A Short Black Panther Review

My wife and I saw Black Panther last night. Here’s a few initial thoughts.

I loved the world-building and presentation. It looked unapologetically African, and they didn’t take the action “home” to one of the usual major cities in order to bring familiarity or a reason to care. It asks you to care for the people and cultures and their stakes, on their own merit and worth. That jumped out at me from the start, and there were no cheap gimmicks, or any sense that they were simply playing an angle in the 1st 30 minutes to get you hooked into just another superhero movie.

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Gun Laws, or Heart Change?

Every time (how awful is it that I have to phrase it in this way?) we have a mass shooting in this country, there’s an idea that surfaces. I believe it can come from a place in the heart which is truly wearied and sick of the tragedies. With some, I get the sense it’s almost a shrug though – something akin to the “it’s all gonna burn anyhow” attitude. I’m referring to the idea that these mass shootings over the past few years are a heart problem, often couched in a zinger, “America doesn’t have a gun [or race, or drugs, or…] problem, it has a heart problem.”

I’m not here to discuss our laws – where they fail and where they work – or how far they should go. I strongly lean towards more regulation or even bans, for what its worth, but others have gone there in a much more informed way than I can, so if you want a rational plan you’ll have to look elsewhere.

So let’s talk about the heart, because frankly, I agree that the heart is a huge issue here. But how deep do you want to go here?

Continue reading Gun Laws, or Heart Change?

“History is Written by the Victors”

History is written by the victors, they say.

It seems easy for us Americans to think of our nation as victorious in our history – in our fight for independence, the civil war and the fight for our soul, WW1, Nazi Germany, and others. Other nations might just have a different view.

But how has our individual history been written by the victorious? Am I aware that I’ve been a victor, or rather, to put it another way, a beneficiary, result, or instrument of another narrative’s defeat?

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A Sunday Drive

It’s been months since we’ve attended church regularly. Having no steady social activity to fill the void, rarely do we venture out in public on Sunday. The freedom and peace is welcome, if sometimes lonely.

Family invites us over for the day – we love them, I’m feeling up to it, we go.

It’s mid-morning. The Bible Belt is tight around us – it hasn’t taken the day off even if we have, and church after church shows a loaded parking lot as we pass by. It’s Florida in January, and though the temperature reads cool, the sun is out. It’s stuffy and dry – one can almost taste the sand, and you wait for the sweat to start trickling.

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A Moment of Honesty

I’m porting a twitter rant over to the blog today. This isn’t the brave kind of honesty, more like the “I’ve never felt more disconnected from everything so I don’t really care anymore who thinks what about my faith” level of honesty.

If I’m honest with myself, salvation is a meaningless term for me anymore. Maybe it always was. I’ve always felt like I’m on the outside looking in, trying to manufacture experiences I don’t understand, trying to live vicariously through encouraging others.

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The Fast Lane, and Depression

I’m thankful I’m living in a time when the internet and social media are so widely used. I’m thankful for the connectedness with people and access to information they bring. In many ways it’s been an amazing thing for me, and a medium where I feel much more comfortable sharing my thoughts without the anxiety of thinking on the spot while a person or 3 stare into my soul. For most of us, access to information isn’t a luxury of sorts essentially reserved for those who have time and money to buy books or browse libraries – the internet is an equalizer when used responsibly. We’ve also probably all heard the saying, “you don’t know what you don’t know”, and for me the internet and the connections made on it have provided an ongoing solution of sorts to that problem: though there’s still plenty of things I’m completely clueless about, at least I know of more things I don’t know, so I’m more aware of my ignorance, making it easier to take a back seat and listen instead of “boldly going” and looking the fool. So when I say what I’m going to say I don’t mean it to be a shaking of the fist at the changing times. I just found something which has been painfully true for me, an introvert who grew up in a cult and has a fair share of social anxiety and confidence issues.

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Off-Brand Christian

Ah, labels. They range from necessary and helpful generalization to insult, from battle lines to dismissal. Can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em, or something like that. Here, I don’t intend to talk down to anyone about which labels they are comfortable with, but I want to share my personal principle regarding what I choose to focus on. In certain things, I do try to live without pushing labels about myself, namely: my faith, “Christian”, and another hot topic, “feminist” (or ally). It might be ignorant, disingenuous, cowardly, seen as misleading, or perhaps even a luxury of privilege. I certainly welcome pushback on this. But here’s my reasoning, starting with the term feminist.

