Are you guilty of righteousplaining?

There is a trend in the Christian community that drives me bonkers. It can be applied to an infinite number of ways, but it has the same logic structure.

  1.  I am a Christian.
  2.  I have thoughts.
  3.  Therefore, my thoughts are Christian Thoughts.

Note that the implicit extension of point 3 is that if you don’t agree with said thoughts, you’re not Christian. Or, at the least, you’re not thinking Christian thoughts. We’ve seen this time and time again with all sorts of issues. Whether it be the issue of suffering, immigration policies, war, poverty, Kanye West – just wait a day or two, and you will see a flood of articles written by pastors, music artists, and devo debbies who proclaim that they have searched the scriptures and come away unequivocally with what the correct Christian Response should be. This would all be well and good, if there weren’t an equal number of articles from different camps of Christians claiming they have the real insight into how the entire kingdom of God should respond to a particular issue. They all are, in effect, righteousplaining.

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This is where the chaos and confusion lies. People from all sorts of different nations, cultures, political ideologies, family structures, moral upbringings, intellectual strengths, and personalities are drawn to the character of Jesus. They make a decision to follow him, and usually get involved in a local church of like-minded people. They talk about their faith with those people, and how it influences how they see the world. Then, they begin to see these opinions and views as representative of Christianity. Then they feel bold and brave enough to righteousplain the Christian Response. Then Christians from other backgrounds get offended and outraged, because their faith is being represented and applied in a way that is foreign and offensive to them.

It’s a tricky thing, because our faith has very bold, well-defined tenets (e.g. love your neighbor) that demand action. But, different people have very different ideas about what those tenets look like IRL. For example, one camp might say “I love my children, so I would never strike them because that is a violent, aggressive act.” A different camp may say “I love my children, and if I see them tottering towards something dangerous I will smack the crap out of them to keep them from harm.” Both of these groups have heard and received the concept of love, but they have different ways of applying it.

So, in light of this, I advise against public proclamations that your response to the societal problem du jour is The Christian Response. Obviously, you are free to explain how your Christian faith motivated your current position, but I urge you against concluding that opponents are workers of the devil. In some issues, they just might be, but in some issues your opponents may simply be the tricep to your bicep in the body of Christ.

Let’s leave righteousplaining to Jesus! Woo!

 

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

My sister wrote a post that was similar in nature – check it out! WWJD: Who Would Jesus Diss

 

WWJD: Who Would Jesus Diss

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So apparently two full grown adults, who happen to be famous Christians, have some beef with each other. As far as I am aware, neither has spoken to the other personally, but rather they have referenced the other’s comments or platforms via public forums such as social media, interviews, and large conferences. And now the Christian community at large is all aflutter. I honestly would never have known who said what and when if not for individuals feeling the need to leap into the fray and declare their support for one and/or disdain for the other. Who is right? Who is wrong? Who is scripturally sound? Who is more Christ-like? Who sits on a throne of lies? Who smells like beef and cheese? Personally, my question is, “Who cares?” 

Tommy Lee Jones I Dont Care GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Why are we speculating over which of the two is most likely to host Pancakes with Beelzebub? What exactly do we have riding on this?

What would be laughable if it weren’t so sad is how predictably the lines fall for the debate. On one side:

  • Posts IG pictures of a steaming mug next to a highlighted devotional
  • Cried watching The Blind Side
  • Almost certainly has a Live Laugh Love sign somewhere in their home

On the other side:

  • Likely have no idea what IG stands for
  • Typed up their treatise on why they support Person A on Microsoft Word, pausing periodically to consult their 36 volume, leather bound set of Greek-Hebrew concordances of the New and Old Testaments
  • Would never get a tattoo… but if they did, it would be a toss up on an upper arm portrait either of John Piper or St Augustine

I almost get the feeling that these two factions have been simmering in resentment towards each other and leapt on this opportunity to condemn those filthy sinners on “the other side”. In all likelihood, they could really complement each others’ strengths and weaknesses if they so chose. But where is our love for one another? Why do we feel the need to join into these camps?

