Snow: What it Can Teach Us About Being Human and Helping Our Tribes

Snow: What it Can Teach Us About Being Human and Helping Our Tribes

It has been snowing for days where I live with no end in sight. The suffocatingly beautiful kind of snow, and I’m gifted with a fresh blanket of purity every morning. Aesthetically, the world outside is breath-takingly gorgeous. Spiritually, the world outside is becoming smaller and the tiny life I live has become more clear. My community is in focus and the noise of the globe is muted in the trappings of the weather. The people before me, the Native Americans, understood that nature has so much to teach us if we allow it to, and the never-ending snowflakes have brought forth the importance of my small little world.

This modern world has been a blessing and a curse. It’s put the world at our fingertips and has allowed us to connect with others unlike us for the first time in human history. I can talk to someone from Australia within seconds. I can learn of other’s cultures and experiences any time of day. This modern world has shaped me into a human being aware of the small little planet we all share, and all the catastrophic problems we face. However, it has also distracted me from the tribe I am apart of, the little town I reside in.

The snow has a way of opening your eyes and putting your tribe in focus. We all share a common struggle right now. Winter. Driving. The cold. Before civilization, humans lived communally in their little tribes. There was no time for judgements or ego because they were simply fighting for survival. I can’t imagine life without electricity, grocery stores, or 4 wheel drive. Amazingly, the human race learned how to survive through hardship, but they did not do it alone. They did it together. The men hunted for food. The women gathered. The tribe worked together and helped raise the babies. They weren’t so selfish as we are today.

If I time traveled 250 years into the past, geographically I would be a Native American in the Ottawa tribe. I wouldn’t know a thing about Christianity, politics, or Kim Kardashian. People in my tribe wouldn’t be fighting about baking wedding cakes or about who deserves food or healthcare. My concerns would be trading copper for corn, and defending my family from the Iroquois. I would have to depend on my community for everything. Food. Shelter. Clothing. Love. Nature would be my teacher, the animals my family,  and the Sun and Rain would be my Gods.

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My physical body is white. However, some of my ancestors were Native American. Their blood lives in me, and I share some of their DNA. I have no right to claim it as the percentage of my Native American ancestry is very miniscule. But I’m honored to have come from such a beautiful culture. I’m humbled by it, and I’m in awe of their beautiful spirituality and connection to nature. They were warriors. Protectors. Helpers. They loved the earth, the animals, and learned ways to survive that benefited everyone. We have so much to learn from them, and it’s so important to keep their culture alive and educate ourselves on the original dwellers of America. I don’t think we’ve done so well with their land.

In conclusion, may we learn the lessons from the elements and from the people before us. May the snow bring you back down to your small life, and help you see that we are all in this together. The drug addict down the street. The alcoholic next door. The elderly that may not have anyone to go get groceries for them. The homeless that do not have a warm bed to get into. The migrant family that doesn’t speak English. The single mom that needs her driveway plowed. The children that need educators and positive role models. Change starts with small little efforts in your small little worlds.

We’ve forgotten the simplicity and hardship of being human. We’ve forgotten our neighbors.

We need to remember.

“When the last tree has been cut down, the last fish caught, the last river poisoned,

only then will we realize that one cannot eat money.”

Native American Saying

 

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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

The Line in the Sand: I Side with Eminem and So Would Jesus

The Line in the Sand: I Side with Eminem and So Would Jesus

My whole life I was made to believe I was sick when I wasn’t
‘Til I grew up, now I blew up, it makes you sick to ya stomach
Doesn’t it?

Eminem

Last night during the Hip Hop Awards, Eminem gave an explosive freestyle rap, blasting Trump, and drawing a line in the sand to his fans. Either you’re on the side of his, or you’re on the side of Trump. He showed courage and the ultimate middle finger to any of his supporters that are continuing to support this president. He stands to lose money or he stands to gain, however, in that historical moment, he didn’t care. Humans are more important.

