Tag: Change

The Belief Books: An Interview with Josh Naaman

A snarky take on why conversation matters

This week, we’ll sit down with Josh Naaman, the author, host and sole creator of the podcast The Belief Books. Beliefs inform our actions and Josh believes that analyzing these beliefs helps progress humanity leading us to interact with each other and the Earth in more positive ways. With this project, Josh seeks to talk about and explore beliefs through conversations with people from a wide spectrum of backgrounds.

Josh is a believer in the power of conversation and its ability to transform perspectives and communities. We live in an age where the notion of dialogue has been replaced with a debate. It’s no longer about learning from one another; it’s about winning an argument. This is a troubling path for sure, but there’s always hope to change our ways. Join us for this conversation about how to engage in meaningful conversations with people who don’t believe what you believe. A continued descent into political polarization and fracture isn’t the way to healing. It’s not even constructive. It’s time to try something new. The ultimate hope is that we can always learn something from someone else and conversations are key.

Check out The Belief Books podcast here. It’s well worth your time and you can thank me later!

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

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Killing Christianity: The Legacy of Evangelicalism

A snarky take on the sins of the faithful

The legacy of Evangelicalism is pretty grim. With the culmination and climax of their pursuits in the man and character of Donald Trump, any amount of spiritual or ethical morality has been long evaporated. Their quest for power has come with many costs, the most paramount being the erosion of congregations across America. Evangelicalism is a cancer to Christianity. When it comes to cancer, it must be removed from the body to survive.

We’ll delve into many of the causes and cancers of this malignancy of faith. The leaders are consumed with power. The congregants are deluded with self-comfort and the world continues on. Does any of this have to do with Jesus or the movement he started? Nope. Does that matter to the religious pious vying for scraps of political influence? No. The legacy of Evangelicalism and thirst for status will be its own undoing. The threads are beginning to fray, but thankfully, none of this has to do with Jesus. Jesus abhorred the power structures of his day and today, he would feel much the same.

The road to redemption lies in the difficult road of self-reflection and looking deep into the sins of our past and present. It’s not an easy road to travel, but it is the necessary road nonetheless. Righting the ship isn’t an easy path to take. It’s painful especially because it calls us to own up to our own mistakes and sins. The path of forgiveness and redemption was never meant to be an easy path. Though it’s a path that Jesus calls us to. American Evangelicalism must repent and own up to its own failings in order to return to the ways and teachings of Jesus. This may sound dire, but it’s exactly the servant posture we are called to take on as followers of Jesus. To embrace these humble ways, we must be willing to travel this path.

Evangelicalism may die, but the ways of Jesus will continue and that’s not such a bad thing.

Click here for the transcript of Dr. Mark Labberton’s talk mentioned in the show

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

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A Scattershot of Christianity

A snarky take on the monster we created
“The gospel is less about how we get into the Kingdom of Heaven after you die, and more about how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven before you die.”
~Dallas Willard

This week, we’ll hold the mirror up to American Christianity letting its followers have a look at the monster they have created in the name of Jesus. We’ll take a scattershot approach delving into the Christian news media and letting their own pressing articles and news to inform us about the most important issues within the faith. We’ll skewer through their hypocrisy. When you take a look at Christian media and blogs as an overview of what currently matters most to Christians. The results are pretty sick.

We’ll talk about Christianity’s current obsession with all things, not Jesus, as we assess many of the root problems plaguing faith in America. We’ll run through issues of fake persecution harping on the wrong and inconsequential issues, having false historical idols, being self-serving, and a myriad of other offenses as we blaze through Christianity through their pop-culture’s own lenses and news outlets.

Looking into what’s important to them, we’ll let their lead stories inform the answers and chart a path to nowhere. The results are along the lines of what one would expect. It’s not a snarky takedown. We’ll let them do that on their own. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of holy snark to spread around in the process. I’m sure you’ll enjoy the journey through missing the point. Join us as we deconstruct why the faith has gone awry and hopefully, chart a path to right the ship. There’s always hope but that only happens when we cling close to the ways and teaching of Jesus and shed the religious bullshit of the times.

