Category Archives: Dan’s Posts

I love Pat Robertson so goddamn much – A WTFaith Quickie

Every time Pat Robertson talks, it’s my birthday.

The above link is a CNN religion blog article about Patty Rob’s “Top 10″ most controversial quotes. While I remember this one from my mis-spent pagan youth. . .

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

. . . I got great joy out of some of the gems I was exposed to for the first time.

Like this one!

“Many of those people involved in Adolf Hitler were Satanists. Many were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together.”

Clealry this man is a master of social science. He has more facts that Xerox.

Read the article, then comment with your favorite Patty Rob quote, and why! And if you actually, non-sarchastically love Pat Robertson, could you. . . maybe. . . maybe explain that to me, a little?

Kisses!


The Exodus example.

You might have heard about it on Facebook. Or maybe you ran across Rachel Held Evans blogging about it.

Or maybe you read it here.

Or here.

It’s been lots of places, is what I’m trying to say.

When Brandi heard about this, she said, “This is it, Daniel. The people who lead by hate are going to lose.”

But that didn’t sound right to me.

“No, they’re not,” I replied. “They aren’t going to lose because it’s not about winning or losing. They’re going to be healed.”

I didn’t say that to mean that people only take a hard stance against homosexuality because they are broken – I am saying that we’re all broken. For some people, their hatred against the LGBT community was a defining character trait. For others, it was just a part of their human makeup, which by definition includes both the light of the Creator and the stagnant, filthy muck that we get from living in a war zone. I’m not saying that “affirming” churches are right but “biblical” churches are wrong. What I’m saying is that all of us our sometimes wrong, in ways big or small – and very few of us ever have the courage to repent, to apologize, to come clean, and to make ourselves vulnerable to those we have hurt.

In the Vineyard, they talk about the Kingdom of God in terms of the “now”, and the “not yet.” By that they mean that Jesus brought the Kingdom to earth, but that until he returns, it isn’t yet fully realized. This is an important stance to take if you want to teach people that they have a responsibility to help bring the Kingdom closer. It isn’t just that God is going to move the needle closer to the “now” position until, one day, there’s no where else for the needle to go – we are acting in partnership with the creator, with the duty to participate in the rebuilding of the world and the privilege of being part of something that God himself is directing.

Call me a sentimental fool with girly feelings, but I think we just helped move the needle. And today, I’m proud to call myself a Christian.


Debate this for my amusement! A What the Faith Quickie

Alright, folks, I’m on a break at work and I have five minutes so OHMYGODREADTHISARTICLEVERYFAST!

Hurry!

Hurryhurryhurry!

Okay, now pause. Catch your breath. You did well, padawans.

Is a Christian’s spoken/written opposition to homosexuality, based on their interpretation of the bible, reason enough to accuse them of hate speech?

GO!


Sometimes, teens are awesome.

When I was a skeptic (well, when I was more of a skeptic than I am today) one of the things that bugged me most about Christians was that they did incredibly stupid crap all the time, but none of them ever seemed to notice it. Every church scandal seemed to be met with people either defending the committer of the scandal, or excusing them by saying that we all fall short of grace (a shallow excuse for whoring or embezzlement if I’ve heard one), or claiming that the person who carried out the scandalous activity was not “a real Christian”. I hated these answers. I hated that I never saw any Christians just taking a moment to say, “Yeah, that guy was a complete ass. Sorry about that.” So when I started my own faith blog, both Brandi and I agreed that we weren’t going to do that – when we saw someone showing their ass and claiming to represent the whole Body of Christ, we were going to a) call them out, and b) apologize.

I think I can honestly say that we have done that. We have gone out of our way to single out people who, we felt, were misrepresenting not just Jesus Christ, but everyone who tries to emulate Jesus in their own lives. And that experience has been rewarding at times, depressing at others, but never something done with glee.

We need some glee, man.

 

. . .no.

. . .no.

 

This time, we’re pointing out what happens when Christians decide to do awesome things.

There is something to be said for a part of the Christian experience that maybe doesn’t get the same type of media attention as the fall of yet another mega-pastor. Maybe there’s more to being a Christian than “being good” and calling out the bad guys, like Brandi and I have been striving to do. Maybe it’s time for us to point out to our audience, especially the skeptics, that Christians occasionally do some really awesome stuff, for no reward, and no recognition, and often at the expense of their own comfort or safety. And while, yes, we all know that there are missionaries in China and Africa who risk their own lives as they commit to glamorously dangerous black ops for God, we might not know that there are also ordinary people who go out of their way to help others they have never met. These are regular people who are doing something to make the world a better place.

Sometimes, against all common sense, they are kids.

