• From Christmas Cheer to Fear

    From Christmas Cheer to Fear

    My husband and I used to take our kids to visit relatives in Texas every Christmas. The kids were happy to see their cousins and get presents, and they were even happy to see the older relatives, too. As for me, I was able to slog through the constant barrage of arrogance, rudeness, embarrassment, complaining, grouchiness, and gossip from certain relatives with the help of the Lord God almighty, long walks, frequent trips to the grocery store, and daily wine consumption. These same difficult relatives were also Trump admirers, which I could tolerate at this point. This all changed with COVID.

    The emails, texts and calls started as a trickle.

    Don’t worry, things won’t be as bad as the news says.
    This is a plan from the democrats to make Trump look bad.

    It turned quickly into a waterfall of conspiracy.

    Fauci is the devil.
    The virus is fake!
    It’s a plan-demic!

    One day, they said the vaccine had microchips. The next day, the vaccine made you infertile. Which was it? All of them? There was something about Bill Gates being in on it. Yes, all part of his evil plan to make us switch from Mac to PC. They begged us not to vaccinate our children. That one really burned my biscuits.

    This was all combined with a growing fervor for Trump and paranoia of the liberal agenda to ruin America. We live in California, so naturally, we have been tainted by the libs. They needed to save us by sending us warnings about how the schools in California were confusing kids about their gender and leading them in ancient Aztec worship ceremonies. We responded, “Sorry, we all worship Aztec gods now, and our kids are still awesome! Don’t worry, they haven’t been sacrificed, yet.”

    Over this time period we became inundated in right-wing, fundamentalist Christian books sent for the kids. There was a Rush Limbaugh book introducing Christian Nationalism, with a fun time-traveling adventure starring Rush himself and a talking horse named Liberty. So whimsical! Then, there was a 20 pound stack of picture books that had that signature low-rent Veggie Tales vibe to the illustrations. My favorite were the gender specific books teaching my son and daughter how to fit into narrow and outdated gender roles in the name of Jesus. My husband and I were drowning in their jet-stream of right wing conspiracy fundamentalist diarrhea. Needless to say, we haven’t gone to visit these people in 3 years.

    I think my conspiracy theorist relatives are brainwashed. They also think I am brainwashed. To them, they are Neo, and I’m stuck in the Matrix goo. Well, if they watched The Matrix, which I’m pretty sure they did not because they only watch Alex Jones, Fox News, old westerns, and the Hallmark Channel. Some of them even conflate their CT (conspiracy theorist) beliefs with their spirituality. You see, my husband and I are not real Christians because we don’t believe in said theories.

    To be clear: I think they are brainwashed into believing conspiracy theories, and they think I am brainwashed into not believing said theories. Based on this, there is no argument that could convince them to change their mind. What might work however, is an appeal to what outcomes these differences of opinion lead to.

    Countless stories detail how families are torn apart by CT beliefs. This is usually due to the non-CTs distancing themselves in order to protect their mental health. There are many news stories and articles that link deep belief in current popular conspiracy theories to acts of violence. Many people are reporting increased marital strife from their CT spouse. There are several cases about CT men who have threatened or even killed their children because of these beliefs. CT thinking also contributed to the violence on January 6th. The most notable are the cases of Matthew Taylor Coleman, who murdered his children because he believed they were tainted with lizard people DNA, and Guy Reffitt, who intimidated his children when he thought they might reveal his participation in the January 6th Capitol riot.

    As far as acts of violence or discord being linked to people not believing in conspiracy theories, I hear the sound of crickets at twilight. There has never been, nor will there ever be a person who thinks “wow, the mainstream news and government are moderately trustworthy, this makes me want to cause a scene at McDonald’s and/or Walmart, possibly involving public defecation.” Their trust in the government, news, and doctors is not 100%, nor should it be, but it is high enough to ensure that they stay calm enough in the day to day to make rational decisions.

