have we become the pharisees?

Currently doing some storyboarding for some more fiction I’m working on, but I discovered another piece hidden away in the archives that I had never published (seems like this is a semi-frequent occurrence). As I’m transitioning back to writing some fiction, I’ve been finding that it’s taking me a lot longer to figure out how I want to write things and what kinds of ideas I want to use, but maybe that’s more normal than I’m giving myself credit for.

With this piece, the primary idea behind it was conceived through a series of discussions I had at my Bible study where we talked about what it means to actually be a Christian in the 21st century, in 2016 and how we can sometimes read our own biases into the parables and stories we read in the Bible. Oftentimes, this manifests as us, as mostly privileged, American Christians, identifying more closely with the oppressed people groups described in the Bible rather than with the oppressors. However, something that we realized over the course of our discussion and Bible study was that while the Israelites and the entire nation of Israel have typically been the minority ethnic group and minority religion in the majority of eras, that’s not really the case for most Westernized or American Christians. What we decided is that more often than not, our actual lived realities align more with those of the oppressing Pharisees than with those of the oppressed Israelites. Interesting food for thought for sure.

Continue reading “have we become the pharisees?”

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how I finally learned what love is

The air was cool for Minnesota summer, and a fire crackled and snapped over wet logs in the fire pit in front of me. I was about to tell a story I had only told once before, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that the words still felt almost fake as they churned inside of me, bringing a new sensation of reality to the term word vomit. It just didn’t feel right. In a way, it felt selfish, what I was about to do. At a cursory glance, everything about my life seemed to be just as it should, if not better, but I was about to confess that for the majority of my life I had felt like I had to earn love and wasn’t quite sure what it actually meant to be loved.

 

I mean, honestly, I’m 19 years old, have a college diploma hanging on my bedroom wall, my family is great to me and always has been, my friends are some of the best you could ask for, and I have everything I need, among other things, but I couldn’t escape the voice of God trying to convince me, for the umpteenth time in however many years, that there was no possible way for anyone to ever earn someone else’s love. But along with that, He also seemed to whisper that the reason was that you didn’t have to. His love, as well as anyone else’s authentic love, doesn’t need to be earned. That seems like such a simple, basic concept, but it’s one I’m honestly still processing and learning to be true.

 

Continue reading “how I finally learned what love is”

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”

mark yarhouse talked to my christian college on sexuality and this is how it went

Alright, here’s the full, unedited version of the article that was published in the Bethel Clarion earlier this week, detailing my stream of thought about the Mark Yarhouse sexuality event last week. The Clarion staff did a great job editing it, but it definitely read more like a newspaper article (as it should have) than some of my normal writing, so I wanted to stick the original version up on here. Take a read if you weren’t at the event or haven’t already.

I checked the time on my phone as I speed walked through the BC on my way to the Underground. It was already 8:01pm and I was late, having just come from helping lead an exam review session for CWC.  Mark Yarhouse, a psychologist and professor from Regent University, was giving a talk on sexuality and I was going to be there, though a bit reluctant at first. From what I had heard and read of him in the past, I wasn’t incredibly optimistic about the event, but the Underground was relatively full, so I slid into the second row from the front and took out my notebook just as it was beginning.

Continue reading “mark yarhouse talked to my christian college on sexuality and this is how it went”

bethel is my church for now

In the past month (since I wrote my last blog post; yeah, it’s been sort of a long time), I’ve gotten the chance to catch up with a lot of friends and talk with them about Spain and about life and just talk in general. Something that’s come up frequently has been what my current church situation is like since I originally started my church fast back in June of last year. And to be honest, I’m still not completely sure how to answer that question, but I think that I’m calling Bethel my church for the time being. That might sound a little strange (or maybe it doesn’t *shrugs*), but let me explain. Continue reading “bethel is my church for now”

it’s okay to be searching

(this post: a reflection from this past weekend)

It’s been almost a month since I’ve been back in the US, and I’m completely certain that I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel weird at times. There are days when it’s the lack of chocolate filled pastries, and then there are the days when it’s the saddening realization that the adventure really is over. This morning, it was the revelation that studying abroad and going away for almost 4 months didn’t fix some of the problems that I thought it would, the moment when I realized that instead of dealing with some things while I was gone, I ignored them instead and pushed them down, using the adventure and the limited time in a foreign country to rationalize doing so.

