Category: culture

Who’s Right in the Gun Control Debate?

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In the wake of yet another horrific mass shooting, we are caught in the middle of another name calling tug-of-war between gun-rights advocates and gun-control advocates.

One side paints their opponents as backwards rednecks that will tolerate mass shootings as acceptable losses so long as they get to keep their shiny sticks that go “bang-bang.”

The other side believes their adversaries are emotionally driven, naive socialists who want to take everyone’s guns away to make way for a new communist regime.

But is there any common ground?

What if both groups really want the same thing?

What if both sides actually want to prevent gun violence and future mass shootings?

I know it seems hard to believe that both sides have a common goal, but what if we assumed the best about each other?  And we try to believe that we all want to prevent our children from being victims of another mass shooting…but we have different beliefs on how to achieve that objective?

What if we tried to understand that gun-rights advocates really believe that the best way to protect our families, homes, schools, and our children is to have freer access to guns?  And that gun regulations make our families and children less safe?

What if they’re really following Jesus’ warning to “be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves” (Mat 10:16) in this dangerous world and to be prepared because “if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one” (Luke 22:36)?

What if we really truly believed that gun-rights advocates believe that more guns makes the world a safer place?

And what if we tried to understand that gun-control advocates really believe that the best way to protect our families, homes, schools, and children is to have less guns in the world? That the unrestricted access we have to guns in our country makes us less safe?

What if they’re really following Jesus’ command to “put away your sword, because those who use the sword will die by the sword” (Mat 26:52)?

What if we really truly believed that gun-control advocates believe that less guns makes the world a safer place?

So what do we do when two groups want the same thing, but have directly opposing solutions?

Can we set our biased emotions aside, stop vilifying the other side, and try to believe that we all want the same thing?

And what if we actually made room for the possibility that our solution to the problem may be wrong?  

Because what were doing right now isn’t working.  People are dying.

If handing out guns to every man, woman, and child means that no-one else ever has to die from a madman hunting them…then I’ll be the first in line to hand them out.

But if turning in our weapons means that not one more man, woman, or child has to die needlessly from a bullet…then I’ll be the first in line to hand in my gun.

Or maybe there’s a solution in-between the two extremes we can discover…if we choose to respect each other and believe that we all want the same thing.


Joel Varner has served in ministry for the past 15 years. He is a pastor in Albany, Oregon equipping and training missional community leaders. Joel works with his wife Brenna, of 14 years, and their two daughters. You can find him on Facebook.

When Christians Don’t Think

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A snarky take on the imaginary line between faith and science

It’s no surprise that many Conservative Evangelical Christians get labeled as anti-science and anti-thought. They’ve practically given themselves this label as a badge of honor. They reject science as an affront to their own religious beliefs and faith. They’ve learned to not think. Does it have to be that way?

Today we’ll talk about two alarming trends within conservative Christianity: anti-vaccination and anti-climate change. Yes, I know it’s easy to dismiss these both as an anti-intellect problem (and you wouldn’t be wrong), but it’s more insidious than that. It’s frankly rooted in bad theology.

God never called us to be purposefully ignorant, and this self-made line between religion and science was never meant to be there. If we’re made in the image of God, then we should live to be fully human and that includes using our intellect in how we engage the world with both faith and facts.

Join us as we talk about the damages of fearing vaccines and denying climate change. Spoiler alert: God cares about the environment, and Jesus wants you to care for your kids by vaccinating them. Christians, these issues aren’t about faith. They’re about responsibility. Stop using fear and escapism to inform your cheap version of Christianity. Neither of these are God ordained. So think Christians, think!

Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

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Don’t Preach to Me

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A snarky take on Christian charlatans

It’s always funny to see how easily faith can become so flexible when it comes to pushing forward a crooked agenda for power. Whether it’s defending your private jets or defending an indefensible President – it’s all sick, blind, twisted and evil. So here’s my new message to these Christian hacks: DON’T PREACH TO ME ANYMORE. You’ve lost all authority and credibility to do that. So just stop.

We’ll also hit on how Satanist use the conservative playbook to defend their own beliefs. What does any of this have to do with Jesus? Short answer: nothing, but this is the first time you’ll see me side with Satanists. Yeah, it’s just that batshit crazy.

American Christianity has moved so far from its roots that it no longer looks like it’s founder. It now has more in common with charlatans and lobbying groups than it does with Jesus Christ. Somethings that are broken and can’t be fixed.

Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

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Stormy Christianity

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a snarky take on hypocrisy and faith

Let’s talk (again) about American Christian hypocrisy. Yes, I know this is not a new topic for the show, but damn, damn, damn, is it applicable in terms of the religious right defending Trump on his new Stormy Daniels scandal. From the likes of Franklin Graham to James Dobson, it’s an all-out defense of a degenerate and dimwitted President. Why would we see these so-called pillars of conservative Christianity so easily sell out their own faith? Well, it’s all about the pursuit of money, influence, and power. It’s funny how quickly faith leaders are willing to set aside their beliefs and morals in order to get what they want. It’s sad. It’s sick. It’s sinful.

