Breakup.

I feel like this Adele masterpiece is a good breakup song.  For me and Evangelicalism.

You had my heart and soul in your hand.  But you played it to the beat (or was it beating)…

Beat violence leads to atonement

Beat certainty of beliefs and doctrines mean salvation security (Fuck you, Calvinism)

Beat Jesus needed to die because of me and my sinful nature, which I was born with (Fuck you, Penal Substitution Atonement Theory)

Beat Sex before marriage is sinful

Beat But when you’re married, it will be wonderful and holy (PSA: lies)

Beat Being gay is a lifestyle and sinful (I’m sorry)

Beat Pray more when you’re depressed and anxious (Do you even know what anxiety is?)

Beat Everyone is welcome and celebrated, but [insert narrow biblical interpretation here]

Beat Millions of people go to hell without believing this specific set of doctrines about Jesus and God

Beat Conversion means YOU are making disciples for Jesus.  (But you’re good.  You’ve got certainty)

Beat  Beating Beating Beating Beating Beating     Beat     Beat    Beat

“There’s a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch, and it’s bringing me out the dark
Finally, I can see you crystal clear
Go ahead and sell me out, and I’ll lay your shit bare
See how I’ll leave with every piece of you
Don’t underestimate the things that I will do
There’s a fire starting in my heart
Reaching a fever pitch, and it’s bringing me out the dark”

What I’m Into #2

I’ll pretend I got this posted on Friday.

I am again into Brian McLaren’s book “The Great Spiritual Migration.”  It’s so good.  My favourite quote so far (McLaren quoting Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov):

“Love all of God’s creation, both the whole of it and every grain of sand.  Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light.  Love animals, love plants, love each thing.  If you love each thing, you will perceive the mystery of God in things.  Once you have perceived it, you will begin tirelessly to perceive more and more of it every day.  And you will come at last to love the whole world with an entire, universal love.”

This hair salon in East Van.  They accommodated my last-minute walk-in request, and Medi, my stylist, was incredible and quick.

Liturgists meditations on the Patreon app.  They also have some free ones on their podcast.  Check them out.

Being outside in Vancouver!  I got to hike with David and two other friends on Sunday, and it was so refreshing.  Lynn Headwaters Park is beautiful and has hikes for all skill levels.

Adele’s 21 album, specifically “Rolling in the Deep.”

The hugging dog that lives in NYC.  It makes me have hope.

Micah J. Murray’s heretical and cussy talk.  God is not an asshole and other truths.

In terms of what I’m into taking up my time, I did watch Girlboss on Netflix.  A solid D for the lack of intersectional feminism and other ridiculous things like OMG, shoplifting as a white girl is SO fun and just totes hilarious.  Maybe I’ve saved you some time.

 

 

What I’m into this week

Each Friday, check out my blog for what I have been reading, eating, liking, and laughing at in the past week. 

Fiasco Gelato! Dark Chocolate Caramel Sea Salt.  David and I have eaten this three nights in a row.  Can’t stop.  Won’t stop.  Canadian-made in Calgary, Alberta.

Started a book club.  Reading and discussing and being challenged by Brian McLaren’s The Great Spiritual Migration.

Loving Hip Baby and their books and adorable clothes for kids.  Their store is located on West 4th here in Vancouver.   Spaceship baby leggings FTW for my soon-to-arrive niece!

This dive by MLB player Chris  Coghlan keeps making me laugh.  It’s quite the amazing feat, plus he didn’t land on his head or injure himself.

Crimetown podcast.

I listened to this album by Michael Gungor on repeat this week.  Gorgeous and haunting at times.

I picked up “We Are Not Such Things” book from the library New Arrivals shelf.  It was excellent, and I flew through it in less than a week.  520 pages of solid investigative journalism that also probes some deeper questions about reconciliation, racism, justice, and oppression.

Avocado on toasted rye bread, freshly squeezed lemon, and sriracha sauce.  For extra protein, throw on a fried egg.  So good.

