An Ex-Evangelical’s Guide to Christmas: What I Told My Kids.

An Ex-Evangelical’s Guide to Christmas: What I Told My Kids.

Christmas 2017 was the fifth consecutive year I have not attended church services during the season. My children have never experienced being in a children’s ministry Christmas program. I do not have any pictures of them dressed up on stage singing Christmas songs with their Sunday school classmates. It’s been a little strange as my childhood Christmas memories are synonymous with church memories.

However, I have been unable to participate in church after deconstructing. When I lost my fundamental religion, Christmas was also something I lost. Christmas also deconstructed in my mind. For the first few years, I was unable to listen to any religious holiday hymns. It was too painful because it reminded me of the grief. These songs all placed me back into a community I no longer belonged in.

Even so, it’s impossible to distance yourself. It’s impossible to not feel the loss of your religion every single year.

I still weep during ‘silent night’. I still feel a strong, beautiful connection to the divine during ‘O Holy Night.’ Thinking about the birth of Jesus has never escaped me. Celebrating Jesus has never left me. However, I’ve been so confused about what to tell my children about Christmas that I have just let it be a festive, happy, time without throwing church into it. I didn’t want to confuse them like I was.

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The first belief that left me regarding Christmas was the accuracy of the nativity scene. My entire life as I can recall was spent with a very specific setting that described the birth of Jesus. I saw the nativity scene everywhere. Church. Home. Stores. Books. Movies. Here is what it included:

Baby Jesus was wrapped in rags, in a manger filled with straw. Mary, Joseph, three wisemen, and various barn animals surrounded him. Sometimes this scene included an angel. I believed this was accurate, until I read the biblical accounts:

Luke’s Account

Matthew’s Account

It was very disorienting. First, the biblical accounts never reveal that there were three wisemen. There could have been two, three, or ten, we do not know. Second, the wisemen did not meet Jesus as a baby. They met him when he was 2 years old, a small child.

It might seem petty to focus on these details, but for me, these deceptions were suspicious. Also, they opened doors to what else am I being deceived about? Did I truly believe Mary was a virgin and then miraculously pregnant? Logic and biology tell me that I can’t believe that. Does it matter? Shall I feel shame for using my reason and intellect? Does it change anything, for me, if Mary was not a virgin? What do I tell my kids about any of this? What does Santa have to do with it whatsoever?

Why so much commercialism? Why so much stress? Why are we breaking the bank to celebrate the incarnate of God? Why are they selling us nativity scenes that are not biblically accurate? Why the lies?

This year, however, I finally brought Jesus into the conversation about Christmas with my kids. I told them we celebrate Christmas for a lot of reasons. Here is what I told them:

  1. Jesus:  We are celebrating the birth of Jesus. A man that showed the world that God/the divine lives in us all. A man that told us to love one another, forgive each other, and be kind to all. A man that loved everyone and spent his time feeding the hungry, and healing the sick. A man that taught us to stick up for the bullied. Jesus is who we look up to as an example of who to be in our lives. His message was new to the world and it gives hope and light to all that is dark. Evil humans killed him because they didn’t want his message to thrive, so we keep love alive at Christmas time and try to remember it everyday throughout the year.
  2. Winter Solstice:  We are celebrating the rising of the sun. Christmas Day marks the day of the year when the days slowly become longer. The sun stays out more and more. Historically speaking, this was call for a massive party. The sun was a god that provided food and when it went down for the winter, famine was upon them. Winter was hard, people starved. Christmas marked the beginning of the end of difficulty.
  3. Love:  We celebrate the people we love. We give gifts, donate toys to needy kids, and give food to those that need it. Santa Claus loves to give presents to all the children because he loves kids. We celebrate our families with food, games, and conversation. We celebrate our friends and love for all of humanity.

They might have grasped some of this. Perhaps all they really care about right now is Santa Claus. However, this is what Christmas means in my home. As they grow older, the conversation will become more historical, more intellectual, however, I’m just an ex-evangelical doing my best.

Perhaps next year we’ll go to an Episcopal church. Maybe midnight mass. Perhaps we’ll celebrate Hanukkah instead, so they are gifted with a different perspective. The most important thing for me is to raise loving, giving, children that see the divine in all humans, especially within themselves.

One thing is for certain, however, there will not be any inaccurate nativity scenes in my home.

