Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Culture Which Feeds Religious Addiction

Christian culture is so desperate for a champion. So desperate. From Tebow-mania, to Courageous, to even Rick Santorum (yes, Rick freakin' Santorum), it becomes evident that Christian culture doesn't really even need Christ to flourish. It just needs someone, or something, to champion its culture. So much addiction that it isn't funny.

I'm pretty sure Jesus is supposed to be the champion of the Christian faith - but don't let me go interrupting the cultural wars or anything. 

All it does is give Christianity an equal amount of depth as being a sports fan, placing the stars of your team on a pedestal, and investing all of your emotion into pulling for a win against the hated arch-rival. Really, modern Christianity, whether neo-conservative fundamentalist or mainstream, is no deeper than that. No deeper at all. Truth is, the people who are most vocal about certain issues have nothing more than the emotional investment of a sports fan in Christian culture and conservative politics. The rabid pro-life crowd? They don't care about the "babies being murdered", they just want their side to win - often at the expense of honesty and ethics. The anti-gay marriage crowd? Same deal. If the government allowing two gay people to marry threatens the "sanctity" of your straight marriage, your marriage is and was a joke to begin with. A housefly could pose a "threat" to it. You just want your side of the culture war to win - and any other rationalization is simply you lying to yourself and to anyone else listening.

As I've watched, listened, and participated in conversations where backlash over Cindy Kunsman's excellent review of Courageous has been going on, with so many people tying knots in their rear-ends trying to deny ANY possible link between the Sherwood/Kendrick folk and Vision Forum (despite a link within the review itself literally showing a Kendrick as an invited speaker at a VF film conference), one thing has become overwhelmingly clear to me...

Most Christians care more about their religious culture, the maintenance, nurturing, and protection of it, the safety and comfort it provides, than they do about truth or about Christ.

What happened where Courageous is concerned is that people became invested in this film because it fit within the parameters of their religious culture. Extremely invested. Good grief, my Facebook news feed nearly had a spiritual orgasm the week the movie came out. Whole churches have rented out theaters, men everywhere have signed resolutions (which frankly, make them something less than the men they should be - paper champions), purity rings and pledges (as I throw up in my mouth)...and we've found a vehicle to champion our culture...until someone comes along and shines a light on the fact that this is all Vision Forum stuff. "Impossible!", we say, because there's just no way we could be duped. Right? I mean, there's no way. [SA]

People have been threatened by Cindy's review and breakdown of the VF theology the movie promotes because, in reality, while they think they're "out", they're still eaten alive with religious addictions and they've never really left the religious culture crafted by Vision Forum - or by Gothard and any of the other Christian homeschooling movement and dominionist folk. They'd like to think they're different, but the religious addictions and allegiance to the culture mean little meaningful or lasting spiritual change.

To genuinely move beyond religious addiction, you have to forsake the culture that feeds it. It's like the people that outwardly thumb their noses at the"legalism" of the VF or Gothard crowd, yet continue in the Christian homeschooling movement, or continue in QF beliefs. You can't really separate those things. They're all part of ONE culture: the dominionist culture. If you stay in the culture, the next wave or fad or formula will suck you in and dupe you just like the last one did - the one you now think is so destructive and wrong. So many people try to keep one foot in legalism, thinking they can "fix it" if they do things slightly different than "the crazies". That's kinda like quitting a job down at McDonald's, but continuing to show up in your uniform and being offended when someone tries to order a Big Mac. It's a culture that you're either in or out of. You can't be both and be in any way healthy. It's also like trying to break a drug habit by hanging around a crack house. 

Why? Usually, it's because the external mechanisms and manifestations of the culture appeal to our need for something more than a simple faith in Christ. The same way Courageous appeals to the religious addict, i.e., it isn't good enough to do the right thing simply because it's the right thing, but instead, we need a ceremony and we need to sign a resolution to do the right thing? What shallow and useless faith. Totally useless. Dear God, do we need to turn our brains on and grow up.

Maybe THE most compelling part of Cindy's review seems to have done a fly-by in the exchanges I've seen...

