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This topic, in your mind gentle reader, may seem far afield of the faith once delivered to the saints. But I assure you it’s not.

How not?

Both horror (films, books, etc.), and Christianity force us to take unflinching looks within ourselves at the skull beneath the skin. We are made to confront our fears, lay them bare. This is often an uncomfortable process, and many there are who just won’t go there. Just as Jesus vicariously suffered and died for us, so, too, allows us to vicariously confront our fears (in a safe environment). It is in the words of director Scott Derrickson, “the genre of non-denial.” And rather than adding to the real horrors of the world, the genre gives us way to deal with, process, and understand the horrors of this world.

Additionally, I find that the genre is not so much about making us afraid (although it does do that), but rather about catharsis–about releasing the tension which it builds within us. We return to the real world better able to cope with difficulties we’re facing in our lives.

Nota bene: as with a balanced diet, horror media should not be all we consume. Because balance is the key to life, like vitamins, we should take it in controlled doses. Now this may not be a prescription for everyone, but I will say that I find far too many Christians who don’t like to be made to feel uncomfortable. Who don’t like to confront their fears. Yes, I know the Scriptures say that “perfect love casts out fear.” Who amongst us, however, has been perfected? If we say we don’t have any fears, we’re lying.

The great C.S. Lewis (he being dead yet speaketh), once said that “we ought to come to God with what is in us. Not with what we think should be in us.” The point being that God already knows all of our fears, failures, flaws anyway.

So we may as well be honest.

And in my view, the horror genre helps us do just that: be honest. Be taking that unflinching look, by confronting us with what’s already inside.

That, my friends, is my $.02. You may have come up with a different equation, or come to a different conclusion. If so, please sound off in the comments below.

Thanks as always for reading!

A Word About Men

randomlychad  —  July 23, 2014 — 5 Comments

Men are people. People have feelings. As such, we have feelings, too. We are not out to get you. Just having a penis doesn’t make one:

Bad

The enemy

An abuser

A potential rapist

It’s not our fault that your childhood was tough, or that male figures in your past abused their positions of authority, or violated your trust.

It’s not fair to view us all through the crap-stained lens of your past.

Just as you do, we have our own struggles, our baggage, our own stories to contend with. If you prick us, we will bleed. If you try to shoehorn us into a role to accommodate your worldview, we’re not going to take it very well.

We, having feelings–minds, hearts, opinions–of our own probably won’t take it very well. We might get loud.

This is not abuse, or bullying: this is usually the cry of a hurting heart. Yes, we may be bigger than you, stronger than you, louder than you… this still doesn’t make us the big, scary, nasty man out to get you. It’s a sign of hurt, of pain, of confusion.

If you accuse us unfairly, we will get defensive. It’s human nature.

Being men doesn’t make us demons.

So stop demonizing us for for our gender, for your past abusive relationships.

And let us love you.

That’s what our strength is for.

Child of Divorce

randomlychad  —  May 15, 2014 — 2 Comments

You may have seen this video as it made the rounds via social media. Like so many of you, I not only saw it, but lived it. I was that kid. The one wondering if he mattered. The one knowing he didn’t.

I’m almost 45 years old, and I still fight that feeling inside that there’s something wrong with me–that I’m wrong. It doesn’t take much at all to take me back to that place. In so many ways I’m still that little boy…

I know God is my Father; yet I so often relate to him like I would my earthly father. That is to say, there’s a distance there that shouldn’t be. Yet I don’t know how to overcome it.

How could he love me?

I know he does. I’m just not good at feeling it. Faith, and trust, are hard to come by when the scars are still so very real. And God, like a faithful surgeon, often wounds right there in those very places of deepest woundedness… I don’t want to hurt, but I also don’t want to mask the pain.

God, are you listening?

How about you? Do you struggle with knowing, deep down, that you are loved by God?

I’m sure it’s a thing, white privilege. One need look no further than, say, Donald Sterling to know that there’s something very wrong with the world, that systemic racism exists.

That white privilege is a thing.