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

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The End is Near?

a snarky take on the end-times
“Tell me with the Rapture and the reverent in the right, right
You vitriolic, patriotic, slam fight, bright light feeling pretty psyched
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it
It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine”

Christianity’s obsession with the ‘end times’ is nothing new. From Tim LaHaye to Jim Bakker, it’s rapture porn at its finest. This eschatological obsession abdicates its followers from actively engaging in the world around them. It’s a spiritual Brexit of sorts, where we look to the heavens and ignore the problems here on Earth. This theological strand makes a faith that brandishes itself with a philosophical, idealized otherworld that doesn’t exist in order to move through this life without getting one’s hands dirty. Simply put, this world doesn’t matter because the afterlife is everything. The problem is that we find ourselves in a world that God made that is full of dirt, creatures, and humanity. To scoff at God’s creation scoffs at the nature of God.

With all of that being said, why do we obsess on escapist theology? I know it’s easy and following Christ is hard, but is simply that it? The easy road instead of the hard road? That sounds more like materialistic, selfish thinking than the Kingdom of God thinking. Once we deviate from what Christ commanded and move into a place where faith becomes comfortable, do we have a faith at all?

Join us as we talk through the crazy obsession of end-times thinking and escapist theology as we skewer through Christianity in America. Have we lost our focus? You bet. Is this blindness a sign of something more devious? Absolutely. We cannot remain complacent in a world that is full of chaos, injustice, and greed, especially if we, in America, elected Chaos into the Oval Office all in the name of Christianity.

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

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The Roots of Racism in American Christianity

A snarky take on God, gold, and glory – the roots of racism.

America has a history of using faith to justify a whole host of sins. Topping that list is racism. It’s our country’s original sin. With that being said, how can Conservatives idealize America as a country founded on Christian values? Jesus certainly wasn’t a racist, so why do so many of his followers still cling to hatred and bigotry? It just doesn’t make sense. A majority of American Christianity definitely has a problem with self-delusion and hypocrisy. So how did all of this come about?

This week, we sit down with Rhonda Ragsdale, a social justice educator. Rhonda has a Master’s in U.S. History, Southern History, and Sociology. She’ll walk us through the historical roots of racism and how, especially in the South, those roots are indelibly intertwined with religion.

Don’t believe me? Just look to the last election. 81% of white evangelicals voted for Trump. 80% of them voted for cosplay cowboy and part-time pedophile, Roy Moore. Then look at the Southern Baptist Convention. It’s the largest non-Catholic Christian denomination in the United States. The whole reason they use the moniker “Southern” in their name speaks to how they were founded by splitting from Northern Baptists over the issue of slavery. Christianity has a long history of being used to justify slavery and racism, but it shouldn’t be so.

In theory, shouldn’t the religious be less bigoted? That’s just not the case in reality. We see American Christianity continuing to be used to justify right-wing ideologies and push hate against groups it opposes. Faith was never meant to be weaponized. How did we get here? Hint: it’s all about God, gold, and glory.

Join us as we talk about racism now and racism then and just how we got to where we are at. One thing is clear, none of this has anything to do with Jesus.

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

You can find Rhonda Ragsdale on Twitter: @ProfRagsdale

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The Cult of Christian Celebrity

A snarky take on pastor worship

There is a toxic culture swirling around American Christianity. No, not that one. No, not that one either. Okay, fine. There’s a myriad of toxic issues with Christianity in America, and today we’re going to delve into the cult of Christian celebrity. It’s one of those silent faith-killers that most engage in but never realize it is happening. In the shallow end, it’s simply idolatry, but if we go a bit deeper, we’ll see it’s insidious nature of eroding faith and pushing it miles away from anything that has to do with Jesus. That’s no small problem.

From Steven Furtick to Judah Smith, these pop-theologians push their brand of faith to increase their market share and increase their own wealth. They are the boy-band versions of Christianity, all style and no substance. You might as well have Joey Fatone preaching.

You also have the Jim Bakker and Joel Osteen types who are more like the Home Shopping Network of Christian values. You can have Jesus all for the low, low price of $49.95.

