The Honest Faith: Kill Em’ With Kindness

This past week, I again submitted a controversial question to the Christian subreddit page. I didn’t think it would have been controversial, but apparently it is. The question was this “Despite all of our differences and the things that deeply divide us, do you think that the Church can ever one day be united and be whole again?”. There were many who were very staunchly against it on both sides. These were both progressive and traditional Christians who said that there would not be any unity so long as the other existed. I think this more than any other answer troubled me. Like I have written before I don’t feel like I fit into either of those camps. I consider myself to be more of a “fringe Christian” as some of the ideas and thoughts I have had can be considered rather wackadoodle. This troubled me because one of the things that I think I wanted to believe could be possible one day is that we could be united. That one day the church would be one again. I’m not sure why unity, in and of itself, is so divisive. I get the disdain between the camps of Christians, but to hate each other that boldly has got to come from somewhere.

I’ve noticed something here at the year mark of the most divisive presidency in United States history. I’ve noticed that the more we get riled up the more we fall into the trap of anger. I wrote before how anger can be a useful thing. That it can drive you to make things better, but when it stagnates it becomes hate. There is another downside to anger. It can trap you into thinking that you are alone. It can make you lash out at all around you for fear that they are going to hurt you as well. We end up even attacking those who are with us because we’ve been doused in this fear and anger for so long. It’s hard. It’s hard to resist for so long, to feel like you haven’t really anything to show for it. I know, I’m tired as well.

Recently I was reminded of ancient proverbs, from of all places, the book of Proverbs. There is one in particular that came to mind when I was on my silly endeavor to try to make the Evangelical leaders listen to reason and truth through twitter. This is the passage I was reminded of from Proverbs 23: 21-22

If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat;
and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; 
for you will heap coals of fire on their heads,
and the Lord will reward you.

Then I was reminded of Jesus’ words from Luke 6:22-26

‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.

‘If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

We have talked about part of this before. We have talked about just showing that you are a human being as well to your enemies. While watching Doctor Who’s 10th season AR (After Reboot), I was reminded of the Christmas Armistice of 1914. Cathy took great delight in telling me something about that day that I hadn’t already known. She told me that the soldiers who were involved in these moments of kindness and ceasefire were strongly reprimanded because they refused to fire upon their “enemies”. The men had refused because they began to see the other side as human as well. There is another moment in pop culture that this reminds me of as well there is a Black Mirror episode “Men Against Fire”  which references a book by the same name. In this episode the soldiers are made to see refugees as literal monsters by the implants in their head. This makes it easier for the soldiers to kill because they do not see human beings as human anymore. This leads to the usual Black Mirror existential philosophical crises that many of us experience after watching an episode. Maybe we can start calling this melancholic thoughtful mood, “Black Mirroritis”.

“Hey you wanna go for a beer?”

“Nope, sorry, I have Black Mirroritis.”

“No worries, man. I had that last week.”

See, I think I fell into the trap as well. I was angry and afraid for so long that I stopped seeing those who opposed me as fellow human beings, instead I started to see them as the other. I saw trolls and cockroaches where there should be human faces. I didn’t see the person behind the words and profile pictures of social media. I just saw “Trumpvangelical” boldly flashing in my mind in bright red.  I’m guilty of this as well. I was until I was reminded of those words I shared with you a moment ago. Yes, I felt convicted. Yes, I also grew very weary of fighting my own mini-battles and waging social media war on those I felt were no longer human. But who am I to say that? They are human as well. They are loved as well. We would do well to remember that.

This last week in our podcast, (Subliminal message: LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST)  we discussed the movie “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, maybe you’ve heard of it. I won’t spoil anything for you. There is a line in that movie that has been on repeat since I saw it in my mind. That line is this, “I saved you, dummy. That’s how we’re gonna win. Not fighting what we hate, saving what we love.” That line played over and over again in my head because, at first I thought I hated it. I really disliked at first the path the movie went in that moment. But the more I thought about it, the more I was reminded how true it really was. We don’t fight what we hate in order to win, we save what we love. I’ve been dismayed a bit recently as I look around at all of the other Christian Resistance writers and how they seem to focus their anger at 45 and trying to tear him down. I tried to make my stand on that before. I tried to do it in kind ways before as well. But I realized that fighting what we hate was futile. Resistance in that way is futile, because we are made of much less hate than we are of love.

People have learned how to fight the things they hate. They learned very well the lengths they would go to. They’ve learned how to fight dirty very well. The truth is, they are better at it than most. That’s because most of us know what love is. The more we see that disturbs us the more we get pulled down into that quagmire with them. The more we get pulled down the more divisive it becomes. Unity becomes a dirty word to us. We start playing their game instead of saving the things we love, we begin fighting that which we hate. We become the monsters we wanted to fight all along. That isn’t how it is supposed to go.

Surprisingly one of the biggest pop hits of recent music industry is a song by Selena Gomez. It’s called “Kill Em With Kindness” I’ve placed it below so that you can listen after you’ve read this. The point of all this is that I think we need to use our anger and fear not to fight what we hate, but instead to save what we love. We need to start being kind to other people. The Christmas Season is over, but we can carry the spirit of kindness and giving throughout the year. I think it’s time we stop trying to tear people down, instead we should build each other up. We should start seeing each other as human beings despite our political leanings. We should begin learning who it is that lives around us. We need to fight not with violence, but instead with kindness. By doing so it is like heaping burning coals upon our enemies heads. So to you who are weary. To you who have been pulled down into the quagmire, I say this; You are not alone! You matter! If you need a bit of kindness to remind you of the things you love, just ask. I’m here to help.

The Honest Faith: Story

This time let’s do something different. Take a moment. Settle yourself. Settle your soul. Sit back in your seat. Breathe. Be conscious of your breathing. Breathe deeply. Breathe in the good, breathe out the bad. Breathe in to the count of 4. Hold for 4. Breathe out to the count of 4. Hold for 4. Repeat. Once you have felt your moment calm enough let’s move on. I’ll wait.

Ready? Great! I want you to think about your most favorite stories. It could be your favorite movie, or favorite book, or favorite television series. What makes it stand out to you? Who are the characters? What was the over all feeling you get from them? What does it make you feel to hold those stories in your mind? Do you imagine the hallowed halls of Hogwarts? Are you present on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise? Can you feel the harsh stuffy humidity of Dagobah? I chose from three of the most popular, though I’m sure there many many others out there that you can name and describe to me in detail. I love stories.