Just like the rest of the religious right, none of this has anything to do with Jesus. It just shows how far Evangelical Christians has moved from their roots. This isn’t about Stormy Daniels, it’s all about Christian hypocrisy. Join us as we poke holes in their agenda in a pursuit of returning to the faith that Jesus intended.

Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

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Martin Luther King Jr. & Bonhoeffer

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a snarky take on the resistance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer

With the rise of authoritarianism, nationalism, xenophobia, and bigotry in America, we are reminded of other similar tumultuous, dark times in recent history. From the systematic extermination of Jews in the holocaust to racial segregation and discrimination of African-Americans, let’s return to the lives and divine works of Detrich Bonhoeffer and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Both men faced great opposition, but both had a deep faith that spurred them to rise up and oppose the evil of their day. In this chaotic and turbulent moment in American history, let their prophetic voices speak the truth, help us to resist, and shine a light into the growing tide of discrimination and bigotry. The Religious Right and their tribe are on the wrong side of history and must be opposed. Christianity also needs to be rescued along with the rest of us from this madness. Wouldn’t it be nice for humanity if history didn’t have to repeat itself? When will we ever learn?

Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

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Bad Education

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a snarky take on Betsy Devos

Let’s talk about what happens when you mix the American educational system with a snake oil sales(wo)man with a twisted sense of entitlement and a broken lens of faith. Betsy Devos has proved, thus far, to be a nightmare Secretary of Education. The problem lies in toxic religious ideology and how it frames the way people like Devos view the world. The Religious Right and their hateful emissaries are wreaking havoc on the minorities and discriminated class in the country. When it comes to education, this misguided worldview hits the vulnerable populations of children and young people in America.

Let’s be clear, none of this has to do with Jesus, even though they do enjoy using his name frequently. Christ commanded his followers to care for the marginalized and discriminated in our culture whereas Devos is all about oppressing them. All Americans do not live on a level playing field and these religious fanatics continue to exacerbate it all in the name of Jesus. The problem is this isn’t Christianity. It’s the toxic, self-serving Religious Right that gave us President Trump.

Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

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Stay Awake in 2018

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A snarky plan of action

Good riddance 2017. With every new year, we are often filled with hope for new possibilities. So in this time of reflection, we must also be reminded of what brought us to this point of absolute Christian and political insanity in America. Before the year ended, we were handed a new ‘tax bill’ that seemed to only solidify Trump’s agenda that only the wealthy and corporations mattered. The rise of Trump can largely be credited to the White Evangelical voters’ ill-conceived nostalgia that’s only thinly veiled bigotry and greed. It’s a selfish and misguided desire to move America back into the past and turn back the clock on progress. To counter this, we must be awake, aware and villigant in 2018.

How did we get to this place? What happens next? Join us as we talk through action plans for 2018 in regards to opposition to this cancer on our faith and culture. Jesus was against the empire that Trump and his followers worship and we must also resist and oppose it.

There is hope for change in 2018, but that hope relies on us being awake, aware and active to counter this corrupt religious and political landscape where we find ourselves mired in. It’s easy to complain, it’s harder to move toward action. Action is needed if we are going to make this year better than the last one.

Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

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Snarky 2017 Rewind

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A snarky recap of the year

We made it. I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. Looks like we finally made it out of 2017. It’s been a rough ride, but we did it! Trump didn’t get the best of us and now we’re awake, aware and ready for what’s next.

Let’s take a little look in the rearview mirror as we rewind through some of the snarkier highlights from this past year that include Trump at Trump Tower and our friend Christopher Maloney’s documentary In God We Trump (www.InGodWeTrumpFilm.com).

I put my hope in better days to come. Let us all move into 2018 with grace and peace. I look forward to more Snarky Faith. Thank you all for making this possible. Cheers to a new year with new possibilities. Enjoy the snarky rewind!

Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

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Returning the Power of Christmas

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Returning the Power of Christmas
a snarky take on the holidays

Oh, Christmas. What have you become? We’re told that there’s a war over you. Others claim we can’t be merry with you either. The sad fact of the matter is, you’ve been lost for quite some time. It was never about religious nostalga, black Fridays or a fat guy in a sleigh.

It was supposed to be about the beginning of something new – a different way to engage the world around us; a different way to live. All hope isn’t lost. We just need to return to our roots and pry it from the hands of evangelicalism. From Trump to cosplay cowboy, Roy Moore, Christianity needs a refresher in what it means to follow after Jesus.

Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world. There’s always hope… actually this whole thing was supposed to be about hope in the first place.

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The Christian Israel Obsession

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a snarky take on context

Let’s talk about Christianity’s misguided obsession with the nation-state of Israel. Much of this romantic, idealized crush comes from a very limited reading of scripture. To many conservatives, the idea of using context in the reading of holy texts is an affront to their cultural Christian bias. We can either relish in being uninformed and stay in our own echo chambers of faith or we can look to living out our faith in a new way. This way leads us past the trappings of tradition. It can lead us into a faith that embraces scripture, but also rationality and reason. The journey of faith should also be one of experience that embrace, history, and intelligence.

Come along for the ride as we skewer through life, culture, and spirituality in the face of a changing world.

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