Monday, October 10, 2022

Color me skeptical, but I think Jesus needs more than a new PR campaign:

“Lee is one of the chief architects of the “He Gets Us” campaign, a $100 million effort to redeem Jesus’ brand from the damage done by his followers, especially those who say one thing and then do another.

Launched earlier this year, ads featuring black-and-white online videos about Jesus as a rebel, an activist or a host of a dinner party have been viewed more than 300 million times, according to organizers. Billboards with messages like “Jesus let his hair down, too” and “Jesus went all in, too,” have also been posted in major markets like New York City and Las Vegas.”

This all sounds fine and dandy, but I suppose like with everything else evangelical, the devil is in the details. Does the He Gets Us Jesus love queer people as they are? Do they believe Jesus loves you even when your theology isn’t up to evangelical muster? Can you be woke and still have Jesus get you? Can you believe that humans didn’t walk the earth alongside dinosaurs? That critical race theory is US history and not an abomination to “correct theology?”

What stands out as a red flag for me is this bit:

“Those who see the ads can contact the campaign and get connected with Bible study resources to check out the story of Jesus for themselves, he said.”

So the answer to Jesus’ PR problem is… Bible Study? It’s not getting people connected to people who are trying to live out the teachings of Jesus through service or activism. It’s – more doctrine. Which is just about the most evangelical thing ever.

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Attention, Glenn Youngkin:

”For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the gentiles do the same?”

And, in a non-bizarro world, Christians, who in theory follow a messiah who spent his ministry caring for the outcast and oppressed, would see trans kids just trying to be who God made them to be not as enemies but as beloved.

Thursday, September 15, 2022

In the wake of two Republican governors dehumanizing asylum seekers as a means of scoring political points, I offer Psalm 14 as the appropriate prayer for the Christians who overwhelmingly support their party:

“Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt; they do abominable deeds;
there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind
to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God.
They have all gone astray; they are all alike perverse;
there is no one who does good,
no, not one.
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the Lord?
There they shall be in great terror,
for God is with the company of the righteous.
You would confound the plans of the poor,
but the Lord is their refuge.
O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

Who Was Jesus Today?

So, who was actually Jesus today? Ron DeSantis and his band of evangelicals cheering on his owning of the libs, or the people of Martha’s Vineyard, many of whom were probably not Christian at all, who stepped up to help? Who ends the day justified in the eyes of God?

The entire evangelical concept that you can pray a prayer and then live your life as a complete asshole and go to heaven while people who actually love and serve people but haven’t prayed that prayer go to hell is ludicrous on its face. And it’s not what Jesus taught either.

Don’t worry though, asshole Christians. My Jesus is going to make you new as well, although it may hurt a little bit when you find out you spent your entire life investing in things that won’t last.

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Apparently, it’s Christians Behaving Badly Thursday here on the blog.

First up, we have the Kansas teacher who misgendered one of her transgender students, was suspended, and then was rewarded with a $95,000 ruling against the district. And then she had the audacity to blame Jesus:

“Ms. Ricard is a Christian and holds sincere religious beliefs consistent with the traditional Christian and biblical understanding of the human person and biological sex,” the lawsuit said. “Ms. Ricard believes that God created human beings as either male or female, that this sex is fixed in each person from the moment of conception, and that it cannot be changed, regardless of an individual person’s feelings, desires, or preferences.”

Apparently, holding “traditional Christian” beliefs is code for treating people like shit. No one asked you to change your theology, ma’am, although your theology does deny modern science as well as fail to read scripture in light of the context it was written. But what does it hurt you to call someone what they want to be called?

Also, Ms. Ricard, love your neighbor as yourself is a traditional Christian and biblical understanding, but apparently you don’t like that one.

Secondly, there’s this:

“The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that religious freedom rights protect the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Indianapolis from being sued by a teacher who was fired from his job at a Catholic high school for being in a same-sex marriage.
Joshua Payne-Elliott argued in his lawsuit that archdiocese leaders wrongfully forced his firing in 2019 from his job of 13 years as a world language and social studies teacher at Cathedral High School in Indianapolis by mandating that all Catholic schools under its purview enforce a morality clause barring employees from entering into same-sex marriages.”

Traditionalists are going to continue to see their churches hemorrhage people until their theology catches up with the science. Families will continue to be forced to choose between their church and their gay kid, and increasingly will choose their kid (which is the correct answer, both from a human standpoint AND from a Jesus standpoint).

By the way, approximately 1 in 6 Zoomers (AKA Gen Z) identify as LGBTQIA+, which means that the average family will have at least one queer member in a few years. So you either end up with that LGBTQIA+ family member getting pushed out of the church, or the entire family deciding they’re going to support their kid and leave en masse. The math is not in the favor of the “traditional understanding.”

I have every confidence that in the end, when the church finally reads the scriptures through the lens of love rather than the lens of legalism and tribalism, it will finally come to the conclusion that like with geocentrism, the crusades, the Doctrine of Discover, slavery, patriarchy and so many other ways it was wrong, it was wrong on the issue of LGBTQIA+ inclusion and affirmation. I just wonder if there will be any people left in the church by the time it realizes that.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Once again, it’s Church Schism day on the blog. The next group of heretics that should be cast out into utter darkness: “rad-trad” Christian Nationalist Catholics:

“Just as the AR-15 rifle has become a sacred object for Christian nationalists in general, the rosary has acquired a militaristic meaning for radical-traditional (or “rad trad”) Catholics. On this extremist fringe, rosary beads have been woven into a conspiratorial politics and absolutist gun culture. These armed radical traditionalists have taken up a spiritual notion that the rosary can be a weapon in the fight against evil and turned it into something dangerously literal.”