None of this is to say that Christians can’t discuss and debate points of theology. It would be disastrous if we never questioned one another or dug into what scripture tells us. In my mind, there is a difference between discussing the merits of an idea, the scriptural accuracy of a specific teaching, etc., and gleefully condemning an individual, name calling, and self-righteous posturing. A prime example for the most current debate: “I can’t believe this scum sucking pig would dare to insult a fellow Christian! That son of a motherless goat!”

The individuals in this public conflict are just two humans. Our faith isn’t dictated by what they say or believe. Neither one of them is without sin, and none of us are, either. Why don’t we focus on the only one who is? Maybe we could spend more time reading what he said instead of someone else’s book or commentary. This petty squabbling makes a mockery of the church. Let’s stop rushing to divide ourselves by allegiance to a mortal teacher. Let’s look at the unifying factor among us and celebrate Him.

Parks And Recreation Mic Drop GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

This man is offering to sever unwanted soul ties for $500

 

 

 

Brad shares a deep insight into the scripture reading, and your heart leaps within you in affirmation. When you expand on Brad’s idea with a vulnerable example from your own spiritual journey, his eyes lock with yours for an electrifying moment. Before you even realize what’s happening, your very souls are linked together.

 We can all relate to those times in your church small group when you and another member are just really jiving, and whether you like it or not, you just formed a soul tie. 

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Although these experiences can be heady, they are deleterious to our future relationships. Take it from Mary Anne McAllister, a long-suffering victim of an accidental soul tie despite being married for seven years to the man of her dreams. “I try to connect to my husband when we pray together, but all I can think about when I close my eyes is that one time when Jo-Jo McGee said ‘yes Lord’ in response to one of my prayers back in 2006.”

Rex Hood, a self-educated theologian and pastor, is offering freedom from these soul ties. “The best solution is prevention, obviously. I think we would all agree that any sort of connection with anyone who is not your future spouse will lead to devastating emotional and spiritual consequences for the rest of your life. But if the worst happens and you accidentally bond with someone of the opposite sex in your Christian community, there are certain… options.”

 

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From here, the details get a little mysterious. Rex’s professional site does not disclose his particular methods, and his entire business relies on personal recommendations. He does have a 3.5 star rating on yelp, with some customer’s claiming “$500 is worth freeing my soul from over a decade of intimate, mixed-sex small group discussions!” He has, however, been spotted entering the homes of soul-tie victims with essential oils, a 4 ft wooden cross, and Michael W. Smith cds.

Rex remains unfazed by some accusations that charging $500 to sever each soul tie is a bit exploitative. “If you don’t think your soul is worth at least $500, I probably can’t help you anyway.”

 

For those with knotted souls and a little extra cash, it just may be worth it.

 

C. Gallo is a freelance writer in Atlanta, GA. She enjoys writing lies that make her lolz. Some of the characters in this story may be fictional, then again they may be real. Any resemblance to real persons or businesses might be on purpose, to cause controversy and drive up her blog views. 

 

 

 

 

A tale of too bigsies

When I first started attending my former mega-ish church, I was overwhelmed by the experience in the best of ways. Coming from a childhood church with a mean age of 74, and enrolling in a grad program that strongly emphasized materialism as the only reality, it was a balm to my soul to be surrounded by thousands of people my age who were whole-heartedly worshiping the same God.

It was difficult to meet people at first, but I did eventually meet some people when I volunteered to help out with the kiddos for about a year, and then later when I joined a “small” group that was ~100 people. Another great thing about this church was that they regularly have ‘drives’ that ranged from collecting school supplies for local kiddos to fixing cleft palates for kiddos overseas. Most importantly, the theology of this church is solid. They have a strong focus on the gospel, and go deeper than some of the other big churches I’ve been to in the area.

I mention these positive features up front because I want to emphasize that this post is not about poo-pooing this particular church. I am, however, going to share the issues and concerns which ultimately became such a big to deal to me that I didn’t want to come to the services anymore. I would still serve, but then I would slink home after I had “put in my time,” like a guilty church mouse.

