I do not like ministries, events, bible studies, parties, special gatherings, prayer meetings, small groups, etc. etc. etc. that are specific to women. They deeply irritate me. Porquoi?
I don’t have all that much in common with other women, anymore than I do with an arbitrary group of 29 year olds, brunettes, or lovers of poke bowls
Men do not intimidate me or make me uncomfortable. I do not have better conversations without men. I like that they think differently, especially about matters of faith. I have found mixed-sex discussions are richer, not stilted.
I understand that many women struggle with issues of self-worth and have painful pasts that involve exploitation. My heart goes out to them – truly. That being said, it seems like many women’s ministries focus almost exclusively on women like this, and ignore women like me whose struggle is more about figuring out how to live a meaningful life with integrity as a professional.
I also understand that many women are married and have kids. That is gucci gang. BUT similar to point 3, I am not. And I wouldn’t say getting married and having kids is my ultimate life goal.* So I also don’t get a lot from hearing exclusively from women who are trying to figure out how to be wives and moms. Not that I can’t be friends with these women or learn from them, but I don’t need an entire event centered around hearing from and connecting with women who I have almost nothing in common with. I have even less in common with them in life situation and specific faith struggles than I do with say.. a 34 year old dude who is an electrical engineer. It would make more sense for me to have a specific event for Nerdy Upper 20s Who are Functional but are Feeling a Little Lost in Life.
Women’s ministry events often include horrid assumptions about what sort of woman I am and what I like. “Aaaaaaaaaaand we’re giving away a $500 Anthropologie gift card!” *crowd goes wild* *Cgallo goes into a silent white rage* Seriously, I’ve never had more sexist silly assumptions made about me (e.g. “OMG I live for shopping!!!!! I remortgaged my house to buy this purse!”) than at a women’s ministry event.
Last but not least, y’all – it’s the names of the groups and events. What in Beth Moore is going on? Are we studying the bible, or getting facials? Who can tell?
Let me show you a series of real logos from actual women’s ministries or actual spas – doctored only to remove the “giveaway” words. Which do you think are women ministries, and which do you think are spas?
Soooo what do you think? The odd numbers are women’s ministries and the even numbers are spas? WRONG. These are all women ministries! What?!
Okay okay, let’s try again.
I know what you’re all thinking… “We’re on to you, CGallo! Those are all women’s ministries AGAIN!” Well guess what suckerzzzz, yer wrong, all wrong! #6-10 are all spas in Atlanta or NYC! What?!!
The takeaway of this post.. I think? .. is this proposal — ladies let’s just skip women ministry events and hit the spa because both are about women empowerment and feeling better about yourself and being in man-free zones and girl talk and faint spiritual undertones and strong plant-life overtones. Woooo! Let’s do it!
— EDITORIAL NOTES — * I would rather meet someone and love them so much that I can’t stand not being married to them, not so much “I MUST get married and have 5 kids before age 35!” because THAT specific boat for this gal has not just sailed but sunk around age 26. ANYWAY
Not Wasting Your Life is a popular theme among contemporary pastors these days. John Piper wrote a book about it, which inspired Louie Giglio to preach an entire sermon series about not wasting your life, which inspired Ben Stuart to join the party, talking about family specifically. And of course John Piper’s sassy protégé Matt Chandler has also chimed in about not wasting your cancer.
Lemme just say, I adore all of these pastors for various reasons, and it’s not like I want to wake up some day and realize my entire life has been spent building a career I don’t find fulfilling, or that I have no friends IRL because I spent all my time online getting into arguments with social media randos.
Many times these sermons begin with sobering stats on how much time we spend on doing “insignificant” activities — e.g. “Did you know that over the average human lifespan, you will spend x days watching tv (gasp!), x years commuting to work (groan!), x days removing unwanted body hair (giggles), x hours reading nonsensical Galloblog posts (#worthit) ?” These stats are meant to strike fear into hearts as we realize how little time we actually spend doing important things like rescuing puppies from burning buildings and sharing the gospel to all nations.
