I was interviewed for a piece on the rise of Christian Domestic Discipline. Here is a part of it:
Right. But where does CDD fit in here? Is CDD a particularly Fundamentalist thing? “Not all Fundamentalists use CDD,” says Watts. “I would wager that many would never think of CDD as legitimately Christian, and yet, I would also wager that if you took the tenants of CDD – such as the wives that submit to their husbands, providing sex on demand – without naming it as such, many Fundamentalists would agree to them as something ‘Biblical’.”
“Because this was now being handled in public, I was fortunate to receive the support of hundreds of people on Twitter – as well as attacks from others. I always expect some form of trolling, but I did not expect one of the attackers to be an editor at Salon, Elias Isquith, who questioned what my potential rape meant for “hashtags” and “brands”. “- Sarah Kendzior, On Being A Thing
Encountering the Emergent Church Brand
For a span of 2 years, my final semester of undergrad up until my second year in seminary,I tried and miserably failed to fit myself in the white Calvinist evangelical mold. As a black man in his early twenties, I didn’t fit in anywhere in predominantly white Christian educational settings. Some of my first friends in seminary were a group of white Christians who were well read with Emergent Christian literature: Tony Jones, Doug Paggit, Rob Bell, and Brian McLaren will all names that were dropped during our weekly Tuesday night taco dinners. I would eventually leave the Neo-Calvinist movement on my own terms and started to see some freedom in the Emergent Church movement. Two of the more influential books on my journey were Scot McKnight’s The Jesus Creed and Donald Miller’s Blue Like Jazz. My Calvinist friends (who had not read these book/authors) were calling me a heretic for even reading these books, and as I look back then seven years ago, I can laugh.
I once preached a sermon on the Emergent church as the future of Christian tradition, and I even taught a Sunday School class on Black theology and Emergence Christianity. However, I began to experience disaffection with the Emergent Church. All of the topics and controversies that the EC leadership wrote about/spoke about still made Whiteness as the center. Believers from marginated contexts were welcome to the table as long as they tacitly submitted to the ways of the dominant culture. In essence, Emergence Christianities have become more about personal brands and the platforms of their recognized overwhelmingly White male leaders rather than being about the “future of Christianity.” You see, since we only live in the here and now, all talks of the “future of Christianity” are speculative. Yet, there is much money to be made when small groups of people decide to severe the multiracial Kingdom of God from any notion of the future. The “future” winds up looking very much like the status quo, and defenses (yes, even “progressive ones”) of the status quo are quite profitable.
Liberationist Killjoys And DudeBro Christianity
At Killjoy Prophets, there is a two-fold mission: first, we desire to center the experiences of Women of Color in Christianity, and secondly, we work to end DudeBro Christianity. Now, we often get asked, “what is DudeBro Christianity?” First of all, DudeBro is a descriptor of character traits; it is a politics in which any person of any gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic background can embody. DudeBro Christianity is the passive embodiment of dominant cultural norms that conceal commitments to White supremacist and male supremacist narratives as defaults. The bodies of women and People of Color are made to be objects of contempt. The practice of DudeBro Politics includes someone who insists that all social encounters occur on their terms. The future of Christianity is their private property (“post-Christendom”); like the plantation oligarchs, People of Color and the bodies of women are to be supervised by DudeBro Christian leaders.
Emergent Christian leaders often make excuses such as, well many PoC and women just do not have a big enough platform to draw a big enough crowd for conferences. In other words, profit is the driving force behind abstract discussions of “the future” rather than the Kingdom of God, which is justice, and peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. DudeBro Politics is the anti-Christ, posing as an angelic voice of progressive Enlightenment in order to deny faithful victory over the sins of White Supremacy, rape culture, and economic exploitation. DudeBro politics can play out in non-liberating events such as a White Cisgender queer male informing me that I use too strong of language when describing economic policies as anti-black racism. DudeBro Christianity is when for the sake of inclusion in the United Methodist Church, a White CisHet man uses his privilege to compare the General Conference to date rape. In order to build her brand as a magenta politics leftist, one political theologian dismissed Sarah Kendzior’s claims to being threatened with rape. Jason is right: in order for DudeBro Politics to remain the pre-eminent regime in this kyriarchal, White Supremacist economy, men have to control the bodies of women and PoC.
