Monthly Archives: September 2012

A Totally Lame Request

Hi, guys! As I indicated from the title of today’s blog post, Brandi and I have a totally lame request to make. This request is specific to any readers of the blog in the areas of Duluth/Superior or the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul. If you don’t live in either of those places, you are excused. But don’t do it again.

Okay! So! If you’re still reading, Brandi and I need your help. As you have probably heard by now, the WTFaith family is purchasing a house in Minneapolis. We’ll be saying goodbye to our church family at Hillside Church in Duluth, but saying hello to a new family at River Heights Vineyard Church in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. We’re sad to leave Duluth/Superior, especially all of the awesome friends we’ve made here. But at the same time, we consider ourselves crazy blessed to be able to grow our faith experience under the tutelage of the fine folks at River Heights Vineyard.

So, a simultaneous “Boo” and “Yay” is in order.

But here’s the issue. Brandi and I need help with the move itself. Neither of us is in great shape, and our family (besides us) consists of our elderly mother- and father-in-law, one able-bodied twelve year old girl, two small boys, and a dog.

Can we do this move by ourselves? Maybe. Can we do it by ourselves without sustaining an injury? Unlikely.

So we, Brandi and I, are hereby formally begging for help with this move. We need two groups of movers – some in Duluth/Superior to help us load the truck, and some in the Cities to help us unload.

“What,” you might be saying, “is in it for us?”

Let me tell you! If you help us move, we will bribe you with. . .

Pizza!

The “moving day” bribe of choice since the Israelites needed help loading the camels.

and Soda (or Pop, or Soda-Pop)!

It’s fizzy with loooooooooove.

and (for those who drink beer). . . Beer!

You know what beer is. Happiness. That’s what it is.

and (for those who don’t want any of that stuff but show up anyway). . . Gratitude!

We will, apparently, write some stuff in the sand for you. Because Google searching images for “Gratitude” ain’t easy.

“Sold!” you’re now saying. “I am utterly convinced to help! When shall I do so?”

First off, kudos on saying “shall”, we don’t hear that all that often anymore. Secondly, the moving date is going to be the day of Saturday, October 6th, although we will have the truck starting on Thursday, October 4th. If people want to help on Thursday or Friday, that will be completely welcome! We can pack almost everything on the days leading up to the actual move. That said, that Saturday, October 6th, will be the day when the beds get packed, the U-Haul gets locked up, and the drive to the Cities takes place. This is also the day when the bulk of the pizza, pop, and beer will be purchased, but anyone who helps out on Thursday or Friday will be fed and watered appropriately as well.

Once our house in Superior is emptied of our various and sundry valuables, we are hoping to get to the house in Minneapolis by late Saturday afternoon. This is where the “Twin Cities” team comes in. Since unloading a truck is (in my experience) much easier than loading one, I’m thinking we can get this baby cracked and emptied in one afternoon. So I’m shooting for Saturday, October 6th, at around 4PM. But if that doesn’t work, we could also use people who can help on Sunday morning – presumably after church, although the family and I might not be at church that Sunday, since we might be loaded down with stuff to do. So while the afternoon of Saturday would be ideal, Sunday late morning/afternoon would work just as well.

Thanks in advance for any of you fine folks who want to help us out! Aside from the help, please pray for us as we bring this whole, messy process to an end. God’s help has gotten us this far, and I certainly want the Holy Spirit to hang out with me while I load the U-Haul, if only so that there is someone to hear my dumb jokes besides Brandi.

If you can help, please comment below. Also, if you know me in real life, you can (if you prefer) let me know through the various real-life channels we have established. This includes any Facebook friends – you can just send me a message, if you’d like.

Will you bless us with your massive muscles? 


The Popsicle story.

So.

Cancer.

Cancer, cancer, cancer.

I’ve had cancer on the mind, lately. A friend of mine was just diagnosed. Another friend, the consonant-empowered Jenn (with two “n”’s) has been musing about her own past with cancer on her blog. A woman in my church is blogging about a relative of hers who might have the disease. Last night I dreamed about the funeral my family held for my mother, who I lost to cancer about six years ago.

