Some (Probably) Unhelpful Observations On White Tribalization

I couldn't find a picture that perfectly represented whiteness, so here's a lumbersexual.
I couldn’t find a picture that perfectly represented whiteness, so here’s a lumbersexual.

Not too long ago, I read an article, which I forgot to bookmark, on why white people shouldn’t tribalize. I skimmed the article, and when I found it to be a meaningless bit of political correctness, quickly dismissed it. But the idea did stick in my head.

I’ve been in quite a few different Christian circles during my years of Charismania, and one of the more strange and amusing things I’ve heard is Christians saying that they have found their ‘tribe’. The handful of times I’ve heard the phrase, it’s been white American Christians who said it, and it’s always been funny to me.

This idea of ‘white tribalism’ has always struck me as weird. Is there a such thing as white people forming a ‘tribe’, like Africans, Native Americans, or other cultures? It’s a funny idea to play with in my head, like an irregularly-shaped bit of sanded, colored glass. Those of the ‘politically correct’ persuasion will say that such things sound like the KKK. I just think it sounds weird.

The only time I find the paradigm of ‘tribalism’ halfway useful is when I hold it up as an abstract idea against the metaphorical background of Christianity, specifically the Body of Christ–and when I look at the Body, I don’t see a ‘tribe’. In my emergence from Charismania towards Anglican orthodoxy, I’ve found that being united with others of ‘every tribe and tongue’ a much more useful idea than being a part of an isolated ‘tribe’. Israel was a nomadic tribe before the Tabernacle of David and Solomon’s Temple, but once Christ came, did Christians become nomads? I think Christians became a family, God’s family, and when they attempted to institutionalize Christianity, things went seriously awry. Where Christianity became compartmentalized (cloistered), it became useless. Where denominations were formed, wars started, either physical or ideological or both, and resulted in nothing good

It’s hard for me to take white or black supremacists seriously any more, because I understand their paradigm to a degree, but find it completely useless. Biologically, I am a person of English and Irish descent, so I have fair skin that burns easily, and I live in America. I’m angry at the American government, and I’m voting for Trump. But I don’t identify with ‘white people’, per se, because ‘white people’ is such an odd term. It brings up images of 1950’s nuclear families or ‘white trash’, both of which don’t describe me at all. I think of myself as either an American, or a Christian, or an Anglican. Playing around with different labels for myself is a fun thing, because I’ve never found one that adequately describes me. I think that might be a providential thing.

I feel sorry for those who don’t feel like they have a tribe, or a culture, especially white American Christians. Christian orthodoxy, for me, has been a journey into the Body of Christ, an entrance back into true Christian culture. Where I felt disconnected before, the weekly participation in the Sacraments and the daily conversation with fellow Orthodox Christians (those of Catholic and Anglican persuasion), along with the musings of writers such as G.K. Chesterton, have made me feel connected again, part of the Body, part of the Vine again. I think that’s the way it should be.

(In writing this article, I attempted to find a way to extend it to apply to unbelievers, but couldn’t find a way to accomplish that. I guess you can form whatever groups you like, but I don’t think you’ll find any deep, lasting, heart satisfaction in any ideological other than that of the family of God, the mystical body of Christ. Any other paradigm is subject to the changing whims of man, tossed about on the seas of moral uncertainty.)

Christian Orthodoxy Will Save The Muslim World

photo-1465328610639-388f315eb31bAfter watching this video where a Muslim converts to Christianity, and an exhilarating discussion on Twitter yesterday with a Catholic and a fellow Anglican (I myself am Anglican and part of an Anglican Church of North America church), I’ve come to a conclusion–well, rather, a hypothesis:

Christian orthodoxy will save the world.

Specifically, the Muslim world.

What Islam has going for it is a relatively organized system: several holy books (the Koran, the Sira, and the Hadith), the life of a figure regarded as ideal or holy (Muhammad) for study, and decrees (fatwas) issued for clarification of Muslim law (Sharia) by figures in a central authority (mufti).

If that doesn’t sound like Christian orthodoxy gone horribly wrong, I don’t know what does.

We have our holy books (the Bible and occasionally the Apocrypha), the life of a figure regarded as ideal or holy (Jesus) for study, and decrees issued for clarification of Christian doctrine and practice by figures in a central authority (the Pope, the Archbishop of Canterbury, or, in the case of the ACNA, Archbishop Foley Beach).

