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Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category

Matt Walsh is Not A Christian

For some reason, this fellow named Matt Walsh is granted a lot of credibility as a Christian speaker and writer. This is a puzzling phenomenon because a cursory look at Matt Walsh’s writings makes it exceedingly obvious that he neither gives a damn about Jesus nor the Bible.

Take one of his pet peeves: abortion. The Bible says literally nothing good or bad about a woman choosing to have an abortion. The closest to a statement on abortion that it makes is a law that requires a man who accidentally hits a pregnant woman to pay a fine if her pregnancy is aborted as a result of the hit. This law is vitally important, since it demonstrates beyond any reasonable objection that the Bible does not consider a fetus to be a person–if the fetus were a person, the man who accidentally caused the abortion would be sentenced to exile to one of the cities of refuge, just like the man who accidentally kills a person.

The favorite Psalm of the anti-abortion crowd (Psalm 139) is no help to them either. Sure, it praises G-d that “you knitted me together in my mother’s womb“, but the reality is that G-d knitted everything, everywhere together, but that doesn’t give everything, everywhere the status of person! All the Psalmist is saying is that “whatever it is that I was when I was in my mother’s womb was yet another of the things that you, G-d, knit together by virtue of your status as Creator.” A goat is also fearfully and wonderfully made, yet that doesn’t prevent us from killing and eating goats (well, many of us, anyway).

Of course, we need go no further than the opinion of Jesus to decide if Matt Walsh is a Christian. What did Jesus say?

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

“I was hungry and on welfare”–and Matt Walsh took away their food. “I was thirsty because I live in Flint and my water was full of lead”–and Matt Walsh did nothing to give them water. “I was a stranger from Syria”–and Matt Walsh did not welcome them. “I was sick and in prison because of a marijuana offense that cops targeted me for because my skin is black”–and Matt Walsh did not visit them. Jesus is very clear what he thinks about Matt Walsh: “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”

Matt Walsh is no Christian–just a small, angry snowflake lashing out at a society that no longer grants him the undeserved privileges he feels entitled to.

Evangelicals Are The Only Ones Who Want To Kill Babies

Evangelicals love to throw around the label “baby killers” for anyone who supports abortion rights. This, of course, is based on their alternative definition of “baby” (shared by no one else) as “fertilized human egg.” (Although even they aren’t entirely consistent on this point, since they don’t go around calling people who support and perform in-vitro fertilization “baby killers”, even though the process results in the discarding of fertilized human eggs.) Unfortunately for them, “baby killer” is a label that can only really be applied to them.

Let’s start with the Bible. In the Bible, G-d commands the Israelites to kill all the Canaanites: men, women, and children. That is literally killing babies, which they believe is a literal historical fact and a literal command from G-d. Proceed from there to the war on terrorism, which is literally killing babies through air strikes and drone attacks–which they enthusiastically support (often citing as support the verses about wiping out the Canaanites, since the groups we’re fighting are often also enemies of modern day Israel). And don’t forget Trump  (yimach shmo), who made a campaign promise to kill the wives and children of (male) terrorists–more literal baby killing. Finish by observing their rabid support of American police forces, who are literally killing children of color, and it’s very clear that there is indeed a group today that can be called baby killers, and it is none other than Evangelicals.

Crazy All Around

In my early teens, I became very interested in music as a way of understanding and expressing my feelings, something I felt like I couldn’t do through speech or any other means. I tended to latch onto specific songs that resonated with some part of me (though unfortunately since all non-Christian music, and much of Christian music, was suspect of “leading me astray”, many songs I latched on to I wasn’t allowed to listen to). I always sort of felt that if I could share those songs that really touched me with someone, if we listened to them together, maybe they would understand me and we could connect with each other.

Dad and I fought a lot during that time, something that had been the case going back many years but which definitely got worse in my teens. I remember there was this one song, Crazy All Around (by Christine Glass), that I heard on a Christian radio show and really liked, so I got the CD. Once during a car trip to church on some weeknight with just me and Dad, I got the chance to play my CD in the car, and I was hoping we could enjoy the song together and connect through a shared experience of it. He was quiet for most of the song, but it got to a line near the end “Felt the angel bend and kiss me/ran away and hid in fear” and he exclaimed “What the hell is this!?” I was deeply disappointed; once again I felt like I’d tried to share my feelings, my unique experience of life, and I was rejected. I remember feeling, “Really? Is there nothing I find meaning in that’s pure enough for you, that you can appreciate the beauty of without picking apart any small hint of worldliness you find?” After that, I gave up hope of being able to connect with him through music.