#thingsonlyChristianwomenhear on Twitter and the ensuing fallout from an upset Christian Twitter.  Just search that hashtag on Twitter, and buckle up for some old-timey misogyny that sadly is still upheld in many churches across North America today.  Maybe not so old-timey after all.

Pistol & Burnes coffee, roasted in Burnaby, BC, has been making my mornings better this week.

Subscribed to Bitch Media to expand how I view the world.

 

Snakes ‘n eggs

“Don’t bargain with God.  Be direct.  Ask for what you need.  This is not a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in.  If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate?  If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider?”  (Luke 11:10-12, The Message)

Love others.  Always give to those in need – with your time, money, love, friendship.

Serving of fish.

But remember to evangelize them while you’re at it.

Hmm.  Live snake.

God loves everyone.

Egg.

Openly gay?  Sorry, we’ll take your tithe, but you can’t work with the children or youth.  Or get married.

A motherfucking spider.

God created earth from his love and made humans caretakers of its beauty and bounty.

Ah, fish.  Thank you!

Climate change isn’t real, and unchecked capitalism is God’s way for humanity.

Live snake.  Or maybe it’s dead because we have raped the earth of everything it has to give.

Jesus lived among and hung out with the poor and disenfranchised.  He stood up to the authorities for the oppressed.

Ah! An egg!  Thank you!  Now off I go to the protest for women, LGBTQ people, Black Lives Matter, First Nations rights, or anti-war protests.

Oh, respect the authorities. Don’t rebel against authorities God himself put in place.

Spider.

Read the Bible and do what it says.

Fish?

But not that version of the Bible.  It refers to God in a non-masculine pronoun.

Snake.  I fucking knew it.

Feed the hungry, care for the sick.

I’m scared to open this gift… a serving of fish? Please?

But make sure you tell them how to ask Jesus into their hearts while you do it.

Dammit.

We serve a mighty God of justice!

Sigh.  Egg?

So let’s pray for our troops to win this war against these Others who are threatening our way of life.

You know what?  You can keep your “gifts.”  I’m looking for something else, and I don’t think it’s here.

Wait!  Louder, more emote-y worship music?

No.

You want more conferences and books about “biblical” marriage and gender roles?  That’ll make your marriage happy!

No, it didn’t.

Wait!  We know!  You just need to pray harder.  Trust more.  More faith.

(Quieter) No, thank you.

(Gift giving is so over at this point.)

Well, we will pray that you find the healing you so obviously need. It’s not us; it’s you.

(Silence.)

Hello?

How Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” saved my Easter – Guest Post

Guest post from my amazing, brilliant David.  I love him and his words.  He is brave and he inspires me every day.

Also, go watch Silence.


 

How Martin Scorsese’s “Silence” saved my Easter

Easter has always been painful. For me, it has been a time of maximum cognitive dissonance, a time to reckon with the story of Jesus and the crucifixion that I often wish would disappear, because let’s face it, it is a bloody mess. Like a slow-motion train wreck, the Christian story of Easter is hard to watch and hard to look away from. Despite its bright and hopeful pageantry within my evangelical tradition of origin, Easter Sunday is typically the day when I feel the most disconnected from my church communities past and present, and alienated from the wider world. It emphasizes the most uncomfortable parts of Christian faith and the most esoteric beliefs we are supposed to hold.

This weekend always seems to arrive with an unspoken threat: be sure to believe in the Easter story with certainty, or you’re doomed.

During my growing-up years, pastors would emphasize the importance of the Easter message. They would say that Christianity is meaningless without the hope found in both the death and resurrection of Jesus. Good Friday: death, despair, and agony. Easter Sunday: joyful resurrection and new life. Each year, the flowers would bloom on cue and the risen Jesus would leap out of the tomb like a holy zombie of love.