The True Church follows the crucified Christ who told his disciples that those who live by the sword die by the sword. Anything else is heresy and should be treated as such. It’s time for a good church schism.

Friday, August 5, 2022

This Tweet from @preston_shipp was too good for me to not only unroll but to quote in its entirety here:

”I think the Bible is a collection of diverse literature, authored and compiled by pre-scientific human beings, writing in different cultures and languages and for different purposes, trying to make sense of life with a God that they, and we, will never comprehend. 1/6

Not everything the Bible says about God is true. While the authors were inspired to write about God, they got some things wrong in their attempts to understanding a God we’ll never grasp. But sometimes the Bible contains truths so beautiful and profound that we memorize them. 2/6

Discerning what is helpful and good and true in the Bible from what is harmful and destructive is the work of communities of faith, led by the God of whom the biblical authors write. We trust that God is present in the ongoing conversation about God. 3/6

So we give thanks for the Bible, but we do not worship it. The Bible, like the Sabbath, was made for human beings. It is a wonderful sign pointing to God, imperfectly of course, and there are other signs we also pay attention to. 4/6

We respect the Bible, but we do not serve it. We learn from it, but we keep it in its proper place. After all, many faithful Christians either existed before the Bible was assembled, have been unable to read, or lived before there was widespread access to Bibles. 5/6

We also recognize that God is not a Christian. God is not the captive of any one tradition. Other traditions contain profound truths about God, and we’re secure enough to learn from them, even as we seek God through our own scriptures, sacraments, rituals, etc. 6/6”

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Given their wholesale embrace of the snake oil Donald Trump sold them, I fully expect that the Christian cryptocurrency will be a big hit among evangelicals.

Some of the things I remember most fondly about my evangelical days are the times I crossed paths with John Perkins, his ideas, and his ministries. His book Let Justice Roll Down led me to spend a few years living in the inner city helping tutor kids and learn from our neighbors. I was even able to spend an evening with him as part of a church “justice” conference (back when evangelicals didn’t vilify people as “social justice warriors”) I had been involved in putting on. If evangelicalism wants to reclaim its soul, following the example of Saint John Perkins would be a good place to start.

Enough niceties about evangelicalism. Here’s yet another article where evangelicals are making a better argument for atheism than the atheists. Hate is never a good look, especially when the messiah you claimed to follow talked so much about love.

If churches (Catholic or otherwise) are going to spend money to influence elections, then they should be taxed.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Okay, don’t ask me how I came across this article, but it was posted on John Piper’s website and the title was too delicious for me to not dive into it:

”Why Is Christian Unity So Hard?

Could it possibly be that Piper and his Calvinist fellow-travelers were actually going to try to make a serious attempt at reaching across the doctrinal barriers that, to be honest, they have mostly erected, in order to try to make common cause with other Christians that don’t think like them? Yeah, that idea lasted about two sentences:

”Mentioning tears tells you I’m not talking about disunity in the church in general. I’m talking about disunity in churches we know and love, and between Christians we know and love.”

“And for the most part, I’m not talking about disunity fueled by higher-level disagreements over primary Christian doctrines (ones that define the bounds of Christianity) or even secondary doctrines (ones that define, say, the bounds of a denomination). I’m talking about the far more common kind of disunity fueled by the endless variety of conflicts that break apart relationships, and even whole churches, because earnest, sincere Christians fail to humbly, gently, patiently “bear with one another in love” and cease being “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3).”

Ah, got it. So it’s not disunity between parts of the church, it’s disunity in the One True Church that is Jon Bloom’s local congregation.

I will give him this, though. This paragraph was pretty good:

“What image did Jesus have in mind? We can see it in the previous verse: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another” (John 13:34). Jesus was about to “lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). And he told his friends (all of us) to love one another “just as I have loved you.” Jesus was envisioning a cruciform community of Christians whose sacrificial love for one another frequently required them to take “the form of a servant,” pick up their cross, and “count others more significant than themselves” (Philippians 2:3, 7).”

Maybe if he would try to apply it to people outside of his little Calvinist bubble, without setting forth doctrinal litmus tests, he might be on to something.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Postcards from Babylon, a documentary inspired by Brian Zahnd’s book of the same name, is available to watch on YouTube (for free) starting today.

“Imposter Christianity”

This article on CNN about “imposter Christianity” is a good overview of the Christian Nationalist takeover of (re-emergence from within?) white evangelicalism. But it also leaves me feeling a bit uncomfortable. I feel like it lets American Christianity off too easily. See, we’re the real Christians, and they are just imposters. But if the majority of Christians throughout this country hold to views that are compatible with Christian Nationalism, maybe the modifier isn’t necessary. It’s just that Christianity is rotten to the core and needs a wholesale teardown.

Number of times in history the church has been able to resist the temptation to abuse its privileged position in empire: 0.

Most Christians are afraid of what will happen if our society becomes largely secular like Europe. But to be honest, I welcome it. A church without power may actually have a chance to follow Jesus again.

Also, read this thread by Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg about “not real Christians”.