The Most Christlike Thing for a Cis/Hetero/White Christian Man to do Do with His Power is to Abdicate it.

By birth, I am a cis, hetero, white man. By choice, I am a Christian. I see a lot of people that look like me angry about their lot in life right now. I know that these feelings rise up once every four years in everyone because of the presidential election, but that doesn’t make it any easier to see.

I don’t often think about the cis, hetero, white male part of my identity. Part of my privilege is that I don’t have to. Those parts of my identity are not under attack by anyone; my body is not in danger due to prejudices against my skin, or my sexuality, or my gender.

I do think a lot about that last identifier — the Christian one — a lot, though. And it’s that identifier that helps me understand what I’m supposed to do with all that privilege I take for granted.

What am I supposed to do? I’m supposed to give it up.

Why? Because it is quite literally what Jesus would do.

I went to a Christian college. I can’t say I recommend it, and I can’t say I can’t recommend it, either. To say I’m conflicted about it is an understatement. Hell, I started a podcast [and this site, natch] to try and work out my feelings about it in public. But here’s one thing I will always be thankful for, and it won’t make sense until a bit later:

I spent a long time learning to read the Philippian Hymn in Greek.

The Philippian Hymn refers to a passage in the second chapter (of four, it’s a short book) of the Book of Philippians, one of the letters the Apostle Paul wrote that is included in the New Testament. Some scholars believe it is an early testament of faith that was declared by the first Christians.

Here it is, in full:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

6 Who, being in very nature[a] God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature[b] of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death —
even death on a cross!
9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Keep in mind this is the Christ that all Christians claim to serve. But this is not the Christ that is presented to the overall culture, and often not by white men.

This Christ didn’t seek power. Or seek to keep power. Rather, this Christ was power, and gave it up. Godhood and authority wasn’t the goal; “it was not something to be used to his own advantage.”

It goes on.

Christ made himself nothing, and took the nature of a servant, became human, and died.

This person at the center of the Christian faith, who was not white (we cannot claim that with a straight face), had the ultimate privilege — godhood! — and gave it up.

How could I be expected to do anything less?

I know that this is easy to say. And come on, let’s be practical: what does ‘giving up privilege’ really look like? Here are a few ideas I’ve had:

  1. Don’t expect the world to owe you anything for being male,
  2. Or white,
  3. Or Christian.
  4. Don’t expect your opinion to matter “more” than anyone else’s.
  5. Respect other people.
  6. Stand up for other people’s right to voice their opinions and perspectives.
  7. Lend them support, but don’t try and talk for them.
  8. Shut up and listen.
  9. Pay attention.
  10. Be like Christ and find a way to serve people.

If you’re looking for a text to proof-text from, let it be this one.

So. White, cisgender, hetero, Christian men like me still have a lot of power and privilege in the world. And we can feel it waning, as the power becomes more evenly distributed.

Good.

The Christlike thing is to give the rest of that power up of our own volition.

Advertisements

Eee-vangelical vs. Eh-vangelical — The Case for Eh.

A lot of people say “eee-vangelical.” In fact, most of the guests on my show, Exvangelical, say “eee-vangelical.”

I don’t. I stubbornly prounounce it “eh-vangelical.”

Why am I so stubborn? Let me count the (4) ways:

  1. It doesn’t sound right to me. “We were eee-vangelizing” just doesn’t sound right to me, whereas “we were eh-vangelizing” does.
  2. The name Evan (the Welsh form of John), is pronounced “Eh-van.”
  3. A cursory search for the term “evangelist” on Google shows that “eh-vangelist” is the proper pronunciation. But most importantly…
  4. “Eh-vangelical” yields far more opportunities for puns. For example“Bleh-vangelical, meh-vangelical, enh-vangelical” and of course, “ex-vangelical.”

Pronounce it however you want. There’s no wrong way. But I was feeling a tad insecure (as I mentioned in the intro to my last show), so these are my reasons for “eh.”

Eee-vangelical defendants, come at me.

Ep. 8: Strategically Placed Bibles with Kyle Parton

Shorter show notes for this one, everybody.

Kyle Parton, Director of Epiphany Publishing, talks with me about teenage adventures in Wal-Mart evangelism, key markers of evangelicalism, war, other faith traditions, and alternate models of salvation (the more serious show title was “Finding a Substitute for Penal Substitution”).