And I have had cancer.

Brandi and I decided, when we started “What the Faith”, to make the blog only semi-autobiographical, in that while we would occasionally blog about things that are happening to us, we would not, as a whole, make it just a blog that chronicled our lives. We wanted to write articles that spoke about our journey in broad strokes, so that anyone might relate to what we’re experiencing. We also wanted to tackle social issues  on occasion, or just muse about faith  like a couple of stoned teenagers. We intended for the personal stories to be an occasional occurrence. Also, and perhaps most importantly, we only wanted to include personal stories that had a faith twist – after all, it’s “What the Faith”, not “What the Fuck is Happening To The Mitchells This Week.”

That may be why I’ve never really “outed” myself as a cancer survivor before – at least, not here. But, now that I have cancer on my mind, it occurs to me that I have a faith-related cancer story, and maybe now is the time that God wants me to tell it. I think that God wants me to tell the “Popsicle story.”

 

L’histoire de Popsicle

In July of 2008, Brandi noticed a lump under my skin, just over my left collar bone at the base of my neck. It was (say it with me, now) hard and painless to the touch. I went to a doctor, got it biopsied, and in September of that year I was diagnosed with nodular sclerosis Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system. I was twenty-nine years old. My reaction was fairly predictable. I remember at one point, Brandi (who, like me, was a skeptic at the time, and just as anti-Christian as I was) had to prevent her parents from giving me the “get your soul right with God” speech. I found out about that the day after she ran intervention.

My treatment was six months of chemotherapy with a cocktail called ABVD (adriamycin, bleomycin, vinblastine, and dacarbazine). It was administered intravenously, which was good (because I didn’t have to have a port installed) and bad (to this day, it’s impossible to find a good vein in my arm). I was given the dose every other Wednesday. The side effects were mild, compared to some chemotherapy treatments – for example, my hair only thinned, and I didn’t lose much weight – even though that would have been a plus in my book. However, as the treatment progressed, the side effects I did have lingered for longer and longer. The nausea had to be treated with better medication as time when on and my original meds did less to stop it. I would get hiccups the day after every infusion, for the entire day – treated with a mild muscle relaxer.  Two days after an infusion, I’d spend most of the day asleep, knocked out by the anti-nausea pills. I couldn’t drink bottled water, because my sensitive taste buds couldn’t stand the tang of plastic. The smell of car exhausted made me retch. It wasn’t fun.

Things started coming to a head, emotionally and physically, as I came closer to the last session of my fifth month. By now I was used to the routine. I would go in, get an IV put into one of my depreciating number of usable veins, get pumped with pre-drugs like a steroid, and something to fight nausea, and a mild relaxant. Then I would get the chemo, and it would burn the veins of my arm as it went in. As the months were going on, I was becoming more and more aware of the fact that I was getting toxins deliberately pumped into me. I was getting really depressed about the whole thing, and on that one day (the final chemo of month five) I told Brandi that I wanted to call in sick. For chemo. The irony was golden. But seriously, I said that I didn’t want to go in for my infusion, that I just wanted one week off from the whole process. She hugged me, and I cried a little bit, and then we went in.

I spent that whole morning pumping myself up. “You can do it, you’ve been through worse,” I said to myself. I went through every single visualization exercise my neo-pagan youth had taught me – “Picture a field, and a tree, and an animal that approaches. This is your spirit animal. Take comfort from your spirit animal.” I tried counting things in my head, to force my focus away from what was happening to me. I used every single trick I could think of to try to make my body less revolted by the process. The only thing I didn’t try was praying – I figured that if God did exist (and I was far from sure about that) then this theoretical God would already know that I was miserable, and would help me whether I asked it to or not. So I resolved to deal with it on my own. This is very important to understand – I failed so completely it was sad. My heart was racing as the nurse put the IV in me, I got the shakes, I wanted to throw up when I felt the cold of the liquid hitting my veins. It was bad, and I was depressed at my complete inability to make myself okay with the infusion. I was powerless to “man up”, and as the infusion continued I just kept feeling worse.

