Screams

An Open Letter To My Conservative Evangelical Brethren

First of all, allow me to make the requisite statements of how much I dislike open letters and blah blah blah please think I’m humble while also listening to me as I stand on my soap box blah blah blah.

So, here’s the thing. We don’t really get along too well, do we? And by “we”, I mean Christians who identify—or are typically identified by others— as liberal (me) and conservative (you).

How do you know we’re liberal? Well, you know us primarily by our fruits (love for the gays—heyyyyyooo for puns), our vegan craft beer, the non-conflict wool beanies we wear, and our hesitancy in admitting that President Obama is the Antichrist (sound minds know that’s actually Paula Deen).

How do we know you’re conservative? Well, we know you primarily by your big ass trucks, the Truck Nuts on your big ass trucks, your adorable obsession with Glenn Beck (who, in a delicious bit of irony, is a devout Mormon), and underlying displeasure with having to pay taxes for anything (who needs hospitals, fire trucks, and police cruisers?).

As you can see, there are a number of differences between us, even if the ones mentioned above are obviously overly simplistic, yet hyperbolic, sensationalized, and more than a little patronizing (this is where I iterate that I don’t actually subscribe to these silly little stereotypes; except for the Truck Nuts, because I’ve never seen Truck Nuts next to an Obama campaign sticker, which would make one helluva subversive statement).

In spite of all these political and theological differences, there is certainly one thing we can all agree on, and it’s pretty significant.

God is Love, and that Love was personified through Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for all mankind.

I’d say that’s a pretty good place for us to remain grounded while we discuss our varying opinions and beliefs on just what it means to interact with and be moved by that God of Love we proclaim.

It’s from that ground I speak to you today, so please remember that as I move forward and attempt to make my point, which is this:

You’re tearing down the Church.

I’m sorry if that hurts or angers you to hear, but history backs this up. Look at any point of progress throughout history (Church or otherwise), and you’ll see the conservative factions of each time fighting and clawing for what once was to remain forever.

Adulterers must be stoned, because that’s what the Old Testament tells us to do.

Gentile converts to Christianity must be circumcised, because that’s how we’ve always done it.

Only church leaders can read the Scriptures, because we can’t be trusted to interpret.

Africans (and a number of other races) work so good as slaves because God has blessed the white man with civility and intelligence.

Women? Stay out of the voting booth, and in the kitchen.

I don’t want openly gay and same sex married couples working at a Christian charity that does some of the hardest, most Christ-like work in the world because ewwwwww.

Ahh, yes. That last one. Surely you’ve heard of this whole World Vision fiasco. In fact, I know you have because so many of you voiced your concerns, and then more of you actually pulled your support from the organization (and subsequently a starving child, but that’s neither here nor there). Your voice was so loud and powerful that not even two days after World Vision announced it was opening up its employment to gays and same sex married individuals, it reversed course and took it all back. Nevermind the fact that World Vision’s CEO was very obvious in his original statement that this new hiring policy was not a condoning of the lifestyle, and that they still held a traditional view of marriage. You were upset that your openly gay Christian brothers and sisters could even be a part of this amazing ministry.

You think homosexuality is a sin? That’s honestly ok with me, because I used to think the same thing, and I totally understand why you think that. However, even though you’re quick to point out that you place no more emphasis on the sin of homosexuality than you do on the sins of lying, stealing, adultery, et al., your actions absolutely place more emphasis. Where’s the clamor against hiring divorced individuals? Or those who might have a history of lying? Well, then you say that homosexuality is an open acceptance of a sin, and is ongoing without repentance. To which I say I’m sure there are more than a couple gluttons who refuse to change their eating habits that work at World Vision (gluttony is a sin that’s far more corrosive to the American way of life, even if it sort of IS the American way of life).

Where’s the equal outrage for an equal sin?

I’m not going to keep focusing on the World Vision issue, because that’s not my overall point (although, it is what spurned this letter). My point is that your refusal to even be associated with the sinners of this world (and of our Church) is drastically diminishing our ability to even be effective in forcing out the darkness in this world. We have so many differing opinions, and you can’t stand that. Truth be told, neither can many of us liberals.

But the hard truth we have to deal with? That truth that’s so inexorably staring us right in the face? Neither of us are going anywhere.

I’m sure some of you are ready to pounce on my imbalanced shaping of this scenario; that I’m not paying credence to the number of you who have been harmed by liberal thinkers with unloving words and actions. In no way do I think the fault for this division lies in your hands alone, and I’m truly apologetic for the moments when my liberal posse members (we don’t ride horses; we drive Prius’) and I have done you harm.

However, let’s acknowledge the fact that the American church is predominantly identified as conservative. Effectively, you’ve won the position as kings (and queens, because I’m liberal and love that egalitarian stuff) of the hill. You’re pretty much in the driver’s seat of how the rest of the world is going to view the Church, and quite frankly, that makes me a little afraid.

