Rethinking Joy

A dark night of the soul is this, sans light bulb.

It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned my dark night of the soul. The news is, I’m still in it. And where I am is black. Pitch black. Moonless, starless, candle-less nothingness. I’ve never experienced a crisis of faith quite this deep, long or disconcerting. I’m not sure where the end of this thing is.

The other day, I asked myself what it would look like if I really loved myself. All of myself. The way God loves me. And in that moment, 90% of my theology fell apart. I realized that while I had experienced some of the best things in my church upbringing, I had also experienced some of the worst. There’s very little room for self-love or self-acceptance (let alone acceptance of others) in the doctrine of my denomination. I was always taught the JOY acronym: Jesus first, others second, yourself last. Except, like much of everything in evangelicalism, it’s arranged in a hierarchy. JOY is spelled vertically. Jesus is at the top, others are below that, and you are the bottom of the totem pole. It’s the trickle-down economics of love. You give most of your devotion to Jesus, then some to others, and hopefully have enough for yourself afterwards. Continue reading

On Chewing Up Meat and Spitting Out Bones

Image from garmaonhealth.com

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my beef (no pun intended) with the book Love & Respect by Emerson Eggerichs. I wasn’t terribly surprised when a few commenters responded in favor of the book, saying it had helped them tremendously. If the reviews on Amazon are any indication, the book has apparently helped a good many people. I certainly won’t discount those experiences.

However, that does not make the doctrine the book is based upon sound or biblical. The book may have some mutual submission-sounding guidelines sprinkled in its text, but readers encounter Eggerichs’ true premise on the cover – before they even pluck the book from the shelf – and that premise becomes the (unbiblical) framework for everything that follows. THAT is the problem. Continue reading

Why I Abandoned Fundamentalism

from becuo.com

It was a normal day at my little Baptist school kindergarten. We had colored and napped, ate our snacks, reviewed numbers and letters, and even spent a lesson on telling time. We had just put away our sleeping mats when my teacher, Mrs. Edna, called us to attention.

“Children, I want to take a few moments to tell you about Jesus.”

I perked up. Jesus? I had heard about him at home and at church, but I hadn’t concerned myself much with him. He was that guy the adults prayed to and talked about so much. What did he have to do with me?
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The Slippery Slope of Compassion

from xkcd.com

In my last post, I pointed out that the conservative evangelical church has a listening problem. Instead of paying heed to the chorus of voices stating concerns and asking to be heard, evangelical leaders invent their own reasons for why Millennials are leaving the church (among other things) and trumpet them as fact. Loudly and ad nauseum.

As I thought it over, I realized that this antipathy to listening is built into the far right evangelical worldview. The trigger word in evangelicalism is “compromise,” and the faithfulness of every believer is judged by how much he or she is “compromising” with the world. Listening to secular music? Compromise. Kissing while dating? Compromise. Attending a secular college? Compromise.

The eager young evangelical is conditioned to avoid compromise at any cost. After all, you wouldn’t want anyone thinking that you approved of smoking by seeing you in the company of your smoking friends, right? But worse than that, compromising will lead you straight down the slippery slope to sin. One moment you’re reading Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance for a homework assignment, and the next you’re running off to join an atheist commune in socialist Europe.
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The Immodesty of Modesty Teachings

I know I have a series I’m supposed to be finishing up, but…sometimes…you just happen across something that begs a response. One of these days, someone is going to accuse me of grinding axes. Well, they can, because I do have an ax to grind. It’s called NO MORE OPPRESSING THE SAINTS WITH UNBIBLICAL TEACHING! That’s an ax I will grind until it becomes a toothpick.

So by now, you’re probably wondering what has my dander up. It’s this article by Pastor Rick Hermann entitled “The Theology of Yoga Pants.” It was published last spring, but I think it still deserves a response. Primarily, because 30 more articles just like it will appear in the blogosphere this year (as they do every year) the moment the average national temperature reaches 72 degrees. Continue reading