The Pit Gets Crowded

Last weekend my wife and I did a brief communion talk at our “new” (in COVID-adjusted terms) church, in which we touched on a few of the points I’d made in my Pit Stop post from a couple years back, surrounding this Bible passage:

Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to bring charges against Jesus, they asked him, “Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?”

He said to them, “If any of you has a sheep and it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will you not take hold of it and lift it out? How much more valuable is a person than a sheep! Therefore it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.”

– Matthew 12:9-11 (NIV)

In a nutshell, the post commented on how painful it was to watch much of white American evangelicalism’s Pharisee-like slow-motion reaction to the continued rise of online misinformation, Christian nationalism/law enforcement hagiography and the ongoing need to address systemic racism and start repenting at the institutional level.

While there’s still an incredibly long way to go, we’ve been fortunate enough to have found a group that’s at least continually taking steps in the right direction and forcing these hard conversations, which I truly appreciate.

All that being said, 2022 keeps on 2022-ing, and the pit is getting more and more crowded. Let’s peer in at two recent additions, shall we?

  1. Buoyed by the current Supreme Court, states are playing around with some fairly terrifying anti-abortion laws, including Missouri, which floated (and seems to now be adjusting based on blowback) restrictions for women with very likely non-viable and potentially life-threatening ectopic pregnancies.

    Don’t kid yourselves, these attempts will only get more and more brazen. Will evangelicals toe the party line and simply let women lose their rights and/or be forced to die, or will this be a time for a compassionate awakening and the start of real conversations about the history of abortion rights and conservative Christianity in America?

  2. As all sorts of restrictive laws around LGBTQ rights for minors continue to swirl around, will evangelicals be willing to open their minds (and churches, unlike this sad case) to those in the eye of the storm? Given the elevated suicide risk among these children, is it better to let them die or extend a helping hand in love?

There’s no shortage of overconfident evangelicals that will proudly quote their preferred interpretation of Bible passages as a way to whistle right past these sheep in the pit.

As for what Jesus himself would do? I have a pretty good guess, and it’s time to start loudly and publicly talking about it.

Warm Woolen Mittens: Return of The Favorites

A tradition I’ve had since back in the before times is a yearly roundup of my (current) favorite things. As a refresher, here are the past installments:

Raindrops on Roses: Some of My Favorite Things (2018)
Whiskers on Kittens: More Favorites (2019)
‘Rona Recs (2020, apparently the emergence of the pandemic sucked the joy out of the song lyric theme)
Bright Copper Kettles: More Favorites (2021, sweet, the theme came back)

Here are the latest additions:

TCL 4K Roku TV: I forget which exact model/size, but this is all-in-one screen is my jam these days

Bombas Men’s Sunday Slipper: These have already changed my life

‘This is Fine’ Dog Vinyl Figure: For quick reference during these troubled times

Apple Leather Wallet with MagSafe: Love this thing, and love the minimizing that it forces

Echo Buttons: I slam one of these at night to turn off all of our bedroom lights, clearly impressing my wife each and every time (sadly I think they’ve been discontinued)

Analogue Pocket: A dream device

Some Random Cheap Ring Light: Works better than I expected, and keeps me from looking like I’m Zooming in from the underworld

Melatonin: Seems to help with the pandemic of it all

Logitech C920x HD Pro Webcam: My lifeline to the world

Knockoff ‘Purple’ Seat Cushion: Works decently for these old bones

Birkenstock Arizona EVA Sandals: These have generally replaced my beloved Crocs, which makes me…cooler?

Pure Enrichment MistAire Ultrasonic Cool Mist Humidifier: If the humidifier won’t bring in the ladies…

Honest Amish Classic Beard Oil: …then the beard oil will!

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The Elephant in The Pews

My wife and I (through our new church) have been taking a weekly Zoom class called “Be The Bridge,” which is an open forum for listening and sharing about the devastating effects of institutional racism, and how to be better equipped to have hard conversations about the topic with others.

It’s run by some great people, and aside from not having many personal anecdotes to share (as a white guy), overall it’s been pretty valuable, and the stories have been heartbreaking and powerful.

The problem, however, is with one of the core rules of the class: no politics allowed.

In a different era, this would have been completely reasonable, as politics should absolutely not have a place in the church. In 2021 though? It means that outreach attempts remain impotent as we dance around the gigantic elephant in the room:

Over the past several decades (with a massive acceleration over the past five years), the American evangelical church has tightly fused with the modern Republican party.

What effect does this have? It means that attempts to have good-faith conversations about any number of issues (institutional racism in this case) are met with closed ears and a dismissive “let’s not bring politics into it” stock answer. In other words, the message of the class sounds like foolishness for those unwilling to hear.

Am I saying that the church should try to convert people into Democrats? Of course not. Am I saying that the church should call out what modern Republicanism has become, by name, as racist, xenophobic and jingoistic? 100%.

Will membership go down? Almost certainly. Will this hurt financially as tithes stop coming in? Yeah, probably a great deal. But aside from being the right thing to do, it may (over time) even win back some of the younger people that have walked away, alienated by the church’s tacit embrace of Trumpism in recent years. Taking a strong moral stand is never easy, but it always pays off in the end.