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Guest Post for Alise Write

Hi friends!

My research project is done, my exams are finished, and (though I still have a few summer classes to take) I’ll be walking in the Oakland University graduation ceremony at 4 pm today. I think it’s time I start blogging again.

So, let’s mark my triumphant return with a guest post for the wonderful Alise Write! I’ve written for Alise about how I’ve navigated my relationship with my fiance, Abe, as we both travel along in our individual faith journeys.

When I first met my fiancé, Abraham, I was a fundamentalist who had recently realized (with trepidation) that I believed in evolution, had just become a feminist, and was considering leaving the Baptist church that I grew up in.

When my fiancé, Abraham, first met me, he was a Southern Baptist Missions drop-out who had recently left the church and was considering atheism.

I remember our second date clearly—Abe had taken me to a seafood restaurant that he really couldn’t afford because he wanted to impress me. In between mouthfuls of flounder and scallops, we discussed religion.

I listened, nervously, as he explained why he had stopped pursuing a career as a Southern Baptist missionary.: “They wanted me to teach ‘once-saved-always-saved,’ and I just don’t see salvation as a one-time event.”

And he listened (with I’m sure just as much nervousness), as I explained that I thought maybe a Creator God could use evolution to form the heavens and the earth.

We disagreed on these points that seem almost laughably insignificant, looking back. But to a couple of people not-quite-yet grown out of the bible-clearly-says mindsets we’d both been raised in, those insignificant points seemed like a big deal.

Read the rest at Alise Write!

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Must Reads!

It’s been awhile since I’ve had the time to sit down and post links to my favorite blog posts. So I’m going to catch up today, and share some of my favorite posts from the past 2 or 3 weeks. Enjoy these smart people and their smart words!

“If there is one thing that Western Christians and atheists have in common it is a shared legacy of colonizing bodies of color.

“You can get a lot of people to do what you want them to do or believe what you want them to believe by saying God will be disappointed in them if they do otherwise.”

The word “forgiveness” gets thrown around a lot in Christian circlesParticularly at women. Particularly at women when they notice injustice and dare to speak up about it.”

“A history where people of color are the innocent victims of white violence is an offense to white supremacy.”

“I don’t describe God has being on the side of the oppressed, but rather on the side against oppression – wherever it is found – and advocating justice – wherever it can be found.”

 “One thing in your song should always be on fire, be it our heart, our souls, this generation . . . Something needs to be in flames.
“And even if every sex act you perform on this earth is Yes Means Yes consensual, if you think like a rapist there is a very good chance you will attract rapists who want you to confirm that the next person they rape has it coming/will enjoy it/does not matter.”
“Conservative Christianity can’t exist without their conservative Christian God. And their conservative Christian God is anti-consent.
Also, this, from my Twitter friend @somaticstrength:
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John Shore on IFB survivors and my journey toward healing

Image via David Hayward

This piece at John Shore’s blog just awakened all kinds of emotions for me:

In surviving the worst survivors of IFB have become the best. The writings that I’ve read from former IFBs are some of the strongest testimonies to the strength and decency of the human spirit that I’ve ever come across. I appreciate being asked to offer you guys a word of support, but you should be offering support to me and anyone else lucky enough to hear what you have to say. You’re the power. You’re the strength. It’s you who are singing the songs that need to be heard.

He talks specifically here about survivors of Independent Fundamental Baptist churches (though I think this paragraph can apply to all survivors of abuse). When I read that paragraph all I could say was “thank you.”

I don’t always get praise like that when I talk about my past as a fundamental Christian. Christians in my life, even those who were not raised fundamental, accuse me of being bitter.

They tell me I have to forgive and love my old churches no matter how badly they’ve hurt me.

They tell me, “You’ve strayed so far from our precious Saviour (words I literally got recently).”

They tell me that I’m sinning when I can’t go to church on Sunday morning because the thought of sitting in a pew makes me physically sick much of the time.

They tell me that I’m selfish, focused only on my own healing, and that I can’t serve God outside of a church family (the kind that meets under a steeple on Sundays, of course. Friends from ex-fundy support groups on Facebook don’t count apparently).

Quite frankly though, to the Christians who say such things, you remind me of the people who told me to stay with my abusive ex. Or the boy who, after I broke up with that abusive ex, tried to take advantage of my “vulnerability.” I know that you’re trying to control me.

