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iamwrong

Hey everyone. This is Brett, head blogger and founder of WOJ. I have decided to take my work to the next level and actively pursue a career in freelance writing. I will continue to develop weoccupyjesus.org, however my personal reflections and more self-promotional posts require a separate site. I am now officially launching…

iamprobablywrong.com.

If you have enjoyed by previous work, please follow the new blog. I have written an introductory post that I’d be honored to share with you. Please read, like, share, and comment! I would love your feedback. The site is optimized for all mobile devices, so have at it.

Thanks for all the support. #heregoesnothing

 

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Let's get this worship service started!  Image credit, flickr: Udo Schröter

Let’s get this worship service started! Image credit, flickr: Udo Schröter

Getting feisty helps me write.  As part of the feistiness associated with this post, I thought of some possible subtitles:

Karen Riffs on Niebuhr
Suck it, Barna Group!
Let It Go (church folks cover the Frozen soundtrack)

Relevance is something of a buzzword these days.  A quick search of the Barna Group church research website found 30 matches for the word relevance.  “Everyone knows” that Millennials don’t find church or organized religion relevant to their lives.  “Everyone knows” that churches are in decline.  “Everyone knows” that we are becoming more and more secular, with ‘None’ the fastest rising category of faith identity.

So what?

Now, to be honest, I’m a churchy person and work on the staff of a medium-sized progressive Protestant church. But I’m not the person on staff who stays awake at night worrying about quarterly insurance payments or making payroll.  So, in other words, it’s easy for me to be blasé about declining butts in the pews and shrinking budgets that are both so well documented since the 1950s.

I’ve written before about the blessings of being small.  I believe that church works better at doing what we do when we are small – lean, green, Good News machines.  I pray that I have the grace to continue to believe that if or when my own job disappears.

But there’s a deeper reason that I’m unconcerned about the question of relevance.  I’m leaving the job of judging the work of the church and my part in it to those who come after.  History will decide after I’m long gone… and I’m okay with that.  My willingness to give up relevance is a debt I owe to the writings of H. Richard Niebuhr.

Niebuhr (yes, there are two of them – brothers – but here I am talking about H. Richard not Reinhold) wrote an essay about the role of the church in contemporary society.  We’ve changed over the 2000 years since the time of Jesus.  In The Responsibility of the Church for Society, he names three roles for the church:

  1. Apostle – It’s the church’s task to spread the news of grace.  In Peter’s words from Acts, “I perceive that God shows no partiality.”  As an aside… I’m not too good at this task.  But I’m getting better.  I love church and I love the peace that I receive as part of a worshipping community.  That makes it easier to talk to other people.  One friend of mine puts it this way, “I’m just a beggar, sharing with other beggars where I’ve found bread.”
  2. Shepherd – It’s also the church’s privilege to serve the world.  We take care of people in ways big and small.
  3. Pioneer – huh? whaaa?

It’s this pioneering responsibility that insures the reality of the church.  In its role as pioneer, the church is the first to perceive and respond to the Spirit.  I always imagine the church metaphorically scanning the horizon, looking to where God is going to work next.  This searching and responding is one way to look at our history:  in the 1500s, we responded to God’s work with the Reformation; in the 1800s, we responded to God’s work with Abolition; in the 20th century, we responded with nuclear disarmament and the civil rights movement.  Where is the spirit moving right now?  The environmental movement, LGBT rights, worker justice, humane immigration policies… these are the macro level answers.  Where is the spirit moving right now FOR YOU?  It might be peaceful parenting, nonviolent communication, simplifying your lifestyle, or other activism large or small.

Being part of any effort to bring social change is not without cost.  Pioneering actions of any scale are risky, to say the least.  Just look at what our culture does to pioneers.  You can start with Jesus.

But the reward of our pioneer spirit is setting aside our hand wringing about relevance.  Reaching out, shepherding, pioneering… we are just too busy loving the world to worry about being relevant.

Don’t Should On Me!

Brett Gallaher —  January 20, 2014 — 5 Comments

Port-O-Potty-e1381947235468

So I went to see an R-rated movie the other day. Well, first I sat through the forty-five minutes of commercials about buying the giant discount popcorn bucket, and then I watched an R-rated movie. Wait, I’m getting ahead of myself again. After the popcorn propaganda came the previews (including the preview for that upcoming Coca Cola bears movie, aka the upcoming 90 minute commercial about Coca Cola). Since I had paid to see an R-rated film, the previews were for many R-rated films as well. One time I read the description of the rating itself, being told that minors must be accompanied by an adult. For some reason, it made me laugh. I mean, the content of the film doesn’t change simply because your parent is sitting next to you. Obviously the message is “We don’t care if your kid should see decapitations and raunchy sex scenes at age nine. We just want to make sure you don’t mind if your kid sees it. And don’t sue us by the way.”

Can't beat the real thing!

Can’t beat the real thing!

~

I had to catch myself, because my inner monologue had begun should’ing all over the place. You see, I think one of the un-evolved elements of humanity is our propensity to tell other human beings what they should and should not do, think, believe, or feel. We do it all day long. It saturates every conversation from religion to politics to education to… who should see an R-rated movie. I mean, I was sitting there in the theater thoroughly enjoying the adult humor and language used in the film. Honestly, a few years ago I would not have felt comfortable with such content, but I have changed. Depending on your own beliefs you may think I made a change for the worse, letting my morals slowly decay and allowing my mind to be infected with unholy influences. Maybe not. Maybe you think R-rated movies are more in-line with the real world, unfiltered and consistent with our modern society.

What really struck me was the fact I couldn’t simply enjoy the show without first dealing with these kind of thoughts; I was somehow compelled to entertain fabricated debates in my head regarding the nature of morality. That’s annoying. I mean, I paid $10 (plus the nearly $15 for the giant discount popcorn bucket) so I could yell internally at my third grade Sunday School teacher (who was a lovely woman by the way). Why was I letting people “should” on me from the past? From decades ago?

"Brett! Stop reading Song of Solomon out loud!"

“Brett! Stop reading Song of Solomon out loud!”

