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Evangelical Writer Allison Barron Says None of Us Deserves Happiness

allison barron

“I don’t think most of us realize how centered around feelings we are. Every day, we make decisions and evaluate our circumstances based on how we feel at the time. Plus, our culture is constantly telling us to “follow our hearts” and do whatever feels good because we deserve it. We are amazing and wonderful, and we deserve happiness (often in the form of a new hair care product or prime rib sandwich or shiny SUV or whatever that billboard on the side of the street is trying to sell us).

Well, sorry, culture, but we don’t deserve happiness. We’re human beings who lie and cheat and steal and fight and hold grudges and hurt our loved ones, and we don’t actually deserve anything. I strive to be a good, caring person, but I still make mistakes and end up hurting people. However, God gives us the opportunity for a beautiful, pain-free future with Him because of this amazing thing called grace.”

— Allison Barron, The Gospel Coalition, Debunking the Myth of Happiness, March 14, 2017


Allison Barron is a Calvinist, so her beliefs about original sin and total depravity color her thinking when she says that we humans not only don’t deserve happiness, we don’t deserve ANYTHING! That’s right, saved or lost, all of us are worms, undeserving of any of good things that come our way. If we experience blessings and happiness, we mustn’t think that we deserve these things. We don’t. Unregenerate sinners deserve the wrath of God and, after death, unrelenting torture in the Lake of Fire. God might be the creator of everything, but because Adam and Eve ate some fruit they shouldn’t have, God has turned away from humanity, judging them unworthy of his love, grace, mercy, and compassion. During the days of Noah and the flood (Genesis 6-9), God determined that the human race was so vile the he had to destroy every living thing, save Noah and his family, the animals on the ark, birds in the air, and fishes in the sea. God slaughtered men, women, children, and the unborn. (So much for God being pro-life.) Why? Because he could; because he deemed the entire human race unworthy of redemption. Think of all the animals that were killed during the flood. What did they do to deserve such an ignoble end? At best, they were props in an object lesson: mess with God and he will kill you.

Even the elect, those whom God chose to save from before the foundation of the world, are, apart from Christ, viewed in the same light as the non-elect. According to the substitutionary atonement theory, Jesus stands between God the Father and the saved. When Jesus died on the cross, his Father brutally tortured him because of the sins of the elect. All that Jesus suffered on the cross was because of the sinfulness of the elect. (According to Calvinism, Jesus only died for the elect. The non-elect have never been a part of God’s redemptive plan.) If it weren’t for Jesus reconciling the elect to God the father, they too would be under the wrath of the Almighty.

Calvinists such as Barron go groveling through life, believing that they are unworthy of any kindness, goodness, or blessing that comes their way. These things indeed come their way, but only because of God’s grace, not because of their good works, effort, or luck.  Calvinists spend their lives tamping down any thoughts they have of worth, of deserving that which they worked for, or stumbled upon out of luck. All that is good comes from God, and God alone. Any thoughts of self-worth or self-esteem are viewed as affronts to the righteousness and holiness of God. This thinking is what drives the self-deprecating speeches and interviews given by athletes, musicians, and actors. All the glory, praise, and honor go to Jesus/God, they say, ignoring the fact that who and what they are is due to many factors, the greatest of which is their personal effort and hard work. If all the glory truly belongs to God, why bother to work at one’s craft?

Surely Lebron James and Stephen Curry and Peyton Manning and Tom Brady and Clayton Kershaw and Joey Votto — all-stars and future hall of famers the lot of them — are good at what they do because of God’s grace, right? Why spend hours a day, virtually every day of the year working on their skill set? If their greatness is due to God alone, then no practice is needed. Or, perhaps Barron’s God is a work of fiction, and those who achieve much in this life do so primarily because of their diligent, hard work. Certainly genetics, environment, social status, education, and a healthy dose of luck play a part too, but without committing themselves to excellence they would never have become household names. Again, exactly what part did the Christian God play in their development?

