My Own Search for Sunday: Or What Rachel Held Evans’ Work Meant to Me

So about…3 years ago, I found myself in the unenviable position of realizing that what my church was preaching was not what I was believing. If you don’t know the reasons why I was becoming disillusioned with my church it’s not my story to tell, but suffice to say that towards the end of my college years I turned from being an arch-conservative into what can best be described as a Social Democrat with an accompanying lurch leftward socially that my church and the larger group that it’s a part of don’t, and won’t, find acceptable. It was during this time that I was branching out into more progressive Christian spaces and writers and it was on a cruise to Bermuda that I read a book that had a profound effect on me and my walk with Christ and put me on a path where I have now found myself in the Episcopal Church. Specifically St. George’s Episcopal Church in Carmichael.

The cover of Rachel Held Evans' book "Searching For Sunday: Loving, Leaving, and Finding the Church" the picture is of a field of flowers with a small church in the distance with a round tree next to it with dark clouds at the top of the scene. The author's name and then the title and then the subtitle are in the top half.
The more Christian books that have covers like this the better.

Rachel Held Evans’ book “Searching for Sunday” (hence the post title) details her journey from someone that was a devoted believer in the fundamentalist/evangelical movement to someone that was struggling with doubt in their faith to someone who had found a church movement where they could feel welcome. Like I mentioned earlier, the time when I started reading this book was a time where I was going through my own journey similar to hers. I too was going from the evangelical community towards a more progressive/mainline community with a small pit stop at doubt along the way. Granted, my journey wasn’t anywhere as dramatic as hers, thus a blog post rather than a full book, but it was similar enough that her book spoke deeply to me. After I was finished with it I experienced a serene sense of calmness about my faith and what was going on in my life. It still took a fair amount of time before I left my previous church and found my new church family in the Episcopal Church, but I was definitely on that path and moving towards my new faith life and church family.

In addition to her books, Ms. Evans had an active social media presence on Twitter, Facebook, and her own blog. On all of those platforms she was a prominent critic of the Religious Right and fundamentalism. Watching her there was another instance of seeing that there was more than just the Evangelicalism of my youth out there. She consistently spoke truth to the powerful members of American Christianity and uplifted and pointed towards members of marginalized communities when they pointed out how their experiences with Fundamentalism and Evangelicalism were different from hers. She was a great example of how to use one’s platform for the betterment of everyone, not just your own identity group.

Rachel Held Evans was an huge reason that I am the Christian that I am today. We didn’t agree on everything, but we most definitely agreed on how Christianity should look to the outside world. Our Christianity is one that welcomes the oppressed and inflicts those in positions of power with the reality that their positions and policies are those that go against their professed beliefs. We both believed that Christians should support policies that would help the least of us rather than the most of us and that the Church should be inclusive of the LGBT+ community and that women should be equals in church governance and pastoral positions.

Rachel Held Evans sadly passed away on May 4th after a brief illness that occurred during the latter weeks of April and the beginning of May. She left behind not just a great collection of writing about the Bible and Christianity, but a husband and two children. She will be dearly missed by all of us in the Progressive Christian camp and I’m sure by some of those who disagree with us.

If you wish to help the Evans family in their time of need there is a GoFundMe that was set up for them here.


Yes, Years Are Arbitrary and People Will Die in 2017

That doesn’t mean you get to be a jerk about it. We get it, we do. The calendar arbitrarily changing to 2017 isn’t magically making everyone immortal. That doesn’t mean that 2016 hasn’t been a horrible year for many of us when it comes to celebrity deaths. Many icons died this year, and on top of that the year has a whole has been pretty crappy for many people.

When it comes to celebrity deaths people don’t mourn because they actually knew the person, they mourn because those people helped them know themselves. Carrie Fisher was a hero to many a woman with mental illness and addiction and a sign that it can get better for you. David Bowie and Prince were heroes to men who don’t fit the typical view of masculinity. Alan Rickman was a prominent member of a franchise that has literally spawned activist movements and according to studies actually makes its readers better human beings.

That’s also not to mention the other ways this year has been exceptionally crappy. Fascism is on the rise at home and abroad with Nazis literally becoming a prominent political force in the U.S. and other right wing populist factions gaining followers abroad. Looking at you France, Brexit. And with that increase in fascism comes the real fear that traditionally oppressed minorities will have their lot in life made even worse than it is at the moment. One only has to look at certain political platforms to realize why people are afraid.