~

I observed the actions of the characters on screen. The uncensored tone of the dialogue was refreshing, but it reminded me of how any truth or lesson lying behind the film would be totally lost on certain individuals. The unmarried couple laying in bed after sex, having a real human conversation filled with laughter and joy and hope… none of that would come across to those only preoccupied with condemning the “sin” of premarital sex. The woman abused by her husband of fifteen years shares a dance and a kiss with a younger man in a bar… but she’s an adulteress whore and a drunkard to some. You see, characters in films may not be real, but they represent very real ideas, people, situations, etc. Movies are truly art imitating life.

So, who is to say how we should live? What should we do? What shouldn’t we do? It’s easier for us to get those answers from other people. For some that is as easy as picking a religion. Right and wrong are able to be defined, creating a framework for living. In such a scenario, one must simple do all they can to avoid what is wrong and pursue what is right. This creates a tendency to dismiss “gray areas” as confused or twisted logic, created by dark forces conspiring to trip you up at every turn. Reality is only black and white to many people, therefore anything gray is to be met with suspicion at the very least.

That reminds me of another R-rated movie coming out soon...

That reminds me of another R-rated movie coming out soon…

~

While I won’t fall into the verbal trap of attempting the phrase “You shouldn’t tell people what they shouldn’t do” …I’ll propose what I see as an obvious downside of should’ing on people. To define life (and particularly your life) as existing within any pre-defined framework is to reject the experience of life. If you tell someone else how they should feel, who they should love, what they should do, etc., you are telling them that their own experience, their own journey, their own path is pointless. Their unique existence? Meaningless. And worse, you are tell them that your unique existence isn’t unique either. You’re kindly (or often unkindly) breaking it to them that life isn’t about doing the work of discovering your own place in the universe; you’re saying life is already decided to be [fill in the blank]. Get use to it.

And much worse, you can rob people of some of the most beautiful moments. You have the power to take something miraculous, or freeing, or life-giving, and write it off as selfish, sinful, or even demonic. Any particular brand of happiness not grounded in your particular worldview can be met with ridicule, dismissal, or scorn. And again, the real tragedy is that you reject the truth behind the packaging. You miss out on life, trading it for a concept you’ve elevated to the place of God.

Obviously we can have our convictions. We can believe strongly in principles that guide our lives. We can fight for what matters to us. But it must be the fruit of our own labor, to work out who we should be as individuals. It will involve trial and error. You will mess up. You will get discouraged. But if you pull through, if you discover what is good and pure, what is dark and empty, what gives you meaning and what poisons your soul… if you experience pain and rebirth, if you conquer yourself and find who you really are…

…No one should ever be able to define life for you ever again.

——–

brettBrett Gallaher is founder of We Occupy Jesus, pretty much the best blog like ever. He resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the place they wrote that train song about. Once he shot a squirrel, but he felt really bad about it afterwards. When he’s not changing the world, Brett also enjoys paying way too much for coffee.

First, gentle readers, a confession:  I’ve got a lot at stake in this whole church thing working out.

I’m churchy.  When Dear Husband and I first got married, I found myself singing hymns in the shower on Sunday mornings.  Poor guy, he’s churchy by marriage.  I work at a church. I bring my kids to church. It’s what we do.  So I begin by letting you know that this might be way off-base as I definitely have a pro-church bias.  You’ve been warned.

worship

flickr: Ashley Campbell Photography

So what is church?  What’s the purpose?  Did you have to memorize something as part of confirmation?

In my own answer I’m indebted to teachers in the tradition of the Ecumenical Order and its contemporary offspring:  Realistic Living  and Profound Journey Dialog.  This is a whole rabbithole, but I tell you this just to make clear that these ideas aren’t my own.

Church is people who are watching, waiting, and acting.

In the words of H. Richard Neibuhr, church are those sensitive and responsive people who are first to perceive God’s work in the world and first to respond.  To me, this is beautiful imagery.  I imagine millions of sensitive and responsive people, those who care, looking around, finding God at work, and joining in.  Church folks are the “what’s next?” people.

Despite this lovely calling to pioneer God’s work in the world, the church isn’t doing so well.  Various bloggers have spent much of 2013 arguing about how close to dead we actually are.  I’m not interested in having that debate.  It’s clear that church is changing.  Because I believe in celebrating and being thankful for what is, I’m looking for the gifts in all this change.

Gift #1:  Smallitude
One of the biggest challenges facing the church is the commoditization of worship and community life.  A couple of examples will give you a feel for what I’m getting at.  I work at a church that’s very liberal theologically.  Every summer, some of our families attend Vacation Bible School programs at other churches with very different dogma and cosmology.  It’s something wholesome for the kids to do in the summer.  The week before Christmas I got an email from a family explaining that they would be attending Christmas eve services at a church closer to their home.  Every church has candles and Silent Night, right?  I’m not criticizing these families’ decisions, but I am pointing toward an idea that church is something that fits or doesn’t fit your family’s needs and schedule, much like sports teams and music lessons.  Folks shop around, and churches put their best foot forward to get in on the action.

We’re better when we’re smaller.

Last year, I got a birthday card with a cartoon of Jesus on the front, captioned ‘Jesus on Twitter.’  His little thought balloon said, “Twelve followers… Sweet!”

Smaller means more intimate, less pretentious.  Smaller means more consensus and fewer committees.  Sometimes smaller means more REAL.

Gift #2  Permission to put Vision in the driver’s seat
Big churches have lots of programs.  There’s not a thing wrong with programs.  But programming (lots of Bible studies, small groups, family activities, fitness plans, travel) can be a distraction from a congregation’s shared vision.

When a faith community puts an emphasis on programs, they run the risk of people leaving when the church down the street offers a program they like better.  So program planning becomes a vicious circle:  offer more, fancier, more polished programs in brand new buildings.  Church leadership becomes focused on numbers and fear.  A church focused on numbers and fear – no matter how nice their brochures or how hip their website it – is dying.

The alternative is to let vision run the show.  A shared, energizing, hopeful vision for the future – not just the future of an individual church, but the future of a movement, the future of the earth community.  It’s risky.  But it’s exciting.

When vision drives the church and becomes the center of decision-making and resource allocation, the church no longer needs to worry about being relevant.  We get behind the vision and leave the judgments for history to decide.

Gift #3  Relationship gets more than just talk
All churches talk about relationship.  It’s a buzzword.  The hype around relationships is crazy-making.  A friend of mine had an interesting experience with a Phoenix megachurch.  The relationships this church seemed ready to build were with her husband (with a manly, trade show vibe) and with her children (with contemporary music and lots of technology).  When they stopped attending, no one noticed.