As most Christians do, Barron looks to a time after death when she will have a wonderful, beautiful pain-free life with God. For now, she and fellow predestinarians must endure life, awaiting that day when Jesus will return to earth, resurrect and judge humanity — sending the saved (elect) to God’s Trump Tower® and the lost (non-elect) to the Lake of Fire — and then God, with his mighty power, will make ALL things new. The redeemed will spend eternity loving and praising the God who took credit for all the good things they did while on fallen earth. Imagine spending eternity with a husband who never worked a day in his life, but took credit for your hard work. That’s God.

Calvinism is a dour religion, one that demands its adherents endure to the end if they hope to have any chance of getting a room in Heaven. Even then, there will be Calvinists who will diligently persevere to the end, only to find out that the joke is on them, they never were among the elect. No Calvinists can never know for sure that they are saved. They hope so. They hope they are among the elect. They hope they will persevere to the end. They hope on judgment day to hear God say, well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of the Lord. 

Count me as one person who is glad he walked away from Christianity and its denial of self and personal worth. None of us is perfect, and when we cause harm to others, we need to make things right. As much as lies within us, we should be at peace with all men. If we live long enough, we will meet people who don’t deserve love, kindness, or respect from us. There be assholes in this land of ours — unworthy of one moment of our time. For the people we call family, friends, and colleagues — those who make our lives richer in every way — I hope we all can say that they deserve the goodness, kindness, and blessing that comes their way. While life certainly isn’t fair, and bad things far too often happen to good people, in general we reap what we sow. If I want to reap a life filled with love, mercy, and kindness, then I must be willing to sow the same. What goes around, comes around, no God needed.

Unlike Barron, I know a number of amazing, wonderful people. Barron might object, saying that she does know such people, but they are amazing and wonderful because of God and not their own inherent goodness. And therein lies the problem. God clouds Barron’s view of others to such a degree, that all she sees is J-e-s-u-s (what boring view).  For the uncircumcised, unwashed Philistines of the world, we have no need of a God blocking our view.

As an atheist, I can clearly see those who deserve goodness and blessing; those who deserve good jobs, nice cars, wonderful houses, fancy clothing, and big-ass 60 inch LED televisions. My dear wife endured a life of self-denial as a pastor’s wife, living in a 12×60 foot trailer with six children and a workaholic husband. She did without nice clothing, shoes, and the finer things of life, all for the sake of the ministry. Both of us sacrificed financial security and health, believing that our poverty was a sign of our devotion to Calvin’s God.  There’s is not enough life left for me to shower my wife with all that she deserves — all that SHE deserves, not God.

Now that we are free from a God who demanded absolute fealty and servitude — a God who demanded all the praise, worship, and glory — Polly and I are free to reward not only each other, but our family and friends, with all the kindness, goodness, and love they so richly deserve — all that THEY deserve, not God. We are also free to spread the gospel of a God-free, sin-free, judgment-free, hell-free, heaven-free life. Live each day to its fullest. Enjoy each and every day. Pour your life into those who matter. Eat, drink and be merry, and make sure you have a designated driver. Work hard, doing the best you can. Strive to be a better person tomorrow than you were today. Life is all about living. To riff on an Evangelical cliché: only one life, twill soon be past, only what’s done now will last.

Let me leave you with the words of Wendell Berry in the Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more
of everything ready-made. Be afraid
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know.

So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord.
Love the world. Work for nothing.
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it.
Denounce the government and embrace
the flag. Hope to live in that free
republic for which it stands.
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man
has not encountered he has not destroyed.

Ask the questions that have no answers.
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.
Say that the leaves are harvested
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.

Put your faith in the two inches of humus
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion — put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come.
Expect the end of the world. Laugh.
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts.
So long as women do not go cheap
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep
of a woman near to giving birth?

Go with your love to the fields.
Lie down in the shade. Rest your head
in her lap. Swear allegiance
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos
can predict the motions of your mind,
lose it. Leave it as a sign
to mark the false trail, the way
you didn’t go.
Be like the fox
who makes more tracks than necessary,
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

32 Comments

  1. Avatar
    JR

    It makes no to sense to me anymore that God gets all the praise but never the blame. If I spent a week writing a sermon and I deliver a belter then praise the sovereign God. But if I rush it and it is shocking well the blame is on me? Doesn’t a sovereign god have to take responsibility for everything?

