Monday, March 31, 2014

I Am Lord Volderon

    I've recently become convinced that internet comments were probably invented by Sauron. Or Voldemort. Whichever Dark Lord suits your fancy (Volderon? Sauremort?).
    Sometimes, these comments upset me. Especially when people go all FEELINGSSSSS!, or all THINKING IS THE ANSWER, ignoring that special thing called nuance (It's a pet peeve of mine).
    But then there are comments like yesterday's. On another blog, a commentator came right out and said:
    1) I can't be part of a Christian organization
    2) the Jesus I "obviously know nothing about" has "rejected" my "behavior" 
    3) I clearly support everything from assassinations to lies, and
    4) all of this culminates in "Back off Satan" . (There was no exclamation point or period to end the sentence).
     ... Well, I had to laugh at this. Especially since all I did was suggest s/he read what Jesus said about judging before throwing Bible verses at other commentators to condemn them to hell. Plus, the comment was rife with grammatical errors (I will not repent of my grammar fetish! I will not!). 
    So, there you go. I serve Satan. Or I am Satan. I'm not really sure what s/he meant. Don't really care, either. Nor do I care about the gross exaggerations and fallacious parts.
    I promise there's a point to this, however.
    Basically, this commentator insisted that I cannot be part of a Christian organization. And, you know what?
    Perfectly fine with me, dude. 
    Because I don't like organizations. Or classes.
    And if all Christianity is just an organization, then it's an impersonal farce and we should raze that cage.
    But organizations are not people
    Organizations are what we design to ensure everyone works efficiently as they are supposed to, suppressing people into neat little categories that don't hold because, you know, complexity. Organizations are inherently impersonal; it's the people of an organization that can render it personal (or not).
    So there you have it. I'd rather be part of a body, of a people, a people following a Person who just might have been what every Human and every God is supposed to be.
    What would you prefer? Is there another side to this I'm missing?


P.S. - This is in no way intended to disparage the person whose comment inspired this post. I do not know who s/he is, and therefore I wish s/he all the best and will be praying for s/he.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Is Time Linear?

    Whilst taking a walk to calm my overheating brain, this is actually the question that popped in my mind. And sent me into a tangle of pondering and mind racing.
    Is time linear?
    I mean, most people seem to operate under this assumption. Once something's done, it's done. Over.
    But is that true, or merely our perception?
    I think it was C.S. Lewis who wondered if all time is happening simultaneously - as in, St. Peter is always denying Jesus in that one period of time. Unfortunately, I can't find the original quote. But I find it an interesting possibility. Especially since if there is a God, He ought to be outside of time, which is not something I can exactly comprehend.
    Or is time circular? Are there infinite chances? When different choices change one thing, which changes another ... except if all of these things change, I wouldn't be me anymore. As much a some situations have sucked and my decisions have hurt, they're a part of my life. Not saying I wouldn't wish for something different, because in some cases I do, but they've still helped shape who I am, for better or worse.
    According to Wikipedia (don't deny you use it too), a lot of ancient cultures believes time was cyclical, but not Judaism of Christianity, since they believe that God created time.
    Then again, also according to Wikipedia, Kant proposed that time might just exist outside of the universe. As in, time is simply the way we process things, not real in itself. Don't ask me to comment more on that one. My head's not wrapping around it, though it's an interesting concept.
   And hey, according to Einstein and other crazy-smart people, space and time might just be the same thing: spacetime.
   Weird. And cool. And headache-inducing, but chock full of the potential to craft a good story.
   So, what about you? What do you think of this funny thing (if it is a thing) called time?