While Catholics, Anglicans, Lutherans, and Episcopalians disagree on the doctrines issues raised by the Reformation (Martin Luther really did a number on the Church, both for good and for bad) and social issues (mostly regarding sexuality), all of these bring some semblance of order to unstructured Christianity. Nondenominational churches will most likely never be palatable to an orthodox Muslim who has converted, because of the disorganized nature of things and the continual disagreement between denominations as to how far to go with post-Reformation theology.

Please note that in the former paragraph, I used the word ‘palatable’ not to mean that we change Christianity to suit Islam–conversion without the radical heart change introduced by the Holy Spirit is not conversion!–but that we welcome Muslims into the body of Christ not just through conversion, but also baptism and the other Sacraments into our holy fellowship.

In other words, we invite them into Christ’s Church, but we also give them the structure necessary for former Muslims to have the grounding and satisfaction that comes from hundreds of years of Christian orthodoxy–the Sacraments, the succession of bishops, all of it.

Now how do we implement this? I’m not sure, but I think it might be happening already. I do know that Anglicanism is already spreading throughout Africa and that we have missions organizations. I imagine the Catholic Church does too. If we are already there, then shifting to the Middle East shouldn’t be so hard to do. The only thing I would add to traditional missions work is including weapons training, so that new Christians can protect themselves. If a Muslim gives their life to Christ only to be murdered the next day, what has the Church gained?

The United States government, as it is now, cannot be trusted to protect Middle Eastern Christians–they bring in Muslims almost exclusively. Whether Europe can be trusted is doubtful as well. Christians are going to have to do this by ourselves–but this is probably as it should be. Orthodox Christians need to have the backbone of the Crusaders, so that we–Christ through us–can save the world.

Article has been edited for clarification.

Christians and LGBT Community: Let’s Unite Against Our Common Enemy

Source
Source

In the the recent massacre in Orlando, the LGBT community has experienced a tragedy, such horror that has not been seen on American soil since 9/11.

As always, when homosexuals are involved, Christians (or those who claim to be Christians) express viewpoints ranging from the helpful to the unhelpful to the, pardon my language, bat-shit crazy.

Speaking for reasonable Christians, I am sorry for your loss and we are doing everything we can to comfort and help those in the gay community in Orlando who are suffering. I wish you all the best and will, personally, help you all I can. Continue reading “Christians and LGBT Community: Let’s Unite Against Our Common Enemy”

Toughen Yourself Up And You’ll Toughen Up Christianity

Via RoK
Via RoK

For men who want to be men, we have to fight two things: society and ourselves.

But it is fighting ourselves–or rather, toughening ourselves up, that makes us so we can change society.

I’m convinced that most of what passes for Christianity in America (and probably Europe too) is a pale, softened, feminized reflection of what the Apostles had and what their immediate predecessors had. Men were strong and resilient in the choice of certain death at hostile dictators and a backwards culture. They boldly led their wives and families around the known world to spread the Good News, without fear. Our generation, when we even make it to church, we tend to either hear feel-good messages designed to tickle the ears, or outdated ‘beam me up, Scotty’ theology that makes us wimpy Christians.

I’ve been at the mercy of feminized Christianity off and on for more years than I would have liked. I hung around with the hippies in the ‘prayer rooms’, trying to appease Jesus by singing songs at him 24 hours a day. I thought that spirituality was all about embracing Jesus as a Bridegroom, the whole Song-of-Solomon-being-a-parable-for-Jesus nonsense. (Today I take Occam’s Razor to the book and I see it as a book of romantic, sometimes erotic, poetry.)

I’ve seen Christians re-discovering grace, discovering that God destroyed sin and destroyed us on the Cross for our freedom. If you’re not preaching grace so it can be interpreted as a license for sin (the same accusation levelled at Paul), then you’re preaching it wrong. But what we see now is that the grace movement has emerged from the thought of an angry Father and Son to the image of…well…the land of teddy bears and marshmallows. Some of us went from the idea of an abusive God to the polar opposite: passive, loving, gentle, and never offensive. As always, the truth is in the middle, the via media.

When I think about a father, I think about my dad teaching me how to drive, yelling at me when I was stopping at a green light or missing nearby cars in my mirrors, laughing as I would make my second car, which had a manual transmission, buck like a bronco across the parking lot and then die. I think of long hours spent taking my old Buick Regal apart to replace the fuel pump and alternator. Burn myself or cut myself a bit? It’s all right, just suck it up.

