as a safe place

I was thinking this weekend how important my gym is to me. Being single means that you definitely have to fulfill your need for safe, supportive interactions in places other than romantic relationships. For me, one of those places is my gym. One of those places is not my workplace. When there is an upset at the gym, or the guys are off because of a loss, it disturbs me. I expect safety and a measure of  support. I've come to realize I've learned not to expect that at church.

We're reading the book Boundaries in the college group, and the chapter we did last week talked of how important it is for the church to be a safe place to singles and widows/widowers. Tonight, only one girl was able to make it. She's an obvious introvert. She told me about how she was teased to the point of tears about being quiet. This just shouldn't happen. I have a lot to say on the matter, but I think it's all summed up by saying that churches don't spend enough time teaching/encouraging people to be decent and not be bullies. It shows in our behavior both inside, and outside of the church walls. 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

American Christian Privilege and 33 Examples

I ran across the list at the bottom of 33 examples of Christian privilege in the US (I believe it was from the Christian Left). I'm not gonna lie...I hear Christians in the US complain of their disenfranchisement and how they're the only group that can be ridiculed without penalty and it sticks in my craw...mostly because I run into much more discomfort from being Black or an introvert or a woman than I do from being Christian. I've said before that this is possibly because Black people are expected to be Christians in the US, so I'm "normal", but even having distanced myself quite thoroughly from the Black Church, I still have the benefit of ubiquitous Christian advantages.

I've been reminded of this lately in two recent outings to restaurants. Mind you, I don't live in the Bible belt. I live in South Florida where "only" 78% of people describe themselves as Christian. I lead a weekly Bible study at a local Panera Bread. It's next to a Planned Parenthood and, until recently, a Starbucks. I'd say that qualifies the area as pretty liberal. In one night, we ran into two separate Bible study groups holding meetings in the same restaurant. We still see one of those groups on a regular basis. Then, just last night, I had my first trip to Chipotle with the agility coach at my gym. Next to us were two men discussing ministry and missions. I guarantee you that I've never seen this happen with any other religion. I feel much more accepted in the US for my faith, than I do for my skin color, and if that changes, so be it. I'll have to grow to another opportunity to "count it all joy".

I hate to say it, but I really think Christians in the US are spoiled, and that all the hand wringing isn't so much about a rejection of God, but more discomfort in the rejection of culture. In Googling that stat on Palm Beach County, I ran across this article, in which, they responded to the 78% with this...

What does this mean about your life as a Christian...?  The obvious answer is that with such ungodliness around us, we must not let up.

Now...I'm a member of a minority that makes up about 12% of the population, so reading someone interpreting 78% as "only", leaves me scratching my head. I know privilege when I see it because I live in disadvantage too. I go to stores, restaurants, meetings, events (church too) frequently where I am simply the only Black person in the room. Rooms that ask me strange questions about my hair, assume I don't have a father present, that make jokes about the current President, that consider me a brunette...For me to see 12% of a room looking like me would be a cause for celebration! The teasing of Christians pales in comparison to insults I see against people of my race. I can do nothing but assume that people who find 78% to be a cause for alarm are simply used to being 100%, and that, in and of itself, is definitely privilege.

*Edit: To clarify, Christian persecution outside of the US is occurring at rising rates. I personally believe that part of that is because of the actual growth of Christianity into new areas."

I'm not saying that US is headed in a more Christian direction (I don't think it ever genuinely started on one). What I am saying, is that Christians of all races need to start embracing challenge for the blessing that it is. I firmly believe that the church suffers heavily because it has intentionally integrated culture and the traditions of men deeply into its walls, that it defends them now, and that some rejection is a good thing. I believe that is important, because I've come to be convinced that being willing to walk away from your culture is a sacrifice one must be willing to make to follow Christ...even if that culture does reference some vaguely Biblical ideas.

Oh! Those privileges...

