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These are my thoughts, yo.

Filtering by Tag: Christianity

Your Christianity is Keeping Us From Being Friends

jasmine banks

If you are hanging out with the same kind of Christians I am, you'll understand. I've been one of those Christians. I am now in deep recovery and working hard to silence those "old tapes". The first step to admitting you have a problem and all that jazz...

See. I live in a very conservative town. Someone would even call it a "Christian Community," though too many of us who are working to inject diversity and tolerance into our community would give a deep side eye to those who claim such titles. Siloam Springs, Arkansas is a town where there used to a billboard that declared, "Now Entering God's Country". It also used to be a sundown town.

The irony isn't lost on this African American woman.

I had to learn how to live in Siloam Springs as one has to learn to live in a foreign country where the outlets don't fit your flat irons electrical plugs and the words for beer and emergency are too alike. A single misplaced syllable could land you in trouble. Siloam Springs is home to John Brown University. My Alma Mater. I'd like to claim I was tricked into attending this school, but I wasn't. When I signed on the federal loan dotted line I knew the school I was headed to. I wanted to have my identity rooted in "good Christian ideals". It wasn't until I arrived that I realized that the cultural paradigm established by the founders of this university were diametrically opposed to how I was made. So I learned to fly under the radar (which looked like getting in lots of trouble for having pre-marital sex and drinking A SINGLE SMIRNOFF ON A SCHOOL TRIP). <- To be fair I agreed not to do these things by signing JBU's Lifestyle Contract.

I became extremely jaded and then looped back toward gratitude concerning my time at John Brown University.

Nowadays, I zip around Siloam Springs free  from Lifestyle Contracts. I still, however, have to interact with folks who came out of a heavily indoctrinated experience and I still struggle against  how their Christianity keeps us from authentic connection.  Here is an example of the kind of exchanges that make it hard for me to connect with these people.

Me: "Hey! How are you."

Them: "SO blessed. God is so awesome."

Me: "Um... that is cool for you."

Them: "And you!"

Me: "What are you up to these days."

Them: "The Lord has been so faithful. __________ got a new job, our church prayed for it and God gave it to him and I've been home being a stay-at-home mom."

Me: "Yikes. I remember stay-at-home life... that was hard"

Them: "It can be hard, but we know this is where God wants me so I feel grateful that He has made a way."

Me: (blank stare)

Me: "So. Um.... coooooool."

Them: "It was SO good to see you."

Me: "Mmhmm. So good."


Y'all. I am not saying this is inauthentic for EVERYONE. So many people I've met in this town speak like this and function (seemingly well) in this kind of cultural dynamic. But me? I don't know how to move beyond that point. What I do know is this: Christianity was never supposed to be about keeping people away from the real parts of you. It seems like the narrative of Christianity is filled with gravitas. It was and should still be about redemption, grace, and community. When we strip things down to platitudes, though, we lose that gravitas.

I am willing to take responsibility--- maybe I just don't get it. When everything about your life is a rejection of your own will or uncomfortable emotions or, well, anything personal... I don't know how to navigate. Is there a course for this? I'll take it! Maybe I'll get credit toward cross-cultural studies.



Standing in the Way of Equality Won't Increase Righteousness

jasmine banks


Today is the day that the highest court in the land made a move toward further equality.  Our status updates are full of celebration. I put on my Obama "I DO support marriage equality" shirt on today. A high risk move in my town. I get the side eye more than I'd like when struttin' in my equality and Obama gear. You don't get to freely discriminate against "the gays" anymore, that should be good news... RIGHT?!

It should... but amongst the celebration my Facebook newsfeed has begun to fill up with updates  also declaring,

"Sin is winning." <- According to theology, doesn't sin win on a regular basis, y'all?

"God is unhappy with history today" <- Did He/She tell you? Could I also speak to God? Do you have a cell phone number I could borrow?

"My heart is sad that we aren't standing for Godly Marriage in this contry [sic]" <- WAS God married, y'all? What is Godly marriage?


I don't want to get mired in the mud of this debate. I wish it weren't even a debate, truthfully.


When you don't speak your silence provides consent to those who ARE speaking.

So I have to speak.

I attend a University known for its Christian affiliation. I love and hate it. I was a youth group kid. My faith in God has been an integral part of my identity since I was 8, when I made an unprompted confession of faith. As I've evolved my child-like, and sometimes blind, faith in religious institutions evolved. The more life I experienced, the more I felt the sense of certainty I once internalized melt away. The more I learned the less I knew.  I can proof text like the rest of them. I am acquainted with the greek origins of words. I even, once, memorized the entire book of James. I wanted to commit it to memory because I struggled so much with the content and context of the book. When my life was dedicated to the church was deeply committed.

The more I learned the less I knew. Shouldn't it be this way in most areas of life? As we dive into the complexity of the world shouldn't we find ourselves rendered small, confused, and outnumbered by mystery? Christians want to be certain of too much. WE want to be certain of too much. I think we fear admitting our powerlessness in this world. The older I get the more I intuitively begin to belief that God is found in doubt. We are a people that crave order, structure, and stability. If what we know is turned on its head we struggle. We want an absolute yes or no. Sometimes or maybe were always answers that bothered me and I recognize that The Church wrestles with the same weakness.

I am on the fence concerning so many maxims associated with being an Evangelical Christian. So much so, that I've stop identifying as one. The church makes me angry.

Still I have to believe that grace, love, and redemption win.

If none of the words on this page settle in with you, please hear these:

In the matter of same sex marriage equality: You will not increase righteousness by limiting another person's right to choose to enter into a marriage that you do not consider holy. Rather you decrease righteousness in this world by creating inequality of power through social oppression: this is something, I've come to believe, that God is very against. Marriages with same sex partnerships will redeem and distort the world, just as heterosexual marriages continue to redeem and distort the world. God affords free will to you and welcomes you as you are. I think "Godly marriage" might mean affording the same level of power to exercise free will to others.