New Interview with John Shuck’s Religion for Life!

 

Tonight my brand new interview on the syndicated radio program Religion for Life airs at 8pm EST on NPR affiliate WETS 89.5 FM out of Johnson City Tennessee. If you are not within broadcast range of Johnson City, you can listen live on their website.

For those who’ve not heard the broadcast, “Religion For Life is an exciting program that engages listeners in a subject few media hosts are able to discuss–religion. Religion is too important a topic to be left alone and too controversial to be left to the zealots. People do want to hear intelligent programs about religion as it relates to politics, sexuality, science and more. Religion For Life is a half hour program that explores the intersection of religion, social justice, and public life from an educational point of view.”

The host of Religion for Life, John Shuck, is a Presbyterian Minister who works with the Jesus Seminar. John has interviewed “religious scholars including Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell), Brene Brown (Daring Greatly), Harvey Cox (The Secular City), Candida Moss (The Myth of Persecution), John Shelby Spong (Re-Claiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World), Barbara Kingsolver (Flight Behavior), Lawrence Krauss (A Universe From Nothing), and many more.”

The blurb about my interview says, “Charles “Chuck” Shingledecker cares about religion and about matters of faith. He cares so much that he is willing to engage in the honest searching tradition of apophatic theology. The fruit of this search is his book, Freedom to Doubt. He puts his inquiring mind to work doubting biblical stories and theological doctrines and shows that doubt, not fear, is the beginning of wisdom.”

I am humbled and honored to appear on John’s program that will air on multiple radio stations across three states (I will continue to post updates) over the next week. And beginning July 10 it will be available for download to listen to via iTunes and other podcasting media.

On this weekend, on which we Americans celebrate our Independence and Freedom from oppression, let us Christians always be reminded that Christ sets us free from the bondage of fear and grants us the freedom to question, the freedom to seek answers, and the freedom to doubt!

 

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The real reason publishers/editors reject 90% of the manuscripts submitted

I recently saw a self published author claim that the reason their manuscripts (be they novels, non-fiction, short fiction, or poetry) were constantly rejected by publishers is because traditional publishers (and specifically the big 5 New York Houses) “won’t take chances on new authors.” Contrary to popular opinion, publishers (even New York) do publish new authors — every year.

When someone claims that publishers refuse to publish new authors they’ve just shown, in one sentence, their complete ignorance of the publishing world — not to mention their lack of experience reading in whatever genre they’re writing in. And yet, they still expected a NY house to take a “chance” on them? Please!

This is not my attempt to trash self-publishing. I love self publishing. I’ve bought self published books that are FANTASTIC! The Martian by Andy Weir, was originally self published and it is one of the greatest Hard Science Fiction novels in at least 20 years (since Red Mars was published). This is not a knock on self publishing. But if you do self publish, claiming that the big publishers (or even small publishers) have it out for you and refused to publish your work because you’re new, makes you sound a little bitter.

The truth is, no one has it out for you. Assuming your book is written at a publishable level, the worst that might have happened is some editor let your manuscript slip through the cracks. That DOES happen. Probably more than it should. But if your book isn’t picked up by a publisher, 99% of the time it’s simply because, as a writer friend of mine (and slush reader) said, “The rejection isn’t because we’re not willing to take chances, it’s simply because the piece isn’t good enough.”

Yes, yes, yes . . . there is a subjective component to this. Editors have their specific tastes and what works for one person may not work for another. That’s why you have to keep submitting. Eventually you’ll get to an editor who likes your work and will want more. And if your work isn’t up to a pro-level quite yet, then take the next piece of advice of my writing/slush reader pal when he says rejections “shouldn’t make you bitter. Shouldn’t make you think we don’t want to take chances (because we do.) It should make you want to write more. Write better. And submit again.”

No editor or slush reader has it out for you. More than likely you began your book with a mirror scene, a guy waking from a dream, some dude sitting around thinking about his existence or any number of other boring cliches that editors have seen one too many times.

