Dear Christians, Your Facebook is Killing the Church

Dear Christians, Your Facebook is Killing the Church

We are fortunate in these times to have such easy access to public platforms. What was once only obtainable by the wealthy and famous is now available to the masses with little to no effort. Social media platforms such as Facebook have now encouraged every individual to broadcast their right to free speech at the touch of a button.

This is a fantastic capability and a phenomenal opportunity. Freedom of speech is such a glorious right, and we are fortunate to live in a society that protects such a practice. However, the right to free speech is often confused. Those who have rushed into the privilege of maintaining a public voice have forgotten that a right to action does not imply the wisdom or validity of that action.

A valid and wise opinion can instantly become an unwise utterance when delivered inappropriately.

While every person in this country has the right to their beliefs and the right to express those beliefs, this right does not give you the moral liberty to express those opinions with no regard to who you might be hurting.

Stop and think about that for a second. Think about all the times you’ve read hurtful, negative material on Facebook and have walked away feeling drained, discouraged, disheartened, or even outrageously offended. The power of words is immense, and it is not a power you should use lightly.

We’ve all been told: “think before you speak”. I believe we should not only think before we write, but read. Read, read, and re-read your material before you publish it to the world. Don’t merely skim through, but drink in your words as if you were a guest drinking from a cup you offered them. What you publish to the internet is not easily taken back.

We’ve become a people who are so obsessed with broadcasting our opinions to the masses that we forget to minister to the one.

Imagine you did come face to face with the kind of person you spoke out against on social media. Imagine they came to you for help or for friendship. Would you choose conjure up a status from your social media site and complain to them about how their life is ruining yours?

Or would you rather have a different sort of conversation? Would you rather have the chance to share with them heart-to-heart and soul-to-soul about your belief in the One who changed your life? Would you love them?

If you found yourself face to face with that person, would you want them to know what you had said about them to the world?

I promise you right now that you will have private encounters with the demographics you condemn publicly. And when you have one of those interactions, you better pray that they haven’t seen your negative opinion plastered all over the internet. Because if they have, they won’t be listening to a word you say.

If we want the church to be taken seriously, we better start taking our beliefs seriously.

Sure, posting that status about how you feel as though your opinions are being ignored might make you feel like you’re taking a stand. It might even make you feel righteous. And don’t we all just love feeling righteous? But what is it actually doing?

It’s preaching at people.

When was the last time you listened to someone preaching at you? I will be willing to bet – never. I know I don’t. If someone approaches me with the sole intent of telling me what’s wrong with my life and offers no compassion, love, or even a possible solution, I couldn’t care less what they have to say. And I know for a fact that I am called to treat others the way I would want to be treated. 

It’s belittling to your own beliefs.

That’s right. Your opinion on the subject just might be right. It might even be wise. But when you post your opinion on the matter in a state of emotion, stopping only to click “Post”, your opinion quickly goes from being valuable to laughable.

You wouldn’t prepare to deliver a speech on national television regarding our country’s morality by hurriedly typing out a paragraph or two and running up to share with the world what you’ve just written. NO, you would write and rewrite and pray and seek the wisdom of others before addressing such a weighty and important subject. So why does the church feel it’s acceptable to do the same thing over Facebook?

It’s isolating people from the church.

Who is it that you want to see at church the most? If you ask me I want to see someone walk into a church who is broken and unloved and leave whole, happy, and beloved. Isn’t that the reason for everything the church does in the first place? It should be.

Posting absolutes about morality and casting judgement on heated moral situations does nothing but isolate those who you call out. By passing judgement on the lifestyle of thousands of people, you communicate to them that they don’t belong around you or your church. You lock the doors of the sanctuary to them with your words. You deny them an invitation to explore your faith and turn their hearts against anything your brothers and sisters in Christ have to say.

Jesus called his followers to him and promised them rest. He taught them what to do instead of what not to do. He encouraged them to do right instead of always reminding them not to do wrong. He built relationships with them, walked with them through life, and shared everything with them. Jesus met with countless adulterers, prostitutes, people under demonic oppression, tax collectors, politicians, murderers, and sinners. Did he broadcast their sins? No. Did he tell them that they were doing wrong and that they were ruining their country? No. He loved them.