    The thing is, if you have zero trust in the government, mainstream news, and the medical and scientific community, and also believe that there is a extremely powerful and organized group controlling all these institutions and drinking tortured children’s blood, the natural reaction is to flip out and start murdering people. Invade the Capitol and pound on some police officers with flag poles? Oh, ya gotta! That actually makes a lot of sense to me, and that is why I am terrified of my CT relatives. I envision us visiting them for Christmas and getting stabbed because they believe that we are not ourselves but clones or some wacky shit.

    CTs are convinced that all hell has broken loose and the destruction of society is nigh, but the truth is, they are bringing the hell and causing great destruction to themselves and society. I personally don’t miss our holiday visits, but I am sad for my kiddos because Christmas will never be the same for them again.

  • Blessed are the Baby Makers

    Blessed are the Baby Makers

    Popular Christian culture perpetuates traditional gender roles, such as women being the baby makers, and men being the saviors. I do not think this is what God intended. Biblical interpretation is like reading an Ikea manual.

    First of all, it is really hard to understand. In the way that the manual has no words but must be interpreted, we must also interpret ancient holy texts through many layers of obfuscation. You can definitely put the bookshelf together, but it also takes a lot of common sense and external experience, and not a literal interpretation.

    In the Bible, God and Jesus are depicted as males. Mary is the most venerated female figure because she is Jesus’ mother. These are the two biggest focuses that popular Christianity has concerning gender roles. As for the issue of God being a he, I don’t think God has a gender. It makes no sense. Making God a man, to me, was a construct of a male-dominated society.

    I personally use he for convenience, and to make my ministry of breaking down toxic Christian culture have a greater reach. Using he for God is so ingrained in Christianity that if I were to use she or they/them, I know I would instantly lose a big portion of what few readers I have. Baby steps, y’all.

    This interpretation of the Bible is not what God intended. By putting traditional gender expectations on people, we are putting God in a box. God is limitless by definition. Did God not make us in his image? If we understand souls as being infinite beings, merely living on Earth in temporary bodies, then why are roles based on biological differences so important? Believing this, shouldn’t the soul, the inner self, take precedence in self-expression?

    Genders and sexuality were created by God to be functional — to make life enjoyable and for reproduction. The gender roles of any given society are created by people, not God. There is an important distinction. I believe that rules in society are there for a reason — to provide maximum well-being and freedom for its citizens. But the rules need to make sense.

    If a biological man feels like he has the mind and soul of a woman, who can tell them not to live their life as an expression of this? If this human feels broken as a man but functional as a woman, who should take that happiness away from them?

    If a woman does not want to be a baby maker, is she less valuable? Abortion is considered by many to be a grave sin because they feel women are meant to be babymakers — it is who they are and they cannot be separated from that role. If they don’t have babies, then what worth do they have? (In this post, I am not making a statement about whether abortion is right or wrong. I am just examining the logic behind popular Christian culture.)

    The way that I see the view of conservatives is that if presented with a woman who had an abortion and a woman who had been charged with involuntary manslaughter for killing someone with reckless driving, they would say that the former is way worse of a sin than the latter. Who are these people to be the sin police, anyway?

    Personally, I have decided to embrace the role of the mother and primary caretaker. Many women do. I also recognize that this is not for every woman, and those that choose not to do this are just as valuable to society and loved by God. Think of the centuries when “old maids” were the butt of jokes and women were bound to relegated servitude. It spanned all classes — even princesses functioned as objects, given as gifts to other nations as a babymaker peace-offering.

    So what is the best way of knowing God’s will? The Bible is a great and valuable resource, but it should never take a backseat to common sense. Do we have no respect for God’s creation? Our minds and bodies are a masterful wonder of his work. Yes, evil exists in many people, but to say that every person’s moral sense is inherently defective is not true or healthy. This belief sets people up to be mind controlled by religious leaders and to not think for themselves. Value common sense. Use it and speak out against institutionalized hypocrisy and unfairness. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did?

