Excused Absence

Hello all.

I thought you might be wondering why I’ve disappeared off the radar over the past couple months.

Bambini - 11w5d-1

That’s why.

Shit just got real, folks. And we are so, so excited.

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This kid.

Four years.

 

Holy shit, you guys, I’ve been with this kid for four years.

I stole his last name three years ago.

 

THIS KID:

#StillCrazyAfterAllTheseYears

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The kid who makes my food. And only usually sometimes complains about it.

Having a personal chef is nice. But sometimes they disagree.

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The kid who falls asleep on me more frequently than most sloths.

Few things are as precious as adorable husband sleeping on my lap. #Sleepytime #MarriedLife #HeLooksBigButHesStillLittle

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The kid who goes with me to the doctor and then carts (literally) my sorry, high ass around Target.

Post-op Target run.

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The kid who may be AN ACTUAL GODDAMNED MODEL.

I married a supermodel.

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The kid who apparently (?) likes to make meals out of my ear and/or hair.

A couple of goofballs decided to go outside.

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This kid, you guys. He’s the biggest dork around. And I love him to pieces.

My husband is adorable. He disagrees.

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Happy anniversary, goofball. I love you. Don’t ever stop being your ridiculous self.

Three years. THREE. YEARS. How is this possible? I feel like we've only just begun.

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The Words I Never Wanted To Hear.

I can’t remember the first time I heard someone tell me I was worthless. Though it was said in many different ways, sometimes without words at all, I heard it a lot growing up.

I can, however, remember the first time I said it to myself–the first time I believed it.

It seems so silly, now, to retell the story. It was a couple weeks into my freshman year of high school. There was a boy (there’s always a boy) who I had a crush on, who, for a while, at least, felt the same way. We never dated, nothing serious ever became of it. It was the awkward transition from middle school to high school, when most relationships lasted a month, at best, and no one could even make eye contact with the person they were supposedly “dating” during school dances.

He told me I wasn’t skinny enough to be with him.

And, while, today, I embrace the healthy curves, strong muscles, and 140 pounds of awesome I possess (well, most of the time, at least), I, at fourteen years old, was not so secure.

I remember, through sobs and tears, staring at myself in the bathroom mirror and saying, “You’re worthless.”

My whole life up to that point, and for far too long after, I had been led to believe that my worth was based on others’ approval  of me. Whether it was my grades, my friends, my chores, my scores in gymnastics, my career goals, anything, really, I had to do well in order to be loved.

The thing is, when you’re taught to believe this, it doesn’t matter how well you do, it will never be enough to really “earn” love.

That moment led to a downward spiral of self-hatred, constant anxiety, an eating disorder that always nagged me, perfectionism, and believing a whole host of lies others told me (and many I told myself).

I made it to a point where I wasn’t willing to accept praise of any kind, to acknowledge anything good about myself, because I didn’t want to (or perhaps couldn’t) believe that there was anything in me worth praising.

I also remember the first time someone told me, “You are good enough.”

It was my freshman/sophomore year of college (things get messed up when you don’t do four full years). I had just gotten in a massive fight with my father, about what, I don’t recall, and (again) there was a boy who, while much kinder than the previous boy, did not reciprocate the feelings I had towards him. I felt so alone and so unloved.

At the time, I was also a part of a prayer ministry on campus. We had an intercessory station outside of a vespers service, where I was pretending to have a handle on things. A dear friend of mine, who I had only known for a few weeks at that point, noticed that something was off and asked if she could pray for me.

Pray for me? No one had ever really prayed for me before. Though all I really wanted to do was keep everything bottled up inside, festering like the gallon of milk you forgot was in the back of the fridge, though I didn’t want to hear what she was about to say, something inside of me wouldn’t let me say no.

She didn’t know what was going on. She just prayed.

And I remember, she looked straight into my eyes, squinted a little bit, and said, “I need you to listen to me. I need you to trust me and believe me, because you’ve been lied to for far too long. You. Are. Good enough.”

I lost it. I just started sobbing. I had never been told that before. And, in that moment, I believed it.

I’ve clung to that since then. In the moments when I feel like all I ever do is screw things up, I repeat that over and over and over, like a worry stone in my mouth.

You. Are. Good enough.