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A way-too-early, pre-coffee rant about the Nashville Statement

Yeah, yeah, it’s another thought on the Nashville Statement. But hey, this one is born of insomnia and 3 AM social media scrolling, so that makes it fresh, right? Anyway, so I catch this on a friend’s timeline:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fchristianstalk%2Fvideos%2F524184821258397%2F&show_text=0&width=476

 

Pretty much all this. It’s not a new angle, or even the first time I’ve seen it, but sometimes things hit me just right. Dadgum, if we’re going to talk hurt and negative effects, it should be obvious gluttony and greed have had such an incomparably higher negative impact on our society than whatever negatives evangelicals say homosexuality is or causes that it’s frankly ridiculous American evangelical leaders give the LGBT topic much stage time at all. Most talk about extravagant wealth-poverty divides as an abstract–“y’all figure this out yourselves”, “always living in the tension of striving for perfection but needing grace for sin”–and few church leaders are going to really take you to task on how you spend your hard-earned (or not) money in light of the poor in your hometown. When’s the last time any of you folks got heat on Facebook from your pastor for a Cheesecake Factory evening, or weekend trips to Disney? But when’s the last time you saw a social media wildfire of condemnation because someone announced they were affirming, or literally came out? And yet, I’m supposed to take it seriously when we’re told we’re not really Christian if we’re affirming??

I’d also ask, if these leaders are simply responding with Biblical clarity to questions within the church, where exactly is that fixation with answers on this topic coming from? I’d posit that this question loops back to leadership as the ones creating supply *and* demand, if you will. Folks want hard lines on this, because leaders insist there are hard lines – “God’s Order”, etc. And don’t forget, with all hard lines, there’s dire consequences – my very salvation is at stake! Maybe there are hard lines one way or another, but it tells me something that this topic out of all of em gets fixated on without much nuance in the way of consent vs abuse, like the good pastor Kyndall highlights so well in the video, as if there’s no real difference in effect between The Sin between two consenting adults, and the horrific scarring of abuse. Evangelical privilege meets fundamentalist myopia. Folks, fight where the hurt is at. Your drawing of exclusionary heaven/hell lines has created a fight though, with real human casualties (see LGBT youth suicide rates), when there is more than enough on our plates in healing this world already… but you’re still digging trenches.

So yeah, if that’s how it is for them, well I guess they can’t affirm my Christianity any longer, but I can confirm that their affirmation or lack thereof is not why I’ve lost sleep these past two nights, no sir. If I’m not much of a Christian, it’s much more likely because I’m doing a crappy job feeding the poor and otherwise binding up societal and personal wounds in light of my wealth and gifts and privilege, and has 0% to do with my affirmation of consenting homosexual relationships based on a different understanding of Scripture than theirs.

Caving to Culture?

Let’s talk about a lazy take today. I don’t know how these things get started, but where I see it in its final form as parroted by folks in certain circles, I think it’s time to lay it gently to rest. Maybe give it a dadgum viking funeral –  nudge it, burning, gently out to sea in an envelope nestled in an open copy of “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” or something.

I’m talking about this idea that a significant enough number of folks and denominations simply believe that the Bible can (and even should be) be changed according to whatever the culture wants.
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Aftermath

In February of 2016, after a few months of off and on writing, I felt satisfied enough with my story to go public with it here. It was well-received by my friends and followers and the few family members I shared it with, and was an incredibly validating experience. No longer was it just a vague cloud of turmoil and bad memories in my mind, where bits and pieces would leak out, but no remotely clear picture. Finally there was a hard copy. I struggle with making sense of things when it’s just me locked in my head in endless conversation – heck, even now it’s hard to have any perspective on it. It feels like another life, another person sometimes, until something happens currently that triggers memory. Overall though, it’s been a good thing for me, and it’s helped me connect to some great folks, and helped free others to share their own experiences, including my sister who wrote hers shortly after I went public with mine. Continue reading Aftermath