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Shards of Good from the Circle of Evil

    There have been days I've been scared to call myself a Christian.
    There have been days I've been embarrassed to call myself a Christian, due to my inevitable pride and fallability.
    But ashamed? I've never been ashamed before Monday, before this whole World Vision debacle.
    These last few days have been the days, the days I - can I write it? - type, fingers! - the days I don't want to be associated with the name Christian.
    I mean, I love Jesus. I love being a Jesus-follower. But this week I was ashamed of the name Christian for the first time. 
    Now it's supposed to be over. World Vision reversed its decision and will not hire gay people after all. They presented their decision as reconciling themselves with God (though I do think it's fair to ask whether God or pressure convicted them. But it's not for me to judge further).
    So, I guess people are hoping it'll all blow over now. Because forgiveness. Because Christian.
    Except...I'm still reeling. These last days have changed me, changed my perspective, and not for the better. In short, I'm devastated.
    Like, I-want-to-cry-and-languish-in-a-corner-level devastated.
    I'm angrier than I've ever been. And I'm ashamed.
    It's disgusting to punish a child for what you deem the sins of a corporation. How can you call yourself Christian; how can you be so self-righteous -
    Oh, wait. By my accusation, by my judgements, by some of the comments I left on the original article, was I any better? I judged them for being judgmental. How can I call myself Christian?
    Obviously, I endorse calling out balderdash (like choosing to let a child suffer because of a policy) when we see it. But to do it in a judgmental way - you, callous you! Rawrrrr! - doesn't help people listen. And when people don't listen, we don't understand, and when we don't understand, reconciliation is never reached.
    (Here's the part where I admit I'm honestly not okay with the tone of my last post, but I'm keeping it up because I don't like the idea of deleting a post. And I'm not changing my opinions, just how I go about sharing them).
     So, yeah. I don't know where I'm going with this, other than that there seems to by this cycle of evil I can't quite break free from.
    And then there's the label I can't escape: Christian.
    Both bind me. They're not dichotomies or anything of the sort, just two of the many situations I am in.
    But in the aftermath, in the devastation, maybe - dare I hope? - I see a glimmer of why I need the gospel. Why everyone needs this good news.* Because what else can "work all things together for good for those who love God?" (Romans 8:28). Even in evil things like letting children starve in the name of standing against sin, in telling the LGBTQ community they're abominable to us, in vitriolic judgements, in questionable decisions and reversals of those decisions, even in shame, where nothing on earth will make these evils better, there is hope.** Even in all this mess, some shard of good can emerge.
    Right now, I don't feel like good can emerge from this. Hence the devastation. But the gospel tells me I'm wrong. 
    I suppose now all I can pray is, with my fickle wisp of faith, God have mercy on us all. 
    If this is Christian, I will confess the label on my bloody knees, whispering from my broken heart.


*If you don't agree with me, that's fine. But I think we can all agree that bring good out of evil ... is good. :)
**For the record, I'm not saying that all of these things are equal in magnitude. Just that they're all bad.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Right Thing To Do: Sin and World Vision

    Is it possible that sins originate in seeing a person - myself or anyone else - as less than the image of God?
    When I steal, I ignore how my victim may have wanted or needed the item I stole. When I gossip, I ignore the reality of their feelings.When I hate, I ignore the fact that they are my equals.
    These are just musings of mine, but they've originated in the content of today's post.
    Yesterday I saw on Christianity Today that World Vision, a leading organization in child sponsorships for those in third-world countries, an organization that helps provide food and water and education for children who might otherwise go without, now hires gay people.
    That's an interesting turn for a declarative evangelical organization. But, as previously stated in my post last week, I'm confused about the whole why-is-homosexuality-a-sin issue, so right now I will refrain from commenting on the morality of the decision. I'd rather God judge that.
    But then I logged on Twitter while taking a study break from this lovely upcoming Drug Discovery Midterm, and at first I was in shock. Like, mouth-hanging-open-level-shock.
    Then I said words that I'm not printing here.
    Then I cried.
    People are actually withdrawing their sponsorships. They are punishing children for the actions of an organization.
    This is so repugnant, so morally outrageous, and it's being done in the name of the gospel. (I am not linking to the site that said that. Just know that it was said).
    I'm so angry I can't possibly show you.
    When I protested that decision in the 1500+ comments erupting over at Christianity Today, I was ridiculed as "mindless" because, don't I know that there are other organizations who help children?
    Sure, there are plenty of organizations; I actually sponsor a pretty cool boy named Sagar through the small Children's Home in India.
    But what about that individual child you support, the child with a name and a face, with dreams and prayers and friends and family, with sustenance and education partly provided by you? They're not just a nameless mass of unfortunates we should help because It Is The Right Thing To Do. By withdrawing your sponsorship in the name of We Stand Against Sin, you're saying that kid is less than human. You';re saying you supported them not for the fact that God made a unique person in His image, a person He died for, but because you wanted to feel like you were doing The Right Thing.
    Sure, you're helping another kid, but you're hurting your first kid. And despite what the Gospel Coalition would have you believe [again, not linking here, sorry for the inconvenience], this isn't a necessary evil. It's not necessary. Write all the angry letters, protest, listen, all you want. But don't you dare hurt kids and say it's for Jesus. Don't you freaking dare. 
    For more, see Nish Weiseth's post "These are Real Kids, You Know," and my sister's view from a current missionary position, "To Those Thinking of Ending Their Sponsorship for World Vision."
    Because seeing a child as a means to Do The Right Thing, not as a person created by God? That's sin, too.
     I guess now you can choose whether hiring a gay person or ignoring a child's humanity is a worse sin.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