Everyone’s a pastor.  Everyone is a caregiver.  I struggled with this in my first year as a church staffer.  I had this idea that I would swoop in, fix the education programming, and things would just get magically better.  Caregiving was just not in the picture.  Then I helped lead a retreat (more programming!  LOL) in which there were two people in a lot of pain.  One was grieving; the other was working through some painful experiences in her past.  This second participant had an obvious ‘tell:’ when she would talk about her family life and the difficulties they had experienced, she would grin nervously.  The grin masked, just barely, the struggle.  I did a lot of caregiving that weekend and since.  It’s changed the way I listen, the way I show up, the way I measure my accomplishments in any given week.

Everyone is a caregiver.

Gift #4  Getting Creative… because it’s required
In the 1950s when everyone went to church, I imagine that creativity was a luxury.  When everything was going well and the church was ahead on budget items, the staff would get creative.

These days, creativity is an everyday thing.  Newly minted M.Div. graduates get creative when putting together their call to ministry in order to become ordained.  Children’s ministry teams get creative when they don’t have a budget for the off-the-shelf pageant or VBS curriculum.  Churches discover that they have gifts sitting RIGHT THERE IN THE PEWS!  Chefs, teachers, organizers, plumbers, drivers, engineers pitch in to do the work we are called to do.

Gift #5  Lay Leadership Gets Real
Again, I imagine that in days gone by, lay leadership was something a little extra.  Churches set aside a day in the fall to recognize the church board chair and the Sunday School teachers.  Isn’t that nice?

Now, there is less of a division between authorized ministry and lay leadership.  More ministers have day jobs to pay the bills.  We are getting rid of the idea that doing God’s work requires a Rev in front of your name.

Church is people who are watching and waiting – looking toward the margins to see the next place where God is at work.  Church is people who are acting – serving peace and justice on behalf of all.  These pioneering actions happen despite the naysayers who are ready to write the church’s obituary.  A small church can be MUST BE a visioning church, a caring church, a countercultural church, a serving church.

I hope I’m at least a little bit right.  I’m ‘all in’ with this church thing.  Peace to all in the New Year.

I wanted to write about how choosing a church is kind of like dating.

But before I talk about that, I think I have to talk a little bit about what church is.  Or rather, what I think it is supposed to be.

Because I think there is a very common misconception of what that is.  You see, it seems to be a very common perception that church is a building you go to on a certain day of the week where you sing spiritual songs and pray and listen to a message.  And really, picking a church in this paradigm is all about whether or not the style of music/liturgy/sermons are appealing to you.

flickr: Val Entertainment

flickr: Val Entertainment

The original word for ‘church’ used by Paul was ekklesia. What’s interesting about this word is that it is sometimes translated as ‘assembly‘, and when you look into the period of history that Paul lived in, you find that the governmental body of Rome that is somewhat like America’s senate was called the assembly.  And the assembly of Rome was often referred to as the body of Rome, much like the Church is supposed to be the body of Christ.

So the Church, really, is supposed to be the governmental body of Christ with Christ as head, just as Caesar was the head of the assembly of Rome. All this to say that the church is not just supposed to be about singing nice songs and praying, but is supposed to bring about the kingdom of God on earth much as the Roman assembly would enact the decrees that bring about the kingdom of Caesar.

But it’s about more than just that, even.

Jesus modeled for us a life of love that embraced all who came into contact with him – even his enemies. He even said, while hanging on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for then know not what they do.”

You can’t live a life of love alone.

So assembling into congregations is really supposed to be about fellowship, and learning how to love. It’s about learning how to disagree peacefully, and grow in the process. It’s about iron sharpening iron – smoothing out our rough edges. It’s about relationship. You can’t do this alone - you need other people to learn how to be patient, and gentle, and kind.

With these ideas in mind, I submit to you that finding a church is somewhat like dating. 

As in dating, we enter into the relationship questioning whether or not we are compatible for the long haul.  Often, we look for “things in common”–points of resonance.

But a relationship doesn’t work if all you’ve got are common interests.

Just as there would be nothing fun about a dating relationship if the person were dating were exactly like you in every way, there is no purpose to church if everyone you’re doing church with is exactly like you.

"Hi. We're Mike." | flickr: izzyplante

“Hi. We’re Mike.” | flickr: izzyplante

A relationship needs something to make it interesting.

Relationships grow because two people find their differences to be fascinating and they seek to explore and understand those differences.

Just as dating is really about finding out of two people are “compatible,” as in, could a more long-term relationship survive and thrive between these two people, so is finding a church about exploring the possibility of a more long term relationship between oneself and a larger community.

I’d like to submit the idea that finding a church is not about finding the “perfect” church, just like you will never find “the perfect person for me.” Believe me: that search will never end, and if this is the way you go about dating, you’re the one with the problem, not them.

Just as in a dating relationship, when searching for a church I believe there comes a point where you take the plunge–where you decide to take the church as it is, flaws and all.

So the question really becomes: if I enter into a long term relationship with this church, will it be a healthy relationship, or an unhealthy relationship?  And so I’d like to explore a few ways of discerning the answer to this question.

1. Is the congregation homogenous?

This is, consciously or subconsciously, the first thing that would tip me off that the relationship with this church I’m visiting would be unhealthy.  If everyone in the church seems to be one certain type of personality, dresses a certain way, talks a certain way, and likes the same things, I would run.  Because this would be an immediate indicator to me that this community can’t accept diversity–they want to either assimilate those who enter their community (changing *them* to be just like *us*), or cast them out.

Homogeneity would indicate to me a rigid adherence to a system of purity codes.  And I don’t care if I entered a church and found that everyone there had tattoos and piercings, either. If that were the case, it’s just a different kind of purity code where the entrance fee is to look like us and act like us and talk like us.

For me, the number one thing I would look for in a church congregation is a place that is comfortable with diversity–and not just in the ways people dress and act, but also diversity in views.

This shows a security in the church’s collective identity that does not feel a need to destroy individuality, but is willing to engage differences and seek understanding.  Because I think the world needs all kinds of people – we need people who are different to challenge us and make us stronger, and we need to find ways to make room for those who are different so that we can go through this process of growing together.