Stories are incredible. They take us to other worlds. Other versions of our own world. When our reality becomes too much, many of these stories are a welcome respite or escape to another reality, if even for a few minutes, hours, or days. In these stories we go along with the protagonist. We almost feel their emotions, superpowers, magic, or power filling our own often frail frames. In reality we are sitting or laying down, sometimes standing, but in our minds we are on the T.A.R.D.I.S. traveling through time and space with the Doctor. In our minds we can create entire worlds, realities, and characters were we are different. We are loved, we are accepted, and we are more than we ever thought we were in our own day-to-day lives.

Now, I know what I’m about to write is controversial. I ask that you bear with me. I’m not asking you to throw your beliefs out the window, I’m just asking you to follow my train of thought. What if the Gospels were not written as biographies, but instead as stories. Stories that may have used real events, real people, and real places to make a point. Now I’m not saying that they are untrue. What I am asking you to think about, is what are these stories telling us? What is the overall theme of the story? Does Mark make a different point than Luke? Does Matthew tell a completely different story than John? Why? For what purpose? I know this is something I’ve talked about before and asked before. But I want to use it as a starting point now.

When I was writing the Story of Esperanza, it helped me to see the person of Jesus as a real human being, with thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I stepped into the world that I was remaking to be better understood by today’s standards. When I stepped into the world I found new things, rediscovered old things, and struggled with other things. When I looked beyond the details of the story I began to understand what the writers of these books were trying to get at. It wasn’t about all of the details. The details were just there to add to the point they were trying to make. I began to see the writers of these stories, sitting there before their writing desks with the scrolls and writing utensils. They knew of the preacher man who people believed to be the messiah. His message was one that was so different from the others around his time. Even his teacher John the Baptizer, I’m assuming that he was his teacher due to hints in the texts, knew this Jesus guy was different and  that this message he carried was one that changed everything. It did change everything.

Have you ever taken a step back and look how the world changed due to this man? I couldn’t figure out how to re-write 2000 years of history because this Jesus guy, a lone preacher man, from no-where Israel changed the course of history so dramatically. I had to include him in my new story, because the world would look completely different without him. I mean really look at it. The rise of monotheism can be attributed to this man. The shift in politics and the state of the Roman Empire can be attributed to this man. The spread of western Europeans across the globe can be attributed to this man. A lot of horrible atrocities were committed in his name. All of this can be attributed to this Jesus guy from the middle east. I would say that it is fair to argue that this one man had more of an impact on the course of human history than any other. I say fair to argue, I don’t know if it is completely accurate or not.

Each of these story tellers had a different story to tell. For Matthew it was to show that Jesus was the promised Messiah with an emphasis on his divine nature. For Mark, which was probably the first to be written, it was to show that he was the secret messiah, and a man of action. For Luke, it was to show the fulfillment of Jewish Scripture to those who were outside, gentiles, coming into this new faith, this was probably due to the arguments the early church had regarding gentiles becoming Jews first before becoming Christian. Then you have John, this one story at the end that was written much later than the other three to show that Jesus was the son of God. Each of these stories has a different approach. Each of these stories have different details and stories, they place things in different orders and don’t exactly agree on how things happened. In fact, there is no birth narrative in either Mark or John, because that wasn’t important to their stories. Luke and Matthew needed genealogies to show that Jesus was related to the most revered Jews and to all mankind. These are just little pieces of the larger whole of their stories and purposes.

When you sit down to read, watch, or listen to one of your favorite stories; does it matter if all of it happened exactly the way that it did in the past? For those stories, the vast majority are fiction. So the details don’t matter as much. Well, aside from when a book is adapted to a movie, then it matters to some. This is the major theme of some of my favorite films and stories, “Second hand Lions”, “Big Fish”, “The Life of Pi”, and many more have this theme of it doesn’t matter if it really happened or not. What matters is the story and what you take away from it. I love these stories, because sometimes the stories with the embellished bits are more entertaining and can teach more than the ones that are more documented history. Now, I’m not getting into the whole did it happen or not piece, we’ve already gone there before. What I want you to think about is the story as a whole. What do you take away from it? What is the major theme of the story? Why does the story make you feel the way it does?

Story is essential to everything in life. You are creating your own story from day-to-day. The funny thing is most of us see ourselves as supporting characters in our own story, but that’s not true. It’s our story. We are a part of many other stories, but this story is ours. That was one of the major messages and themes that ran across all 4 gospel stories. It was about telling a good story with your life, helping others to tell a good story with theirs as well. It was about love, and not worrying about the little details about that love, but just love. These were the things that made this Jesus guy great in my opinion. It was his message. One of love, acceptance, kindness, and grace all with no strings attached. Not a single agenda to it, just wanting us to live our lives to the fullest.

So here is what I invite you to do. I want you to try to forget everything you know about the story of Jesus. I know that’s almost impossible. But try. Get a good translation of the Bible. I would recommend one without verse numbers and chapter numbers. Maybe the Message, though I’m not a big fan of his translation work. I would recommend the NASB the NRSV or the ESV as they have all been peer-reviewed and translated directly from the sources none of this KJV business seeping in. I want you to read the stories again, with fresh eyes. Don’t just take pieces, do it from beginning to end. What did you learn? What stood out to you? What are the major themes? I hope that in that journey you can find something that I keep trying to tell you, that you are not alone, and you matter. You are not alone! You Matter!

The Story Of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 23

Chapter 23:

Esperanza was then given over to the authorities who water boarded her, and submitted her to psychological torture to try to illicit the location of her followers. Her hair was buzzed off and she was made to wear a purple jumpsuit. The officers who had been given custody of her began to mock her. They kneeled and pretended lavish bowing flourishes saying “Hail, Daughter of the Divine, true ruler of America!” They spat on her, groped her, and made all sort of lewd and gross gestures toward her.

When they led her away 24 hours later she was made to carry a heavy box that held the medications that were being used for state-run executions. They then paraded her in shackles up the same street she had come in on only a week prior. She stumbled a few times due to the shackles, the weight of the box, and the pain they inflicted upon her. When she could no longer carry the box, they grabbed a Pakistani store owner off the side of the road named Sayid to carry the box for her. They paraded like this until they arrived at the state prison down the road a few miles. There were, along the way a group of men who were openly weeping as they saw her pass by. She said to them, “Do not weep for me. Weep for yourselves and your children. For you are the ones who are left with the work that needs to be done.”