When Jesus Wouldn't Welcome Me

    Before you read this post, you should probably check out Kevin DeYoung's post on Jesus befriending sinners, and Jonathan Merritt's excellent response.
    It's the last two sentences of DeYoung's article to which I wish to respond.
    "Jesus was a friend of sinners not because he winked at sin, ignored sin, or enjoyed light-hearted revelry with those engaged in immorality. Jesus was a friend of sinners in that he came to save sinners and was very pleased to welcome sinners who were open to the gospel, sorry for their sins, and on their way to putting their faith in Him."
    The first sentence, and the first clause of the second sentence? I agree.
    The last part sickens me.
    Because I believed that last part wholeheartedly in high school.
    I've struggled with my weight since I was eight. But when I was fourteen and just starting my freshman year, the "I am fat" feelings became too much. I felt sick and freaked out and so I filled with blackened self-hatred. I couldn't take feeling like this, so humiliated and ugly and tingly all over with my gross layers of fat, so I started starving myself and over-exercising (In retrospect, I wasn't fat at all, but that didn't change how I felt or stop the nightmares in which my family turned on me for being fatter than my skinny twin sister).
    But because I wholly believed Jesus didn't welcome the unrepentant (you can't serve God and mammon, right?), and I didn't have the strength to repent, I realized I would have to choose: anorexia or God.
    I chose anorexia.
   Sure I was going to hell (because, doesn't Hebrews 6 say I cannot turn back?), I continued on in my decision, even though my eating disorder nearly destroyed my relationship with my sister. Outwardly, all was well. I was a good girl and believed firmly in God, yet inwardly I shut Him out.
    I tried to turn back. I'd be good for a week, a month. I'd talk to God again, ask for forgiveness, and as proof of my true repentance I'd stop starving myself and over-exercising. But, inevitably, the I-am-fat feelings would return, and in a moment of panic I'd choose anorexia again. And there were moments I begged for God to send someone to confront me, to love me where I was and point me back to God, for anyone to stop and ask, are you all right? But no one did, although I don't blame them since I put up a pretty good facade if I do say so myself (I was careful to maintain a figure skinny enough to draw comments but not so skinny my doctor would become alarmed or I would risk dying). 
    I was isolated and drowning and eventually suicidal, but I wasn't repentant because I valued my weight over God. I wasn't determined to change; I liked being 105 pounds, even though at my height, that's not healthy. So I kept my distance from God.
    Two weeks before college my sister left for her school. And I was like, my twin is gone, no one can compare my to her and call me fat again. Maybe now, with the temptation to compare myself with her gone, I could truly turn back to God.
    So I prayed. On my knees, to act more repentant than I felt. I didn't feel much, to be honest, only that I wanted God back even though I also wanted my ideal weight.
    But something happened the next week. I caught myself over-exercising again. Normally, this was the moment I'd give up on God. But this time I felt God whisper to me that it was okay. I did not have to have my sins under control, I didn't even have to want to stop losing weight. I was welcome by Him despite my sin, even though I wasn't necessarily sorry for my sin.
    The burden was no longer on me to be in the right frame of spirit and mind to be welcomed by God. It was never about me; it was about Jesus. Jesus, who loved me anyways.
    I think I'll save the rest of my battle against anorexia for another post, 'cause it's kinda a long story. All I'll say for now is this:
    A God who only welcomes those who want to change isn't my God. God welcomes us no matter who we are, and, maybe, we start to change when we are already in His presence.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

