Ready To Take a First Step Back

So far this year I have read 39 of my goal of 40 books. Most have been fantasy novels, and several from Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series. This weekend I finally read the latest book from a blogger I began following around 10 years ago - One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler. That book inspired me last night to start One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Thus, I went to the park today, sat under a picnic shelter in the cool morning breeze of one of the latter warm days of summer, and listened to leaves flutter and acorns fall around me. I have decided to begin my own list of 1,000 things for which I am grateful.

The last few years my faith has dwindled and all but died. I haven't been terribly unhappy about this, but neither am I content. Regardless whether or not I believe, I NEED to rekindle eucharisteo (gratefulness - follow the link to read a bit about what Voskamp has to say on the subject), or else all my faith in anything good will eventually shrivel up and die.

Allow m…

How I Lost My Conservativism and a Lot of My Religion, Too: Part 5

So...let's talk about the election, shall we? I am no longer conservative, and all my friends know I voted for Hillary. But now you know a little better why.

And I know a little better that it is time to stop thinking I am "wrong" or have veered off the chosen path and don't deserve to have a voice anymore. I have studied. I have thought. I have prayed. I have worked to be a loving and empathetic person. I have fully experienced both sides of the liberal/conservative Ferris wheel. I have something to say.

I have a few thoughts for my Bible-believing friends who believe God intervened so Trump would win and somehow save the world. "We fasted and prayed for this," they say. "Hillary was for abortions!," they say. And they believe deep within them that Democrats, and Hillary Clinton in particular, are truly evil, the instruments of Satan to bring about the downfall of America and Christianity.

The rage...the rage I feel when you blame this travesty o…

How I Lost My Conservativism and a Lot of My Religion, Too: Part 4

First, a disclaimer. *MY SEMINARY DID NOT MAKE ME LIBERAL.* If any Pentecostals are reading this, and thinking they will never send their kids to that place to turn out like I did, please set your minds at ease. I had some truly great professors, all of them dedicated to God, loving the world, and committed to deep thinking and education...and the application of it to conservative ministry. Not all of them were ultra-conservative, but for the most part, yes, they were pretty conservative. And I still love them and treasure the teaching they gave me.

But they couldn't keep me from studying on my own on the side.

One of my last couple of semesters I took an exegetical/homiletical class on the Parables of Matthew. For our final project, we had to fully exegete (study the Greek and read history and commentaries, etc.) and then produce sermons on 3 of the parables of Jesus found in the Book of Matthew. The top 3 or 4 papers would get published as an annual anthology. (I actually got on…

How I Lost My Conservativism and a Lot of My Religion, Too: Part 3

In Part 1, I talked about some individuals I had encountered after moving to Springfield, Missouri, in April 2012. In Part 2, I mentioned some of the ideas I had encountered between about 2005 and also after I moved to Springfield in 2012. Now in Part 3, let's go back to Springfield, and I'll tell you about THE person I met that continued and perhaps cemented the process of change in me from conservativism to whatever I am today (liberal? progressive? I prefer progressive).

Her name was Glenda. I met her at the job where I had the atheist and the lesbian as friends. She moved there in 2013, and I met her as soon as she got to Missouri from the state from which she had moved. Her brother was a daytime therapist where I worked and was working late that night. When she stopped in to see him, he happened to bring her through the space where I was working, and she held my newly acquired puppy. She started working there soon after, on my shift. She was very obviously gay (short hair…

How I Lost My Conservativism and a Lot of My Religion, Too: Part 2

Not only did I get to know and converse with people with different perspectives during this time; I also found some new reading material.

My first foray into reading different points of view than my own, or perhaps even just different views that still claimed to be "Christian," took the form of blogs. I found them in my downtime while working at the headquarters of the denomination I was credentialed with at the time, so it would have been way back between 2005 and 2009. I read a lot of Catholic blogs, even though I had been raised to believe Catholics were idolaters and worshiped Mary as equal to God when "the Bible plainly says" the Lord is One, and to have no other Gods before Him. I was shocked to find these Catholic writers (like this one, and this one which I still follow today) really seemed to love God, just as much as I did. If they were heretics, why did their words speak to me and spiritually encourage me when I needed it?

From there I found other, more …

How I Lost My Conservativism and a Lot of My Religion, Too: Part 1

When I lived in Springfield, Missouri, a cynical, pessimistic, atheist coworker started Facebook messaging me out of the blue. This guy had good reason to be cynical and pessimistic (for reasons I won't mention here to respect his privacy); he also was a very decent human. He devoted his nights to working in a residential facility for teens, mostly from the foster care system, with behavioral problems, and during the day he helped rehome abused/abandoned animals. His Facebook messages made me EXTREMELY uncomfortable, with their accusations of two-faced Christians, their pointing out of all the suffering and evil in the world, and their BS-calling of certain "scriptural" principles I had always taken for granted and held very dear. "Eli" was brutal in driving home his anger and spiritual frustration in these online conversations. But I couldn't disengage him. He appealed to my pride by telling me repeatedly how much he appreciated that I didn't judge hi…

Merciful Deliberations

Sometimes I think it is easy to overlook the work it takes to make oneself a better human being. It is so much easier to place one’s own needs above another’s, and it is easier to spew hateful or reactionary words than those that build up or facilitate forgiveness or reconciliation. Showing mercy is not easy; it is a sacrifice.
I have a handful of younger siblings. One is eight years younger than me, two are ten years younger than me, and another is a whole whopping twenty years younger than me! The older one has some developmental disabilities, and the youngest one is only 13, so their infractions on my nerves are more easily overlooked. The twins, though…well, that is another story. Growing up, I never would have thought we would have a “regular” sibling relationship with ten whole years between us! When you are young, that is a huge difference. But lo and behold, we grew up, and ten years is no longer all that great of a time span.
But then there are sometimes when it is…