I’ve written all three of those boring cliches too. But now that I’ve become a better writer (by listening to pro writers teach the craft) I now see those cliches for what they are — stupid! You might find those cliches interesting. But would you really want to read about a character (other than your own) describing themselves while brushing their hair? I doubt it.

I’m not writing fiction at a pro-level, yet. But I will be, some day. I just need to keep practicing. (Or so I tell myself!) Do rejections get me down? Yup! But I might have a somewhat unique experience in that, even though I’ve not had any of my fiction published yet, I am a two time published author with two different publishers (small/medium presses). I was rejected by a a couple of agents — probably because I suck at query letters. But did that get me down? You bet it did! Did I “give up” — nope. And eventually both of my religion books were published. I’m not saying this to brag — I’m saying this to point out it is possible to get published, even if you’re a new writer. Even if you’re a nobody. It does happen. It happens every year.

Like all human endeavors, an in-group/out-group mentality can and does play a role in the publishing world. But seriously — this “NY has it out for the little guy” spiel is the biggest load of crap I’ve ever heard. New York publishes new authors every year. And if you hone your craft, you will more than likely be one of them, eventually. Could you be one of the people that slips through the cracks? Yes. In that case, go self publish. But do it because you WANT to. Because you’ve studied it. Researched it. And have concluded this is best for your and your work. I have two writing pals who fit into this category. They don’t even want to try for a traditional publisher. They prefer the control self publishing gives them. That’s awesome! And I cannot wait to purchase their stuff and do what little I can to encourage others to purchase it too. If you fall into that group — GO FOR IT!!! This blog isn’t addressed to them. It’s addressed to those who try and set up an us vs them mentality or claim that the publishers just HATE the little guy, etc. That is simply not true. We are ALL writers. And whether we choose traditional or self publishing, we should be supporting one another and encouraging one another.

Editors want to see cool, well written stories. And if you study the craft, you’ll eventually get there. I’m seeing it at work with a significant portion of my fellow writers who attended The Writing Excuses Out of Excuses Retreat in 2013. Will ALL of us get published? I have no clue. (A few already are! At least one is a quarterly finalist in Writers of the Future.) But I do believe a number of them will get published — either self published or traditionally published. Will I be one of them? That’s my plan! And only time will tell.

When my manuscripts are ready (a long way off) I may decide self publishing is the way to go. But if I do, it will be because I’ve put a LOT of thought into that decision and I can promise you I won’t be arguing that New York had it out for me. It will be my decision and that manuscript will go through just as rigorous a process as it would have had I gone the traditional route – including the comprehensive editing process my editor at Tellectual Press walked me through.

But that’s still something many months away. For now, I’m just writing. And in fact, that’s probably what I should be doing now!

 

 

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Art is not free!

The more I read about the attitudes of people siding with Amazon, the more frustrated I get. If you want QUALITY entertainment then you need to pay for it! Too many Americans in the last 10-15 years have developed the mindset that the WORLD exists to entertain them for FREE!

You know what? The world really doesn’t exist for that reason. People complain that the publishers (and even authors) make too much money. Maybe that is true for some of the mega-stars. I would definitely agree that it’s true when people like Bill O”Reilly “writes” a book about Jesus every other month and rakes in $20 million dollars for his own spin on Christian apologetics. But generally authors aren’t making $20 million per book. Only celebrities who then become authors make that sort of money. Authors who become celebrities do not.

And yet if they did, this isn’t about THEM. It’s about the mid-lister who makes a living writing, but isn’t in any sense financially wealthy. THEY are the ones who are going to suffer — along with new writers like Brian McClellan author of Promise of Blood. (A book I didn’t care for but I HOPE he makes a solid living doing what he loves!) It’s about some of my favorite writers like Carrie Vaughn and Bree Despain, who aren’t mega-stars that can afford to have their pre-order and buy buttons pulled from Amazon.

I also scratch my head when I hear people (especially self-published authors) ask “well, what do publishers DO anyway?” What do they do? They employ hundreds of people. A minimum of 5 to 6 work on each and every book you see in a bookstore. Publishers have acquisition editors, content editors, copy editors, proof readers, art designers, type setters, computer software experts (for e-books) marketers, publicists, and dozens of other people that are involved to bring a SINGLE book into existence.