When they arrived at the state prison they marched her down to the execution room, and strapped her down with two other criminals one on her left and one on her right. They offered to put her to sleep before the lethal injection. She refused. The guards had taken her clothes and undergarments and began betting on them in a poker game down the hall. Esperanza closed her eyes and said, “Divine, have mercy on them; they do not know what they are doing.” Some of the priests and rabbi from the viewing area were jeering and mocking her saying, “If you are the Daughter of the Divine, save yourself. Get up off that table and walk away!” The guards made a crude poster saying Daughter of the Divine and hung it above her table.

The two beside her began to speak up. One said, “Hey! If you are what they are saying why don’t you save yourself, and us while you are at it?” The other in a rebuffing tone said, “Do you not fear the Divine? Aren’t you also going to die here with us? Don’t we deserve this? She has done nothing wrong, yet still she’s here and she is not fighting it.” Esperanza looked over at this one and slowly smiled through the pain, “I see the love of the Divine in you. Today, you will find peace.”

It was around 3pm when they began the injections. Despite the warnings not to photograph or video using cell phones one of the priests live streamed the execution. A thunderstorm had rolled in over Texas and all was dark and bleak outside. About five minutes after the dose was administered Esperanza began to scream out in pain, “Dios mio! Dios Mio! ¿por qué me has desamparado?” which means, “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?” Then she cried out, “Divine, I am yours.” With that she breathed her last. One of the guards who had been in the viewing room had seen all of this and with awe said, “Surely, this woman was innocent.”

Many watched the live stream of the execution. It was, rather unfortunately, viral. A man named Jose who was a state legislator paid for the funeral expenses. Her body was transferred to a nearby funeral home named “The peaceful garden”. The body was dressed in a linen gown and embalmed for burial.  There was no viewing and no memorial service as it had been prohibited by the Jesuit church and the state. Her body was moved to a secure burial tomb where a massive steel door was closed locked and under constant guard for fear of rebellion from those who followed her, and vandalism from those who despised her.

On the following Sunday, Maria, Rena, and Claire went out to where the tomb was bringing with them boxes of flowers, and memorials made for Esperanza. They had arrived shortly after dawn. They had spoken of what may happen if the guard refused to let them into the area to place the memorials. As they approached they saw that the large steel door was open. The guard was nowhere to be seen. When they entered the tomb they saw a man in a white linen suit sitting on the left hand side of the tomb. He said to them, “Don’t be surprised. You seek Esperanza Reyes who was executed. She isn’t here. She has awakened. Go tell the others. She’ll meet you in Kerrville as she has told you.” They ran from the tomb terrified. The man appeared familiar to Maria, but she let it go. The women said nothing to anyone about this, because they were terrified.

<  Chapter 22

The Honest Faith: Goals

It’s a new year and like many people I’m sure you have new years broken promises to make, I’m sorry I mean resolutions. Let’s be honest with ourselves. Most resolutions get broken within the first month of making them to ourselves. Life gets in the way. We get back into our old routines and we just find it way to difficult to change something we wanted to change for the better. So we quit before February rolls around and return to the comfortable, even if we are miserable with the comfortable. It happens. I’m someone who has done this almost every year of my life. That was until 2017. You all know that my life was shattered in 2016. Everything changed, my comfort zone disappeared and I was forced to take steps into a new Miguel reality that I discovered was much better than the one I lived in before. I was forced to re-make myself in 2017. Honestly, I’m rather proud of how my efforts turned out. I like the Miguel that I made in 2017, he’s a much lighter person. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but that’s okay. Because after all he is not alone, and he matters.

We all make efforts to better ourselves at the beginning of the year. We want more for ourselves and our loved ones. We end up lying to ourselves believing that we can change something monumental. We end up taking more than we can handle and pretend that it’s something easy. Trust me, like I said I’ve been there. Most of my life my new years resolution was to lose weight. I didn’t succeed until I actually had someone who pushed me to do it and kept me on task for the 2 years it took to get to a healthy weight. And then 2016 happened and I put on a few pounds again. I resolve to write the great American novel, just like everyone else, I get about 2 weeks of writing done before I’m distracted by other things. It wasn’t until 2017 when my therapist encouraged me to set out an easier plan for myself. She said make a goal you can achieve with your writing. I thought, well I certainly can write and publish a blog post every week. So in 2017 I succeeded. I wrote a new blog post every week, I even got to throw in the story of Esperanza which I will be finishing next week. Two blog entries every week was a huge accomplishment, from someone who wrote maybe once a month previously.

I think the best we can do for ourselves is set small achievable goals for ourselves, and actually make the time for it to become a habit. For instance, when I started my new job in 2017 I was worried that my writing would suffer from lack of time to do it. But as you can see, I made the time. I set out for myself a schedule that I wrote out and posted in my home office/ attic that I was going to hold myself to. I kinda let the exercise thing fall away on that schedule, but I did it. I made time for a change that was achievable and important to me. My writing has been something that has helped me make sense of my world in the remaking of Miguel. It has helped me to feel not so alone, and reminded me that my voice matters.

So here is a goal for you that is achievable and can help you be better in 2018; be honest with yourself. What can you feasibly fit into your life that you can do this year? If you want to lose weight, make it a more achievable goal. Set out to buy more fresh vegetables in your shopping trips or at least one new  fresh veggie every time you go to the store. Maybe you have more time, set out to walk at least 20 minutes a day. That’s simple. It may be more complex than just taking 20 minutes, but you can do it. It really boils down to the simple things that you can fit into your life to make that change you want to make. Don’t go for the big picture, set out small achievable goals that step toward that larger goal.

I know this may seem like the usual inspirational blahditty-blah, but as someone who knows how difficult and devastating forced changes can be I know how important the little things can be. With that being said, I really do hope the best for everyone to find the right path in life. To find something that works for them to have a better reality. Something that makes them happy, and is sustainable for the future. This was a forced change for me to think about for myself, but I am very grateful that it happened. Like I said I found a new me in 2017 and those things are going to be carried over to the future. My new goals for 2018 take the work that I did in 2017 and build upon it.