Dads are there to toughen you up in addition to providing you love and stability. If half of the weak twerps on college campuses who call themselves ‘Social Justice Warriors’ (there’s nothing war-like about them unless they’re wearing bandannas and protesting; perhaps we could call them ‘Sad Jellyfish Weasels’?) had had a real father tell them to ‘suck it up’ and stop being so weak, there wouldn’t be a problem with that. But no, the millennials had absent fathers or distant fathers who didn’t know how to raise kids, or didn’t even want to raise kids. This problem with weakness and lack of strong guidance goes all the way back to the Baby Boomers, the original children of privilege. Fortunately, I was one of the lucky few Gen-Xers with an intact nuclear family and Christian values, which helped keep our family together and helped keep me together through all the years of hell I suffered at the hands of mental illness.

I want to help reshape the picture of modern Christianity. I want to see Jesus as a man’s man, a conqueror who laid down his sword and died for humanity, to defeat sin and the grave forever. I want to read Paul, Peter, and John in the context of strong men who walked for days and weeks on end, sometimes going without food and sleep, to tell people of Christ everywhere.

To do that, I need to become strong. I need to change my mindset. To do that, I am reading the book Gorilla Mindset by Mike Cernovich so I can toughen up my mind and body. Scott Adams’ How To Fail At Everything And Still Win Big is also important, and I plan to work on his persuasion reading list so that while I am strengthening myself mentally and physically, I can learn how to influence others for good.

The other nonfiction book I’m reading off and on is The Jesus-Driven Life, by Michael Hardin. I like Hardin because he embraces mystery in spirituality but he’s also a no-nonsense fellow who doesn’t pull any punches (at least as I have encountered him on Facebook in the past).

Physically, I am working on finding a good martial arts studio that combines sensible cost with a serious attitude towards the study. I’ve figured out a way to make myself watch my eating and lose weight by making a system out of it: making it like a game. I don’t want to share any details on that yet because I’m only five days into it and I want to make sure it’s a viable, sustainable system first. So far it’s working pretty well.

In order to shape the world around us, Christians need to get strong. There is plenty of good we can be doing in the world–defeating globalism, socialism, feminism, Cultural Marxism, racism, immorality…all sorts of clear and present dangers. The dragons we have to slay now are not physical, but are ideas in peoples’ heads that are weakening us and causing them to be susceptible to every whim of the poisonous culture around us. Sometimes these ideas are helping weaken our countries’ borders and making our citizens unsafe. We, as Christian men, should be doing something about that.

As Christians, we should be leading the world. As men, we should be shaping Christianity into an effective force. I want to see Christians with backbone, modern Crusaders with guts who can stand up against Islamic invasion, globalism, and liberal insanity.

In order to fix what’s around me, I am fixing myself, by the power of Christ within, and by good guidance. Are you strengthening yourself? If not, isn’t it about time?

‘You Call Yourself A Good Christian?’

photo-1461829576572-c5fc8ed06ae9“You call yourself a good Christian?”

Nope. Stop. Stop right there. 
 
You’re trying to put me in a shame trap? It’s not going to work. (This happened yesterday on Twitter.)
 
I do not call myself a ‘good Christian’. Honestly, I don’t think I’m qualified to judge that. That’s above my pay grade. I follow Christ, I know his opinion of me, and that is enough for me.
 
Sure, I’d like to think of myself as a pleasant person to be around. My wife and kids think I do a good job, my friends like me, and my boss at work always gives me good reviews.
 
I’m also a moral person. I have a sense of right and wrong which is generally aligned with what normal people, not the MSM, would expect of an evangelical Christian. I don’t attack other people who violate my belief system. 
 
The moment anyone sets themselves up as a ‘good Christian’ anything, they have a target on their back. We have plenty of examples of Christian personalities and politicians who ascended the mountain of moral exampleship and found themselves getting buried in the landslide of moral failure on the other side.
 
I don’t claim to be perfect. Read my web site. I think I do a pretty decent job of explaining what an imperfect person I am. What a mess! Well, I’ve been a mess before. The reason I’ve been able to write this year, 2016, is that I have the emotional strength to write now. I’ve been pieced back together, and God has healed me enough to the point where I have a coherent backstory and some things to say. Hopefully a little of what I write will be helpful.
 