    We thank god for the meals we have earned but not the random cancer.

  2. Avatar
    Charles

    She could get that ugly thing burned off her neck with liquid nitrogen for about $100 at the office of a local dermatologist. That’s my comment.

  3. Pingback:Quote for the day | Civil Commotion

  4. Avatar
    Brian

    Charles, quit being an asshole.
    What has your balls so tight in a vise that you choose to fire such a shallow volley at such a gargantuan target? Here is a young woman who gleefully displays the damage she has embraced called Calvinist Christianity and all you can see is a mark on her neck? Your comment is worthy of young adolescent bully. Aim a bit higher.
    The tragic, pragmatic reality for this young woman is simply that the more she finds ways to harm herself, to speak of her terrible sins and the filth of being simply human, the worse things get for her. She has to join self-hatred clubs (her blog) to preach non-sensical ideas about human feelings. Deny yourself! You are not to be trusted! You will have bad thoughts and do things! You do not deserve to be loved. Sadly, this is the truth for many young people who were harmed at a young age, who were not loved and could not bond with a loving parent. Instead they found their ways into a toxic faith that says, I am worthless and of no use to anybody. This is a pernicious, clever manipulation of wounded souls and gives them a song to sing in their lives. It explains with music how they are worthless and fallen but how magic Jeebers loves them anyway even though Allison Barron put him on the Cross! They get the fantasy love to cover over their human pain. I hate myself and of course I hate you too but BINGO, Jesus loves me and died for me and so I can love me and you too! (if you get with the program)
    Allison Barron, fellow Canadian, you are not nearly as evil as you wish yourself to be. You are merely human and worthy of love and happiness in your own right, not just through magic Jesus. It is okay to expect things, to want to be happy and to suffer mortal feelings. We can share our humanity best by being human and not magicians, full of magic tricks from on high. Humans love best by being wholly human. Love yourself, young person. Do not hate your humanity but embrace it. Be gentle with yourself, hold yourself in love and live as caring a life as life allows you. Imagine there’s no heaven, Allison. You have today to discover. I wish you freedom from toxic ideas, from self-hatred and harm.

      • Avatar
        Charles

        Brian and Zoe. I think both of you need to sign up for an anger management class. When that photograph first hit my eyes, they were immediately drawn to that huge mole on her neck. I had no idea how easy and economical it was to get these things removed from my face until I asked my dermatologist to do it. It does wonders for self-confidence, and it really does contribute to better looks and health, especially when you consider that large moles like that are often the precursors for malignant melanoma, which can be deadly. That said, I have no more use for John Calvin or Calvinism than you do.

        Perhaps you two really wanted to attack me because I am one of the few Christians who visits this blog site, and you just wanted to take out your bitterness at what “Fundieland” did to your own lives. I regret that you had such bad experiences. Just be aware that I am not a fundie, and I personally did not wreck your lives. Please direct your anger to those fundie individuals who did. Feel free to visit my blog anytime you like:

        https://faith17983.wordpress.com/

        • Avatar
          Bruce Gerencser

          I’m with Brian and Zoe on this one, Charles. I now see that it was likely not your intent, but your words did come across mean-spirited and unnecessary.

          I’ve had three skin cancer surgeries in the last ten years, two in the last year. I am rightly fearful of the next place cancer will show its face. My doctor tells me that I should expect continued problems with skin cancer. That said, many moles and other skin growths are not cancerous. In fact, MOST of them are not. I have a body covered with a cornucopia of growths common to redheaded, light-skinned, blue-eyed people. Due to ignorance about sunburns, I was repeatedly burned in my younger years, including more than a dozen blistered sunburns — the worst kind. I guess what I am saying is that I have a good bit of experience with skin growths and cancer. There’s nothing in this woman’s picture that says to me, WARNING! Skin Cancer. This is why your words were poorly received. It sounded like you were criticizing her looks.

