“A week ago it was the mountains I thought the most wonderful, today it’s the plains. I guess it’s the feeling of bigness in both that carries me away.“ Georgia Okeefe
Hey, I know that feeling too!😊
“A week ago it was the mountains I thought the most wonderful, today it’s the plains. I guess it’s the feeling of bigness in both that carries me away.“ Georgia Okeefe
I appreciate the explanations given for the “un-explainable” support for an undeserving character! It gives me much to think about as I seek answers for the behavior of members of my inherited religion.
Scholars Say Trump’s Religious Right Followers Believe He Will Usher In A ‘Christian Nation’AU
March 27, 2018
I’ve monitored Religious Right groups for more than three decades, and I have to say, I’ve seen nothing like what's unfolding these days.
Over the years, I’ve attended meetings of the Christian Coalition and the Family Research Council’s annual “Values Voter Summit.” I once sat through a “Reclaiming America for Christ” conference held by the late TV preacher D. James Kennedy in Florida, and I’ve been to gatherings sponsored by smaller or regional Religious Right groups.
Without exception, at every one of these meetings, I’ve heard the same message over and over again: character counts. America’s political leaders, speakers at these meetings would thunder, must model moral behavior. They set the standard, so don’t follow a leader who comes up short when it comes to “morals” and “values.”
Apparently, that’s all been tossed out the window. On Sunday night, an adult-entertainment film star named Stormy Daniels was interviewed by Anderson Cooper on “60 Minutes” to discuss her alleged affair with President Donald Trump. She provided salacious detailsof her time with Trump in 2006 and asserted that she was later threatened and told not to talk about it.
Leaders of the Religious Right have responded to this by making it clear they’re sticking with Trump.
Daniels isn’t the only one speaking out. Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, has asserted that she too had an affair with Trump in 2006. Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s reality show TV “The Apprentice,” is suing Trump for defamation, asserting that he sexually assaulted her in 2007. (A New York court recently ruled that her lawsuit can go forward.)
Again, leaders of Religious Right group either ignore or deny these charges – even though the allegations are in no way implausible. In Daniels’ case, we know that a lawyer for Trump just before Election Day 2016 gave her $130,000 to keep quiet. The allegations also track with Trump’s behavior. After all, Trump himself was caught on tape boasting about how easy it is to sexually assault women when you’re rich and famous.
A progressive president facing this tawdry combination of allegations by porn stars and centerfold models would be under constant fire from Religious Right groups. In Trump’s case, they’re simply shrugging their shoulders.
This isn’t just simple hypocrisy; something else is afoot.
Writing in The Washington Post, three university professors try to make sense of it. Andrew L. Whitehead, Joseph O. Baker and Samuel L. Perry assert thatconservative evangelical support for Trump is driven by Christian nationalism, that is, the belief that the United States is, or ought to be, a “Christian nation.” (Of course, for the people who believe this, “Christianity” equates with far-right, fundamentalist versions of that faith.)
Analyzing data from a Baylor University survey on religion, the trio wrote, “The more someone believed the United States is – and should be – a Christian nation, the more likely they were to vote for Trump.”
Whitehead, Baker and Perry go on to assert, “Many voters believed, and presumably still believe, that regardless of his personal piety (or lack thereof), Trump would defend what they saw as the country’s Christian heritage – and would help move the nation toward a distinctly Christian future. Ironically, Christian nationalism is focused on preserving a perceived Christian identity for America irrespective of the means by which such a project would be achieved. Hence, many white Christians believe Trump may be an effective instrument in God’s plan for America, even if he is not particularly religious himself.”
This line of thinking echoes the mental gymnastics on display in a new book titled, The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography, by David Brody, a reporter for TV preacher Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, and Scott Lamb, a vice president at Liberty University. Brody and Lamb assert that Trump is among the “elect,” a figure chosen by God to do divine work in the realm of politics.
So it’s official: The Religious Right no longer cares about character. If the movement’s followers must discard principle and twist themselves into knots to appoint Trump a kind of latter-day prophet, they’re willing to do it.
How did the moral majoritarians, “values voters” and neo-Puritans of the Religious Right arrive at such a strange place? The armchair psychologist in me attributes it to fear.
America is changing. Far-right Christian fundamentalist supremacists have been forced to cede power and acknowledge the rights of those who believe differently. They’re seeing women, LGBTQ people, non-believers and others assert their rights, and they don’t like it. They’ve watched as Americans rejected their views on issues like marriage equality, and they are frightened. They see a future America that is more diverse than ever. It scares them. In response, they cling to a vision of an officially “Christian America” that never was and never will be – and they’ll even latch on to a guy like Trump if they think he can deliver it.