Don’t get me wrong – I do think that our life has definite highs and lows, and the highs should be celebrated. There is also nothing wrong with being somewhat conscious of how we delegate our time, and to consider cutting out nonsense that seems to suck us in for hours and hours and serve as escapism (video games, I’m glaring at you!).
BUT I would also like to suggest that freaking out and trying to minimize all the time we spend doing “insignificant” things, and trying to cram in oodles of significance into every moment isn’t only unrealistic… and likely to give us an ulcer trying… it’s also not particularly biblical.
Think about, oh I don’t know…. Jesus! Do we sit around and bemoan his 30 “wasted” years? I mean what was Jesus doing pre-ministry anyway? He was a carpenter, right? What else? I imagine he probably… ate. Did rando chores for his household, whatever that looked like b.c.. Kicked around town with his bros…? Who knows? What we do know, or at least claim as Christians, is that he lived the perfect life, correct? Then I think it’s safe to say that would include his entire life, not just the last 3 years of life.
And not just Jesus — almost every major biblical character had long periods in which they just “did life.” Worked. Survived.
Even if you’re not a Christian, I think there’s something to be said for CHILLING THE POO OUT! I’m going to boldly assert that the meaningfulness of life is less about doing something super impressive and record breaking at every single moment of your life, and more about developing good character and enjoying all the rando gifts of life as you go about the ordinary. Go ahead – belt some 90s pop while you fold your laundry. Watch a little tv and cuddle with yer boo. Pet a dog. Shop for groceries. Drive to work. Take a nap … as *part* of your life. Obvs, you don’t want these things to be the entirety. But they’re not just permissible, I’d say they’re advisable.
I’m not saying to abandon your dreams and goals, or not to work hard, or stop trying to pursue a life of meaning and significance … but I urge you to do all these things as a human being, not a streamlined robot. Trust someone who has tried that and failed miserably – you will fail. Or worse, succeed, and fail at other things that matter more.
Let’s take a journey back a few years ago. I was neck-deep in my dissertation data collection, and the only people I interacted with on the reg were soccer moms at my church (who I liked, but had a hard time connecting with) or highly-educated, young, single agnostic/athetists/spiritual-but-not-religious peers at my university.
I still went to church, and I remember for a while every Sunday I would tear up during worship because it felt so amazing to actually be with other believers. But still, there was a large disconnect between my daily academic grind and and my faith, my brains and my heart. The two worlds felt so completely different that it was hard to reconcile “Christian Gallo” with “PhD student Gallo.” I started to wonder if I went to church for the sake of nostalgia, and/or to maintain a connection with my pre-PhD student, super-Crish, conservative, southern culture life. I also had a lot of doubts.
Some were intellectual – neuroscience is very material, in the sense that all the complexity of human thought, emotion, and even spirituality is reduced down to electrical and chemical communication between cells. Did I really believe that a supernatural world existed? It was easy to believe when I was with other Christians, but when I looked at it through the lens of science it seemed pretty ridiculous.
Some were emotional – even though I had planned to get my PhD ever since I was 16 years old, my early 20s were *not* what I had imagined them to be. I think in my heart I actually believed I would take my University by storm and ride the wave of success all the way to the cure for Alzheimer’s disease. I also always envisioned myself as being very suave and sophisticated as I got older (lolz). Needless to say… that is not what happened. I failed.. a lot. Both in research, but also in matters of character. I kind of lost respect for myself, and I was mad that God wasn’t letting me hit scientific home runs and point to the sky in acknowledgement of Him as I accepted all my awards, Tim Tebow style.
Then one summer, the Christian fellowship I was a part of started a book discussion on Tim Keller’s The Reason for God. The book blew me away because it was so clear and straightforward. TK didn’t act like it was evil or preposterous to question Christianity , but he also “pushed back,” so to speak, on some of the common assumptions that non-believers take as “givens.” The Reason for God opened my eyes to the possibility of being a Christian, who – although still needing faith for some particular issues – wasn’t judged for having doubts, and wasn’t asked to forsake their intelligence as a prerequisite for faith.