          It is also unfortunate that you jumped so quickly from criticizing her to suggesting that two very good friends of mine had some deep-seated need to attack you — one of the few Christians on this site (You might actually be quite surprised by how many Christians actually read my writing. Hundreds of Christians do every day). You proceeded then to do exactly what Fundamentalists do, accuse them of bitterness.Surely you can see that your behavior here is not any different from the rankest of Fundamentalists?

          I suggest you think about this a bit before continuing any further self-defense of your honor.

          • Avatar
            Charles

            That hurt Bruce. Really, it did. I suffer from clinical depression and am seriously scared that this may set off another bout with it—drifting in that direction now. You were right though. I was being mean. I was being nasty to this young woman. I apologize for doing that on your blog. But just on your blog—and your blog alone—because it upsets you and your readers. However, I will not refrain from doing so in other places in cyberspace—and I certainly I will not refrain from it on my own blog.

            That being said. I was not aware that the official policy here is to hate the Christian fundamentalism as an “ism” only and go easy on the fundie individuals and groups who are destroying lives. Just in case you have not noticed, you are awfully damned hard on them yourself. Whether you and your other readers/commenters like it or not, I do not see Ms. Barron as a victim. I see her as a destroyer of lives—and even more so—she is a leader in the misguided fundie effort to destroy American lives in the name of Jesus. Moreover, I would bet my last dollar that she voted for Donald Trump, which by itself deserves a strong personal head clouting.

            I am thinking that the best policy would be for me to no longer post comments to your blog posts. That way, I can assure that my feelings will not get hurt by comment responses sent my way, and it will prevent me from inadvertently hurting the feelings of you and your readers. To be quite honest with you, even after reading your famous posting guidelines, I am still not sure what is and is not “kosher” here on your blog because I seem to get into trouble here no matter what I do or say. It just seems to be inevitable that some of my words will cross someone up at some point, and I no longer wish to walk on egg shells here with regard to what I say However, I will still read the main posts on your blog and refer others to them as reference sources.

            I shall now go back to my own blog and do what I do best—be highly critical of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism, be highly critical of the individual fundies who destroy lives, and verbally kick the Religious Right and Donald Trump in the ass whenever they do something wrong or stupid, which is about every second on my clock.

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            Charles,

            There is no need for you to stop commenting. That said, I don’t think it is appropriate anywhere to comment as you did.

            Don’t make my meek & mild rebuke out to be more than what it is — me pointing out , as Brian did, that you focused on the believer instead of the belief. Your comment had nothing to do with the subject of the post.

            I try to always differentiate between beliefs and believers. I’m sure, at times, I fail. I am not aware of a time where I focused on someone’s physical appearance or offered medical advice. I am often the subject of similar attacks by Fundamentalists, and I know how much these kind of comments of hurt, so I try to be better than Christians who do this.

            I do hope you’ll continue commenting. If you decide to stop, your voice will be missed. I have generally appreciated your comments, and that’s why I didn’t say anything about your comment. I tend to give regular commenters a pass when they say something out of character. Now, if you commented like this all the time, that would be different.

            I’m sorry that my words caused you psychological angst. That’s never my intention.

            Bruce

          • Avatar
            Zoe

            Bruce,

            I noticed Charles said “bye” down thread a bit. One thing that concerns me about what he wrote here -> “That hurt Bruce. Really, it did. I suffer from clinical depression and am seriously scared that this may set off another bout with it—drifting in that direction now.”

            As you and I both know (and others too) our depressive episodes cloud our communications with others not only in real time but also online. I see Charles comment as he mentioned was not meant to be malicious and out of concern for Allison Barron. Mine too.

            In your discussion Charles says (I think) that you’re response hurts him, that he suffers with depression and all this may set another bout into motion. That’s quite a burden to bear if he’s rebuking/blaming/warning you for saying anything to him in the first place? It also concerns me that he may self-harm. That’s quite a burden to bear for those of us who have caused him grief. It also reminds me of the times both you and I shut our blogs down because we couldn’t handle giving voice to our own concerns and couldn’t walk the tight-rope of keeping everybody happy.

