Wednesday, December 28, 2011

my super mega religion podcast with david bazan: both parts are up now

So my conversation with Bazan on the Grapes of Rad went on for 3 1/2 hours and (what we recorded, anyway) and they posted it in two parts. In Part One we all talked about leaving our faith and growing up as preachers' kids and why Newt Gingrich has a chance in hell, American Girls, non-practicing evangelicalism (which Dave identifies as), questioning, hating, bitterness, grief, Joseph Campbell, how not knowing is scary, and I also told the story about how Carman grabbed my ass one time. That was in part one and it is here.

In part two we talked about Santa’s influence on Bazan’s view of God, masturbation, how I was in a Dr. James Dobson video in 1991, grief, Christians & therapy, WALL-E (twice!), using “Bug Me Bucks” to deal with ideological clashes at family gatherings, tits and ass, how Aaron and I met at one of Bazan’s Living Room Shows, underdogs and Malcolm Gladwell, abandonment and those you turn their backs on you if you stop believing their religion, Morning Loaf with The Rev. Jeff Breakfast, how being a parent changes things, Bazan and I both attended the same church for awhile, sex scandals with pastors, leaving churches for non-sex scandal reasons, and my we were drinking the whole time so my accent comes out more and more towards the end there.

I feel awful about how much I was interrupting but Ben said it was fine. I still hate myself for it.

So part two is here.

It was weird being so open about crazy personal stuff but I hope it helps people maybe. It better or it's all for nothing. Ha.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

unholy sonnet 4

Poem by Mark Jarman and commentary by Roger Housden …

Unholy Sonnet 4

Amazing to believe that nothingness
Surrounds us with delight and lets us be,
And that the meekness of nonentity,
Despite the friction of the world of sense,
Despite the leveling of violence
Is all that matters. All the energy
We force into the matchhead and the city
Explodes inside a loving emptiness.

Not Dante’s rings, not the Zen zero’s mouth,
Out of which comes and into which light goes,
This God recedes from every metaphor,
Turns the hardest data into untruth,
And fills all blanks with blankness. This love shows
Itself in absence, which the stars adore. —Mark Jarman

"This poem presents a profoundly countercultural message: the meekness of nonentity…is all that matters. The prevailing wisdom of American culture is that the individual should aspire to be special, to stand out from the crowd. Jarman, on the other hand, is saying here that what matters is to disappear. But to disappear from what? From our identification with the ego, which always wants to feel special. When we are in the silent ground, in what he calls the nothingness, we are truly ourselves., one with everything, and in that sense, absent as a separate ego. Jarman is a contemporary Christian, and while he echoes here the long via negativa tradition begun by Dionysius the Areopagite in the 6th century, he also echoes the Zen tradition, in which the practitioner aspire to become “a man of no rank.” And yet no metaphors of any tradition, East or West, can come close to the reality of that love which shows itself in absence."—Roger Housden

Friday, December 16, 2011

stephy podcasting incorporated™

Hi hi! Tomorrow I'm recording the Grapes of Rad's podcast with Dave Bazan and people are supposed to send in questions for us to answer on religion and faith and journey and doubt of whatever. So if you give a crap send one to

And the latest Dongtini we debate the moon landing. Does anyone know for sure we landed on there? I just have a problem with all this alleged certainty.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

i got this email asking about literal hell

"Dear Stephanie, I have a burning question for you, your readers, anyone that can give me an answer. How do you get over the Fundie fear of burning in hell for eternity and still be a critical thinker? I'm between a rock and a hard place. I've always had issues with CC even as a child (and pastor's daughter). So often I would think "This isn't right. This doesn't make sense." only to be verbally slammed with some bible verse to shut me up. Revelation 3:16 is a favorite scare tactic: "So -- because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to vomit thee out of my mouth." I can laugh at SCCL, *like* posts and feel like I've finally found people that believe what I've always believed; yet there is a voice whispering (sometimes screaming) "You aren't doing it right. You aren't doing it our way. You're going to burn in hell. Forever!!! Lake of fire!! Forever!!" I don't know how to get over the pervasive fear. Any wisdom or thoughts would be most appreciated. Thanks."

Here is what I said:

"Hmm. Well, I think that hell very much exists on earth, as does heaven...reading The Great Divorce helped me with that, and also learning more about the original languages and what the biblical text actually was saying. I'm convinced that hell stuff is all poetic. I think people choose to be in hell. For example, I know some people who I believe are in hell even though they're alive - they have disowned all of their children and don't see their grandkids and live in a beautiful big house that is empty and full of despair...all by their own choosing. I can't imagine a worse hell than that. If fiery hell is real then bring it on because I can't imagine anything more torturous than living every day in fear of going there (done that). But I'm convinced that hell isn't a literal place but that hell is where love is not.

My friend Tracie read this Richard Rohr quote to me on Tuesday and it was so beautiful tears sprang to my eyes as if I'd been slapped across the face: “Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God's own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.”


Thursday, December 1, 2011

i'm figuing out advent

I’ve never really understood Advent, we always had Advent calendars and I knew it was about a countdown to Christmas somehow and that waiting was involved, then a few weeks ago I said kind of deliberately that I want to learn about Advent this year. And weirdly enough my friend Isaac randomly asked me to do a reading on the first Sunday of Advent at our church (Wits’ End) so I said yay okay. Isaac has an M.Div and knows too much about this stuff. So in this reading Isaac wrote he’d made a kind of mash-up of Old and New Testament scriptures about the coming of a Messiah who will supposedly heal and redeem the world. There was a heavy atmosphere at church that night. It was reminding me of Lent. We read from the book of Habbakuk where he said “How long must I cry for help but you do not listen?” All growing up I got the message to focus on the joy of Christmas and the fact that Jesus came but I never could get that excited about it, it always felt hollow and I tried hard to muster up happy emotion for it but of course that can’t be done. It was beginning to click for me the other night that when you have leaned into your pain and sorrow and are rescued from it, joy comes then. Isaac was saying that Advent is a rehearsal or embodiment of the groaning of all of creation as it waits for the Messiah to return and make things right. We lit a candle and sang O Come O Come Emmanuel and talked about our Jewish ancestors who kept the light of hope burning for so many centuries, waiting, groaning, and we deliberately entered into the despair of long-awaited hope with them and talked about how we learn from them how to wait for our hope and help to return. We talked about the mystery of a Messiah who would appear in a very particular time and place where the Word would be made flesh and light would come. We read from Isaiah 53 foretelling this Messiah coming. It said he would be “despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, familiar with pain…we held him in low esteem” then we read Psalm 80 which was pleading “Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, awaken your might. Come and save us. Restore us.” This resonates so deeply with me, the longing and anger and feeling forgotten and disposed of. THIS I can get behind. In that part of the service we usually celebrate eucharist but in Advent we’re deliberately entering into the experience of groaning for God to be closer and that is how we will consume eucharist each week until Christmastide. At the end we sat with the weird and difficult task of holding onto both our future hope and present suffering. We read Habbakuk’s conversation with God, where God promises to right all wrongs, and Job’s lament to God. “Look at the nations, watch and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told.” “Why then do you tolerate the treacherous? Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves? Terrors overwhelm me; my dignity is driven away as by the wind, my safety vanishes like a cloud….I will stand at my watch; I will look to see what God will say to me.”

I think I'm figuring out this Advent thing.