In real life, these formulaic practices tend to degrade into extremes of legalism which compete with balanced Christian living over time. As Vyckie Garrison notes, because the father-centered ideology redefines balance as sinful mediocrity and compromise to be resisted at all costs under most all circumstances, her family “did NOT want to be balanced.” This is a core symptom of dysfunction found in families affected by addiction, a pattern of behavior that Vision Forum teaches as God's ordained plan for godly living.

That's it in a nutshell, people. When is a simple faith, a simple gospel, enough? For religious addicts, for people devoted to religious culture, the answer is never. Jesus isn't enough of a fix, despite whatever lip-service they pay otherwise.

But NO! We've got to be better, more godly, more better, and more better godly, and we have to wear it too! I mean, people need to see all the "Christian" bells and whistles, all the symbolic gestures! I mean, Jesus obviously isn't enough, right?!

I know why mainstream Christianity latches on to its champions, even when those champions come from the fringe - because no one discerns, no one thinks, and mainstream Christianity is completely naive to the loaded language of cults. You'd hope that people coming out of movements like VF, Gothard, and Christian homeschooling would catch on, knowing much of the language, but like I wrote in Halfway Houses, the people who leave these movements still determined to be Christian leave with lots of vulnerability, baggage, and religious addictions. Lots. It's why many of them migrate over toward teachers like Piper, Driscoll, et cetera, and movements like Sovereign Grace - the differences are minimal (even though they think they're enormous - they aren't - at all - it's just a milder form of legalism and religious addiction), and what they're looking for, in reality, is a certain level of comfort, not of truth. This is why I wrote The Outhouse, because ultimately, you have to decide if you're in or out of that religious culture, and if you want to deal with your religious addictions, you have to get out. Entirely. You have to wipe the slate clean, find a simple foundation, and start over. A simple, personal faith in Christ is enough. Until that's enough for you, you're still addicted. You can't remain in the culture and hope to fix its problems. The culture IS the problem.

I've had three different people directly communicate to me some form of "I don't care who was behind it - I support its message". Blind. It's the only word I know that fits. What's worse is that they seem to be content to be blind. "A little leaven" means nothing to people committed to a religious culture rather than to truth. Nothing at all. I've tried to challenge people here to continually examine themselves to see if their allegiance is to a particular (usually conservative) religious culture, or if their allegiance is to Christ - because those are drastically different things, and knowing the answer DOES make a difference. A person committed to religious culture only accepts truth which doesn't interrupt the culture, truth which can be made to feed the addiction. I've discovered a lot of people who put culture first over the last few days (years, really). Truth is truth, regardless of whether you or I agree with it. We should be fluid to revealed truths, never expecting it to become fluid to our culture, because then our culture is nothing more than one big lie wrapped up in religious packaging and championed by the commandments of men.

If the knowledge that Vision Forum was involved in Courageous threatens you, that says more about you than it does about anything or anyone else. It should serve as a wake-up call.

A simple faith shouldn't be added to to meet our own needs and addictions, or to fit within our culture of choice. Stick to a simple faith in Christ. Love God. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Do the right thing because it's the right thing. Tell the truth because it's the truth. Seek the truth and accept and adapt to it as you find it. Stop needing it to be more complicated than it is.

Oh, foolish Galatians! Who has cast an evil spell on you? For the meaning of Jesus Christ’s death was made as clear to you as if you had seen a picture of his death on the cross. Let me ask you this one question: Did you receive the Holy Spirit by obeying the law of Moses? Of course not! You received the Spirit because you believed the message you heard about Christ. How foolish can you be? After starting your Christian lives in the Spirit, why are you now trying to become perfect by your own human effort?

How many "I will"s are there in the Courageous resolution?


  1. Hi,

    I would have to agree that Christian culture often ends up taking the place of Jesus (or is at least added on to Jesus). After leaving my old church I've had to start again and recheck everything that I've been told against the Bible. It's been an interesting experience and I think that I've learned more from studying the Bible myself and joining online discussions about the Bible than I ever did at church. I just wonder, when you started again, how did you go about relearning Christianity? I think that this is a problem for many and people fall into all sorts of traps and even more false teachings as people don't know where to turn. Would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

    1. I think, ultimately, it's a uniquely personal experience. For me, like I wrote in this piece...


      ...it was a matter of wiping the slate entirely clean and finding a simple foundation, which I haven't built on because I've discovered that it doesn't need to be built on. The foundation is enough.