We have this liturgy we say at the beginning of every gathering at my faith community. In it, we say the words, “We tell the story of promises made to those who were too old and too young, too broken and too far outside.” It always resonates with me. We are, without a doubt, the island of misfit toys. Most of us have been through a lot of things that often make us feel worthless.

But we are not.

And you, yes you, you are not worthless.

You, the weary, the depressed, the heavily medicated, the alcoholic, the drug addict, the adulterer, the thief, the single parent, the gay man or lesbian woman, the prostitute, the sex addict, the welfare recipient, the heavily indebted, the lonely, the hungry, the homeless, the heretic, the divorcee, the pregnant teen, the murderer, the whatever-you-are, are good enough.

If you’ve ever believed the lie that you are worthless, listen up.

YOU.

ARE.

GOOD ENOUGH.

Especially you.

Choosing to be Mrs. Anderson

When my husband and I got married (two years ago, now), I took his last name.

I’ve taken a lot of flak for this decision, mostly from fellow feminists. Because taking your husband’s name is a relic of patriarchy (agreed), and because it denotes his ownership of me (disagreed), and because it claims that my life up to that point is worth disregarding (disagreed), I ought not to have done it.

But here’s the thing: I did not take his name because I had to.

I did it because I wanted to.

I chose to be Mrs. Anderson for a lot of reasons. First, my maiden name was an eastern European jumble of consonants that made no sense at all and no one (myself included) could ever seem to pronounce it right. Combined with my seemingly unpronouncable first name…let’s just say introducing myself to anyone was a nightmare. In college (and currently), I would frequently just go by my first initial, which is a lot easier, but it didn’t solve the problem. Anderson is a much easier name (especially in Minnesota), so I decided to change to that.

Second, and more importantly, when we got married I was going through the process of leaving a family in which nothing good could come of my continued presence, on either side. Significant damage had been done and it was time to move on. This change of my name was a marker for me, that I was moving on to something new, that I now had the chance to redefine family and create one that was going to function like a family should. Not normal, not sane, but loving, real, and other-oriented.

I am still a feminist, and I was then too. Having the same last name as my husband does not prevent me from this belief and practice. I am not his property, I am his companion, his co-leader, his faithful supporter, and his best friend.

If you meet a woman who bears the last name of the man she loves, think, just for a second, before you judge her, that she might have a better reason than cultural expectation for doing so. Ask for the story first.

Hope for my Little Ones.

Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives is voting on the Freedom to Marry bill. As I think about this, and how it affects me and my future, I felt compelled to write this letter to my future children about this historic day and marriage equality in general. Enjoy.

Dear Little Ones,

Today, the MN House of Representatives votes on the Freedom to Marry bill, which would make Minnesota the 12th state to make marriage equality a constitutional reality. I do not know yet what the outcome will be. I hope to God that by the time you read this, all couples can legally be married, regardless of their sex.

You’re probably wondering why I’m writing to you about this. There are a lot of reasons why marriage equality matters. I hope your Dad and I have educated you well on this. I hope we have taught you to see the beauty in every person. I hope we have shown you that love, and not sexual orientation, is what makes a family. I hope we have told you about our heroes in this fight, men and women, queer and straight, who faced discrimination and hatred simply for believing that all people deserve the right to marry.

Most of all, though, I am writing this to you because I want you to know that, no matter who you are or who you love, your Dad and I support you. If you choose to commit your life to someone, it is of no concern to me whether they are a man or a woman, or neither. All I care is that they are worthy. I care that they are honorable and kind, that they support you, that they see just how beautiful you are. I care that they love you as much as we do. If you find somebody like that, it doesn’t matter to me what their sex, race, age, or anything else is. I will support you and love them as my own. I promise.

Love, Momma

Fatal Distraction.

This past week, this post has been circulating around the more evangelical corners of the interwebs.

While I understand the desire to focus on holy week (trust me, liturgical seasons are big in the Anderson household), I think it’s complete BS. For those of you who didn’t read the post, it essentially says that the “paint the internet red” campaign by HRC is Satan’s way of distracting us from holy week.

Seriously? That is some of the most transparent BS I’ve seen ever since the “women’s bodies can stop unwanted pregnancy from happening” thing occurred a few months ago. I shouldn’t need to write a post on this. But yet, here I am.