So what were these issues and concerns?

1) Lights off during worship and sermon

This was kind of symbolic, but why do we need to put a spotlight on the leaders and not be able to see each other? It promoted a sort of concert-y, celebrity atmosphere that I found out of line with the biblical presentation of churches and church-leadership.

2) Commercialism

Sometimes we would have guest speakers or worship leaders, and Lo and Behold their new book or CD would be for sale at our church resource area. I felt uncomfortable seeing crowds of people lining up to buy merch in a church. It reminded me of when Jesus turned tables in the temple for desecrating the temple with their vending. Maybe that’s a little unfair, but.. I thought of it, and it gave me the heebie-jeebies.

3) Celebrity culture

Many of the guest speakers and worship leaders mentioned above were celebrities of sorts in Christian Land. Granted – people usually gain a celebrity status because they’re very good at something, and I don’t think it’s necessarily wrong to recognize someone for being an especially gifted musician or speaker. But sometimes it felt like that there was an undue emphasis on the star power of the people on stage. Even if they were 100% focused on glorifying God, I would see people in the audience snapping pictures and sending to their Christian friends and relatives. Again, just kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies.

4) Emphasis on church “brand”

This church does an annual volunteer rally in which they gather everyone, hand out prizes, give talks about church culture, etc. A lot of the ideas they talked about were basically telling us Best Practices for Customer Service. It’s not that I don’t want people to feel comfortable and welcome when they come into church, but… I think what most people need is sincerity, not polished perfection. In concordance with this customer service idea was this overarching, unspoken theme that we were an Organization that had a Brand. And our job as Volunteers was to promote that Brand by adhering to the values and goals of the Organization. It just made me wonder — even if the leaders claim that all of this is ultimately for the purpose of bringing glory to Jesus, is it really? Or is it more about their brand, which is inextricably linked to the name of the pastor? Would they be willing to do a church event with “lesser” churches to help the community, if they couldn’t slap their name on a huge banner outside? There’s a good possibility I’m being unfair, but I would guess no.

5) Passively ignorant leadership

As a volunteer, did anyone in the leadership really know who I was, what I truly believed, how I lived my life outside of church? Not in the least bit. But, because I passed a criminal background check and mentioned during my “interview” that Jesus changed my life in some way, I could be plopped into a position of spiritual leadership within the church, most likely over kids. I think there’s a balance here – no one wants a church leadership team that’s booting people for not posting enough scripture on their fb page, but… it made me a bit uncomfortable to know I could be performing satanic rituals during the week and then teaching children in Sunday school.

6) Lack of accountability

I could easily choose what sort of persona I wanted to project each Sunday. If I stopped going to church at all, if I embraced an obvious sin.. I truly doubt anyone would notice. Please read my tone correctly – I’m not pouting about this, just stating it matter-of-factly. I’m not sure it’s possible for it to be any other way in a church this size, structured the way it is. But, I have really felt the need for older women who aren’t necessarily my pals to speak truth into my life, to hold me accountable, to counsel me about family stuff that I don’t necessarily want to share with other family members. Let’s bring back Sunday school, amiright?!

7) Stretched too thin to tend

There was a time when I was very concerned for the mental health of one the other volunteers, but for various reasons I didn’t feel that it was appropriate for me to reach out myself.* So, I called the church and asked them if a man on the leadership team could check in on this person. The lady I talked to sounded genuinely concerned, took down all the info, and told me she would have someone call me. They never did.** Maybe someone reached out to my friend and just didn’t call me back to tell me, maybe not. But it struck a wrong cord within me that with something this serious, I couldn’t even get a callback. Beyond this episode, there are some things the pastor at this church brought up that I would truly have liked clarification / expansion on. But does he stick around after his sermons to chat with people? Nope.