The youth group at my church, River Heights Vineyard, is participating in a project called 30 Hour Famine. By partnering with World Vision, our youth group is raising funds to give to a group of over one hundred children in the Republic of Kenya, kids that the church sponsors every year. Their goal is to raise $1,000 for the bunch, which will help pay for food and shelter for the kids for one month. And in their effort to raise these funds, after lunch on this upcoming Friday, April 26th, they will stop eating. They won’t take a bite of food until they eat dinner together on Saturday, exactly thirty hours later.

Yep, that’s why they call it that.

For the Christians reading this blog, you’re probably aware that fasting is something that we do sometimes. If you’ve ever fasted yourself, you know that it is freakin’ hard. Remember how it feels to go a day without food? Multiply that by teenager and you’ll get a sense for how difficult this could be for our kids. Do you remember how much food you ate when you were fifteen? Your mom does, and she is still pissed about it.

 

“Nothing. . . he left nothing. . . devastation, thy name is TEEN!”

“Nothing. . . he left nothing. . . devastation, thy name is TEEN!”

 

When I found out that my church youth group would be pulling this stunt, I wanted to know more about it. I asked some questions of our Youth Pastor, Justin Law, who some readers may remember being mentioned as the worship pastor for my church. He does both. Justin took time from his busy schedule of being all the pastors to answer my questions. Here is what he had to say.

What the Faith:  Why did you, or the church, choose to participate in 30 Hour Famine? There are no shortages of causes that need our participation – why was 30 Hour Famine one that you went with?

Justin:  30 Hour Famine is run by World Vision, which has demonstrated a surprisingly holistic approach to aiding the poor and hungry. Their goal is not only to feed people, which they do well. They also increase education opportunities and sustainable change within communities, handing things back to the care of the community and then moving on. The members of RHV also sponsor a large number of World Vision children for our size (currently over 100 children sponsored), so there is a personal connection for our church community.

WTF: As the youth leader for the church, part of your job is to get the kids inspired to participate in events like the 30 Hour Famine. What are the challenges involved in getting the youth pumped up for an event like this? How do you overcome them?

J: I had mainly led in adult contexts before I recently added youth leadership, and I think kids’ challenges aren’t much different than yours or mine. Our culture tends to be quite self-concerned, yet blind to ourselves. The youth get more excited about an event like this when they are willing to see someone else’s need as important, then realize they can do things as individuals and as a group to address that need. In the end, I think we overcome the barriers by loving the kids, being together in community, and helping them know that they are fully loved by God. It’s not nearly as hard to love people and give when you realize how much you are loved and have been given.

WTF: Why is service an important part of the youth group experience at River Heights?

J: Our purpose as a youth group is the same as {River Heights Vineyard}’s purpose: Love God, love people, and change the world. It’s really just a quick rephrase of what Jesus has told every one of his followers to do. Jesus shows us a picture of God that is shockingly dissimilar to our mental pictures of power and kingship. Jesus loves and comes to serve. When we love him and the people he loves, we do begin to change the world. We want our youth to have the chance to experience this and build it into their lives.

 

Answering questions: like a boss. Or. . . like a pastor, really. . .

Answering questions: like a boss. Or. . . like a pastor, really. . .

 

I also asked some questions of the participants in the famine – the youth group members themselves. A couple of them – Alana and Alexis, both fourteen years old – were willing to chime in.

What the Faith: The famine is coming up pretty soon. Are you excited? Nervous? How are you feeling about it and why?

Alexis: Yes, because it’s fun and it’s an amazing opportunity to get closer with God.

WTF: Why is going without food an important part of this charity event? You could just raise the money, send it to World Vision, and then go eat a pizza! Why is it important that you go through that period of famine yourself?

Alexis: Because it kind of gives you an idea of what starving people live like every day.

Alana: You can experience the circumstances others deal with and it makes you feel more appreciative when you finish.

WTF: How does participating in 30 Hr Famine Benefit you? What do you get out of this experience?

Alana: I get to be a part of something bigger than myself.

WTF: Many of my readers aren’t religious. Why is it important that all people, regardless of religion, take steps to help those in need? Why would you help the poor if Jesus had never told you to?

Alexis: It could be you that is starving, you never know. The person you sit next to at lunch, the meal they are eating could be their only meal that (they) have had in a couple of days. So it’s important to help someone even if it is one child. Help them have hope.

WTF: Thanks, guys!

Now, I’m not trying to shame my readers into giving, but I am shamelessly encouraging my readers to give to this 30 Hour Famine. I’ll be donating to it, and I think that you should, too. It doesn’t take much for you to have a direct impact on the lives of over one hundred Kenyan rugrats. If you have five dollars to spare, please donate $5. If you have a tenner sitting around, throw it here! If you have to skip lunch to afford to help, I can point you in the direction of some great kids who will be right there with you; whenever your stomach growls, just imaging it joining a chorus of some seriously hungry teenagers’ stomachs.

