Thursday, June 25, 2015

For Real Christians: Evangelical Traumatic Flashback Corner

Angie’s Story:

At an Evangelical school, religious lessons bleed into every subject. In AP Bio, we were presented with
Jeff Goldblum thinks you're lying about dinosaurs
the theory that Satan might’ve been responsible for burying dinosaur bones extra deep to confuse the carbon dating system into believing the fossils were millions of years old. In art class, we crafted crosses and nativity scenes. So it should come as no surprise that we spent a great deal of Mr. M’s history class learning about the history of the Protestant church. Much was made over Martin Luther nailing his 95 Thesis to the church door in 1517, when “real” Christianity began even though we were Baptists not Lutherans. The important lesson is that this was when we left the Catholic church and really began living it up, Protestant-style.

While many disparaging comments were made about Catholics during my education, none was quite as facepalmy as Mr. M’s claiming that Mother Teresa (yes, THAT Mother Teresa) might not be going to heaven. You see, some evangelicals throw shade in the Catholic direction because they believe the denomination to be “works based,” meaning you earn your way into heaven with Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s, which is, of course, an extremely reductive, offensive way to categorize someone’s belief system. To an outsider, the divisive attitudes between denominations like Roman Catholic and Baptist may seem silly or nitpicky. And on some level, they are.
Y'all, if she ain't getting in, I give up.
But some people take this mess dead seriously. Take eternal security, for another example. Mention this phrase to a hardliner, and you will see them instantly break into a holiness-sweat (which smells like rose water FYI). Because many Christians believe in a literal hell with fire and brimstone and Lord Voldemort, there understandably comes an inherent sense of panic over losing one’s salvation. 

When I was a young junior higher growing out her bangs and only possessing enough courage to pluck one of her eyebrows, a Baptist friend (with mad eyebrow game) hurried over to me one day and in a blind panic said, “We have to talk to Justin*, he believes you can lose your salvation.” Because our school was Baptist (Calvinist theology), the majority of my classmates believed in eternal security, or “Once saved, always saved,” and explained those who had fallen away from the church as “Never saved to begin with.” But a handful of people at my Baptist school attended a Nazarene (Arminian theology) church which meant they believed a person could “backslide.” In other words, they were once a Christian but later on decided not to be, essentially nullifying their “Get into Heaven, No Questions Asked” contract and backsliding (butt first, I'm assuming) into the fiery mouth of Hades.

Being unaware of what the big damn deal was, I answered my frantic friend, “Why do we care? You can’t know until you’re dead. Now loan me a quarter so I can get a Frosted Honey Bun from the vending machine.” 

This continues to be my answer nearly 20 years later for many of these underwear-bunching concepts
A bowl of diabetes
that some people like to harp on. If you need to up your blood pressure medication because someone (who shares your faith, mind you) believes in a different theological concept (and a concept that no one can prove true or false because both sides can find Scriptural backing), then you’ve got a problem and are probably going to hell (JK, GUYS!!!!! JK x1000). Worrying about whether other people are the right kind of Christian is a waste of everyone’s time, including Jesus’. You should be using that time to track your blood sugar because your Frosted Honey Bun lifestyle has caught up to you.

*Name changed to protect the Arminian from Calvinist pitchforks
Elise’s Story:

"I'm Fine"

During my freshman year of high school, I fell in love with an Apostolic guy. Maybe LOVE is too strong of a word, but I was 14 and that quiet kind of dramatic that fueled the entire genre of Gothic Romance. I met this guy for all of one time at a church youth group event. I was just coming down from the high of having watched The Great Muppet Caper for the first time (props to whatever youth pastor picked that one btw; it still holds up), when I met him during the snacks and social hour that followed. I can’t remember what he looks like now. I only have a memory of general, blurry, white maleness. His hair was darker than his skin… I think. I would make a pseudonym for this guy, but I’m honestly worried I’ll accidentally use his real name. I’ll just call him “Peach Jelly Baby.” Anyway, to understand how I could instantly fall in love with a guy with no memorable characteristics other than “he spoke to me,” you have to realize something about going to a small Christian K-12 school. Every boy I had ever talked to prior to this moment had seen it all. They were there when I peed my pants during recess. They were there when I fainted during Chapel and rug burned my own face. They were there for my non-consensual hugging phase. They were there the day after I saw Grease and thought it would be cool to lick my palm and slick back my hair. But Peach Jelly Baby was seeing me for the first time! He didn’t have to know that sometimes I sweated through my shirt when I was nervous because I could keep my corduroy jacket on the whole night. Basically he was a nice guy who acted like I existed and, therefore, instantly became the love of my life.
In my defense, most youth group guys'
defining trait was "translucent"