8) Work to belong

There was no membership class for this church. To be a “member,” you have to volunteer. I get their point in some ways, but I really dislike this for a few reasons. One, some people truly do not have the capacity to dedicate 3+ hours of volunteering + another 2 hours of attending services on one Sunday. People work, some people are not mentally or physically capable… some may be saved, but in a very spiritually dark place and not necessarily ready to be the face of the church. So what about them.. they’re poo in the eyes of this church? It came across that way to me. Secondly, I really think it’s promoting an anti-gospel ethic: work to belong, work for community. I believe with my entire heart that is *NOT* the church’s heart behind their reasoning, but even so— it can still be the result, intended or no.

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AGAIN, let me re-emphasize that I’m not trying to trash this church, but the points above really bothered me. I know that there is no perfect church. There are, however, different degrees of health among churches. Maybe some churches – even if the leaders have the purest hearts of gold – are simply too big to provide the sort of real community and approachability of leadership that promotes spiritual health. 

It’s also worth mentioning that I strongly disagree with church-hopping. It’s unhealthy for the spiritual growth of individuals – and the health of the church as a whole – for committed Christians to come into church with a consumer mindset (e.g. I want this sort of worship, these sort of programs, this sort of experience, blah blah blah, me me me). It can be healthy to feel a little uncomfortable in your church – it probably means you are contributing to the diversity and broadening the reach of that church. Clumping into churches with people that look, think, talk exactly like us is how we have such imbalanced churches – those that are awesome at reaching out to the community, but have weak-sauce theology vs. those churches that seem to care more about theology than being the hands of feet of Jesus.

BUT I think most every Christian would agree that sometimes, it’s legit to move on. The main reason I moved on was because I came to the point where I dreaded going to service. I was talking to my ‘rents about it, and they were like “Okay, soooooo — why not try other churches?” And ever since then, I’ve felt this great freedom and peace, and have been greatly enjoying my visits to other churches in the area.

All this being said — I would genuinely like feedback from my fellow Christians about these points I brought up. Fire away!

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*A hard lesson I learned in 2016 (?) was this – it’s not a great idea for a single woman to take on the role of a single guy’s “helping friend.” It turns weird fast.

**so I reached out to another friend, and he very kindly reached out to this person. [praise hands] Christian community FTW!!!

 

 

Christian singles: It’s time to put your sins to good use!

This is a self-help post for Christians who may still not have a great grasp on how many church cultures operate (bless your hearts!).

Do you think that church small groups are for building community, keeping each other accountable, learning about the word of God, and spurring each other on to good works?

Think again!

Church small groups are for meeting your future spouse. 

 

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Eyes on the prize, y’all — eyes on the prize!!!! (pixabay free image)

 

Nothing more, nothing less. So let’s get the obvious out of the way so we can talk strategy. You need to appear deep (really, almost tortured is best if you’re a guy) and Godly (don’t forget to quote those Pauline scriptures!) at all times. But there’s a third, crucial element that will really kick your marriageability into high-gear: Tasteful vulnerability.

How do you get there? Well, the easiest way is through confessing your sins. What’s more vulnerable than admitting to a group of mixed-sex peers that you ride the struggle bus sometimes? **BUT** it’s important that you are vulnerable in a kinda sexy, mysterious way, not icky, pathetic way.

Share the right sort of sins for the right sort of vulnerability!

MEN: Never confess porn addiction or laziness. Sexual sins are too PG-13 for the ladies in this crowd, and revealing your lack of ambition will only reinforce their fears that they really will be stuck teaching the 3rd grade for the rest of their lives. No no no.

The tasteful vulnerable zone, for men: Confess your sin of pride. It will make you seem humble, yet also offer a tantalizing hint that you have many, many things to be prideful about.

WOMEN: Never confess doubt or gluttony. These dudes are looking for moms to rear their perfect  children, and they aren’t going to risk you turning pago after a bun has started cooking in the oven. The glutton thing will just give men visions of your inevitable middle-aged-onset obesity… Not exactly a picture that will make them rush to Jared.

The tasteful vulnerable zone, for women: Confess your sin of perfectionism. It will make you seem humble, yet also establish that you are, after all, kinda perfect.

Follow these guidelines and I guarantee that you will be in a state of matrimonial bliss within one year! Remember – save the weird stuff for marriage counseling, and let your selective vulnerability score you a mate NOW!