So enough about how to do it, let’s get to the reason you are all here; my goals for 2018. I don’t know why it is we are so interested in other people’s goals for a year, maybe it’s Schadenfreude. Maybe we find some perverse pleasure in knowing someone wanted to be better and then just fell flat on their face before the end of the year. I know you read that in a bit of disgust, but be honest with yourself, you know that you do that. Anyway, this is what I’m setting out for myself to do in 2018. I want to finish the Story of Esperanza and publish it. I’m about a week away from finishing the first draft. I will take everything offline on Ash Wednesday and begin working on refining it and will publish it maybe around Easter. The time that I set aside to work on that story, I’m going to devote to my novels. I want to finish the first one by the end of the year. I started it way back in 2011, and I’m hoping that extra time that I had set aside for other projects will work well devoted to that. I want to have written at least half of the second novel by the end of the year. I’ve completed a first page and the story is developing in my brain as we speak. There is a third idea rattling around in there as well which developed from an odd and awesome dream I had last year. I don’t want to reveal too much about my stories as I have a paranoid anxiety about people stealing my ideas and making them worse in my opinion. I’m also setting out to try to fix little things around the house to ensure that we can live here without worry of things breaking down or falling apart for a few years. I also want to get relatively out of debt. It’s tough when you are unemployed for a while with a child, a mortgage, and only one person working. We’ll get there though.

On a more Honest Faith level, I’m going to continue to publish one blog post a week. You may see less as I said Esperanza is going to go offline on Ash Wednesday, but don’t worry I’ll still be writing. We are going to be changing the name of the Podcast soon. We are doing that because we feel that when people see “Faith” in the title they get turned off to the whole idea of the podcast. We aspire to take it to a new level this year. We are hoping we can get the funds to make it sound more professional and to maybe even start making some money from it. It will still be under the Honest Faith umbrella but it will go by a different name that is more marketable. Cathy and I are dedicated to just having fun with it though, and not taking ourselves too seriously.

What about you? What are your goals for 2018? What are some small things that you can honestly do to make yourself better this year? For me I am going to support you in those things. My mission, as I’ve said before, is to let as many people as possible know that you are not alone and you matter. Those small things matter to you, and therefore they matter to those who see you matter. So let me know how I can support you in your own goals in 2018 so that I can help to show that you matter. If you’d like to guest blog on Honest Faith, or want a platform for your own writing in 2018 let me know we can even start a new thing under the Honest Faith umbrella! Because after all your voice matters just as much as mine. You are not alone, You matter!

The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 22

Chapter 22

They had sung a song together to end the feast. From there they returned to the rest stop outside the city that overlooked the lights. She said to them, “After I am turned over you will all run away.” Pedro turned to her and said, “Even if they all run, I will never desert you. I’m ready to go to prison and even death for you.” She just smiled at him and calmly said to him with tears welling in her eyes, “Before the rooster crows in the morning, Pedro, you will deny that you know me three times.” He got up full of frustration. “I will not! If I must die with you, I will not deny you.” The other followers agreed and proclaimed their loyalty. She looked around crying lightly. “Remember when I sent you out with nothing before? Maybe I was wrong… You are going to face so much hardship because of me. I have to go to my end here and now, but you do not. I thank you for your loyalty. I hope that the love I taught you will not result in your end as well, but be wary that it does. I do not wish this for any of you.” She excused herself saying that she needed time alone to meditate.

Pedro, Iago, and John followed her. She said to them, “Meditate here on coming events, that you do not fall prey to what will come. I’m very distressed, so much so that I think this is the end. Remain here, and watch.” She went on a bit further and fell to the ground. She cried out, “Divine! If you are willing take this burden from me. I know that this is what is to come, but if it be your will, don’t let me go through with this.” She continued to meditate and plead with the divine. She came back and found the three asleep. “Simon, could you not watch and meditate one hour? The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Again she went away and pleaded before the divine. She came back an hour later to find them asleep again. She went away again. The third time she came back and woke them. “Wake up for the time is come for me to be handed over. You will want to be awake for this.” While she was speaking to the three, a few vehicles entered the parking lot. Jaime, a few priests, and the county sheriff were in the vehicles.

Jaime approached Esperanza and gave her a hug. “Master!” Jaime kissed her on the cheek. After he let her go the sheriff ordered her to her knees with her hands behind her head. Pedro reached into his waistband behind his back. Esperanza turned to look at him sternly, “Pedro, no! No more violence. For all who live by violence will die violently.” She turned back to the sheriff and priests, “Have I displayed any violent tendencies toward you that you should have to bring police into this? When I was with all of you during the forum you didn’t lay a hand on me, but now that I’m outside and in the dark you come?” The sheriff cuffed her and put her in the back of his cruiser. They brought her to the chief priest’s house. Pedro had followed at a distance.

There was a crowd gathered in the courtyard of the estate. People were milling about and Pedro had joined those near the fire pit. A young woman saw him and said, “Aren’t you with Esperanza?” But Pedro denied it for fear of being found out. “I don’t know her from Adam.” He turned his back on her. Someone else spotted him and recognized him. “Aren’t you one of her friends?” they asked him. Pedro emphatically said, “NO!” He walked off a distance. Another in the crowd hear him said, “Hey, that guy is Mexican and from the hill country. I think I saw him with that Esperanza lady.” Pedro grew hot in the face. “I don’t know the lady you are talking about.” He turned again and as he did he heard a rooster crowing in the distance. Pedro remembered what she had said to him earlier in the evening. He left with tears streaming down his face.

Meanwhile inside the estate Esperanza was blindfolded some of the priests and rabbi spit on her. Others cat called her. Some groped her and said, “Prophesy! Which one of is did that?” They mocked her and hit her. They attempted to find people who would speak and testify against her in court; they found none. There were too many whose stories did not line up with fact. In the morning after many hours of this disgraceful assembly the high priest stood and asked her, “What have you to say against these charges?” She was silent and said nothing. Then the chief priest asked, “Are you the Messiah, Daughter of the Divine?” She said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, though you say that I am. I will not deny being the Daughter of the Divine.” The chief priest, knowing that this was as close to a crime as they could get from her, threw up his hands and exclaimed, “Do we need anymore witness? You heard her blasphemy what is your decision?” The crowd jeered and exclaimed “Execution!” The gathered crowd felt that this was enough to have her tried and executed. So they brought her out to the Governor’s office.

When the Governor granted them an audience, they accused her. “This woman is a traitor to our country and our flag. She is not a true American. She’s perverted our laws and is forbidding people from paying taxes. She has said all manner of horrible hateful things about our president Trump. She has called herself the true ruler. She said she was the Daughter of the Divine.”  The Governor looked at her and asked, “Are you the true ruler of these people?” Esperanza answered, “They have said so.” The priests and rabbi accused her of many things and the Governor asked, “Have you nothing to say in your defense?” Esperanza stayed silent. The Governor wondered at this. The Governor said, “I find no crime in this woman. All you have given me is hearsay. If you would like I can have a talk with her and pardon her (as this was the custom before the passover feast).” They cried out together, “Take this woman away. Pardon Ali Mohamed.” Ali was a young man who had been accused of terrorism and murder in Austin. The Governor asked, “What should I do with this woman then?” The crowd jeered and shouted “Execute her!”