2. Does the church have good dreams and goals that go outside of itself?

When you date someone, you probably want to know what their goals are. Do they have a plan for their life, and do they want to go someplace and do great things, and is there room within that plan for you?  And it would be a warning bell–or it should be–to find out that those goals are egotistical and narcissistic.

Enough about me. What do you think of me? | flickr: Instant Vantage

Enough about me. What do you think of me? | flickr: Instant Vantage

Likewise, I would look for a church community that has goals that go outside of itself. That is to say – if the church’s only goal is to improve its own status (more people, bigger buildings, better sound equipment, recognition in the world, etc.), then this is probably not going to be a healthy relationship.

Rather, I’d look for a church community that is concerned with how to be a part of the outside community in a healthy way–a church community that is interested in having a positive effect on the outside world, rather than being so narcissistic and egotistical as to only be concerned with having a positive effect within the church community–to hell with anyone outside.

If a church community does not feel concern for what’s going on outside, it’s not really going to do a good job of ministering to those inside either.

3. Does the church put too much emphasis on the peripherals?

There are some things that are important, and some things that are not important – the latter category being what I have referred to as “peripherals”.

When I was still a single man, I once went on a date with someone who had won a rather prominent beauty pageant.  I was thrilled to be able to brag to my friends about this…but I very quickly figured out that a relationship with this person would never work out.

The reason I came to this conclusion is because I discovered that she was very passionate about clothing, and shampoo, and really general topics that I honestly had absolutely no interest whatsoever.  And the funny thing is that I have had great friendships with people who were interested in things that I was not very interested in, but when this is all someone wants to talk about, it’s never going to work. 

It’s fine with me if a friend has an interest in shampoo and clothing, and they can even talk about it in my presence…up to a point.  Once they get past that point, I’m going to tune out and start thinking about how to make my exit, to be quite honest.

In the same way, it’s nice to find a church that likes the same kind of music in their worship service that I like, and is filled with people who embrace casual dress (well, I like a jeans-and-t-shirt church, but it’s fine if you don’t).  But if that’s their number one defining factor that separates them from other churches?  You might have a shallow relationship on your hands.

I’ve been in churches that dogmatically held to the idea that no proper church would sing from anything but a hymnal during their churches, and that bothered me because I thought hymns were an extremely boring form of music.  But what I really should have been bothered about is that the music style was so important to these churches that it trumped relationship.  But likewise, if the only selling point for finding a church is that they have contemporary worship, that’s going to be a shallow and unfulfilling relationship as well.

4. Does the church welcome questions and challenging ideas, or does it try to control the truth?

This could really fall under the first topic, but I wanted to flesh that idea out a bit more.  Because I think that if you find a rigid authority structure that responds to questions and challenges in a hostile way, this should be an immediate warning sign.

Just as you might run the other direction if you discovered that the person you were dating flies off the handle when they are challenged, finding out that the authority structure within your church responds in this manner would be a warning sign that you are in an abusive relationship.  The leaders of your church should not be uncomfortable with challenges and questions–they ought to be secure enough to know their own reasoning and still be comfortable if you do not share their opinions.  Augustine once said:

The truth is like a lion. You don’t have to defend it. Let it loose. It will defend itself.

5. How does the church talk about those that are not part of its community?

This point is really building off of 1, 2, and 4, but I wanted to flesh out the idea a little bit.  So does the church you are in talk about those that are not part of its community as if they were enemies?  Does the church have an “us vs. them” mentality?  Or do they see everyone as a potential friend?  I would look for the latter.

If a church sees itself as part of a holy crusade to defeat everyone that does not adhere to its purity code, you’re going to find an abusive environment within.  In his letter to the Romans, Paul says in Rom. 12:17: “never pay back evil with more evil.”  Later on, in verse 21 he says: “Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good.”

The point is, sure, it’s possible that the people your church is talking about are working towards evil.  But you’re never going to overcome evil with more evil.  So look for a church that does overcomes evil with good.

I hope you found these ideas to be thought provoking and interesting, and I sincerely hope that all of my readers are able to find some sort of community within which they have many meaningful and long-term relationships.
——–

Oh yeah, I'm a rockstar! Geoff is a Pub Theologian and a geeky/nerdy programmer with three super cute kids and an awesome wife who puts up with his quirks. He is also a Progressive Metalhead, which means he listens to loud music that’s also snobbish. Geoff reads way too many books – especially the ones he’s told not to read - and is proud to have been called a “dangerous hairy tick”.

In an online forum I occasionally haunt, I saw someone post a topic on the following question:

What is the greatest problem that western Christianity faces?

I watched the replies go by for a little bit, and saw a lot of the same, tired answers you might expect if you’ve hung out in certain circles.  And it’s not that none of them were legitimate problems–it’s that I find it hard to justify making them the number one problem that the western church faces.

Answers like Biblical illiteracy, the phenomenon called the “rise of the nones” (where youths are leaving the churches in droves), and lack of empathy for the poor are all valid issues.  And then I’d see other answers that I am inclined to argue are not issues at all: answers like “belief in evolution”, “allowing sin” (whatever that means – doesn’t everyone sin?), or “allowing heretics in the church” (wouldn’t that be the best place for them?  And who gets to decide who the heretics are?  The Biblically illiterate?)–these are all answers that I’d say are indicative of the very problem that I think is the number one problem in the church.

"C'mon, Timmy. That church had more issues than all your mother's sisters combined." flickr: joguldi

“C’mon, Timmy. That church had more issues than all your mother’s sisters combined.” flickr: joguldi

 

I think the number one problem that western Christianity faces is a lack of humility.

Oh sure, I thought of a number of other possible answers to that problem.  I thought of how there is a tendency for churches in the West to have an “us vs. them” mentality–pointing fingers at invisible assailants that are supposedly persecuting them by not allowing them to force public prayer in schools as the Pharisees would do (Matthew 6:5-6).  I thought of how there is a lack of empathy for the poor, even to the point of scapegoating the poor as the cause of our economic woes because of their supposed laziness.  I thought of how churches can sometimes be supportive of abusive behavior, and at the same time can be far too quick to cast people out of their communities.