This Easter drama is a fascinating story of sacrifice, but it had troubling implications when filtered through the interpretation of our evangelical church. The stakes could not have been higher. If you were unable to accept literal resurrection as a matter of fact you risked committing an unforgivable sin. It was hard to define exactly which beliefs were necessary, other than “inviting Jesus into your heart,” but Easter gave us some points of reference.

First, it was essential to dwell on the bloody, scourging death of Jesus and to acknowledge our complicity in that torture because we have sinned as individuals. Next, it was necessary to firmly believe in Jesus’ unexpected new life so that we might be saved from unceasing torment, eternal hell, or damnation – God’s public relations team would call it “separation from God.” (United Airlines might say, “I’m sorry sir, you’ve been reassigned.”)

With God’s judgement looming ahead of me, and my inability to believe creeping up behind me, the drama of Easter rarely felt joyful.

Martin Scorsese’s Silence is a film with all the drama of Easter and just as much violence. I’m not familiar with many of Scorsese’s movies – though I have seen Goodfellas – but I came across Silence in this Image Journal article. The title of the film jumped out at me. Nine times out of ten, I would prefer contemplation in a nearly silent theatre rather than live vicariously through another Michael Bay-style CGI fantasy. Maybe I am a bit awkward that way. And I felt cautious. A significant and respectful film about Christian faith, produced by Hollywood? It sounded like an effort to transcend the Christian culture wars, which can go terribly wrong.

I read a bit more about Silence and found out that Scorsese has called himself a “lapsed Catholic” who once wanted to become a priest. I would call myself a former evangelical who has stood on plenty of church platforms. I was intrigued.

**Be warned: The next section contains spoilers!**

silence1

Silence tells the story of 17th-century Jesuit priests who travel to Japan in search of a lost priest, their mentor, Father Ferreira. Rumour back in Portugal was that Ferreira had committed apostasy (denied his faith) and had begun to live as a Buddhist after caving to the wishes of the Japanese inquisitors who sought to stamp out Christianity. If true, this denial would be blasphemy. The priests set off on a mission to clear Ferreira’s name and evangelize the people.

The film shows how Japan’s Buddhist inquisitors used brutal torture and executions to threaten Christian minorities – the lower class, disenfranchised Japanese peasants who found hope in the gospel message. However, each execution only increased the fervor and resolve of the remaining believers.

The inquisitors realize that their efforts were counterproductive; so they switch tactics when they capture the two visiting priests. Instead, they try to convince the priests to publicly deny their faith as an example to the peasant prisoners. To do this, the inquisitors use the peasants as bargaining chips. For example, they give one imprisoned priest, Father Rodrigues, the opportunity to save many peasants from death, but only by stepping on an image of Jesus and committing apostasy. This would be more than a symbolic act for Rodrigues. The apostasy would reinforce the absolute control of the Japanese Buddhist authorities and cause the priest to throw away his own devotion – his reason for being there at all.

The critical moment in Silence comes as Rodrigues considers committing the blasphemy he has been afraid of. After much angst, he hears a voice in the silence – perhaps God or Jesus – reassuring him that he can move past the part of his religion that keeps him from acting. One step on the image will mean immediate relief for many prisoners. When faced with the choice between people and dogma, the priest listens to the voice, and the people are rescued, at least temporarily.

The film’s strength lies is in its ambiguity and its layers. Characters betray one another, they betray their beliefs, they break the rules, they ask forgiveness, and they make costly sacrifices and cowardly decisions. Over time, it becomes less and less clear what Ferreira and Rodrigues believe, and even less clear whether any of it is important. In a moment of uncertainty late in the film, the Jesus voice tells Rodrigues, “I have always been with you in suffering.”

Which brings us back to the Easter tragedy. What hope can we possibly gain by commemorating a blood sacrifice? Why are we still talking about it and can we please move forward?