  1. You can expect to have time off work to celebrate religious holidays.
  2. Music and television programs pertaining to your religion’s holidays are readily accessible.
  3. It is easy to find stores that carry items that enable you to practice your faith and celebrate religious holidays.
  4. You aren’t pressured to celebrate holidays from another faith that may conflict with your religious values.
  5. Holidays celebrating your faith are so widely supported you can often forget they are limited to your faith (e.g. wish someone a “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” without considering their faith).
  6. You can worship freely, without fear of violence or threats.
  7. A bumper sticker supporting your religion won’t likely lead to your car being vandalized.
  8. You can practice your religious customs without being questioned, mocked, or inhibited.
  9. If you are being tried in court, you can assume that the jury of “your peers” will share your faith and not hold that against you in weighing decisions.
  10. When swearing an oath, you will place your hand on a religious scripture pertaining to your faith.
  11. Positive references to your faith are seen dozens of times a day by everyone, regardless of their faith.
  12. Politicians responsible for your governance are probably members of your faith.
  13. Politicians can make decisions citing your faith without being labeled as heretics or extremists.
  14. It is easy for you to find your faith accurately depicted in television, movies, books, and other media.
  15. You can reasonably assume that anyone you encounter will have a decent understanding of your beliefs.
  16. You will not be penalized (socially or otherwise) for not knowing other people’s religious customs.
  17. Your faith is accepted/supported at your workplace.
  18. You can go into any career you want without it being associated with or explained by your faith.
  19. You can travel to any part of the country and know your religion will be accepted, safe, and you will have access to religious spaces to practice your faith.
  20. Your faith can be an aspect of your identity without being a defining aspect (e.g., people won’t think of you as their “Christian” friend)
  21. You can be polite, gentle, or peaceful, and not be considered an “exception” to those practicing your faith.
  22. Fundraising to support congregations of your faith will not be investigated as potentially threatening or terrorist behavior.
  23. Construction of spaces of worship will not likely be halted due to your faith.
  24. You are never asked to speak on behalf of all the members of your faith.
  25. You can go anywhere and assume you will be surrounded by members of your faith.
  26. Without special effort, your children will have a multitude of teachers who share your faith.
  27. Without special effort, your children will have a multitude of friends who share your faith.
  28. It is easily accessible for you or your children to be educated from kindergarten through post-grad at institutions of your faith.
  29. Disclosing your faith to an adoption agency will not likely prevent you from being able to adopt children.
  30. In the event of a divorce, the judge won’t immediately grant custody of your children to your ex because of your faith.
  31. Your faith is taught or offered as a course at most public institutions.
  32. You can complain about your religion being under attack without it being perceived as an attack on another religion.
  33. You can dismiss the idea that identifying with your faith bears certain privileges.
*8, 17 and 20 are a little weak, but the rest are spot on.

Edit: I'd like to add 34...kind of related to 15 but...if I tell someone I'm a Christian, they may form hyperbolic views, but those views are usually based on pretty accurate information, and they have a good idea of what I will and won't do (I don't get asked to things much on Sundays, people know I don't want to go to strip clubs or bars). I've seen people from other religions have to do endless explaining before people are even close to correct. 

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Christians don't need heroes: Rick Warren and "Chrislam"

I'm way removed from Christian pop-culture. Like, way removed. Removed to the point where, right now, I'd like to make a reference to a band that someone mentioned and I was completely unaware of, and I can't. In all seriousness, DC Talk was the last "big" group I was aware of on the White side of American Christianity. On the Black side...Mary Mary and Donnie Mcclurkin, and I only knew about those because I dated a guy who was into them.

I'm a bit of a Luddite when it comes to pop-culture in general. I'm not up on reality TV, or car models, and as much as I like jewelry and fashion, I care more about what I'm expressing personally than I do any trend...which is why the (apparently year old) freak out over Rick Warren and "Chrislam" is difficult for me to relate to.