Try to stop me from talking. I dare you. DENIKA NEVER STOPS TALKING.

This whole thing seems like a not-so-clever ploy for conservative Christians to not have to deal with the world that is changing around them. A massive social movement of solidarity with the GLBT community has swept the internet; marriage equality is a-comin’, and they don’t know how to deal with it. So, they either fight back (enter Pat Robertson & co.), or they try to write it off as a “distraction,” and so they don’t have to deal with it–in fact, it would be better if they ignored it completely so as to not give in to Satan’s temptations.

But let’s back up a bit. 2000 years or so. There was a man wandering around Galilee with a ragtag group of the not-so-elites, the working class, the terminally ill, the unclean, the outcasts, the sinners, the unloved. He talked about some crazy ideas like unconditional love and self-sacrifice and radical inclusiveness. He healed the sick, fed the hungry, touched the untouchable, loved the unlovable.

But the people in charge didn’t like this. They had a system that had been working for hundreds of years. They didn’t want to change, because they liked the way things were.

But they let him play around for a while. At first, he was just another crazy person in a sea of misfits. Soon, though, he started to have too much influence. A movement was rising like a tidal wave, imminently bound to crash over their perfect little world. He was too strong.

So they killed him.

But this man, the man who was love embodied, wasn’t going to let that be the end of the story. Death only held him back for a weekend–I’ve had colds that have kept me out of commission for longer. He rose again, stating once and for all that love is stronger than anything else, even death.

That, dear friends, is what we celebrate today. That is what holy week is about.

And I dare say, if Jesus were on earth today, his facebook profile picture would have looked a little something like this last week:

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This campaign was not a distraction from holy week. Actually, I think it was one of the most well-timed social campaigns I’ve ever seen.

In the week when we remember his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus would not want us to ignore what is happening in the world around us. Not once did he put on blinders to the social situations surrounding him; neither should we. I believe this has been a call for us as people who follow Christ to rethink our systems, to see where we have tried to impose an archaic and oppressive set of social standards on a world that no longer fits within them, and to be advocates for those who are still fighting for rights that most of us take for granted.

Jesus didn’t die for your sins. Jesus lived to show us how to be beacons for God’s love on this planet. That’s what holy week is about.

So today, as we celebrate the blessed life of Jesus, the one who was love embodied, let us take a good look around us and see where we perpetuate injustice. Let us stand for the people Jesus stood for. Let us pour ourselves out so that others might be filled.

For Christ’s sake, let us be love.

Beautiful Terrible Reckless Love.

It is once again time for a #progGOD challenge. Tony Jones called all us emergent-y types to write on the meaning and, potentially, necessity for the crucifixion. This time, he’s rewarding the person whose post gets the most likes, shares, and whatnot, so if you like what you read here, please, share it so I can get free books. You can read my other #progGOD posts here (nature of God) and here (incarnation).

Today is Ash Wednesday.

This is my first Ash Wednesday since I began practicing an active faith in which I will not be going to a church service. No, instead, Doug Pagitt (more likely, his wife) is going to make me tacos. For real. But, this is a very strange feeling for me. I don’t know if this is good or bad.

Similarly, I’m not sure if it is very timely or horribly inappropriate to write about the crucifixion today. We’re in the right season (sort of), but we’re also not. Lent is a process.

I’m going to go ahead and write anyway, if for no other reason than that Tony posted the challenge today.

First, I must begin with my atonement theology history.

I recall writing a paper roughly two years ago for a theological controversies class I was taking. The class was instructed to write on the nature of the atonement, based on a book our professor had written. This book contained expositions of four (really three) atonement theories: Ransom, Penal Substitutionary, Christus Victor, and Kaleidoscopic. I remember writing my paper and affirming the Kaleidoscopic theory, which claims a multifaceted understanding of the atonement, simply because none of the other three really seemed to accurately depict what I thought happened on the Cross.

Probably because there are many more major atonement theories than the three/four listed in that book. Talk about limited atonement (ba dum shhhh).

A few months later, I read Love Wins by Rob Bell. I had to rethink my atonement theology as a result. I came out basically agreeing that love does indeed win.

Last spring, I wrote my senior thesis on my emergent systematic theology, and had to rethink not just the atonement, but all the related theological issues. It was at this point that I rejected the idea of original sin.