Afraid because you’re missing out on us liberals, and we’re missing out on you. We NEED each other. We can HELP each other. The Church will not last as the cultural powerhouse that you wish it to be if it remains on its present course. You’ve forced out a large group of individuals, young and old, who love the ideas of thinking freely and openly, of trying new things and challenging old ways, of living a life so furiously loving that it causes a number of us to forsake the shackles of isolation and loneliness and dwell in communities so intimate it would make your heart burst with kale juice.

We aren’t perfect. We’re certainly really weird. But we’re your brothers and sisters, and you are ours. We want to come home. We long for home, but we feel we no longer have one. The last few days have only served to intensify that feeling, and that’s a perfect example of how the Church is being torn asunder.

I’m not asking you to agree with us. Hell, I certainly know we aren’t going to agree with you. But at least allow us to fight and bicker and love under the same roof, as siblings should.

We owe it to each other, we owe it to the world, and we owe it to our God.

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Uncategorized

An admitedly douchebag of a post…

In case you hadn’t heard, I started a new job at Yelp on January 6 of this year EXACTLY 2014 years after the death of Christ. The position is so eloquently titled as Account Executive, but don’t be fooled: I’m not nearly as fancy as it makes me out to be.

 Unless you’re a total babe, in which case I’m a big deal with a desk and all. 

 This will be first 9-5 Monday-Friday job I’ve had, and it’s certainly an adjustment to make. As you can imagine, I’m not able to sit in at coffee shops very often—a favorite past time of mine—which means that I’m subsequently unable to write and post to Twitter and Facebook as often as before. 

 We now take a moment to pause while the world lets out a collective weep and gnashing of teeth borne out of disappointment and despair.

 It’s been an interesting experience consistently getting up at 4:30 in the morning (I still write for the tech website and do that before work) in order to be in the office by 6:15. Oh, I don’t have to be in there until 7, but in my never-ending need to always be early and prepared, I get there 45 minutes early to eat (free) breakfast and get some reading done so my brain is fully prepared for the onslaught that is my workday. The accounts I work with are located in the greater Chicago area, so I’m one hour behind them until the scourge that is Daylight Savings Time changes, and then I’ll be two hours behind. This is why I’m in the office by 7 (6:15), and why I get out by 4 (not really, as I’m typically not out until 4:30 or later, but don’t tell my bosses; or better yet, do tell my bosses). 

 My schedule hasn’t been this regimented since my college days, which isn’t to say much. I averaged no more than five hours of sleep a night, well over one hour of napping a day, and far more than 4 cups of coffee a day. I had a lot of “school work” to do, you see. But I had a “schedule”, and I’d like to think that somehow prepared me for my current job.

 Truthfully, this is one of the few times I’ve actually felt like an adult, and I love it. I never thought I’d be cut out for the office and corporate world, but so far it’s doing wonders for my sanity. Perhaps that has to do with the promise of a consistent paycheck and the potential for a comfortable earning. Oh, and I have health benefits—full medical, dental, and vision from day one at zero cost to me—as well free breakfast and lunches, and other fantastic perks (we have kegs in our offices; let that sink in). I’ll be the first to admit that this sort of “corporate life” is atypical, and perhaps very well-suited to my personality and goals in life (beer drinking, mostly), so it’s not as if I can really label it as “corporate life”, but lay off me; I’m trying to assimilate. 

 What’s the point of all this? Well, there really isn’t one. Not everything has to have a point, you metaphorical, pragmatic son of a gun. I’m just letting you all know I now have another kickass job on top of my writing gig, and I’m very excited about it. Am I bragging? Yes, but I have to endure all your posts on Twitter and Facebook about your silly babies and stuff, so you’ll humor me on this. Besides, what I’m bragging about at least puts money in my bank account, whereas yours takes it out. Babies are broke, and that is a fundamental flaw.

 Did I mention it’s the middle of the workday on a Monday and I’m getting paid right now to write about this, even though I’m not in the office? MLK Day, y’all. We get that ish off, along with 21 other paid holidays. 

 Toodles.

 

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Screams

Depression, loved ones, and and how the latter can harm the former.

There are more than 17,000,000 people in America diagnosed with clinical depression, and I am one of them.

Those numbers would greatly rise if we were somehow able to quantify and take into consideration those not diagnosed, yet still affected by depression. It’s a very real and present thing in our society, even if it’s rarely understood or discussed by most individuals.

If you’ve read this space for a period of time, you’ve no doubt seen me discuss my past and current struggles with mental health. I’ve been fortunate enough to get to a point in my life where I’m not so afraid to talk about it openly with others, though that hasn’t always been the case; and sadly, that isn’t the case for a large number of people. There are innumerable and various obstacles and pitfalls for someone struggling with depression, but perhaps the most universal is that of explaining to loved ones just what the hell is actually going on.