You might not even know that you’re trying to control me, and that’s because someone else is successfully controlling you (newsflash: that someone controlling you? It’s not God). So I’ll forgive you. You know not what you do. But I won’t give in to your expectations for me. I’m healing how I need to, thanks.

Others take a different angle and try to convert me to Atheism. It’s fair. I mean, I’ve tried to convert Atheists before so I probably deserve it. But I just want my Atheist friends to understand that, for me personally, spirituality is something I value deeply. Giving it up would be letting my abusers take away a part of my identity, a part of who I am. I can’t let them have that. 

I’m so glad for all the people who have healed from spiritual abuse by finding solace in Atheism or Agnosticism, but that’s not my path. I’d be lying to myself if I took it. I’m finding strength in the new, unorthodox religious communities that I’ve found and in feminist liberation theology and I’m honestly very happy with where I’m headed spiritually. If I’m hurting, it’s not because of my faith but because of the people all around me who are telling me that my faith isn’t right because it doesn’t line up with their abusive, violent, fear-driven theologies. 

So friends, let’s affirm one another with John Shore’s words. If you’ve survived abuse from the IFB, whether you’re still in an IFB church not ready or able to leave, whether you’ve become an Atheist or an Agnostic or a Buddhist or a Pagan, or whether you’re like me and you’re trying to pick up the pieces of your crumbled prison and make a home out of it…

You’re strong, you’re brave, and we need to hear your stories.


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Why I believe (by someone who shouldn’t)–A guest post by Travis Mamone

I hope you all enjoyed Abe Kobylanski’s guest post yesterday. Today, Travis Mamone discusses why he is still a Christian, even though atheism makes more sense. I hope you enjoy his post, and afterward, be sure to check out his blog, The Boy with the Thorn in His Side. 

I’ve been a Christian for almost twelve years. I go to church every Sunday. I know the Creeds and the Lord’s Prayer by heart. I can tell you which books are in the Old Testament and which are in the New Testament. And my iPod is filled with Rich Mullins, Derek Webb, Caedmon’s Call, Sara Groves, and Page CXVI.

Having said that, sometimes I think atheism makes a lot more sense than Christianity.
When I was young in the faith, I was taught to avoid atheists and their “deceptive ways.” A few nasty encounters with some obnoxious Christopher Hitchens-wannabes didn’t help my perception of atheists either. But the more I got to know a few atheists, and the more I heard their stories, the more I realized that they had a good point. In fact, within the past couple of years I’ve been having the same doubts as my atheist friends!

For example, even though the Bible has some wonderful passages about God’s love, there are some passages that make God look like an asshole. For example, Psalm 137 starts off well enough as a plea to God to save the psalmist from captivity. In fact, the first part of Psalm 137 serves as the basis for the old reggae song “By the Rivers of Babylon.” But then the psalm takes a bizarre left turn at verse nine: “Happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.” Doesn’t really fit in with the whole “pro-life” thing, does it?

Then there are all the anti-gay clobber passages: Leviticus 18:22, Romans 1:18-32, I Corinthians 6:9, etc. As a bisexual man, I’m always running against these passages whenever I try to validate my presence in the Church. Sometimes I wonder if it would make more sense to just switch religions.
Then there’s the Church’s spotted history: the Inquisition, the Crusades, the Salem Witch Trials, Manifest Destiny, slavery, segregation, sexism, etc. Things haven’t gotten any better, unfortunately. Just take a look at the current war on contraceptives, the anti-gay marriage movement, the pushback against evolution, the abstinence-only movement . . . well, you get the idea.

So why do I still keep coming back to church? Why can’t I just accept the fact that religion does more harm than good, and then move on?

For one, there are my friends Terry and Rebecca, a tattooed married Georgia couple that collects clothes in their van for the homeless. They don’t just talk about loving people—they actually do it!

Then there are Tripp and Bo at Homebrewed Christianity, who talk about how God is healing this broken world through us.

Then there’s Rachel Held Evans, whose recent Week of Mutuality showed how Christianity can give women dignity.

Then there’s my boyfriend, Sean, who is still a Christian even after coming out of the closet.

These are just a few examples of some of the awesome people I’ve met over the years who have shown me a different side to Christianity. They make me want to believe that God is good, and that religion doesn’t have to poison everything. So that’s why I haven’t left the Church yet; somewhere in the back of my mind I think that maybe, just maybe, there’s still hope left for Christianity.

I hope I’m not wrong.