Then the nurse got up, because the automatic drip portion of the infusion was starting and she didn’t need to hand-inject the liquids anymore. She asked if I wanted anything from the kitchen – water? Juice? A soda? Tea? Coffee? A Popsicle?

When she mentioned the Popsicle (the grossest, least-appealing frozen treat known to mankind, and the one “cold-dessert-on-a-stick” I have never wanted in my life, and had subsequently turned down for every single previous infusion at the Arizona Cancer Center), I felt this shiver go through me, and this weird warmth filled my chest. Suddenly, I had this incredibly rapid series of thoughts/feelings/images – kids laughing in the sun, running barefoot on the grass, eating Popsicles. It was the cheap kind that was two Popsicles stuck together, each one with its own stick. I thought of the syrup that sticks to the side (so gross) and the flavorless ice crystals that form on them (so gross) and it all seemed to me, for an instant, to be the perfect personification of carefree joy. It seemed to me that Popsicles represented unmitigated happiness. I was very surprised that I wanted one, and ravenously.

I told the nurse, “You know, I would love a Popsicle.” Brandi turned and raised an eyebrow, because she knows I hate them, and I had sounded so pleased at the thought. When the nurse brought it back, wrapped in the cheap paper wrapper that sticks to the frozen bar, I tour it open and put it in my mouth. The warmth in my chest just exploded – it was like a floodgate of endorphins was opened in my brain. These things that I had never liked, that represented things I had never done as a child (run barefoot in the grass? in the sun? I grew up hating the sun and the sharp St. Augustine grass we had in our yard) were making me happy in a way that I had no choice but to accept as coming from outside of myself. It literally felt as if this whole idea of what Popsicles represented, and how they could bring me tremendous happiness in a moment when I needed even a little happiness, was not something I was able to do myself. It was all very illogical, baseless from within the context of my life experience, and so saccharine and cliché that my internal cynicism should have strangled it dead. Instead, it made me tear up with happiness, and that was the easiest chemo infusion I ever had. I told Brandi about it, and all she had to say at that time, was, “That was God.”

This, from a skeptic, like me.

Now, the rules of good storytelling would insist that I tell you folks that I came to God that day, but I didn’t. I didn’t even consider going to a church until something like three years after that day, and I did it kicking and screaming. I spent those three years as a hard-line agnostic who felt he had more in common with atheists than with any kind of theist – but I held special loathing for Christians. Looking back from a theological perspective, it’s easy to suspect that the Holy Spirit touched me on the Day of the Popsicle, but that the works of the enemy took that recollection from my mind for three years. In fact, the reason I’m a Christian now is because one year ago, I told Brandi, “You know, sweetheart. . . I think I’m an atheist.”

Her response?

“No you’re not. Don’t you remember the Popsicle?”

I had forgotten the Popsicle, but Brandi reminded me. That convinced me that I needed to start hanging out with theists. I needed to surround myself with people who would remind me that a weird, immaterial Something – a Something that existed outside of me –  had once helped me do what I was completely unable to do on my own. When looking for a large group of theists, the most logical place to look in Duluth was a church (we have very few mosques in the Twin Ports). Of the churches in Duluth, the one that spoke the most to me (when I viewed its website) was HillsideChurch. Cut to me, sometimes-raising-my hand-in-worship, sometimes-getting-teary-eyed-during-message, and, most importantly, me-getting-dunked-in-a-kiddy-pool on stage, and the rest is unfolding history.

So.

Cancer.

Cancer, cancer, cancer.

Some of you reading this have cancer. Some of you reading this have had cancer. And some of you reading this have experienced cancer through someone you loved – someone who might not be here anymore, like my mom. I want you all to know that I love you.

I love you, all.

My next post will be angrier, and snarkier, and it will have funny pictures in it. I’ll return you to your regularly-scheduled ranting.

Until then,

May God give you Popsicles. . . even if you don’t ask.


Is this Sparta?