<  Chapter 21  |  Chapter 23  >

The Honest Faith: A Father’s Love

Putting aside the historical validity of the birth narrative from Matthew and Luke. One of the things that I have always wondered about is Joseph’s story. I really enjoyed the one Christmas song from Michael Card “Joseph’s Song” for many years. I’ve even written monologue pieces that featured this song. It is also a song that played over and over again the first few days after the birth of my son. I remember 20 months ago when I was still a youth minister, when I had the greatest moment of my life. I think it was a lot like that for Joseph, whether or not that story is narrative or fact.

20 months ago my wife’s water broke 3 weeks before the due date. This was both startling and exciting. Of course, it was 12 hours before the actual birth, and that is a whole story I’ll let my wife tell. But the one thing I will remember most vividly is that moment the doctor placed my son on my wife’s chest. He lay there so tiny and so perfect. I started sobbing uncontrollably. We had gone through so much just to have a child. Here he was finally. My sobs began to hurt my chest they came so freely. It was the best moment of my life. That tiny human being made everything in the world so much better and scarier all at the same time.

A few days later my mother came out to help in the first few days. I had a melt down with her, I didn’t know how I could be a father. I was so terrified that I was going to break him. I was terrified I’d never be able to support my family in the way they needed. I was simply terrified. How could I be a father? I still felt like a child myself, even at 32 when we had him. Every day since that moment, I’ve had my ups and downs. Moments where I felt like I just couldn’t do it any longer. Moments where I’m so overwhelmed with joy at being a dad. Moments when the only good thing in the world is that smile my son gives me at the end of the day when I pick him up from daycare. It’s hard to describe what this love is in words. It’s hard to say as a parent how immensely you feel toward your children. I can imagine my mother’s heart breaking a bit when I melted down with her. I can imagine she also remembered breaking down when she had my sister, me, or my brother.

I can imagine Joseph breaking down and sobbing at the birth of Jesus. I can imagine the intense joy he felt with each new thing Jesus learned. I can imagine him breaking down with Mary, not knowing how he could possibly be father to this child. I can imagine the intense fear that he felt when the order came from Herod to kill all the male children in his area. The traveling to an unknown land as a refugee, hiding out in fear for his son’s life. Trying to protect his family. Jesus possibly learning at the library of Alexandria. Joseph’s intense joy at seeing his son’s smile as he came to collect him from study. Returning home when it was safe, as an immigrant in his own home land. He faded into relative obscurity and only remembered for his small part before the birth of Jesus. He probably didn’t mind that part, but what about his history. Was he a good father to Jesus? Did he and Mary have a good relationship? What did their family life look like? Was he part of the Jewish rebellion against Rome? What were his political views? Did he and Jesus get into political spats at Yom Kippur? Were passover feasts awkward and strained sometimes because Jesus said something that Joseph misunderstood?

Of all of the things that are going on in our world this is one that probably is not all that important in the grand scheme of things, but to me it matters. I’ve noticed a trend that hasn’t gone unnoticed before, but it is there. There is a trend of viewing fathers as idiots, muscle-bound jerks, or absent-minded only focused on their own little world people. They are very 2 dimensional and are often comedic relief or antagonists to a larger story. Sure there are other stories out there, but this is the prevalent narrative in the modern discourse that is pop-culture. Maybe I take this more seriously than most because I am a father. Maybe I take it personally, because those are the things I do not want to be. I don’t want to be an ignorant dolt, who only cares about his own issues, and is a jerk to other people. I am more complex than that, but so is everyone else.

I want to imagine that Joseph and Mary were equal partners in the raising of the man Jesus. I know that is probably very much not the truth as the societal constructs of the first century bent toward a misogynistic and oppressive society for women. The truth is we’ll never know what the home life of these two characters was like. I wish to imagine it this way anyway. I would like to think that the parents of this man Jesus taught him important lessons of how to treat people. We see the way Jesus treats all people with love and kindness. That had to come from, at least, some of the parenting he got right? I imagine Joseph spending long nights comforting a crying baby Jesus in another room or outside so that Mary could sleep. I imagine Joseph teaching Jesus his first words and picking him up when his first steps got wobbly. I imagine a loving father in the way that I want to be a loving father. He probably made mistakes, like all fathers do. He wanted so much for his son, though. If he survived, I can imagine the pain he felt watching the crowd chant crucify him. I can imagine the absolute destruction that watching his son be executed like a common criminal in the most humiliating way possible. I can imagine that it was because of his son that he would want to fight Rome. He would want to drive them from his homeland.

It’s because of my son that I resist a lot of the things that are happening in my country now. I stand up and speak out because I want my son to have a better life. I want my child to grow up in a world where he won’t be looked down upon for his heritage. Where he will have more opportunities and every chance to succeed, at least more than I had. I want my child to know that I stood up for those who were being oppressed. I want my son to know that I did what I could when I could to help people. That I used my time, my vote, my money, my art, my voice, and my talents to try to make a difference. I know that we will not always see eye to eye. That will come in time, he’s only 20 months old. I know I’m going to make mistakes, like all fathers do. I want my love to speak for me, though. I want to support my son in whatever he does. Even if he becomes a radical preacher who changes the world forever. It would devastate me to see him go through just some of what Jesus went through.

So reader, whether you are a father or a mother. Whether you are a parent or not a parent at all. What can you take from the story of Joseph? What do you want your children to say of you? What do you want future generations to think about you? Do you want them to look back and see you as a selfish dolt who only cared about their own problems? Or do you want them to look back and see someone who cared for those around them and tried their hardest to ensure that future generations would have every opportunity and advantage that they may not have had? I think a father’s love is evident in that, what a father does to provide and care for those around him. I, at least, want it said of me that I did what I could to show others that they were not alone, and that they mattered. That is what my ministry is now. I may not be in a church. I may not be actually ministering, but I am still a minister. I want my son to know that love. I want him to know that I love people, and that it is important to care for those around you. I want him to be a good person. Even if it is in-spite of me. So, reader, may you know that you are not alone, and that you matter, at least to this father.

The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 21

Chapter 21

Esperanza’s last words to the the seminar were this, “Take care of yourselves. Don’t be weighed down with the cares and worries of this life. One day, all these things will not matter. It will happen suddenly. Be watchful, and be brave. You will be able to see all your work come to fruition.” As she finished up the other speakers began to murmur in the sidelines. She left unceremoniously and began to prepare for the feast of Passover.