Then I started reading his other books.. and trust me there are a lot of them. Not all are so “apologetical” as The Reason for God.. nor are his sermons. More than any pastor I have ever read / listened to, Tim Keller shines a huge spotlight on Jesus – pointing out how Jesus is threaded through the entire bible – not just the New Testament. He tackles weird, slightly off-putting Old Testament stories and points out how those stories are purposefully driving us toward an understand of the absolute necessity of Jesus. Adam, Moses, Noah, Jacob, David, Hosea — all of them! They were all used by God, but not enough. Their failures used to frustrate and confuse me, now they encourage me to rejoice that where these biblical figures failed, Jesus succeeded.
He also talks about how Jesus fits into work, marriage, money, sex, rest … every single aspect of life now.
Timmy K doesn’t need a grammy-award winning worship team to whip his congregation into an emotional frenzy before he preaches. He doesn’t need to soften the crowd with his hilarious hijinks. He doesn’t need to put visitors at ease with his trendy ripped up jeans. TK is not particularly attractive or charismatic, and that is why I love him all the more. Because to me it shows that his appeal is not really in him – (he’s like a slightly stuffy Dad)it’s the freedom and joy he points to, in Jesus!
Thank you, Tim! YOU ARE AMAZING I LOVE YOU FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!
— EDITORIAL NOTES —
Tim Keller resources – http://www.timothykeller.com/ , https://gospelinlife.com/
Whenever I read through the Kings and Chronicles of the old testament, I get frustrated at this statement that’s tacked onto the end of almost every single king’s reign- whether he was evil or righteous – “… but he didn’t tear down the high places.”
I’m not theologically schooled enough to fully break down what “high places” meant for the ancient Israelites or the full spiritual symbolism, but to me it symbolized an evil stronghold that even the good leaders of that time didn’t have the will or guts to get rid of.
Seeing this phrase annoyed me so much that it stuck with me… and became irritatingly relevant.
Ya see, there was a habit in my life I was holding on to that was not good for me. Eventually, I half-heartedly built a barrier to keep it out of my life. But… my wall had cracks all in it. I kinda sorta maybe left ways for this habit to worm its way back into my thoughts. After a few times of thinking about the habit, it started to seem less harmful.. silly almost. Then I thought “I’m strong enough to handle this,” and started to dabble in it again. Then dabbling turned into regular use, regular use into bingeing… Which of course made me feel especially guilty and terrible, because I knew I was fully re-immersing myself in a behavior that — at my best — I didn’t want.
But later in my life, my amazing wise sister came to visit. My sister cannot stand this habit, and especially what this habit did to me. I was explaining to her how my most recent entanglement with this habit had upset me. Although she was sympathetic – dear soul that she is – I could also tell that she was frustrated. And in my heart of hearts I couldn’t blame her! I was choosing to let myself be hurt.
So I set my face like steel, and this time when I cut this habit it out, I pulverized it. 100%.
That same week, I met my next boyfriend.* While we were dating and sharing about ourselves, this habit came up… as they always seem to do … and he asked me straight up if I was still a regular user, so to speak. I’m telling y’all… it felt amazing to look him in the eye and be able to honestly say “Nope. That is 100% donezos.”
Before, a part of me was unwilling to cut this habit off completely. Because like almost all habits that enfold you and steal your heart away from wholeness, this habit could be, well, quite enjoyable. But eventually, I did tear down my “high places.” It wasn’t because the habit stopped being appealing, it was because the idea of freedom from this habit become even more appealing.
(Let’s make sure we’re all on the same page; the back channels of access to this habit were my “high places.” Despite all of my other “reforms,” these last strongholds were irksome markers of my own rebellion.)
Do I miss this habit sometimes? Yep. Maybe I always will, at least a little. But at the same time, I’ve never regretted cutting it out, and I have honestly never received so much positive feedback from all the people who *love* me after I built a real wall, with no cracks, no back-entryways into my life.
“For freedom Christ has set us free..” – Apostle Paul (Galations 5:1)
So… tear down the damned high places in your life. Be free 🙂
— EDITORIAL NOTES —
*Granted, that didn’t exactly end well. But THAT’S NOT THE POINT
The *very* few times I have made mistakes, people have told me “Well, at least you learned something,” as a sort of consolation. A few of those few times, that sentiment has been comforting. My mistake (e.g. being too open with a friend who used my vulnerabilities to manipulate me) resulted in sparkly fresh knowledge (just because someone shares their deep personal stuff with me doesn’t mean they should be trusted with my own deep personal stuff). GREAT! The wisdom doth overfloweth!
