“I Love Jesus But I Hate the Church”

handI’m avoiding writing about politics. I’m trying to limit my intake of the news, too, because there’s really no use in “staying informed” if it makes you sick and paralyzed with anxiety. I’m also just tired of the constant shock and awe. Maybe people keep being surprised because the media reported 45 as a serial liar and they’re learning that he intends to keep every one of his planet-ruining, livelihood-decimating campaign promises. Or maybe it’s because we were all taught in school that corruption in government is always “there” (Africa, Asia, Russia), that it could never be here. 45 always acts in character, though, and the never-ending “did you see what he did NOW?!” is exhausting and, quite frankly, naive.

Continue reading “I Love Jesus But I Hate the Church”

Please Stop Saying People Aren’t Perfect

perfect-10My last post was angry and sad complaining against the Church. Not a day later did a staff member of the church I’m attending inform me of their holiday tradition of giving to those in their congregation who could use a little extra help. It’s doubtful she saw my post. The point is that I feel bad about complaining, not because my problems are magically fixed and not because, in this particular case, it was premature to assume that the church I go to doesn’t look out for its own, but because I just don’t want to be that kind of person. So what follows is not done in the spirit of criticism, but hopefully in the spirit of hope and encouragement.

Continue reading Please Stop Saying People Aren’t Perfect

If I Can’t Work, Maybe My Theology Degree Can

Photo of a collection plate in a church.
Photo of a collection plate in a church.

We hear about the power of story everywhere. I’ve already mentioned one of my issues with that, but I’ve got a few more. The first is simply that hearing stories about a lucky break – which nearly every writer who’s been invited to speak before other writers and give advice on how to succeed in that isolating, rejection-packed, dehumanizing world has – are not helpful. Sure, there’s definitely jealousy there, but I want to hear stories from people who didn’t get a lucky break, who didn’t get discovered, who didn’t have contacts either at all or who were willing to help them, who found success without the chance encounter or surprise discovery by an editor or recruiter. I can’t replicate someone else’s luck and, since I don’t seem to have much of my own, I need to learn how to succeed in the world without it. Or is that not possible and that’s why there aren’t stories out there like that? (My invitation to share stories of hardship was a serious one.) Continue reading If I Can’t Work, Maybe My Theology Degree Can

Emotions Are Not The Enemy, Part 1

tar sands
Alberta, Canada – before and after a tar sands project

“My feelings, they don’t matter.” “Worship anyway.” “Feelings lie.” If those are various answers, the question might be something like “How are Christians encouraging one another when one is going through a hard time?” or “Name some song lyrics from contemporary worship songs.” Emotions in the church are increasingly scary, powerful and not to be trusted and most expressions of such are met with “encouragements” to recite “the truth” “despite” emotions, which apparently can’t ever contain truth, until you’re able to “calm down” about something legitimately upsetting. Or, best-case scenario, people will offer to pray for you, which has felt more and more like distancing, passing the buck to someone else (just like directing someone to their counselor). Whatever the case, demonizing feelings is considered legitimate, even Christ-like; we are, as a result, unable to care for each other effectively when complicated emotions come up that cannot (and should not) be ignored. Continue reading Emotions Are Not The Enemy, Part 1

The Life and Death Sentence of James Holmes, Part I

Human skull with judge's gavel and sounding block. Symbolizes harsh justice, death penalty, etc. Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III.
Human skull with judge’s gavel and sounding block. Symbolizes harsh justice, death penalty, etc. Camera: Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III.

Two weekends ago, James Holmes was sentenced (one of the newscasters in that coverage, by the way – Ana Cabrera – was my babysitter when I was young and we’ve known her family for years!) to life in prison without the possibility of parole for murdering 12 people and injuring 70 others in an attack during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight in a Colorado movie theater, July 2012. He plead not guilty by reason of insanity (a questionable and atavistic plea in itself, but that’s for a different post), was convicted of all 165 counts against him and was spared the death penalty (pretty much only because the jury could not come to a unanimous decision, which is required to pass a death sentence, and that was only because there was a single holdout against deciding such a fate). People were “shocked” that this lone juror held this view, “disappointed” that she basically blocked justice because of it. Continue reading The Life and Death Sentence of James Holmes, Part I

So Now There’s Just “Marriage”

divisionI am horrified. I am deeply embarrassed and ashamed of my fellow sisters and brothers in Christ. While I, as a straight woman in a heterosexual union, spent two Fridays ago embracing several co-workers and exchanging rainbow cupcakes around the office in celebration of the civil-rights victory, many others were writing hideously calloused and rote “laments” about “the erosion of morals,” wringing their hands in fear of losing their own religious freedoms and bemoaning the un-democratic process of the Supreme Court. I can’t even begin to address all the sloppy and self-serving exegesis flying around the Internet but there are a few things I think it’s important to say.

Continue reading So Now There’s Just “Marriage”

People of the Steeple

“You are loved,” “you are loved,” “you are loved,” you recite it like it’s Scripture

as you walk away to importance-filled dockets and pulpits and meetings to minister

and leave your words and the guilt of not believing them because I don’t feel them to loom.

“You are loved” – I wonder by whom. Continue reading People of the Steeple

The Gratitude Time, Part 3

beatAt 4 o’clock in the morning, all your stuff is monster-truck heavy and flashing-red important.  Then, after the sun stops being polite – on days you get sun – and charges heavy like judgment into your room to rouse you, the existential weight of your to-do list trades places with your limbs and amounts to a paper towel.  Which has as much self-locomoting power as you do about now, anxiety having gulped down all your validate-your-existence energy for the tasks of phone calls, folding socks, scanning and digitizing old journals and bloodletting…er, writing. Continue reading The Gratitude Time, Part 3