I can give you countless examples of someone asking me what’s wrong and why I’m feeling this way. I can give you one answer I’ve given all of them: I don’t know.

That’s not easy to say, and it’s certainly not easy to hear from someone who’s depressed. As a friend and loved one, we want to help and aid the person we care about who is struggling. When we have no way of understanding what the central cause might be, it’s not so easy to digest. It makes the situation far more murky and difficult to wade through, like walking through a forest at night without a flashlight and compass to guide us.

I know this is a feeling most of my loved ones feel when we discuss my depression, and it increases my level of anxiety when I can’t provide an answer. While I’ve coped with and learned how to manage my depression over the last couple of years, I still have my days and weeks in which I am overcome with worry, anxiety, and outright dread. It’s during those periods I tend to pull away from society.

I don’t return calls or texts. I don’t reach out to my friends for company. I’m not as active on Twitter or Facebook (yes, social media is and has been a benchmark for my mental health, as it tends to be for most people who use it).

I don’t know specifically why I reject community and friendship when I certainly need it most, but that’s the common thread of depression: I don’t know why I do what I do and feel what I feel. I just do it and feel it. The best reason I can surmise is that I know how frustrating it is for them to hear me say these things, and I begin to sound like a broken record that never really played anything of value in the first place. I want to avoid having to apologize for what I feel, or at least feeling like that’s what I have to do.

As difficult as it is to hear that as a friend trying to help, it’s exponentially difficult to say it as someone who is depressed. Thankfully, I’ve been surrounded by a good number of people who understand that they really aren’t going to get a detailed answer from me regarding much of this, and they let that be enough. They let their presence and words of encouragement be enough, regardless of specificity. Which is good, because sometimes that’s all I need or want. Sometimes that is enough.

However, not a lot of people who struggle with this disease are as fortunate as I am. Their isolation is exacerbated by fear and worry wrapped in flesh and bone. They experience the personification of much of what hurts them as represented by their loved ones.

Worry begets worry. Anxiety produces anxiety. On and on it goes, and where it’ll stop nobody knows.

If you’re a friend or family member of someone struggling with depression, it’s helpful to keep this in mind. It’s important to remember that your actions can and do have a powerful role to play here, and to be ready and willing to accept that the answers we give aren’t really answers at all. Be mindful. Be considerate. And above all else, be gracious.

You didn’t start the fire, but you might be pouring gasoline instead of water.

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Word a Day

Word a Day: Bowdlerize

I’m a fan of speaking intelligently, and even eloquently. However, I often run into people who say something along the lines of, “Why people usin’ them big ol’ fancy words and whatnot?” The Word a Day project is where I attempt to do my part in eradicating that sort of mindset, in hopes that we can all grow our vocabularies and learn to express ourselves in more diverse and meaningful ways. Some of these are words I knew before starting this project, some are not. Let’s learn together.

Bowdlerize -remove material that is considered improper or offensive from (a text or account), especially with the result that it becomes weaker or less effective.

verb: bowdlerize
3rd person present: bowdlerizes
past tense: bowdlerized
pas participle: bowdlerized
gerund or present participle: bowdlerizing

We can cry, “CENSORSHIP!” all we want, but the fact of the matter is if everyone went around saying exactly what they were thinking, then we’d have a lot more murder on our hands. Go on, you can admit it—someone has said something to you before that made you want to place your hands around their gender non-specific neck and squeeze like a lemon in hopes of getting some of that sweet sweet nectar. (That analogy got a bit weird. I’m craving lemonade.) My point is, it’s good that we allow censorship in some ways, if only so we can be snooty and use words like today’s Word a Day: bowdlerize.

To bowdlerize means to strike an idea or concept from either a text or speech so that it is to be rendered a little less offensive, demeaning, or powerful. We bowdlerize ourselves every day when we hold back some of the things our psychotic brains want to make us say. Sometimes we want to bowdlerize other people so hard for how silly they might sound. I’m not advocating that we tiptoe around each other as if the floor were lava and you could only step in a few places. However, using a bit of restraint might be useful, if only so you don’t get bowdlerized.

Can you use it in a sentence, please?

“Allow me to bowdlerize what you’re saying here, because you probably shouldn’t be talking anyway.”

Do people actually use this word anymore?

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There was a definite uptick in the use of this word a few decades ago, but that probably had more to do with Big Government trying to hold down the hippie movement, man.

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Word a Day

Word a Day: Sanguine

I’m a fan of speaking intelligently, and even eloquently. However, I often run into people who say something along the lines of, “Why people usin’ them big ol’ fancy words and whatnot?” The Word a Day project is where I attempt to do my part in eradicating that sort of mindset, in hopes that we can all grow our vocabularies and learn to express ourselves in more diverse and meaningful ways. Some of these are words I knew before starting this project, some are not. Let’s learn together.

