when your friends strip you down

This is the third entry in a series of posts on friendship. To find the others once they’ve been published, find the menu button in the upper right corner of the blog and see “Summer Friendship Series.”

 

Vulnerability. Intimacy. Authenticity. Those are all pretty popular Christian buzzwords as of late, usually accompanied by an Instagram photo of daybreak from a mountain view or a crashing waterfall in the middle of an evergreen forest with a hipster backpack brand or some sort of “supply company” tagged toward the margins. Cheeky, right?

 

I’m not going to lie. I love a great nature shot or artsy portrait on a curated Instagram feed as much as the next millennial, but I think that perhaps we’ve turned those words into a brand in and of themselves, passing over their actual etymology in favor of a trendy aesthetic. All of a sudden, words like those get commoditized into hashtags and lose their meaning and appeal just as fast as the Billboard Top 40 and cheap gum, the difference being that people still listen to the same overplayed songs and buy $1 gum while we’re quickly losing the ability to actually be vulnerable and authentic. Continue reading “when your friends strip you down”

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when marriage has a monopoly on love

This is the second entry in a series of posts on friendship. To find the others once they’ve been published, find the menu button in the upper right corner of the blog and see “Summer Friendship Series.”

 

American society seems to be going through something of a love crisis if you ask me. We’re completely captivated by love, or at least the idea of love. There are hundreds of songs, movies, books, plays, and talk shows, among other things all revolving around the concept of love. I’d wager that it’s probably one of the most commonly talked about things in this entire country. Without our fascination (or perhaps obsession) with love, I would also be willing to bet that the majority of pop musicians and young adult authors would probably be out of work.

 

But at the same time, it appears as if we don’t really know all that much about love despite our insistence on saturating our existences and media with talk of love. According to the American Psychological Association, somewhere between 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce, with subsequent marriages only having higher rates of divorce. For the one relationship that we’ve all been taught and socialized to view as the epitome and encapsulation of love, it’s not doing the best job at upholding the standards that we’ve been spoon fed with love songs and romcoms. And yet, we still hold to these sensationalized stereotypes of love that don’t seem to quite square up with reality. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love a good Taylor Swift album as much as the next (and seeing her in concert is still up there on my bucket list), but I think that all the emphasis that our culture has heaped upon love, specifically romantic, idealistic love, has poisoned and tainted our view of what love really is and how it covers a lot more ground than American pop culture is willing to give it credit for. Instead of giving us a well-rounded, holistic view of what love is, we’ve been offered a distorted version of love with all the rough edges blurred out until it’s been censored to a warm, fuzzy feeling inside that gets us drunk on fairytale delusions and leaves us with false hopes when reality rouses us from our stupor.

Continue reading “when marriage has a monopoly on love”

friendship is unnecessary

This is the first entry in a series of posts on friendship. To find the others once they’ve been published, find the menu button in the upper right corner of the blog and see “Summer Friendship Series.”

 

Friendship is quite a strange thing if you really take some time to think about it. It doesn’t really make sense, two people feeling drawn to each other and wanting to be in a relationship that doesn’t necessarily seem to serve a purpose on paper. Familial relationships we’re born into, and they nurture us until we’re ready to go out into the world on our own. Networking relationships exist because we get something out of them, and sexual relationships exist for the purpose of procreation. Of course, that’s oversimplifying all of those types of relationships to the extreme, but it still gets the point across.

Friendship doesn’t really seem to have a point because while it can sometimes take on certain aspects of those other kinds of relationships, it also stands independently from them by definition. Continue reading “friendship is unnecessary”

heartfelt inequality

It’s hard to feel anything but heaviness when it’s the second day in a row that you wake up to texts from friends informing you that yet another tragedy has occurred in such a short time period. What else can you feel when you wake up to news videos with parents crying and footage of LGBTQ people texting their families telling them that they’re most likely going to die? And what else can you feel when it very quickly spins into a political, ideological, and theological firestorm when that’s the last thing that this horror needs?