 

Staying butthurt at the church will do little more than hurt your butt

Because this is my blog, Ima be real and tell you all that I have been through many spiritual funks… especially in the last 5 years.. especially with the church. There were times I adopted this ‘tude like, “Hey! I’m a wounded spiritual animal, and until the church or God steps​ up their game to win me back, I’m going to stay at home and sulk.” Then I sought out the company of other butthurt Christians so we could commiserate about how crappy or annoying other Christians were.

— I say all of this with zero formal theological training, so if you see anything that looks like the Gospel According to Galloswag, 1) please let me know and 2) please discard it from your mind. Far be it from me to lead someone astray with my own rambles! —

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This little guy kept a grudge at the church, and look where it got him. (pixabay free image)

Because this is my blog, Ima be real and tell you all that I have been through many spiritual funks… especially in the last 5 years.. especially with the church. There were times I adopted this ‘tude like, “Hey! I’m a wounded spiritual animal, and until the church or God steps​ up their game to win me back, I’m going to stay at home and sulk.” Then I sought out the company of other butthurt Christians so we could commiserate about how crappy or annoying other Christians were.

But guess what? The silent treatment doesn’t work with God and the church. I couldn’t emotionally manipulate them into screeching to a stop so they would pat my head and apologize for all the grievous acts they had committed. Nope, they marched on merrily without me as I stewed away like a persecuted pot roast. I get it, y’all. I’ve been one of the Butthurt Brethren. But I beg you, DO NOT stay there.

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This pot roast may feel persecuted, but I would still eat it. (pixabay free images)

If you’re currently butthurt at your church, the Church, &/or God, here are a few thoughts I have from my own experiences. Hopefully they will be helpful.

  • Don’t romanticize your rebellion
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What it looks like to smooch with your rebellion, smh (pixabay free images)

Sometimes my butthurt was just pure contrariness, and I would find comfort in romanticizing my rebellion as a “spiritual journey” or something equally cheesy. But I wasn’t journeying, I wasn’t theologically confused, and I didn’t lack clear direction. The bible is devastatingly straightforward for the most part. The problem was that I was 100% sure what I was (or wasn’t) supposed to do, and 100% sure that I didn’t want to do it. The struggle was actually against myself: knowing what I knew, feeling what I felt, what would I do?

  • Don’t project your spiritual dryness
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When I’m a dry little pile of leaves, the life of others gives me the crankies. (pixabay free images)

You know how when you feel ugly, the beauty of others is offensive? So it goes with spiritual beauty too, it would seem. When I feel spiritually “bleh” because of my own choice to distance myself from God, the blasted perkiness (aka joy) of others makes me want to screech in frustration. When I feel insincere, I doubt the sincerity of others.

  • Do extend the grace shown to you to other Christians

Now, there have been times when I had legit grievances against the church. I’ve encountered blatant racism, blasphemy, and deception there. In fact, no one has hurt or disappointed me more in the past 5 years than people who I met in the Christian community. So why continue?

On a grand scale, the church is Jesus’ bride*, and I doubt Jesus is impressed when I claim to follow him while trashing His bride. What kind of hubs would be alright with that? On a smaller scale, the church hurts people because the church is people and people hurt people.** Yes, I have the right to be offended at some Christians. But instead of seizing this opportunity for personal vindication, why not seize it to exercise my freedom to forgive? Christians are supposed to set themselves apart by the way we love one another, and love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.***

As a final note, in a strange way the disappointments and hurts I’ve encountered within the Christian community have been great motivators for me to keep pursuing God in word and deed, because I really don’t want to discourage my Christian community the way I’ve been discouraged. Not so I can be built up as some righteous super star, but so they’ll be encouraged to keep the faith, too. Upward spiral!

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SPIRAL UP! (pixabay free images)
  • in toto

I’m not advocating for anyone to bury their bad feels and pretend everything is great when it’s​ not. But for the love of your own LIFE please learn from yer ol’ Galloswag and do not waste time pouting, lest you grow into a bitter, shriveled, humiliated grape. Please don’t make your story be “I used to go to church, but now I go around trashing the church.”