I do want my family and friends to be proud of me, and someday I would like it to be said of me, ‘I want to be like Stephen Shores.’ Even if it’s after I pass on. That would be neat.
But I don’t claim any goodness for myself. I don’t claim to be a good Christian. I’m probably pretty bad at it, to be honest! I’m terrible at being perfect, but I think I do a decent job of being honest, and I hope that shows.

Lead A Normal Life

Today’s song is Lead A Normal Life, by Peter Gabriel, off of his third self-titled album.

One of the reasons I like Peter Gabriel is that he doesn’t shy away from tackling issues in his music that other artists won’t touch. On this third album, he peered inside the mind of a burglar (‘Intruder’) and an assassin (‘Family Snapshot’), tackled world peace (‘Games Without Frontiers’ and ‘Biko’), various states of agitation (‘No Self-Control’, ‘I Don’t Remember’), and social pressure (‘Not One Of Us’).

On the second half of the album is nestled this quiet, simple, beautiful track, starting with the peaceful marimba and then, as texture, some muffled shouting in the background, which ceases before the marimba continues and the lyrics start:

It’s nice here with a view of the trees
Eating with a spoon?
They don’t give you knives?
‘Spect you watch those trees
Blowing in the breeze
We want to see you lead a normal life

photo-1441312311734-f44cc0bda31dI said this in a tongue-in-cheek manner on Twitter the other day: the reason I can talk about going crazy is the fact that I’ve been there. Mental health, like the tagline to this blog says, is a huge priority in my life, because it’s been something I’ve struggled with for years.

Several years ago, an undiagnosed anxiety disorder, combined with lack of sleep due to some medical issues led me to literally run away from home. As an adult. Twice.

The second time this happened, my family demanded I get help, and I let them put me in a mental health facility. It was a terrible experience–probably not quite as bad as prison, but close–but it was good for me, in that it was a wake-up call.

The years hadn’t been kind to me.

Years of legalism, piled atop a hidden mountain of undiagnosed mental illness, filtered through Charismania and a personal obsession with a wrong idea of ‘ministry’, all of these things combined to literally drive me crazy, to the point where I required medical treatment.

Now, let me tell you this: I am a Christian.

I want to let that sink in for a second. I am a Christian, and I have struggled with mental health issues.

The reason I want you to understand that is because there is a poisonous lie in the modern church that goes like this: “If you are a Christian, you cannot be mentally ill.”

Sometimes it takes a more Charismatic form: “Depression is of the devil.” “They have a demon.”

This is a lie.

The Church is a hospital, and I believe that most congregations have individuals with undiagnosed mental illness, who have come to the church to help, and have not received it.

In some churches, these individuals are shuffled off to the side. Out of sight, out of mind. They’re looney, but harmless. ‘We’re not sure how to deal with them, but they’re not hurting anyone.’

In other churches, the ‘demons’ are ‘cast out’, and the individual is told then that they are healthy and normal, when they are not. The unhealthy individuals are then recruited to ‘spread the Gospel’. This usually doesn’t work out very well, because normal people can clearly see that there is something wrong with these individuals, and nobody normal wants to associate with a Jesus being proclaimed by someone who is clearly mentally unstable.

This needs to change.

I am no pastor, nor preacher, nor teacher, but I encourage those of you who are, to study abnormal psychology, to study mental disorders.

Remember that the Church is not only there to carry out the mission of physical healing, but holistic healing: spirit, soul, and body, the wholeness encompassed by the Hebrew word shalom.

Those with a broken mind, broken emotions, are no less worthy of attention than those with a broken back or a broken leg. You might get less attention on stage, because mental illness is invisible, but if you are genuinely interested in helping people, all kinds of people, you need to learn how to heal all of these ailments.

Is it a demon? Maybe. I’ve come to the conclusion over the years, though, that I know almost nothing about demons, because all my ‘demons’ disappeared with medication and counseling.

More likely, it’s a combination of a problematic upbringing, wrong ideas of God, and sometimes (though only a doctor can diagnose this), a chemical imbalance that needs to be treated with medication.

This takes both discernment and education.

If you value your family, your friends, and your flock, please find out the signs of depression, suicide, and anxiety disorders. Online classes and information is freely available. I’m not saying to send them to the psychiatrist when a few sessions of counseling would do just as well. I’m saying that this requires both a spiritual sense and education, so you can really know what you’re seeing.

To those Christians who have been hurt by religion, who are on their last legs or the end of their rope: come to Christ. If you’re not at peace, if you are unable to find spiritual rest, please, get help.