The specific thing on my mind this morning was my still rocky relationship with churchgoing. In the time leading up to my semester abroad, I went on a church fast for about three months that continued into the next three and a half months while I was in Spain. While I fabricated a super spiritual sounding reason for this fast, trying to find out what being a Christian really means and hipster stuff like that, the real reason I stopped going was that it was painful and maddening to go to church. Continue reading “it’s okay to be searching”

2015: the year of change & balance

As a blogger, I feel like I have some sort of obligation to do some sort of New Year’s/New Year’s Eve post. I think there might actually be an unwritten rule about it somewhere. But in all seriousness, this year has been so completely insane that I thought I would write up a monthly recap of all the madness that’s happened in the past 12 months, because sometimes I forget about all of the huge things that were a part of 2015.

So here we go. Continue reading “2015: the year of change & balance”

Kim Davis, Smoking, and Spoiled Children

I’m a few days behind on the times, it seems, since I don’t read a lot of American news in Spain, but I did just finish reading up a little on the Kim Davis situation and just wanted to give my take really quickly, because I do plan on keeping up with this blog (both fun Spain things and things like this) while I’m gone.

In case anyone reading isn’t super familiar with the situation, what’s happening is basically this: a county clerk (or something along the lines of that; she’s a government employee, which is the point) was taken into custody earlier this week for refusing to issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court ruling earlier this summer. Her defense was that her religious convictions prevented her from participating in or facilitating sin, and she now faces greater charges and possibly prison time. Needless to say, people have gotten pretty riled up on both sides of this debate.

My take? Continue reading “Kim Davis, Smoking, and Spoiled Children”

Finding Love in Weed, Abortion, and Other “Christian” Controversies

This summer has honestly been crazy, surprising, and unexpected in a lot of not good ways, but I thought that after a series of negative posts, I would write about something a little more positive just to shake things up a bit.

Here’s a little context before I get into it: I’ve been spending the past two months in Grand Forks, North Dakota studying “linguistics” at this summer program that is closely tied with Wycliffe Bible Translators. I’m here because it’s technically a part of the requirements for my major at Bethel (which is seriously screwed up, and I’m pretty sure the only reason no one has complained before us is that there have been like 4 linguistics majors since Bethel introduced the program). Anyway, it basically sucks, and they’re not really teaching us linguistics. They’re teaching us all this watered down, proprietary stuff that’s used for Bible translation. Now, that’s all fine and dandy, but the fact of the matter is that we weren’t informed that’s what we were getting ourselves into, so it’s sort of frustrating that we spent a lot of time, money, etc. on a program that isn’t really benefitting us in any way. So that’s the backdrop of this summer.

Aside from a drastically less than satisfactory experience at summer school, this season has been trying in a lot of other ways, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. It’s really just been a super brutal two months, and I also have been working through that no church experiment that I started at the beginning of the summer (which I’ve actually cheated on, which is the inspiration for this post).

SO, the positivity.

Last weekend, on the heels of two weeks of really difficult news, I was back home (I go home like every weekend, because Grand Forks just sucks that bad), and I was invited to go to church with some of my good friends from high school/college/PSEO/whatever. Anyhow, I was sort of hesitant to go, because I was on my church fasting experiment and also because the church was 40 minutes away from my house. But I wanted to see my friends, and I also figured that it was probably a little more acceptable to cheat on this experiment. So, I went.

And…honestly…it was really great.

The service itself was pretty standard, the vibes a good mix between the smaller church that it was and the megachurch vibes that I’d experienced before. But that wasn’t what really hit me. It was the people, which was something that I really wasn’t expected. Continue reading “Finding Love in Weed, Abortion, and Other “Christian” Controversies”

Going to Church Hurts (An Update on My Experiment)

Ah, I’ve been meaning to post a real update for a few days now, rather than just continually reblogging stuff that I’ve seen floating around. In this post, I’ll give a quick update on my non-churchgoing experiment as well as a quick, preview of a life update in general, since I feel like a lot has happened since my arrival here at SIL (but then again, a lot happening seems to be the theme of my 2015 anyway, so go figure). In addition, I hope that anyone who’s reading this is having a marvelous summer. As usual, regardless of whether you know me personally or not, feel free to get in contact with me, whether that’s through an email, message, or following the blog and commenting. I love connecting with people, and I feel like I almost haven’t had time for that this summer!

Alright, so in terms of my churchgoing experiment, it’s definitely been an interesting experience to say the least. As of today (which is a Sunday, conveniently), I either haven’t been to church in 6 weeks or 0 weeks. In case that doesn’t make sense, I went to church this morning, because I was back at home and I felt like it might be good to see what it feels like to be back after a significant period of time. Results: lackluster and strange. Lackluster because I didn’t have this magical moment where God showed me that going to church was actually awesome and that I should start going again right away. And strange because while I genuinely missed it, I also found myself questioning why I was there the whole time.

Let me explain. Continue reading “Going to Church Hurts (An Update on My Experiment)”