You see, Eminem didn’t draw the line first. The line has been drawn by conservative Christianity for years. Either you’re their version of a believer, or you’re out, lost, sick, wayward, and backslidden. The line has been drawn by Donald Trump now for over a year. Either you stand with the media, or Donald Trump. Either you stand with the NFL, or Donald Trump. Either you stand with the white supremacists in Charlottesville, or you stand with the people protesting against racism. We can all pretend this line isn’t as deep as the Grand Canyon, but we’d all be naive. There is clearly a line, and you are on one side or the other.

You may think Eminem is a hypocrite because of his vulgarities in his rap music. You may say he has no right to criticize Trump because his rap music is full of filthy words. Do you know what his filthy words are about? I’ve been listening to Eminem for almost 20 years now. He is a lyrical genius that expresses the rage we all feel inside, deep in our bones and with every cell in our body. Some are too blind to appreciate his artistry to even try and understand what he is brilliantly bringing forth to the youth. They’ve tried to silence him, and censor him. Republicans tried to take him off the air for his offensive lyrics in 2001.

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So what does Eminem rage against?

Child abuse. Domestic Violence. Inequality. Poverty. Racism. War. Violence. Hypocrisy. Censorship. Gang Violence. Suicide. Sexual Assault. Rape. Police Brutality. Human Suffering. Drug addiction.

All of his epic lyrics that bring to the light all of these issues are lost on some because he doesn’t speak their language. All they can hear are the swear words. All they hear are the words on the surface. Art is deep. The message is deeper than the literal words. Eminem is no saint. He wouldn’t claim to be.  There are some of his lyrics that I obviously, cannot get behind. However, I see what he is speaking through his lyrical poetry. His truth is his art not actual action in real life. His profane lyrics don’t match his deeds. However, Trump matches his horrible words with actual deeds.

What does Donald Trump rage against?

Equality. Racial Justice. LGBTQ. The Poor. Immigrants. Mexicans. Women. Black Americans. The Disabled. POW heroes. The sick. The “hit” the budget has taken because of the humanitarian crisis in Puerto Rico, raging against victims.

You’re damn right I’m on the side of Eminem. No apologies. No shame. No guilt.

My blaring question is who in their right mind isn’t on the side with me and Eminem? Who in their heart and spirit can even justify being on the side of Donald Trump? People have tried to censor me as well for using my platform to rage against all things that burn me and others. I’m not following the Word of God, they say. Every word in the Bible is God-breathed. How about this verse in Ezekiel 23:20:

 “There she lusted after her lovers,

whose genitals were like those of donkeys

and whose emission was like that of horses.”(NIV)

This came from the mouth of God? Gasp.

But KJV only churches mask this verse with a more clean version to hide the filth in order to deceive further.

“For she doted upon their paramours,

whose flesh is as the flesh of asses,

and whose issue is like the issue of horses.”

Both verses mean the exact same thing. What word is this that is God-breathed? It’s vulgar. It’s pornographic. Yet, people are conditioned to be more offended by swear words than they are actual issues that deserve our collective disgust. Bring your Bible to school though kids. Read your Bibles that include passages about sizes, emissions, murder, and genocide. Read those passages advocating rape and slavery.

Turn off Eminem, he’s a soldier of hell, right?

Something is amiss, America. Something is so wrong with all of this. Some of us see it and we are blasting whatever fire we have inside at the cold, stark, truth. We are showing bravery, courage, and willingness to lose it all. We have to. How can we not speak against this evil force in office?

They’ve drawn their line. Evangelicals drew it again with their Nashville Statement. Anyone who is affirming to LGBTQ cannot call themselves Christian. Well, I’m not that kind of Christian. I will happily describe myself as a Jesusist, if that rocks their world. Because the Jesus I know, love, and follow, raged against all of the same things as Eminem. They tried to shut him up too. The religious and political leaders of the day tried to censor his message too by killing him. His message lives on though. Love will be spoken and has been resurrected. Love will survive and will overcome the other side. Instead of drawing a line, he said in Matthew 12:30:

“He that is not with me is against me.”

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Leaving Las Vegas: Returning with Hope and Promise of a Better World

Leaving Las Vegas: Returning with Hope and Promise of a Better World

Like many of you, my heart is boiling with fire raging blood in response to the tragic events in Las Vegas. The very last thing any of us needed right now was to mourn another senseless, possibly preventable, mass shooting, the worst America has seen. We are still mourning the refugee ban 10 months ago, and every other subsequent nightmare since, that is everyday, all day, sometimes every hour. Writers, journalists, news anchors, comedians, celebrities, politicians, activists, and other people that have careers surrounding the non-stop news, have no choice but to endure it, and then lend our voice to try and light a fire under the dormancy of concern.