At some point, I don’t know when, I developed a dislike for the song and never listened to it again.

Living a Fantasy

A study has been done that suggests that children raised in religious households are less able to distinguish fantasy from reality. This morning I was wondering how this could help me understand some of the particular quirks I’ve noted about myself in contrast to other people. Ever since I could remember, violence in movies has felt unsettling to me. Actually, unsettling isn’t the right word–the feeling is more that my existence feels fundamentally threatened. A similar feeling occurred also in English class when I started going to public high school (newly out of being homeschooled) and I had to read disturbing literature (like The Yellow Wallpaper or The Handmaid’s Tale). I remember after reading some of those things, I felt a black dread inside that I couldn’t shake and had no idea how to handle.

As I’ve gotten older, the reactions have mellowed (to the point where I kind of want to re-read The Handmaid’s Tale), but I still find it hard to watch movies or TV shows with cruel violence (either physical or psychological). Even with books, I generally find myself more comfortable with young-adult fiction than adult fiction, because I find the raw emotion in the adult fiction to be overwhelming (as an example, I thought I Am Legend told rather an interesting story in an interesting world, but it left something of a black feeling in me after I finished, with the result that a lot of time has to go by before I try reading something like that again).

I feel like my reactions to these things could come out of an extremely-delayed development of the ability to distinguish fantasy and reality (although it could partly or fully be due to other things, like being a Highly Sensitive Person or the like). I think perhaps due to my fundamentalist religious upbringing (combined maybe with my staying at my parents’ home until I was almost out of college), I’ve had a hard time distinguishing between “threats” to myself from horrifying situations in literature and media and actual threats to myself from the objective world. It’s not that I couldn’t tell any difference, obviously–that’s why I think I felt a conflict about these feelings. I knew there was no real threat, yet I felt like there was a real threat, and I didn’t know how to understand that conflict.

Potentially this inability to distinguish fantasy and reality could explain some of my other quirks that result in my being mocked in social situations, too. One that comes to mind was an instance when I had been reading about the bacteria that live in your mouth, and why it’s important to spit out your mouthwash after swishing it around (even if the mouthwash was inherently edible, e.g. oil pulling)–the idea is that you can harm yourself by loosening the bacteria from your teeth and then ingesting them.

Around that time, I ended up eating a rather large quantity of Swedish fish, and then I rinsed my mouth out with water to dislodge the pieces that stuck to my teeth. I was lazy, so after swishing the water around in my mouth, I swallowed it. Shortly thereafter, I developed an extremely painful feeling in my abdomen, and I had to leave work early. I told some of my coworkers that I thought it might be due to swallowing the water I used to rinse my mouth (instead of just blaming it on eating too much sugar at once, which in retrospect seems more reasonable). That haven’t stopped making fun of me for that since. I wonder why I stuck on that rather unlikely explanation at the time instead of putting more weight on the more acceptable idea that eating a large amount of sugar can hurt you–perhaps it’s a lingering effect of a delayed ability to separate fantasy and reality.

Trump and Evangelical Infidelity

I remember when W was being elected for the first time. The semi-fundamentalist community I grew up in was desperate for him to win. He was “our guy”, a true follower of G-d (determined using the fundamentalist superpower of being able to know who’s a “real” Christian on the inside), and just as importantly, a Republican, the chosen party of G-d. On the other side was Gore, who, if elected, would bring G-d’s judgement on America, and “probably wasn’t the Antichrist” (as we so reasonably conceded) “but would likely usher him in”.

The second time W ran was similar. I remember a woman at my university saying she’d probably vote for Kerry “to give him a chance and change things up”. She was in our Christian group on campus, and I remember feeling the default fundamentalist horror at someone who had deliberately blinded herself and was now walking in darkness. Kerry was evil, and if he got elected we would never escape G-d’s judgement on our country.

Things started to get weird with the Obama/McCain election (or possibly they were always that way but I finally started to see it). First, when Hillary was making her bid for the Democratic nomination, the fundamentalist email trains were aflutter with Biblical references to Deborah and grave pronouncements that a woman leader was a sign of G-d’s judgement on a country. But after Hillary lost the nomination and McCain chose Palin as his running mate, suddenly people were talking about their visions of bees (Deborah is Hebrew for “bee”) and praising her as a Deborah who would save us (what happened to the judgement?).