I know what you’re thinking. “Two posts in a row? From Brandi?! Is her server down for maintenance?” Well it’s not! I’m actually taking a break from the game in order to share my thoughts with you. Isn’t that thoughtful of me?

Just say yes, so we can move on.

Daniel mentioned in an earlier blog post that we’re in the process of buying a house in “the cities” – which is the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, for those of you who don’t habla midwest. I’m excited about this because it will be the first time we’ve been able to own something, which either means we’re crazy, or we’re moving ever-so-slightly up in the world.

Now, since this process has started I’ve been approaching it through fasting and prayer, and fasting, and prayer. It’s been very cyclical, as I’m sure you can imagine. This hasn’t been an easy road for us Mitchells. It started with us feeling very strongly that our days in Duluth were coming to an end, despite the fact that we have much love for our Duluth/Superior peeps. We had a couple of options on the table: namely, the cities or Florida. Each one had its strengths and weaknesses, so that’s where the prayer started. It was, basically, me telling God that I would move where he pointed regardless of my personal feelings on the subject – if only he would just point.

Eventually, the focus slowly tightened down to the cities, and I began my search for housing. There were a lot of houses available . . . but again, after focusing in on the prayer and fasting, we managed to narrow down the possibilities to 3 different houses. After a couple of trips down into that concrete jungle, we ended up picking the first house we’d looked at. We felt really good about it, so we put in an offer and decided to start the process.

That should have been it, right? No such luck. Every step we took forward was followed by a half-step back, and there were times in the process when everyone involved was ready to throw up their hands, say “Oh to hell with it!” and settled for renting a house in the Duluth/Superior area.

Every time things would devolve to this point, I would go into a season of prayer and fasting. I would ask God the standard questions – did I make the wrong call? Did I misinterpret the signs and portents and dreams? Did he not want us in the cities at all?

Every time I prayed, I would feel this comforting presence I’ve come to call a “God Hug”. It was a  feeling of God saying,  “I’ve never left you. Just wait.” And I would, with renewed faith, counsel everyone in my family of this very fact. Some would doubt it was going to happen at all, some would doubt we could make it work if it did happen, and to all of them I became their only source of encouragement. Even as the clock was ticking down, and it was looking like we were going to be facing eviction from our current rental just to buy the time for the closing on this house happen, I was the one who didn’t have the time or luxury to doubt. We knew that we couldn’t rent another house without signing a lease we’d have to break in a month, thereby paying moving costs twice. Even worse was the threat of being effectively homeless until closing came through. Neither of these were pleasant prospects, and to say I wasn’t afraid would be a massive lie. Still, I felt like we were poi      sed on a precipice – the difference between what God had done in our lives already, and what God was inviting us to discover with him. My fear did not shake my faith, and a lot of times my “prayer” was a shrug and me saying, “Well I don’t know what you’re doing, but you’ve never abandoned me. Not even when I forgot your name. I trust you. And thanks for the shit your doing that I can’t see. Whatever it is, it’s gonna be epic.”

Because that’s how I pray, you see. Keep it simple, stupid. Keep it simple, and keep it real.

One thing I’ve learned in my short faith journey is this: praying to God for help is powerful magic, but it’s not always enough. So we sent out a call to prayer. We asked you guys (our blog readers, who still need a name) to pray, we emailed our pastors and our friends. We got all the “prayer warriors” involved. I even branched out a little and sent out a call to my secular friends – some of whom are pagan, some of whom are agnostic, and one of whom is atheist – and asked them to do whatever they did to send good vibes our way. Heretical? Maybe. Personally, I think God hears you no matter what name you call him or what method you use, and I needed all the help I could get. Being the only support beam gets tiring when you’re holding up the whole building! Plus. . . you know. . . the whole move thing could really use his help.

Well, we asked and you answered. And things started happening in our favor. It became two steps forward and one step back – sometimes three steps. It got to the point that we became convinced that

a)      this move was under supernatural attack (which is not a mentality I jump to easily)

and

b)      that meant that we were supposed to be doing it.

