This seems particularly apt, in the wake of the shooting, and in the general unrest between white America and those desperate to demand it recognise that #BlackLivesMatter, where each clash of police and protestors seems almost to sound a call to arms, where on twitter now there is a reminder #WeWillShootBack, to remember that the last time racism drove us to arms, it was over defense of theology. A theology that held that scripture condoned and even commanded slavery – and thus biblical literalism was born. All of evangelicalism has followed in its wake, and since there never has been a definitive argument won between the literalists and those who take a broader, more nuanced look at all of scripture and interpret it’s principles as unilaterally leading to justice, mercy, grace, and peace. Equality, freedom, and hope for all. Literalism denies all this. It must, for those are the roots of it, the very basis of it’s existence. If we are to come to terms with racism in this country, white america, religious right america, must turn it’s back on the theology of slavery, and reach for the freedom, hope, and grace that the theology of equality offers. Only then can we admit, how wrong our forefathers were, and how shamefully their racist legacy lingers in the institutions, the very foundations of our society.
I’ve been saying for years that Evangelical Christianity is built on and made of fear, fear and more fear, with power and control a close second. Fundamentalism becomes God, the Bible an object of worship instead of a guide. Legalism becomes a necessity. They must control everything, or the fear takes over. And the fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering….that is truth. It is true – and it is not Christian. Perfect love casts out fear. Evangelicals left that behind a long time ago, when they betrayed themselves and their communities for the promise of power and money. And they got it, and it corrupted everything they profess to believe in. Megachurches, rich celebrity ‘pastors’, and the wedding of religion and politics…none of this follows the things that Jesus taught were most important. You have lost your heart, evangelicals, and you are very near to losing your soul as well, if it is not already lost. But you will not hear this message, or take heed of it, until it is too late.
Originally posted on john pavlovitz:
Dinosaurs still walk among us; those loud, lumbering, living relics of the distant past.
They spring from the shadows every once in a while, in furious, blustery fits meant to inspire fear in the hearts all those within earshot, but instead they only yield pity. These, after all are not the confident displays of strength from a vital, dominant life force, but the last, desperate gasps of a scared, dying animal.
Evangelical Christianity in America is facing certain extinction.
Not Jesus of course, and not the beautiful, peacemaking, power-checking, justice-seeking, bigotry-busting, healing heart of the Gospel that he carried and delivered by hand to a hurting world. That endures, it persists, it has no shelf life, no expiration date. It is meteor-proof.
What is going away is the oversized, cumbersome, angry religion that has had the run of the landscape for far too long. It’s a bloated theology of fear…
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Yessss alll of this.
Originally posted on Defeating the Dragons:
Before we get started with today’s post, I’d like y’all to read these two pieces, especially if you’re not aware of what came out yesterday:
“What you Need to Know about the Josh Duggar Police Report” by Libby Anne “Josh Duggar says he’s sorry. So what?” by Kathryn Elizabeth Brightbil
Libby Anne and Kathryn address many of the things I would have said, which I’m thankful for because now I can focus on making a broader point that I think applies to conservative evangelicalism as a culture and not just the Duggars as a family.
A close friend of mine has spent most of her adulthood in Spanish-speaking countries. During a recent visit, she told me a story about what it’s like to make the adjustments between languages. She was working with a bus ministry…
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This is from a comment I posted on a discussion here, an article discussing Victoria Osteen’s recent controversy. I’ve little to no interest in that in itself; I clicked mainly to see what kind of reactions supposed Christians were having. Morbid curiosity, I suppose. Predictably, there were in the comments apparent Christians both supportive (few) and (mostly) critical, most of them attempting to enforce their views with scripture, as if that made any difference to the people they were arguing with, often the predictable other people decrying the idea of religion as a whole and declaring there is no God, disgusted with the people who claim to represent it. I can sympathise. One of these exchanges caught my eye, because it touched on something very personal to me; the question of why God seems silent, or even not there, nonexistent, and how others seem to find him speaking in everything they see.
I was the former, and became the latter, by a long, rough road; being LGBT and a liberal feminist, I was of the opinion that there was nothing in religion for me, only judgement and pain. I rejected Christianity, and in fact, faith of any kind at the beginning of my journey. I do not judge anyone at any stage on that road, whether they ever proceed upon it or not. Belief or non-belief is a very personal thing, often informed by painful or harsh experience with those who say they are religious, which is what I expanded on in my comment. The link above goes to the comments I replied to, I will quote them here for those who may not wish to follow unwieldy links, to an irrelevant article.
I saw only the top visible comments, and did not expand the thread, only replying to the third person directly. Continue reading
This is pretty much exactly the same things I have been sorting through, and I’ve come to much the same conclusions. It’s not a perfect metaphor, but it definitely works.
Originally posted on Defeating the Dragons:
I’ve been wrestling with a few significant theological issues over the past few months, and while I’m getting closer to making up my mind on some, a lot of these ideas are the biggies– sin, Atonement, the problem of evil, the role of prayer, of Scripture … but the question I’ve been struggling the most with has been what does God do?