  2. I think that the American christian culture is closely tied to the American culture as a whole. American culture places a lot of emphasis on authority, heroes, and on average isn't very humble. It really is a big difference when you compare it to Europe.
    When I visit the US I'm always amazed by whole airplanes applauding for soldiers, 'my son is in the air force' stickers on the back of cars, firefighter monuments and things like that.
    When you want to shake off your christian culture, I think you have to rethink your views of the culture as a whole, and that's extremely difficult to do.

    And of course in Europe we have our own culture related problems that are extremely difficult for us to see.


    1. One has to put the respect for soldiers into context. During the Vietnam war, soldiers were treated horribly even though many were drafted and had little choice. Not everyone who supports the troops is necessarily supporting the wars.

  3. I was introduced to Piper's teachings during a stint at ALERT. It was at a time where I had clearly drawn a line with my parents that I was no longer, and never would be, "ATI" (it gets used as an adjective alot). I thought casting aside the idiocy and obviously false doctrine wiped the slate clean, and it took a few months to recognize how even the doctrines I thought preposterous had left their arrows sticking in me. I still beat myself down and judged myself by IBLP doctrines and standards while treating others entirely distant from the same judgements. Anyway, I was helping with a summer camp on campus and Piper's Desiring God was being shown. I admit, it struck home for me. Who doesn't want to desire God? To just quit staring at their feet, playing mortal hopscotch with seven principles and 49 character qualities and ten truths while leaning back just enough to stay under the f-ing umbrella? To be allowed to just look up, look forward, and desire Him? And to hear someone speak of grace minus my ability to "allow" God to work in me? Man, that was like a bucket of water poured out to man languishing in the desert....

    And yeah, the cautiously "rebellious" among us who saw ourselves as "out of ATI" caught it up. We could stop parting our hair, grow sideburns, wear our pants at our waist rather than using our belts as support bras, and horrors, roll or shirt sleeves up to our elbows and let free the sensual button (second one down) on our dress shirts. We could speak of this new desire for God and God alone, not lists and standards and vows and covenants. But then this could be heard in coversation: "Well, its like Piper says...", "Piper teaches this", "John Piper believes this because...". So it was a desiring of God based upon what Piper says it looks like....too familiar for me. Bill Gothard says, John Piper teaches...no difference. There's no mark of a Berean in that. The refugees of the unabashed strangeness and heresy of Gothard still cling to the residual need to have been a least a little right, to have been ahead of the wordly christians somewhere, somehow, to know that if there had just been a few differences in what was taught, more grace perhaps, or 35 character qualities instead of 49, then we would have had it right. Slip on the new suit, speak of desiring God and not focusing on seven unbreakable principles, laud Piper while mocking Gothard, feed the superiority complex you need in an increasingly militant application of Calvinism rather than your closed toed shoes and shining eyes and highwatered pants. Self righteousness resolved, rebranded, as simple desire for God.

    Halfway houses. Outhouses. Sitting in the same filth you brought with you and insisting its soap. I was there once, I can understand.

    But repackaging the excrement-filled white bread sandwich you were forced to eat with "wholesome" home-made, organic, whole wheat bread, however palatable you convince yourself that it is, makes it no more nourishing.

    1. Amen- that is exactly right. We can't just keep replacing that legalism with more things. We can only replace it with Christ.

  4. Great post. Thought-provoking which would make it illegal in the homes of most who call themselves Christians. I come from a family that embraced many of the teachings of Billy, Doug, and the bunch of QF'ers without ever wholesaling out to one. I serve as a pastor of a Southern Baptist church now and find the same problems sitting in the pews as I struggle with in my family - condescension, methods-over-truth, emphasis on the need for hero's, etc. Ryan's comment summed it up better than I can, and I'll simply state here that as long as we need a hero - outside of Christ - we're toast.
    As a side note to Ryan, I would bet that you served as a "cadet" with some of my brother-in-laws. To think that at one time I thought ALERT would be my escape from the madness. I am thankful I never traveled that road, although choosing my own wasn't to easy either.