“but I think it’s pathetic for some [recognized Emergent Church leaders] to stand around and comment on the failings [of Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill Church], while cowardly never admitting your own sh*& (which is strikingly familiar!!) misogyny, mental and emotional abuse all hidden behind a new found liberalism and feminism because the times they are a changin’, jumping on the same sex marriage band wagon because its the hot new ride in town, and you just might get to be relevant again…these people are very cunning and smart and they will use anything (theology, controversy, sensationalism) and anyone to get ahead. it’s a clinical diagnosis and a pathology that looks like this kind of carnage, and they ALWAYS leave bodies in their wake. soliciting white male leaders of the emergent church willing to cover it all up for their crony. wipe out evidence on organizations website. lies and betrayal.”- Julie McMahon, comment, Tony Jones On Mark Driscoll, What Came First, The Thug or The Theology?
On Ending DudeBro Christianity, #GamerGate, & #NotYourShield
Emergence Christianities and their leadership has unfortunately found itself more often than not on imperialist quests for fame and fortune rather than being in solidarity with the least of these. In the process, as Julie McMahon pointed out, brand-creation and marketing leave the bodies of the marginalized in its wake: objectification, emotional, physical and mental abuse, gaslighting, racist microaggressions, and “post-modern” defenses of White Supremacy. Progressive spaces such as Emergence Christianity have made it okay for others to promote themselves at the expense of others (women mostly). For example, the whole #GamerGate #NotYourShield movement is a whole group of gamer dudes violently backlashing against women gamers who have spoken up versus misogyny. Last week, my friend Drew Hart discovered that a #NotYourShield sock puppet had been using a picture of his to advance the racist*, sexist agenda of #NotYourShield / #GamerGate.
#GamerGate is more than a few Internet trolls. They harass their critics, take down their blogsites, spread vicious rumors, and send emails promising gun violence and sexual assaults towards women who dare speak out. It’s time for progressives to find new ways to brand themselves, and this should start by rejecting DudeBro Politics. It means living by the preferential option for the marginalized (women & People of Color), preferring to choose human life and people over profiteering and brand-making. Such a rejection also means a public rebuke of #GamerGate / #NotYourShield. #CloseGamerGate #CloseGamerGate #CloseGamerGate
“[...] upon this rock I will build my church; the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”- Matthew 16:18 KJV
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “The Gift”
I refer to #GamerGate/ #NotYourShield as racist because of #1, the persistent blackface sock puppeteering that they do, and #2, their reliance on negative stereotypes of Blacks as thuggish, criminal, and culturally “backwards”/homophobic.
This is simple and perhaps even simplistic, I admit, but, I guarantee you it is at least one first step to avoid legal problems, that is, if you object to performing gay marriages.
(Disclaimer: I have voiced my opinion as to gay marriage plenty of times in different ways with the same main thrust, so, this is not an opinion on gay marriage but an advice to Churches that want to avoid the nightmare of lawsuits.)
Many Protestant churches reject the idea of marriages as a sacrament. Too bad that they perform and require that marriages be performed by their ministers as if it were a sacrament. However, many of these Churches use wedding ceremonies as a revenue generator for the Church and even rent their facilities for other ministers to perform marriages of people outside of the host Church membership. Well, that was fine and dandy up until now, but, unless Churches find a way not to “have it both ways” or, a quasi sacrament, whereas saying is not one, which they charge everyone to offer, and even offer it to people whose spiritual life they do not oversee, Churches will be open for all kinds of lawsuits because now we have a different, uncommon before, group of people who feel that, in spite of the fact that they never cared for that church facility in their neighborhood, and even when it is not in their neighborhood, they want to challenge that Church by wanting to have their gay marriage in that specific facility. In my not expert opinion, as it is plain to see, and as I consult friends of mine who are attorneys, it will be hard for that Church ministers to deny their facilities to perform a gay marriage on the basis of religion, since they only have an “expectancy” that the people whose weddings are performed in there are indeed religious people. My discussion here is not whether it is right to sue a Church for that or not, my discussion is that it will be hard for a Church to prove that they are not discriminating!