So yeah, when people are mourning celebrities and saying “F*** 2016” they’re not thinking that when we arbitrarily decide that this is definitely a new year and a distinct unit of time that’s real instead of just a method for our human minds to be able to compartmentalize and not shut down at the idea of the immensity of time that no one will die, what they’re saying is that “This period of the Earth orbiting the sun has sucked because of these reasons and that’s why I’m sad.” They don’t need your sanctimonious “I’m sure no one will die in 2017.” or “Time is arbitrary and so 2016 isn’t what’s killing people.”

Because yeah, we know.

Art Is Not, Has Never Been, nor Should It be, Apolitical

When Vice President-elect Mike Pence attended the musical “Hamilton” on Broadway, he was addressed from the stage by the current actor portraying Aaron Burr with a message from the cast, crew, and producers. Essentially he said that the cast were representative of the diverse America that hoped Pence and the administration he was representing would protect all citizens of America. Pretty innocuous, if you’re not a conservative who thinks that diversity and equality means oppression.

The reaction from the Conservasphere was fast, predictable, and oh so wrong. They denounced the cast for their actions and for making the performance “political” like art should not be political, and isn’t inherently political. Here’s a tip, art has always been political. From the earliest attempts at art on cave walls art has been political. Hieroglyphics? Political. Greek Statues? Political. Roman Architecture? Most definitely political.

This idea that art has ever been apolitical is just wrong, and the belief that comes with it that art should not be political is dangerous. Believing that there’s nothing political in art leads to complacency, and an inability to look at art critically. Every piece of art, be it movies, music, sculpture, painting, embroidery, theater, television, books, newspapers, comics, everything, is political. There is always a message behind a piece of art, some of them aren’t as open about their message as others, not everyone is “Hamilton”, but all of them have a message. Even those that say that they “have no message” have a message. The fact that they are professing to not have a message is a message unto itself. Terry Pratchett was specifically talking about Fantasy writers and their dependence on Tolkien, but his point is extremely relevant. “J.R.R. Tolkien has become a sort of mountain, appearing in all subsequent fantasy in the way that Mt. Fuji appears so often in Japanese prints. Sometimes it’s big and up close. Sometimes it’s a shape on the horizon. Sometimes it’s not there at all, which means that the artist either has made a deliberate decision against the mountain, which is interesting in itself, or is in fact standing on Mt. Fuji.” The idea that your art is apolitical is itself a political statement.

And for that matter, art shouldn’t be apolitical. Art has the unique ability to change culture, and influence people. If you aren’t making a statement with your art you have no story. Themes are political by nature, and if you don’t have a theme in you art you have no plot.

Art is political, realize that, and stop being disingenuous about what it is.

Evangelical Christianity Needs to Take a Good Look at Itself

Honestly, the way that many of my friends and fellow Christians have been conducting themselves in the past few months honestly makes my skin crawl. Between the support of the absolutely deplorable politics of Trump, or the reaction to Jen Hatmaker saying “Hey, maybe we shouldn’t tell LGBT+ people that they’re not inherently going to hell based on who they are, and maybe we’re mistaken about homosexual relationships.” you’d think that the message of Christ was “Take advantage of everyone you can, enrich yourself at the expense of the poorest among you, degrade those that are unlike you, and don’t love your neighbor.” Which, maybe I’m missing some lessons from my youth, but I don’t remember that being taught in the kids department. Granted, that would probably be a better message for many people that claim the mantel of “Evangelical Christianity”, but that’s not what Jesus said now is it?

What was it that Jesus actually said? Something like, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” “Take care of those less fortunate than you.” “Don’t judge others or you will be judged the same.” Personally I feel that last one might be the most pertinent for many of my fellow Christians. Especially those that choose to judge Hillary Clinton by the actions of her husband (who she clearly has completely under her control since she’s a witch, or is it because she’s in league with Satan? I can’t keep up with the inanity these days.) but yet excuse Donald’s many, many, many, many, many, many, many, instances of cheating contractors, misogyny, racism, xenophobia, hatred, and oh yeah, HIS MANY FASCIST TENDENCIES! He has literal Neo-Nazis and the KKK supporting him. If that doesn’t tell you that maybe you shouldn’t be supporting him. I don’t know about you, but if I’m on the same side of the KKK, I would take a good long look at why that may be the case.

And I hear you over there my Christian Libertarians “I’m voting for Gary Johnson! I’m absolved of any of this!” Sit down. The Libertarian Party’s plans are horrible for the least of us. If that phrase sounds familiar it’s because it’s a paraphrase of Matthew 25:39 (ESV) “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” The idea that the Libertarian Party’s platform is better than the current GOP platform is laughable. The only good thing about their platform is that they care about civil rights. Their economic policies and ideas about government are horrible for the country and horrible for people that aren’t rich white guys.