We renewed the call to prayer amongst family and friends, and God moved in such a way that I can’t imagine it’s because of anyone but him. Now it looks almost certain that we will not only be closing on this house early next month, but that we will be doing it at a substantially lower cost than we originally thought. Due to the various problems we ran into in the course of trying to make this sale happen, the owner has become willing to make adjustments to the contract to help it fly with the VA loan we’re using – including lowering the price of the house, after we’d already agreed on a number. He’s even offering to pay our closing costs out of his own pocket. He’s almost losing money to see us in this house. Who does that, when they could just find another buyer?

I figure, only someone touched by God would do that.

Anyway, throughout this process my faith was never shaken, even though I was afraid and sometimes exhausted with the job of encouraging everyone else along the way. I’m not saying this to brag – I’m saying this because this is not at all like me. Usually, I’m the one who falls to despair. I’m the one who gives up on God before God gives up on me. But this time, for this struggle, things were different.  I knew it was going to work out even if I didn’t see the end game. I knew God was going to take care of us, because that’s what you do to someone you love, and if there’s anything I know for certain (besides higher frame rates are better) it’s that God loves me. And not just me – God loves my whole family. As such, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that he would be with us through this storm as he’d been with us through every other storm.

As my pastor, Ryan Bauers, once said, “Life can be rough. Sometimes it can’t be helped. Sometimes the only choice you’re offered is the choice to go through hard times and feel hopeful, or to go through hard times and despair.”

And – who knew? – God likes it when we call on him. He enjoys it when we take the time to chat. And sometimes, when we ask him to work miracles, he does.

However, as close as we are to the finish line, there are still hurdles to jump and pitfalls to cross. I’m a fighter by nature, and as such I know that you can’t slacken in your assault till victory is fully achieved. That being the case, I’m renewing the call to each of you to come put on your +3 armor of smiting evil and come join me in the battle. Pray, meditate, light candles, whatever it is you do to commune with the infinite wonder that is God. Do it with m,e and on behalf of me and my family, and in return I will do the same for you. Whatever it is you’re going through, God is with you. He walks with you, and he loves you, and he won’t ever abandon you even if you don’t know his name. I know sometimes that’s not easy to see, so as an added bonus, I’m with you too – with my vorpal sword of holy ass-kicking and a bad attitude, and I’m willing to spill metaphoric blood for your cause. So tell me what it is you’re in the middle of, what enemy has you surrounded, what storm rocks your boat, and together we can go to war!


This one’s for the ladies. . . but fellas, listen close.

I haven’t written a blog post in a while. I know you’ve all been awaiting my latest rant, and I’m sorry to have disappointed you for so long. The truth is, my other half is much better at delivering the rants without so many f-bombs. . .  and, honestly, how could I compare with such wonderful rants as this

But the time has come, guys and dolls, for me to stand on my soap box and do my bitch of the day. Normally these are done in the privacy of my bedroom, where I yell at the top of my lungs about the idiocy of the fundamentalists and the poison they teach to their congregations. This time, for a change of pace, I’m going to blog it. Now, I’m the last person who will tell anyone how to live their lives. If you want to be an ignorant, hate-filled idiot, that’s fine with me. I do have a problem, however, with bullshit that’s spouted from the pulpit. If you’re going to preach, you have a responsibility – not only to the people who are trusting you to lead them in a healthy direction, but also to the people who are watching you to get an opinion on what this whole “Jesus” thing is about.

 

Guys? See, this. . . this thing, right here? Yeah. . . not helping.

 

Lately, I’ve been finding more and more completely un-researched bullshit being spouted on a national stage regarding sex and the female body. It pisses me off.

For example, just yesterday I came across this article written by San Jose pastor Justin Buzzard, about his book, Date Your Wife. Having not read the entire book, I can’t comment on all of the content Buzzard put into it. But the article itself gives me pause. What immediately disturbed me about this article was an email from Buzzard’s wife, as referenced by the author. A bit of set-up – a woman had emailed Mr. Buzzard, asking for advice about how many times per week she should have sex with her husband. The author’s wife, Taylor, shot off an email to the inquiring bride that included this bit:

 

I think aiming for every other day (4x a week) is a healthier range. But I guess this is a question our husbands can best answer, since they typically have the bigger “sex tank,” and we definitely don’t want to send them out into this sex crazed world with their sex tanks on low. Satan is prowling.