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America in Trumpland: Top 6 lies in this Rabbit Hole

America in Trumpland: Top 6 lies in this Rabbit Hole

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

Lewis Carroll (Alice in Wonderland)

The world has gone mad it seems. Everyday it is increasingly becoming more difficult to make sense of this new normal or this new America. It appears that we’ve followed the white rabbit into a hole that has lead us into a land of confusion and exhausting cognitive dissonance. We are being told that what we are seeing and hearing are complete lies. This wonderland of nonsense is honestly similar to a bad acid trip, and yet everyday the flashbacks are compounded. I feel like Alice in Trumpland where everyday I’m supposed to believe impossible things and strange characters are appearing in droves.

All that’s missing is synchronized dancing and singing.

However, unfortunately this isn’t some fantasy world created by a literary genius. We are smack dab into a nightmare twilight zone, and I have to believe that the majority of us want to find our way home. In the words of the great Robert Frost, “the best way out is through.” Therefore, if we actively point out the nonsense, everyday, and as much as we can, I believe we will find our way through the looking glass and defeat this orange jabberwocky.

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Here are my top “Six Impossible Things We are Supposed to Believe Before Breakfast.”

  1. Donald Trump is a Christian.

There is no verifiable evidence in Donald Trump’s words, deeds, or history that even remotely resembles a follower of Jesus Christ. In fact, everything about him is the exact opposite as there is no positive fruit that he brings forth unto the world. There is no love, kindness, humbleness, or gentleness period in his character. Not only were we all well aware of this well before the election, but everyday since with everything he says and does. I would challenge anyone to show me a single ripe fig growing from his tree. Therefore, I reject this falsity with a rigorous, ferocious ABSOLUTELY NOT, and I implore evangelicals and fundamentalists to examine the mountains of evidence clearly exposing that he is using this lie to manipulate the religious right.

2.  Climate change is a hoax. 

The only reason this lie is important to tell is because of the oil industry. This lie is about money and believing it only benefits the rich oil tycoons. America is the only country in the world that is not part of the Paris Climate Agreement, a global pact to combat global warming by gradually reducing emissions of carbon dioxide and methane, which result from the burning of fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas. I am thankful that the entire world is onboard because this is a serious issue that needs to be addressed right now. The evidence of global warming is extensive and verifiable using exhaustive data and 97% of the world’s scientists are in agreement. America needs to lead the endeavor toward clean energy or we will leave our status as a world leader in innovation and technology. Also, our children’s futures are undeniably at stake.

3.  There was no collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign to steal the 2016  Election.

This absurdity deserves a post all of it’s own to refute, however, the evidence of collusion is impossible to ignore. Recently Micheal Flynn plead guilty to lying to the FBI, adding to the haystack in which the needle of the Trump narrative cannot be found. An excerpt from the Washington Post below is a minuscule attempt to uncover this falsity, however within it there are definitely enough reasons to reject this third impossible thing we are supposed to believe.

“We know President Trump during the campaign publicly encouraged the Russians to hack and release Hillary Clinton’s emails. We know he referenced the WikiLeaks email dump 145 times in the closing days of the campaign. We also know that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner and then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with Russians in June 2016 with the promise of “dirt” on Hillary Clinton, and we have learned that campaign adviser George Papadopoulos had extensive contacts with Russian officials that included discussion of “dirt” on Clinton. To say that there is no evidence of collusion, then, would be one more big lie in a series of big lies the administration has deployed to defend itself in the Russia investigation that threatens to sink this presidency.”

4.  Donald Trump is not a sexual predator/abuser.

18 women have continuously come forward with their experience being sexually assaulted by Donald Trump. In order for me to reject these women’s testimonies, I would have to forego all common sense, logic, and compassion. I’ve seen and heard evidence of  Donald Trump’s predator character with my own eyes and ears on numerous occasions via the Howard Stern show, the Apprentice, and the Access Hollywood tape. His words below from the Access Hollywood tape, released moments before the 2016 election should’ve been enough for everyone to dismiss him as a person with any moral integrity fit for office.

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5.  Donald Trump is upholding the Constitution of the United States of America.

The presidency of the United States is a sacred honor bestowed to an honorable patriot that will under all circumstances uphold our precious Constitution. Donald Trump fails this promise every single day via never-ending tweets attacking the free press. If mainstream media is not reporting the Trump narrative, he tries to silence them and tries to brainwash the public into believing it’s fake news. If it isn’t Trump’s word, it’s false. If it isn’t Fox News, it is dismissed, even when we have numerous reputable sources corroborating the facts.