I think more kids would stay in school if we could see the beauty of our knowledge!
Most of those few times, that sentiment isn’t comforting at all. Because many times my mistake is to simply not act on what I have already learned. Somehow, the knowledge that I just did something when I already “knew better” isn’t quite as sparkly the second, third, 4,890th time around. The wisdom doth continue to overfloweth until Gallo choketh in a pool of her own stupidity and rebellion.
Sometimes I get pissed that despite my sincere prayers for freedom from my loopity-loop of failures, loopity-loop to failure I go. I think “I want to be free of this, and God YOU should want me to be free of this, I’m asking you to let me be free of this – yet WHAT IS THIS I SEE BEFORE ME?!” [wave wildly at my past and current mistakes as they pal around brazenly]
But what if the repeated mistakes are evidence of God’s mercy?
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives. -Hebrews 12:6
Imagine if you’re suddenly recruited to play basketball with the Hawks, even though you are entirely unqualified. You get on the court for your first practice. Someone throws you the ball, and you heave it towards the net. The ball flies straight over the backboard.
Then imagine if your coach came up and ripped the basketball out of your hands and said, “You suck at this, go sit down.” He then passes it to the star player, who dunks the ball effortlessly. Basketball has defeated you – your only way of making it through the season is to avoid all contact with basketballs and coddle your feelings of inferiority by yelling obscenities at the other teams from the bench. You’re still on the team no matter what, but you’re not in the game.
But what if! Your coach watched you struggle during practice and, every time you took an awful shot, picked up the ball and threw it back to you and said, “You suck at this, but I’m going to keep throwing this ball to you until you learn how to aim. I want you to be in the game.” After missing the net for the next 142 shots, you are frustrated and beg him to transfer his expertise and talent directly to you. But he says, “Nope, doesn’t work that way. Try it again. Again. Again!”
Is the coach being mean in the second scenario? He’s certainly not coddling you… And I guess one perspective would be “I can’t believe he keeps letting me fail over and over.” But is he really?
Maybe this is what we want God to be. Just ignore the bears not sure what that is all about lolzzzz
I think sanctification may be something like this. We want a magic coach wizard who will come and wave a wand and automatically make us amazing players. When he doesn’t, we assume he is torturing us, doesn’t actually want us in the game, or may start to doubt if we were really recruited in the first place. But what if our endless failures are the consequence of him giving us endless opportunities to get it right?
Maybe this sports analogy is a little too much cheese for you all, but this analogy has been a real source of encouragement for me. Especially when I find myself in these deja-vus-des-insufficances. Maybe God isn’t being a jerk – maybe he’s offering me the opportunity for mastery. Maybe he knows something about my abilities that I don’t. So he gives me the opportunity to.. vanquish! Again. And again. And Again.
All of us have our guilty pleasure romantic comedy favorites, but I think we can all agree that most plot lines to rom coms are unrealistic, and even worse, secular. Recently there has been a push among evangelical Christians for more realistic films about romance in the modern Church. Here at the top 5 must-see Christian rom coms that will gratify the realist in us all.
10,000,000 Things I Prayed About You This is your classic boy meets girl, boy prays about whether or not to pursue girl for 3 years, in the meantime girl meets, dates, gets engaged, and marries someone else.
Several Okay Days Tough-as-nails single mom appropriately guards her heart against the advances of charming millionaire playboy. Dies alone
You Don’t Got Mail Young lady still living at home with parents signs up for online dating and begins a warm email exchange with a witty gentleman. Parents discover the emails and block witty gentleman so their daughter can focus on dating Jesus and nannying her siblings’ kids.
Focused in Philly Independent woman witnesses a murder, is assigned a darkly dangerous and handsome bodyguard to protect her until the court trial. Sparks fly. Man maintains professional conduct and they part ways amicably after the trial.