I sometimes feel I should be more up on trends in Christianity...I sometimes feel guilty for staring blankly at someone's excitement at getting tickets to see the newest big pastor or Christian super-group. I know Shaun King and Carlos Whittaker, but only through my personal followings of their Twitter accounts. I'm starting to feel less guilty for my distance, because I don't feel I lose much connection to other Christians by being off-trend. And watching the Rick Warren deal, I think there is more to be lost by following them too closely. The disappointment I read in just a few blog responses was, well, disappointing. It reminded me of my recent disappointment in reading up on G.K. Chesterton's treatment of African's and Jews in his work. That was a good reminder though...if I'm feeling disappointment at realizing that another human is, well, human, I've started losing perspective.

I've been struggling with this a lot lately. Watching my Facebook feed and the stark contrast of the reactions of leaders and friends to the striking down of makes me sad...sad and tired...not because these things shouldn't be addressed or discussed by the church, but that I know that it is issues like these that give birth to denominations in the church...something I think we should be anything but proud of.

Christians don't need heroes or flags or teams. We have a savior. I'm coming to believe that the Tim Tebows, Rick Warrens and T.D. Jake's of the world are just crutches-important and useful when you need them, but for the most part are just distractions from a deeper and richer perspective of Jesus. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ethics and Business

The talk of business ethics is a strange one. You have to believe that cold, nebulous organizations can carry human traits to believe that a business can be ethical. I personally don't in the same way I don't believe a country can have a faith.

I mull over the concept of America being a Christian nation a lot...mostly because I hear the phrase so much. Every day, I believe it less...not because of what's going on today, but because I simply cannot see how a nation founded on the murder of natives and theft of Africans can ever call itself Christian while taking any genuine consideration for what being Christian actually means...and that's regardless of how many copies of the 10 Commandments are posted on school walls.

Seth Godin recently wrote a piece on business ethics that really hit home for me...not just in the discussion of America as a Christian nation, but in the more personal and applicable realm of my work and purchasing life. You can read it here, but here are some of my favorite quotes.

"It's not business, it's personal."

"only people can have ethics"

"You either do work you are proud of, or you work to make the maximum amount of money."

"Business is too powerful for us to leave our humanity at the door of the office."

Thursday, May 16, 2013

...and I thought it was just Mark Gungor

My mother told me about this show she heard on Moody today. She endures the "Family Life" segment to listen to Chuck Swindoll.

I thought it was only Mark Gungor encouraging people to marry ASAP because of their urges. Looks like I was wrong. I don't even know what to say to this. The glaring straw man of career-hungry women who are actively putting off marriage and family to establish themselves is just insulting. I can say this honestly and after knowing a lot of women in different kinds of churches...I haven't met one woman who wasn't open to the prospect of marriage to a decent man when God brought it into her life. Not one woman have I met has turned down a relationship because of school or work or fun or whatever. I'm calling straw woman.

I...can't...the logic is so glaringly backwards I'm almost at a loss for words. I do not see the sense in teaching teenagers abstinence-only sex education but then telling them, as they get older and more in control of their hormones, that they should marry the first thing they see sitting next to them. That's the very definition of mixed messages.

Perhaps the scariest part though, is the lesson it teaches. To tell someone to marry as early as possible teaches them not only that you cannot grow as a Christian in the strength to manage sexual desires, but actively gives them an excuse to cheat when, 10 years into their marriage, they meet someone they find more attractive.

All I see is a complete unwillingness to address the problems that young people are bringing to the church. Instead of confronting the difficulties of life today (with advice they'll need in the future if they marry), they're hearkening back to a time when things were "better" ("for whom?" I always wonder) and forcing behavior that was simply a by-product of survival as if it were the root of it all.

Couple all this with Pat Robertson's recent endorsement of male infidelity, disguised in advice on being forgiving and the divorce rate being higher within the church makes 100% sense. Put the two together and I'm beginning to think it's all actively engineered to get men children and wives as early as possible and allow them all the sexual freedom they desire once they've found a woman to be faithful to them and keep their house. 