Silence evokes a faithful hope – a hope beyond certainty-based doctrines and beliefs. This hope also allows us the freedom to recognize how our beliefs and practices have shaped our lives so far and that they will evolve. It is a world where self-worth, the worth of others, and what the church might call “righteousness before God” does not rely on a transaction in which Jesus rescues us from hell, but only if we believe in him correctly. And especially it is not a world where we need to imagine nor believe that we might be reassigned to hell, along with the other billions of people who have not confessed to the same creed.

Instead, maybe hope means that we work through our sufferings together, with compassion, and without knowing the end result in advance. Finding hope during this violent week means valuing people more than correct beliefs. Compassion means “to suffer together” with one another, after all.

This Easter, I can’t think of a better Christian message to dwell on than compassion, and I have Scorsese to thank.

Oh, my God, how can we fix this?

Jeanenne Fontaine was found shot in the back of the head, with her home on fire in Winnipeg, MB, last week.

Jeanenne’s mother, Lana, lost her niece Tina Fontaine to a brutal murder in 2014.  Tina was 15 years old.  Tina’s father and Lana’s brother Eugene was beaten to death in 2011.  Lana’s partner and Jeanenne’s father, Dennis Junior St. Paul, was shot dead by police in Norway House in 2005.  God help us.

I don’t have any words that could possibly comfort Lana.  All I can do is stand in solidarity with her.

Check out a GoFundMe page and consider donating a bit of money so Lana can get some household and personal items replaced after the fire destroyed her home.  I don’t know what monetary number could possibly alleviate the suffering and pain brought about by the repeated violence this family has endured.

Dreaded D Word

Yeah, I’ll say it: deconstruction.  I don’t mean with sentences either.

Over the past few years, I have been slowly deconstructing my conservative, Evangelical upbringing and life in the church, highlighted by periods of weird amounts of what I call Jesus zeal and lowlights of authoritarian ideas about God, church, and my very self.  So some days, I feel a little raw about shit.  Other days I breathe in the beautiful air, leap out of bed, ready for my day.  Shame and guilt don’t heap themselves upon me every waking moment any more.

There will be a few posts over the next while, sharing a bit of my story of deconstruction.  Mostly poorly-crafted poetry and some other random musings about the ridiculousness of ’90s church subculture. (Purity pledges, anyone?)

Here’s the first one.

She heard a story once

It was really late

He mumbled something, bravely and timidly at the same time, about maybe not believing any of it

She sat straight up in bed

He still believes THAT, though.  Right?

Sure, he mumbled exasperated, and mostly sleepy.

 

There was no sleep

There were lists of books to make so she could fix everything

The couch was her friend that night

She prayed and pleaded with God to make him believe correctly

Even though she didn’t know that’s what she was asking

She thought she was loving him

But instead it was smothering

 

Pushing things down, down, down

Until you feel better

For a while.

 

Get the prayer journals out

The special couples devotional

Send bible verse text messages

Gotta keep that anxiety under control

 

Oh, the Powerlessness of a Praying Wife

 

 

A Homemade Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday.  Lent for the next 40 days.  I didn’t participate in this church tradition until I was over 25 years old, partly because I wasn’t really aware of what it meant and I thought it was only a  Catholic thing.  (I know.  I’m still slightly embarrassed at my ignorance of my own church history.)

I didn’t make it to the 7:30 AM service this morning at the Cathedral because, let’s be real, I am not a morning person.

So tonight, on a brief break between my shows, David lit an old Anthropologie candle, and I grabbed my black eyeliner from the bathroom drawer.  A quick prayer, my favourite line being “Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing you have made and forgive the sins of all who are penitent.”  “You hate nothing you have made.”  I loved saying this out loud.  It felt like I was speaking love.  David remarked, “you don’t hear that often, hey?”  Yeah, I haven’t heard that message a lot in the church.

Back to the eyeliner.  Smudged some on my hand and then drew a cross on David’s forehead; he then did the same for me.  Some sitting still for a few minutes in contemplation.

My homemade Ash Wednesday.  That’ll do.