What then can be done?
Number one, from start, Churches should get out of the business of performing marriages. By that I mean, they should not charge for that which they believe to be a function of the Church. Otherwise they have to deny that such ceremonies are relevant and the function of the Church. They can’t have it both ways. They cannot charge; perhaps a nominal fee is fine for “maintenance” purposes, such as removal of flowers, or things of this nature, or cleaning the “social hall”, if the reception is also carried in its facilities, but charging a fee for the marriage itself, should be a “no, no”.
Then, not only should Churches not use weddings for a revenue generator by charging wedding fees, but also they should perform, or bless marriages of members of their congregations only, or the people whom the Ministers of that Church oversee spiritually. That means that they would not rent their facilities for marriages of people outside those who are under spiritual supervision of the ministers of that Church, whom they know, counsel, pray with, and to whom they offer communion regularly. I know that this will hurt churches financially, but it will hurt even more to have a lawyer in their payroll or to pay expensive legal fees to dispute lawsuits. All that is happening may be a Sovereign act of God in turning Churches more like the Body of Christ, and turn to their main purpose here on earth than to simply “server” the community as a venue for community indiscriminant celebrations.
In fact, Churches who want to avoid lawsuits, as long as it is legal to present issues (which is about to be legally debated in America) to your members, you should have a formal teaching plan where you teach your members about sin, sexuality, marriage, along with all your doctrinal foundations such as justification, the Trinity, etc. That alone will prevent anyone who disagrees with you from even the desire to be in your zip code, let alone get married in your Church!
Lastly, Churches should write all the above in their Constitution and By-Laws and ensure, assure and reassure that such is being followed to the letter!
How can this protect a Church?
Some may ask how these measures will help a Church avoid lawsuits; let me ask them that if you want to fly shirtless in an airplane there will always be a hard nose flight attendant, or steward, whatever they call it nowadays, to tell you that “it is not the company policy that people fly shirtless”. Churches need to know what their policy is. Whether they choose to perform gay marriage or not, they have to enact a policy that is understood by the community so as not to invite anyone even to consider attempting to violate such policy. That, added to the Constitutional provisions will aid a Church to be protected against most of the lawsuits and local ordinances that ultimately violate the Constitution right to assemble, which may be interpreted with “right to associate with likeminded folks”, freedom of speech, or religion and freedom to worship as one desires.
The advantages of a well established policy in their Statutes and By-Laws will be that Churches will get out of the “wedding business”, will be able to bless only the marriages of whom they oversee whereas being kindly and legally able to sustain a claim that any rejection of weddings of the general public within their walls is not discrimination.
The time has come, and again, I think by God’s Sovereign Act of disciplining the Body of Christ, that His Churches function more as the “assembly of those who worship God” and are under the supervision of a duly established Pastor or Bishop (the overseer) and not a community pleasing organization in the sense that, instead of “Christianizing the community, they are allowing the community to worldanize the church.”
Whatever has befallen to some Churches and Ministers in facing lawsuits from gay activists because of denial of facilities and ministerial blessing of a gay wedding (if such lawsuits are still in vogue…) is often the Churche’s fault for not safeguarding the mission that God commanded them to fulfill. Now a couple, from that church or not, can walk up to a minister, “rent” the church facilities for the wedding, either pay the minister of that Church for the wedding or bring their own minister and all is good. How is that not a fertile ground for all kinds of legal problems, including discrimination, if these same Churches deny the same facility and ministerial blessing to anyone? How is that not transforming a religious act, or a quasi sacrament for some, and a real sacrament for others, into a business? Want to keep your wedding revenues coming? If they do, save them because you will have to spend it all in lawyers and lawsuits and it will be your fault; you will lose! Sadly, the only way to avoid discrimination lawsuits is to discriminate by performing ONLY marriages of people within your Ministerial Oversight, or, the members of your congregation who agree to your definition of sin, marriage, sexuality, etc.
Christianity is a faith with no temple made by man’s hands; however this cannot be an excuse to consider a place of worship a “party hall” for the community and not even the “favorite wedding chapel” of the community. Without transforming church buildings in shrines, Churches must understand the difference between an exclusive worship place and the “community center”. This is old fashion but efficacious in swatting away lawsuit bugs. That can be achieved starting by ending the urge to generate revenues by providing a venue for non-member weddings.
