When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways, Part IV – the Finale

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The final chapter in a series in which I explore the spiritual, social, and political ramifications of the evangelical movement of the ’70’s and ’80’s through the lens of my own experiences growing up in a white Protestant church in the rural midwest.

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Most ideological wars have asked young people to do the heavy lifting. There are reasons we send teenagers off to fight our wars, after all, and it isn’t merely that they are the most physically able. It is that they are the most psychologically willing — willing to risk their lives, to conform to a strict ideology, to take risks in order to prove their mettle, make their marks and earn praise for their bravery and sacrifice. In some ways, they are our strongest; in others, our most vulnerable, and easiest to mold into a particular shape. Not to mention, if you really want your ideology to endure through generations, there’s little point in trying to recruit an army of 85-year olds to lead your charge. Pastor X recognized the importance of a strong youth movement, and was particularly engaged with the church’s youth group. It was there, more so than during Sunday morning sermons, that the real evangelical message was being driven home.  Continue reading When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways, Part IV – the Finale

When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways and Became and Full-Fledged Young White Republican, Part III

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Part III of a series in which I explore the spiritual, social, and political ramifications of the evangelical movement of the ’70’s and ’80’s through the lens of my own experiences growing up in a white Protestant church in the rural midwest.

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1980 was a particularly shitty year for me. For starters, my family was going through some tough times. It was around then that my father got laid off from his job, as the factory he worked at in Toledo began its rust-belt slide toward extinction. Money was tight. Stuff happened. There was a tremendous amount of tension. I became so tense, in fact, that I began unknowingly walking through life with my shoulders scrunched up, like something was physically wrong with me. It took a moment of brutal honesty from my younger sister to even make me aware of it, and months of deliberate practice to begin to learn to undo it.  Continue reading When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways and Became and Full-Fledged Young White Republican, Part III

When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways and Became a Full-Fledged Young White Republican, Part II

Part II of a series in which I explore the spiritual, social, and political ramifications of the evangelical movement of the ’70’s and ’80’s through the lens of my own experiences growing up in a white Protestant church in the rural midwest.

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I didn’t start to really become interested in the church until around 1979 or ‘80, shortly before it changed pastors for the second time in just a few years. I was too young to know the full story behind the latest change, but it wasn’t hard to imagine that things with the pastor at-the-time may not have been going so swift. Something about him didn’t seem to quite fit. He was a large, disheveled man who sweated profusely and lived in one of the filthiest houses I had ever seen. I knew this because he and his wife had three sons close in age to my siblings and me, and I spent a little time at the parsonage, albeit not much. I think their middle son, who was my age, may have been embarrassed by the home’s condition, so we didn’t go in very often. But when we did, the place was almost indescribably messy, so heaped with clutter it was difficult to even navigate through. There were towers of dirty pots, pans, and dishes stacked on every available surface, with cats teetering atop, licking whatever they could find, which was ample. The house smelled like . . . well, what you might expect under such conditions.  Continue reading When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways and Became a Full-Fledged Young White Republican, Part II

When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways and Became a Full-Fledged Young White Republican: Part I

Something was stirring in America’s white, Protestant churches back in the 1970’s. A movement was afoot — one that would eventually influence, directly or indirectly, nearly everything that’s happened in this country since. It would eventually result in a near-perfect marriage of religion and conservative politics, and would touch nearly every corner of domestic and foreign policy, from labor unions to reproductive rights to marriage equality, gun control, energy policy — even foreign policy and war. It would also shape and refine a particular image of God, one that is angrier, less tolerant, and more totalitarian than other conceptions. As a kid at the time, I had no idea any of this was occurring, or that I would come to experience a part of this movement directly.  Continue reading When Jesus Abandoned His Slightly Hippie-ish Ways and Became a Full-Fledged Young White Republican: Part I

80 from the ’80’s

FullSizeRender (1)Ok, so this one is just for fun: 80 albums from the ’80’s. To be clear, I don’t dwell in the ’80’s or in it’s music, really. But it was a formative decade— where I spent the entirety of my teen years plus some— and one that continues to inform a lot of my thoughts and tastes today. And there was some great music back then, especially lurking just below the surface, blasting on college radio stations, or sneaking out from this independent label or that.  Continue reading 80 from the ’80’s

On Rainbows And Shadows

As everyone now knows, last Friday, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision effectively prohibiting states from denying same sex partners the right to marry. It was the culmination of a long series of legal battles, and a key moment in a much longer civil rights struggle dating back several decades. Since the decision was released, the world of social media has predictably erupted – with reactions ranging from celebratory cries of joy and support, to angry shouts of derision and disgust. I’ve watched as people I know, or once knew, weighed in on both sides of the issue–from actions as simple as changing their facebook profile pictures the colors of the rainbow, to posting dire, end-of-the world prophecies. Until now, I’ve mostly kept quiet.  Continue reading On Rainbows And Shadows