This was the year of 2017 C.E. Donald Trump had been elected president the prior year and there had been many instances of unrest in the country. The priests and rabbi conspired to put Esperanza to death; for they feared how her message could topple the power they had over the people.

A Priest invited Esperanza and her group to dinner. There was a woman whom Esperanza recognized in the crowd. The priests and rabbi had used her as an example of a sinner, yet here she was perhaps to set Esperanza up again. When this woman spotted her she began to weep. She came and fell at Esperanza’s feet. She took a very expensive jar of oil and began to anoint her feet. She wept so bitterly that her tears wet her feet. She began to wipe them with her dress as well. When the Priest who had invited Esperanza saw this he said aloud, “If this woman were a prophet, she would have known who and what this other woman is. She’s a sinner!” Esperanza sharply looked at him, “I have a story for you, A certain banker had two customers who had taken out loans, one for $5000 and the other for $500. When they could not pay, he forgave them both. Now which of them will love him more?” The priest thought for a moment and said, “I suppose the one who was forgiven more.” She said to him, “Correct!” She looked down at the woman and asked him, “Do you see this woman? I came to your house, you did not offer me any refreshments. You did not offer any relief for my feet. She has anointed my feel with oil and washed them with her tears. She has shown me great honor. Honestly, her sins are forgiven. She has loved much. But he…” She turned to look directly at him, “.. who has been forgiven little, loves little.” She looked back down at the woman and lifted her up. “Thank you, dear. What you have done today, will be remembered always.”

At this display, Jaime, who was one of the twelve, thought it was time for Esperanza to settle things once and for all with the priests and rabbi, possibly even Ha’Av. Jaime slipped out of the party and met with the priests and rabbi who were conspiring against Esperanza. Jaime believed that if this was set up so, Esperanza would have no choice but to become the leader that Jaime believed her to be. Jaime met with them and offered to give her over to them. They paid Jaime $3000 and Jaime agreed to a peaceful confrontation.

Then came the day of Unleavened Bread, on which the passover lamb had to be sacrificed. Esperanza sent Pedro with the group to prepare the feast for them. They asked her, “Where are we supposed to go? Should we return home or stay here in Austin?” She said to them. “Go to the grocery store. There you’ll run into a man trying to buy water. Talk to him and say your teacher has need of a gathering place. He will have the gathering room of a local synagogue ready for the passover. There you will prepare for us.” Pedro and the others set out for the grocery story which she had told them of, only half believing they would run into a man trying to buy water. Surprisingly there he was. They asked and just as she had said the room was ready. They went and prepared for the feast. That evening all were gathered together in the room.

She said to the gathered, the main group and new friends just made, “I have really wanted to eat this feast with you before I am to suffer. This will probably be my last meal.” She took the unleavened bread in front of her and she blessed and broke it. She passed it around saying, “This is the body of a new sacrifice, as the Divine made a covenant contract with Abraham, so is the Divine making new contract now. Take eat this is my body which is broken for you.” She took the wine glass from in front of her and said a blessing. She passed it around saying, “Take and drink from this cup; this is the blood of the sacrifice of the new contract that is being written between the Divine and man. As often as you drink and break bread do it remembering me and our time together.” This troubled all who were gathered as they did not know of what she was speaking of, yet. She turned to Jaime, and said, “Go and do what it is you have to do.” Jaime didn’t know how she knew about the conspiring but Jaime got up and left to go get the priests and rabbi. They sat and finished the feast together. Esperanza’s mood was dour, though the feast was lively and enjoyed by those gathered.

<  Chapter 20  |  Chapter 22  >

The Honest Faith: Why Christians should care about Politics.

This isn’t what you think. I’m not going to go off about religion in politics, maybe a bit of vise versa. I’m not going to go into the whole Republican V. Democrat thing. If you are just looking for a reason to be angry at me, be angry for the right reasons. This post is from my own opinion and of my own mind, it does not reflect the opinions of my family, my friends, my employers, or even anybody remotely associated with me. So I ask that if I what I’m about to say offends, please think about why that is and how to have a constructive conversation with me rather than attacking from a defensive stand. I have lost a few friends due to my social media posts and some of my writing. I do not wish that, but I ask for patience and understanding, because, after all, my voice matters just as much as yours.

I asked a question this week in my social media circles. I asked, “If the stories about Jesus were proven to be more narrative, than historical text, would you still follow him as Messiah?” Granted, my presentation of the question was a bit sloppy and resulted in triggering a few people into a defensive stance. I was rather surprised at the response. On Reddit, I got an overwhelming amount of hate filled responses calling my salvation into question while saying, “No, because if it didn’t happen that way he wasn’t Christ, so following him would be stupid.” On Facebook, I only received two of those responses. The vast majority on Facebook, however, were thoughtful and engaged. They said they would still follow Jesus even if none of the things happened like they did in the Gospels. I know this may be controversial, but that’s what I believe too. It was the message that mattered.

You may ask yourself what does the historical accuracy of the Gospels have to do with modern politics? Well, I’m glad you asked! Tons! See, if the important thing of the Gospels was the message, over the details of the story, then we should be paying more attention to the message. The message goes against a ton of modern policies, and flies in the face of both political parties in the United States. In fact, you can say that that the Constitution and Declaration of Independence were founded on Christian ideals, but you’d be wrong. The Truth is our founding fathers were Deists. They mostly believed that God made the world and then left. That we are all the children of a cosmic deadbeat dad. I do not believe this way. That is what Deists mainly believe, though. The country was generally founded on this idea that people can better themselves. That redemption was not beyond the reach of any man. This is an idea that is part of the message of Jesus.

The message of Jesus was rather simple, not easy mind you, but simple nonetheless. It was a message of hope for the hopeless, love for the unloveable, freedom for the enslaved, help for the helpless, and life for those already dead. We see over and over again how we are to treat other people the good Samaritan, the new commandment, taking up your cross daily, and the sheep and the goats. I’m amazed how how this message has gotten twisted. It’s been lazified (changed to be lazy) into this gospel of the American ideal. We’ve discussed that before, no need to rehash. But the message was about love for all. This without strings. People have brought up things like Immigrants, abortion, those who have stood up to tell their stories of abuse, those who question, those who worship in other ways, and so on. They turn them into the other, and forget that we were commanded to love. Love without condition. That is not easy, but it is simple.