It seems we are making noise in echoless rooms.

It seems that we are in hell with no reason to have hope at all.

Yesterday, after all day of grasping for answers, and trying my best to maintain my overwhelming grief, sadness, and frustration, my perspective changed because I absolutely had no choice but to change it. I cannot continue day after day beating my head against brick walls trying to open people’s eyes. Yet, that is what I am called to do. It’s who I am, through and through, without facade, and without a stage. I am supposed to talk. I am a boat rocker, a belief challenger, and a voice that is called to raise others with the same calling. So I must find a way to endure this. It is hope I am trying to speak and share, and I can’t do that as long as I am living in mind/spirit in this current reality of Hades.

Therefore, I am leaving hell, not physically, but spiritually.

We can choose to leave this behind. We can still act here in word and deed. We can still help others, voice our concerns, and give rise to the truth, but we can do that from a place in ourselves that is free. A place free from fear, worry, anxiety, or anger. We can choose to rest our spirit in the kingdom/queendom of heaven that is within us. We must not allow the darkness of this world to dim that light which is within us. Yesterday, I felt the darkness that was trying to take over. This evil I felt was hopelessness.

Today, I refuse it.

I felt dread.

Today, I refuse it.

I felt rage.

Today, I refuse it.

I felt terrified.

Today, I refuse it.

Today, I refuse anything that doesn’t belong in the age to come. I may not be able to do that physically, but I can in my mind. I can choose to believe that love, restoration, and peace will win. I believe that. I don’t have any explanation or logical reasons to believe it. I do though. I always have. The world tried to take that hope and belief away from me through religion, conspiracy theories, political divide, social injustice, other sad news, and experiences.

I refuse to be removed from the place I know exists. Perhaps only in our minds right now. But we are not alone in this. There are other dreamers, far more than we think, who can and will join us, and the world will be as one. All believers must do their best to live from this utopia/better world we know is coming. Thrust your thoughts ahead along with the prophet Isaiah, who’s vision was the same as ours:

He shall judge between the nations,
    and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
    and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
    neither shall they learn war any more.

Isaiah 2:4

This gorgeous passage was the very first thing that popped into my head yesterday morning and learning of the massacre in Las Vegas. I posted it on social media, and throughout the day I saw this verse so many other times, being shared far and wide. By the dreamers. We are connected to something, larger than ourselves, and we are echoing each other and sharing the message we all carry. This verse came into our heads during this tragedy for a reason. We didn’t act alone, we acted together, perhaps from a future place.

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Trust in it. Act from it. Help from it. Speak from it. Keep believing and give the enemy no reason to remove you. How much more powerful are we together, dwelling in the age to come, rather than alone suffering in this hell that is not permanent or lasting?

May we all dwell in hope and may we leave this hell behind.

May we create our vision that we imagine.

Today.

 

Dear Christian Conservative: An Open Letter from an Ex-evangelical

Dear Christian Conservative: An Open Letter from an Ex-evangelical

 

Dear Christian conservative,

I do not know how to co-exist with you anymore and that breaks my heart. It’s all I’ve ever really wanted, an authentic relationship that thrives with love, grace, laughter, and compassion. Instead the divide has deepened and the separation has grown. I wish I could change things as there has always been an instinct that knows that division is not the way. Unity is the way, however, there is no room at your table for someone with the likes of me. It is your religion that chooses who sits at the table. It isn’t you, and I know that, deep down. You’ve been robbed of relationship. I’ve been robbed too. So when you see me critiquing evangelicalism/fundamentalism, I’m not attacking you but the very system that has broken both of our hearts.