This research considers people who live in the so called Bible Belt as “Conservative Christians” and also “implies” that anyone who identifies themselves as Religious Conservative, really is any or both… So, if I live near gold mines on in a gold mining area, that makes me a nugget!
How different are these researchers from ISIS when they say that everyone who lives in America, or every American, just by living in America or being in American, or just by living in the West, is an enemy of Islam?
Now, the reason men may resort to internet porn in the Bible Belt is perhaps because there are less whores and promiscuous women there… So, I can also draw unreasonable conclusions judging by the way a geographical area is identified.
Aware that I am disseminating sheer stupidity, and an uncontrollable urge to scorn those who are genuinely Christians, read here
“The hypocrisy common across the conservatives parties and movements is that while demanding the the government stay out of your hospital and your gun cabinet, they are forcing the government into your bedroom.”
Yeah, the hypocrisy, unfortunately, is of the non-conservatives who do not want conservative governments in their bedroom but want conservative governments and everyone else to pay for aids that they use mainly when they are having sex in their bedroom, thus inviting ALL to their bedroom while saying they wish not them to be there… Oh, I forgot, non-conservatives don’t have sex in bedrooms…
“…transgenderism is a “mental disorder” that merits treatment, that sex change is “biologically impossible,” and that people who promote sexual reassignment surgery are collaborating with and promoting a mental disorder.”
(Former psychiatrist-in-chief for Johns Hopkins Hospital and its current Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry)
Well, this guy is a doctor on the subject… So, don’t kill the messenger!
In the eighties when I flew constantly over Brazil and a few countries of below the Southern Hemisphere, I used to notice how many “agnostics” and “atheists” all of a sudden would become “religious” during periods of heavy turbulence or any commotion during flight that posed a danger of a massive loss of life. I even got to the point of exposing a Bible that had my name engraved in golden letters “Rev. Milton Almeida” (although I despise the “Rev” title) only to find out how many people would procure a conversation with the “Rev.” carrying a Bible during a turbulent and uncomfortable flight. It was, pardon me my mean spiritedness, even amusing when people would approach me and ask me questions as to whether I really believed the Scripture and if I prayed for the flight and then confess to me as if I requested, that they were unbelievers.
I remember an occasion when I was flying from the Southern part of Brazil to the city where I used to live, São Paulo, when this, as reported to me later, important and well known psychiatrist was sitting next to me in an Airbus, the same model that had been found to be involved in several crashes during that time which resulted in massive loss of life. When he saw my Bible “accidentally” slipping off my briefcase be engaged in a conversation with me in a sort of challenging and mocking tone asking me if I believed the things written in the book, and then challenging me with issues of mental illness, homosexuality (remember this is in the 80’s!), and took the time to tell me “the ridiculous things that Scripture readers rejected” in a demonstration of his sheer ignorance of what Christians believe and how stereotypical even a man of his knowledge and education can be on issues of religion.
Then, the storm hit! That plane was swinging as a blender… Trust me, I was scared to death! But not scared of death! I always had a sentence in my mind during crisis in airplanes, of which I could write a book as they were many during the 15 years of flying as a management consultant for an international firm and later to a Brazilian firm: I am not scared of crashing… it is the sudden encounter to the ground that scares me”. So, I was attempting to draw smiles, and stay calm, but it was very difficult. The air movements were so intense amidst the Cumulonimbus clouds that the captain later told us that in one of the “drops” we actually went down 1,000 feet in a split second. Oh, I remember that one! He didn’t have to tell me! No… not because of the impact of the drop, but because the man sitting next to me, had a sudden conversion, not to Jesus, but to me… Out of the thin air, no pun intended, he was asking me if I would be praying for the flight so nothing serious would befall us and that soon we would land safely and survive. I simply told him that all he previously had said about Scripture believers was wrong and that now he was making another mistake which was to expect me to believe for him, in other words, vicariously have faith for him. I mentioned to him that I was a protestant and although I could pray for him I could not believe in his instead… that he would have to find a way to believe himself. Nervous and frightened as he was he actually babbled a small prayer, always that conditional “if you’re there God, do this and do that”. God must have heard him because we did land safely for mine and his joy!