Not Knocked Up Troubled bad boy moves in next door to awkward teenage girl. They develop and unexpected friendship until girl’s dad sees his tattoos and forbids future contact. She obeys and begins dating her effeminate childhood friend.
Coming soon to a weird, indie theater far from you!
There was a long pause on the other line. Then my sister said, “Well Claire, if you don’t like something about your life… change it.”
If I didn’t love my sister so much, I would hate her. She had zero respect for my self-pity, and I was a bit put out at the time. But this advice drilled itself into my mind.
I get so upset and stressed about things in my life that I cannot control. I cannot fully control, for example, how much other people like me… or sometimes even when my own body turns against me and defiantly gains 8 lbs despite me working out more.*
So what can we actually change or control about our lives?
Well folks, I have found that I have a great degree of control over 1) who I hang out with 2) what environments I plant myself in and 3) how I act, talk, think (which ultimately, feeds back to influence how I feel!!!) about what happens in my life.
Some examples —
In the very recent past, I was getting frustrated that it seemed like the vast majority of my friends were not near as enthusiastic about hiking as I was. I wanted to go like, 1-2 times a weekend. After pouting for a while, I realized that instead of harassing my current circle of friends, I could take steps to expand my circle and actively seek out people who love to hike as much as I do. So I downloaded this app that let’s you join groups with people who have common interests in your area, and I’ve gone on several hikes with randos in the past few months. It has been super jolly meeting new people, and I no longer hate my hiking-unenthusiast friends!
I also recently had a falling out with someone. There were several contributing factors to our falling out, but one of them was that they didn’t seem to truly value me for who I was. I saw them the other day, and at first I felt almost sick with anger, bitterness, sadness — you know, the regular crew of bad feels. I thought of like 24 snarky comments, and I strategized different ways to artfully snub them with my body language. But then I was suddenly flooded with this thought — maybe from the Holy Spirit! — that was like “Is this really who you want to be?”** And I thought, Holy Toledo, no it is not. I saw them standing at a distance and I waved at them, and I could see their face flood with relief. Then we chatted for a while and it was fine. Are we going to be besties? Probably not. Can I control how much they value me? Definitely not. But I can control whether or not I’m petty and hold on to every hurt and slight, or whether I keep the big pic in mind. This person is a Christian, and at the end of all days I truly believe we are going to be joined together with a huge group of diverse people celebrating God together. When I have that perspective, it is really difficult to hate them, or want to punish them for not valuing me as much as I think they should.
This is getting a little bogged down in my personal examples, but this is what I’m tryna say —
There’s a lot we can’t control — stop obsessing over that crap.
Recognize what you can control — and change that stuff when you can to make your life dramatically better.
When you’re struggling with how to act — think about the person you want to be. Our character is shaped by every little decision we make. So if being a petty, bitter, or frustrated person is in line with your life goals, by all means go for it. But if it’s not, then… don’t act in a way that is in line with being a petty, bitter, frustrated person!***
That’s really it. I’m sorry that you all don’t have a sister as awesome as mine.. but that’s what this blog is for — so I can share my wise-sister privilege. 😀
— EDITORIAL NOTES —-
*All the explanations of I’ve read of age-related weight gain have to do with decreased muscle mass, which makes sense generally. It makes no sense specifically when you are in fact increasing your muscle mass yet still gaining weight. And I know what you’re thinking and no, not all of it is muscle. Do you know how much work it takes to even gain a few pounds of muscle? Like gallons of whey protein, working out 3 hours a day, and oh yeah, being a man. So I reeaaallly doubt the 8ish pounds I’ve gained in the past 2 years are pure muscle. So take your positivity ELSEWHERE. 😉
**Honestly this question has been SO FRICKIN’ HELPFUL the past few months. If it doesn’t end up being too redundant, I will post an entire blog just about this.
***Not trying to be preachy, but I honestly don’t think this is possible without the help of the Holy Spirit. Seriously — it takes supernatural power for me to not be petty!!!
There are Christians, both throughout history and currently in countries like North Korea, who have been imprisoned or even killed their faith… even when they had very limited access to the bible — and sometimes almost no formal preaching. I remember hearing a story once about Christians (in China, I think?) who kept the faith through extreme persecution by passing around a shred of the gospel of John.