On Your Knees

    On your knees, you cry.
    In a corner of your basement. In the dim lighting that's somehow gloomier than pure darkness. The tears are silent, but we all know sometimes silence is a louder scream than shaking sobs. Your prayers babble what your tongue will not.
    On your knees, you collapse and wait for a bit. Wait. And wait and wait.
    On your knees, you crawl toward the door and almost enjoy bruising your hands.
    On your knees, you grapple for the door and wonder wouldn't it be better to stay locked inside, wouldn't it serve you right, but you push the door open anyways and so light assaults your face.

    On your knees, you beg.
    To whomever has the power to change this. There's nothing else you can do, and you freaking hate feeling helpless!
    So you plead, shouting, tearing, hands clasped. Help! Don't just hide up there, flipping help!
    In that moment, your soul know very well this can't be all there is, because this cannot happen.
    But what if it does? What if - ?
    Help us!

    On your knees, you sit.
    Your hands are clasped, eyes closed, head bowed low. You repeat the Lord's prayer and praise God above. You say everything you're supposed to say to be good. You list out everyone and every situation you know. Then you pray for the whole world, not out of laziness but out of actual desire.
    And you walk out of the room, all secretive, knowing no one knows how good you just were except Jesus, and won't He be darn proud of you.
    But a day does come when you refuse to pray, and maybe, somehow, that is your first open prayer.

    On your knees you haven't been in years.
    You worry you won't ever be again. But there's something about the quiet, dusky sky, the gentle swaying of evergreens, the glimmer of a moon above.
    Thanks for the sky, you think. The words just fly out. Naturally.
    The graceful air slides in your lungs. Yes, graceful.
    Knees, oh no, they're not for you. But you did just thank God for the sky...
    Maybe deliverance is in the thanks, and it's for you, too.

    Oh, when freedom comes. Stunted. With words that feel false, because you're no longer sure you're capable of sincerity. But the words come out, and oh, oh then, freedom is planted.
    On your knees.