Now I’m not the sort to tell you what to do, but read this article. On the tail of such comedy gems as “legitimate rape” and discussions as to whether or not a woman should be able to abort a stillborn fetus, this was the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. I could no longer keep silent.

I was enraged at “legitimate rape”. I fumed about it for days. Really? We won’t get pregnant unless we liked it? If our bodies responded to it at all, that made it “rough sex”? Come the fuck on.

I was incensed at the idea that we should give birth to a dead baby because that’s “what cows do”.  As if I’m worth nothing more than a brood mare, and I have no opinion in the matter at all.

 

“Honey, I’m going to go hang out at Hooters with the boys. You be good, and I’ll bring you home a nice apple.”

 

But this bit, about how women should sacrifice their bodies to their husbands every day to every other day in order to have a healthy marriage (read: a marriage where he won’t cheat on you at every opportunity because your simply not giving it to him enough) broke my brain. I’m infuriated.

Ladies, we are more than this. We are allowed to want sex! We don’t have to use our husbands’ “insatiable animal desire” as an excuse for taking our clothes off for him. It’s ok for us to want him. And men, why are you not infuriated by this idea that fundamentalist Christians have of you, that you’re a sex-crazed maniac that can only avoid infidelity (and rape!) because your wife becomes a secret gutter slut in the bedroom, thus sating your irrepressible urge to stick it in something? Ladies, if your man is this much of a slime ball, I would like to give you a piece of advice. Let me be very clear on it: leave him. He is not a man; he is an ambulatory turd. A real man will not cheat on you because you’re stressed out, or have a headache, or are busy, or because you just don’t want it. A real man has self control and is not controlled by his penis. You not giving it to him but once every two weeks does not mean he is going to be lead, by his penis radar, to the nearest sleazy-dressed slut who will spread her legs for him.

 

“ANOTHER nursing home? Brother! I need to get this thing re-calibrated.”

 

Men! I know you’re better than this! Do you know how many men I’ve dated who would put it in anything if I didn’t give it to him constantly? One.

Do you know how many men I’ve dated? More than one!

I weep for these poor women who are receiving this “marriage guidance”. I feel for them so completely. First, they believe that they have to stick with a man of such low character because divorcing this asshole (in favor of a man with any actual merit) would make them guilty of adultery, and therefore condemned to hell. Instead of happiness, and a marriage of love, they believe the selective so-called biblical reasoning of gender roles, deliberately ignoring certain passages in the bible in favor of others that stem directly from a patriarchal society in which women were considered property. This is espoused to them from a position of guidance, and dressed up with modern sensibilities, and it makes me sick.

Can we please, as a culture, get over these antiquated gender roles? Ladies, there is more to life than being his maid and slut. Men, you are more than sex-crazed fiends that can’t stop yourself from raping and cheating.

 

But just in case you aren’t, here is a helpful guide.

 

A healthy relationship is based on trust and communication. I say “relationship” instead of “marriage” because I see nowhere in the scripture the fundamentalists seem so intent on taking literally (except when it doesn’t fit their ideology) where it says that Adam and Eve were married. I mean. . .if they were the only two people on earth, who was the rabbi who performed the ceremony?

 

“L’CHAIM!”

 

Women do not have to become submissive sex slaves to their men to have a happy relationship free of infidelity, and men do not need (or want, I should hope) their women to be a free lay when they get home, bereft of any thought and opinion of their own.