Check out Epiphany Publishing:
epiphanypublishing.us

Follow Kyle on Twitter:
twitter.com/kylecparton

Follow Exvangelical on Twitter/Like Us on Facebook:
@exvangelicalpod
facebook.com/exvangelicalpod

Follow Blake on Twitter:
@brchastain

Intro Music:
“Corpus Christi Carol” by Jeff Buckley
itunes.apple.com/us/album/corpus-…0474?i=385560483
Outro Music:
“Eternal Life” by Jeff Buckley
itunes.apple.com/us/album/eternal…0474?i=385560485

Ep. 7: Brandon Whitmore — Hard Questions Demand Honest (Not Easy) Answers

In this week’s episode, I talk to Brandon Whitmore about his journey from Christianity to agnosticism. The conversation covers all sorts of topics, from the historical record of Jesus & science’s relationship w/ religion to a qualitative ranking of The Muppets television shows. It’s great.

Follow Blake on Twitter @brchastain.
Follow the show on Twitter @exvangelicalpod.
Like the show on Facebook at facebook.com/exvangelicalpod.
Support the show on Patreon at patreon.com/exvangelicalpod.

The hashtag for this episode is #skepticalmuppet.

Intro Music: “The Fleecing” by Pedro the Lion: itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-fle…0959?i=572010962

Outro Music: “Follow the Light” by Travis:
itunes.apple.com/us/album/follow-…700?i=1139316723

Introducing Exvangelical.

They call it “the bubble.”

If you’ve ever spent time attending a Christian college, you know what this term means. “The bubble” is the campus and the whole cultural milieu of evangelicalism that cushions young women and men from the real world, the world that needs no air-quotes.

The bubble is well-intended, I think. It was put in place by people that wanted to create something close to what they thought God might approve of. But in doing so, they created an artifice and sold it as the real thing.

A bubble is the perfect analogy: a thin layer of soap, a self-contained sphere, that never lasts long.

Eventually the bubble pops, and you’re back in the open air. Falling. Toward the ground.

For many people, religion is (or was) a part of their life story, and at turns ugly and beautiful. Sometimes, the ugliness is enough to drive a person away from religion, or at the very least, make them reconsider their trust in it.

The ugliness of evangelicalism has pushed me to the edge of faith more than once.

I went to a conservative Christian college, and much of the Christianity I experienced there was not consistent with the sort of understanding I had of the person of Jesus Christ. Free thinking was not always valued. The world was pushed to the side for something that was supposed to be an ideal approximation of it. A Stepford Wives version of Christianity that assumed the human impulses we all have toward sex, selfishness, and all the rest were simply not there.

The bubble popped in college, and I was falling toward the ground.

But it turns out, the ground can be a great place to be, even if it’s painful getting there.

Religion can be a really beautiful thing. It can give life beauty and meaning, and it can bring people together through the intoxicating mix of human and divine compassion and love.

Religion can be a really terrible and ugly thing as well. It can be used to divide, to justify all manner of evil, to exclude others from community, and to control.

The most tragic thing is, religion can be both these things at once. A person’s faith may start out beautiful and innocent (there’s a reason Jesus says to have faith like a child), but then become ugly through negative experience.

American evangelicalism is tragic.

Evangelicalism seeks to shape people into Christians, but only a very specific type of Christian. An ahistorical Christian with loose ties to the 2,000 year cloud of witnesses.

There are an awful lot of people who by circumstance were brought up in an evangelical environment, or found their way into evangelicalism through some other path, and have since rejected it wholesale or in part. With that, they may have very well walked away from their faith. And that is unfortunate, because much of the evangelical caricature of faith is not representative of Christianity at all.

The popular caricature of the American evangelical is surprisingly accurate. The cartoonish idea of what an evangelical believes in the mind of non-evangelicals is pretty much dead-on and looks something like this:

  • Rural or suburban
  • Republican
  • Against gay marriage (now moot)
  • Anti-abortion (moot since Roe v. Wade)
  • Pro-capital punishment
  • Pro-2nd Amendment rights
  • Pro-military
  • Doesn’t believe in evolution
  • Doesn’t believe in global warming
  • Believes in 6,000 year old Earth
  • Believes the Bible is inerrant
  • Believes in “traditional” gender roles, including: “male headship,” submission of wife to husband, preference toward the wife staying home for child-rearing, preference for the husband to be “the bread winner,” and the submission of women to men and girls to boys.

Evangelicalism prescribes a very specific way of life — a specific viewpoint on gender roles, sexuality, marriage, and politics — and that doesn’t agree with everyone. And I don’t think it should.

Furthermore, evangelicalism has a problem with how it deals with dissenting opinions in its ranks, and that’s what I’m looking for. I’m looking to hear from people that have those dissenting opinions and that by exploring them have left evangelicalism for a more “progressive” expression of the Christian faith, or have left Christianity altogether, or have decided to stay despite their differences, either because of the community they’re in or for another reason.

There is much more to life than Christianity. And there is much more to Christianity than the evangelical life that was modeled for many of us.

It’s time to come to terms with a messed up subculture. One conversation at a time.

Subscribe to Exvangelical on iTunesSoundCloudGoogle Play, and anywhere else you may listen to podcasts.