I also remember people struggling with McCain’s nomination, since the he had no kinship with fundamentalists. He was the one selected for G-d’s Holy Party, but he himself wasn’t holy (evaluated using the above-mentioned fundamentalist superpower). Someone else on this email train reported struggling over this very issue until she got a vision in which she heard “McCain, McCain, why are you rejecting My anointed?” (note that “anointed” is the English translation of the Hebrew word Mashiach, which is commonly translated “Messiah”).

That was the first time the whole thing struck me as odd. It made sense to me to vote Republican when the party nominated a “good Christian” like W–obviously any group would feel more comfortable with one of their own running the country. But McCain wasn’t one of us. Why would he be G-d’s “Messiah”? It could just as easily have been the Democrat in that case (although Obama, with his Arabic-sounding name, was being explicitly predicted to be the Antichrist by some of my friends).

Obama got elected, life went on, and then came Romney and with him the unbelievable attachment of fundamentalists to the Republican party got even worse. Romney was Mormon, a group that when I was growing up was synonymous with “infidel” (and was viewed in much the same way as Muslims are today by that group). Yet once again, the conservative Christians rallied behind the Republican former-infidel-now-brother as the savior of our country (though admittedly with less enthusiasm than I saw for Bush or McCain).

Now it’s 2016, and Trump is the front runner, and more and more evangelicals are falling in line behind him. This is insane. There’s nothing Christian about Trump. He uses people, he promotes immorality (via the “immodesty” of his beauty pageants), he’s on his third marriage (divorce was considered an unforgivable sin when I was growing up), and he obviously doesn’t even know the Bible! Yet Liberty University welcomed him enthusiastically, Jerry Falwell Jr called him a “servant leader” in the tradition of Christ (the biggest load of bullshit I’ve ever heard from a Christian leader), and after Palin’s endorsement Christians are increasingly supporting him.

Trump is everything we despised growing up: an “obvious” unbeliever, an immoral and liberal businessman, and not a true conservative. The fact that he’s now being accepted as the chosen one shows that evangelicals are no longer even pretending to be choosing who to vote for based on their religious principles. They have merged with the “non-Christian” (their words) conservative culture and established that over their own religion and over the Bible. And consequently, they’ve lost their voice to talk about G-d in our society, and they’re deceiving only themselves with regard to what their political motivations are.

Can We Not Talk About Modesty?

For some reason I seem to be seeing a lot of articles about modesty lately. I’m bored with hearing about modesty. Even in articles putting the focus on men’s gaze instead of women’s attire, it’s a lot of filth this, Playboy that. But it’s still demeaning to call undressed women “filth”. And the idea of modesty, of trying to never appreciate a woman’s form, just seems really pointless.

For the Christians, let’s consider the foundational verse on modesty, the one that says that if you look at a woman with lust in your heart you’ve committed adultery. It’s been a clear mistake to interpret “look at a woman with lust” as “look at an attractive woman at all.” It’s not lust to appreciate an attractive woman; it’s lust to want to own her. In other words: stop trying to own women.

So for those who aren’t trying to own women, but merely notice and appreciate them: you need carry no additional burden in this matter. And for those who use modesty to try to own women by shaming them based on what they wear or reveal: you’re a worse Pharisee (in the Christian sense of the term) than any actual Pharisee ever was.

G-d’s Love for His People

R. C. Sproul Jr. has an article on “hesed,” which he translates as “loyal love:”

God loves His people genuinely, immutably, loyally. Both the love and the loyalty are, of course, tightly bound together. That is, just as one cannot love capriciously so one cannot be loyal without love. God is for His people, and will never cease to be for them.

It’s a beautiful idea. But the irony is not lost to me of using an Old Testament Hebrew word to motivate an idea about G-d’s commitment to a group of people who’ve replaced the original group of people that the term referred to. If G-d’s election is irrevocable, then how is it that His election of Israel has been revoked? If His grace ensures the perseverance of the saints, then how is it that the entire original nation that He elected has failed to persevere?

And if His “hesed” for them has failed, then how strong can the idea of “genuine, immutable, loyal” love really be for us?

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