  • A Trip on the Trump Express

    A Trip on the Trump Express

    Yes, I believe that God chose Trump to be the president, it was all part of the plan — a plan to expose a festering cancer that lives deep in the body of American Evangelical Christian culture. The Trump presidency exposed a vocal group of people on the religious right to be seen for who they really are — people who call themselves Christians, but are fueled by their fear of and hatred for minorities, gays, and liberals.

    A group that has existed and used religion for purposes of power and pride for decades. Through their words and actions, these Christian Trump supporters have shown who they really serve (Hint: not God). Before I call out this group by name, let’s look at Trump supporters as a whole.

    Who are Trump supporters? Not the people who may have once supported him, but the long-haul diehards who are still on board the Trump train. We know that he still scores big points with people who:

    Toot toot! All abooaaarrrd! Ticket please, and take a seat. You look around the train interior. Who do you see? Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and ALL the QAnon people. But wait, no, could it be? You see a group in the back, mostly White, toting Bibles, proclaiming the power of the blood of Jesus (but not much about what he actually taught), and dictating their will through megaphones across the American landscape.

    The White evangelical fundamentalists are here, and they seem really pumped! They don’t seem the least bit bothered by the other passengers. By all rights, they should be ashamed to associate with the violent and hateful, and with those who bow to the idol of conspiracy theories. Instead, they are proud, and they are loud!

    They do not even try to hide their self-serving nature but have rather warped scripture to justify it. White evangelical fundamentalists have been exposed. Those who consider themselves as such but do not support Trump are in the minority and are silent, and their silence is equal to complicity.

    There are many people who identify as Christian but are not on the Trump train. As one of them, I have a responsibility to call out the hypocrisy of those claiming to follow Christ and his example, who have in reality lifted up Trump as their new messiah.

    These toxic people, Christian in culture, but not in their hearts, have been exposed to the world for who they really are, and it’s time for the rest of the American Church to detach, denounce, and detoxify.

  • The Curious Case of the COVID Conspiracy Christian

    The Curious Case of the COVID Conspiracy Christian

    Illustration by MartypeCo / Envato Elements, edited by the author

    I know some Christians who believe that the COVID-19 pandemic was planned. They don’t know the who or the how. They have a lot of theories, and as for proof, no sorry, they don’t have that. Despite this, they are sure they know the why: to control people, especially Christians. I am writing this, curious reader, as much for myself as to inform you. I needed to think this through so that I could try to understand this type of thinking, so that I can guard myself from making the same mistake, and perhaps try to change minds with love and logic.

    The COVID conspiracy narrative makes it easier for people to cope with change. It is less scary to them to think that a pandemic was planned than to think that God would allow such a thing to happen in their lifetime. It also makes them feel special, because they feel persecuted for being righteous (better than others). Another benefit of the Christian persecution complex is that it justifies bad behavior. I can be a little mean and angry, after all, look what’s being done to me!

    Everything comes at a cost, and conspiracy thinking prevents Christians from reflecting the love of God in their words, actions, and prayers. They pray for Christians to “win” by owning the libs, and to be prosperous with health and wealth, when instead they should be praying for those who are hurting from the pandemic, those who are sick, and those who have lost a loved one. They have missed the point of prayer — a way to soften your heart so that you can reject fear, anger, and trauma, and learn to open up in empathy to other people. To engage in transactions that feed souls with genuine care and kindness, which in turn feeds our own. Instead, their hearts are hardened, even as they pray. They demand things from God — they claim healing of physical ailments that they believe is their right. I don’t believe in demanding things from God, but asking nicely is okay, and I think that this is best to do privately. When praying healing over someone publicly and repeatedly, if healing doesn’t come, it is abusive to the sick person, especially if they are a child because it makes them think that they did something wrong, or that they are spiritually defective. It is better to pray for God to show you how to support that person through their illness, in practical ways. One of the things that I love about my non-Christian friends is that they never pray for me. Isn’t that funny? What it means is that I never feel judged by them. When something is going wrong with me, they just listen, and provide support.