Some people claim that all of these people are unnecessary in our day and age, what with the ease of self publishing. But I guarantee you, you will NOT find a self published hardcover edition of a 1000 page book with magnificent cover art, beautiful typesetting on archival paper, art work, maps, etc. These books cost a LOT of money to produce because everyone involved makes their living doing these things.

Yes, there are TERRIFIC self published books out there! There are HIGH quality self published materials in book, comic, art, and many other forms. I am NOT trashing the hard working self published writer who works their butt off to produce quality stories and quality materials. But anything of quality has undergone the same rigorous process that a publisher will put a book through. And if an author has put the time, blood, sweat, and hard work into making a project the BEST it can possibly be, these people DESERVE to be compensated. The idea that we entitled Americans can just get all our entertainment for FREE or for less than it cost to actually produce the work is egocentric bull crap!

As a friend of mine once heard at a writers conference: writing is like prostitution. You don’t give it away for free!

The same goes for ANY art form. Artists are not the trash of society. Artists are the people who lift us up when we are down. They are the people who inspire us. Make us question our cherished beliefs. Artists are one of the things that makes life worth living. This goes for both traditionally published and self published authors. You WILL find poor quality in both. But when the quality is high, we should pay for it!

I’m not happy with Amazon. Yes, it is a battle between giant corporations. But the answer is NOT for every author to just flock over to CreateSpace. IMO this is precisely what they want. And of course, the moment that were to happen, they’d be like those big “evil” NY Houses — deciding who and what gets promoted. We need competition, if not for the sake of the art itself, for the sake of good story telling that is readily available EVERYWHERE. Not through a single vendor.

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Kim Harrison blogs about the recent Amazon/publisher war

Kim Harrison, author of the The Hollows series of Urban Fantasy novels, blogged about the ongoing Amazon vs Publisher battle. She raises some very interesting points in her post here!

I added a comment to her blog, and because I wanted to repeat several points here, I’ve decided to just copy and paste my thoughts here.

 

I didn’t read Kim’s post as her say anything negative about the quality of Indy published books, authors, or the worlds they create. The point is that they are two distinct methods of publishing. Just as there is no one way to right a book, in our day and age, one way is right for some people, the other way is right for other people.

I admit, I LOVE catching those e-book sales where The Hollows series was $1.99 or Way of Kings was $2.99. I also get frustrated by some books NEVER going on sale. That IS frustrating. But, the idea that I should pay $5 for a brand NEW release is just ridiculous. How are authors going to actually earn a living if they aren’t making any money? The answer is they won’t be able to make a living writing, which in turn means we won’t get their books anymore because now they have to go work at Wal-Mart (or teach, or whatever else.) We, as the reading public, will have just shot ourselves in the foot and killed what we love, simply because we thought paying $12 was too much for an e-book.

I get it. Sometimes that DOES feel like it’s too much, and that I’d be better off just buying the hardcover for a few dollars more. OTH, I can comprehend better reading on my Kindle. (Dyslexia, smaller screen, etc). Plus I can read my Kindle in bed and not risk dropping a book on my head. :)

And yet I, as an aspiring novelist myself, know writing is a LOT of work. I’ve attended retreats and studied the business and know just how MUCH work and how many people are involved bringing a project to the public. I know self published authors. I love the ease of self publishing now days. But thus far, no self published author (who wasn’t already BIG name via conventional publishing) has produced anything even remotely as beautiful as a brand new hardcover edition of The Undead Pool. Forget something gigantic like Words of Radiance.

If we SF/F fans — and book fans — want to be able to have these beautiful hardcovers, or even well put together Trade Paperbacks. we can’t refuse to buy a book because it’s $10 for an e-book, particularly if it’s a new release.