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Why kids leave church...

I love this. I was talking attrition in Brazilian jiu jitsu with a black belt friend the other day (it's estimated around 90% at the lowest level alone) and the conversation turned the way it normally does...two people who haven't quit guessing about the motivations of those who have. Our community does it a lot, but I think churches do it more. That's when I saw this post this morning, I was elated. Someone did the leg work of talking to kids who'd been raised in the church and left. Check out the complete article here, but here is the summarized list.

10. The Church is "Relevant." (too relevant apparently)
9. They never attended church to begin with.
8. They get smart.(groups outside the church treated them as intelligent beings)
7. They were sent out unarmed
6. Faith was represented to them as little more than feelings
5. Kids experience faith as something they "do" and that do "can be found places other than the church"
4. They found better feelings elsewhere
3. They got tired of pretending to be happy
2. Their diet of Law has condemned them
1. Church is presented as a place to learn life principles and "you don't need a crucified Jesus for that"

I'm not Evangelical (though I do attend an Evangelical church), but seeing anyone ask these real questions of the people who know...I find it heartening, especially the comment section.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Christians attacking Christians

Warning...Free flow post ahead...

I need a new title as a Christian...and I mean that. I no longer want to be associated with the cultural norm of Christianity in America. The religion has been co-opted by people who operate on principles that I not only despise, but that I believe are un-Biblical and inherently contradictory. First it was complaints about Easter not being widely recognized know...the way the way Christmas if they want to start the fight to put Christ back in Easter too. Now, there's an uproar at my alma mater.

Let me start this off by saying that I have little nice to say about FAU's professors. I met some great ones, yes, but when it came to dealing with even non-tenured faculty and some of their ridiculous behavior, it left a horrible taste in my mouth. So...

A couple of weeks ago, a story was reported about a professor telling his students to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper and stomp on it. It was said that the student refused and was suspended. The professor then started receiving threats to his safety from groups, both religious and political.

I understand there is a bias against higher education among Conservatives in this country, but just on the surface, this story was suspect and I don't get the knee jerk reaction...students aren't suspended for not participating in exercises. They just aren't. Failed? Yes, but not suspended. I listened (and watched) people rail against liberal bias in education. I've heard it since my days in a Southern Baptist school...public schools will teach you nothing but evolution in science class and make you hate Jesus in English and History.

...and then I went to a public high school...and a public university. We covered evolution...maybe three times in those eight years. The rest was that huge chunk of science that has nothing to do with our origins. I went to See you at the Pole, sang spirituals in chorus and in college, got credit for a six week study of the book of James run by a minister that included prayer. Jesus was never referred to as "just a great man". Perhaps I would have heard more if my studies were less scientific and more based on the humanities...perhaps. Right or wrong though, I've learned to question the cries of victimization of the American church and their demonetization of an educational system that they once so beautifully participated in and were fundamental in creating.

So today, more information was released about the professor. Turns out he's Christian...not just I-used-to-go-to-church-as-a-kid Christian, but he openly claims Jesus as his "lord and savior". Turns out the exercise was to write "Jesus" on a piece of paper and then step (not stomp) on it. Why? The exercise assumes that the students will hesitate and then discussion begins about the meaning of words. I am sure, that if a pastor asked their congregation to do the same, there would be no complaints. I can see Ravi Zacharias, who constantly speaks on the importance of words having meaning, using just such an illustration and Christians marveling at his wisdom...precisely because the foundation of the exercise is the widely perceived importance of Jesus.

The embattled student? Well, he refused, as was his right. He then confronted the professor after class, punching his fist into his opposite hand, and telling the professor that he wanted to hit him. He was suspended for physically threatening he should have been.