So right now Evangelical Christianity has to come to a conclusion. Do they continue on this path and eventually, in my opinion, lead themselves into irrelevancy and eventual oblivion? Or do they repudiate the Fascist candidate their party nominated and hope that they can try to regain any respect they may have had from the public at large. Because at this point the way that they are going, we’re looking at an increasingly irrelevant church that doesn’t attract new converts.

Orlando Was a Hate Crime

Say it with me “Orlando was a hate crime.” This is the consequence of homophobia being accepted, and coddled in society. There’s a reason the shooter chose to attack a gay nightclub, and it’s because he hated gay people. You know what wasn’t the reason? Islam. According to the shooters family he wasn’t a practicing Muslim, he didn’t pray, he didn’t fast during Ramadan, he wasn’t a practicing Muslim, he was just an angry homophobe who decided to shoot up a gay nightclub.

“But Nick!”I hear you shout convenient strawman “He pledged allegiance to ISIS in a phone call! That means he’s a muslim extremist and this is ISIS’ fault!” No, no it doesn’t. Anyone can say that, hell, I could say I was pledging allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II but that doesn’t mean she’s responsible for whatever stupid crap I pull immediately thereafter. That’s not how this works. We have statements from his family that what precipitated this was that he saw two gay men kissing and he was angry about that.

So yeah, call this what it truly is, a hate crime against LGBT+ people, that was allowed to happen because Americans love their guns more than they care about people being able to live their lives. We can talk about gun control, but the truth is that Sandy Hook proved that Americans don’t care about mass shootings, they just love their guns too much.

And Republican lawmakers? Constantly attacking LGBT+ people and denying them basic human rights means you need to shut up and keep your “thoughts and prayers” to yourself. You do literally nothing to help prevent events like this from happening. Your thoughts and prayers are useless.

To My Republican Friends

You had one job! One job and you really screwed the pooch on it. All we asked was that you didn’t nominate a racist fascist in this election. Simple right?

Nope! Look who’s the the nomination. This idiot.


Which is just wonderful. As if this election wasn’t enough of an international laughing stock as it is now. What is it about Donald Trump that is appealing as a candidate?

Is it the overt racism that spews forth like a poorly written KKK stream of consciousness novel? The multiple failures as a business man? The low level vocabulary? The inability to make anything resembling coherent policy statements? The bullying on stage? The absolute travesty that he calls a hairstyle? What is it?

You couldn’t select John Kasich or Jeb Bush? Honestly I’d have more respect for the party if that was the direction it went in. Too bad y’all decided to crap the bed. Trump is the second worst choice as your nominee, so congratulations on not selecting Cruz. Which is kinda like congratulating your dog on puking on the laminate flooring rather than the bed. Technically it’s better, but it’s still pretty bad.

So congratulations GOP. You seem to truly deserve this candidate.

Is It Too Late to Accept The South’s Secession?

Honestly, at this point, with the South seemingly competing with itself to figure out “Who’s the bigger asshole?” I propose we reopen negotiations and accept the Confederacy’s secession and just let them go. Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee can go first, so that they can start building up a National Government. Then we can just slowly let the rest of the Southern States join the new government. Georgia seemingly had a good head on its shoulders so we can keep it on a provisional basis, but if and when it goes stupid we can just let them leave as well.

How do laws like the ones recently passed in MS, TN, and NC even make it through a basic “Am I being a dick?” test? Like, seriously. This is absurd. These people claim to be Christians and following the Bible, but what happened to “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Is this what you would want to have happen? Be an oppressed minority in a state that hates you? I know you like to get your panties in a wad about persecution  because the person at the store said “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, but grow up and and read a newspaper. True persecution of Christians doesn’t happen in America, it never has and at this point probably never will. You know where it’s actually dangerous to be a Christian? The Middle East in Daesh controlled territory. But what do we want to do with people fleeing Daesh? Deny them access to a safe country because they might be dangerous. It’s patently ridiculous.

Laws like these do nothing to actually protect people, and are passed for the sole purpose of oppressing minorities. How much hate do you have to have to want o go out of your way to harm people? Bathroom laws aren’t going to protect anyone, especially since the stated “Men will go in women’s bathrooms to sexually assault them” defense falls flat when you consider the fact that SEXUAL ASSAULT IS RARELY PROSECUTED! It’s not like if people who are transgender are truly going to sexually assault people that the cops are going to do anything about it. All these laws do is increase the risk of physical assault and murder for a vulnerable segment of society. Of course, the best part of this whole endeavor is the fact that more GOP senators have been arrested for misconduct in a bathroom than people who are transgender ever have. Let’s just let that sink in as we proclaim them as predators.

So congratulations the South, keep it up and maybe the rest of us sane people will be over here waving goodbye as you go down in a ball of flames. Don’t write, we’ll just use it for kindling.