I thought of how churches can sometimes put far too much emphasis on “right belief” and not enough on “right conduct” or “right character”.  I thought of how churches can be so busy about the task of pulling specks from eyes without attending to logs within their own, or being the first to cast a stone.  I thought of how churches go about the business of making themselves richer and building enormous monuments in self-promotion, while ignoring the suffering world around.  I thought of how churches spread shame and fear in Jesus’ name – both things I believe he would’ve opposed.

greed protest

flickr: Sam Wolff. cc by-sa 2.0

 

But I think all of those things are all part of the same root issue: a lack of humility.

The western church is set in a particular culture – a culture that prizes capitalism.  Within capitalism, everything is reduced to a product and spoken of in terms of worth.  And it’s so easy, within this culture, to become enslaved to the view that everything revolves around me and my satisfaction.

We choose churches and even friends from within this paradigm: If someone is not enhancing my life in the way I’d like, I don’t need ‘em, and if a church doesn’t have music that makes me feel happy and sermons that I find interesting, I don’t need to be there.  And then, within these churches, the primary goal often seems to be promoting that church. Tithes go towards building projects, or to advertising to bring more people into the church so it can grow bigger and bigger, or maybe to “preaching the gospel” (meaning: going out and presenting doctrinal ideas to “unbelievers” rather than showing unconditional love).

But this doesn’t look much like Jesus, if we’re honest.  This doesn’t look much like the guy who went around serving people–feeding them, healing them, and inviting them into his friendship circle even when society considered them to be undesirables.

flickr: Chris Yarzab

flickr: Chris Yarzab

 

The western church is far too concerned with teaching doctrine, and not concerned enough with teaching love.  Paul said in I Cor. 8:1 that “knowledge puffs up while love builds up.”  All this emphasis on having proper knowledge is puffing up our churches – filling them with pride.  And this pride stands in the way of loving those who need it most.  And the question I think we need to ask ourselves is: does God really care that much if you know the right things?

In his novel “And God Said, ‘Billy!’“, Frank Schaeffer writes:

The less you worry about God the better. If there is a Creator – and that is an open question to anyone but an ideologue – do you think He, She or It cares about your “correct” beliefs any more than you care about Rebecca’s beliefs about you as the condition for loving her? Think about Rebecca. When you get home someday soon now and see her will you only love her if she remembers the correct date of your birthday and your dietary likes and dislikes and your rules, the correct name to call you and what fruit to eat from what tree in which garden and, when she grows up, when to have sex and with whom?

In many religions, there is a concept of the annihilation of self. Jesus put it this way:

Matthew 16:24b
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.”

What this means is that we must put to death the desires that cause barriers to go up between ourselves and our brothers and sisters.  Whatever causes division must go – whether it be physical possessions, or political identities, or even religious beliefs.  Because Jesus didn’t say that the mark of a Christian is what they wear, or the lingo they use, or how they vote, or even the doctrine they claim – he said that the world would know if we’re his disciples by our love (John 13:35).

And you can’t love people if you hold something that’s causing division dearer than the beloved – so you must “take up your cross”, and put these divisive desires to death in order to take down the barriers between yourself and those around you.  Humility is the first step towards love.

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Oh yeah, I'm a rockstar!
Geoff is a Pub Theologian and a geeky/nerdy programmer with three super cute kids and an awesome wife who puts up with his quirks. He is also a Progressive Metalhead, which means he listens to loud music that’s also snobbish. Geoff reads way too many books – especially the ones he’s told not to read.

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This may come as a shock, but despite what your ex says about you, you’re probably not going to Hell. Relieved? Good! But I hate to break it to you that your ex isn’t going to Hell either. What was that? Will you both spend eternity in Heaven? Of course not! Then you’d both be in Hell! Are you paying attention at all?

Now I know what some of you may be thinking (and that’s precisely why I won’t be replying to every comment). How can I, blogger-person, know with certainty who is and isn’t going to Hell? How can a mere mortal know such mysteries of divine judgment? Easy. I used the word probably in the title. If I’m wrong, I’m off the hook (and your ex is going to Hell. It’s a win-win). So let’s not get too hung up on “me playing God” and let’s just enjoy the show. You might learn something. Or not.

So, of course when I say the word “Hell”, a lot of images come to mind. Let’s just focus on the basic Hell for now, the one with the fire and the brimstone and the screaming and the pitchforks and the Mormons. You may edit out the fire, or imagine it’s invisible so Hell can be “dark as Hell” too. Maybe it’s just really really humid, or really really smelly. Imagine that place that is just so terrible that the only thing worse is staying in that doomed-from-the-start relationship with your ex, whose very memory is preventing you from enjoying a simple blog post.

MY GOD! LEAVE US ALONE!

Where were we? Oh yeah! The blog post!

So, yeah. I’m just not buying the whole Hell thing. It just doesn’t add up. Not that everything adds up in life, but this one really takes the “not adding up” cake. I can give you four good reasons why you can just rest a little easier tonight. You’re probably not going to Hell because…

 1. INTERSTELLAR SPACE TRAVEL

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If we’re going with the model that involves fire, or at least really really hot stuff like plasma, then stars create an awkward dilemma for eternal Hellfire. I personally grew up hearing that Hell was in the center of the earth. This is by no means a universally accepted location, but it emphasizes the notion that Hell is really really hot, much like the center of our planet. But we all know that there are much hotter places than Earth’s core. While our pale blue dot’s center tops out at about 5430 Degrees Celsius (or 9806 Degrees Fahrenheit for all you folks from ‘Merica) which actually matches the surface temperature of our Sun, it’s snow globes compared to the solar core sporting a whopping 15,000,000 degrees Celsius. (If you’re waiting for the Fahrenheit amount, you’re missing the point).

So, there’s no way God would choose Earth as the host for this party. He’d go big. He’d really show off how bad he wanted us to burn by putting us inside of a star. But if you think the Sun is the logical locale, think again.

Meet VY Canis Majoris…

If you look closely, you can actually see the Sun crapping its pants.

If you look closely, you can actually see the Sun crapping its pants.

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Stars get larger and larger. Therefore, if Hell exists anywhere in this universe, it must be in the largest star. Well, we don’t know which star that would be, or where it is exactly, but we know that any of these stars are going to be hella-far away. When your ex dies, they’d have to travel there. There’s only two viable methods of interstellar space travel. Light speed wouldn’t work, because the next closest stars (Alpha Centauri A, B, and Proxima) are still over 4 light years away. Ain’t nobody got time for that! God would have to use wormholes to transport us to his abode of infinite justice. He’d be bending space, just for us. Isn’t that sweet?