And when he told them “go and sin no more”, it was a call to freedom rather than to bondage. It was an assurance that they were no longer bound to shame, guilt, or pain. It was a promise that they could go and never look back on those things again.

Condemnation never saved a single soul. Only mercy, grace, and the love of Christ did that.

It’s time that we as a church rethink the idea of debating over Facebook. Can you carry on a discussion over social media with the upmost respect for your audience? Or are you more concerned with being right, righteous or smarter than they are?

Consider that our anger and indignation on social media is not at all rooted in those around us, but rather is a poisonous wellspring bleeding from our own hearts.

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Call me Caitlyn

Call me Caitlyn

There’s something that bothers me about Caitlyn Jenner, but it probably isn’t what you think. 

As I look through the beautifully photographed Vanity Fair spread headlining “Call Me Caitlyn” and read all of the positive comments regarding the newly created Jenner, there is something  on which I simply cannot avoid dwelling.

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I understand that Jenner is quite outspoken about how Bruce’s identity was a lie and a facade. I can empathize with that desperate need for honesty, individuality, and freedom. It’s a desire deeply woven into all of us.

It is this search for identity and freedom that drove Jenner to become Caitlyn. It’s that same desire to find who we truly are that draws us to Jenner’s story. It’s this consumerist mindset about it all that concerns me.

640-caitlyn-jenner-2I can’t help but look at the “before” and “after” photos of the Jenner transformation and see dollar signs. I can’t help but to not only put myself in Jenner’s shoes, but also to consider every single person looking to Jenner for inspiration. I can’t help but imagine that I am in a similar situation, and the thought kills me. I can’t help but to imagine searching for an identity and finding that the only way to truly become my true self is to fork over thousands of dollars and to buy my identity.

And then I realize….none of us have to imagine that at all.

Our society teaches us that our worth can easily be measured  by what we can show those around us. We are told that our identity depends on what we smear on our faces or drape over our adequate or inadequate bodies. We are assured that identity is based almost entirely on who we appear to be.

My problem with Caitlyn is that she promises that we can be who we truly are as long as we are willing to buy it from someone. And that is a discouraging thought.

“Modesty” – It’s Not What you Think

“Modesty” – It’s Not What you Think

Taking Responsibility for Our Hearts

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There’s a saying I was taught while learning to ride my bike. I was told that if there is an obstacle in my path, that I should not focus on it. If my focus becomes placed onto the obstacle, I will run into it. But if my focus remains on where I want to go, I will safely bypass whatever is in my path.

The same can be said about the subject of “modesty”. Too often we teach our young women to focus on what men will think of us if we dress a certain way. We are taught to dress our bodies in a way that revolves around how men will react to us. And above all we must be mindful if our clothing will “cause men to lust” after us. But doesn’t this seem like a huge burden to place on a girl’s clothing?
 We need a new definition of modesty.
Now, if you are one of those women who does like to choose clothing that is deliberately revealing for the purpose of attracting the attention of men, hear me out:
You are not harming anyone but yourselves.

I am not interested in who does or does not look at you. I am not interested in whatever lustful thoughts a man has for you. That’s his problem.

But just because a man should take responsibility for his thoughts and actions doesn’t mean there is no other harm that could come from you dressing immodestly. Unfortunately, it’s a double-edged sword, and the real problem here is the harm that you are doing to your heart.

If you dress to show as much of your body on purpose because you like the attention, chances are you’re wearing your insecurities on your sleeve. It isn’t healthy to place so little value on your body that you use it merely as a tool for attention. Remember that you want to attract a man to your heart, your mind, your soul, and not just draw his lust towards your body. Don’t settle for a man who will only pursue your physical flesh. You are much more than the sum of your parts!