Like others have said, I LOVE my Kindle so I can just tear through a book anytime I want. I have far more e-books than I do paper books at this point. But . . . but, I buy older titles at the discount. And that’s so much FUN. It is what got me hooked on The Hollows not to mention other series and authors. But a brand new release should be a give away.

A book gives us anywhere from five to forty hours of entertainment (depending upon size of the book and the speed at which someone reads). If we just go by the length of time an audio book version of The Hollows, let’s average it to ten hours. Where else are you going to get 10 hours of entertainment, emotion, joy, sadness, desire, fear, release, and get to feel like you KNOW the characters — all for $10-$15 dollars?

Of course I admit, I’m somewhat of a hypocrite here because sometimes I do wait for the price to drop. It IS hard to see paying $15 for digital content and have nothing to show for it. OTH, isn’t my experience the content I’m looking for?

Perhaps that’s the publisher solution is to charge $25 for hardcover + the e-book for free. Or Else the e-book costs $15. I’d be willing to pay for that on a brand new titled that I really want to read.

Again, older titles I see as slightly different and I do love looking for those sales and new authors to try out.

It’s a complex issue and I’m GLAD Kim blogged about it.

****

 

I wanted to drive home the point that if authors cannot make an actual living anymore from writing the books which we love so much, then we will no longer get their books.

I’m not saying I know what the answer is (though I think that hardcover price, two for one deal would be sweet). But it’s important for people to understand the image of the multi-zillonaire writer working three days out of the year is simply a myth. Yes, some authors ARE quite wealthy. But writing seems to be one of the FEW business in which a large number of people think the producer of the work shouldn’t actually get paid.

Well, that’s fine. Don’t pay them. But if that’s how you feel, don’t expect them to produce anymore books either.

 

 

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Amazon playing hardball, hurts authors and readers

 

While in the midst of contract negotiations, online retailer and purported bookseller Amazon.com has attempted to make New York publisher Hatchette Book Group an offer it can’t refuse my making many of Hatchette’s titles (for example Christopher Hitchens’ God is Not Great) unavailable for timely shipping. And when I say unavailable for timely shipping, I mean you’ll have to wait 2-5 weeks. Not days. Weeks — even with the now more costly (and cost prohibitive) Amazon Prime membership.

Evidently, this is not a new tactic as you can read in this article from the New York Times.

I guess I’ve been locked away in the theological vault for far too long because this tactic, which I see as dirty pool, is news to me. And to be honest, I’m quite upset about it. I’m so upset that I’m asking everyone out there to please consider purchasing your physical books from places other than Amazon.com. Preferably Barnes and Noble AND your local Independent bookstores.

I’m not calling for a boycott. A full out boycott would only hurt independent, self published authors and small press published authors (like myself). I have a new Kindle Paperwhite and I LOVE it. I’m not going to stop reading my Kindle or purchasing Kindle e-books. However, if a physical book is available from somewhere other than Amazon, even if the price is a few cents more, I’m going to purchase at the alternative retailer. Yes, I might have to wait 5 days, but it’s worth it to me, as a book geek, to make it clear that I do not approve of authors being screwed and the reading public being screwed due to corporate negotiations.

Amazon is a great retailer. Their customer service has always been a pleasure for me. to deal with. I know many people who’ve self published through CreateSpace. I know many small presses also use the CreateSpace printers to sell their books. I’ve rarely had a problem with anything I’ve ordered from Amazon. And when I have,  they’ve dealt with it. I will still shop there. I’m not going to pay $30 more for some piece of electronics just to boycott Amazon. But I am going to try harder to find comparable prices for the same item elsewhere. And, with the exception of physical books that are ONLY available through Amazon, I will no longer purchase physical books from them.

Books, stories, and education are too important to be a part of the creation of a book monopoly. We need to do what we can to support our local bookstores and B&N. Yes, I know B&N has it’s own problems, but they are still a bookstore. If we, the reading, writing, and author community loses B&N, it will be one more check in the Amazon power box.

