Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


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Happy Festivus!

315px-Festivus_PoleThe holiday for the ‘airing of grievances’, ‘feats of strength’, and ‘Festivus Miracles’.

My Grievance: I hate the way my telephone cord twists up around itself.  It is annoying.  Yes.  It is old school.

My Feat of Strength:  I can do a single push-up.  Regular style.  And that is a Festivus Miracle.

Join in:  “Air your grievances”, “feats of strength” and “Festivus Miracles”!

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Ooh, You So Sensitive!

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While working away at my desk this week I overheard the following conversation and couldn’t help but chime in:

Coworker 1: “You know, this political correctness has just gone too far!  You will never guess what my daughter came home saying!”

Coworker 2:  “What’s that?”

Coworker 1:  “She came home telling me what day school will start back after ‘Holiday Break'”.

Coworker 2: “Oh, yeah?”

Coworker 1: “Holiday Break!?! Can you believe that?  I told her, ‘Baby, don’t you ever let anybody take Christ out of Christmas.  This is Christmas break and when you hear somebody call it Holiday Break, I don’t care if it’s a grown up, you need to correct them and let them know what this holiday is about!!'”

Coworker 2:  “Yeah this War on Christmas is really getting out of hand.”

Coworker 1: “She said, ‘I’m sorry mama, I didn’t mean anything by that.  I know it’s Christmas Break’. I just can’t believe they’re calling it that at school.”

Me:  “Well, doesn’t the school break run through New Year’s day?  I mean, they don’t go back to school until after New Year’s Day, right?”

Coworker 1:  “Sure, they’re out of school for almost three full weeks.”

Me:  “Wouldn’t that make it a Holiday Break since the break encompasses the holidays?”

Coworker 1:  :/puzzled

Me, half smiling:  “This has truly gone too far!  Do you have some kind of jihad on New Year’s Day?”


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Cracking the [Sugar] Code

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First of all, is it just me or, are all of your Facebook news feeds being blown up with this Duck Dynasty debacle?

Let me preface what I’m about to write with this:  I’ve never watched a single episode.  I’ve seen the advertisements for it and it looks like just another silly reality tv series and I don’t watch any of them.  Not one.  Having said that I’m given to understand that the premise of the show is the life of a family who have made a fortune making duck calls and other various and sundry duck hunting items.  Secondary to the plot is their family dynamics, chiefly their Christianity. My commentary here really has little to do with Duck Dynasty, The Robertsons, or A&E‘s handling of the controversial interview in GQ Magazine. No, rather it’s more about the reaction to that and others’ idea of what it means to be a Christian.

Before I go any further I will add the the original poster of the Facebook comments is white woman.  She is married to an African-American man with whom she has three children.  She clearly did not take offense to the rather racist undertones in the aforementioned interview. Clearly she is, as Phil Robertson is, completely unaware of her white privilege.  My family, like Phil Roberston’s obviously, grew up on the wrong side of the tracks, poor white trash.  I was raised by parents who lived in the same era of Jim Crow Laws,  who didn’t enjoy the same privilege as the rich white folk, but still enjoyed privilege just because they were white.  They got to use the white public toilet, the white public fountains, the white public swimming pool, they got to walk into restaurants, and sit in the front of the bus. They went the entirety of their school experience, with the exception of my mother’s senior year of high school, surrounded by whiteness. Things that are completely lost on my generation.

That aside, my “Christian” friend’s response reveals much about her.  It tells me her hatred of homosexuality trumps her identification with her African-American family.  Is her hatred of homosexuality rooted in what she terms ‘GOD’s WORD’?  Or does ‘GOD’s WORD’ just affirm her homophobia?  Which came first? The chicken or the egg?  This mentality that the Bible is literally God’s Word and that it is inerrant is pervasive in the community that I live in.  It causes an awful lot of people to behave in the most hateful ways, cloak it in scripture, and call it love.  It’s only loving to tell people that they are dirty sinners in need of redemption or they’re going to hell, isn’t it?

It’s perfectly clear that this person believes she is living a life worthy of being one of the ‘few who enters her God’s kingdom’.  HER god’s kingdom.  Her GOD’s KINGDOM.  Only a few are getting in and if you are gay or lesbian you ain’t one of ’em, but she is.  Oh, and you progressive Christians ain’t either according to her, but she is.  She still loves ya.  She’ll wave and smile at you in hell from her seat in heaven. Oh, the hypocrisy. Oh, the ignorance.