Either extreme is unhealthy. There is a balance that needs to be found:
Do not be so concerned with your body that you hide as much of it as possible.
(Also)
Do not be so concerned with your body that you show as much of it as possible.
Both reactions come from the same root: being too concerned with your body’s effect on men. Either way, your decisions in clothing will ultimately spring from what is in your heart.
If you truly value yourself, then your clothing choices will follow. Placing value in yourself as a human being rather than in your curves will ultimately take your focus off of dressing to please men. I promise it’s a freeing feeling.
What is comfortable? What isn’t? What is fashionable? What communicates to the world your personality at a glance?
These are the questions we should be asking when it comes to modesty, because in the end, what matters is the girl in the clothes. Not the people looking at her.

Women, Wellsprings, and Windmills

Women, Wellsprings, and Windmills

As women, we have great power and responsibility. We are designed to be tools of influence and wellsprings of strength to those around us. Our calling is a divine and beautiful one. Why, then, do we compare ourselves to one another and size each other up by beauty and status? What if we met other women as if we were meeting a kindred spirit or fellow royalty?

What if we treated each other as we would treat the divinity residing inside of them? And what if we actually believed that the selfsame divinity took up residence in us as well?

So many times we choose to embrace the practice of comparison and competition. It happens every time we meet other women; we instantly size each other up and decide which of us are the more appealing individuals. We classify ourselves and organize each other into a hierarchy of worth. Once the hierarchy is established in our minds we begin to immediately seek to steal power from those “above” us in order to increase our own dominance.

We are told at a young age to wait for a Prince Charming who will respect us and care for us the way we deserve. Our entire lives are geared towards attracting a man who will treat us with dignity and respect above all other women. The problem is that we don’t believe we should demonstrate to each other the same respect. We are taught to demand loving attention, and yet we withhold it from our fellow females merely for the sake of competition.

I was watching “Friends” the other day and was highly entertained to see the girls become completely obsessed with a self-help book geared towards empowering women. The book was entitled Be Your Own Windkeeper, and it declared that each woman is a goddess with her own wellspring of “wind”. It encouraged the girls to realize that many men in their lives were simply out to “steal their wind” and were hindering them from becoming the empowered goddesses they should be.

After much discussion, then debate, then realization, the girls are shocked to discover that it isn’t only the men in their lives who are robbing them of their wind. They finally realize that their precious wellspring of wind was being disturbed over and over again by each other! They had lied to, stolen from, cheated, and competed against one another for years without even realizing it.

Society prepares us to remain in constant competition with every other woman we contact. It’s so engrained in our learning as children and teenagers that we rarely even notice it as adults.

As cute and cliché as the “windkeeper” analogy is, there is something under its surface that rings true. We tend to suck the life out of one another in order to appear as though we are more worthy of life.

Women’s power to influence is much like the wind in many ways.

It inspires power and strength when harnessed freely. Without wind, no windmill turns and no power is harnessed. It would make no sense for the wind to hinder itself from the freedom to influence and to move boldly.

Imagine if women began to stand beside one another.

Imagine if we accepted one another as a sister fist and foremost regardless of our beauty, humor, significant other, or education. So much of our anxiety and fear would be absolved in love. We would meet more and more women who are courageous and not insecure. More of our friends would be loyal and not competitors. We would be joyful for each others’ accomplishments rather than jealous and backbiting.

We would be more like the women we wish we were.

Walt Whitm-izzle

Walt Whitm-izzle

I’ve been thinking lately about the genre of rap music, and its poetic potential. The idea of rap is, in itself, a brilliant act of literary work when done correctly. This concept makes me wonder what classic poets would think or say about the genre if they were somehow allowed to sample it. Which poets would scoff, and which would appreciate it? Which of them would feel compelled (as I do) to try their hand at it? Finally, which of them would excel in the genre and which would fail miserably?

The one poet that stood out to me in this thought process was Walt Whitman. I’m not sure why, but the best I can figure is that he is one of the proudest men to ever put pen to paper. No matter what he wrote, he was convinced that his words reeked of brilliance and no one could tell him otherwise. Naturally, my opinion would be that Whitman would take one look at rap, roll his eyes, and say, “I could do that”. I am also convinced that he would be terrible at it and never realize that he was much less than a genius in this genre.

