When I started this blog, I did not start it to grapple with my own issues and background as much as for recognizing the good in media. It is so frustrating sometimes to listen to the tidal wave of hate against Hollywood, calling movies a ‘cash grab’ or a ‘quick buck’. Everyday people doing their jobs to make money just like we do, except, often, what they do for work affects how we see the world. Hollywood, the way I see it, has always striven for a better standard of behavior, especially as far as treating people. Personal actor problems such as: parties, drugs, and feuds aside, the primary message of the fictions played out for us by Hollywood stars seem to be tolerance, kindness, integration. Continue reading
Before I went to ministry school, I was offered an opportunity to travel the country with a group called Silver Ring Thing. They were a group, much to my excitement, dedicated to protecting virginity and teaching teens to wait until marriage for most kinds of affection. It was common in this purity culture to feel that relationships in general were dangerous for your heart, your sexuality and your faith.
Having walked away from the all-consuming fire perspective on God, that his love and his message were absolutely the most important thing, the true defining factor of a Christian, I can begin to see where I stopped caring about Jesus and kindness as much as caring about achieving absolute conversion. We started considering ourselves “true Christians” because we didn’t want to only do church on Sundays and drink, curse and fornicate every other day of the week. It was presented as a push back against the hypocrisy that appeared to be so prevalent in Christianity. Continue reading
I haven’t published a post in a while and the reason is that because I’m not sure who reads my blog, I am afraid of who I might deeply offend and hurt. But, it has occurred to me that whoever reads my blog should know that it is in fact my blog. My thoughts are in it. So I say this: Whoever you are, if my blog is causing you concern for my spiritual life, don’t worry about me. If my blog is boring you or you’re irritated by various grammatical errors, I do apologize, I would love your feedback. But until I get someone who speaks up about my blog to me, I shall simply write what I wish and see what happens.
I’ve recently experienced an onslaught of past memories especially with regards to religion and the kinds of wonderful things I refused to let into my life by virtue of my Christian faith. In experiencing this onslaught, I began to really think upon and explore what Christian means to other people who are Christian.
It does not seem to be the same upbringing that I experienced.
The attack on the two towers is a painful memory for many. I, having no connection to news and living in a small town at eight years old, heard the terrible news days after 9/11 itself. I was at daycare, a place soaked through with blissful ignorant innocence and then that ugly truth came into my young life. People can hate each other so much that they will blow each other up. A giant building, protecting thousands of people, will no longer retain its security when determined people seek to bomb it from the sky. The thing that affected me so much as a young child was knowing that people were so volatile. Growing up in a small town without satellite TV, I was always learning about world events when they were in the worst condition possible. This has also been the case for the recent attacks on Paris.
I’m still not sure I understand what exactly happened with the attacks, nor certainly why, but I know that living an effective existence requires that I recognize the hardships of the rest of the world rather than retreating into my bubble of finding happiness no matter what. Sometimes, to have the joy, we need to experience the hardship.
This week, it’s really been hitting me how much I truly want to stay a Christian. Ministry college was actually a lot of fun some times and I learned such valuable lessons. One of which was that no one on the planet is unequivocal
ly right about everything. I discovered the tragic Christian history where people majored on the minors and had my-God-is-bigger-than-your-god(s) debates that often ended in bloody, drawn-out wars. Where I came from in my understanding of theology was akin to the Spanish Inquisition. People expect you to believe certain things to be called a “Christian”, but if you don’t believe those things, you are ostracized and treated unfairly by those who say they love.
And it’s comparable only in our sanitized, entitled American culture. Sure we don’t kill those who stand up for what they actually believe in, but we keep them out so that the “Truth” will reign in us. Being afraid of people who believe differently than you is not the mark of a true Christian. It is the mark of a coward. Someone who refuses to listen to other sides, for fear they may fall under the sway of the new argument and abandon God altogether, is being cowardly not courageous.
I have been a coward. Sometimes, I still am one.
When I was in ministry school, I had this epiphany that had been building up inside of me for quite some time. Hollywood, like anything else is made up of people who have dreams, hurts and pasts that drive them forward. It occurred to me that every creative effort, no matter how small or uninspiring had some merit to its founder. Continue reading
My deepest hope for this blog is that whoever reads it would feel refreshed rather than attacked by the perspective I’ve gleaned over the years. That being said, I want to talk about how God transformed my perspective on gay marriage and gay relationships through media.