    1. Anon.9:47, I actually refused to be a part of cadets outside of the conferences. I count it some small blessing that my parents signed our family away when I was 13, and that I didn't grow up with ATI-VF-QF-Patriarchy as my understanding of the scope of Christianity. Anyway, I didn't want to do cadets outside of conferences because the boys that were thought they were God's gift to the world. I did it at the conferences to avoid wearing the navy and white and sitting indoors.

      My parents actually manipulated me into attending ALERT, refusing to allow me to receive a legitimate highschool diploma until I had gone through Basic. They only managed to force me on the plane by insisting that ALERT was no longer affiliated with ATI (2005), with proof being the change in the logo. This lie lasted until we sat down on day one and had to watch the basic seminar.

      I do struggle quite a bit looking back, at all the conferences and events I worked at as an ALERT leader. Before every event, we were instructed and over-instructed to emphasize to the boys that their daddies were to be their hero in everything. If a boy said anything remotely akin to "i want to be like you someday", we were to abruptly bring up how awesome their dad was. I can count off the numerous times a boy would look at me and say his father screamed and yelled at him alot or whipped him with his pants down or gave him bruises....I was 17-19, and the only answer I could manage was "well, mine does that to me too sometimes". It bugs me that I didn't say what was in my heart, or that I couldn't do something more for them. Somehow, trying to give the fathers a glare when they came for sons doesn't quite cut it.

      ALERT would have given the madness a point, I think. The discipline there was no different than what I had found in my home, but in the context of military-like order it fit better I suppose. I think there were benefits in that I can look back and see God planting seeds in me that would grow the opposite effects in me that ALERT is structured for.

  5. I've been following this blog for a while, and as somebody who lives nowhere near the Bible Belt, whose life will probably not be affected by them, I have to say: I will find anybody who buys into this Vision Forum bs, and shatter the bottles they live in. I will find any trace of these monsters, and destroy it.

  6. One of the Anonymii
    I grew up with a very authoritarian version of Christianity and was taught that no matter what, I was never good enough, never did whatever well enough, was unacceptable to God and Jesus and could only look forward to Hell. I was taught that I could not/should not trust my interpretations or feelings.

    Further along, we decided to homeschool (purely secular reasons), but have had contact with the Neo-conservative christian homeschooling families and watched and listened to this macabre contest on who beat their kids the most/disrespected their kids the most/submitted the most/and on and on. With my upbringing, I got to the point that I decided that if THIS was what Christianity was, I couldn't be a Christian--didn't want any part of it. I couldn't be as arrogant, judgemental, cruel, disrespectful, violent and downright ugly as these so-called Godly folk. It made no sense to me at all. If this is what was required of me to truly be Christian, I couldn't do it, and I totally rejected it.

    I came to this blog looking around trying to make sense of things. What I have come to realize is that I was letting others define Christianity for me, and giving them way more power than they should have. I just don't know where to go from this point.

    1. The best advice I can give is to wipe the slate clean, find what's meaningful and of substance to you, and "go forward" in whatever manner that would play out for you.

      I believe that a search for truth sends an automatic invitation to God to join you.

  7. Another Anonymii here -
    The elephant in the room when deciding to be a true Berean and get down to the basic foundation is - the true lowest level is not knowing if there is a god or what kind of god it is or if there are multiple ones. For me, being a Berean led to being an atheist, because I really did go where the evidence led me. It hurt, more than anything ever has, but I'm glad I went through it, because the other side of beliefs/nonbelief is pretty cool so far.

    And saying that people only need a simple personal faith is a little short-sighted. One of the reasons there are so many flavors of Christianity, ATI, Gothard, Lutheran, Catholic, etc., is because the Bible which is the basis for Christianity is, at the least, rather complicated and prone to misunderstanding.