I have since realized that, without original sin, there is no express cosmological need for the crucifixion (or the resurrection).

So then, if all this is to be assumed, Tony rightly begs the question–why a crucifixion?

If Jesus didn’t die to break some cosmological sin-curse, why did he have to die? Why couldn’t he have just “ascended” like Elijah (physics and historicity aside)? Why is this violence central to Christian theology?

I think this requires a quick reworking of the associative property:

  1. God is love.
  2. Jesus is God incarnate.
  3. Therefore, Jesus is love incarnate.

Ha. Mrs. Eldredge was right after all–I would need to use math in real life.

So, if Jesus is love incarnate, then the reason for his life is to spread and teach the ultimate  αγάπη love. This is a radical movement on his behalf. While there might not be such a thing as original sin, we can think of sin as a disease that spreads throughout all humanity–namely, selfishness–and thus we can understand that we are all chronically, but not terminally, ill. Jesus is our great healer. His radical, completely selfless love is the means by which humanity is redeemed. He invites all creation in, even the sickest people, and loves them recklessly.

However, if this love is our medicine, it surely is not one that goes down easily.

Because this great love can move us to do wonderful and amazing things, but it can also make us furious, jealous, or even vengeful when we can’t seem to look past our own selfishness and let love abide. It is especially threatening to those of us with great privilege, as this love requires us to let go of the things that have given us power over others, power which we rather like.

So, forsaking humility, we take that love and we dominate it. We arrest it, strip it, scourge it, and mock it. We pin it down and nail it to a tree–where we can keep an eye on it and be assured it won’t get out. We starve it of food, drink, rest, even air. We push it to its breaking point. We let it die.

And the beautiful, yet incredibly terrible thing about this love is that it submits to it all.

This love chooses to die. Because if it chose not to, it would be going against its very nature and choosing self over others.

But do not let submission read as giving up. Because this love does nothing of the sort.

Beautifully and terribly, this love rises from the ashes. This love is so strong that not even the worst thing we can do to it can overcome it. Our very worst–the depths of our selfishness–are nothing in comparison to the depths of this love.

Tony asked why a crucifixion is necessary. Ontologically speaking, it isn’t. Even considering the pervasiveness of sin, it still isn’t necessary. But, presented with the choice between being crucified and saving himself, Jesus shows us why choosing the crucifixion is the only choice, and why the resurrection is the only possible outcome.

Because, dear friends, in the end, love wins.

When Hope Dwelled Among Us.

So, yesterday, Tony Jones began progGod round two. This time (in the spirit of Advent), it’s on the Incarnation. As a progressive and a theologian-in-training, I’m providing my thoughts. If you fit the same description, you should too.

I have to admit, I’ve never really heard a good theology of the Incarnation. The one that was most familiar to me in my time at my evangelical-Baptist college had something to do with Penal Substitutionary Atonement, but since I (and many progressives) don’t hold to that Atonement theory, that Incarnation theory doesn’t work well. So we need something else.

When I read the Incarnation story, and the story of Jesus in general, I find five main reasons for Jesus’ coming (versus a divine act from on high without physical presence):

  1. Jesus came to restore creation to even more than its former glory, beauty, and fullness. In this, Jesus breathed new life into a creation in turmoil, giving it a new beginning and a new hope. Jesus did not come to “fix a problem,” but to completely undo and renew the whole of creation. This was a cosmological shift in reality. Not backwards to some previous perfection, not forwards to a coming utopia, but an altogether different direction.
  2. Jesus came to bring hope to the broken. By coming and changing the formerly unchangeable, Jesus stands as a beacon of hope for all who are broken and suffering, to say that better things are coming. This is where the “firstfruits” metaphor becomes relevant: Jesus sets in motion the beginning of a new age of hope and blessing.
  3. Jesus came to fight for the oppressed and marginalized. Jesus stood on the side of the outcasts of society, the otherwise unloved, and turned the whole system around to put them on top. We hear this one quite often, so I don’t feel the need to expound on this one much, I will say this: read the Sermon on the Mount if you have any question that this is true.
  4. Jesus came to issue a “revolutionary threat” to systems that produce injustice. Jesus stood up to those in power and called them into a new order; by submitting in a revolutionary way to their injustice, Jesus exposed it for exactly what it was and threatened its livelihood.
  5. Jesus came to teach followers how to reflect the divine to the world, and vice versa. Jesus came as both physical and divine, perfectly mirroring each realm to the other, and called us to do likewise. As the divine in the midst of humans, Jesus made love and all its compatriots abound. As a human uniquely and wholly intertwined in the divine, Jesus brought the world into relationship with the Creator in a way not previously possible.

