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Response to Your Responses RE: Revisiting the Depressies

So this post has been getting some good feedback.

In addition, I had a late night Twitter rant that served as the genesis of this post. Read that first, if you can stomach the foolish rambling and spelling mistakes.

More than a few of you have reached out to me, expressing feelings of solidarity and understanding. Encouraging words have been spoken. Attempts at understanding have been given.

There’s a two-fold issue here for me:

  1. It’s absolutely encouraging to hear that other people understand and have felt similar things. I’m not alone, and as much as I tell people to know that they are not alone, I easily forget to give myself the same reassurance.
  2. It’s absolutely heart-breaking to hear that other people understand and have felt similar things. They are not alone, yet they feel that they are, no matter how many people like me in their lives attempt to reassure them otherwise.

It’s #2 that reassures me I still know how to feel like a human. That I’m still capable of empathy and sympathy. That I’m actually able—for no matter how fleeting of a moment it might even be—to think outside of myself and consider another person. If that sounds like I’m tooting my own horn, you’re damn right. This is a victory for me, and for any of you who have struggled with depression, you know well how good it is to feel something that isn’t centered on yourself for once.

To be sure, understand that if anything I’ve said here has been encouraging to you, know I’ve only shared it because I’ve had to first scream it at myself in order to believe it. While I wish I could be altruistic and say I write so openly about these struggles solely for the fact that others like me might read them, the truth is there is another component that is just as satisfying. It helps me greatly to write them down. It gives me focus and a moment to center myself. To express what I otherwise have no other means of expressing. Those closest to me who are privy to (read: unfortunately touched by) these moments ask me what I’m feeling, and often I have no words I can share.

Here is where I seem to find those words. Here is where I gain the clarity and ability to look more clearly, even if I still don’t understand it. Here is where I attempt to help you understand while I attempt to understand myself, even if it results in you giving me a Side-eye Chloe.

Find your outlet. Seek your peace. Discover your zen. Do whatever it takes, but don’t let the darkness take over. And while it might be referencing a different circumstance, read some Dylan Thomas and rage.

If any of this sounds like hyperbole to you, then you don’t understand and I encourage you to seek understanding. Seek empathy.

Hell, forget seeking empathy; require it of yourself!

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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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Tithe with your iPhone?

I just received my Square card reader in the mail the other day, and I couldn’t be more excited to actually use it sometime soon.

What is the Square Card Reader?

This…

It’s a nifty little device that allows you to accept payments via credit/debit cards right on your mobile device (iPhone, iPad, and Android devices only). Everything is secure, and Square has even been FDIC certified. If you go to Square’s website, you can register for an account and get a free card reader in the mail within a few days.

While discussing this nifty little device with a few friends of mine, the topic of churches using it for tithing came up. I personally think this would be an excellent way for churches to give their congregations another option for tithing, as many don’t carry cash on them nowadays.

Obviously, there is a bit of reluctance in a lot of churches to adopt certain technologies, and to some degree, I can see where their hesitance comes from, though I don’t share in it.

What do you think? Is this something churches should consider offering their members? Does it reach a little too far for your tastes?

As always, the comment section is open for discussion.

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A shift in focus…

For my Social Media class I’m taking this semester (follow our hashtag on Twitter: #HUSM11) I have to maintain a blog with posting frequency of up to 3 times per week. Part of the requirement is that our blog must have a specific focus, or niche. Some of my classmates have already found their niches, with such focuses as interior design (@Alyson)all the way to local stargazing. (That last one is probably the most unique blogging focus I’ve ever seen. Congrats, @Micah.)

I’ve struggled to find what my focus would be, as I’ve used this space off and on over the years for very random, personal purposes. Nevertheless, I think I’ve found my “niche”.

Anyone who knows me hopefully knows two very big passions of mine: faith, followed by technology.

Why not combine the two?

Do I know how it’s going to look? Not a clue.