I’m at a total loss. Maybe you don’t know how much effort, prayer, and pain I have undergone trying to keep my worldview and faith the same as yours. I knew the whole time that I was going to lose you, and it isn’t fair. I didn’t try to lose my religion, it wasn’t a choice, but rather something that happened to me, and I’ve been doing my best to deal with it. I know I must look like I’m crazy. I feel like an embarrassment because I know all you ever wanted was for me to grow to be a faithful, church-going Christian conservative, and married to a deacon, or a Christian man with a nice Christian family. I know it hurts you to see what I’ve become. However, it isn’t your heart that tells you that I’m wayward. It’s your religion.

Your religion has taught you to cut yourself off from the world. I am the world now. Evangelicalism has taught you that you must say the sinners prayer or else you’ll go to hell. I now am an agnostic student of Jesus that flirts with atheism. Your religion tells you that LGBTQ is a sin, an abomination, and a choice. My son might be LGBTQ. Some of my best friends are LGBTQ.

So what am I supposed to do? I certainly don’t have any clue. I keep waiting for you to see the light but there is a door as wide as Texas blocking it. I’ve watched this president you support get a pass on the most despicable character traits. I’ve looked at your apathy about the racist civil war monuments. I’ve watched your support of the firing of NFL football players kneeling to raise awareness of police brutality against black Americans. I’ve watched your support of this president’s budget that defunded domestic violence programs, and I am a survivor. Your religious leaders such as Franklin Graham is praising a speech from Donald Trump saying “Kill them all” in reference to North Korea. Your religion is supporting taking healthcare away from 34 million people. Your religion worships guns and will not bend at all in programs aimed at reducing gun violence. Your religion is going along with all of this. It would take me all day to chronicle every deplorable action you’re being complicit in.

Yet, I am the one who is on their way to the flames. I don’t believe that. I love everyone. I just want the best for everyone. I want everyone to be treated equally. I want everyone to be able to get medical care if they need it. I want to help reduce alcoholism, drug use, and suicides among LGBTQ. I want the racial divide to end. I want this religious divide to disappear, as I see the hurt it causes. I have a good heart, a hopeful heart, and it pains me that your religion keeps you from seeing it. It hurt when I heard you say you couldn’t hypothetically vote for me, but yet you voted for such a terrible human being.

What is the solution? I forever feel like I will be part of the “secular world” that your religion tells you to have nothing to do with. To you I am an evil liberal, a “baby killer”.  I was primed with this rhetoric, so I know that is what you’re feeling.  I feel that instead of just seeing me, in all of my honesty and authenticity, I will always be seen as a huge disappointment and treated like a conversion project. I will always be in the wrong. At this point, if you continue these views and align yourself with this president, you’ll always be in the wrong to me. Your beliefs are hurting others, and you need to see that and own that.

I cannot pretend to not know how you feel. I was taught to feel the same way. My whole life I was taught to basically run away and distance myself from myself, my true self, my future self. It isn’t fair. I’ve done nothing wrong but study, pray, reflect, and try to understand the belief system because I was trying my best to follow Christ. Imagine how painful it was for me to realize how distant my religion was from the words of Christ. I felt lied to. I felt betrayed. Not from you, but from the system.

If you really examine this institution, how is it benefiting you? It’s keeping you from loving others. It’s cutting you off from enriching relationships and experiences. It’s keeping you from being an advocate for the suffering. It’s holding you back and pressing you down in it’s sexist theology. It makes you live in fear and guilt. I see the guilt you feel for simply forgetting to pray before dinner. Why don’t you feel guilty though for being complicit in policies that are hurting others? This system is using you, politically, to fight a culture war, increase wealth for the rich, and that breaks my heart.

There is an entire community, growing by the day, that have no choice but to choose. Do we choose ourselves or do we choose to chase love from people we will never receive it from? Not truly. I can’t chase anymore. I can’t allow myself to feel the pain of being on the outside looking in. I have too much work to do, too many voices to raise.

We have had to completely start over. We’ve lost a lot; our families, our community, and our foundation that fell apart-very easily believe it or not. It was like our religion was a piece of neatly folded origami, and as one piece came undone, the whole structure unfolded leaving us all with a blank sheet of paper to try and fill.

I cannot stop speaking out against this system. It is imperative for others like me to find other kindred spirits. We are all so very alone. We’ve been alone, our whole lives. We were listening the whole time, knowing we never belonged.  However, I will cling to hope and believe that one day eyes will be opened to what we are pointing out, and someday, we won’t be enemies by religion’s creation. Until then, I will stay raised up, perhaps on my own, because if I allow myself to be pressed down, then I have no strength left for others who are beneath your foot, including yourself.

