Tag Archives: conservative

Why I wish “Alpha House” Senator Gil John Was Real

Screenshot 2014-10-30 at 3.43.10 PM
John Goodman with Odetta, the dog who plays Senator Biggs’ dog, Buster

Gil John Biggs, Republican Senator of North Carolina, is a retired UNC basketball coach and is played by John Goodman on Amazon’s “Alpha House.” In the first season, he is facing a tight race, and decides to skip an event with the govenor to get back in touch with his roots. He ends up filming a video on a beach hit by Hurricane Sandy, and the result is something I wish existed in the real world. It is honest, unfiltered, and it wins him the primary election. Take a look:

——

I decided to play a little hooky today.

I drove down to my hometown of Ruby Shoals, which is right on the shore.
Angie, show ’em a bit of where we’re at.
Go on.
OK, so it was tore up some by Sandy, but you get the general Oh, grab a shot of them gulls there.
Cute little suckers.
Anyway, being back on this beach reminds me of what a privilege it was to grow up in a place where you could run through tide pools, hunt for sharks’ teeth, blow up crabs with cherry bombs Man, that’s just good times.
Anywho, Ruby Shoals has always been pretty conservative.
Soid Republican.
And as Republicans, the thing we believed in most of all was opportunity.
Which meant we believed in building stuff to create opportunity.
Like roads and schools and power grids.
It was a Republican, Ike, who built our highway system.
And another, Nixon, who created the EPA to protect what we are looking at right now.
As conservatives, we believed in conservin’ and free markets, which is why most of us used to favor cap and trade to fight climate change.
Anyway, that was then.
We don’t believe in climate change now.
Or any research into it.
Same with mandates or infrastructure or background checks or a dozen other things we used to support before we got within pissin’ range of the Tea Party.
I’ve about had it with all that.
Remember the old Gil John Biggs? The one who used to bring home a new clinic or research center or whatnot without apology? Sure, I named ’em after myself, but I don’t mind future generations knowing who invested in ’em.
You remember Coach Biggs? Who made college loans a huge priority because he’d seen how they changed lives.
And remember the guy that never voted to shut down the government or wreck our credit or suppress voting rights or compared people to Hitler?

Remember that guy? He’s back.

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Going Back to Church

So I went to a church this past Sunday. 

Whaaat?

I know, I know. I haven’t been in an actual church since Christmas and I’ve been fighting against Chris’ hints for a long time. To be honest, most of my reasons to not go to church seem better than his reasons to go, but I’m biased towards myself. And most of my reasons are fear-based, and when has fear ever led to an ultimately good decision in spiritual matters? 

The first thing I did was research. Going into a church blind is like going into a social group without any knowledge of who is going to be there, at least for me. I want to know something about the church before I go. Is it geared towards a particular denomination? Is it going to be huge? Heading towards a big change? What is the staff like? In doing research, I discovered one church that described itself as “progressive” and politically-liberal, which got my ears perked up, but something seemed off, so I did more research and found that this was less of a church and more of a group of “spiritually-minded” people who used the life of Jesus as a “guide.” I may be pretty liberal, but my spiritual life is defined by my belief that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that the Bible is God-breathed. All of my big problems with Jesus and the Bible are related to how people interpret these two things. 

It seems shallow, but how a church’s website looks is pretty important to me. If it looks really outdated, odds are the church is very traditional and doesn’t spend a lot of time trying to get new people into the building. While there is a place for churches like that, they aren’t for me. I want a church that is in the world, (though not of it), and committed to reaching out to the unchurched and burned-out through the language of my generation. At the same time, I want a church that is also committed to caring for their flock; a lot of churches are so focused on outreach and growing that they don’t have the resources necessary to deal with the problems their current members might have. 

That is what made me interested in the church we went to. They have ministries for both outreach and “inreach.” Their website was clean and attractive, and they have four campuses. The one we went to was small, but not so small that it felt awkward. The speaker was a stand-in because the head pastor is on vacation, but there was enough there to get me interested in coming back. I just want a church that doesn’t make me angry with its message, or really bored. There are the churches that drive a hard right political line, and then those that just mask any opinion at all and are so concerned with not creating controversy that they don’t talk about much of anything. I don’t need a church that’s liberal. I just need a church that doesn’t try to judge me or shut me up because I’m a liberal. 

That’s a hard thing to figure out. It takes a lot of time. My fear is putting a lot of energy and time into a church and then find out they expect everyone to picket Planned Parenthood with them or something. My usual strategy has been to avoid all churches altogether, but I can’t do that forever. I want to have friends that share my spiritual beliefs. A church is pretty much the only place to find that. So I’m taking a risk. Erg. 

 

Image source: 

http://htlutheran.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/feet-walking.jpg 

Is It Worth It?

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..my question for those evangelicals is this: Is it worth it? Is a “victory” against gay marriage really worth leaving thousands of needy children without financial support? Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth losing more young people to cynicism regarding the church? Is a “victory” against gay marriage worth perpetuating the idea that evangelical Christians are at war with LGBT people?