Yet here I am – feeling the need to almost constantly listen to sermons and worship songs, or read my bible and Tim Keller books, just to maintain a bare minimum affection for God. Why is it so difficult for me to believe when I have unprecedented access to the best sermons, Christian music of any genre, and theological books that have tackled some of the most difficult questions of life and my faith? And it’s not even like I have some tragic life to push through. Yes, I have disappointments and failures and mini-heartbreaks here and there – but all together, I have an absurdly blessed and easy life.
So what’s the deal — are these Christians inherently more passionate than spoiled little millennials such as myself?
Not to minimize the great faith of Christians who are persecuted or martyred, or make excuses for little ol’ me, but I wonder if – despite having an overall lower access to truth – something that helps set Christians in history (or Christians in other countries) apart from Christians like me is an enhanced signal (truth) to noise (deceptions, distortions, distractions).
Yes, I have an unprecedented opportunity to research and study the word of God, and connect with Christians all over the world. But I also have an unprecedented opportunity to binge on tv shows, drown in information from podcasts, and be torched with opinions from wagging tongues all over the world. Noise, noise, noise.
Set in this context, the truth signal – although drastically increased – is still struggling to just blip above the noise threshold – which has also drastically increased. Technology has simply turned up the volume for everything – background noise and signal alike.
Well, lucky for me/us, signal to noise is a ratio. Which means I have more than one way to change the overall value. I can work on the ol’ denominator and make strides to reduce the noise. Go on “unplugged” walks without my phone, turn off the radio when I’m driving, set aside time to meditate and pray each day. Or, I can work on the ol’ numerator, and increase the noise. Listen to Ben Stuart podcasts during my commute, seek out mentors who speak nothing but hard yet joyous truths to me, commit myself to Christian community and actually *studying* God’s words. Or a radical third option would be to do both – reduce noise and increase signal! ⚡️⚡️⚡️
Technology isn’t inherently good or evil, and it’s here to stay. Yes, we can try to embrace the way of the Amish and reject it completely because it has the potential to bring harm into our lives. Or we can think of it as a tool that we can harness for good, and discipline ourselves to avoid the drawbacks.
May we all do all that we can to keep the flame burning in our crazy, ridiculous, often-wicked-oriented hearts 🙂
Some Christians seem to thrill themselves with repeatedly announcing that they are “broken,” and praise other Christians who are open about their own brokenness. Maybe Christians take on these disparaging adjectives to distance themselves from self-righteous bluster, or to stay humble (e.g. “I’m no better than you, homeless prostitute! #humble #blessed). I get that, I do. But ultimately, it’s complete nonsense. Here is why —
Uno – it’s not humility that’s spurring this “brokenness” talk, it’s usually a declaration of absolved responsibility. People know they’re screwing up and weak, but instead of making steps towards repentance, they want to make sure everyone knows they are so completely helpless there is no way they could have *not* made that terrible decision.
Duo – Christians are not supposed to take on our weaknesses as our identity. Even the field of psychology is ahead of the curve with this —
If a person recovers from or is recovering from cancer, do we refer to him or her as “being the cancer?” No, we do not, because we know that cancer is something that one can recover from and isn’t necessarily permanent. Many are hopeful that, as with the majority of cancer prognoses, the individual will eventually be cancer-free. What is more, the cancer does not define the individual’s existence while battling with the disease or after recovery.
When someone with mental illness is labeled as “OCD” or “bipolar,” there is that perception that being “bipolar” sums up his or her whole existence. We do not take into consideration the person’s actions (good or bad) because in our minds, our perception on the label he or she has been given is our basis. Even worse, theindividual who is labeled often internalizes the tag to the point that they feel that their entire entity is summarized with it.
This is not to say that we ignore our weaknesses. But we confess them to each other so that other people can exhort (what a great word!) us, and we can repent! I almost hesitate to use the word repent because it conjures up an image of a hypocritical, salivating evangelical preacher, but I love the word because it doesn’t just mean “feel bad about what you did” it means “to turn.” Repentance isn’t about feeling self-deprecating guilt, it’s about doing a 180. If we do emphasize our past and present weaknesses, let’s do it to emphasize the joy and hope that God has/will triumph(ed) through them (e.g. 2 Corinthians 12:9).