I don’t want to stretch your permission to my “mean spiritedness” in telling you of the occasions when unbelievers called me crying out for prayer when their babies were seriously ill, another one, who owned a company where I worked, who asked me to pray for his dying mother, and another who mocked me every day he would see me calling me “padre” knowing the differences between what I was and a “padre”, a man who had been diagnosed with cancer and consulted me about praying for him, and if in my denomination we would pray for the sick. The point is, however, that unbelievers are not very convicted of their convictions. Well, they are, until they need something from the entity they despise and do not believe. This is good, not bad and not something that followers of Christ should mock, but it is just a real crack on the credibility of those who populate the Internet today to express their unbelief, mocking the Scripture and its followers. I do not see very many Scripture believing Christians resorting to pagan deities when they are in some kind of predicament, so it is fair for me to expect that, the self-proclaimed and publicly open unbelievers, more so yet, from those who make a point to mock believers in virtually everything they write, would have the same convictions; the latter should merely admit that their unbelief is temporary, until something threatens their comfort zone and attempt to refrain from mocking believers.
I am not defending ignorance and that Christians should shun intellectuality and take advantage of every moment of crisis in someone else’s life simply to act in a “I told you so…” kind of stance. Christians should be followers of Christ in whatever circumstance and find wisdom not to appear that they want others to do badly in order for them to be somehow, “attracted” to faith. Followers of Christ should never rejoice in anyone’s suffering, but suffer with them; we should bring Christ to them in their level and not take a lofty stance as if we are not subject to the same fears of suffering. The idea of taking advantage of situations where the other person is in some kind of predicament to “preach at” them and to defend the tenets of the Christian faith is not what I propose with this article. What I propose with this article and the examples herein is just to convey that most believers are fully convicted of their beliefs. Unbelievers, I doubt!
I don’t care much about getting into the details of this, but for sometime now the one and only Tony Jones has been held up as someone important in progressive/emergent circles, so much so that you’ll see him on various UMC blogs (this, I guess, counters the use of Mark Driscoll by UMC pastors). In fact, the emergents are usually idolized as the ideal “Christian.”
The problem is that Tony Jones is an abusive person. Rodney has covered his appropriation (something more common in progressive circles than you’d imagine) before. However, something else that is little known is his previous (and real) marriage to Julie McMahon. He is currently involved in another “marriage,” one that gives him “street cred,” no doubt. Anyway, she is currently very open about how Tony uses religion, his religion (sans orthodoxy, by the way) to control, abuse, and harm others. She is also accusing other well-known emergents of supporting Tony, and by supporting Tony, I mean enabling him to continue his abuse.
This is not uncommon, actually. This is how cults are formed. When one person leaves the fold to follow his/her/hen own “heart” they have declared themselves correct and unchallengeable. We can call this fundamentalism, although it is pathological (as David Howard identifies). It allows the person to do what they will, regardless of question, because that person is right. That person is God’s mouthpiece. That person is god.
Be careful. Tony and Mark Driscoll aren’t that far apart in theological practice. When you admire them, without hesitation, then it may be that you have a certain pathological issue within yourself.
I find it odd that Google/Wikipedia lists Tony Jones as an American Dudebro. “Dudebro/Dude Bro” is a slang term, and not one of endearment.
The price to pay for being a former Pentecostal preacher is often high and it comes in all sorts of currencies. People often look upon you as “a little of that, but not much of that other” as in “too Pentecostal for the Calvinist and too Calvinist for the Pentecostal”, a phrase that causes a few to laugh but that it is a huge roadblock if one wants to change his image into a reasonable and well balanced Christian. Bearing in mind that if you are a Christian many will find you unreasonable anyway is not something that soothes the pain of being stuck with a label that is not only slanderous but it is also an impediment for any progress in the denominational circles in America Evangeliville. There is one softer side, however, which often assuages one’s ire of such unfair state of affairs, though: That’s when people still look upon you as a superstitious Pentecostal (if there is any other kind…), and when they meet you in a public place, as a restaurant, for example, they feel that they should come to you and tell stories upon stories that are completely insane, to say the least, that cannot be substantiated, that, if true, the whole world would have known, believers and unbelievers alike, the latter, a kind that would be nothing but extinct if these stories could have been validated and authenticated. Indulge me in presenting to you a recent event and the way it ended so, perhaps, I can contribute to your day laughing quota.