    Conspiracy thinking prevents Christians from behaving with consideration for others. They believe that since the pandemic is planned, masks are not necessary. This one is maddening, because they have seen people be sick and die — they have been sick with COVID themselves most likely, so they know the virus is real and spreads through the air. The mask, to them, is another form of control from the mystery oppressor. They also don’t feel the need to get vaccinated to help slow transmission. They often point to how the current strain of the virus has outpaced the vaccines, which is a poor argument against their usefulness. The vaccines have been shown to create a less severe infection, as well as to prevent the likelihood of death, and scientifically speaking, if we had higher vaccination rates early on, the virus would have had less chances to spread and evolve. This goes beyond excuses for laziness, into the realm of aggression. It is a rejection of science, one of God’s greatest gifts.

    Shout out to my Christian friends who are very responsible and caring, in every way. When you pray for me and with me, all I feel is compassion, and I am so grateful for you! It is my prayer that COVID conspiracy Christians will be able to let go of fear, pride and their persecution complex, so that nothing can stand in the way of them showing real love and kindness to others in practical ways. And I hope that they also pray for me, because I want to be perfect, just like them.

  • The Christian Extremism Problem

    The Christian Extremism Problem

    Violent extremism is quickly condemned by the Republican party when it is driven by organizations whose politics differs from theirs, or when they are affiliated with non-Christian religions. There was no shortage of Islamophobia after 9/11. A report by the Center for American Progress showed that a network of misinformation experts actively promoted anti-Muslim rhetoric in America. https://news.gallup.com/poll/157082/islamophobia-understanding-anti-muslim-sentiment-west.aspx 

  • A Test of Logic in the Matter of Abortion

    A Test of Logic in the Matter of Abortion

    Fundamentalist: Abortion is wrong.

    Me: Is it wrong all the time?

    Fundamentalist: Well…if a woman’s life is in danger, then it is ok. (77% of White evangelicals think abortion should be legal in some cases)

    Me: Why is that?

  • Do You Remember When Christians…

    Do You Remember When Christians…

    God’s Word is unchanging, but the interpretation of it is not. There are many examples from history to show us how a misunderstanding of the Bible has been used to excuse bad behavior. When the Bible is misunderstood, it is used as away for people to justify abuse and control of others, often to the detriment of the marginalized and disenfranchised. This is important to study so that Christians today can recognize and temper their own potential to misinterpret scripture.

  • The Hierarchy of Beliefs

    The Hierarchy of Beliefs

    When someone asks me if I am pro-life or pro-choice, I hesitate to answer. Not just because I have 50/50 chance of getting my head chewed off, but because it is an inaccurate way to understand what makes someone tick. Beliefs need to be understood as a hierarchy. Some take precedence over others, no matter what some people may believe to the contrary. Everyone holds beliefs that contradict each other sometimes, depending on the scenario at hand. And when these contradictions happen, the order of importance of the beliefs must shift.

  • The Musicality of the Gospel

    The Musicality of the Gospel

    Today’s post was inspired by my daughter’s band performance. I enjoyed it immensely. Did I enjoy it because they played perfectly? No. From a strict critique of musicality, it was terrible. But I was in band once, so I understand how difficult it is to learn music, and I also realize that these are children. So in that light, their performance filled me with pride, joy, and inspiration, and I think they did an amazing job. Now imagine you paid Beyoncé prices to see this group play, you also have no knowledge of music, and you have the impression that this group of musicians are experienced professionals offering something of the highest quality. How do you feel as you hear the first sour notes? Irritated? Offended? Ripped off?

  • About Me

    About Me

    I am by no means an expert on the Bible. My failures in Christianity began when I attended a private Baptist school. Most kids had their row on the Bible verse memorization chart filled with star stickers. In all of 2nd grade, I had only managed to memorize one verse. I remember looking at the shiny star stickers with longing. I wanted to do well. I wanted to be good. But because of an undiagnosed learning difference, I had a very difficult time with things that were simple for most kids, including memorization. And because I seemed normal enough to my peers, parents, and teachers, I was just seen as lazy and odd.