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For the Bible Tells Me So

In the height of my biblical fanaticism there wasn’t much that could deter me.  Some may call that worshiping the Bible instead of God.  Call it what you will, but I was convinced that the words in that book were the very words of God.  I never heard him audibly.  I didn’t walk with Jesus in the flesh.  But, oh, those precious words of the Bible.  So next to being able to hear him tell me exactly what I should be doing, exactly what it took to be his child, the Bible was it.  Infallible.  Inerrant.  Uncompromising.

If I had a problem the first place I turned was to prayer and the Bible*.  They went hand-in-hand. I prayed for wisdom and discernment.  Wisdom to rightly divide the words of God and discernment to know which ones to apply to my situation.  But it was more than that.  Every word, every story, every book was historically and scientifically accurate.  God created the world in six literal days.  Noah built an ark and saved the animals and humanity when it flooded. Abraham and Sarah bore Isaac even at a ripe old age.  Joshua brought down the walls of Jericho. David slayed the giant, Goliath, with a slingshot and a stone.  Every word of it truth.

Jesus was born of a virgin, turn water into wine, and walked on water.  He was the way, the truth, and the life. The only way.  He was the Great I Am, divider of sheep and goats, separating the wheat from the chaff.

So the me that I was didn’t question.  Other people did and I was always so dismissive. It was easy to be.  The Bible was truth so I didn’t have to think.

Questions people, even (gasp!)other so-called Christians, would ask:

Why are we here?

God created us to be in a relationship with him. He doesn’t need us, he want’s us.  He chose us.  The Bible says so.

How  did we get here?  Didn’t we evolve?

No.  God formed man from the dust of the earth and breathed life into his nostrils. He made woman from the rib of the man’s side.  The Bible says so.

The global flood is just a story, right? 

Certainly there was a flood.  Forty days and forty nights.  The Bible says so.

What about Jesus?  Really, born of a virgin?

Absolutely.  The Bible says so.

And hell?  Only those who believe in Jesus are going to heaven?  Surely there are other ways to reach heaven.

Are you kidding?!?  Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the father except by him.  If you don’t believe in Jesus you will go to hell.  The Bible says so.

So what of those who have grown up indoctrinated in other religions? 

If you’ve heard the gospel and rejected it you’ll go to hell. The Bible says so.

What if someone has never heard the gospel?

The Bible says man is without excuse.  His glory is all around us.

Isn’t that kind of harsh?

It may seem that way, but we’ve all had the opportunity to accept or reject God.  It’s our choice.  We choose heaven or hell.  God isn’t being harsh.  He’s explained his plan and we get to be part of it.  The Bible says so.

Isn’t God kind of mean?

God is love.  The Bible says so.

Sending people to hell is love?

He doesn’t want anyone to go to hell.  He wants everyone to choose Jesus, to choose life.  He is a God of love and a God of wrath.  He is just.  The Bible says so.

Hell is just?

If God says it is just it is just.  You may not like His justice but he created the universe and us and deals with us the way he chooses.  He is God and we are not. The Bible says so.

Jesus loves me.  For the Bible tells me so.

*Edit:  That’s not entirely true.  Prayer and the Bible were the first place I turned for everything, not just when I had a problem.  I applied prayer and the Bible to every aspect of my life.


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Religious Symbolism

About eight yeas ago my sister got me the one thing I asked for for Christmas.  It was a creche. It was the first one I’d ever had even though I’d been a Christian for a very long time.  She and my entire family knew how much that meant to me.  I dutifully put it out every year.  Until I de-converted.  Since then I haven’t even gotten it out of the box.  Not one person has even asked me about it. 

I also had a Christmas tree filled with crosses.  Because for me they so intertwined, Christmas and Easter.  One was no good without the other.  I haven’t used those since then either.  Unceremoniously.  I just don’t put them out.  In fact, I sold them in a garage sale just a month ago.  Not the creche.  I’m not ready yet.  I was actually thinking about taking out of the box.  I’ve finally gotten to a place where I can possibly embrace the mythicism.  Possibly.  It’s December 7th and I haven’t opened the box.

The reason I haven’t put it out nor used the crosses has little to do with anything triggering.  It was at first.  But not now.  It’s more that it doesn’t hold the same meaning now.  Before when I saw a cross, or a Baby Jesus – so lowly in his manger, or angels I was filled with awe and wonder and delight.  And love. 

I felt love.

I felt loved.

Now these religious symbols are just pieces of ceramic, and wood, and glass.  Personally meaningless except to remind me of a past that makes me feel a little like a crazy person; that I manufactured all of those feelings within myself.  All the times I thought that a loving god sent a redeemer.  A redeemer for what?  Because I’m flawed?  I am.  And it’s okay.