Now, there’s a slight possibility that a serial philanderer and petulant Twitter addict who can’t muster the moral courage to denounce evil when it’s staring him in the face will somehow manage to lead the Religious Right (and drag the rest of us) to the Christian nation of the theocrats’ dreams – but it looks like a longshot.
It’s not just that the quest for a Christian nation has historically been a fool’s errand – though it has been, as many zealots have learned over the years. Rather, what’s undermining the new crusade is the irony-rich realization that the Religious Right was correct about one thing after all: Character does still count for something.
And when your leader has amply demonstrated time after time that he’s utterly devoid of character but you choose to blindly follow him anyway, the odds that he’ll eventually lead you over a cliff are very good
Undoubtedly, the level of happiness I enjoy today I attribute to years of practicing gratitude. I simply go about my day in a state of mindfulness. In that state, I acknowledge things in my life, in my day, in the people around me that I appreciate. I whisper a prayer of gratitude as I bring these things to the fore of my mind.
Expressing gratitude can be just that simple! However, it simply works. And because of that, one continues the practice in expressing gratitude.
Why Grateful People Always Succeed
Feb 7, 2018 @ 10:23 AM, Forbes.com
Why Grateful People Succeed
To begin I’d like to preface with the idea that gratitude is a choice, not a result. I hear all the time that it is so easy to be grateful when you've made it to the top. It is easy to be grateful when your career, mission, relationships and finances are all going exceptionally well. Yes, that is true but contrary to popular belief it is also easy to be grateful during a time of struggle or during a building phase of life where you are trying to improve in all sectors. In fact, gratitude is the key factor in achieving ultimate success and happiness.
Don’t Believe Me? Learn From The Experts
Oprah Winfrey is a prime example of practicing gratitude because not only is she known for her humble beginning but also for her dedication and consistency in her gratitude journaling. She has produced an overwhelming amount of content on gratitude and its effect on her own personal life and she even said she has journals that date back every single day for over a decade.
“Opportunities, relationships, even money flowed my way when I learned to be grateful no matter what happened in my life.” — Oprah Winfrey
Gratitude Creates Happiness
David Steindl-Rast, in his Ted Talk on happiness proposes a question: ‘Does happiness cause one to be grateful or does being grateful create happiness?’ He concludes his talk explaining that gratitude is the sole creator of happiness. We all know people who have faced devastating adversity and challenge but have managed to persevere with gratitude and happiness. They are the perfect example of creating happiness through practice of gratitude.
The Importance Of Focus
Tony Robbins speaks a lot about the importance of focus. As he says where focus goes, energy flows meaning that the brain sees and feels whatever you focus on time and time again. Whether your focus is positive or negative, thoughts and feelings are manifested based off of your initial focus. You better make sure you’re focusing on the right things!
“When you are grateful, fear disappears and abundance appears.” — Tony Robbins
I’m grateful that I have positive modeling in my life. Closest to me is my husband, Noah Flom. He is the most positive person that I know. Noah’s outlook and positivity is incomparable and I learn something new from him every day. He believes that how you think on the inside, whether positive or negative, will manifest on the outside — and this approach will affect your life, your business, your attitude and your personality. Ultimately, people don’t really want to be around someone who is constantly negative and looking at the glass half empty.
Noah has taught me to always look at the glass half full and find the positive aspects in every situation, challenge, opportunity, and trial regardless of how fair or unfair the situation may seem. Through him I have discovered that attitude is contagious and although we all can’t have the world’s best attitude (like I believe he does) we do have a choice. Regardless of the circumstances, we can always choose to approach any situation from a positive and grateful place. He often says it takes just as much effort to be negative as it does to be positive, so choose wisely!
Hard Days, We All Have Them
All of our days are filled with micro and macro ups and downs and life is constantly testing our abilities, our strength and most importantly our perseverance. Our attitude, focus, and level of gratitude is in direct harmonization with our level of happiness. You cannot be happy without being grateful. Whether you are grateful for a good meal, a smiling stranger, or a brand new car all happiness is stemmed from being genuinely grateful for all opportunities, people, experiences and challenges.
“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, oh which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens
How To Take Action And Choose Gratitude
If you struggle to find the positive things in your life and something to be grateful for try to improvise and stimulate your mind by listening to a podcast or perhaps a video of someone else showing gratitude. A great example of this is Will Smith. He is known as someone who is not only grateful but also someone who is extremely positive and always faces a challenge with a smile. We could all learn a thing or two from him!
To choose gratitude we need to substantially show effort in practicing this skill. Whether that is writing it down in a journal or on a notepad in your phone or even just taking five minutes to think in your head what you were grateful about that day; gratitude begins with action. It takes conscious effort to be grateful but just like any skill you acquire, it not only becomes stronger over time but it also becomes effortless as it becomes a habit it your daily routine.