Sanguine – optimistic or positive, especially in an apparently bad or difficult situation; blood-red

adjective: sanguine
noun: sanguine

I’ve never been accused of being an overly chipper person, but it wasn’t until recently that some of my friends started labeling me as a bit of a curmudgeon. I don’t know where they got that idea, and I don’t particularly care to find out; they’re stupid. There are, however, a subset of people who remain positive in the face of overwhelming adversity. Maybe their car broke down on the side of the road next to an establishment with a sign saying “Bates Motel”, but they won’t let that get in the way of having a can-do attitude, by golly. These people can be described as sanguine. They prefer to see the light at the end of the tunnel, while I prefer to tell them it’s not a light. They’re having a stroke.

Sanguine can also be used to describe something with a healthy reddish color very similar to blood. You could describe a beautiful sunset as being sanguine, or even the blood spilt forth from a thousand kittens. Whichever floats your boat, really.

Can you use it in a sentence, please?

“His sanguine approach to this difficult situation made me want to throw my hands up in the air, but not like I just don’t care. Because I absolutely DO care, Carl. Too much, sometimes.”

Do people actually use this word anymore?

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Sadly—like most good things in America—it has been in rapid decline.

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Word a Day

Word a Day: Paradigm

I’m a fan of speaking intelligently, and even eloquently. However, I often run into people who say something along the lines of, “Why people usin’ them big ol’ fancy words and whatnot?” The Word a Day project is where I attempt to do my part in eradicating that sort of mindset, in hopes that we can all grow our vocabularies and learn to express ourselves in more diverse and meaningful ways. Some of these are words I knew before starting this project, some are not. Let’s learn together.

Paradigm – a typical example or pattern of something; a model; a worldview underlying the thoeries and methodology of a particular scientific subject

noun: paradigm
plural nouns: paradigms

A paradigm isn’t just something a douchebag business guru talks about shifting at every turn, as if it were a pair of underwear that rightly needed to be discarded and changed daily. It’s an actual thing, more or less, with more being that it’s a description of a thing that happens to be the way we view a thing. Make sense? Probably not, but that’s because your paradigm of understanding what I’m saying sucks. The problem is you.

Think of it as a pattern, or a system of patterns of which we view other things, or perhaps by which we work. For instance, if I go to Wal-Mart and choose to use the self-check out lane because I believe it’s faster, my paradigm could use some good old fashioned rearranging, because we know that shit is hardly any faster than a normal check out lane. A paradigm is the framework by which we perceive a set of rules or standards, and thusly operate as a result. Some people believe the toilet paper should roll from underneath, so they place the first ply accordingly. This is a paradigm held by some people, and we refer to them as terrorists.

Can you use it in a sentence, please?

“Hey, girl. Why don’t you let me shift your paradigm a little? What? What’s this sexual harassment lawsuit you’re serving me? I’m talking business!”

Do people actually use this word anymore?

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Actually, it was hardly used at all before the era of BIG BUSINESS took over society and ruined everything. Attica, man!

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Word a Day

Word a Day: Auspicious

I’m a fan of speaking intelligently, and even eloquently. However, I often run into people who say something along the lines of, “Why people usin’ them big ol’ fancy words and whatnot?” The Word a Day project is where I attempt to do my part in eradicating that sort of mindset, in hopes that we can all grow our vocabularies and learn to express ourselves in more diverse and meaningful ways. Some of these are words I knew before starting this project, some are not. Let’s learn together.

Auspicious – Conducive to success, favorable; giving or being a sign of future success; characterized by success; prosperous

adjective: auspicious

You know those people who just seem to exude success; the ones who—no matter what, whether it’s fair or not—always come out on top, and life always seems to favor? Those people can go suck a lemon. However, they’re also auspicious, which is today’s word.

Don’t confuse the word itself to signify unwarranted favor. That’s something Christians have a death grip on, and we call it “grace”. Auspicious can mean a number of things, so long as it’s characterized by success, promise, and favor. Sort of like how it was quite auspicious of me to have been born a white middle class male in America. Sorry, chicks and minorities; them’s the ropes of inequality.

However, your life can be auspicious by sheer force of will. Do you work hard? Do you make smart decisions? Are you willing to help others in their time of need? Chances are that you will then experience a life of auspicious prosperity, to some degree. Like most things, it’s a matter of perspective, and not to get all Oprah Book of the Month Club on you, that’s the real secret to life.

Can you use it in a sentence, please?

“It was not the most auspicious of fates for you to get kicked in the nuts.”

Do people actually use this word anymore?

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There’s definitely been a slight uptick in the past few decades, which appears to be quite auspicious.

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