Donald Trump isn’t honoring free speech of American citizens. He has spent half of a year attacking the NFL because black football players have used their platform to raise awareness of police brutality and racism. Trump has called for their firing numerous times, simply for kneeling out of reverence for our nation and it’s racial divide that we must change.

The list goes on in the ways that He is not upholding the Constitution. His fake marriage with the religious right makes policies that defend religious liberty, but only if it’s Christian liberty. The Muslim Ban violates the 1st, and arguably the 5th and 14th amendment. It is clear that the Constitution limits his power, and it is also clear He doesn’t care. Read this concise piece from the New York Times that transparently shows the ways in which Trump does not respect the Constitution of the United States.

We are so blessed to live in a nation where we don’t have to worship the flag or the president. We are blessed with having a voice to stand up for the oppressed. It is a right guaranteed to us, and without it dictators rise.

6. Donald Trump is making America Great Again.

If anyone truly can reconcile the current state of America with this Hitleresque catch phrase, then I would have to presume they’ve visited the caterpillar and puffed the Hookah. We are inching closer toward rock bottom every single day. Families and the Church have been torn apart this year, and rightfully so.  Everyday we are calling our senators to resist damaging policies such as Repealing the ACA, the Tax Scam, and the Trans Military Ban. Dreamers are at risk of being deported from the only country they know. We are constantly at risk to waste billions of dollars on a nonsense wall. The Keystone Pipeline recently spilled 210000 gallons of oil, marking the largest oil spill to date, in the beautiful landscape of South Dakota. Recently, The Trump administration reportedly banned the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) from using these words in official documents:

  • Vulnerable
  • Entitlement
  • Diversity
  • Transgender
  • Fetus
  • Evidence-based
  • Science-based

Who exactly is Donald Trump making America Great Again for? He isn’t making it great for me, mine, anyone I love, and any other citizen that isn’t white and rich.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that the Jabberwocky and ilk will keep trying to deceive us. Any news that doesn’t fit their narrative can and will be fought against with Fox News, Brietbart, or Infowars. Now, more than ever, we need to use critical thinking, check resources, and stay skeptical. There is enough evidence for me to reject all of these impossible things I’m supposed to believe before breakfast.

We will find our way home. Do not fear. Stay engaged. Keep speaking. Keep researching.

And above all else, fight for the human. If our motive is what’s best for the human, we will rise out of Trumpland.

Wild Horses: The Last was First to Ride, Here Is What We Found.

Wild Horses: The Last was First to Ride, Here Is What We Found.

“Wild horses couldn’t drag me away
Wild, wild horses we’ll ride them some day.” –The Rolling Stones

I’ve always been in love with horses. The thought of riding a horse into the wild excites my spirit with feelings of freedom and escape of all that I want to run from. There has always been so much to run from. Mostly chains placed upon me by other people and systems I never asked for. The shackles of oppression came in the form of needing approval from others, or from God, church, and society. Love was nowhere to be found in this prison, not within and not on the outside.  It wasn’t until I encountered other free spirits in hell that I began to understand love. There was a restlessness in them too. As one broke free and rode their wild horse away, I wanted to follow. They loved themselves enough to do it, and the courage was contagious. I caught the cure from them, which was unconditional love for myself and bravery to go.

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You aren’t alone if you’re actively trying to make sense of this past year. It feels like we’ve entered some strange plane of existence where everything we thought isn’t true. It’s some bizarre point of human history where truth is on display, and massive exposure of all that is wrong. Victims of sexual assault are coming forward, daily it seems, finally reporting their stories. Predators are being thrown into the spotlight. There seems to be a mass shooting once a week. Horrid deaths of unarmed minorities at the hands of police are happening every single day. The demonization of LGBTQ, atheists, agnostics, muslims, and anyone not a member of the religious right is cast into the limelight for us all to witness.

Humanity has cancer, a poison infecting the good cells from thriving. Some of us have been fortunate enough to discard of it, but not without a price. Faith has been broken and changed. Tears were cried. This year the misfits rose up, the black sheep, the “last.” How we have done that is by finally cutting all toxic chains that were binding us from loving ourselves. We finally have found the freedom to be our true selves, because the systems and people we’ve been hiding from, as it turned out, are just as ugly and stained as we are. By cutting the toxic chains off of our being, we’re free to finally be loved. Unconditionally.