When you begin to change the lens you use to view the world and you come from a place of gratitude, you begin to see the things differently. Give it a try! Let’s start by commenting five things you are grateful for today!
In my book I share ways to experience peace:
1. Create a sacred space for yourself. I can be in your home, it can be in nature.
2. Go to that sacred space daily, at least as often as possible during your week. While there enter the Silence and the Stillness. Remain in that state of mind and heart as long as possible each time you practice experiencing peace.
3. Focus so that you can “feel” the Presence of the Power that created All That ls. Work to feel that Presence in the air around your body, let it be real to you.
I attended Phyllis’ events in Memphis on a number of occasions, catching brief conversations at times. To say that I appreciate Phyllis’ life and work is an understatement. On the other hand, it is not an overstatement to claim: what a remarkable Christian life that was birthed and expanded from West Tennessee to touch a global religious world! Believe me, you need only to read The Great Emergence to find what you feel you are missing in your spiritual worldview! (be ready to think big)
She left us in 2015. It is only fitting we, her neighbors and admirers will have an authorized bio to hold.
Thank you, Jon M. Sweeney.
How Becoming More Secular Brought Me Closer to JesusJanuary 5, 2017 by Allison Lynch in Christian Issues, Fundamentalism
Along with catchphrases like “on fire for God” and “love the sinner, hate the sin,” it’s one of the most repeated words in Evangelical Christian doctrine. Although by definition it simply pertains to anything not affiliated with religion or spirituality, it’s been used in Evangelical circles to demonize anything outside of the realm of the church. For example, radio music is secular. The popular television series Game of Thrones is secular. The desire to advance your career and be successful is just a worldly, emptying pursuit, and only Jesus can give us meaning.
When a Christian tells me something or someone is “secular,” to me that’s merely a judgmental euphemism for “sinful.” And that’s why I’m here to argue that the dichotomy of a godly world versus a secular world is all bullshit.
First off, let me preface my story with the following statement: although I was raised in an Evangelical Christian home, I don’t believe in the Western Christian Jesus anymore. I do not know what he looks like (because he’s definitely not an angelic looking Aryan man if he was born a Middle Eastern Jew), or why he wants to live in my heart so I can go to Heaven. In fact, I don’t even know what it means to be a Christian anymore, because I’ve heard hundreds of interpretations from Christians who all supposedly follow the Bible the correct way. I’m not so sure about anything anymore, so has God crossed me off his “Nice” list?
God. That’s another mystery to me. I stopped viewing him as a person because I didn’t want to anthropomorphize the Creator of the Universe into something that mimics petty human thoughts and emotions. Biblical writers did this all the time, turning God into a booming voice in the sky who becomes so disappointed and angry at human beings that he summons a mass genocide to a world he created. And yet somehow he can’t manage to kill all the terrorists and abusers in the world today to make the world a better place.
Call me progressive, call me unbiblical, call me a heretic. I’ve heard it all before. I’m a secular human being now for “straying” from black and white Christian doctrine and for questioning everything I was taught to believe. As long as my mind works and I can think freely, I won’t stop questioning until the day I die.
My “walk” with Jesus (I put this in quotation marks because this is another trademark catchy Jesus saying) began when I was five years old and I accepted him into my heart in a church parking lot. I didn’t have a traumatic testimony story at that age that brought me to conversion, so most of my youth and adolescence were spent searching for sinful flaws in myself (and inevitably learning to dislike myself) in order to have a reason to believe in Jesus and feel “saved.” I lived in a Christian bubble where everything outside of church was secular and “bad,” and everyone I knew who wasn’t a Christian needed to be converted. Even if the message wasn’t explicit, it’s the message I picked up.
This is the divided reality of Evangelical Christianity. It’s you versus the world. The believers versus the non-believers. The spirit versus the flesh. Godly behavior versus worldly behavior. The world is evil and full of sin, and as a Christian, it’s your duty to repent and accept Christ so you can go to Heaven, and to proselytize to others so they can do the same. You are a victim who must defend your faith. Without Jesus, you are nothing. You can do nothing. Your confidence is brazened, and any self-assertion or deviation from biblical standards is seen as personal, ungodly pride. Only by going to church, tithing, studying Scripture, and staying close to your church community can you start to understand the message of Jesus.
Again, I call bullshit.
My deconversion has been a steady, although difficult process. I wouldn’t really call it deconversion—I guess I would just call it becoming myself, and letting go of religion. There are days I wake up and feel as though maybe I am too deep into the secular world to know what’s good for me anymore, as if I’ve lost my morals and can’t differentiate right from wrong. I’m lost in a sea of secular selfishness. Maybe I’ve listened to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly album too much. Maybe I’ve gone to too many bars with friends. Maybe I just want to enjoy living in the moment for once, instead of worrying about how every action on earth affects my eternal standing.