Trio – let me give you a list of verses in the biblio that talk about how broken– as in dysfunctional — Christians are.
There you go. Good stuff.
But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed
– Isaiah 53:5
And [Jesus] took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you.
– Luke 22:19
Wait, what’s that?! Jesuswas broken… so that we could be broken, too?
“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
– Hebrews 10:14
Jesus was broken so that we even have the possibility of sanctification – aka holiness, aka NOT BROKEN. Not only did Jesus break so we don’t have to, but he didn’t stay broke either. So the “Omigersh I’m so broken” talk does not belong anywhere in the gospel narrative.
Broken is what we were. Let’s embrace who we are now, and start dead-sprinting toward the wholeness and function we were made for– through grace alone!*
— EDITORIAL NOTES —
There’s a place for broken-heartedness, or being contrite — but I’m talking about broken as in dysfunctional.
I understand to a non-Christian absolutely all of this is nonsense. That’s okay with me. I think it’s beautiful, and it’s super encouraging.
*1 Cor. 6:11; Hebrews 12:1; 2 Tim 3:17; Galations 3:3
I recently took to the Twitter, and in less than one day I was subject to more insulting condescension than I have encountered IRL in the past year. What did I do to incur such rabidly hostile feedback?
I had the gaul to respectfully disagree with Matt Walsh’s* sentiment that conservatives / Christians should stop sending their kiddos to college because colleges are so liberal / secular.
Here is my inflammatory tweet:
I thought my tweet was pretty docile. But apparently, Matt himself found this offensive, and replied —
Then I started getting all these snarky replies, like “can you honestly say you have never compromised your faith in that environment?” and “academia attracts lazy, entitled, meal tickets lefties …”
It seemed that the vast majority of tweeters on this thread considered academia to be the pit of darkness, was intrinsically flawed, and something we should shield the precious minds of our little ones from.
I want to talk about this carefully, because I don’t want to condescend parents or over-generalize my own experience. But, I do think I may have some useful insight into this prominent trend of conservatives/Christians demonizing academia. Look y’all – I was homeschooled from grades 1-12, and went to a Southern Baptist church twice on Sunday AND Wednesday night, too! I know conservative Christian culture. This will enrage some, but I love a lot of things about conservative Christian culture. But also, on my way to attaining my PhD at a state and then at a private almost-kinda-maybe-might-as-well-be Ivy League school, I was surrounded by far-left and/or non-Christian ideologies. It made me .. uncomfortable at the least, sometimes angry, sometimes a little confuzzled. It made me re-think my values and beliefs -did I only believe them because I was brain-washed by my family, church, and safe little suburban town — or were they actually true?
Was this process pleasant? No. It was stressful. Do I have the exact same values and beliefs that I did when I was a 17 year old freshman**? No. My political views have become more moderate, for sure, although the average leftist would still gasp in horror at my voting record. My faith has been through the ringer. But it seems that every time I dig deeper into whatever issue instigated the latest round of doubts, I come out the other side with stronger faith.
The point of me telling you all this isn’t to emphasize what a dynamo faith I have, but to urge Christians and/or conservatives – whether you are thinking about going to college or sending your kids to college or whatever – to not shrink back from environments where your beliefs will be poked a little.*** It’s not the end of the world. It may actually increase your ability to talk to other people about your faith, because you have a better understanding of their doubts, questions, baseline assumptions. etc.
Okay. I’m going to do this blog French new wave style, and grossly violate the blogging/writing norms because I’m FRENCH****
After that way-too-long preamble, here are a few common misconceptions / ideers that many conservatives / Christians seem to push about academia, and my brilliant responses.
Academia as a whole is an irredeemable den of sinister liberalism and secularity
You guys, come on now. Let’s look at the states purpose and goals of some of the top academic institutions —
Harvard University is devoted to excellence in teaching, learning, and research, and to developing leaders in many disciplines who make a difference globally.