    1. The reason for the various sects is what I've detailed in the post itself. People taking something simple, adding their additional interpretations to it, and making it a complicated mess.

      Christ, not the bible, is the basis of Christianity. It's fair to say that without the gospels we'd know nothing of the life of Christ, but the gospels aren't the bible. They just happen to be included in the canon.

      When the bible is turned into a rulebook for the Christian faith, yes, it gets complicated. It was never meant to be a rulebook for the faith, though. Jesus didn't promise "a bible" to lead us into all truth - but that's still where Christians tend to look anyway - either there or to Republican politics. The whole purpose of Christ was to take away the complications and ritual of OT Hebrew faith and law and simply reconcile men to God.

    2. I just have a little (BIG) problem with the statement you made regarding the gospels... "They just happen to be included in the canon." We are told that it is the Word of God that has made us "wise unto salvation." I understand in all these things you are trying to made a point, and a pretty good one at that, but PLEASE do NOT be so cavalier about God's Word. You are correct that the Holy Spirit is the one who leads us into all truth, but it is by the Word of God that we test the (S)spirits for discernment. If what we believe the Spirit is telling us matches the truth of God's Word, it is justified.

      Simply, this is a call and caution for BALANCE!

    3. When the books of the bible talk about the "Word of God", are they talking about the bible? No. They aren't.

      "You are correct that the Holy Spirit is the one who leads us into all truth, but it is by the Word of God that we test the (S)spirits for discernment."

      No it isn't. This is an idea of fundamentalism and religious addiction - an addiction I've personally had to deal with. The "noble" Bereans, for instance, weren't "searching the scriptures" to see if Paul had inconsequential details of the Christian faith correct or to test the spirits. They were searching OT passages about the Messiah to see if the Jesus that Paul spoke of matched up.

      Christ is the Word of God. If the biblical canon is to be considered the Word of God, too, then we need to include the Book of the Secrets of Enoch, seeing as how a portion of the book of Jude is direct quotation from it (which would indicate it was an accepted work in the early church and most likely in the home of Christ himself), and the original Book of Jasher (which we can't, as no known copies of the original exist - only forgeries), seeing as how Kings and Chronicles relied so heavily on it, et cetera. The protestant canon was only settled upon in the last few centuries, and then cemented by fundamentalism.

      "If what we believe the Spirit is telling us matches the truth of God's Word, it is justified."

      This idea is a human one. It's not an idea that there's a great deal of support for, if any, in the books of the bible.

      "Simply, this is a call and caution for BALANCE!"

      What if a pursuit of truth requires what you might consider imbalance? The bible can't become our end all and be all, or we're really no different than the radical Muslims who get all up in arms when a Quran is burned. It needs to be viewed as exactly what it is: a supplement to our faith, containing SOME of God's words, SOME of Christ's words, some words about God and Christ, some history, some words about men and women, some words and opinions of men.

      These ideas about the bible are the product of the religious culture I write about in this post.

    4. Anon 1:53...Another point to consider. If this is your methodology...

      "You are correct that the Holy Spirit is the one who leads us into all truth, but it is by the Word of God that we test the (S)spirits for discernment. If what we believe the Spirit is telling us matches the truth of God's Word, it is justified."

      Then the only logical place the Holy Spirit will ever lead you is to the bible, which means the bible is being counted on as the arbiter of all truth - and not the Holy Spirit itself.

    5. That fundamental flaw in Anon's reasoning (as it was taught him/her, no doubt):

      Jesus is the Word made flesh.
      Fundamentalists call the Protestant Bible the Word of God. Therefore Jesus = the Bible.

      That horrible, grossly illogical deception, is the reason that American Christianity looks nothing like Jesus. When Jesus spoke, "If you love me, keep my commands." He meant HIS commands:

      Love one another as I have loved you. Love your enemies and do them good. Forgive as you have been forgiven. Own up to it if you have offended your brother, and make reconciliation a higher priority than temple sacrifices. Look out for the least of these. The kingdom of God is within you, so fear not. Relay on God in prayer, and pray and act so that His will be done on earth, because what's happening right now is not necessarily the will of God. Remember Jesus when we share communion with our fellow disciples. Take care not to offend little ones...