If you can’t get help at the church you’re going to, pray and look elsewhere. Ask, seek, knock. You’ll find help if you look for it.

We, meaning Jesus Christ and myself, we want you alive, whole, and well.

We want to see you lead a normal life.

A Case For Christian Optimism

Today’s song is The Revealing Science of God, by Yes, off their album Tales from Topographic Oceans. A very uplifting song in my opinion, and appropriate because today’s topic is optimism.

A lot of Christians are rather sad because they’re taught that the world is bad and getting worse. Some support can be found for this viewpoint based on modern rapture theology. More on that in a moment.

This morning I found the quotes below. Yes, I’m ‘cheating’, in that it’s not scripture, but I found them inspirational:

Those that always search for good in the world and those that always search for evil in the world will both find their missions equally satisfied.

And this:

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places–and there are so many–where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

(Both quotes via Reddit)

I read a book on the ‘end times’ a few years ago called Raptureless, by Jonathan Welton, and I am convinced that the events spoken of in the New Testament and the book of Revelation have largely already been fulfilled in 70 A.D.. If you believe the Tribulation has not already occurred and that you’ll be beamed out of here before things get really bad, you won’t invest in the future because there’s no point.

I am largely optimistic of the future of the church because of the confidence I have in the Spirit of God, by whom ‘we shall overcome by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.’ He who began the good work in us will bring it to completion. Christ has not given up on us yet, and he never will.

Will there be a rapture and resurrection? Possibly. I leave that up to God. I don’t think it will look like anything we know, though, and I don’t think it will occur in my lifetime, because the Church has not overcome yet.

What I do know is that the Spirit of God is waking up his church to realize the power that he has already put inside us by the Holy Spirit. I believe we have cause to be optimistic overall.

One of the reasons I am optimistic about the power of Christ within to overcome all opposition is that I have seen that power clearly evident in my life! I am 37 years old, nearly 38, and have never been as mentally and emotionally healthy in my life. Every day is a day of overcoming old hang-ups and old fears that robbed me of joy before. Every day I feel the power of God working out the kinks in my mind, old mindsets, ‘strongholds’, that were keeping me miserable.

photo-1453230806017-56d81464b6c5The other reason I am optimistic is that I see in the Scriptures, especially in the book of Acts, an emphasis on believers and disciples of Christ overcoming the world. Threatened with beatings, stoning, and death, the Apostles and congregations making up the body of Christ repeatedly overcame all opposition, by being willing to serve Christ and others unto death if necessary.

Am I saying that we won’t go through persecution? Nah. We’re pretty much guaranteed, as Christians, that things won’t always be peachy. Matthew 10:

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour. For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Ack! Depressing, right? Nah. I see it as confirmation: you’re going to go through some hard times, but you’ll have wisdom available (‘be wise as serpents’), guidance as to what to say (‘do not be anxious…what you are the say will be given to you’), and supernatural endurance (‘the one who endures to the end’).

Paul is confident of that supernatural endurance in Philippians 1:6:

I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

and 1 Corinthians 15:10:

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.

Here is where I see the Church in the future: as an overcomer. Already we see the changing of the guard, in that those who have preached the old ideas of ‘Christ above’ and ‘Christ outside’ are passing on or becoming irrelevant, and more and more are awakening to the reality of Christ within, an inner anarchy against religious mindsets, if you will.

I am not a ‘seven mountains dominionist’, but I do believe that open-minded Christians full of the love of Christ, who have the revelation of and are confident of Christ within, will become leaders and teachers, increasingly relevant in a world that has become unanchored and leaderless.

I don’t look to a rapture or Christ’s return any time soon–though these are nice thoughts–because there is still so much to do! There are millions, even billions, who subscribe to theologies of anger and hatred worldwide. There are still oppressive governments. There are still hurting people everywhere. Not ‘every tear has been wiped from every eye.’ Who will do the wiping of the tears? I submit that it’s not after death and in heaven, but as we get revelation of Christ in us, that we will overcome, and we will wipe away every tear from every eye.

‘Why so downcast? Put your trust in God.’ Get in touch with He who works within, and allow him to wipe away your fears and anxiety. Look forward to today and tomorrow and every day, having the confidence that Christ within is powerful enough to overcome all opposition in your life, and when he has helped you and mended you, that he will help you help others overcome whatever opposes them.