All of this requires a physical existence:

  1. At the dawn of creation (however you choose to view it), God had to intervene in a physical way by creating existent matter. Jesus, in bringing about not simply repair, but restoration, must likewise intervene physically. A new beginning requires a new creation, and a new creation requires intervention.
  2. Jesus comes and does physical acts–feedings, healings, et cetera–as a promise that a new day is dawning. Without the physical presence of Christ, this promise is empty. Jesus is, as a human, the light in the midst of great darkness. Verbal or, more deeply, spiritual promises from God mean nothing if reality stays the same. Jesus broke through the wall separating God and creation and wove the promises into reality–physical healing and spiritual freedom, et cetera.
  3. Jesus cannot become one with the oppressed and marginalized without becoming oppressed and marginalized. Empathy and solidarity are two very different postures. Without Jesus’ suffering, we would not be able to confidently claim that God is on our side. Instead, it would appear quite the opposite.
  4. Holy texts have been used since their penning to justify horrible things. A physical Jesus cannot, while still present, be twisted in such a way. The “Word incarnate” language is relevant in this, that Jesus is a self-sent decree from on high which cannot be mangled when it can respond, dialogue, and critique.
  5. God cannot adequately teach humanity how to have a relationship simultaneously with the divine and the world if Jesus had not first modeled this. God cannot call us to this level of responsibility without modeling it first. If we are to be doing as Jesus did, Jesus has to have done this at some point.

All of this can be fairly well summed up to say that Jesus, in coming as both human and divine, was hope embodied. Hope for a creation groaning for restoration, hope for the broken waiting for a light to shine in their darkness, hope for the oppressed and marginalized in desperate need of a revolution, hope for leaders who have lost concern for justice, hope for all, that in this moment, the divine is being woven into the earthly. Hope that there is a God who is love and who desires for that very love to abound. When Jesus came, incarnate, hope dwelled among us. And the world was never the same.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

My Bible Tells Me To Love.

So.

A couple days ago, I watched a documentary called “For The Bible Tells Me So.” It’s on Netflix; you all should really watch it.

It was about the Church’s oppression of the GLBT community.

Mainly, it centered on telling the stories of five or so different GLBT individuals and their families, who were all deeply rooted in the (American) Church. It depicted their coming-out stories, their families’ varied acceptance, and what they’ve done to bridge the gap between the GLBT community and the Church.

It was powerful.

Silly me, I just wanted background noise. I got myself into watching one of the most heart-wrenching movies I’ve ever seen.

(Suck it, Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook was awful.)

I’m still processing. On the one hand, I was incredibly upset by the things some of the Christians in the movie were saying. This is the community I come from, and I’m supposed to be proud of that?

I’m not ashamed of Christ. However, I’m very ashamed of Christians. Not only has an unbelievable amount of hatred (and in many cases, violence) been unleashed towards a community that does not, for any reason, deserve it, but the voices of our brothers and sisters who are part of that community (as well as the voice of science) have been silenced.

On the other hand, I found the stories of reconciliation, of bridging the gap, of learning to love with or without agreeing with one another to be so inspiring. It gave me a lot of hope for the Church, that maybe we can learn to be a group that really does strive to be like Jesus–to love all people, no conditions, period. Not “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Not even just “love the sinner.” Just love, saint or sinner, gay or straight. 

Because here’s the thing: we’re not the ones who ought to judge. One of my pastors (I think he’s the primary pastor of the Porch? I’m not really sure. He leads the sermon discussion.) said of Romans 1 (verses 26-27 of which are often used to condemn GLBT individuals) and 2 that the chapter break between them is the most ill-placed in the entire Bible. There’s no sense of division between the two in the Greek text, but we’ve placed a division there for no reason. In chapter one, Paul goes on and on about how people are generally terrible, and then begins chapter two by saying (essentially) “So who are you to judge?”