Unconditional love is the missing piece to the puzzle. It was the missing piece to my puzzle. My life has been complete chaos. I have spent a lifetime striving, and trying to change and morph myself into being something for another. I have felt shame about simply being Kimberly. I’ve felt guilt that I wasn’t who I was supposed to be. I didn’t thrive. I didn’t rise. I couldn’t.

I just couldn’t.

So I was self-destructive. With alcohol. Drugs. Relationships. Anger. Depression. You see, when you’re  down, there is only one place to go…deeper into the demon swamp of you.

This year, watching the religion of my youth support such immorality, turned on a light bulb in my heart that I’ve longed for. It was like “Hey, wait a minute, Why am I the bad one? Why am I hiding? Why am I begging for acceptance from any of this?”

And just like that, I changed. In the blink of an eye.

It was a truly born again experience. I realized that this is what Jesus was trying to tell us all along. We are accepted. Without conditions. It is truly a free gift. We need to do nothing to receive it. The gift doesn’t need any active work. The gift is you. The wonderful, complicated, messy you. Once you stick yourself on the cross, with all the shame, all the guilt, all the bullshit that other people have told you, then you can let it die. You can truly resurrect into a new creature. One that is free of acceptance from others. No more are you emotionally dependent on another. No more are you worried about other’s opinions. All of the sudden, you love yourself.

A magical thing happens when you finally discard of that ego that needs so badly to be loved by others. Without that need, you just want to love others, because you finally know how. Support them. Listen to them. Accept them. Help them. Celebrate them. No longer do you care to control anyone, or try to make them feel guilty. You truly want to be a source of unconditional love for yourself, and for others.

It saddens me that so many people throughout history have lived full lives never being able to love themselves. It’s heartbreaking that people are still living in secrecy and shame.

I was exposed very early on with people not living authentically in the church. When I was about ten years old, many affairs were exposed among prominent men in the church. Many secrets came out. I learned right then that people aren’t truly being who they are in this building. They’re trying so hard, but failing. Church culture takes the authentic you and tells you it’s not good enough. There are always expectations that you aren’t meeting, or people you are disappointing. There are so many biblical rules and so much rigid doctrine, it is overwhelming because no one could possibly  adhere to it all. This is an absolute nightmare for sensitive people. It was a nightmare for me.

So we build our lives and relationships on complete facades. I knew who I was around certain people, and who I needed to be around other people. I learned to constantly live in a state of censorship. I’m not the only one, I’m just one of the few who isn’t afraid to admit it. This year, I shed the skin. I tossed the mask out to the wolves. They can devour that instead of devouring me.

All of the hate, racism, and bigotry in the world is an effect of this lack of unconditional love. People don’t feel so bad if they aren’t one of these groups that they feel are so low or sinful. Pointing fingers at another just elevates yourself into a place of moral superiority. Truth is, people feel terrible on the inside. They don’t love themselves. How can they, possibly? Every true thing is stuffed down daily for a God they fear. They need approval, they’re addicted to approval.

If anything, on all sides, everyone involved in this twilight zone should take away that they don’t need  anyone’s approval. The church has supported sexual assault, racism, oppression of the poor and sick, destruction of creation, and the worshipping of money. Your friend seated next to you in the pew that you care so much about what they think of you, was part of it. They are part of it. They voted for and still support this too. Everyone is on level ground with a line in front of us with no right to cast our stones.

I just want to help liberate everyone, and set everyone on their own wild horse to ride into a new, authentic life. You are loved. The deepest darkest parts. As long as you hate things about yourself, you can’t shine light into those things and grow. No one is free to love others if they aren’t free to be loved.

So let go. Be you. You can’t please a single soul, and it doesn’t matter. No one can. But when you’re free, everyone pleases you, just as they are, including yourself. When you’re free all you want to do is to love the hell (literally) out of everyone, no matter who they are.

In conclusion, this year has been a mass exodus for the “last”. We finally decided to leave it all behind and enter into a new life. One that we were always meant to live. Wildly free. Wildly loved, and wildly trying to drag others out of the stables of prison. I no longer have this need to run away. I have found life that I don’t want to leave. I have found life that I want others to have.

 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold, and will inherit eternal life.  But many who are first will be last, and the last will be first.”