However, if you don’t like B&N then please at least buy from a local bookstore. They do still exist and we need to support them. Now more than ever. Is it more expensive? Sure. Sometimes it is. But you know what? A three to five dollars more for a gigantic hardcover edition of Brandon Sanderson’s Way of Kings at your local, Indy bookstore, isn’t going to break you. Yes I know that five dollars can be a LOT of money. Believe me, I understand this far more than I care to discuss. But at some point we have to prioritize. And I’d rather give up $5 worth of something else (an extra pint of ice cream, that $5 movie in the bargain bin) to support authors, literature, book stores (especially in our local communities) and BOOKS!

I’m not hating on Amazon. I’m not asking people to boycott or throw away their Kindles. I love my Kindle and will continue to love it. However, what I am asking is for us all to be more cognizant of what we buy and where we buy it. It doesn’t take much extra time. It really doesn’t.

Support Amazon as much as you want. They’re still a good retailer. But as a book geek I implore you to please support BOOKS first, along with those who dedicate their lives to writing, educating, and entertaining us all.

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My Interview with Strange Frequencies Radio is now online!

Last Sunday afternoon I was interviewed by Strange Frequencies Radio. We discussed my books The Crazy Side of Orthodoxy and Freedom to Doubt. We tackled the nature of faith, doubt, and whether or not Christians can and should doubt their religion’s teachings. We dove into my personal struggle out of fundamentalism and into a more progressive form of Christianity and it was a fun time. My interview starts the second hour of the program.

It is always interesting to discuss religion with those who now identify themselves as non-believers, but seem to appreciate those of us in the Christian world who can be honest and open about our struggles and doubts. Both hosts are really great guys. I’ve often found that non-believers are often more open to where I am spiritually than many believers. (Though that’s not always the case.)

This week I also recorded another radio program, but since it won’t air until sometime toward the end of June, I’ll keep that under my hate for the time being. But stay tuned.

PS: Content Warming for Strange Frequencies: they do not shy away from using curse words (typically in a humorous context) though I don’t recall that during the interview. So if that is a concern for you, you may just want to skip ahead to the second hour when my interview begins. But really, it’s not that bad and all in good fun.

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I will be on Strange Frequencies Radio, Sunday April 27th!

I will be on Strange Frequencies Radio, live tomorrow afternoon. The show airs from 3-5pm EST, and I will be on during the second hour of the program to discuss my books The Crazy Side of Orthodoxy, Freedom to Doubt, and the nature of doubt and whether or not Christians should be encouraged to question the core tenants  and traditions of their faith.

Give a listen in, or if you can’t catch it live, their programs are archived and available for download via iTunes and other podcasting media.

The Crazy Side of Orthodoxy is available in paperback from Regina Orthodox Press’s online store, and on Kindle from Amazon.com and Freedom to Doubt is available in Trade Paperback and Kindle e-book format at Amazon.com.

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Jesus was not Superman!

 

Today on Facebook, I was having a discussion with a friend about Jesus’ humanity then minutes later stumbled upon this picture of Jesus as Superman. It’s a funny picture.  But it raises an interesting and — as a Christian — troubling point. How many Christians think of Jesus in precisely this manner? I’d wager a lot.

Coming from an historic, classical Christian tradition (Eastern Orthodoxy) allow me to say this: If you think of Jesus as a real life version of Superman then you really, really, need to reflect on what it is you think you believe — and perhaps more importantly, why you believe it.

According to historic Christian theology, Jesus was not Superman! He was not A Superman (like Star Trek’s Kahn). In fact, if we could travel back in time and give the Jesus who walked on earth a DNA test, his DNA would look like any other 1st century Jewish person’s DNA. It would NOT have extra helixes or be more tightly wound like Leelu’s in The Fifth Element.

Jesus’ DNA would be 100% plain, old, boring human DNA. That means he had all the same limitations we have. It means that “he didn’t have super strength, couldn’t leap tall buildings in a single bound, caught colds, and got splinters. It means he didn’t know everything, didn’t invent the toaster, and may have done things that some people find “unbecoming” of God, like blowing one’s nose or — God forbid — using an outhouse” (Freedom to Doubt, p. 121, 2013).