If you are able to give, would you please consider giving through this link? This will ensure that the funds we are collecting are correctly allocated to the group we directly sponsor.

If you’d like more information about World Vision, follow this purple spot right here.

You should give.

You should.

You really, really should.

 

THANKS FOR GIVING!!!!

THANKS FOR GIVING!!!!


A shameless reblog to hold your attention.

Yay, tho I walk through the valley of the shadow of 12-hour workdays, I will fear no overtime. But it doesn’t leave me much time to write fabulous posts.

SO, in lieu of a fabulous post, please check out this post I got from CNN’s religion blog this morning, written by author/blogger/pastor Danielle Elizabeth Tumminio. I guess Boston is still quite on my mind. I’m not ready to stop focusing on the events of the marathon bombing, probably because questions like those presented in this article keep me up at night.

Is it worth it to witness a small triumph of light over darkness, if that triumph results from the pain and suffering of others? The author of this article doesn’t really delve too deeply into that philosophical quandary. And the quandary isn’t limited to Christians, obviously – it is a relevant question for anyone who believes that we can only experience good because of the existence of bad.

We can’t know light unless we can compare it to darkness, or so the philosophy goes.

But I respond to that with a question.

“What about. . . fuck darkness? Do we really need it?”

Discuss! I’ll try to write something real very soon, I promise. Hugs to you all! Oh, and look forward to some guess posts coming up in the upcoming weeks. The future’s so bright, you’ll have to wear shades.


On Boston

I remember, back in the dawn of the internet age, there was a website called “Naked News”. It was a website where you could get your news. . . from an anchor who would strip down during the video broadcast. I didn’t partake in the site – not because I was morally against it, but because it was a pay site – but I was aware of its existence. And because it was around in 2001, I got to hear, in a radio interview with one of the anchors, how the “Naked News” chose to deliver information about the World Trade Center attack.

It didn’t.

As the anchor explained during a morning radio interview, the Naked News wasn’t going to touch 9/11 with a thirty-foot pole. The site was supposed to offer a lighter take on the daily news, and they figured (rightly so) that it would be disrespectful to broadcast during a time of national tragedy. Instead, their website simply posted a somber note advising people to seek their news elsewhere. Nobody was going to take off their clothes for this story.

That’s kind of how I feel about “What the Faith” and national tragedies. This blog explores faith through the lens of two immature thirty-somethings who are overly fond of fart jokes. We tend toward cynicism, we laugh at many things deemed inappropriate, and we are, in many ways, completely unequipped to comment on the horrors of Virginia Tech, or the tsunami in Japan, or Newtown.

So, we haven’t.

But yesterday, as the news of the Boston Marathon bombing came in, I, like most people my age, took to Facebook to get my updates. And while I was scrolling through my phone’s Facebook app, I came across this quote, by a guy who could be considered even less qualified than myself to address a national tragedy: comedian Patton Oswalt. If you haven’t come across his quote on your own interwebbing, I’ll provide it here.

“Boston. Fucking horrible.

“I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”

“But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.

“But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.

“But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.

“So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, ‘The good outnumber you, and we always will.’”

My heart breaks when I look at a picture of Martin Richard, who died waiting for his dad to cross the finish line. A year ago a picture was taken of Martin holding a hand-written sign that said, “No more hurting people. Peace.” Now, Martin is gone. The urge to despair of my race is strong right now. It’s only hope that holds me back. That’s why Patton Oswalt’s words are so comforting to me. They show that the spirit of God is covering the whole human race – that a stand-up comedian of no particular religion can espouse, without even knowing it, the coming of the Kingdom of God.

I don’t have to despair of my people. I can choose to be proud of us. More importantly, I have reason to be proud of us. And that makes me want to comment on this terrible fucking tragedy, regardless of how unqualified I am.

Someday, the pain that comes from living in a broken world will be over. Until then, I’ll follow the advice of my friend, the J-man, who told me to pray like this.

Our father, who is in heaven

Hallowed be your name

Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth,

As it is in heaven.

Give us, this day, our daily bread.

And forgive our sins, as we forgive the sins of others.

And don’t lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil

For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever.

Amen.

If you want to help the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing, especially if you’re in the Boston area, this article is a helpful resource. Let’s do things we can be proud of.


Affectations for Christ!

Last Sunday, when I was at church at River Heights Vineyard, I raised my hands up during a worship song.

I don’t usually do that. Here is why.