            Depression makes us all scared to say anything at all, even in the best of times. It keeps us hostage. Over the years I have less and less triggers but I remember many nights not sleeping at all because of the worry I offended someone or because I myself had been offended by the words of others.

            I hope Charles will be okay. I hope you are okay too. These topics are not easy.

          • Avatar
            Bruce Gerencser

            I too hope Charles is okay.

            Just to refresh my memory, I reviewed his comments over the past two years. He and I have clashed several times, once over his view of my psychological state. Other disagreements were the result of Charles’ disagreeing with my use of the word Christian when referring to Fundamentalists and his belief that people such as myself are still, to some degree Fundamentalists. While I strenuously disagreed on all counts, the discussions ended charitably.

            While Charles is certainly free to comment here, I think he knows that I have a separate set of problems with liberal/progressive Christianity. While he and I certainly agree on the nature and danger of Fundamentalism, we don’t agree on the intellectual strength and consistency of liberal/progressive arguments for Christianity.

            That’s why I couldn’t be a liberal Christian. So much is given away — that which historically has made Christianity what it is — that I find myself saying, why bother. Of course, you know, with my frustrating interactions with Grace/Becky/Rebecca , that I have a hard time intellectually understanding liberal theology. It seems to be a pick-and-choose Christianity, quite similar to the Evangelicalism liberals despise.

            One discussion I’ve not had with Charles is his view about Hell, God’s judgment, and the afterlife. Finding out what someone believes about these things often tell me all I need to know. If someone thinks I am a sinner in need of salvation and that I am headed for hell without Jesus, that’s all I need to know about that person. Any religious belief that categorizes people and determines whether they will be tortured in hell by God for eternity…what more is there to know? The rest of their beliefs are just meaningless details.

        • Avatar
          Brian

          Aw Charles, that wasn’t anger! Just a bit of pissed-off because you spoke as a bully rather than helping out. As has been clearly explained, your comment towards Allison was simply handled in a bullyish fashion and did not have a hint of care for her or the problem/prevalence of skin cancer. I honestly thought you were being a turd, Charles and so asked you, as I ask others who are kind of acquaintances, to stop being an asshole. Did I say please? I probably should have but you get the point, don’t you now? If you call names among ‘friends’ (and we are sort of friendly among ourselves here aren’t we, Charles?) then one can be rather more blunt, you asshole, and not be expressing terrible, sinful anger. BTW, I think anger is very important and not a bad thing at all unless it used excessively! I do get quite angry at the harm done by child-abusers and that very much includes Christians, yes… you would no doubt agree with me there. Sometimes my words are very harsh indeed and intended to be because I vehemently disagree with someone. I find this most often when dealing with Christians like Steve Anderson, the Pearls, Doug Wilson and others I feel are rabid humans.
          Charles, you did not include any tone in your comment to Allison that remotely suggested you cared about her possible cancer. You just sounded like a mean youngster in grade school to me. And to try to suggest to Zoe and me that we should do anger management, suggests to me don’t think anger is a good thing. You might be a bit off there and it might be because Christianity hates human emotions to be open and expressed. They are afraid of being wholly human and caring for themselves and others. And they claim, while they are denying themselves wholeness, to be offering wholeness and true love. This is the result of the mind and heart rape of evangelical Christianity, or more fundamentally, their embrace of a means to deny their own personal damage and pain. You, Charles, expressed more anger in your comment to Allison, than I did towards you. I just asked a familiar guy I know of here, Charles, to stop being an asshole bully in his expression. If I had said: Charles: Go fuck off!, I would count that as more akin to your comment to Allison: Hey Ugly, you might have cancer, deal with it, you twit!
          I realize that you are not a meanhearted prick, Charles, but you sure sounded like it in your off-handed jab at Allison. She is a young person I really relate to, especially her obsession with inner fallenness and the Calvinist cesspool of self-harm.

          • Avatar
            Charles

            Brian. I think you are the one being nasty now, which as I explained to Bruce above, is one reason I am not going to make anymore comments here. Bye.