Monday, March 17, 2014

I Left My Faith at the Altar

    I left my faith at the altar. Not much was left, really, just broken shards, bloodied from the fight. They flew away as I drifted off.
    I've been striving a lot these days.
    I'm tired.
    Soul-tired, stretched thin. My knuckles have turned white as I cling to whatever beliefs make me feel safe.
    I don't understand; I want things to be simple and certain. I'm always inclined to believe the simplest, most obvious explanation is the truth (although quantum mechanics proves me marvelously wrong on this. Shout out to chemistry right here!).
    But musings and questions have been building for a long time now, driving me crazy with anxiety. I don't believe in a 6,000 year old earth. I don't get why gay marriage is supposedly wrong and I don't get why committed sex is wrong, either, because for the record, what defines a marriage? It varies from church to denomination to state to government. I don't get why few can enter the narrow way when there appears to be so much more complexity to life than choosing between right and wrong, and God should know this better than me.
    You know what? I'd go to hell if, by my action, every other person could get into heaven. And God sure loves people much more than me. So what the heck is up with hell?
    I should probably say that, excepting the origins of the earth, I haven't ever questioned this stuff before. I just made sense to me, and now it does not.
    This is terrifying. I don't want to be an apostate. I want to be a Christian, but it's a bit disconcerting when it's only your desire, and not your belief, that keeps you a Christian.
    Yeah. I said that.
    Last Tuesday came the sacrifice. No killing was involved; the fighting in my mind and heart had already slaughtered that faith.
    Last Tuesday I asked myself what I do believe.
    And I was like...hmmmmm.
    I don't think this life is all there is. I'm not sure what's so special about this life in light of eternity, but I do believe there's something beyond death. A part of me is like, do I believe this just because I want it? But, no, I don't. To everything that exists, there's a story and a creator, and I think that's true for this world, too.
    So, yeah, I believe there's a God, and that God is love. And good. And truth. And faith and hope, mercy and justice, because, you know, I think all such virtues are not as separable as we theorize. Plus, there's something about Jesus that draws me in. If anyone should be God, I'd say it's Him. Son of Man, a human, yet Son of God. Someone who was who we were meant to be.
    That I do believe these things, that I believe these things deep in my heart, gave me a pleasant surprise.  
    My faith had a starting point.
    The rest I left at the alter, bloody mess though it was.
    This doubt feels like drowning. Doubting, and struggling with the aforementioned questions, causes me to fear I'm not a true Christian. Because when I was in high school, I'd definitely call myself a either heretic right now, someone who was either very confused (which obviously is true) or one of those people to whom God's going to say, "I never knew you."
    Obviously, I don't want that to happen - but more from a fear of hell than love of God.
    Is this blasphemy to say? Is this sin, to question so? Is this proof that despite all my violent struggles to follow God, I am not His? Well, ha, I know it's not by my effort, it's by Jesus, but then, don't I have to choose to surrender to Jesus (which is my free choice, and it is one I have chosen, over and over, unless I'm super-self-deceived)?
    I want to cry right now, because I know some relatives and friends will read this, and I don't want them to judge me. I'm not doubting because I want to or because I didn't listen to teachings while I was growing up, because I did. I didn't only hear, I listened. And I believed. So why is this happening? Did I do something wrong?
    I worry that I'm doubting because I've valued my mind over God's sovereignty. "My ways are not your ways," etc. But what is wrong with seeking answers? And where does faith come in?
    So I let it go. My faith, that is. I shed it to the wind, abandoned it to the altar, told God He could have it. I'm not even sure what that means, only that my faith no longer in my hands. If it's real, then it's God's, and He can direct me wherever He wishes.
    I feel like I'm dangling in mid-air and waiting.
    I'm glad.
    Pardon my language, but I was so damn scared to lose this faith, the efforts and appearances of having it all figured out.
    I've shed my faith, the faith I so constructed to keep striving towards God and towards answers, the faith of fighting and certainty, and right now I'm dangling in mid-air and waiting.
    I'm waiting, maybe for the first time in a long while, for the God up there to whisper a direction to me, to show me some other way because I can't continue the way things have been. I honestly don't know what's going to come.
    But there's an ember growing in my heart that says God is not scary and, yes, questions are hard as diamond, tough as steel, but neither the asking or the answers can destroy faith. And deep down, there's a hardcore seed of belief that's not leaving, because it's not mine to throw away anymore.
    It's time to wait.   
    And so I wonder, does faith begin with waiting?

Saturday, March 15, 2014

...And Letting Go

Part Two

    Hey guys. I have a confession. This title is a lie.
    There is no part two.
    I had a serious post planned, but then it morphed into another post (coming soon, and darn writing for adopting a life of its own) and I was like, nope, this ain't gonna work. Oops. So what do I do now?
    Well, I've decided to share the top 10 things I've learned about jaywalking over the last four years.
    A little background: attending university in Boston WILL, without question, transform you into a talented jaywalker. Follow these rules and you will be an expert.*
    So, y'know, you can let go of those inconvenient moments of waiting for the blasted light to change.

1). Don't die.
2). Do look both ways before you cross the street. It's Boston, and we're not exactly known for following traffic laws.(Yes, our moms were right).
3). When you start, go whenever you are comfortable. Slowly decrease the time between you and the oncoming cars until you're comfortable with the fact that if there's a greater than 50% chance of survival, you're going for it.
4). Speedwalking is the key. 
5). If there's no walk signal but the light is red, go anyways.
6). Wearing earphones and listening to music can make the adventure even more exciting, and is sure to earn you a few close calls and several very entertaining reactions from those unfortunate drivers whose right of way you've interrupted.
7). Don't do this when your family visits.
8). Don't practice anywhere outside of the city. Either drivers will be really understanding and make you feel like crud for interrupting them, or you may have an unpleasant encounter with a police officer.
9). If you're on a bicycle, discount everything I said and obey the darn traffic laws.
10). Don't die.