Here it goes:
I am sitting in this rather popular restaurant chain and all of sudden I am reminded of what a teacher told me once about undesired encounters: “You turn on the lights and you won’t be able to control what kind of bug crawls or flies in.” A person who recognized me as a former Pentecostal preacher, but who knows how diametrically opposed I have become on the superstitious nature of Pentecostal/Charismatic faith and felt that they have to “witness” to me a few things that are happening in their hallucinating world. Needing a few inward laughs in that busy and hard day, I gave ears to the story about a certain preacher whose name I will leave off the story, in whose services God is doing something that unquestionably He is capable of doing, but one can hardly find a purpose for Him to doing it and also the results whereof, should He have really done it. “Oh, and God is filling tooth cavities in those services; the anointing (as they call not knowing that references to “anointing” in the Bible are references to the Anointed One), is so heavy that some people had their cavities filled! Isn’t that wonderful? (Expecting me to respond…) Since my silent is deadly, they continue: “Oh, and there was a diamond rain in the service! The Lord poured down a rain of diamonds in that service”. What a wonderful thing the Lord is doing through the ministry of (names the person). Now, at this point it is useful to mention that the person relating these purported Godly feats to me is doing so as if “it” was there in person (I don’t want to reveal whether “it” was a man or a woman); in other words, I was made, by the emphasis and detailed exposition of the facts that this person was there and saw the tooth fillings and the diamond rain, perhaps having picked up some gems, and all the other miracles that “it” mentioned to me and that I don’t mention here because they are common in Pentecostal/Charismatic conversations.
The Truth Comes Out
Well, still being warm-hearted to this person, I preamble a question and then asked it as so: Wow, how interesting. Listen I write in a blog in the Internet with a certain degree of readership and it wouldn’t be wonderful if I could meet some of these people with tooth fillings, obviously with their dentist records that the tooth was unfilled so as to avoid the mockery of skeptics (heh heh), and interview them, and also have someone show me one of those heavenly diamond rocks, or dust, or whatever, and photograph it since I think it would be such a blast to have these great things published and allow the public to know of them and of your preacher?. Silence! Total silence! One can expect the other to be in awe at these stories or object to them, but, ASKING EVIDENCE??? O, no, that is unusual and in the Pentecostal/Charismatic circles it is the same as “persecution and unbelief”. After all you don’t question miracles do you? Well, I don’t question miracles; I just want evidence because the miracles in the Bible had evidence that others, including unbelievers could verify!
Then, after the silence, the truth comes out: O, brother, I am sorry if I gave you the impression that I was there… that was related to me my so, and so, daughter. Okay, I continue my pursuit of authentication, and say: My I have an address, a name that I can search of this person so I can verify these miracles and publish them? A few seconds of the same silence as before and then… “Well, I don’t know if “their” daughter was there, I think someone who was there told her. But why in the world do you want to publish this?” Well, beloved, (see I am nice), don’t you think that if God is doing these things today they shouldn’t be in the papers, on TV, on Bill O’Reilly, Oprah, so the world could know what a mighty God we serve (alluding to one of their chorus)? Don’t you think that would be good for people seeking God to “seek him even harder”? (I am NOT entrapping anyone… I am looking for authentication). O, brother, (here we go again), unfortunately I can’t tell you because it is something that I heard from a very good person who is really a powerful sister in the Lord… (and then the illogical challenge): “Why do you want to see proof anyway; don’t you believe that God is capable of doing these things?” I have a prepared answer for this kind of question that I used to Mormons when they ask me if I doubt that Jesus had power to come to the Americas and present the Gospel to natives): “O, I believe He has all the power, He is all powerful, including the power to end the world right now and kill us right now, but, is He doing it or has He done it already?” Usually I get silence, but what I got was a shift on the conversation to the political situation in this country…
How it spreads and become believable?