As a child, I was terrified of demons. They were talked about often at church and in my family. The more worldly you become, the more susceptible you are to demonic influence. Drugs, partying, premarital sex, divorce, abortion—all these things happen to people who want to curse God and live life on their own terms.
I had read 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese several times. I was not allowed to watch scary movies, so this was the next best thing. Actually, it was worse. In the story, Weise talks about his overnight journey to Hell where he was tortured by demons and experienced the most excruciating sorrow and loneliness ever imaginable. That was enough to convince me that Hell was real, and that I was not going there under any circumstances. Pastors like Mark Driscoll also helped convince me that even most Christians won’t get into Heaven. After all, it’s harder for a rich man to get into Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.
In other words, it’s impossible.
“Oh, well don’t take the Bible so literally.”
Oh don’t worry, I don’t.
Later in life when I graduated from Gordon College, a private Christian school in Massachusetts, I was “on fire” again for God and ready to reclaim my life as a real Christian. I was merely “lukewarm” in college, and it was time to take Jesus seriously since he died for me and I owed him. I broke up with my fiancé, got baptized again (just in case), started going to a new church, and abstained from the non-Christian behavior the regular people of the world were so into. Life felt fresh, my soul felt cleansed, and I finally felt like I was on the right path again. God and I were good. This is what “being born again” is all about.
This lasted for about three months. The sparkle of a new church with new people who were so ready to welcome me quickly faded. There were things I had to hide from my small group in order to feel accepted. There were things I blatantly disagreed with that my pastor said and did. I found myself wanting to spend time with non-church people during the week, and to spend my Sundays enjoying a long run and brunch with my running club instead of going to church. I was training for my first marathon, and I was also very interested in a guy in the club who was a non-practicing Catholic. I felt guilty about it.
Pretty soon, I stopped going to church altogether. I had met some wonderful people there, but everything was punctuated with church language, and there was definitely a close-knit community within the church that seemed to be the “in” group—they led worship, hosted church gatherings, held the communion bread, and were very active on social media tagging each other in various things and posting Bible verses. It was annoying.
I found comfort in spending time alone and doing my own thing. Eventually, I moved to Boston and started working for a start-up doing account management for a content development company. This was my first full-time, salaried job, and my first taste of what it was like to be a single, agnostic Millennial living and working in the city. I finally felt like I was independent, and no longer embarrassed of my previously sheltered identity. Although, I still had to say I went to “that Christian college that doesn’t hire gay people,” but that’s another story for another day.
Life was good. It was hard sometimes, and I made a lot of mistakes (and I still do), but I finally felt connected to the world around me. I was so relieved to know that I didn’t have to work as a missionary, or be writer for Lifeway. I didn’t have to marry a youth pastor, and I didn’t have to go to Bible study anymore. The people who I connected with most—the artists, the start-up innovators, the vegan juice bar cashier—none of them were Christians, and all of them made me happy.
When you venture away from Evangelicalism and discover your own path in life, you start to change. You recognize that you are responsible for your happiness and your choices, and that these things are not dependent on your standing with God. You start to see people for who they really are—not whether or not they’re saved. And then you respect who they are, and you don’t try to change them (unless of course they ask for your help).
I reject the idea that you can only find God in an Evangelical Christian church setting, or that you can only begin to understand God through the message of Jesus Christ. There are so many gaping holes in this theology, it’s hard to know where to begin. I remember being told in a sermon once that you can’t know God just by hanging out in a forest by yourself, contemplating the meaning of life. The pastor poked fun at this hippie kind of lifestyle, mimicking the Buddhist “om” sound while he put his hands together. At the time I was very anti-Eastern religions, but now I enjoy things like yoga and Buddhist wisdom. Maybe, just maybe, the whole message of Jesus Christ was to eliminate the man-made theological barriers that enslave people to the idea that there’s only one very particular way to know God, so that they could become the freely thinking, unique individuals God actually created them to be. I hope so.
I still talk to Jesus and to God regularly. It’s just how my mind thinks, since I was raised on the mantra of Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
Jesus, if you’re listening, I’m becoming more secular in your name.
Author photo by Shef Reynolds / Article photo by Dan Wilkinson
About Allison Lynch
Allison Lynch is a twenty-something who lives and works in Boston as a marketing communications professional in the health & fitness industry. When she’s not writing, she’s either training for her next competitive running event, or volunteering at the House Rabbit Network, a shelter for abandoned, domestic rabbits. Her goal in life is to use writing and art as ways to connect with others, and to help women feel empowered through the strength and beauty of their unique bodies
S.L. Brannon, B.A., M.Ed., D.Div. You can learn more about me on facebook and linkedin.