Will it make any sense? Probably not.

I’ll share the latest tech news (more often than not this will deal with Apple related products, so I’m sorry if you’re a hater), with a focus on what’s currently taking place within the industry and how it will affect us as consumers.

Where the faith aspect comes in is how we as Christians, the Church, humans, etc. interact with that technology. Whether we like it or not, the world we live in is rapidly changing, and will continue to do so, and there is a great opportunity as Christians to leverage that change before us.

I can’t promise anything substantial, but I do hope that if you continue to visit this space, you’ll be informed and entertained.

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Auto-tune the Spirit…Remix…

If you haven’t read my previous post regarding the state of contemporary worship yet, do that real quick. (And join in on the discussion in the comment section.)

Scott McClellen revisits the topic, as it was hotly discussed in the comment sections on Collide.

He brings up a few wonderful points to balance out the discussion, and to be honest, I have a difficult time finding any area in which I disagree with him. It’s a very well-balanced ground he finds.

My favorite part:

There are times when your audience ought to be God alone, and yet we can’t deny the marching orders to strengthen one another with our words and our songs. Sing songs to God with eyes shut tight. Sing songs to one another with your eyes wide open. And do it all in the name of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

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Auto-tune the Spirit…

How far can we go in crafting a relevant (there’s that word again), interesting, stylistic worship service before we go TOO far?

The answer to that question is up for debate, as we each bring our own preconceived notions about what a worship service should consist of, including, but not limited to (but possibly by), our own personal tastes.

Some like it old school, while others prefer a more contemporary flair. Even still, there are those who believe drums to be the harbinger of the Great Beast, while others consider them to be essential to bringing about the call for worship.

Regardless of how you slice it, we are all still divided.

In a post on Collide, Scott McClellan attempts to address the subject by linking to Allen Noble’s post regarding a recent worship service at Elevation Church in which the worship team performed an auto-tuned version of “All Creatures of Our God and King.”

The offending (or unoffending, however you feel) song rendition is below.

(You really should click those links before reading any further so you can have some context as to what I’m talking about. Plus, those men speak with much more grace and eloquence than I do, and for all I know, you’ll find anything I have to say on the matter completely useless; which may very well be the truth.)

Honestly? As far as the song goes, I love the sound of it. I’ll admit it, I can be a sucker for contemporized versions of hymns, and the auto-tune fad would only seem like a logical choice to experiment with.

Now, what really gets me is the video itself. Or, to be more specific, what the video contains.

I feel as if I’m watching a concert.

Before I go any further, I must admit that this is clip is taken completely out of context, and therefore, I cannot speak to what the intentions of Elevation Church were at the time. It could very well be that this is a portion of the worship service similar to “special music”, as McClellan posits.

This isn’t an attack on Elevation Church by any means; rather, it is more so a lamenting of the current state of worship in the Church today. Suffice it to say, I take a position very similar to that of McClellan’s, so there really isn’t much more for me to say.

But what about you? Do you think this is just an issue a few old farts are whining about, or is there legitimate concern here? I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

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Apologies to Brothers and Sisters…

As much as I dislike many things that my fellow Christians do (as I’m sure they dislike things I do on an equal level, if not more), I can’t help but feel a little guilty for how often I have thrown my brothers and sisters under the bus.

I speak often of ecclesial unity, yet am quick to draw a line between those who share differing opinions and myself.  When you think about it, it’s not unlike a form of political posturing that we see day in and day out on the  major news outlets.  I will very quickly put distance between myself and someone who professes faith, yet acts in a manner that is unbecoming, as if this deed alone would absolve me from any guilt by association.

The truth is, if I’m not willing to carry my wayward brother in his darkest of moments, then I shouldn’t be surprised when I am alone in mine.

Take One For The Team from Justin McRoberts on Vimeo.

Thanks to MPT for the inspiration, even if I don’t always agree with everything you say.

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