What I am trying to relate here is a true fact. People will relate these things to others of the same like faith (or what they call faith) and it will spread as uphill fire or and downhill water, just as fast and deadly. People who believe as this person does will never challenge anything and will hurry in relating to others the same story and always presenting it as if they were physically in the place where these events took place. As such, these stories spread and the breath, width, heights that they go are now damaged by something involving the name of God and the faith of Christians that cannot be substantiated by facts and not supported by evidence. What they really want, as all sycophants want, is to convey the idea of familiarity with the minister in whose services these things are happening and find a social acceptance among those who believe the same way they do… As dogs sniffing the other dogs backside, these people use these stories to find their pack (no offense to the dogs).
How it ended?
I could finish my meal with the certainty that such person would go home and reflect on the meaning of evidence as I enjoyed my so much needed inward laugh aware that I was laughing at a tragedy and not at a comedy; the tragedy of misplaced faith and the deceitfulness in the ministry; I was also aware that I was mocking and mocking is a often a sin and took the opportunity to pray for that person, asked forgiveness for mocking, as I thanked Him for exclusively by His Grace, removing from the circles where people think that God needs to endear Himself with miracles so people can believe Him, and that the message of the Gospel, in its less adorned and sugarcoated way is not enough for Him to do His work in saving those whom He will save, and that I am no better than that person other than the Grace that God bestowed upon me saving me when I was a disgraceful sinner occupying His pulpit! While I chewed another bite of a baked salmon, since God doesn’t mind me speaking with my mouth full, I prayed for the story teller in front of me and I prayed for me that I would never feel compelled, by any situation in my life to go back to the vomit of Pentecostal/Charismatic superstitions.
Laughed with me?
If I really contributed to your laughing quota of the day, I have also contributed to your need to pray for yourself as it happened to me; so use this post as an opportunity to do so.
In the thick of the street festival, some demonstrators used the occasion to get their message out. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have heard about your dilemma. Trust me, I have. You’re sick and tired of hearing about how you can’t criticize your senior pastor, because “Touch not my annointed.” Every Sunday you feel like you want to leave, but you can’t. Once you make the decision to leave, this open letter will be for you. So, here’s a few pieces of (unsolicited) advice for when you make the drastic move.
Fundamentalist churches rely on closed cultures. Not only do fundamentalists believe that their religious beliefs are absolutely true, they believe that the surrounding culture is evidence of those beliefs, for better or worse. Cultural hegemony is a part of fundamentalist religions, whether they be Christianity or atheism. The best way to resist the idolization of culture, say the dominant cultural norms in the U.S., for example is to learn to appreciate diversity. Many seekers who desire to leave evangelicalism/fundamentalism will begin to see a whole new world open to them, but unfortunately it will not be from a cross-cultural perspective. My advice would be to seek out friendships not just with persons who look like you, but also persons who you probably despised as a fundamentalist. Take risks, reject the cultural boundaries and the racist stereotypes you heard about from congregants, and not only become friends with Persons of Color. Listen to our concerns, fellowship with us in our communities. Consider perhaps the more nuanced perspective that the problem with fundamentalism was not just about much of the legalism that goes on, but also the promoting of American empire that goes with it.
As an aspiring pastor someday, I understand the need for both self-care and pastoral care in people’s lives. So I am not going to take it lightly when I say this: if you feel that you need to take a break from attending institutional church services, then do it. A number of persons who leave fundamentalism is because of the spiritual and sexual abuse found within the culture of fundamentalist churches. If the local churches in your surrounding area are not likely to be safe places for you to seek the LORD, I would suggest going the organic church route. Be sure that you stay in a spiritual community, because we can’t do it alone. No one can. Find at least one person you believe you can confide in. If this is a case of abuse, I would recommend contacting the local authorities.
The thing to remember is that if you are a person searching for an escape out of fundamentalist bondage, is that you are never alone. There are thousands of persons like you with a similar story. That being said, be discerning in who you read after you have “officially” arrived in PostEvangelical Land. When it comes to millenials especially, there is not ONE person who represents or speaks for us. Not. One. A number of postevangelical leaders see themselves as the future of Christianity. Having a blog and a couple of book deals, or speaking at a few conferences does not entitle anyone to having a monopoly on what it means to be an ex-fundamentalist. There are many ways to be in community with others without having to adopt labels like “missional” or “emergent” etc. Evaluate all of your options, but don’t pat yourself on the back for it. Learn. Grow. Move on.