Aside from the talk about wives needed to fill their husband’s “sex tank”, something else about Buzzard’s article bothered me. The book seems to be written with a male audience in mind, and the author offers the men reading the article this advice:

 

“Underline this next sentence. If you want to change a marriage, change the man. That’s you. So whether you’ve been following the two-times-a-week rule, the one-time-a-week rule, or the one-time-a-quarter rule in your marriage, don’t rush to show your wife my wife’s e-mail. That won’t work. Your wife isn’t the problem. You’re the problem. I’m the problem. Men are the problem. If you want to change a marriage, change the man. If you want to change your marriage, you must first see that you are the main problem in your marriage.

“I imagine there are exceptions to this, but you and your marriage are not the exception. There’s probably one guy somewhere in Canada who can legitimately claim that most of the problems in his marriage stem from his Canadian wife. He’s the exception. You aren’t. The man who reads this book and disagrees, who thinks his wife is the main problem in the marriage, is the man who most needs to read this book.”

My first thought, when reading this blurb, wasn’t, “Finally! A man who understands that wives are blameless!” Because that’s ridiculous – why couldn’t I be the problem with my marriage? I’m just as broken as Daniel, just as selfish, as irrational, as evil in my bad times as he is. As it is, I think that both Daniel and I share an equal burden of blame for the bad times in our marriage, but it’s not impossible that I could be the biggest problem in my marriage. I’m a person, aren’t I? Buzzard’s implication that all wives are perfect little angels is as offensive as it is nonsensical. I live in the real world, not The King of Queens.

 

“Herp de derp, armpits, hubba-dee-do, meatball hoagies!”

 

Justin Buzzard’s assertion that women are porcelain dolls of sugar-coated goodness (and, conversely, that men are the apes who ruin their own good thing) is, as George W. Bush speechwriter Michael Gerson put it, the “soft bigotry of low expectations”. I’m all for a male pastor telling men to take responsibility for the part they play in maintaining a healthy marriage, but Buzzard takes the sentiment so far that it becomes its own form of prejudice. Does Buzzard believe wives can be perfectly blameless because they can’t compete with the authority of their husbands? Because they couldn’t possibly ruin a marriage, as they lack the power to do so? Or is Buzzard following the modern complementarian ruse of patting wives on the back while making sure they have no actual control over anything in their lives?

Wives can cheat. Wives can steal. Wives can lie. Wives can do anything that men can do, because they have both the same powers as men, and the same inclinations as men. Pretending that wives are perfect is just a Christian man’s way of trying to feel better about all of the abuse that Christian men have heaped on women over the centuries, blaming them for every little thing because of their “weakness,” their “wicked natures”. Saying now that wives are perfect little angels is just as offensive and untrue, and it extends the mindset (to the Christian male) that his wife is a delicate fawn that needs protection. Just ask Daniel – I’m no fawn.

 

Okay, maybe this one.

 

I for one am eternally grateful and thank God every day that I didn’t come to Daniel as a mealy-mouthed little child who’s entire view of marriage had nothing to do with love, or my own desires in the bedroom, and instead was filled with the poison of the so-called guidance of Date Your Wife as my guideline for a happy marriage. I have a relationship built on love and companionship that I firmly believe God blessed before we ever even knew to credit the blessing to Him. And if life gets in the way and we don’t have sex for a week or two, I’m glad I don’t have to worry that he’s out there, tongue lolling after anything skinnier, sexier or sluttier than I am.

And if I occasionally want to smack upside his head for no good reason, well, what can I say? I’m not perfect. No matter what Justin Buzzard says.


Introducing Big Geebus

I’m getting pretty goddamn tired of fear. Like, seriously tired of it. I’m tired of hearing rhetoric about any damn subject and hearing nothing but, “If this happens, destruction.”

“If gays get married, straight marriages will be made illegal, and the Homosexual Agenda will force everyone to perform same-sex acts!”

 “If Obama gets elected, the economy will collapse so profoundly that it will usher in a period of living terror, when the only currency accepted by our Muslim overlords will be the babies of white parents!”

 “If Romney gets elected, the one percent will turn the other ninety-nine percent into a caste of unpaid workers who are only allowed to rest on the day of their death, moments before they are turned into Soylent Green!”