I know, very well, that there are powerful swaths of movement in the US to push God and Jesus out of our lives. I know probably better than most who identify as Christian because I spend so much time in circles with bents toward the academic and the intellectual and the foreign...but I will tell you that an atheist comparing God to Santa Claus isn't one tenth as painful or offensive as a Christian who has forgotten his principles for the sake of retaliation. (John 18 and the story of Peter and Malchus has some application here) I will tell you that the lack of peace that so many Christians flaunt is hammering that last nail into the coffin of the American church. Ask people why they don't go to church or why they stopped and I know, from personal experience, that the reason isn't evolution or education or porn. It's us.

I watched comments on the situation at FAU and of course I saw it. I always see it so I knew it was coming...the three or four individuals who were observing the Christians. The three or four who asked, quite calmly, why those claiming to be Christian were the worst behaved in the conversation. Not the caricatures of the bitter, rude atheist or the mocking agnostic. These were people who were just observing. Maybe they had already made up their minds and hearts about Christianity, but I know that not everyone reading those conversations were.

I very firmly believe Christians, in our unwillingness to call out the bad behavior of those we worship with, are the central reason Christianity is becoming less and less relevant in this country. All these issues that we see as the "cause" of God's removing his blessings from us? I believe that they ares symptoms of a country of Christians digging in to its own pride and superiority generations ago, and unrepentantly wallowing in them today. 

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Christians: The Popular Kids

It hit me, REALLY hit me today...Easter...that the American church is reeling not from the pain of the loss of holiness of its home country, not from figuring out what it means to be Christian, but instead what it means to be "American". I think I further cemented this realization watching the debate on Gay marriage and the sheer panic that some (definitely not all) Christians are experiencing. There are basically two reasons to freak out in this situation: People haven't accepted that God is in control, or there's a different crisis of public identity going on. I have come to believe, primarily due to the complete absence of the discussion by those against marriage equality of discussing applying Biblical marriage principles to heterosexual unions and couples, that the Bible is not the true motivation behind the religious Right's fight to legally institute semi-Biblical marriage.

 Being what most would describe as a progressive Christian, and one with an intellectual bent at that, I am constantly on guard of trying to rationalize my way to God, be it because of natural tendencies or some latent need to not feel at odds with the smart-kids. There's always a teeny part of me that worries that I'm missing the mark when it comes to public application of morality.

Today, I ran across this quote by Billy Graham, which surprised me a bit (and not just because of its contrast to his son's recent efforts to re-write his father's history).

“I don’t think there’s any conflict at all between Science today and the Scriptures. I think we have misinterpreted the Scriptures many times and we’ve tried to make the Scriptures say things they weren’t meant to say. I think that we have made a mistake by thinking the Bible is a scientific book. The Bible is not a book of science. The Bible is a book of Redemption, and of course, I accept the Creation story. I believe that God did create the universe. I believe that God created man, and whether it came by an evolutionary process and at a certain point He took this person or being and made him a living soul or not, does not change the fact that God did create man….whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship to God.” (from a book that's going on my reading list)

He said this back in 1997 and while I was in college and could have easily missed it, I don't remember any huge uproar over it...but then again, Christianity still felt popular back then and there was much less questioning of what it meant to be an American.

...and I'm just adding this video because it's something I know I'll want to come back and watch later, and blogs are good for that.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Profanity...the next level...

I've never been one to use much profanity. To me, it's like someone giving you little pushes while you're're not hurt, but you're likely distracted and eventually, it could really tick you off.

When I was little, I received three distinct messages about the use of profanity--1) It's a legitimate part of speech used to convey aggression or anger...if you don't want to convey those two, don't use it. 2) It's frequently perceived as being lower class. 3) It's used by people when they don't know how to properly express themselves. Those three different approaches to the use of a part of a language (emotional, class signals and personal intelligence) very much shaped how I use it today. All in all, I generally don't.

At the same time though, "gosh" and "darn" make me feel a bit too Leave-it-to-Beaverish and are honestly short-cuts to saying what I really feel, so I've been making an effort to actually express instead of just emote...both in my spoken life and on the internet. Gotta up the English game.