Hope is social. You can tell how much hope you have by which way the people are moving in relation to your life. If people are dropping out of your life you know that you are in a hopeless situation because people are instinctively averse to hopelessness and they signal this by the way they act. Churches actually talk about hope a whole lot but when it comes down to it you can find out what they believe what constitutes a hopeful existence by the way they treat you. Generally if you have enough “life gems” (looks, decent job, car, house, SO, etc..) they will surmise you have hope. If not, not so much.
Christians generally have a public and a private position on the phenomenology of the faith. The public position is God giving blessings and never forsaking you, etc.. The private position is, not so much. It is understood, even by strong Christians, that God is vastly oversold. It is also understood that if he wasn’t, there would be a lot less Christians because let’s face it, in America everything is oversold. That’s why most people embellish their resume (because everyone else is doing it so one must to land an interview). People who don’t “experience God” are suspect, but there are a heck of a lot more of them (even strong Christians) than one would like to think.
The idea that “life is a gift” doesn’t apply to adults, particularly adults with disabilities. As an adult with a disability I know my life is certainly not a gift. I know this because if my life were a gift it would be received as one. This is why I’m an antinatalist (against humans propagating). If I were to have a child it would likely have one or more disabilities. I know from my own experience that as an adult it would be treated like crap in church. I get that Christians are natalists and pro life but it’s hypocritical to bring people into this world and then, if they happen to have a disability, let them languish.
Authenticity is an existential threat to Christianity. Generation Y and Z are not afraid to ask 3am questions at 8pm. This spells trouble for the church, especially because most churches are like a real life version of social media where we present our highlight reel while shoving our behind the scenes under the rug. Christians claim life works a certain way and God does certain things. But when your lived experience flies in the face of this Christian fellowship becomes a lonely, isolating place. When you are off their map you have to try to build a completely new map with a completely new social circle and this takes a lot of work, hurt, and effort.
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
Great article that is LGTQ+ specific but most applies generally;
One of the worst habits of Christianity is its tendency to assume that it and it alone is capable of providing meaning into the lives of those to whom it preaches. We LGBTQ+ persons, in fact, have been finding and creating meaning in our lives with and without Christianity throughout human history. If any church wishes to include us, it’s going to have to take seriously and be aware of our vehicles of meaning.
Most importantly, it’s going to have to be fundamentally non-judgmental about them.
We have for so long been excluded from churches and the spiritual lives of faith communities that for many, the idea of making meaning out of our experience is impossible through Christianity. Instead, we may look to New Age, Wicca, neo-Paganism, secular atheism and agnosticism, various “scenes” such as the leather or bear scenes, communities of gamers, intellectual pursuits, personal fitness, and so on. You will find it not uncommon for us to have developed full, rich, and deep mechanisms for living meaningfully in light of adversity, prejudice, and rejection. You will find deep and poignant understandings of what it means to be a family, to be in relationship, to be sexual, to be spiritual.
Christianity is like a health insurance risk pool. In a health insurance risk pool the healthy people have to join to balance out the sick people so the premiums don’t skyrocket. In Christianity the people on top (who have the least incentive to be virtuous) have to be as virtuous as the people on the bottom or the system collapses (as it is doing now before our eyes). It’s harder to be virtuous when you are on top because you have power and it becomes completely optional and is even detrimental in your quest for more power and control.
Christianity romanticizes things where the weak defer to the strong like forgiving, waiting and serving. But the strong are supposed to be doing these things as well. If they don’t the system breaks down. Especially because those at the top set the tone for those further down. People imitate successful people.
Two things for Christians:
Trust in the power of your prayers. This means if you are praying for someone you have to treat them as if that prayer was already answered. Otherwise you aren’t praying in faith. For example, if you were praying for someone to get a job you would have to treat them as if they already had one.
Things said about people on the margins are unfalsifiable. For example if you say God is near people on the margins. People who do not experience this will be silenced and ignored because they have no voice. Conversely if you make a claim about the most powerful people that is false, they will immediately shut it down and will be listened to.
What Growing Up White in a Black Church Taught Me about Racial Justice:
People don’t fight for justice as an abstract concept—at least not for very long. What they do fight for is people. They’ll fight harder for those people with whom they can more easily empathize, and they’ll fight hardest for those people about whom they care most. If white people are going to make a robust and lasting commitment to racial justice work, then intimate inter-racial friendships must accompany and sustain that commitment.
Christians are so turned off by people with disabilities because they display God’s inaction in action. They are kryptonite for prayer, their conditions often worsen instead of better with time. Christians are not allowed to resent God for his inaction directly so they do so vicariously through individuals with disabilities. That’s why people with disabilities often get treated worse in church than other places.