That sounds like an awful lot of trouble for God. Why didn’t he just put us closer to Hell? He’s basically deferring to his magic teleportation powers to bypass the scientific limitations (the very limitations that he… set up… himself). In Scripture, God rarely allows such wormhole teleportation. Obviously we remember when Jesus floated up in the air and waved goodbye to the audience, saying really profound stuff before he disappeared. You think he’s letting you cruise the cosmos like his own kid? Fuggetaboutit. And just think, even if God somehow did transport us to his flame of choice, he’d have to teleport us every time that star burned out. That’s a lot of effort to punish us for keeping Playboy magazines under the mattress.

Okay, so we’re only on #1 and we’ve already concluded we’re probably not headed to any Hell located in this universe. You’d think that’d pretty much cover our bases right? But I bet there’s at least a few of you out there who believe there’s a spiritual world, all misty/spooky and shit. Well, I didn’t forget about you folks. Don’t worry, because you’re probably not going to that Hell either, because of…

2. CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEMS

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“Thank you for physical pain, Jesus!”

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Have you ever undergone a surgical procedure where anesthesia was required? In other words, were you ever unconscious while someone cut you open and tinkered around inside of you? Luckily for you, you didn’t feel a thing. Well, if you did feel anything then you’re probably the proud recipient of a large medical malpractice settlement and you’re too busy drinking champagne from golden chalices to remember the unpleasantness. When you die, you don’t feel anything anymore. Nothing. There’s no central nervous system to send those “ouch” signals to the brain. Heck, there’s no brain activity when you die either. There’s not a whole lot of anything going on in the “you” department after it’s all over.

Now obviously many of you may be worried about “spiritual fire”. Your body may be gone but your soul remains, right? God is pissed and wants your soul to suffer for all that crap you did with that filthy body of yours. Well, think about what “spiritual fire” would mean. If you are a soul and you can still feel pain, still have thoughts, still experience suffering and all the stuff that comes along with a spiritual Hell, then…

C’mon, people… you know this one…

If your soul provides all the comforts and discomforts of a body… then you never needed a body in the first place. God made the Earth for a bunch of meat-sack soul-containers to bump into each other and start wars and buy over-priced health insurance, for no reason. If God wanted you to suffer after you die, then why make a physical you at all? Why make a physical universe at all? If the universe matters at all, it matters more than our own physical presence within it. That’s right. If there’s a spiritual Hell, if there’s a Hell somewhere on “the other side”, then that’s like God giving this side a big middle finger.

Now I know this is only #2 and we’ve put together a decent case against Hell existing in either this universe or some spiritual realm, but if I know Christians (and boy do I ever), I suspect that a few are reaching for their trusty dusty Bibles right now. I’ll get mine out too. But guess what? You’re still probably not going to Hell because…

3. FOREVER AND EVER ISN’T ALWAYS “FORVER AND EVER”

FOR-E-VER

FOR-E-VER

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“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” – Revelation 14:9b-11 NIV.

Pretty heavy stuff, right? The smoke goes up forever. Eternal torment, right there in black and white. At the end of time, God kicks some serious human ass. But that verse… it sounds familiar. It reminds me of another verse, an earlier verse.

Edom’s streams will be turned into pitch, her dust into burning sulfur; her land will become blazing pitch! It will not be quenched night or day; its smoke will rise forever. From generation to generation it will lie desolate; no one will ever pass through it again. – Isaiah 34:9-10 NIV.

Edom is still burning? Really? I mean, it is the Bible. And the Bible is the source of authority on all the Hell-talk anyway, right? But we don’t have to simply trust Scripture this time. I’m sure we can just confirm this ourselves by finding a recent image of Edom. Get your popcorn, grab a couple loved-ones, lower the lights, and let’s enjoy the never-ending carnage together!

Maybe it's "spiritual smoke".

Maybe it’s “spiritual smoke”

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Hmm. This is awkward. Maybe the Bible just likes to talk a big game. Maybe the Bible uses terms like “forever and ever” to emphasize the extent of the destruction, not the duration of the destruction. Maybe Hitler doesn’t need to boil in lava for eternity; maybe God just wants to look down ominously from the ledge inside Mount Doom as Hitler grasps the Ring of Power in a moment of evil defiance before he melts. There’s actually a whole neat theology about this called Annihilationism. If you’re interested, check out this article.

I don’t know about you, but I’m just more smitten with this God fellow than ever!

Still worried you might find yourself in a leaky rowboat in a lake of fire? Don’t be! Because…

4. MOSES WOULD NEVER LET GOD LIVE IT DOWN

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I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll never cease mentioning it. Moses totally schooled God in Exodus 32. Here’s the Biblical proof, if proof is the right word.

The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.” Exodus 32:9-10 NRSV.

Okay, so God was like “Leave me alone. I’m pissed. I don’t even want you to talk sense into me, Moses.” But then Moses does the righteous thing by disobeying God and giving God three reasons why he’s wrong to be so bitchy.

But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people. Exodus 11-14

Oh, Burn! (pun intended).

If this verse tells us one thing, it’s that God, even Old Testament pre-Jesus God, had mercy. He never stays mad. He goes for a drive, gets a drink, watches the game, and then comes home ready for love. Plus, he knows that if he really goes over the edge one day, he loses. If there is a God, he’s not interested in losing. Have you ever wondered what it would look like if he really tortured conscious souls for eternity? He’d literally become more cruel than any notion of Satan we’ve ever heard of. If you happen to believe in Satan, and if you even attribute every crappy thing that ever happened to his doing, none of it could ever compare to God creating a Hell. If Satan had a good 5 million years of chaotic fun with humanity, that would never come close to God’s eternal reign of terror, confining countless souls to a fate much worse than death, with no chance of learning their lesson, with no chance of redemption, for crimes they may or may not have been aware of.

Honestly, if Hell is real then God should give every newborn baby a birthmark across their forehead that spells out “Hell is real. That’s why I’m giving you this very clear birthmark because I’d be a big jerk if I didn’t tell you directly. Sincerely, God, Your loving cosmic overlord.”

