Heisenberg, the NSA, and Are We Really Free?

As much as I enjoy politics, I don’t post about politics all that much on my blog because I hate how divisive they have become in the church. In my role as a pastor at Vintage Fellowship, I serve people with a wide diversity of political opinions. I don’t want my opinion to get in the way of me being able to connect with people at my church, so I don’t talk about it as much as I might otherwise.

Nonetheless, I do have some thoughts about the latest DC scandals that I thought I’d share. Well, more accurately, I have questions rolling around in my head about the scandals. More questions than answers, really.   Read More…

Djesus Uncrossed & the Myth of Redemptive Violence

I’m not a huge SNL fan. I wish I was. I have wanted to be. But most of the time, I just don’t find SNL to be funny. I hate how the actors are almost always – very obviously – staring at cue cards to get their lines right. I hate how they create stupid talk show sketches as a way to showcase impressions. But most of all, I hate how SNL just isn’t funny.

That being said, I want to talk about something SNL did this weekend, regardless of whether it was funny or not.   Read More…

The Most Loving Thing

I often hear a certain line of reasoning from my more conservative Christian friends that goes like this:

I’m not homophobic for opposing gay marriage or for believing that homosexuality is a sin. In fact, I’m actually loving. Because the most loving thing you can do is tell the truth. And I’m telling gay and lesbian people the truth that they are sinning.

This is the argument used by guys from the Westboro Baptist Church in this fascinating interview with Russell Brand. And it’s the argument that’s been used by one of my commenters on this blog post.

Read More…

Don’t Believe the Fear Mongers

Tis the season. There are fewer than 50 shopping days until the election. The political ads are upon us, and men with deep, scary voices are in high demand. It’s the season of fear mongering. If you vote for the wrong guy, then senior citizens will have to eat dog food, children will die, and America will cease to exist. This is the most important election of our lifetimes.

Amazing Pics of Sacred Bros at a Haunted House

And it’s all a lie. It’s all fear mongering.

Political marketers have learned a basic truth about human beings – fear is a remarkably effective motivator. When we are scared, we will act. Give us an enticement, and we might do what you want. But scare us, and we will definitely be moved to action. 

The fundamentalism of my youth understood this truth too. Fundamentalism uses fear to keep people in line. Like the adults in the movie The Village, the fundamentalist churches I grew up in created boogeymen to scare us from stepping out of line. Here are some of their most popular incarnations:

The Slippery Slope: If you question any point of the faith, you will end up questioning and abandoning all the faith. The best way to keep the faith is to never start down the slippery slope in the first place. Therefore, no questions. No doubts. No problems.

Experience Is Opposed to Truth: People who abandon the faith put experience ahead of truth. They let what they have gone through in life determine what is true and false. The danger, we were told, was that they would end up interpreting the Bible in light of their experiences rather than the other way around. Subjectivity would become more important than objectivity. (The real danger was never mentioned. This approach leads people to repress and deny their own realities, producing not just hypocrisy but, often, very emotionally unhealthy people.

People “Out There” Don’t Love and Respect Jesus and the Bible Like We Do: I could write a lot about the remnant mentality of fundamentalism. The fundamentalist churches I grew up in was inherently distrustful of any other denominations or faith traditions. If you were to leave fundamentalism, you’ll inevitably end up caring less about Jesus and the Bible.

Fear mongering is really effective at keeping people in line. It works. That’s why political operatives and fundamentalist pastors use it. Until you realize that they are all lies designed to keep you from being truly free. I am living proof that a person can leave fundamentalism and not be consumed by the boogeymen they told us existed. My questions and doubts did not take me further from God. In fact, they led me closer to God. Being honest about my experiences didn’t undermine my commitment to truth. It revolutionized it. Leaving fundamentalism didn’t mean that I left Jesus and the Bible. In fact, my reverence and love for both has never been richer.

The most dangerous thing that the fear mongers face is someone standing up and saying, “No. That’s not true. That’s nothing to be scared of. It doesn’t have to be this way.” I wrote Fundamorphosis: How I Left Fundamentalism But Didn’t Lose My Faith to share that very message. The fear mongers are still shout loudly into their bullhorns, but we don’t have to believe them any more.

How about you? What lies were you told by fear mongers in church?


Let’s Change the World

Generally speaking, I have always felt misunderstood. I don’t know if everyone feels this way, but I’ve always sensed that most people just don’t get what I am all about. 

When I was growing up, I always said I wanted to go into politics. I think some of my friends in high school thought that this was fueled by narcissism and pride. Twenty years later, when we started Vintage Fellowship, some folks refused to support us, saying (not to my face, of course) that I was being driven by hubris. These kinds of statements hurt, but being misunderstood is a part of life, I guess.

Of course, no one’s motives are completely pure, but I can say with a clear conscience that my motivation – whether to be involved in politics or to pastor churches – has always been a desire to help people. I want my life to make a difference. I want to help to make the world a better place.

That sounds really stupid when you say it out loud.

We make fun of beauty pageant contestants for talking this way. And we roll our eyes at celebrities who use their fame to promote their latest cause. But many of us, maybe all of us, are wired to care about our world and the people in it. We were created for community, and we all have an innate sense of the power of our interconnectedness. Many of us have listened carefully to the internal impulses we sense to do something great with our lives, to live for a purpose greater than ourselves, to make a difference.

Surveys have shown that most journalism students are entering their field because they want to change the world. In the post-Watergate world, shining the light on corruption and telling the untold stories through journalism seems like one of the best ways to do that. Many musicians and artists, photographers and poets have the same motivation, wanting to bring beauty into the ugliness of the world.

I’m not sure I can think of a more noble purpose for a life. Beyond the pursuit of comfort, beyond the rush for new and better and more, beyond the struggle for notoriety and success, there lies something more profound – making a difference in the world – leaving the world a more peaceful, more beautiful, healthier place.

How about you? Do you want to change the world? And what are you doing to make a difference?


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