But don’t talk to me, a white guy, about it. Because white privilege, insofar as I can tell, never did a damn thing for me.

Let me explain.

Behind the middle class fačade, was an empty home. A home devoid of any real sense of security, or love. Emotionally distant, and uninvolved, my dad couldn’t keep it in his pants, “screwing around” on my mom for fourteen out of sixteen years. And my mom? When he left, she had to take on two, and sometimes three, jobs to keep us fed, and a roof over our heads.

The net effect is that I lost both parents.

While there may in fact have been more creature comforts, I was still latchkey. I came home to an empty house day in and day out. Left to my own devices, I didn’t get into drugs, but rather porn. Nobody cared.

Nobody cared when the centerfolds went up on my bedroom wall. They just closed my door, and pretended they weren’t there. There was no dad, or father figure, to tell me that women were not objects, or hos, that existed just for me. Nobody cared when I stayed up late at night, watching the racy movies.

I was, by and large, ignored.

Like Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, I was ignored. Until I fucked up, that is. Then it was all OMG! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?

But even then it was mostly bark, no bite. People couldn’t bother to really care. I mean my mom once took my cigarettes away, saying she didn’t want me to smoke. She hid them literally on front of face, like I wouldn’t retrieve them almost immediately.

The list goes on. The greatest travesty of my upbringing was that it was virtually consequence-free: there were no real boundaries, and thus no real, tangible, sense of love…

Wait. I can recall one thing that white privilege gave me:

My mom, the counselor, threw me an eighteenth birthday party. She and her boyfriend vacated the house so I could have friends over. Did I mention that she brought me along with her to the videostore to rent pornos? Yep, she did. And she, the youth diversion coordinator, also supplied all the booze we could drink, including hiding a bottle of Southern Comfort in my bed.

Lucky me, right?

So there’s my white privilege upbringing,  people. Didn’t, and still doesn’t, feel very privileged to me. To this day, my relationship with mom is strained; and with my dad, it’s nonexistant.

Divorce and dysfunction hath it’s privileges, eh?

We have a problem here in the modern American Evangelical church. The problem isn’t the Bible, or Jesus; it’s us. We, by-and-large, preach a gospel of behavior modification. We tell people, “Come to Jesus,” but don’t accept them until they look like us.

The problem is that instead of making disciples, we’re trying to make clones. We forget that we were once sinners in need of a savior; consequently, we say we’re down with grace,  but either explicitly, or implicitly, tell folks to come to Jesus.

But only after they’ve cleaned themselves up.

The irony here is that who among us can even do that: clean ourselves up? As if. Else why would we need a savior?
We take God’s free gift of life, and make the price of entry too high. Much like the Pharisees of old. We take the Gospel, and turn it into rules of the road. Rules that we ourselves, if we’re honest, can’t often attain to. I mean Jesus said that He didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. Meaning that it’s our duty to proclaim this message–not worry if it’s been received. Or try to change the mores of a fallen world. We say: “Come as you are.” But do we really mean it.

Come as you are… but not if you have some sin we don’t approve of. Jesus might accept you. But we don’t. We’re the gatekeepers of orthodoxy, of faith and practice. And you can’t come to our party if ______. You change your behavior first, and then we’ll talk.

It’s as if we don’t believe in the Holy Spirit anymore. And his ministry to “convict the world of sin, righteousnes, and judgment.”

If the Parable of the Sower is in any way a reliable guide, ours is to proclaim the message. Not make the hearts receptive. That’s between others and God. Further on in that chapter in Matthew 13:30, it says:

“Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

The point being that the tares (weeds) and the wheat were to grow together, and that God would do the reaping. He knows who’s His, and who isn’t. Our business is to proclaim, make disciples (but not clones), and trust Him with the outcome. A tall order, I know: to trust.

Who among us can even change our own heart? Why do we think we can change another’s?

The Gospel of Behavior Modification needs to die. Because it’s not a message of imposition: of enforcing change from the outside. It’s about lifechange,  about transformation from the inside out.

What do you think? What do you have to say?