Grapple, rassle, yell it out, but KEEP IT MOVING FORWARD. ❤

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*Ephesians 5,  2 Corinthians 11, Revelations​ 19, 21

**Important​ caveat: if your church is full of false teachers, get on out of there! You expect to find sinners in a church just like you’d expect to find weak people in a gym. But one of the main goals of a gym is muscle growth, so if a gym’s trainers and longtime members are content pumping 2 pounders, somethin ain’t right. And one of the main goals of a church is spiritual growth, so if a church’s leaders and long-time members are content with their habitual sin and are preaching blasphemy, somethin ain’t right.

*** John 13 , 1 Corinthians 13

 

Modesty is more than covering your bosoms

“…the answer isn’t to try and outdo each other in modesty until we’re shuffling around in form-masking body suits made of brown paper bags”

I grew up in a southern Baptist church AND was homeschooled, so I have endured my share of lectures on dressing modestly. I even took some classes at a church that wouldn’t let women on their property if they were wearing pants. I have never experienced more wrath than when a homeschool mom yelled at me, her golden eyes sparking with hatred, because my shirt showed my tums when I raised my arms (Now, I find it hilarious and maybe a little ironic that I have been slut shamed). Granted, these examples stick out to me because they’re outliers.

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Stanley and I feel the same about immodesty being a female privilege.  (this was a still from a gif that wouldn’t show up on this page properly — please don’t sue me!)

But even so, we all know that a “modesty” talk will be directed exclusively toward women. And it will be about what they’re (ornot) wearing. Because you know, the thrill of being immodest is a female privilege.

Some of you may want to sit down for this one. Ready? Here it comes – Men can be immodest, too. Maybe they aren’t teasing with low cut v-necks, but they may hog the “air time” during a group discussion to showcase their exquisite insightfulness.

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This center giraffe is immodestly hogging the convo. Smh (pixabay really limits my options, y’all – worth with me!)

Or they may show breathtaking creativity in how many times they can oh-so-casually work their six-fig income into a conversation. Or they may plaster their social media with pics of them surrounded by village children in Haiti, to really drive home their compassion and sensitivity. All can be forms of immodesty, all achievable without ever showing the smallest amount of bosomery. Amazing!

 

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“To be holy, thou shalt look Amish.” said Jesus, NEVER (image from pixabay)

I’m not advocating for us to chuck propriety out the window. There IS a balance somewhere between looking Amish and frolicking around in nekidness. But rules like No Skirts Above Thigh Where Fingers Reach When Standing Straight With Arms Fully Extended don’t really get it… and the answer isn’t to try and outdo each other in modesty until we’re shuffling around in form-masking body suits made of brown paper bags.* Because really, immodesty is about drawing attention to yourself. Yes, showing some cleavage is a great way to get some attention** but

1) it’s just one of many ways to draw attention to yourself

2) men aren’t exempt from clamoring for attention

3) immodesty is a visible symptom to an insecurity that goes all the way to yer ticker.

This myopic focus on women’s bosoms and bootays when discussing modesty does a disservice to women AND men. Making up detailed rules to emphasize your rightness and expose the unrightness of others… 100% guaranteed to make all hearts involved worse off. Now, how to change the heart so that it doesn’t want or need validation from others? Hmm.. 😉 ***

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*Consider Jesus’ sermon on the mount. One of the main themes was how the commandments all went way beyond a simple rule to the heart behind specific commandments… not a stricter rule. For example, Jesus didn’t say, “Hey – remember that rule about not murdering? I say, don’t even pinch a brother.” No, he said, “Remember that rule about not murdering? I say, don’t even be angry in the first place.” (paraphrase, Matt 5:21-22) This is frustrating, because it’s like.. “but, that’s internal! I can kinda control my actions, and barely control my thoughts on good days – but control my innermost desires?! Impossible!” And it’s like Jesus was like, “Bingo!” [cue Holy Spirit].

**So I’ve heard. *sniffs self-righteously*

***[cue Holy Spirit]