Tag: news

Fun with Conspiracy Theories

A snarky take on crackpot Christians

Yes, we live in the upside-down world right now. That’s just a fact. If you’re not onboard with me, this show may not be for you.

We’ll delve into the deep recesses of Christian conspiracy theories in the age of Trump. They are fun to laugh at, but they’re also insidious if you actually give them air to breathe. These theories push forward an unhinged and warped narrative of how to view the world through supposed religious eyes. The big problem with this worldview is that it also happens to be very un-Jesus-y.

These crackpot theories have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God so we should stop listening to them… right? The only problem is that the conservative base hears these lies as truth, gospel truth. That is a scary thing that should frighten believers and non-believers all the same.

Once conspiracies become the lexicon of their culture, then something great has already been lost. The something that has been lost may not be able to be found again. We stand on the precipice of something very evil and scary that just happens to have nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth. I’d be okay with the right being crazy and not attached to reality, but the moment they connect Jesus with their theories, that’s when I say, “Game over” for the lot of them. This is beyond nuts but has sadly become the norm in so many religious circles today.

Remember there’s always hope. Yes, there’s always another way, but that’s not the point. We need to call out insanity when we see insanity. Christians should be doing the same because their faith requires them to, but that isn’t happening. Christian conspiracy theory crackpots are becoming the voice of the movement and that’s a huge problem. Jesus has been left behind and the faith has moved into space that no longer occupies any room for Him. These are the moments when drastic action is necessary if we want to save the ways and teaching of Jesus. Either we let this happen or concede the faith. The choice is yours. What will it be?

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

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F*ck You Palestinian Christians

A snarky take on the Trump Administration and Israel

With the recent move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, many evangelical leaders are hailing this as a major victory for the Christian faith and President Trump. Before they begin to bask in the afterglow of their own self-congratulations, bigger questions remain. What has this move actually accomplished? What about the Palestinian Christians? Has scripture been fulfilled? Will Jesus return now? I can’t wait for Jim Bakker and Kirk Cameron to finally be right about something.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s just hold on for a quick moment. This Zionist want-to-be move has only accomplished creating chaos and bloodshed in an already destabilized region. I guess destabilization is what Trump does best. Destabilize America. Destabilize the church. Got it. What was I thinking?

This move has been hailed by evangelicals in their usual tone-deaf manner. It’s all about looking at the world from their own holier-than-thou, western, white-privileged goggles. It’s just like how evangelicals approach missions (or their faith, in general). The optics are all that really matters to them. If we actually cared for the region, we’d be looking at both sides of the issue… and guess what? There are over 50,000 Palestinian Christians in the region. You know, the bad guys… right?

This is just a big fuck you to the Palestinian Christians. It is absolutely shameful to disregard a part of the Christian family like this. Furthermore, anytime Christians ignore groups of people inside or outside of the faith, it’s a disgusting act. None of this has to do with Jesus or the Kingdom of God. This is only about pushing a warped, biblically-shallow narrative forward while people’s lives are held in the balance. This isn’t a biblical move. For the religious right, it’s always a political 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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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”
~REM

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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Left Christianity

a snarky take on progressive faith

With all that is crazy and ugly in American Christianity, there is always hope. After all, Jesus didn’t come to start a new religion or jumpstart an old one. He wasn’t into nationalism or populism. He was never about getting rich or powerful. Jesus came to give us a different way to engage with the world, a new set of Kingdom-minded ethics that will always be in conflict with the prevailing empire of the day. The way of Jesus is still very alive; you just might not find in a church.

I’ve recently had various conservative trolls calling me out and trying to find a label that fits my faith, worldview, and ethical system. While that I appreciate their efforts, labels are not what interest me; action is. Labels are effective tools for tribal identity, but they are also effective ways to categorize and wholeheartedly dismiss a person or a group. Labels are what are polarizing our country. We cease to see the individuality of people and only see the broadly painted groups to which they ascribe.

For contrast sake and to feed the trolls a bit, we’ll seek to find out more about the Christian left. It’s not about answers but pursuing what is happening within progressive Christianity. With our show, it’s never about the point. It’s all about the conversation, and we’re not seeking labels but always seeking how to right the ship of American Christianity and put it back on the path of being like Jesus.

We also delve into the alarming fact that 51% of Christians have no idea what the Great Commission is. This is a symptom of why the faith has gone off the rails. If you don’t know what Jesus is about, how could you possibly understand how to move the faith forward? Things like this scream to why the religious right has hijacked Christianity. If we don’t know what it means to follow Jesus, then why do we call ourselves followers of Jesus? Maybe this is part of the problem with American 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 Gaslighting Church

A snarky take on distortion, lies, and misinformation.
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in the new shape of your own choosing”
~George Orwell

Gaslighting happens when you don’t expect it; that’s why it works so well. We’ve become accustomed to hearing phrases like “alternative facts” from the White House, but this type of manipulation happens every day, even in churches. With the recent scandal at Willow Creek and countless others, we’ve seen powerful men, systematic coverups, and smear campaigns that seek to quiet the accusers. It doesn’t always happen in big public spectacles. It often manifests itself in smaller more insidious ways.

Gaslighting is psychological abuse and when it comes to the church, it’s also spiritual abuse. False information is presented with the intent of making a victim doubt his or her own perception. The powerful use tactics like shame and guilt. They twist scripture and feign piety in order to maintain control. None of this is new. Power breeds corruption and the way pastors and clergy wield power over their congregations can be downright twisted and sick. It’s all about control.

The saddest part is that none of this has anything to do with Jesus. The Kingdom of God that he was ushering in was led by servant leadership. It was about grace and compassion, not coercion. Theology was never meant to be a weapon, and the role of pastor was never meant to be that of an authoritarian. None of this is right.
Join us as we delve deeper into this topic and outline the warning signs of gaslighting in the church.

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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