      Fundamentalists, by redefining the commands of Christ = the whole Protestant Bible, let themselves off the hook.

      They don't love anyone who doesn't stroke their ego. They can now be violent (Proverbs says beat your child, Nehemiah hit people and pulled out their beards), shun people (Moses abandoned people in the desert, Abraham abandoned Hagar and his first born son in the desert, Eleazar even killed people who were non-compliant), oppress women (the entire canon was written in a time when women had no value except as brood mares- ONLY Jesus and the Holy Spirit honored women as equally precious to God and equally gifted by God), amass great wealth (the Old Testament "blessings" overtaking "god's" people), dominate people with heirarchical power pyramids (only Jesus said IT SHALL NOT BE SO AMONG YOU; Moses' father-in-law helped Moses set up a power pyramid and every king from Saul on had it going on).

      By making "the Bible"= Jesus, wicked, selfish "Christians" can justify ANY wicked, selfish behavior some where in the Bible.

      Moreover, no one need rely on the Holy Spirit or make a conscience effort to choose the more loving option when faced with any decision. The Bible will surely have a passage somewhere in those 66 books to justify doing what you want to do.

      And for the sincere, who really just want to do the will of God, it is no better. They are told not to trust the work of the Holy Spirit in their own hearts ("the heart is deceitful above all...lean not on your own understanding") so that they actually rebel against the Holy Spirit at work in their own spirits to submit to some man-appointed spiritual authority instead.

      Oh, no, the problems we see in Christianity today- the child abuse, spouse abuse, greed, self-righteousness, hard-heartedness to the Spirit- are a DIRECT result of fundamentalism/Bibliolatry that equates Jesus= the Bible.

      Biblical inerrancy is the closest thing I have ever seen to an actual "Anti-Christ".

    6. LOUD *CHEERS* for SS!!!

      i have nothing i can think of to add, between you and Lewis you've listed everything i would have wanted to [and i'd have forgotten some of them!]

      sorry - i'm not trying to be irrerevrant. but i am a "non-Christian" precisely BECAUSE i don't believe the Bible is any sort of rulebook, and ESPECIALLY it's not something approaching equivilency to Jesus - my basic faith is as Lewis decribes [though with the addition of earlier Avatars of the Divine...]
      but i'm "not" a Christian because i believe God has a billion billion faces and names. because i don't "follow" ANY part of the Bible EXCEPT what Jesus said - and i do my best to do, actually DO, the things Jesus said.
      if it weren't for Christians who require a measure of legalism in their practice - and i've NEVER been to a non-Unitarian church where they *didn't* - i'd might call myself a Christian.
      but as Ghandi said [obv. paraphrase] - "Christ, i like your Christ, it's the Christians who worry me."

  8. Lewis,

    On people adoring something uncritically just because it has a "Christian" package....I have a shocking little unhappy story...I was at a Christian writer's conference once. Don't get me started on the sub-par nature of Christian fiction. But anyway. One of the guest speakers/teachers at this conference was a best-selling (in Christian circles) author. I had a conversation with him over dinner about the movie "Shawshank Redemption" and found that he was unable to identify some of the main themes, metaphors and symbolism in the story.

    Frankly, it bothered the crap out of me that someone who was a best-selling WRITER could not identify basic theme/story/symbolism elements in an extremely well-written script. And, for those who have seen Shawshank, we're not talking a story with an obscure, hard-to-get message. The fact that someone like this could become a best-selling writer in Christian circles, frankly, left me flabbergasted. Were Christian readers really that uncritical that they couldn't tell their beloved author didn't understand subtlety in storytelling??

    Sadly, the answer is yes.

    Other Anonymous :) : Yes, I completely get what you are saying. Those people did try to exert too much power in your life by defining Christ for you.

    Maybe it's time to get a new definition! I'm just thinking off the top of my head here, but maybe the next best step would be to just try to read the Gospels with fresh eyes. Start to get a NEW definition that is not being filtered through a church, but it coming to you straight from the pages of scripture.