There are a number of toxic communities that hate-watch Christianity. Do not be a part of them. Your healing does not need to rely on hating the very person you once were. The key is to accept a nuanced and critical view of yourself in the past, and not to live there. You don’t want to be shamed into hating your former life, and therefore shaming your probable family members/friends who are still caught up in fundamentalist culture.
Fifth, I would ask that you give peace a chance. Given the fact that fundamentalism requires a culture of violence, and sometimes even pronounced admiration for warfare, the traditional nonviolent ethics first embraced by the early Church and on through the centuries is a valid alternative to fundamentalism’s violence, epistemological, or other.
Lastly, go to a library. Google. Research. Study the early church. Learn Hebrew or Greek. Know that your story of leaving fundamentalism is more than about you. It’s about recognizing that Christianity is a centuries old tradition that was birthed out of Judaism. The story of Christ and his work is much larger than we can ever express or imagine. God is bigger than our idols.
Everyone repeats the same line: Sunday is the most segregated day of the week, and remains so. Why does some Christians fight so hard for racial justice, and others do not? This is a question that has been going through my mind a lot recently. God made all human beings in God’s image, the Imago Dei. Every person is of invaluable worth. This is an enduring truth of Christian tradition passed on for centuries. Racism is a denial of not only the Imago Dei in every human being, but also, a denial of Christ’s resurrection. In order for racism to be a persistent force in U.S. American politics, systems of death targeting specific populations (primarily People of Color) must take root as the norm. When they go unchallenged by the Church, that is a denial of the Gospel, the Good News of Christ’s victory of sin, Satan, and death, and God’s work of reconciling us to each other.
One of the many sins that Christians refuse to repent of is that of the genocide of First Nations persons. These wars and injustices are relegated to the past, as professor Andrea Smith points out, rather than instances of the present as well. Smith puts it this way, “One possible reason that the “exception” of Native genocide is not fully explored is that it is relegated to the past. That is, Omi and Winant argue that the United States has shifted from a racial dictatorship characterised by “the mass murder and expulsion of indigenous peoples” to a racial democracy in which “the balance of coercion began to change”.9 Essentially, the problem of Native genocide and settler colonialism today disappears.” for more see : Indigeneity, Settler Colonialism, White Supremacy. The laws in which our First Nations sisters and brothers live under were made under the presumption that, #1, Native Americans were not Christian, and therefore not American, and #2, that First Nations people were not competent enough to rule themselves. Unfortunately, Christians in the past as well as today are far more invested in the nation-state than they were/are in the Gospel. What we as the Church need is a commitment to the Gospel of the Unsettling God who calls us to oppose the White Supremacist nation-state for the cause of justice, and to work towards a more just and loving community.
Have you seen the video, with the apocryphal ending (like Job or Esther) that makes it better?
This is what she said,
“I just want to encourage every one of us to realize when we obey God, we’re not doing it for God—I mean, that’s one way to look at it—we’re doing it for ourselves, because God takes pleasure when we’re happy. That’s the thing that gives Him the greatest joy. So, I want you to know this morning: Just do good for your own self. Do good because God wants you to be happy. When you come to church, when you worship Him, you’re not doing it for God really. You’re doing it for yourself, because that’s what makes God happy. Amen?”
Yes, it is a heresy, stupid, and wrong. But, so is the Arianism of liberal Christianity, the gnosticism (rejection of the good of the material world) of fundamentalism, and the denial of the Trinity of oneness folks. This is simply American Christianity.
Why are we judging her for speaking power to what too many people believe is the truth? She’s not at fault; we are. Recent studies have shown that pastors would rather be successful than preach Christian orthodoxy. People would rather be told the world revolves around them. Americans are laughed at because we often have this air around us that nothing outside this border matters. What Victoria said is exactly what too many people believe already. She is simply being the pastor many want.
Don’t blame her. Blame those who don’t teach orthodoxy, who don’t want to hear it — blame those who want to give an hour a week to God and expect him to pay out money in return. Blame civic religion.