*This is not an endorsement for breaking the law. It is merely an account of the many jaywalking adventures I've heard of or experienced in college, and should be taken solely as humor.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hanging On...

Part I

    I'm not sure why. It happened out of the blue. I got a little worried a few nights ago, and then all of a sudden, bam! - I was in the midst of a panic attack. Oh-my-gosh-I-can't-do-this-I-can't-I-can't-I-can't!
    What troubled me was that this hasn't happened since I've been on the medication. Maybe the meds helped because I felt fine five minutes before, and five minutes after, whereas I usually spend the better part of twelve hours calming down and fighting despair. But a panic attack was disconcerting all the same.
    Then the next night came, and I decided to try the thing that was making me anxious again. Basically, the thing basically involves facing my ultra-harried life right now. (Hence blogging, because why face my thesis, a short story competition, grad school choices, or an upcoming summer project that all have crunch times next month?)
    I wound up totally getting it all done, faced my fears, learned an encouraging lesson, and I'm so great and over this anxiety now! Yeah, no.
    Truth is, I wound up hysterically sobbing and screaming on my apartment couch (thankfully, it's spring break and my neighbors are gone) and my nose was so stuffed I couldn't breathe and I woke up the next day with burning eyes and it was horrible. And all I could think was, this isn't supposed to be happening. I've been fine since the medication. I'm supposed to be getting better, and I cannot survive another round of anxiety-fueled depression.
    I guess I've found out firsthand what my therapist told me, that medication helps but the cause has to be dealt with or the anxiety/depression will return.
    Soooo...I suppose I'm anxious because I don't think I can do it all. I think I'll fail, and I think maybe, I don't believe in everything I want to believe in. That maybe I have too many doubts and questions, and maybe my story is cliche, and maybe I won't finish characterizing all these darn compounds, and maybe I'm not going to like my graduate school decision. I'm scared, I'm scared, I'm scared.  
    Help me.
    Maybe that's a prayer, maybe that's an invitation, maybe that's buried by the wind, but no, I don't believe that last part. Something inside of me clenches and shakes its head at futility.
    Sometimes, that's all I can hold on to. The falseness at ultimate futility. But momentary futility? It happens far too often.
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said, "When you come to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on."
    Well, to be honest, I don't know if I can hang on, Mr. FDR.
    But I think there might be people, and Someone up there, hanging onto me.

Saturday, March 8, 2014


    There are some days I want to throw my hands up and declare that I am done with you all. That I hate you all. As if I am better than you. As if I am smarter and kinder and wiser.
    I am not.
    You are all so, so intricate. There's so much nuance and so many shades of colors for every situation and person. It's beautiful and confusing and scaring and exciting and I love you.
    Isn't it so special that all of these differences combine not to make us unique, yet equal? You've a spirit and a mind and a body; one cannot be taken from the other. It's yours uniquely but we all have these three and so we are equal in value.

    If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
   -William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice.

   Us. Us! We are in essence united, humanity, glorious creations.

    "Look!" I shout. I point to the four prisoners who lie docilely on the earth, their lips to the pole, their hands clasped to their faces like monkeys' paws, oblivious of the hammer, ignorant of what is going on behind them, relieved that the offending mark has been beaten from their backs, hoping that the punishment is at an end. 
    "Look! I shout. "We are the great miracle of creation! But from some blows this miraculous body cannot repair itself! How -!"
    Words fail me.
    "Look at these men!" I recommence. "Men!" 
    Those in the crowd who can crane to look at the prisoners, even at the flies that begin to settle on their bleeding welts.
    -J.M. Coetzee, Waiting for the Barbarians

    Men. At the end of the day, all we are is human, and maybe that word means so much more than we assume.
    My God. My God, do you not see? Sexism and racism and classism and condemnation and abuse are atrocities against people who are as valuable as us. How many times do we beat the "barbarians" who are different than us?
    This isn't to say there's no right or wrong, no punishments or corrections to be given. There must be, because fault happens, we are imperfect sinners all of us. But justice and mercy are not opposites; sometimes, they are the same. And this isn't to say that, being human, we have the right to trample animals "beneath our feet" (Okay, I'm quoting Coetzee again). I just wish we could treasure each other.