Standing for love means standing against politics that are not loving and that will do harm to some people. To some Christian brothers, that means standing against things like homosexual marriage rights, but to them I want to ask how does that hurt you? Marriage is a legal right and is a sacrament within the church. If you do not wish to have it as a sacrament, great! Don’t do it in your church. Doesn’t mean that it can’t be in other churches. I will recognize someone’s right to love whoever they want to love. That means marriage equality. Some brothers think that Trans-rights are evil. Again, I ask how does this affect you? Trans people are people. You want to deny somebody the right to be comfortable in their own body? Why? Because it seems “unnatural” to you? You know what’s “Unnatural” oil drilling, pollution, fraking, hating something that has nothing to do with you, poaching, hunting endangered animals, and so on yet most don’t seem to have a problem with those things. Why is this particular thing an issue for you? Why is something other people do more important than those other things? I seem to remember Jesus saying something about planks in your own eye. My job is not to judge. My job as a Christian is to love.

Standing for love also means standing against injustice. When someone tells you they are being abused, you should believe them until all evidence says they are wrong because 9 times out of 10 they are telling the truth. When a football player kneels and says “Black lives matter!” you should believe him. Take a look you’ll see that there are injustices happening. Not too long ago another black man was shot, without resisting. When women stand up and say “Me too!” you should believe them. 1 in 4, that’s crazy to think about, one in four women have been raped. Almost every woman has been sexually harassed. Yet, we don’t believe them because we want what exactly? When the poor say that a tax plan hurts them you should believe them. They know more about their own situation. They would know if some injustice is being done to them. So why turn a blind eye, and call them liar? What does that gain you?

Standing for love is resisting. It is resisting the natural state of human nature. I do not believe that we are all bad, no. I believe that we are, by default, selfish. We want what is best for ourselves, which is not bad in and of itself. But when it over shadows your desire for what is best for others, it becomes evil. This is something Jesus spoke about again and again. Mostly it was with the pharisees and lawyers. He talked about their selfishness in power, money, and prestige. We saw this when the rich young ruler came to him wanting to follow him. It’s resisting that selfishness. That isn’t easy. It’s simple in theory, but complex in practice. Love is complex in practice. We resist the easy selfish desire to only want what is good for our own, and love all. Join the Christian Resistance. We stand for love. We resist hate. We resist selfishness. We resist, because it is what Jesus did, and taught.

So why should a Christian care about politics? Christians should care because it was the commandment we were left with from Jesus. To love one another, as He had loved us. Why should we care? Because other people are being hurt, and if you are to love someone you should stand up for what is best for them. We should care because we were commanded to. We were commanded to stand up for love. We were commanded to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, heal the sick, love the unloveable, give hope to the hopeless, give freedom to the enslaved, give life to those who are already dead, and allow others to make their own choices. Wasn’t it Jesus who said, they will know my people by their love. This has nothing to do with making someone moral. It has nothing to do with making someone “right”. It means LOVE. Allowing people to make their own way does not mean enslaving them to your path. It means showing the love that allows freedom. Love is freeing. Love is not hurting someone. Love is complicated, but ultimately simple. Love is wanting what is best and doing what you can to ensure that the other has the opportunity to use what is best. So join me in standing up for love. Join me because you voice matters. You matter. You are not alone. You matter!

The Story of Esperanza Reyes: Chapter 20

Chapter 20:

The other priests and rabbi watched her closely. They even sent spies into her solo lectures who pretended to be sincere, that they might take what she said and use it against her in accusations and court. One such spy asked her, “Teacher, we know you are honest and do not show favoritism, and honestly show the Divine in all you do. Is it good, according to what is written, to pay taxes as they worship a power structure and a false god of government?” Esperanza perceived their craftiness, and said to them, “Pull out a dollar bill. Who’s picture is on it? What does it say on the back?” They said to her, “George Washington’s picture is on it. It says ‘In the Divine we trust’ on the back.” She then said, “Well, give Washington what is Washington’s, and give the Divine what is the Divine’s.” As this did not incriminate Esperanza, they were speechless and had to sit back down and marvel at what she had said.

Again, the spies came to her in one of her lectures. They asked, “Moses wrote many millennium ago that if a man’s brother dies, having a wife but no children, the man must take the wife and raise the children. Let’s say there were seven brothers. Let’s say the oldest marries this woman and dies before they have any children, and the same goes for each brother through all seven of them. After the last brother dies, the woman dies. If there is a resurrection to come, whose wife will she be? For she was married to all of them.” Esperanza said to them, “You make things too complicated for yourselves. This woman is not an object to which possession should be determined. Why not ask the woman who she’d rather be married to? They are all children of the Divine, and in that Kingdom what laws of this country would apply? The Divine Kingdom cannot compare with the countries of this world. That would be like asking if an apple’s skin is red, why are not oranges grown in New York.” The spies again were set back and could not answer to what she had said. They dared not ask any further questions.

She continued with her lecture. “Who do you think the Messiah is descended from? The ancestry of David? Didn’t David write:

The Divine said to my Lord,
Sit at my right hand,
Till I make thy enemies
A stool for thy feet.

David called him Lord; so how is he a descendant?” She looked out over the crowd gathered, nobody could answer this. They stared in silence for a while. After a bit she continued, “Beware of those who think they have all the answers. They do all they can to be seen by others. They love the sound of their own voices. Their sermons are long and their vestments gaudy. They want to be called teacher, doctor, or reverend to be seen as better than everyone else. Call no one better than yourself. For there is only one who is better than you and that is the Divine. If someone wishes to be better than you, let him serve you. Whoever puffs himself up to be better than, will most certainly be humbled. Whoever is humble will be exalted. But woe to you teachers, doctors, and reverends for you shut the Kingdom of the Divine against men; for you neither enter yourselves, nor allow those who would enter go in. They will take from the poor and needy to offer up longer and more pained prayers to be seen for this “suffering”. They will receive greater condemnation. Woe to you, who would travel the world for one convert and you make them as much a child of hell as you are. Woe to you, for you value wealth above the Divine. You blind fools!”

“If there was a poor widow who came to your temples or churches and put twenty dollars into the offering. Where all the rich put in 10% of their income. I would honestly tell you that the widow has put in more than any of them. For they gave out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all the living she had. As for these things that you see around you grand speaking halls, massive stages with sound systems and professional lighting, parking structures for many vehicles, and even coffee houses in the lobby; one day none of this will be here for you. Listen, so that you are not led astray; many will come just like me claiming to speak for the Divine. They will say that they are the Messiah, and the ‘end is here! The Divine is here to judge the evil!’ Do not follow them. When you hear of wars and horrible things happening in the world, do not be terrified; people will do such things. Many will make you suffer for these things. If you are loving, kind, and accepting of your fellow-man people will call you weak and all manner of things for this message. They will accuse you and persecute you, saying you are not a true Jesuit. Endure. For the message is bigger than all of this.”