Here’s Romans 1:18-32:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal human beings and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

And here’s the following passage, Romans 2:1-16, separated as we usually read it in our English Bibles:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience,not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay everyone according to what they have done.”[e]To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 11 For God does not show favoritism.

12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God’s sight, but it is those who obeythe law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges everyone’s secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.

Now, here’s what it would be like if we read them as one text (shortened to include the most relevant portions):

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of human beings who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them. 1You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience,not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. 

It’s a much different message this way, isn’t it?

I want to leave you with one final quote from the movie. Let it inspire you to initiate conversation, to look differently at people you consider “others” or “outsiders,” and to love with the undiscriminating heart of Jesus.

“So many people who are victims of the fundamentalist christian caricature of gays become fearful and stay fearful until they meet one.”

My Kool-Aid May Be Organic Wildflower-Taro Flavored, But It’s Still Kool-Aid

It all started with a simple glass of tea.

I swear that isn’t Kool-Aid. It is Tazo’s Passion iced tea, and it is FABULOUS.

So anyway.

I made this tea, and remarked to my husband that it looked like Kool-Aid. He then, in typical ultra-sarcastic husband fashion, proceeded to ask me if I was “drinking the Kool-Aid.”

I almost made some snarky comment regarding politics and voting Green just to piss conservative Christians off, but I stopped. I began to wonder if I was, in fact, drinking someone’s Kool-Aid.

I don’t generally buy into either major (U.S.) party’s rhetoric; truth be told, I’ve even started shutting off NPR when they do political updates. Rachel Held Evans said it best when she wrote,

My generation is tired of the culture wars…[we] are ready for peace. We are ready to lay down our arms. We are ready to stop waging war and start washing feet.

I know very, very well that I am tired of political wars. I so earnestly desire a time when all people, both in the U.S. and worldwide, can learn how to stop hating each other and start working together to actually make things better. I am far too pessimistic to believe it will ever happen, but hey, dreams.

So often, I do not find myself “drinking the Kool-Aid” of United States politics.

But I wonder if there’s a different kind of Kool-Aid that I’m drinking.

I have a long list of theological heroes. Tony Jones, Tripp and Bo, Rachel Held Evans, Greg Boyd, Doug Pagitt, Nadia Bolz-Weber, Shane Claiborne…goodness, I could just keep on listing all night. I read their blogs, I listen to their sermons and podcasts, I annoy follow them on Twitter, I learn from them. I am greatly impacted by their thoughts.

So much so that I often have to step back and examine my thoughts on a specific issue to see if they’re really mine, or if they’re an amalgam of the thoughts of people who inspire me.

I try never to take anything (important) at face value. I try to research issues as much as I can before I take a stance on them. I try to listen to people on all sides of any given debate.

But I often find myself assimilating the stances of those I look up to before I can get that far.

Take, for instance, the issue of evolution. I’ve never really taken a solid stance on it. I knew I wasn’t a young-earth creationist, but I didn’t get much further than that (perhaps because I went to a conservative Baptist college where evolution was, for real, a blacklisted issue for class discussion). This past Spring, I had been listening to some Homebrewed Christianity, while writing my senior sem paper on the Emergent movement, and for the first time came into some arguments from Christ-following scholars in favor of evolution. I began to research the issue, but because it ended up not fitting well in my paper, I stopped my research early and have not picked it back up since.

However, I now find myself assuming this stance, without having any real support for it. I’ve barely researched it, and the only reason I even started doing that was because someone I look up to said they thought it was true.

Sounds an awful lot like drinking Kool-Aid, doesn’t it?

Don’t get me wrong. I look up to these people for a reason and I generally do agree with them on most things. However, I think it is vital that we not take stances on issues we know nothing about. And especially right now, as the U.S. has divided itself in half and has commenced an all-out war of political bashing.

Before we argue, whether about politics, theology, or whether Helvetica is better than Arial or not (it is), let’s step back. Let’s research. Let’s approach the issues as neutrally as possible before we decide who we think is right. And, most of all, let’s remember that the people who disagree with us are still, in fact, people, and we should treat them as such.

I am so tired of human beings acting like zoo monkeys. Please, before you fling your excrement at someone, know why you’re doing it, and remember that the more shit you throw, the more will come flying back at you.