     So he answered and said, “ ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’
    -Luke 10: 27-28.

    It seems to me that if we really love God, the God who created all of us and who loves us passionately, who gives us His life for our own and the His Spirit to walk through life, then we ought to love our neighbors as our own by default. In fact, if we see how amazingly we have all been created, to interact with billions of unique people, we are showing love and possibly worshiping Him who made us.
    Just some musings of mine. Let me know yours. :)



Thursday, March 6, 2014

Dear Massachusetts: People are More than Objects

    Read this article, for without it the rest of this post will make no sense:
    Are you kidding me? 
    Okay. Let's analyze this decision. Taking photos up a person's clothing is not illegal because they are wearing clothing underneath.
    This reasoning is fundamentally flawed.
    Why? Because the violation of having someone photograph up your shirt isn't just a violation of your body, it's a violation of your personhood. Your rights decide what people do with to your own body, your rights not to fear being someone's object for their sexual desires, your rights to be a person. Your body is a part of you - mental, emotional, physical, spiritual if you believe that - and having someone take pictures in ways you don't want violates that.
   The Supreme Court's ruling completely overlooks the personhood of these citizens, instead, this ruling objectifies a group of people who have historically been objectified over and over: women. So for a state that prides itself in advocating equality, Massachusetts just showed how very far it has to go in the fight for human equality. Because if you don't recognize at least the physical, emotional, and mental pieces to humanity, you reject their wholeness as a human.
    Thus, the Supreme Court's ruling is a ruling based on just the opposite of what this country was founded on: the full worth of people, with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Supreme Court's ruling violated these three things, and by reducing the women in this case to objects, violated their personhood in a way that blatantly disregarded the spirit of the Constitution, which recognizes the human worth in women and men regardless of race, gender, etc.
    Is there anything we can do, any petition, protest to stage, to call attention to and challenge this gross injustice? If you know, please, please let me know.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

When the Lord's Prayer Gave Me an Anxiety Attack

    Lord, teach us to pray.
    It was Sunday, my day of rest, the day I tried to quiet my soul and feed on prayer and the voice of God.
    Teach us to pray.
    I was trying a spiritual discipline, one that mentioned reading through the Lord's prayer and reflecting on each line. This struck me as familiar; I actually used to do this all the time. Religiously.
    And Jesus said, when you pray, say...
    I thought God wouldn't take me seriously if I prayed anything without saying the Lord's prayer, and since God doesn't want vain repetitions, I made sure I focused on every last word. Day after day, prayer after prayer. I even got on my knees and locked myself in a bathroom or my bedroom, because Jesus said go into a quiet room.
    As a recovering literalist/legalist, my first instinct was nope, I ain't gonna do this discipline. Are you kidding me? No way, dude.
    But then - but then I thought, why let my fears and my past influence the present? I can do this! Yeah!
    Yet sometimes, strength is actually holding back.
    Because the memories came swirling back. The feelings of despondency, of desolation, of I have to do this right or I am not pleasing to God.
    I couldn't finish. The memories and feelings pulled me under. My heart tingled with fear and loneliness and misery, and all the unpleasant running from God in high school, the desperate attempts at legalism so no one would know I was starving myself and ignoring God, family drama that's still tearing my heart today, all of it flooded my mind.
    And the only prayer I can really manage at times like these is a single word: mercy.
    Because, Oh, God, in these moments, I am utterly undone. I am unraveled and disheveled and hollow, and I fear You and I fear humanity and I fear myself. I fear my grades and I am desperate for approval and I need freedom, but freedom is uncomfortable and dangerous.
    God help me. Help. Me.
    I don't have a happy ending, except I recovered from that anxiety attack and I'd like to end with the lyrics to my favorite song. I'm not sure why the lyrics were altered from the Lord's Prayer. I just know that when I heard this song four years ago, it said everything I needed to hear and it still does.