<  Chapter 19  |  Chapter 21  >

The Honest Faith: Join the Resistance

I’ve been focusing a lot on the problems recently. I haven’t provided a lot of answers, well, aside from my 95 theses. I think we are well aware of the problems, however. Things are getting worse, yes, but as a wise person once said, “It’s always darkest before the dawn.” The outlook for our American way of life and religion as a whole in our country is rather bleak. Hope is in short supply, we are tired, worn out, and our ability to care seems to result in not much good. It does seem bad but there are those small breaks in the clouds. There is a light shining in the darkness it seems. As I have been re-discovering faith and a new image of the Divine, I do see light. There is hope. There is love. There is a resistance to the dark. Today, I ask that you join that resistance.

Many times over the past year, my faith was called into question. Not just by myself, but many people questioned my “salvation” and my commitment to the Divine. Honestly, it does sting a bit when people do that. They don’t know me. They don’t know my experience, or how much I’ve studied. They call my faith into question because I err on the side of love? How is that “christian” or “Biblical”? That in and of itself makes me want to have nothing to do with christianity. I know that you can’t change people’s minds on deeply held beliefs easily, but you have to try, right? This and just feeling that I don’t really fit in with “Progressive” Christians or even Atheists because I’m somewhere in between has led me to try to start my own thing. I’m calling it the Christian Resistance. Because, yes, I’m Christian. I’m not conservative, or progressive, I’m figuring out for myself my own theology. I’m listening to others and finding what is true in it all. My views aren’t very traditional on either side, but I think are inclusive to all. So today I would like to write about what the resistance stands for. You may be part of the Resistance already, and that’s cool, feel free to use the name. I call it Christian, because ultimately I do follow the man I believe to be the Christ, the Messiah. I won’t get into the separation of man from myth stuff, just suffice to say I believe in his message, and I follow him that leads me to resist.

I resist hate, of all forms. Hate is not beneficial. We’ve discussed this before about how even a little bit of hate can corrupt. I’m not a fan of the “Hate the sin, love the sinner” phrase that gets thrown around. I think it misses the point completely. I am angered those with corrupt intentions leading others astray. I do not hate them. I think they are misguided and leading others to be misguided as well. I am angered by the mistreatment of people. I’m angry, but I do not hate. This anger drives me to speak out, to speak up for the voiceless, the oppressed, the marginalized. I resist hate, because I love people. I may disagree with you on some things, but I’m willing to listen to what you have to say, and I ask that you return the favor. To resist hate one must love. Love is so much more than emotion, it’s an understanding, it’s a longing to want what is best for the other. It is imagining the other as complexly as you imagine yourself.

I resist the laziness of easy answers. Yes, I’ll admit, I am trying to simplify things to make them more palatable for others, but there is a difference between simple and easy. There are no easy answers. Sometimes they can be simple, but simplicity does not imply ease. The same with our theology. Laziness can lead to easy answers which end up being counter the entire message. Such as the shunning of certain types of “sinners”. That’s an easy answer. The simple one is to love, no matter what, no agenda, no strings, just love. That is, not at all, easy. Answers that are not easy require deep thought, research, and understanding. It is not easy to resist laziness, after all laziness is comfortable.

I resist power structures that have been put into place to subjugate, alienate, discriminate, or oppress. This was one of Jesus’ main messages. The Kingdom’s hierarchy was simple, God over all, the Son of Man ruling under God. That’s it. Simple. I could get into the complexity that is the divinity of the Son of Man and whether the title carried with it divinity, and then the complexity of the hypothesis of the trinity, but that’s way to complex and we are trying to keep it simple. The point is all people are people. No one of us is better than the other. Therefore, we should love each other as such. We are not better, they are not better. We are all just people. When we hurt each other we need to be held accountable for such. Though, that is not to say one is better than another. For instance, if one person hurts a child, that is one of the most egregious acts in my mind. I’m not superior to that person, but I do believe that person should be held accountable for such, I am not a judge, however. I do not know what an appropriate punishment would be for such a person. I’m thankful I do not have to make that decision. For if someone were to hurt my child, I would want the harshest and most painful punishment imaginable for that person. I resist the power structures because all life is precious. All human beings are human beings. We are the same, yet different. This one is complex and especially in today’s day and age we need to spend the time in deep thought, research and understanding to find all details of toppling these power structures as, yes, people will be hurt by that toppling.

I resist the things that keep me trapped. We were made to be free. In fact, Jesus said, “I came that you may have life, and have it to the fullest.” Now aside from Paul’s apocalyptic writing on restrictions to everything because he believed the Son of Man was coming within his lifetime, this life to the fullest meant that we were free to live life the way we wanted. This was not a free license to hurt people. No, It was a life free to live in a way that you could love freely, give freely, accept freely, enjoy freely, and listen to whatever music you want. (minus experimental jazz, because that’s not really music in my opinion.) If someone’s theology, or someone’s truth requires you to be trapped into service of them or someone else, that is not a good theology or truth. The simplicity of it is, don’t hurt other people, just live your life. That’s not easy thing to parse out at all. But it does simplify how to resist entrapment. Resist by being kind, loving freely, and living freely. The Bible was not a book meant to enslave, but a book meant to provide freedom. Do not let yourself be oppressed. Resist.

I wanted to write something a bit more hopeful this week as I feel that my writing the past few months has been devoid of hope, and rather dark. I do believe there is a light. I am resisting the darkness as much as possible. I know that I’m not the absolute truth in any matter, and that my theology is rather wackadoodle these days. But I am more than happy to talk about it. I’m more than happy to discuss where I may be wrong, and where I may be right. That is the wonderful thing about the Christian Resistance. We accept all, we love all, we are not all right, we are not all wrong. I noticed this was a highly under used hash-tag on twitter and on Facebook. I decided to commandeer it and use it to bring some unity to those of us who feel out-of-place in both the “conservative” and “Progressive” Christian circles. I certainly don’t want to be seen as a leader, but more as someone who will help those who need it. I hope that I may be able to help those who need it, as that is my form of resistance. The popular society bends toward selfishness, oppression, and hate. I will resist that and be selfless, freeing, and loving. So I invite you to come and join the resistance. May we find that we are not alone, and that we matter.