IN CLOSING: Obviously these four reasons I have given are really four cans of worms I have opened up for you all to enjoy. I do not pretend to know what actually happens when we die, but my studies and sarcasm lead me to write on such topics for educational and entertainment purposes. If you’re an Atheist, God bless you for reading this far. I find myself between agnosticism and pantheism, terms you should know if you want to know anything about me. Having grown up in a fundamentalist home (in the South), this discussion never stops. Hell is a topic that influences everything from who we vote for to how we talk to our parents at Thanksgiving. Hopefully this article has helped you smile a little more and fear the flaming abyss just a little less.

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brettttttBrett Gallaher is founder of We Occupy Jesus, pretty much the best blog like ever. He resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the place they wrote that train song about. Once he shot a squirrel, but he felt really bad about it afterwards. When he’s not changing the world, Brett also enjoys paying way too much for coffee.

A love that saves…

Brett Gallaher —  August 30, 2013 — 3 Comments

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I remember how it felt, the boldness rising up in me as I would begin to consider getting up from the church pew. The pastor would ask if anyone needed to make sure they were right with God. That was the hook, the doubting of my own security. The pastor seemingly had good logic. It was entirely possible I could die at any moment and my sinful adolescent soul could be sucked into the eternal fiery abyss. After all, I was pretty immature. I had a lot of things I needed to bring before God. I was a wretch, worse than a criminal.

And I was seven.

You see, when you grow up in certain traditions like mine (Holiness) there is a culture of doubt, of fear, of uncertainty. No one really knew for sure if they were “saved” or not. I mean, we had a pretty good idea about other people (like Jews, atheists, gays, Baptists, etc.) but we were “right”. Being “right” meant being held to an even higher standard. Any sin was direct rebellion against what we knew to be right. God was keeping a tally of our sins, and we’d better wipe the slate clean every night before we risked waking up in the devil’s funhouse.

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I always imagined the devil’s playhouse would kinda look like this.

On my trek through the land of Christendom, I became ensued with the question…

“Am I saved?”

As the years went by I was blessed with an ever-widening view of God, one that incorporated theological and philosophical diversity. I soon became more “secure”, believing more or less that God was a good God, and that “good God” didn’t mean “He’s so good he has to burn the evil out of me with a pitchfork.” College and Seminary (aka advanced Sunday School) even left me unable to imagine a God who wouldn’t move heaven and earth to reconcile all things to himself.

Case closed. Right?

Well, awkwardly enough, I’m no longer a Christian, at least not in any traditional sense of the word. My search for truth brought me to the personal realization that faith in Jesus’ power to save me was something I could never verify, never know for certain. Obviously faith isn’t about knowing with certainty, so I don’t pretend to ignore that fact. But I realized that most Christians I know don’t see faith as… faith. They have always treated faith like facts. That is why any competing logic can cause many Christians to basically freak out.

Imagine someone told you gravity wasn’t true, and they could provide evidence that your primitive gravitational fixation was most likely false?

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“Sir, I believe you do not understand the gravity of the situation.”

As odd as it sounds, I feel God has led me past faith in the Jesus of Christianity and towards faith in the love of Jesus, which would in turn be the love of God, which in turn would be the same love that I sought to save me all those years ago.

At the end of the day, faith in Jesus was really faith in God all along, faith in God’s ability to save you. Or maybe it was faith that in God, we are already saved. We are already good enough. But like a gift, we have to open the damn thing or else it’s just a box.

But even more so, I believe that God has led me past…

Wait for it…

God.

I’m not a atheist, at least not by my own definition. I simply don’t believe in the God many others believe in. To imagine God is to imagine the unimaginable. Whenever someone describes God, they’re not describing God at all. They’re describing an idea about God.

Here’s where it gets down-right heretical.

If someone’s idea of God drives them to love others, is that not the same thing as God telling them to love others?

If someone’s idea of God drives them to feed the poor, how is this any different?

If an atheist’s idea of love drives them to do the same things, is not the atheist’s idea the same force driving the Christian?

Anywhere in this exercise did you say to yourself, “But the atheist’s good deeds won’t get him into heaven” or “If God is just an idea in someone’s head then what’s the point since there’s no heaven?” If so, congratulations…

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You’ve missed the point!

Salvation has been packaged all wrong for so long. It has been the prize just out of reach, the mystery you must solve but can’t, the end of a journey where you feel lost the entire trip. But salvation can be known.

We can be saved from our guilt, our hatred, our bitterness, our unhealthy lifestyles, our abusive relationships, our pettiness, our ideologies, our sadness and depression, our addictions…

When we can’t save ourselves, it can come in the form of friends. I have found salvation in my children, in my girlfriend, in my community.

But what about Jesus?

I have faith that my introduction to the life of Jesus of Nazareth was for a purpose much larger than myself, a purpose wrapped up in a mystery that still draws us in. My salvation moment was the moment that Jesus started being that…

…and stopped being this.

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ImageBrett Gallaher is founder of We Occupy Jesus, pretty much the best blog like ever. He resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the place they wrote that train song about. Once he shot a squirrel, but he felt really bad about it afterwards. When he’s not changing the world, Brett also enjoys paying way too much for coffee.

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“We are the 99 percent.”  How many of us identify with this slogan and with the Occupiers?   Perhaps when we hear it we burn with righteous indignation and raise our fists at the lack of justice in our society.  The richest one percent owns 40 percent of the country’s financial wealth.  Meanwhile for the rest of us things can get really scary, really fast.   If we are lucky enough to have a job, many of us are just one pay check away from financial ruin.  Therefore, we can identify with our sisters and brothers here at the bottom, and perhaps we even revel in that (at least a little).  There is a dignity in being in the 99, but as for the other one percent we know where they stand.   But before we start beltin’ out the Internationale, the Billy Bragg version of course, let us take a swig of reality.

Let’s widen the lens a bit. As Americans, how much wealth, opportunity, and resources do we claim in comparison to the rest of humanity? Instead I want to expand our lens even further. Let’s consider life forms on earth, and let’s just consider animals. A cursory examination of the web reveals that around 80 percent of the total number of animals on the earth are insects. If one also calculates the number of rats, bunnies, fish, snakes, elephants, and all the other non-human animals on the planet, it would be easy to say that we must make up, at the very most, one percent of the animal population on the planet. The question then is how are the one percent of animals, us humans, treating the 99 percent, the rest of animal life on earth?