            -Rachel Held Evans

I’m exhausted.

Every day, through news and through people I know, I see a divide growing between “Christian love” and actually daring to love. It’s become an act of rebellion against fellow Christians to stand up for LGBT, for pro-choice, for strangers in this strange land, and even for the poor.

The title of the article Rachel wrote (from which the above quote is from) is called “How evangelicals won a culture war and lost a generation.” This is what Christianity in America has become. A war. Love looks like a sword, but instead of destroying powers and principalities that oppress, that sword is slicing through people and then the wielder dares to say “I love you.” It’s become more important to “make a stand” than to serve the needy. World Vision did not reverse its decision to hire married homosexuals because it had a change of heart. Thousands of Christians were “making a stand” and threatening to abandon their sponsorships. Pastors exhorted their congregations to “make a stand” and stop financing World Vision. Sure, there are other organizations that do similar work, but isn’t that more about how you feel than anything else? You abandon one child to just pick up another? So everything is fine? WV admitted that the reason they backed away from their revolutionary decision was because they had not considered/consulted their partners and their supporters. They had not expected that kind of fury to rise up from the ranks of kind, selfless Christians and actually threaten the state of their organization.

This is the biggest news in the culture war as of late, but there are others. I have seen the film “Noah” simultaneously mocked, and from others shunned as demonic. None of them have considered that perhaps this movie was not intended for them. Perhaps it was intended for an audience that is sick and tired of white-bearded and (frankly) boring Sunday School stories, and is more accustomed to action heroes who cut instead of pray their way through evil and do things that most of us would regret later. Russell Crowe’s Noah is more than a little rough around the edges and the religion of his cinematic world looks like more like Wicca than Christianity, but what the hell, is this surprising? This is a world that is further from the Ten Commandments than the number of years the US of A has existed, and it’s a world where there is little to no divide between the spiritual and physical realms. Is Noah supposed to just fold his hands and sadly shake his head while outside his door humanity is raping and murdering itself into oblivion? This generation is moving farther and farther away from traditional Christianity and as my family has said, perhaps this movie will at least get their attention again.

The war rages on. Discussions on abortion are littered with words like “murder,” a clear attempt to consciously or unconsciously shame those struggling with the decision. Behind closed doors, I have seen discussions where the abortion topic is saturated with unveiled death wishes upon pro-choice women, name-calling like “bitch,” “slut, ‘whore, and “c–t.” There is no distinction between women who voluntarily have abortions with those who have to choose between preserving their own lives, or inflicting both their death and the death of their child upon their grief-dizzied families. To these people, anyone who has an abortion is a murdering whore, or at the very least, an ignorant, selfish victim of politically-liberal ideals.

My convictions continue to separate me from supporters of “traditional” evangelicalism. I have had my Christianity questioned in ways as direct as being told I am “straying from the straight and narrow,” to micro-aggressions such as vague questioning of how anyone could be a Christian and believe what I believe. I am terrified of attempting to go to a church because I have no idea what kind of opposition I might face when my beliefs inevitably come out. I am not alone in this increasingly bitter pulling away from evangelicalism and instead of looking inwardly, I find that Christians are blaming the generation they are losing, claiming we are losing our morals, becoming infatuated with “political correctness” and “liberal propaganda,” or are just plain stupid.

Maybe we’re just fed up with being told we have to rally against our neighbors in order to be a good Christian. 

 

 

A Big Happy Family: The Rules and Rituals of Relationships at a Conservative Christian College

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Let’s go back to my freshman year of college at a conservative Christian institution.

That feeling of “not being good enough” haunted me, though it was more complicated than that. It wasn’t as if I devalued myself, that I thought I was worthless. I knew I was a good catch, but I just wasn’t the fish anyone wanted. Whenever a boy talked to me, threw a smile in my direction, I fell in love. I wrote lists of what I wanted in a guy, which included traits like “quirky,” “honest,” and “confident.” My fixation on a relationship filled me with guilt and my journal was interspersed with lists of valuable traits in a guy and hard-edged promises to focus on God and holiness. I was torn between a desire to be loved and a desire to be autonomous. My school taught me to find my satisfaction in Christ but also continuously shoveled teachings about marriage and gender roles at me, making it impossible to not be aware of how single I was.

I cast myself as some kind of long-suffering heroine in a tragedy. The different one. The one who waits and waits but no one comes. Some people pass by, fascinated, but they never stay. They care for a time, I know they do, but my problems don’t have an expiration date and people get tired. I get that. It hurt to think that people just stick around for as long as they do because they feel sorry for me. It’s pity. That’s the worst. It’s like a zoo exhibit for The Sad Girl. Please do not feed. You visit for a while, feel bad for the poor creature all locked up, but it’s getting late and it’s awkward to just stand around.