The next day, I talked to my friend... “X-Box Outback Steakhouse” and said that I had a big crush on Peach Jelly Baby. She broke the news that Peach Jelly Baby went to a different kind of church called “Apostolic” and that he was only allowed to date fellow Apostolic ladies. Now, I’m not sure if this is true or not, and I’m too lazy to fact check, but at the time this news did not only break my heart. No, it also ENRAGED ME. I had spent the entirety of late elementary and middle school sitting on the floors of gyms listening to youth pastors telling me about keeping my standards high. Listening to how I should only ever think about dating SERIOUS Christians…“Real Christians.” So at this point in my life, I was more than prepared to turn down all the offers I was going to receive from studly dudes if they weren’t Spiritually Minded enough for my awesome Christian-ness. BUT THIS JACK-WAGON’S CHURCH THOUGHT THAT I WASN’T CHRISTIAN ENOUGH?! THAT I WASN’T A “REAL CHRISTIAN.” Damn, that felt cold.

Alas, that would not be my last time running into the concept of not being Christian enough; in fact, it has gotten much worse with time. Despite Christianity being a huge part of my identity, cultural upbringing and values, I know a lot of people don’t think I make the cut of “real Christian.” I won’t get into the specifics, but I know this because when people make a point of drawing a line and describing “real Christians,” they usually don’t describe qualities or beliefs I possess or even want to possess. It’s a lonely feeling. Not going to church much over the past few years* has helped in some ways but also makes me feel even more set apart in others.

The “Real Christian” concept came up again a couple of weeks ago. A friend and I were asked to present at a small church group. The group was unhappy with their church's stance on LGBT church members (there was a statement about not condoning the ‘practice of homosexuality’) and the group wanted my friend and me to talk about how the language in the church’s stance could be harmful to LGBT individuals. Unfortunately, there is a ton of data about how harmful the exclusion, othering and discrimination of LGBT individuals can be, so my friend and I had a lot to present to the group. At one point during our talk, I was explaining the concept of a minority identity and asked the group if they identified as Christian and if they had ever been the only Christian in a group and felt uncomfortable. One woman in her mid-70s called out, “Well, I think I’m a Christian, but I know a lot of people in this building wouldn’t think I am.” The whole group laughed in agreement, and it was clear they knew exactly what she meant. I knew exactly what she meant

Bald Eagles are Real Christians

My friend and I met up outside afterwards and talked about the whole experience, trying to make sense of this renegade church group. It was so weird to enter a church as such an obvious outsider. I shared that I wish I had gone to the service before Sunday school to see what the worship was like, and we compared our experiences growing up in evangelical churches. I talked about the laser light shows and fog machines during our worship services. She laughed and said, “Oh, you were one of THOSE churches,” explaining that in her home church, even drums weren’t allowed. I decided not to tell her about the paper mache replica of the Statue of Liberty rising from behind the stage at the 4th of July service. That’s probably something only real Christians would understand.

*Some of my high school and college friends certainly just did a spit take if they’re reading this, because they had no idea it was possible for me to attend church LESS than I had before.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Lauren's Sad Sack Internet Search History and Breakup Playlist

Lauren from Echoes is having a rough time after her fiancée dumped her. Luckily she has access to an electronic encyclopedia service that can help provide her with some answers. She also has a kick-ass breakup playlist to jam-out to/cry along with and she tries not to drip too much ice cream between the keys of her new computer terminal machine.


"Fiancee had one glass of champagne, should I be worried?"
"Bible verses about drinking champagne"
“Do men typically break off engagements when women cut their (long blonde) hair?”
"Stories about couples getting back together after a bad haircut grows out"
“Wigs in Nashville, TN”
“Closest store with Ben and Jerry's”
“How do I send photos via electronic letters?”
“Where is a scanner store, Nashville, TN?”
“Can I make myself look thinner in scanned photos?”
“How to cancel a sent email”
“Help with canceling sent email”
“How to repair a wig that’s been torn apart by human hands?”
“Pet stores, Nashville TN”
“How to pick a cat that will love you?”
“How to know if your cat cares about you? Even just as friends”
“Do cats feel anything?”
"Do I feel anything?"
“why. WHY?”
"Bible verses that support not talking about problems"
“Night classes for teaching certification, Nashville TN”
“Best places to teach if you hate teaching”
"If I throw away my dirty dishes and replace with paper plates, will I be a bad witness for Jesus?"
"Boyfriend shaped pillows"
“Grocery stores that deliver”
"How to submit Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning fan-fiction"
“How often should a person leave their apartment?”
“Store that sells Ben and Jerry's with multiple clerks”
“Non-judgemental store that sells Ben and Jerry's, Nashville TN”
"Elastic waisted pants, delivery"
“How many people have to leave you before you know it’s your fault”
“Bible verses that can replace therapy”