 “If Rob Bell continues to say words, his demonic followers will be allowed, willy-nilly, to bludgeon old women to death with night sticks!”  

 

“Mwa ha ha ha haaaaa!”

 

I understand – we live in a scary world. Everyone needs stuff, and sometimes it’s hard to get stuff, and people might want to take our stuff, and some people eat different food than we do and wear funny clothes. It’s horrifying. I get it. But is it possible – even remotely – that maybe all of this freaking out is making it harder to do. . . well, anything productive about it?

The shootings in the movie theater in Colorado, or the Sikh temple in Wisconsin, have intensified debate about gun control. On every side of the debate, I see people reacting out of terror.

“If we don’t create stricter laws to control guns, we will never, ever, ever be safe leaving our homes!”

“If we create stricter laws to control guns, then law-abiding citizens will be surrounded by bad people who do have guns, and they’ll have no ways to protect themselves!”

I’m not saying there isn’t some room for reasonable debate about things like gun control – obviously both sides have some smart people among them, and this conversation should happen. But it won’t be a productive conversation unless people can speak logically, and civilly, and unburdened by the omnipresent terror and mistrust that, sadly, defines our current rhetoric, and has for the past several years.

The first casualty of the rhetoric of fear is common sense. Of course homosexual marriage is no threat to heterosexual marriage. Mitt Romney isn’t going to set this country on a collision course with oblivion, any more than Barack Obama is. And the gun control debate is too complicated to be conquered by a single triumphant sound bite. So why are we so damn terrified?

What makes me the saddest, when I think about how polluted the national conversation has become, is how much the Christian community has contributed to this pollution. Just the other day, I saw an article about Pat Robertson telling people not to adopt children, because they might have a history of sexual abuse or food deprivation that leads them to grow up “weird.” Seriously, he said this.  He then goes on to say that of course he loves orphans – his organization has ministered to thousands of orphans across the world – but that it’s not anyone’s responsibility to rescue them. “You really don’t have to take on other people’s problems.”

 

“Uh. . . what?”

 

Here’s a dude who has been in the “pray trade” for more years than I’ve been alive, and his response to the idea that some children have been through torture is “if you try to rescue them, they could be weird.” I don’t doubt that there is love somewhere in his wrinkled, old Grinch’s heart, but it’s been (at least in this case) overruled by fear.

The easiest explanation for the state of our current rhetoric, I think, is that it pays (other people) for us to be terrified. “Big Media” has turned the news into entertainment, and panic drives viewership, which jacks up ad revenue. And obviously the Dems and ‘pubs want to galvanize their bases, which is more easily done when the message is, “We are on the verge of the greatest disaster since the cancellation of  Firefly!”  

(In my head, everyone loves sci-fi.)

 

“Romney/Ryan 2012 – They’re your only hope.”

 

Of all the groups who are invested in fear to drive profits, the one that offends me the most is the one I call “Big Geebus.” The Christianity-for-profit industry bugs the shit out of me. Big Geebus wants you to fear, because fear brings you to church. Big Geebus wants you to doubt, because they sell books for that. Big Geebus wants you to see enemies in “the world”, because “the world” doesn’t go to church – which means they give no money to Big Geebus, and thus, they are not needed or wanted. The Christo-industrial complex loves the culture war, because – like the RNC or DNC – it galvanizes the base.

Paul wouldn’t approve of this message of fear. Paul was all about love, and faith, and hope. Paul didn’t hate “the world” – he dove right into it, mimicking the people of the cultures he was trying to save. Check out what he says in 1 Corinthians, chapter 9, verses 19-23.

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.”

 

“I should fear WHOM? I’m sorry, I can’t hear you over the sound of me kicking ass for the Lord.”

 

Those are clearly not the words of someone who lived in pants-shitting terror of the people who weren’t exactly like him.

Here’s a thought exercise for today – imagine the members of the early church, around the first century. These are people who could be put to death by both Jews and Romans. They had few powerful friends, they made no political policies, and there was nary a Christian publishing company to be found. Did they fear the world half as much as Big Geebus tells us to?