Paranoia believes that every kind word or encouragement is a forced gesture. Any sweetness became overbearing. I became angry with people who spouted their buzzwords and vague assertions about hope and pain. It was impossible to connect with someone who didn’t seem to have their feet planted. I just ended up kind of swatting at them, trying to get a grip, trying to cling to their stability. Maybe I scared them away. I wasn’t sure what to expect of people. This was a Christian college. We’re a big happy family, right? Not total strangers. That’s what they told us when we lined up in chapel and were told to sing with our hearts and clap with our hands. All in one room, me with hundreds of other kids, but I still felt like a bruised fruit in a perfect bowl.

On my floor, there was a group of students who were into a more radical form of Christianity, and being more familiar with that, I adjusted my spirituality to fit in more. I believed there was power in what we did, no appeal to God ever goes to waste, but nothing I did seemed to alleviate the depression or loneliness. I realized that I felt more fulfilled during a simple conversation with a person who seemed genuinely interested in me than with an hour-long prayer session. Eventually, I became exhausted with the hysterical spirituality I found myself involved with, but I still hung on the fringes, reluctant to sever the only connections I had.

Being at a conservative religious school has made me disillusioned with Christian establishments. There were so many rules. We had to go to chapel five days a week; they scanned our ID cards and kept a record, so if we missed more than our allotted number of skips, we got fined. I didn’t even have people to complain to; everyone seemed to think it’s a reasonable thing to ask of students. Some girls said, “If you enjoy going to chapel and it makes your day a bit more Jesus-filled, what does it matter if it’s a requirement?” Except I didn’t enjoy it and it didn’t make my day more Jesus-filled. It was a bunch of announcements mostly, sometimes a special speaker, one who always seemed to talk about marriage.  One chapel in particular annoyed me so much that I live-blogged it to my brother. The speaker talked about how waiting for the right person was important and to enjoy being single, and then ended with a story about how when he accepted that about his life, he met his future wife two weeks later. How very convenient. At another smaller chapel I attended to try and avoid a fine, a young married couple took questions about how to live a Godly life as a single person. A young married couple. They were, I don’t know if I mentioned this, married. Everyone who talked about how to be single was married.

For a class, part of our homework was to keep a journal with a Bible verse each day. I couldn’t even be real about it, I had to turn it in as part of my grade, so it wasn’t even a real journal. It just made my skin crawl, turning worship and the Bible – the two main tenets of the Christian faith – into things that were scanned, measured, and graded. I felt like I was the only one who was really angry about all of this, like really, red-faced angry. It made me feel even more isolated and vulnerable to feeling like I was somehow “better” than other people because I was so aware of the injustices and hypocrisy bearing down on a rabble of young minds.

Was this narcissism? Believing in all of this? Even though being in pain sucked, it separated me from other people. It made me unique. I sat alone and wrote depressing poems, shaking my head at the nuzzling couples and giggling cliques. Oh, you foolish children. How could you understand the depth of life’s agony? And even if you do, you have a symphony of love around you to keep you from drowning. Unlike me. Poor, sad me. Trying to pull myself out of self-pity usually made it all worse. I was self-centered and angry for being self-centered. You. Stop. Stop being depressed and so full of yourself.

Linked In

It’s pretty exhausting to think of profound things to say some days, so I thought I’d follow in the footsteps of one of my favorite bloggers (Sarah Bessey, author of the upcoming Jesus Feminist) and share some links of some cool things I’ve been into lately. I’m always surfin’ the web, so let’s hang five (or four, to be specific).

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How To Substitute Sugar

This is a super handy page, it gives you the ratios for different kind of sweeteners, like honey and agave nectar.

http://www.myrealfoodlife.com/part-3-how-to-substitute-sugar/

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The “Good Guy” Myth

This little essay challenges the popular “friendzone” term and the belief that girls always pick a-holes, leaving the “good guys” on the sidelines. Just how “good” are these “good guys” if they get so upset that a girl doesn’t want more than friendship from them?

http://sites.duke.edu/develledish/2012/01/30/the-good-guy-myth/

ImageTeen Creates Bio-Plastic From Banana Peels

A young scientist from Turkey finds a way to replace the petroleum-based plastic lining in electrical cables with banana peels. Whaaaaaat?

http://www.freshfruitportal.com/2013/07/02/teen-creates-bio-plastic-from-banana-peels/?country=united%20states

Image“God Bless America” and Republicans: How The Song Became An Anthem of Conservatives and the Christian Right

This one’s a bit controversial (I’m a political person, I often fuel controversy), so feel free to discuss. This essay is taken from a full book on the subject, and examines how and why this song has become more closely associated with Republicans than Democrats. I would go further and say that patriotism is very often claimed by conservatives as being “a conservative value” and it can be isolating to those who don’t agree with them, as if not being a Republican means you “hate America.” On Facebook, a huge number of patriotic fan pages are dominated by conservatives; it’s pretty difficult to find a page that isn’t so clearly biased.

http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/culturebox/2013/07/_god_bless_america_and_republicans_how_the_song_became_an_anthem_of_conservatives.html