Friday, December 30, 2022

Ya Did Good 2022!

Looking back, 2022 was an AWESOME year!  After the doldrums, stress, and tragedy of the pandemic, it was great to have a year where pretty much everything went right (minus a bout with kidney stones).

Started the year with a Ghost/Volbeat concert!  Hit a lot of movies, played disc golf.  Mary Lee got teacher of the year at her campus.

Got to see Sponge in March.

Joined my brother to visit my mom in Florida and had a great time with my cousins!

Saw Jesus Christ Superstar.

Wrapped up my 30th year of teaching then drove out to Cali to see a reunion concert of one of my favorite bands of all time – UNDERCOVER!  It had been about 20 years since I had last seen them.

Then I accompanied ML to a student medical competition in Nashville.  We spent a week at the biggest hotel I have ever seen.  During that week I got to see Lori and Marianne, two of my oldest and dearest friends (somehow, I don’t have one picture of us together… must be on everyone else’s phones).

A week later, after many attempts, I finally made it down to Mazatlán!  Paradise!  A day after that trip, Kathryn and I headed to Vegas to see the legend – Frankie Vallie!

Then my mom came into town and we caught two concerts and saw some wild ski jumping in Park City.

The fam did a guided hike in the mountains toward the end of summer and Jake and I got in some pool time.  I also taught Kathryn to play chess on a giant board.

Then our friends the Merrills took us on a tour of Capitol Reef.  I had been there a number of times before but these spots you can only get to via Bronco.

I got to spend most of September as a character in “The Mousetrap”.  I had so much fun in that show!

Then the wheel of time took a big turn as our darling daughter struck out on her own and moved into an apartment. 

I had never been out to Lake Tahoe before, so I spent fall break there disc golfing.  So beautiful!

The fam spent Thanksgiving in San Diego – we went to the Zoo, the USS Midway, lots of beaches, and plenty of amazing restaurants.

Went with my buds to see Bill Burr… no pictures in the arena… they sealed our phones at the door.

“Coffee Church” has become a Chreaster fellowship, but we still had an excellent Christmas party!

A walk among the lights of Luminaria heightened the holiday spirit.

Finally, our Christmas Eve tradition of hearing the choir at the Cathedral of the Madeline.

Thanks 2022!  Ya did good!

Saturday, December 17, 2022

Bring Them To Church?

I read this on Facebook:

"Bring them to church‼️‼️ Saturate their lives with the Word of God. Even if they lay on the floor. Even if they need 437 goldfish and a sucker to be quiet. Even if you stand in the back swaying back and forth holding them. Even when it’s hard. Even when your row looks like a small hurricane just came through. Bring them to church. Let them see you worship. Let them see you pray. Let them see you running toward the Savior ... because if they don’t see and learn these things from you, who are they going to learn them from? 

The world will teach them it’s not a priority. The world will teach them it’s okay to lay out, not to pick up their Bibles. The world will direct them so far off course, confuse them, and misinform them that just being “good” is enough. The world won’t teach them about Jesus. That’s our job. 

Bring them to church‼️‼️"

Oh... the messages of conservative/fundie Christianity. 🤢🤢🤮  When they start using the phrase "the world" as a pejorative, you know you are about to enter a dark episode of the Twilight Zone.

"The world will direct them so far off course, confuse them, and misinform them that just being “good” is enough."

There is so much wrong with this sentence... and it sits at the core of the unhealthiness of this form of Christianity.

First, it is an invitation to a lifelong mental hampster wheel.  Jesus said that his yoke is easy and his burden light... but this perspective is anything but.  It keeps the believer in a perpetual state of feeling they don't measure up, that they have never done enough, and even what they have done is somehow tainted.

Second, it makes "good" suspect.  A believer of this stripe gets to negate the work of their fellow humans.  In my faith community, the work of great people doing great deeds was routinely brushed aside as having little value.  A life of character formation founded on good behavior and good deeds often gets replaced with vacuous piety. 

Third, the insecurity of never being good enough becomes a bludgeon that leadership uses to keep congregations in line. 

Lastly, it creates a chasm that divides the believer from their neighbors.  Under this thinking, the believer really only feels comfortable around those in their faith- as "the world" (everyone else) will only try to confuse them, misinform them, and direct them off course.  Responding to life this way sets up a vicious circle of behaviors and attitudes in the believer that make them want to separate themselves from their neighbors... and makes their neighbors happy to let them do so.

And then these believing parents encourage one another to drag their children into this.

Monday, December 05, 2022

Going Back To Christianity?


The latest podcast from Bart Campolo is an interview with a man who deconverted from the Christian faith only to convert back later.  He refers to his time out of faith as atheism.  

I am always suspicious of this declaration while simultaneously being hesitant to doubt the declaration.  I was a Christian for about 30 years and many Christians interpret my leaving as evidence that I was never one in the first place.  Would I not be doing the same thing to doubt his conclusion?


Still, I wonder if it is merely a misnaming of an event.

I live in Salt Lake City and I know a number of folks who have deconverted from Mormonism.  However, not all of them became Atheists.  Many ended up in some other Christian denomination.  Others slipped into less definable spiritualities focused on energies, crystals, and auras.  

There is a difference between leaving "A" faith - and leaving faith.  For about a year or so after I left Christianity, I researched other religions.  Yes, I had left Christianity... but I had to be something... right??  My belief in the supernatural and "something else" being out there was not gone.  Even once I had made the mental transition to atheism, it took a while before my heart and the superstitions burned into my psyche were on board.

So, when I listened to Josh's story... I don't hear a once atheist.  I hear a guy who became less than dazzled by his faith... had his 40 days in the wilderness... and then landed in a different version of his faith.  

I suppose people can be atheists and convert back to faith.  

But, more often than not, I think describing one's transition time as "atheism" just adds drama and street cred to the story (whether the teller is intentionally doing so or not).
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