Since its founding in 1701, Yale has been dedicated to expanding and sharing knowledge, inspiring innovation, and preserving cultural and scientific information for future generations.
Knowledge for the greater good | We [at Cornell] have taken to heart the revolutionary spirit that founded our university and encourage each other to pursue unpredicted lines of thinking in order to effect change on local and international scales.
Oh yes… Excellence, learning in order to change the world for the better, encouraging creativity and individualism, preserving culture… What evil …. NOT! Honestly, what great goals, some of them directly biblical, and I will go even farther to say ALL of them are indirectly biblical. So we may not agree with how some academics want to change the world, but please stop acting and talking as if academia itself is inherently corrupt and irredeemable, and something to flee from.
Academics are actively trying to lure innocent undergrad Christians away from their faith
I won’t be so bold as to claim that I know the hearts and minds of all professors. But I will speak on my experience with interacting with many, many professors first as their underling, then their minion, and now more of their colleague —- many of them are kind. Practically all of them are nerds. Many of them are so wrapped up in their own little agnostic atheist bubbles they probably have no idea how inflammatory or upsetting their course content may be to a conservative &/or Christian. I would also say most of them don’t care what you believe in your heart of hearts, but they do want you to understand what they are presenting — and not reject it simply because you don’t like it. So for example, a sociology professor may ask you to offer a Marxist solution to a social problem – even if your little capitalist soul burns in fury as you write out your answer – to show that you even understand what Marxism is, and not just say “that won’t work because it’s communism and communism doesn’t work! Uncle Harry died to defend our country from communism!”
Anyone who wants to go into academia is an anti-capitalist, pretentious snoot
Again, let me reiterate – almost everyone in the highest ranks of academia is nothing more than a focused nerd. I didn’t get my PhD because I revel in being indirectly paid by taxpayers – I did it because I wanted to do good research that would help bring us closer to understanding (and ultimately preventing and treating) the most devastating, pervasive neurodegenerative disease in the world. I imagine most of my colleagues had similar motives. And I can honestly say that at my University, almost all of the faculty I encounter display a remarkable amount of humility and down-to-earthedness. Obviously there is pretension in academia, just like there is in corporate world and.. the fashion industry?! But it’s silly and simple untrue to tack these negative features to all academics.
The only way for Christians and conservatives to succeed in academia is to disengage and hide their true beliefs in the classroom
A lot of tweeters seemed to have watched a few too many God’s not Dead’s and think that professors will kick a conservative/Christian out of their class, fail them, or set them on fire in the library if they express their beliefs in class. I don’t think that’s true. I got pretty sassy in my senior year of college. BUT it was more of the nature of asking obnoxious questions about the research methods used to generate a figure, not just blustering in anger at each and every provocation. It’s also wise to pick your battles and show humility. It’s not compromising your faith to respect the authority and expertise of your professor. This is their class. You are paying them to tell you what the current consensus of a field of knowledge is. You can strongly disagree with that consensus, but maybe that’s best to tackle as say.. a faculty member who has demonstrated expertise on the subject and, dare I say it, has credentials. Let’s not pressure Christian / conservative youths to roll out of high school with the ability to take down centuries worth of knowledge in a particular field of study.
Okay.. that’s all the pretentiousness I can muster for today. Geez Gallo, term limits?! Try WORD limits! hahaha #lame
C. Gallo, PhD., out!
— EDITORIAL NOTES —
*An uber-conservative, catholic Christian blogger. 75% of what he has to say is golden, the other 25% I either strongly disagree with or strongly disagree with the way he says it. #blogtisticdifferences
**What can I say.. #homeschooled #childprodigy #humble #jk #octoberbday #notthatimpressive #maybealittle
***I say this carefully, lest I be accused of hypocrisy. There are some times when our emotional and spiritual health are not fit for inquiry — when you are hurting, you need something to hold on to, not something to pick on. So while I encourage you to explore questions and allow yourself to be challenged, I also urge you to not let other people bully you into a never-ending bout of doubt. #myrhymesareacrime I touched on this idea in this post a few months ago — BREAKING: It’s okay to take a break from constantly questioning your faith!
****Jk. The French wish they had this hot piece of swag! ‘Murica!