Our God in heaven
Hallowed be
Thy name above all names
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in heaven
Give us today our daily bread
Forgive us wicked sinners
Lead us far away from our vices
And deliver us from these prisons.

So, whatever prison you're in today, whatever you believe in, I pray you find deliverance.

(If you want to listen to this song, it's "Your Love is Strong" by Jon Foreman:


Sunday, March 2, 2014

God is Sexist? AKA, Woman = Human

    1 Corinthians 11:7 says, "Man is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man."
    To be honest, I have a problem with this.
    There's a part of me that's like, you're just prideful and want to follow YOUR way, not God's way!
    But there's also a part of me that is like, this goes against everything I know about God.
    Genesis 1:27 says "God made man in His image, male and female He created them." Does this not imply that we can both glorify God?
    Explanations, even on the ever-handy Google, are sparse. So far, the most lovely explanations I've read compare women to cakes made "for" men that "serve no particular use on their own" (News flash: I am not a cake), or claimed that as a woman, I was made to serve men, because I can glorify God so much better with a husband than alone (1 Corinthians 7:8, anyone?). I should also mention that in these articles, women were referred to as "beings," "cakes," and "wives." Note what's missing?
    Let me say this, loud and clear:
    Woman = Human. Man = Human.
    Now that we're clear on the maths, here comes my real question:
    Is God sexist?
    Eh, as previously stated in this post, Genesis would imply no. Also, Galatians 3:28 says "There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Not to mention that "there is no partiality in love." Since "God is love," He cannot be partial to men. Plus, given my own interactions with God, I'm pretty sure the answer is no.
    Also, I've been informed that, in Genesis 1, Adam is described as man in the androgynous sense; in other words, human but not male. When Eve is created, Adam is only then described as male. So I suppose it's possible that something has been lost in translation.
    So, is Paul sexist?
    I don't know. I didn't know Paul. It's possible, but I'm not exactly comfortable labeling Paul sexist when it means, by extension, labeling a book the church has agreed is inspired by God as sexist, too. Not to mention he also wrote Galatians, in which he affirms our equality in God.
    So: anyone else got an explanation? 'Cause I'm at a loss. (Hence the unusual amount of snark and less poetic writing in this post). I feel like I must be missing something here, because, like all of us, I'm just a flawed human with limited understanding.

A Very Confused Kelley

P.S. - I wore leggings twice in the last week! Progress is real!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Herein, I Admit to Blasphemy

    I don't care if you're an alcoholic, a smoker, a drug or sex or eating disorder or caffeine addict.
    I don't care if you're black or white or Asian or Native American or Arabic or whatever.
    I don't care if you're gay or straight or bisexual or transgender or asexual.
    I don't give a darn if you're male or female or intersex.
    I care that you're a person. If your race, gender, experiences and ideas shape you into who you are, be they good or bad, then I care about them because I care about what's part of your life.
    Sometimes it's easy to get all caught up in the issues - Stop gay pride! Stop celebrating teen mothers! Let's be color blind! Stop the Atheists/Catholics/Muslims/Evangelicals/whoever's-religious-views-don't-mesh-with-mine! And, my personal favorite, stop the judgmental people - by judging them!!!!!! (Obviously, I've never done this one, oh no, not me. Ahem).
    But - but - people, you guys. It's so very, very easy to see only the issues, to see only the actions and ideas of people, rather than the people themselves.
    It's scary to see people, sure. It's scary to acknowledge that we're terribly similar but with different viewpoints - because what if I'm the one who's wrong? I don't want to think that I might be wrong on what actually matters.
    It's scary to acknowledge that if other people are real people, then their experiences and decisions and ideas are actual, as real and concrete as mine.
    I think sometimes we, or at least I, dismiss people in the name of truth! and morality! Because truth and morality and goodness matter.
    But truth also involves seeing people as real.
    Moreover, truth involves love, because love is good, and if I'm just viewing people as issues and problems, that's not loving and it's not true.
    God has made those people, same as me, in His image. They're as intricate and paradoxical and valuable as me, and how dare I blaspheme them by reducing them to nothing more than issues?