Then, you have the ones like Franklin Graham and Robert Jeffress who push their political agendas on their followers like Dick Cheney with a shotgun. They’re taking no prisoners and again, none of this has anything to do with Jesus.

It’s easy to blame the shepherds or charlatans (and we will on the show), but on some level, the congregations and followers also share an equal amount of blame as well. Following Jesus was never about safe spaces or comfort. It’s not about insulating yourself from culture. Jesus was about pushing boundaries pride and self-indulgence into a place of grace and humility.

Christianity in America is broken. There is a way out, but are we willing to take that path and step out of the cult of Christian celebrity to begin to think for ourselves and do the hard work of following after a wild and loving God? The choice is yours.

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

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Recovering Evangelicals

A snarky take on the road out of Evangelicalism

Kirt E. Lewis is ex-military, an ex-pastor, an advocate and an author recovering evangelicalism. Aren’t we all? Join us as we talk about his journey in and out of evangelical Christianity. We’ll discuss the problems with toxic and misguided Christianity and Donald Trump’s America as well. Krit has background working with Wold Relief in refugee resettlement in California. He has a heart for the immigrant community and we’ll talk about the ways to move forward and advocate for the marginalized in our society. So as you could have guessed it, Kirt is right within our Snarky Faith wheelhouse. We shouldn’t be discouraged by the state of faith in America, we need to pave a new way forward.

You can find out more about Kirt and his writings on his website: https://kirtelewis.com

We’ll also hit on the death of Billy Graham. And as you can expect, it won’t be a reverent eulogy. So before we heap generalized and sentimental praises on the deceased, take a listen. Dr. Graham may not have been the gleaming light of Christianity we all like to think of. He sewed many seeds of toxic faith and led us to where we are today. Did he lay the groundwork for the rise of the Religious Right, End-Times conspiracy theorists, and, yes, even our beloved (sarcasm) Orange Messiah, Donald Trump? So thanks, Dr. Graham?

And hey, isn’t Franklin Graham basically the Donald Jr. of Christianity? I’ll let you be the judge.

Maybe I’m a heretic or maybe I’m right. Most likely, I’m somewhere in between. It wouldn’t be Snarky Faith without a sarcastic journey into the grey areas of faith.

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



Another Shooting

A snarky talk about guns in America

Another mass shooting, another day in America. This is becoming all too common. The shooting in Parkland, Florida is just a symptom of a larger problem plaguing America. This week we’ll talk about the tone-deaf response from many Christians and the NRA funded enablers in Congress. This isn’t the world our children deserve, but unless we make a change, it’s the one they will inherit. We mourn the losses, but also look for a way to change the pattern. As Christians, we should seek tangible and coherent answers to gun violence. We can’t let the lure of American Christianity inform our perspective. Jesus calls us to non-violence and that must be the only way.

We also catch up with documentarian Christopher Maloney and talk about his film In God We Trump that premiers at the Big Sky film festival this past week. Chris journeyed across the country interviewing people about the Trump’s evangelical backed win. His insights informed this relevant documentary that’s a look at how evangelical Christianity brought us to the breaking point in America.

If you’re interested in hosting a screening of the film, you can sign up at www.InGodWeTrumpFilm.com.

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



Grace is Brave

A snarky talk about grace

This week, we sit down with author, Chris Kratzer. Chris was a pastor for 22 years before he had enough of the hypocrisy and bigotry in the church. He completely walked away from ministry and almost everything Christian, yet he couldn’t shake his love of Jesus. His message of grace may be in line with orthodox Christianity but not so much with evangelicalism. Captured by the pure Gospel of God’s love and compassion, Chris now focuses on communicating the message of wholeness, equality, affirmation, and the beauty of Jesus, particularly as it relates to life, culture, and church. This interview is a wild, snarky, and fun ride that’s fueled by grace and Chris’ unique outlook on life and spirituality. He is an inspiration to all of us who love Jesus but don’t really know what to do with the church anymore. Let us join in on Chris’ assertion that grace is brave. May we all seek to be brave.

You can check out his work here: http://chriskratzer.com. You’ll thank me later.

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



Who’s Right in the Gun Control Debate?

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.