    I realize this is SO much easier said than done, because you've been taught a lot of "interpretations" of how to read scripture. Would it be helpful to find a new translation, like The Message, that puts the Gospels in modern language so that you can sort of look at each passage in a new way? I know that has helped me tremendously. It doesn't trigger all my pre-conceived notions because it has unfamiliar wording.

    Also, as many have pointed out, Jesus is ultimately more authoritative than even the Bible itself, so....I guess my best advice would be to spend lots of time in prayer asking Jesus who he is. No one can filter THAT for you!

    God bless! I truly hope you find some hope in your journey. I know Jesus won't disappoint you....even though people can sometimes paint an erroneous picture of him that IS d9isappointing.

  9. So well said, Lewis.

    Thank you, and thank you again.

  10. Lewis said: "you have to decide if you're in or out of that religious culture, and if you want to deal with your religious addictions, you have to get out. Entirely. You have to wipe the slate clean, find a simple foundation, and start over. A simple, personal faith in Christ is enough. Until that's enough for you, you're still addicted. You can't remain in the culture and hope to fix its problems."

    I love this post and is probably my favorite of all the ones i've read so far. you know how when you are reading and everything in you says, YES YES YES!!! this was that for me. confirming!

    i've been saying to ppl recently, even b/4 i read this post, that my faith is simple that i've been reconciled to God thru Christ and anything added is garbage. :-)

    Awesome post!!!

  11. While I agree with you in your blogs almost all the time, I just think it is a generalization to say that "most Christians" care more about preserving their culture than Christ...I would say instead "many". To clarify, having travelled and read around a bit, I think this is a very American problem- I may be wrong, but although I experienced terrible legalism in the British evangelical church- someday I have a blog to write about THAT hot potato-it was never considered a big spiritual issue which party you voted for in England, France, or Germany, that I was aware. I feel the Christian Right in America has done more harm than good, because it has ended up bullying people who may consider -for example- socialist values to be more Christlike than the values of the conservative capitalist Right- I repeat, bullying people into thinking they have to be Republican and support this or this candidate in order to be truly close to God. What nonsense! If Jesus could hang out with a Zealot, I think I can believe what I want about a system of this world. I am, in fact, a Republican, however, I can see more than one side to everything. There are few things in life that are truly black and white. The fact is, in Europe as in many other countries outside of the USA, most Christians are a minority, and are forced to be "in the world though not of it." Maybe that helps clarify what the true issues of spirituality and faith are(: Christ!). Thanks for your blog!

    1. "The fact is, in Europe, etc, most Christians are a minority..."


      The fact is, there's a world of harm in the illusion of being a majority, in the bare thinkability of a Christian country. It's the belief that America used to be & should become again "a Christian nation" that even allows Dominionism to exist. You're right on here, having seen the places where it doesn't--because it can't--exist.

      It's my belief that there cannot be and never will be a Christian nation. For one thing I think true Christians will always be in the minority, because the majority is going to go, instead, for embedding themselves in a culture, religious or secular. Also because government isn't Christian. Jesus refused to be crowned king. He said "call no one father... teacher... master... except me." (Sorry--that's a paraphrase and I don't have the reference! I always hated references. Oh well.) I know most people won't go this far with me, but I really believe that Christianity and political power are meant to have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.

      In any case I think most will agree with this more than with the previous: having a degree of power in American culture may have something to do with how very corrupt the religious/Christian culture here has become.

  12. Thank you, thank you.
    Your posts recently have been..inspiring? Healing? I can't quite be sure of the right word, but...YES. Yes. Thank you.

    I was told at first that it was all about faith in Christ, and then came all the "pluses" that were actually "minuses": don't think you can treat your husband as your equal, don't consider that maybe it's possible to be Christian and gay (AND in or seeking a monogamous relationship)--certainly don't question the tenets of the faith that are particularly dear to our particular congregation/family/denomination.

    Thank you for helping to break the system wide open. I don't think it was ever meant to be merely another system. It's meant to be a miracle.