There is no rescue for evangelical angst

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When I was 15 I hoped I would be allowed to live at least to see my 20th birthday. It was the mid-1970s and Jesus was well on his way down from heaven to destroy the world and massacre everyone who had offended god. That included me.

My family was not devout. I doubt any of us were even believers. We attended a liberal main-line church only because church was mandatory in the South. Our church never mentioned “end times,” a “rapture” or Jesus’ imminent return. But still I knew it was true. All of us in my high school…

Did We ASK To Be Created?

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A Silly Story

Why did god create us? With all the billions of galaxies and planets in the universe, what was the need for one more? What was the need for life? And most importantly, what was the reason for human life?

As a new Christian in a distant other life, I remember it being explained that god created Adam and Eve because he was lonely, and wanted someone “in his own image” to commune with. …

The Church’s Shocking Little Secret

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Jesus says that where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them. (Matthew 18:20) If you are a believer, you have to believe that promise. As an agnostic, I can’t deny it. It’s a claim that can neither be proven nor disproven.

So let’s assume that Jesus is present in the church — in the building on Sunday and at every prayer group, Bible study, and church picnic. That’s pretty awesome. To be in the presence of Jesus Christ, and the god who created the entire universe — who could stay away from that? That…

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Ever will we remember
The blue breeze of November
When our voices soared up high
Like prayers on the breath of heaven
Rising through a deep blue sky.

The Fall fell heavy in the hinter
For white sheets are not warm in winter
And whispers of a January snow
Chilled the spine of God’s country
Like a reckoning for Jim’s old crow.

The echoes in the hills and valleys
From ghoulish chants in fiery rallies
Froze in the vision of an icy blizzard
Howling down from the north
Like the whistle of an angry wizard.

History will mark the day
Snowflakes knocked the devil away
Our hands an icy fist
Down city streets like human rivers
Where we gathered to resist.

And God Has Got Your Number

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Running In Circles

If you listen to enough evangelical sermons you can start to see some patterns emerging. One is the perennial you’re not doing enough message. This one can range from a confessional about how we aren’t doing enough, to a scathing rebuke about whether you really love god because you aren’t doing enough.

Depending on the characterization of what is not enough in the sermon, you may leave church that Sunday with a firm resolve to stop skipping your personal Bible reading and prayer time. You may decide to volunteer for the church programs and missions that “nobody can be bothered…

And How to Stop Doing Them

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There are a million ways to be rude. Most are acknowledged, if not always avoided. We all know someone who rambles on and on, never letting anyone else get a word in edgewise. Many families include that rude aunt who is notorious for her backhanded compliments, or that uncle who accosts everyone’s guests with a pitch for his latest get-rich-quick scheme.

But other sins of etiquette are much less acknowledged, if at all. In fact, most of us never even realize we have committed them. Nevertheless, we do commit them and end up leaving a whole string of people hurt…

The Evangelical Hypocrisy Trap

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I was not raised in the church. As a teenager I was dragged to a church, but it wasn’t evangelical, and we never brought it home. I later became a convert — one of those people evangelicals evangelize to. Though to be honest, no one had actually done that to me. I had just attended a meeting of the campus Baptist Student Union (BSU) out of curiosity, kept coming back, and quickly absorbed the message taught there.

All I had to do was confess that I was a sinner, repent, and accept Jesus as my savior. …

How Male Doctors Trap Women Into “Hysteria”

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A Too-Common Experience

In the summer of 1982 I was an airman in technical training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. One morning I woke up sick. Class just wasn’t going to happen for me that day so I went to sick call.

The sick-call doctor at Lackland’s Wilford Hall Medical Center took one look at me and his face registered concern. I figured I must look as bad as I felt.

“Are you always this quiet?”

What? Quiet? I had come to get excused from duty, not to discuss my personality. Actually, I was always that quiet. I would…

How Southern White Women Oppress Each Other

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Something Going On

My family moved to rural Southern Virginia when I was 12. Coming off a military circuit — the Midwest, the West Coast, the Southwest, and Southeast Asia — it was my first time in a rural area. Now that my father was retired, it was supposed to be something I had never had before — a permanent home community.

But it wasn’t to be. For while my parents had roots in the South, I did not. I didn’t fit in. I had no close friends. At 17 I made my first step out, to college in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. …

Is Crude Sex Talk “Empowering”?

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It’s been the rage for some years now. In movies, series, and sitcoms women are talking crudely about sex! According to our screens we’re doing it in public! We’re doing it in the office! We’re doing it with strangers on the bus! We’re doing it on first dates!

And all of us are doing it — old women, young women, fat women, slim women, smart women, stupid women, gay women, straight women, trans women, pregnant women, athletic women, and women in wheelchairs. We all have sex drives and we won’t be silent about it anymore!

It’s shocking! And it’s oh…

Beverly Garside

Beverly is an author, artist, and a practicing agnostic.

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