This has been settled, historic, orthodox Christian theology for nearly 1500 years.

Jesus was not Superman!

He didn’t glow in the dark or walk three feet above the ground. He couldn’t survive drowning, burning, or the beating shown in the Mel Gibson film The Passion of the Christ. No normal human being could have survived that long enough to make it to the cross. That’s not — Christianity.

If after reading that last line, your first thought is, “but Jesus was God!” then you might think Jesus was Superman, and are — unwittingly — diminishing his full humanity. It’s okay. I used to do that to. It’s just how we’re taught to think about Jesus. But it’s not a picture of Jesus found in the gospels, and it’s not what classical Christianity believed for 1500 years.

Not trying to start a gigantic argument here. I’m only trying to give people something to think about during this Holy Week when we claim to believe Jesus died as ONE OF US. But if Jesus was MORE than us (had super special DNA) then he wasn’t ONE OF US. And if he wasn’t one of us, is he our savior?

No answers. Not from me. Just something to ponder during this Holy Week.

 

Cue hate mail

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Good, bad, and everything in between!

 

I’m often asked why I’m so critical of the Church, Christianity, and religion. How can someone, who still claims to identify themselves as a Christian, be so darned negative?

Well, the answer is simple: I’m out to undermine all that religion, Christianity and the Church stands for. I’m out to destroy people’s souls, to corrupt the minds and hearts of everyone who reads anything I write, and to seek revenge on all those people and communities who have failed to live up to the teachings of Christ. In the end, I reject 2000 years of Christian tradition and have replaced it with a corrupt, Satan inspired modern, post-enlightened form of secularism and humanism! Why? Could it be . . . SATAN!?

Can you hear how silly that sounds when you say it out loud?

It’s as stupid as a Baptist telling me (an Eastern Orthodox Christian) that I literally think a picture of Jesus is Jesus himself. (BTW, Baptists don’t seem to have a problem kneeling in movie theaters and helping people give their lives to the Christ on the big screen — even though the Christ on the big screen is always some heretical version of Jesus!)

My answer above sounds silly. Or, I hope it sounds silly to you. But from some of the reactions, follow-up comments, and emails I receive, that appears to be the answer many people expect me to give. Or more accurately, it is the reason my critics tell me I’m critical of religion.

But just step back and think about it for a minute. Read my faux answer above just one more time, and tell me if that makes any sense to you at all? Maybe it does. If so, I’m very sorry. There is nothing that I can say that will convince you otherwise. You are not a part of my audience, and that’s okay. You can pick up a copy of the Purpose Driven Life.

For the rest of you, who have been genuinely perplexed about why I’m critical of religion, allow me to answer: I care!

Say what? How can someone who writes blog posts, articles, and entire books criticizing the various aspects of religion, CARE?

Well, I do.

Martin Luther cared. St. Francis of Assisi cared. Martin Luther King Jr. cared. And yet all these men were VERY critical of the religious world in which they found themselves. And all three were called various and horrible names throughout their lives. Because they cared.

No, I’m NOT like any of those men. I do not have the courage of Martin Luther. I do not have the dedication and love and patience of Francis, and I do not have passion and heart and self sacrificial nature of MLK. But I do care.

And that’s it. I’m a passionate person. And yes, I’m outraged by what the Church, Christianity, religion (whatever you call) it has done in the name of Jesus. I’m outraged Christianity has pillaged the Jewish Scriptures, ripped them out of context, and pretended they say things that they do not say. I’m irritated that our Christian book shelves are filled with spiritual fluff telling us how awesome we are, how beautiful our faith is, and how five year olds “died,” went to heaven, and saw Anglo-Saxon Jesuses (Jesusi?) instead of coping with real problems in the real world.

I’m angry that Christianity marginalizes all those at the bottom of the totem when it is the bottom of the totem which is most important. I’m angry that Christianity — a religion supposedly based on the teachings of Jesus — can be more concerned with secular power, wealth, and defining itself by who is excluded. Above all, I’m angry that Christianity, and Christians, spend more energy trying to cover up these flaws than they do trying to fix them. I am angry, but only because I care.