 

 

 

Right to Exist in Public Spaces

Bill C-16 is an act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act to add gender identity and gender expression to the list of prohibited grounds of discrimination.   This bill is sorely needed by the transgender community in Canada and has been ten years in the making. Previous Conservative governments let this bill stall and die in the Senate. But now in 2017 it has enough parliamentary support to pass and is supported by a large number of Canadians.  Bill C-16 is currently in the Senate on its second reading.  I have posted about my support of this bill before, as well as emailed senators to let them know how important I think this bill is to protect very vulnerable transgender individuals.  (For example, did you know that transgender people have an 8 percent chance of dying by homicide?  Yeah, walk around with that knowledge on a day-to-day basis.)

So of course there is a pastor from New Westminster, Paul Dirks, with a website opposing Bill C-16.  He has been vocal in the media and has started a campaign to get people to write to their senators to oppose this bill (by offering them prizes for doing so).  There is a protest on Sunday morning (a silent one so as not to disturb their worship service) at New Westminster Community Church.  Paul Dirks has launched a website to further his opinion that gender-neutral and trans-inclusive gendered washrooms would result in individuals preying on women in these spaces.  He says he is opposed to this human rights bill because he wants to protect women in his life, like his wife and daughter.

So this is where I sigh sadly, because I know his mindset.  I came from the world he and his church community live in.  Yes, men want to protect “their women,” but they fail to do so on so many easy levels: equality in the pulpit, on boards running churches, preaching complementarianism as a spiritual imperative, implying marriage is for procreation, obsession with “biblical” expressions of masculinity and femininity, and on and on and on.  This failure, I believe, is because it would require giving up the highly-lauded ideal of patriarchy (the man is the head of the home, spiritually and physically).  Basically, a giving up of men’s entitlement to what others do with their bodies and their lives, especially when it comes to women and women’s sexuality.  This includes trans men and women as well, because for pastors like Paul Dirks, that is a corrupted and sinful expression of his ideas of sexuality, masculinity, and femininity: so of course granting trans men and women human rights would be a “danger” to the women in his life he says he’s protecting.  It’s much easier to participate in this twisted savior complex when the alternative is acknowledging that your cohort’s narrative (white, straight, and male) causes much harm to women, trans people, LGBQ communities, children, and then repent of same.  That would require you asking the right questions.

“The bill opens spaces for predators to come in,” Dirks said.

Seriously? I have been harassed by men in many different contexts. (Big aside here: I won’t call men “predators” because then it’s easy for people to dehumanize men as a whole, which is not my goal; also, it lets men like Dirks visualize the issue with unsafe gender-neutral/trans-inclusive places as not being his problem because it is “predators” [read: animals] causing his wife and child to be unsafe, not deeply-entrenched ideas of the white, straight, and male narrative being in charge of everyone’s sexuality and sexual expression.)  Back to my experiences: Where have I been harassed?  Hmm, let’s see.  The train, the bus, the bus stop, the sidewalk, stores, the parking lot, and my own fucking car (a guy tried to get in while I was stopped at a red light.  I should have had a “women only” sign on it.  That would have stopped him).  Basically any public space where I could be and even my own private space of my vehicle have seemed to say to men, please, come give me unwanted attention and harassment.  You know where I have never, ever been harassed?  The washroom.  And that goes for gender-neutral and trans-inclusive gendered washrooms (which are in Europe, and people are just in there to pee, in case you are wondering), and the classic gendered washrooms whose preservation as-is seems oddly important to Paul Dirks.

I really hope, dear readers, that more people will understand where harassment of vulnerable people, especially our transgender friends, originates from and that protecting of these vulnerable people requires deep reflection of our own complicity in structures of harm that still exist today in our society.

Please come to the silent protest if you can, friends.  See the link above for info.  The right for transgender people to exist in public spaces is a huge human rights issue, and without legislation like Bill C-16, the very erasure of trans individuals will continue in our society.