Think this is a ridiculous question? Remember back when you were still in the 99 percent? Were your concerns trivial or ridiculous? Back then didn’t you think that 100 percent of people deserved equal consideration? Surely justice did not merely apply to a small fraction of the population. And yet we the 99 percent, even as crappy as things are down here, rarely want to consider in what ways we are the 1 percent in the grand scheme of things. But I still want to ask you, how are we treating the 99 percent?

Again, I will pass on the opportunity to speak of the mountains, the rivers, the polar ice caps, and stick with animals. How have we treated our fellow creatures? First, we often refuse to identify with them. No matter what science tells us, many in our society STILL refuse to call ourselves members of the animal kingdom. (The Scopes Monkey Trial, anyone?) Secondly, we lay waste to their resources as we pillage Mother Earth. Sadly we have not really learned the lesson that their fate is ours as well. Thirdly, we divide animals into categories and we call them “pets,” “wildlife,” “endangered,” “livestock,” and even “pests.”  We protect some and harm others.

There are four animals in my household, and I consider them family. Judging from the photos on all the social media sites, I am not alone in my affections. And yet, as a society we allow one cat or dog to be euthanized in US animal shelters every 11 seconds.  We consider this a “necessary” evil. But we still must wonder why these particular animals are so expendable. Additionally, we draw up animal welfare legislation to protect animals, but only certain species.  As of this writing there are virtually no such laws that protect “livestock” even though they feel the same pains as our beloved cats and dogs we call “pets.”  Therefore, the agriculture industry subjects millions of animals to frequent torture, mutilation, and stifling confinement before they end up on our dinner plates. Look it up. The information is out there, if you dare!

And so it seems that when the tables are turned, we are not as fair-minded as we would like to believe. Therefore, as we call out for justice for ourselves, it behooves us to widen our lens and consider the meaning of the word. It means that we need to ask how we’re treating the 99 percent.  So, how do you think we’re faring?

“The more you are motivated by love, the more fearless and free your action will be.” – Dalai Lama

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ImageBryan Gillette lives with his husband, three rescue dogs, one crafty kitty, and his mom in the mountains just outside of Asheville, NC. When he’s not situated in the midst of frequent awkward social scenarios, he takes great pleasure reading Merton, spending time with family (both two and four legged), British comedy, and in the contemplation of nature. Although he has always felt like a religious “outsider”, he will soon be trying his hand at Chicago Theological Seminary. (“May God bless her and all who sail in her.”)

Winter is over…

Brett Gallaher —  June 9, 2013 — 2 Comments

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I have not had the strength to write a blog post since it happened, since I separated from my spouse a little over two weeks ago. Obviously I know there is a time and a place for everything under the sun, yet it never seems the right time to write a blog post about something as sensitive a topic as this. I am someone who hates being hated, someone who avoids conflict at all costs. I did not want to use this blog as a means to bring more pain to those I’ve hurt or to garner increased support for myself. Yet here I am. Here goes nothin’.

First, a little backstory. I, like many others, am jaded by various individuals and circumstances from my past. The example I wish to use here involves another blog I used to follow. One day I opened my laptop and saw an intriguing article on the front page of MSNBC.com. A student pastor (who I will not name) was fired for his repeated blogging in support of progressive issues like LGBT rights and Christian Universalism. When I first discovered his blog I was still a United Methodist youth pastor. I was outraged that someone would be fired for expressing their personal theological views. I immediately “friended” him on Facebook and the two of us soon began sharing horror stories from our ministry years. It turned out that he had moved back to his wife’s hometown after his firing. That town was Cleveland, Tennessee. My hometown. After I left youth ministry, I moved back there as well to join him in planting a church. I had put all of my hope in this new venture. 

To make a long story short, it didn’t pan out. This “martyr” for progressive Christianity ended up being what I came to abhor about those who claimed to speak for the Christian left. He ended up being a self-adsorbed egomaniac who used progressivism as an excuse to live from the bottom of the moral dung heap, while still calling himself a pastor. After his many infidelities, he still went to his blog and spoke of his calling, of his role as a leader, as someone you should still send checks to. I was horrified he had used his blog to somehow appear noble in the midst of his rancid false piety.

Do I sound jaded enough yet?

Anyway, this individual became the epitome of everything I hoped I would never become. I knew I could never speak for God, for Christianity ever again. It was so stereotypical, the hypocritical pastor who drags the name of Jesus through the mud. I could never become that. It was too predictable. 

So I made We Occupy Jesus, an attempt to push the spotlight back to issues that matter, not about myself and my own Jesus-ness or lack thereof. I do not intend to speak for a religion, only for my own experiences. Yet the ghosts of my past return, telling me I’m just like that other guy, that phony, that charlatan, because I’ve missed the mark.

I know I have hurt people. I do not claim immunity from my actions. In fact, a friend told me not long ago that I had to own my decisions; I couldn’t hide behind my own confusion and apprehension. For once in my life I had to be honest with myself, and with those in my life, regardless of the consequences. I finally did tell my spouse I was unhappy and that I had broken our wedding vows. 

Now comes the long, cold winter. Now comes the self-doubting, the guilt, the fear of condemnation and shame. Here in the south it is especially difficult to live this down. Obviously I’m a monster. Obviously I must simply have a sexual addiction. Obviously I’m a sinner. Obviously I’ve been brainwashed by “the world.” Obviously I have no morality. Obviously We Occupy Jesus is a cult. 

Obviously life is more complicated than that. We are human. We are broken. We have to start over sometimes. We wish things weren’t so messy, but sometimes they are. Sometimes we have to hurt people, or risk losing our own souls. This is the deck life hands some of us. We wish we could go back and change it all, but in doing so we would unmake our own lives. 

Am I asking for anyone to forgive me because I admit my faults? Is honesty somehow a ticket to an admirable humility? Does it make me any less broken? No, not one bit. Yet I can say this. The truth does indeed set you free. Have you mistaken your cell for liberty? The darkness has a certain comfort to it, does it not?

Look deep within yourself. Lift the dungeon gates. Winter is over.
A new day is coming.

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ImageBrett Gallaher is founder of We Occupy Jesus, pretty much the best blog like ever. He resides in Cleveland, Tennessee, the second largest Cleveland in the United States. Once he shot a squirrel, but he felt really bad about it afterwards. When he’s not changing the world, Brett also enjoys paying way too much for coffee.