If you read my books, you will see that they always end on an “up” note (after I drag you across broken glass, and a bed rusty nails). I’m not the sort of person that can fake emotion. Which is both a blessing and a curse. I’m passionate about the flaws found in my faith, but I’m equally passionate about my own, personal experience of faith.  I am not the boogie man come to take away your precious myths, be they Biblical, theological, or historical. But I’m also not someone who only writes about the positive side of faith. I’ve always hated those types of books. And it isn’t what I want to write.

For me, faith has given me as many negatives as it has positives. And so I write about both. I will continue to do so. Not out of hatred for God, the Bible, history, theology, or the Church — but because my faith is a part of who I am. Good, bad, and everything in between. It ALL deserves to be confronted. I do that in my writing because I want others to know that confronting the negative is just as legitimate as praising the good. It’s all part of the life of faith — or, at least it should be.

 

 

 

 

 

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I am a progressive Christian, and I am intolerant!

 

When I first watched this video of Franklin Graham I was so enraged that I began writing an article on everything that is wrong with Mr. Graham’s radical statements and bizarre Americanized, modern “theology.” But I paused and decided to not give this man any more publicity than he deserves.  I thought it was better to ignore people who are this wrapped up in their own, twisted, theological world. I was wrong!

Christians, and especially non-Christians, need to know that this form of self absorbed Bibliolatry — if one can even call it that — is not acceptable to a large, unheard from segment of the Christian population.

The video is shocking. I have never seen such evil spew from someone as well known as Franklin Graham. It’s beyond reprehensible. Even if you are a Christian who believes that homosexuality is a “sin,” would you dare to speak about other, fellow human beings in this manner? It’s not so much what he says but how he says it. Okay, that’s not entirely true. What he says is disgusting. But the tone of disdain he uses to say it makes his words so much worse. There is no hint of compassion, love, or empathy with those for whom he believes are sinners in need of repentance. He is just filled with disgust and smirks about that disgust throughout the interview.

Half way through the interview he complains that people like him are “demonized” for their “opinions.” This has become a common refrain within Conservative Christian circles within the last couple of years. Liberals and progressives , they say, are “intolerant” of their “Christian values” and that this intolerance is grossly unfair. Liberals and progressives do not like to be called “intolerant,” and so far too often we will smother those we criticize with niceties: We merely disagree with Franklin Graham. We just want to represent Jesus in the best way possible. We want to shine the light of Christ’s love and cast out the darkness of hate. That’s all good stuff. But I think it is time we progressive Christians own up to the fact that we ARE intolerant. Let us own that intolerance and declare it, boldly!

I am intolerant of the vitriol and hate Graham uttered in this video. I am intolerant of his words, his bad theology, and his weird, self aggrandizement. I am intolerant of intolerance and I think we shouldn’t be afraid to say that! The Conservative wing of Christianity sure as hell isn’t afraid to proclaim what they believe. It is time we stand up be speak boldly, even if we are labeled as intolerant. 

Yes, I am intolerant. I’m intolerant of ignorance. I’m intolerant of fear. I’m intolerant of Bibliolatry. I’m intolerant of intolerance!

Our faith has been hijacked by theologically and biblically ignorant people. We need to take it back. Not through the physical sword, but through our love, our actions, and yes,  sometimes through our bold and intolerant words.  I say, let’s take the intolerant label — that cross — upon ourselves, and be intolerant of anti-Jesus beliefs! Doing so doesn’t mean we hate anyone. It doesn’t mean we cannot be friends with our Conservative brethren. But it does mean we will no longer hold our tongues and cower in the corners of our churches hoping beyond hope that some level of sanity will find it’s way back into our faith. Nothing will change unless we stand up and proclaim that we want that change. So let’s stand up, and loudly proclaim what we believe, do not believe, and the things of which we are intolerant!

Yes, I am a Christian. And I am intolerant — intolerant of the kind of language that drives more and more people away from the One whom we claim is the creator of all.

 

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