Love,

An ex-evangelical/former fundamentalist Christian

 

Heaven: Would the Religious Right Even Want to Go There?

Heaven: Would the Religious Right Even Want to Go There?

One of the most beautiful concepts I learned as a child growing up in church was about this place called Heaven. I learned I could go there someday and live there for eternity. I was given very specific ideals and images of this paradise, and it resonated with me, deep in my heart. This place we learn of is a place that lives at the depths of our soul. I believe it is what we all long for if we dig through our humanity far enough to reach the core.

I was taught that in heaven, there would be no more pain or suffering. It is a place where the blind could now see, the deaf can now hear, the handicapped are now able bodied. There is no disease there, no hunger, no tears. Everyone lives in beautiful palaces on streets made of gold. Walls do not exist in this world. Flags do not fly. I was given visions of the Garden of Eden restored where the ecosystem works perfectly, nature is thriving, and pollution does not exist. Racism, hatred, and bigotry of any kind has no home here, neither does violence, war, guns, or bombs. Only love for all and peace for all. All creatures now in perfect harmony with the love of Christ. This is the kingdom of God.

To the realist, heaven sounds like far fetched utopian sci-fi. For the idealist, like me and maybe you, we can envision it. Perhaps we know how to better access this place here, now, because the dream lives within. Jesus tells us in Luke 17:21 KJV that “The Kindom of Heaven is within you.” He also tells us the Good News , “that the Kingdom of  Heaven is at hand”. It IS near. It IS alive, and it IS thriving. We are given very small pieces of it right now to keep us progressing forward, however, if you look hard enough, it is within our grasp. The entire point of Christ was to believe in the kingdom and bring this place about, on earth.

Currently, the religious right is creating a world that is the complete opposite of the heaven they yearn for. They don’t want to bring healing to the sick and dying. They don’t want policies that help the poor. They fight against policies that protect the earth from destruction. They don’t want to reduce gun violence. It seems they love war and love legislation that strengthens our military weaponry, even though the United States is already by far the nuclear superpower in the world. It seems they want LGBTQ persons to suffer with depression, loneliness, and thoughts of suicide.

I don’t see the love of Christ coming from the religious right at all. It brings me great pain to speak this, and I take no joy from pointing it out. I simply see the opposite. The things they value are bringing hell to others.

I wonder if they would even like the heaven they believe in? There will be LGBTQ persons in their heaven. There will be Muslim children in their heaven, as they haven’t reached that elusive “age of accountability.” There will be women who have had abortions there. Liberals too. There will be people of all races, all languages, all religions (counting only the children, of course), all sexual orientations, all nationalities, and all creeds. I don’t think they would fit in to that heaven, as they don’t even know how to co-exist now.

Something is amiss. What is happening in their hearts to want to create a world completely opposite from the paradise they sing about? I have family members waiting for the rapture everyday to escape the world and go to this heaven. I used to be one of them, completely obsessed with the end times and rapture because I wanted to escape and live in love and peace.

Shouldn’t we be doing all we can on earth right now to reduce suffering and pain? Shouldn’t the Christian support single payer healthcare? Shouldn’t the Christian support treating others with uplifting respect instead of damning and humiliation? Shouldn’t the Christian stand up to racism, bigotry, and sexism? Shouldn’t the Christian be a champion for women, the poor, the imprisoned, and the addicted? Shouldn’t the Christian work to protect the earth from pollution and destruction?

If I had only one thing to say to the world, especially the Christian world, it would be:

Create Heaven here.

It may not be perfect. It may always have problems, as utopia may well just be a fantasy, however, bring the kingdom a little closer. With every loving action, dystopia fades in the light.

Be the light of heaven in this dark, cold world. Don’t add to the pain. We have every ability to be the change we want to see. First though, you have to dig deep, through all the societal


and religious constructs that are keeping you from accessing the kingdom of heaven within you, because it is there. Those who seek, will find, and once you find it, you’ll understand that we are the ones that can save us.