I enjoy Walt Whitman’s work immensely, but I don’t believe he was nearly as good as he thought he was. He had some great lines, even stanzas, and a few whole poems that stand to this day as pure beauty…but then again, with all the pages and pages of words he relentlessly scribbled, he was bound to stumble upon something brilliant every once in a while. Everything about Walt Whitman was larger than life, and I doubt he would be able to shorten his thoughts to adequately capture rap.

I’m still trying to figure out whether this train of thought has any significance…

Thoughts on “Perfection”

Thoughts on “Perfection”

One of my favorite Gothic short stories is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Birthmark”. If you haven’t read it, I strongly suggest that you follow the link and do so. It’s a worthwhile read. Also, this post will contain spoilers; so if you haven’t read this story, come back later after you have.

Disclaimer:
(I know that this short story can be interpreted in many different ways. There are endless possible explanations to any good work of fiction, especially with Dark Romanticism. I am not claiming that this point of view is the right one, and I am definitely not implying that it is the only one. It’s just my perspective.)

The entire idea of this short story is interesting to me. It is mentioned time and time again that Georgiana’s beauty is perfect, save for the birthmark on her cheek. It is implied that without the birthmark, her beauty would be absolutely flawless. Aylmer tells Georgiana “you came so nearly perfect from the hand of Nature that this slightest possible defect . . .  shocks me, as being the visible mark of earthly imperfection”. Aylmer views the mark as something hindering his bride from being perfect, and becomes obsessed with the idea of removing it. It’s as though he found the most perfect woman on earth, and it bothers him that even she comes with a defect. Small as it is, the birthmark is the only thing that stands between Georgiana and flawlessness. I can understand his obsession to a point. If something was so close to being perfect, it almost seems a waste to not remove the imperfection if possible. Especially if you are a scientific mastermind (or almost a mastermind) such as Aylmer. However, his own imperfections are a whole other subject.

It seems to me that the death of Georgiana speaks volumes of perfection itself. It’s as if humanity is not allowed to be perfect. No sooner than the birthmark disappeared from her cheek did Georgiana die, and she faded at the same rate as the mark. There is also mention that the birthmark symbolizes every sin and evil contained within Georgiana; as if her every flaw was imprisoned within the birthmark. It is implied that Georgiana was far too near to perfection, and that because of it she could not exist without that small imperfection on her cheek.

This idea could even be taken from examples of real-life. Nearly every virtuoso, every prodigy, every artist had one fatal flaw whether within their art or within their very being. One of my favorite examples of this is Ludwig Van Beethoven. Beethoven became deaf; although he was a genius, one can’t help but wonder what his peak of artistry would have looked like had he been able to hear his work.

Having said all this, what is perfection, exactly? Where does the definition begin and end? Does human perfection exist? And finally, if human perfection does exist, is it separate from the idea of perfection in general?

These are just my thoughts on the subject. I would love to hear your ideas as well.

-Rae

Perception and the World Around Us

Perception and the World Around Us

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the definition of reality and how our individual perception bends it. It’s interesting to try and define the line between what is real and what is perceived by the beholder.

For example, if I am sitting in class, I can view all other students sitting around me. I can hear the professor teaching. I can take notes, or form my own conclusions. I know that every other person in that class is experiencing the exact same even as I am.

Or are they?

If I were to somehow view the class from the perspective of someone else, the event would actually be completely different. First of all, their account of every student in the classroom other than themselves is different than mine. I am included in their perception, whereas when I take stock of the other people in the class I am not included. This other student may or may not be paying attention or taking notes. Their experience is completely different.

So does that mean that we are actually experiencing the same event? Or does the class that I know even exist at all outside of my own mind? What’s real to me may be completely foreign and unrealistic to another person.

I have also been thinking about the idea presented in Quantum Physics that an object actually changes when you look at it.

I don’t know to what extend I believe this is true, but I do believe it. Each of us view our worlds differently; emphasizing different significant aspects of the world around us more than others. No one views something in the exact same way as someone else. We have the power to influence how we experience our reality.

It makes me wonder just how much control and influence we have on the world around us, and to what extent are we able to take control of that power? If we concentrated on every moment of our lives as unique not only to ourselves, but to everyone else around us, would we think of our lives differently?

Just some food for thought.

-Rae