I’m not sure, but what I’m trying to feel is love, because I believe that love is a verb, and what we need is an overdose of love injected back into our hearts to combat the apathy, the homophobia, and the rampant hatred of all kinds that continues to abound in our midst.

That’s why I’m posting this piece today. I wrote it several weeks ago, but I wasn’t quite sure when it would be most appropriate to share, because it’s a mournful piece. It reads as if it’s accompanying tears, and it doesn’t necessarily end optimistically, and that’s why I think that today is the exact right timing, because I think that so many of us, both Christians and non-Christians, have lost sight of what it means to be human and what it means to see the humanity and the image of God in others. So, here’s to prayers that we’ll soon be able to join in under the mantle of the love that we’re supposed to be known for.  Continue reading “heartfelt inequality”

when wisdom means saying “i don’t know”

Note: This post is the first in an ongoing series of posts entitled “Lessons from CWC” in which I reflect on some ideas taken out of Christianity & Western Culture, a gen ed class at Bethel that I TA’ed for during my time there. I think that there’s a lot to be learned from history and other thinkers before us, and I loved the class and being able to TA for it. These posts will have their own individual titles, but they’ll be organized under the category “Lessons from CWC” which can be accessed from the ‘Menu’ tab at the top right corner of any page of the blog. Happy reading.

As a blogger and a writer, you could say that the way words flow together and the juxtaposition of their meanings really strikes a chord with me. Maybe that’s why I’m quick to remember quotes or phrases that I like or that are especially meaningful to me. Today, I was reminded of something that one of my professors said in class last semester that has stuck with me ever since. (In reality, I feel like maybe I had heard this saying before, but I’m going to attribute it to Dan Rotach anyway.)

While I was reflecting on a little back and forth that some of my friends and I had gotten into on Facebook, stemming from my last blog post, I thought back to this saying: The wisest people are also the quickest to say, “I don’t know.” Continue reading “when wisdom means saying “i don’t know””

when christian superstars come out

Perhaps you’ve heard and perhaps you haven’t yet, but Trey Pearson of Everyday Sunday just came out as gay about a day or two ago. This follows similar coming out stories by the likes of Vicky Beeching and Jennifer Knapp who have gone on to lose much of their music careers, with Beeching instead moving on to religious commentary and other projects in the UK, including a book that she’s currently working on. But at any rate, just like those other coming out stories, this one has already generated its own fair share of controversy and reactions from the general Christian populace, both positive and negative, as larger outlets such as Yahoo and Religion News Service have picked up the story.

Unsurprisingly, there have been quite a few opinionated responses coming from a handful of Christians, with many lamenting the fact that he has chosen to come out after having married a woman and having children among other things, and this is specifically what I want to address in this post. With more and more people finally acknowledging the basic fact that being gay or lesbian or bisexual is not a choice any more than being straight is a choice, what I’ve seen is that many Christians have instead chosen to go the route of lambasting Pearson for his decision to come out now after having been married to his wife for over 7 years and having had children with her, and I think that perhaps I understand a little bit of where that’s coming from, as misdirected as it might be. Continue reading “when christian superstars come out”

when grace puts you at stalemate

Amidst all of the culture wars that our world and society are currently embroiled in, it goes without saying that there’s always room for more grace, and I believe that’s true. If you’ve ever read any books or articles about conflict resolution, they will usually tell you that the blame for a problem can very rarely be 100% attributed to one party. In most cases, both or all parties have contributed at least a little bit to the overarching problem, regardless of whether that split is revealed to be 97% one party’s fault and only 3% the other party’s fault. That’s a pretty significant split, and that doesn’t mean that the one guilty party hasn’t done something wrong. In simple terms, most conflicts usually involve one party who was wronged and another party that committed the wrong, but what this conflict resolution strategy does is to point out that in any given conflict, there were often factors on both or all sides that were key to the situation unfolding the way that it did. And this is the perspective of grace with which I try to approach the raging controversial debates, but so often, it feels like maintaining a posture of grace is getting you nowhere, which very quickly becomes exhausting. Continue reading “when grace puts you at stalemate”