Has Evangelical Christianity Become Psychopathic?:
Every generation redefines what it means to be, or belong to a religious group. Religious ideologies, interpretations, and doctrines are fluid. But whatever it is, or whatever it becomes, is made by the people who belong to the religion and what they collectively decide to make it.
Great article, questions that killed my faith:
The idea that there is a God who wants you to feel loved by him simply isn’t true. Some people are good at feeling imaginary love and other people aren’t. It’s another placebo. For some people the effect is strong enough that it really helps them feel happy on a day-to-day basis; other people get nothing out of it. If it works for you, they will say “great, isn’t God’s love amazing?” If it doesn’t work for you, “just hang in there and keep trying, God won’t give you a bigger dry spell than you can handle, he really does love you, don’t expect that your needs are going to be met in any specific way because that’s arrogant and God’s ways are beyond our understanding.” If we believe that God will absolutely draw near to us if we draw near to him, and he isn’t drawing near to us, then clearly we aren’t doing a good enough job of drawing near to him.
A lot of critiques one levies against Christianity can be levied just as strongly against the therapeutic industrial complex (TIC).
Both are disingenuous about authority. In Christianity this takes the form of denying the faith is in fact a religion and making people think their opinions actually come from God and not religious authorities (that’s why they’re fine with people being attuned to the voice of God so long as it doesn’t go against their teachings). With the TIC therapists claim to be facilitating one’s own decision making process when they suggest things (the therapist I have to see told me to quit my job, which would have been bad had I done it). The problem is in order for therapy to work one must trust in the authority of the therapist (for example sleep therapy where the therapists told the patients not to have such anxious thoughts about going to sleep). One of the austerity measures in Britain was to force people on the disability roles to see therapists that would presumably tell them to get a job. This brings up another thread where the dynamic of the doctor patient relationship changes depending on who is footing the bill (so an upper middle class professional seeing a therapist on private insurance might use a therapist as a sounding board only where someone lower down will be more controlled by them).
Both include thought crimes. In Christianity this is obvious borne from Jesus’s teachings on lust and anger. The negativity bitterness is met with also seems to indicate Christians are culpable for their emotions as well. Things aren’t any better in the TIC. Sexuality is left alone much more in the TIC but other thoughts get banned. You enter the tyranny of self-esteem. Feeling bad about yourself (even if it’s warranted though reasons grounded in anthropology and common sense) is off limits. And to continue to do so just brings more guilt. Negative thoughts are almost always seen as bad even though they are often accurate and ground a person in reality. Treatments try to get deep inside your head and are really invasive with your thought processes with the promise of making you “healthy”. But often, like a half done house, these mechanics applied poorly are worse than them not being applied at all. People who can’t play the cognitive tricks needed to succeed in therapy are guilted the same way Christians who don’t experience God are (both require a brain way beyond mine).
Both have an unrealistic expectation for purity. In Christianity this is obvious, there is an emphasis on sinful things and not being good enough. In the TIC “unhealthy” replaces sinful as the term to stay away from though they are much less direct about this. The TIC tends to assume one has the material, social, and emotional resources to live a successful hyper individualistic life and if one happens to fall short of this they aren’t healthy. They demonize neediness because that implies dependence which is something to stay away from (plus a lot of people would see therapists less if they had good friends). People of lower means often don’t have access to “healthy relationships”, simply because people who the TIC deems healthy generally don’t associate with people the TIC does not. Like God’s perfection, being what the TIC calls healthy is an impossible goal only available to a small portion of the population.
Both pretend to care about you when all they want to do is control you. I understand there are caring therapists and caring people in the faith but these are a minority. Most people want to exploit and control you, it’s just that in some professions they have to do so while playing lip service to having concern for you. Remember that the religious people who tell you to take your experience of God seriously won’t be there to pay the mental hospital bills when you do. And therapists are not bound to what their work produces the way engineers are. If a bridge fails an engineer will often suffer the consequences. If a therapist ruins a life no one bats an eye. In fact because patient confidentiality and the itinerant nature of that kind of care they more often than not will never know.
Article on Christians’ reaction to the Orlando Shooting:
Believing that I don’t have the right to exist exactly as I am is hatred. Fighting against my civil rights is hatred. Believing that Romans 1 applies to me and that I’m therefore “worthy of death” is hatred. Referring to my existence as an abomination— which has happened to me multiple times over the last few days– is hatred. One man on my public facebook page told me I was abomination, that my existence was just as evil the eyes of God as mass murder, but then two comments later said that he “loved” me and “mourned the deaths in Orlando”!