Have you ever seen that movie Saved? If you have, do you remember that scene near the beginning, at the Christian high school, when the worship band is playing and the singer is singing and all of the students have their hands raised high, rapturous looks on their faces?

My years of fervent anti-Christian sentiment taught me to hate that shit.

Okayyyy guys, who here is the holiest???

Okayyyy guys, who here is the holiest???

There’s nothing like a raised hand, a lowered head, and closed eyes to show anyone who happens to be looking that you’re having a Moving Holy Experience. It’s like holding a sign up that says “Spirit Moved” with an arrow that points down at the bearer. Nothing else says, “Don’t talk to me unless it’s in tongues!” in quite the same fashion. As such, I spent years assuming that it was an affectation. After all, people can’t be moved by the holy spirit every goddamn time a worship band plays!  It seemed to me very suspect that every person at this church was feeling the ol’ holy shakes coming on a the same time, and I began to judge people for showing their faith in such obvious ways. After all, I reasoned, didn’t Jesus constantly tell us to keep shit subtle?

As time has passed, and my confident anti-Christianity was replaced by a tentative Christianity, I learned that there is some honesty behind the raised hand, the lowered head, the closed eyes. For one thing, when I was convinced by God to hang out with Christians at Christian churches, it seemed that part of his pitch was that, occasionally, a weird, heavy feeling was going to settle over the room. It might make my skin tingle. It might feel like a light change in cabin pressure to my ears. If my eyes were closed, it might give me a light case of the head spins. It might make everyone want to shut up, all at the same time, so that the room became damn-near silent (with the exception of babies, who seem to either ignore the presence of the spirit or feel compelled to talk to it). It might happen at any time, but it would definitely be more likely to happen when a bunch of people all asked, at the same time, for it to show up. People refer to that feeling as the Holy Spirit, and when it shows up it’s kind of big deal.

"Hey guys. You called?"

“Hey guys. You called?”

When that happens, it can be ignored, for the most part. There’s no rule stating that people have to react to the Weird-Tingly-Cabin-Pressure-Thing. Some people might not even notice it. (As an aside, God knows I’ve sat in congregations that seemed to be moved to swaying like voodoo practitioners without feeling any such urge to sway myself, and while it’s tempting to assume that they were all delusional while I was clear-headed, that stance takes a bit more self-assurance and pride than I’m able to summon right at this moment. ) But in our western Christian culture, most people seem to have trained to react with those gestures I mentioned. They close their eyes, because that feeling is (honestly) kind of like a mild high, and because closing your eyes kind of seems appropriate for some reason. Their hands go up, usually in one of two ways. The first way is with the arm stretched up, hand and fingers fully extended, like a student eager to answer a teacher’s question. Alternately, some people raise both hands from the waist up, elbows bent, palms facing the ceiling. That pose vaguely resembles someone holding an outstretched samurai sword across their palms as they present it to their daimyo.

Yeah, you knew I was a geek when you came here.

Example One - Teacher, teacher!

Example One – Teacher, teacher!

Example Two - Domo origato, Jesus.

Example Two – Domo origato, Jesus.

Now, I won’t say that I feel the Weird-Tingly-Cabin-Pressure-Thing every week, because you don’t. And when I don’t feel it, I don’t raise my hands, or close my eyes, or lower my head, because to me, that would  be an affectation. I’d be acting like I felt something that I didn’t. That doesn’t mean that everyone else follows my “rule”. In fact, most people who attend the churches I’ve attended just do that stuff as part of their worship. Maybe it’s how they remind themselves that they aren’t just listening to music and singing along – they’re worshipping. It’s something special, something set apart from singing in the car to the latest Imagine Dragons single.

Could some people be raising their hands and closing their eyes to show off how Christian they are? Could be, I suppose. No way of knowing, really. But the thing is, when the Weird-Tingly-Cabin-Pressure-Thing is happening, questions like that seem comparatively unimportant. Last week, when our worship pastor Justin Law (really his name!) was playing “The Offering,” I felt that feeling come over me. And I resisted lifting my hands for a moment, because I was afraid that I would feel like a fake. But then it occurred to me – the only reason I was resisting was because I wanted to, and my holding my hands at my sides, I was being a fake.

So, Samurai Sword it was.

After the song was over, and my eyes opened, and my mild “spirit high” faded away, I saw the people around me having the same heavy-lidded look on their faces that I felt on my own. Brandi was seated next to me, head in her hands. And Justin, up on the stage, was idly strumming.

“Wow,” he said, “the spirit is really heavy in the room right now. Jesus, thanks for being with us.”

So in that spirit, I’ve amended my rule – I will raise my hands, but only when Jesus shows up. That seems fair.