Because I can’t seem to get out of my rutt but want to post something, I will include one of my old poems. Incidentally, my poems all came to me in one sitting as I struggled through my disagreements with but love of my ministry college.
There is this grotesque culture out there that enjoys laughing about the misery of others, or they simply love to hate. At one time, I was a part of this culture. As a young child, I hated the popular crowd by virtue of their popularity. I always assumed that every person who was well-known and constantly-mentioned was evil, mean to me and entirely deserving of my spite. Now, as an adult, I realize that most of them did nothing to me. They were polite and easygoing but we never hung out. When some of those kids I knew from age 8 began to party, do drugs and sleep around, I expected a karmic vengeance for their behavior. I imagined they’d eventually end up strung out or stuck in a rut. That’s what scares me about how we express Christianity. We are so nonchalant about the inevitability of these consequences, as if that’s what being a Christian is about. But it’s not, it’s about love, kindness, everything beautiful that you can imagine– that’s God and that’s what I as a Christian wish I had reflected better throughout my earlier years of life.
People who laugh at the misery and misfortune of others, no matter how inevitable such an end may seem, are all over the world, and unfortunately, many are Christians. When a picture is taken of a gratuitously obese person, it is spread all over the internet for people to gawk at and comment upon, reducing this human being to a massive object and dehumanizing them.
When my brother fell off a small cliff and smashed his lip and broke two teeth while he was drunk, everybody saw the picture and they were laughing. Here, a young man, whose life was about to start, catapulted from high school, had experienced something painful, humiliating and physically scarring and people were making jokes about it. I was making jokes about it.
A boy who in high school had been known for rash decisions dove headfirst into a shallow river while drunk and paralyzed himself from the waist down. I knew his mother, I worked with her. She was heartbroken and rushed to live with him in a different state and take care of him.
A young actor overdosed on drugs and died. The whole world judged him in his demise and they judged his company on earth: the staff of the show by which he was made famous, his girlfriend in life and in the show, even his parents. People made assumptions and posted them as fact.
People judge, people hate, people act like they know. Myself included. But the truth is, we don’t know. I don’t know. Even though I’m a Christian, I know absolutely nothing. And I am paralyzed as I consider this most recent tragedy: the loss of a barely-acquaintance. I met him when I was 8, but I never knew him. He moved on with the party crowd, but beyond that, I didn’t know much more. Yesterday, while casually perusing my Facebook Feed, the confused, hurting wall post of an old “bully”-turned-friend stopped me in my tracks. He had been killed as a pedestrian walking on the highway and hit by two semi trucks.
I knew I didn’t know him beyond the rumors, beyond the fleeting moments at Science Camp when I looked at him and saw beyond his popularity status, I knew. But I didn’t care. In the middle of the bus, states away from where the horrific scene happened, I began to cry. He was eight when I met him. Eight years old. And now he is, was, is 22 years old. And, people that once made me feel tormented are now grieving the loss of a dear life-long friend. And so am I and I feel like I don’t deserve to care. I don’t deserve getting to think about who he was. I didn’t ever think about him while he was alive. Why should I get to consider him and his friends now?
I am praying against what well-meaning but totally off-base things might be said to my friend. Things that Christians say to console those in grief. Things that Christians think or speak behind their backs. See, the world laughs at misery. Homeless people are the brunt of a joke, drunks are comedic relief, heavyset people are sent viral. But the fact that Christians join them, The fact that Christians say in our Bible Study times and as we fellowship, that homeless people are on the streets because they aren’t smart enough, driven enough or sober enough to make it in the world, or that drunks put themselves in danger and need to accept the consequences or that heavyset people need to diet or exercise or even sometimes be shot (people are cruel on the internet) scares me to death. It’s missing the point. What is lost here is a life. And the nonchalant attitude that God takes people when it’s their time or that people who party on earth will face an eternity of torture is what poisons Christianity. The afterlife and the cause of death are not our concern. Someone had life, had breath, had an impact on the world, and now, they don’t anymore. Their influence is halted, never again to be resumed. And people who knew them are affected. Hurting, crying, confused. Nothing makes sense. That’s how grief works. Let’s stop trying to make sense of grief and grieve with the broken. Let’s stop giving them platitudes and quick answers and just cry. Let’s stop blaming the victim and just mourn the world’s loss.
The world is a different place today because he is gone. I never knew him. Not that well. But his life mattered. Whether I let him matter to me or not.