I’m honestly not even sure how to fully articulate this question it’s so big. I’m trying to figure out what God’s role in history has been, and what actions has he taken, does he take, will he take? Am I actually a deist? Do I believe that God has a strict non-interference policy/Prime Directive? Or is he much more active than that– determining who gets into accidents, who is cured of cancer, who finds their missing socks? Is it something more moderated than either of those? Has…
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From a letter to my father:
More on this later, but a couple of quick things here. (okay, ended up being both more and later, not so quick and not just a couple 8D) You asked what was the evidence that I considered in coming to accept evolution as part of the creation process. This is kind of a basic overview of how I got there; I don’t remember the specific places I read different things.
I had a vague, conscious cognitive dissonance for quite a long time, wherein I believed what I’d always been told about YEC (young earth creationism), but had a secondary nebulous belief in an ancient earth and the idea of evolution – dinosaurs and cavemen and so on. In the beginning I think it was just because I liked the idea, I thought it was cool; also, what I learned even from creationists about the geologic record seemed to make more sense that way. To me, a Flood, even a global one, couldn’t account for everything. I thought that these two beliefs were incompatible, and this troubled me faintly, but not enough to bother doing something about it.
The thing that first started me looking into it was when I had gotten to the point of questioning everything, which allowed ideas to occur to me which I might otherwise have resisted, and I was studying historical linguistics and language families, proto-Indo-European and other superfamilies, how different languages are related to one another, how they’ve grown and evolved over time. It was triggered by an old book I found called The History of the English Language, and the first few chapters were a detailed examination of PIE and Germanic descent therefrom. I was fascinated; it was like Tolkien’s languages, only moreso and real. This was when I began doing a really in depth examination of the work that’s been done in comparative linguistics, really heavy technical stuff so I won’t go into detail.
I realised that suddenly, I knew for certain that the Tower of Babel, if it happened, hadn’t happened the way it was written. Couldn’t have, it was not possible. It was a myth, a legend that had been exaggerated, or an allegory of some kind, but it wasn’t literal. There was no way, and there was proof in the linguistic record. These languages were organically evolved out of just a handful or even one common ancestor, every language in the history of the world if you go back far enough.
They were not artificially confused; even if God was some kind of divine conlanger, the languages themselves and the historical record of them contradicts it. That just, simply, is not what happened. This is my particular passion or obsession in the study of languages, tracing back their lineage – it’s fascinating, and obvious if you know what you’re doing. Historical and comparative linguistics is where I would like to specialise my field of study if I ever manage to get my degree.
So Matthew Vines has written a book, now, expanding on the ideas in his video The Gay Debate, which is good, because damn did it need some expanding. As it was, I didn’t feel confident that anyone I linked it to would find enough evidence in it to have his words actually be considered instead of dismissed with the kind of condescension we usually get from people who call themselves ‘Bible believing Christians’, as if there were any other kind. You know who I mean – the inerrantists, the literalists, which I have ranted about here before so moving on. Samantha’s post here makes a lot of great points, and I’m happy to see her footnote at the end because I do think it’s very important for that to be addressed; this is not a binary any more than it is a zero sum game, and bisexuals exist too.
The idea that being gay is antithetical to being Christian is something that needs to be confronted head on, like any institutionalised lie, and while like Samantha, I found Matthew’s video talk to be somewhat lacking in that department, because there is so much more that could be and should be said, it sounds like the book rounds it out some. So anyone who believes that the Bible does not leave room for any acceptance of us in any frame of reference…read it.
If you care about intellectual honesty and whether or not you might possibly be wrong about your interpretation of what the Bible says about us gay people, that is. If you don’t know any gay people that you care about, or you don’t care about finding out why many Christians, even people who have ‘a high view of Scripture’ (gag me, please) and a traditional evangelical background can find room for saying, being gay is not a sin, being gay and in a relationship is not a sin, and these are the verses why, then go on about your gay-hating business and keep your fingers in your ears singing lalala.
But make no mistake: it is hate that you are entertaining when you insist to us that our very existence is a sin, contrary to our own lived experience. It is harmful. It is causing pain and suffering when you try to suppress and oppress us within your own subculture, and even outside of it, just because you believe that being gay is a sin, whether you admit that we don’t have a choice in it or not. We know the tears of blood and agony that we have shed over this, the grief and fear and desperation, whether or not we’ve managed to hold on to some kind of faith or left it all together. The legions of us that you have driven out or driven away, the legions of us who have survived with scars and depression, the legions of us who have not survived but rather committed suicide due to brokenheartedness, discrimination and bullying will testify to the fact that your belief, however sincerely you believe it, is harmful, it is actively causing harm, and therefore should not remain unexamined.
And if you examine it, honestly and carefully, in the light of truth, in light of the fact that the verses you cling to in order to justify your position are manifestly mistranslated and/or misinterpreted – and I am a linguist, I know whereof I speak, I am not taking anyone’s word for this, it is fact – then you must judge for yourself whether or not you are letting your own ‘tree of theology’ or belief bear bad fruit. Whether or not you are in violation of the second Greatest Commandment. Are you loving your neighbour as yourself? Are you letting your pride of conviction, your pride in being ‘right’, stand in the way of love and truth? Are you living the message of grace and mercy that Jesus himself extended to those who were looked down on, marginalised and outcast in his own time? I think not.
He has shown you, o man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you; but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God.