-Jesus

No ‘Moore’ Members Only: Club almost Elected a Child Molester to U.S. Senate

No ‘Moore’ Members Only: Club almost Elected a Child Molester to U.S. Senate

If you aren’t an ex-evangelical or former fundamentalist Christian, you may be scratching your head wondering how professed “Jesus followers” could vote for Roy Moore. You may be puzzled watching the Republican National Committee endorse and fund Moore’s campaign. Perhaps you’re bewildered watching Moore’s supporters sing “Great is Thy Faithfulness” and “How Great thou Art” as the results began to swing in favor of Doug Jones on election night. Maybe you’ve been puzzled watching faith leaders such as Jerry Falwell Jr., James Dobson, and Franklin Graham endorse Roy Moore. What is this Christian Club that supports Roy Moore? How could Christians support a child molester? How do they reconcile their politics with the words and teachings of Jesus?

You are not alone if you are asking these questions.

The same religious institution that voted for and still supports Trump, is the same as the one that supports Moore. Even after both men have received numerous allegations of sexual assault,  this religion still supports and endorses them. Even after the allegations of child molestation by Moore, this religion still supports him. Patterned behavior of sexual assault should be a stand alone reason to not support someone politically, however, it isn’t. This religious club excuses it. This religious club excused it with Trump, and then Moore. Sadly, sexual assault is not the only issue they are excusing.

They are excusing racism, bigotry, degradation of human beings especially LGBTQ, sexism, oppression of the poor and sick, destruction of the planet, gun worship, and child molestation.

Obviously, something is wrong.

Obviously this religion does not speak for Jesus Christ or represent Christianity.

However, they believe they DO speak for Jesus Christ and they think they DO represent Christianity. Which is increasingly becoming concerning to pretty much everyone other than them. Atheists are concerned. Agnostics are concerned. Muslims are concerned. LGBTQ people are concerned. Progressive Christians are concerned.

The reason we are so concerned is because this religion just endorsed a child molester because he is in their club. Their club means more than anyone else not in it. We all need to really take that in. Concentrate on the severity of this.

A child molester is preferred over an outsider of the White-Christian-Republican- Conservative-Trump Supporting- Club.

Scary and ugly truth, but that is the truth. Religious and political elitism has trumped doing the right thing concerning sexual assault, twice now. First with Trump, then with Moore. All in the name of Jesus Christ.  The hypocrisy of this is glaring in all of our faces. How can a Christian support a child molester, but lecture folks on sexual immorality? Christian conservatives have lost all legs to stand on. We need them to see that. We need them to see their hypocrisy because their beliefs are hurting humans. We need them to examine the beliefs and intentions of their religious club. Perhaps we all need to get out of our clubs. Maybe we all leave our clubs for a minute and ask ourselves some honest questions about why we are in our clubs. Questions like:

Do my beliefs hurt others?

Do my beliefs demean others in any way?

Who does my vote lift up? The Poor? The Rich?

Would I want to be on the other side of my vote? Do I want to be that single mom after the consequences of my vote? Do I want to be that elderly person? Veteran? Refugee? Minority?

What would Jesus support?

I just don’t see Jesus Christ supporting any institution, or policy,  that does not lift up other human beings. 

 

Jesus was human. He explained time and time again to his disciples that He is the poor. He is the oppressed. He is the sick and the imprisoned. The point of the entire Christmas Story is that Jesus was human. We forget that sometimes because we’ve elevated him into the Almighty God. Which is true. He is God. He became human. God became human to show us we are all God. God lives in us all. We live in God. We are all connected. We are all one. We need to remember this right now. Remember the humility of a God that would become human simply to show us how to be God-like. Being God-like is simple: It’s Love. It’s being love. It’s showing love to our brothers and sisters. Love is treating others, who may be outside of our elite clubs, how we would want to be treated.

Love is baking the cake. Love is denouncing sexual predators.

I don’t care what club that you’re in. Society made up all of the clubs. They’re an illusion of our separateness and if we aren’t lifting one another up, we are not lifting ourselves up.

Last night with the election of Doug Jones, the people of Alabama lifted up so many human beings, even people that didn’t belong in their club. They lifted up victims. Women. Children. Muslims. Minorities. There were lifelong republicans that helped make this happen. There were lifelong Christian conservatives that helped make this happen, and I am grateful.

So I propose that we take Alabama’s lead, and vote for the human,

vote for the child of God in all humans…

Don’t just vote with your club or to benefit members of your club. 

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