  5. Avatar
    Carmen

    I agree with Zoe – great comment, Brian! I feel sorry for the poor girl. 🙁 What a way to live.
    The other thing I always think of when I hear that kind of ‘god, I’m an awful person’ mantra is this – I had a friend when I was a teenager who would always say, if I was feeling sorry for myself and beating myself up verbally, “Are you fishing for a compliment?”

  6. Avatar
    That Other Jean

    Ugh. Poor Allison! I’ll bet she’s not much fun to hang out with. For myself, I’ll stand with Thomas Jefferson, and “. . .Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.” I may not catch it all–but I intend to pursue it faithfully, and spread around as much of it as comes my way.

  7. Avatar
    Sarah

    Brian I think you nailed it. No one is purely good or purely evil. This is a child who seems to have rejected joy because someone told her she is evil. What is this with labeling people as evil or good? Why want suffering? Life will make you suffer enough. If their version of God was real, would the suffering ever be enough? If God is love, wouldn’t it be blasphemy to say that He wants us to suffer, because wouldn’t that imply that God is not good? Wouldn’t that be in a sense the ultimate logical contradiction?

    • Avatar
      Brian

      The mind-rape called fundy evangelical belief, leads the follower down a ritualistic path of self-harm. It begins with admitting that you are a hopeless sinner and unworthy. That is an important first step necessary to start the foundation for the royal heart-rape of Salvation. It is based, or was in my experience, on feeling the truth in things. As a child I was made to understand that I was unworthy by being human, born in sin. That became my world as it was given to me in love from my parents, in a fashion similar to their own childhoods. I knew I was evil because I knew I was evil, as it were. It was my beginning. I thought bad words in my head for no reason whatsoever than that I was clearly evil. How else could the word ‘shit’ or the evil ‘fuck’ appear to me? The path was laid out long before my time, churches were built on every corner and nobody much questioned this reality. I have thought and expressed every word Allison says above here and I have believed that I was right. Trouble is, the human body, the mortal life of a person does not just go-along like a follower. It protests with feelings and ideas, with dreams and daily LIFE! The cycle of belief always left me needing to be ‘saved’ again by Jesus, forgiven or whatever, and the cycle persisted no matter what sort of maturity I had in my faith. You know, I still remember just weeping like a helpless lump when I realized I actually had a choice in the matter. I had heard and ingested all the preaching about free choosing and so forth but I did not get it because, well, I never did have a choice, did I…. not from the get-go. It took me over a quarter of a century to realize I could choose…. Both Allison and me as young people should have been wearing warning labels so that others would know how truly we believed! When I actually realized I had a choice to say, No, it floored me. I had to practice it secretly, whisper it, keep No in a closet. But I knew I could not let No go because, you know what, I could really breathe when it came to me. I could feel my chest fill fully and the air was mine to use. I sensed freedom in my body long before my heart and mind could even see it from the church basement they lived in… I did not even dare think that one day my heart and mind would come home with me, so to speak. They never did for much of my family. We still produce many preacher teachers and missionaries for the cause…. they pray for me and I am sure would not mind at all if I agreed to wear a warning label myself: Fallen, ungrateful backslider! Beware!

  8. Avatar
    Carmen

    Charles,

    You wrote, “I shall now go back to my own blog and do what I do best—be highly critical of Christian fundamentalism and conservative evangelicalism, be highly critical of the individual fundies who destroy lives, and verbally kick the Religious Right and Donald Trump in the ass whenever they do something wrong or stupid, which is about every second on my clock.”

    Now THAT is a good thing. 🙂

  9. Avatar
    Brian

    I am sorry to have been part at least of the reason Charles has decided to keep to his own blog and not offer his comments here. I do hope that he will reconsider that decision. I did not think to shut-him-down by telling him to stop being an asshole, just to state my view on his comment to Allison. It disappoints me that we are unable to talk that through.

  10. Avatar
    Brian

    Damned depression! It is a River Styx in my family, a crossing over… Having a tendency/history of sliding down the Nothing trail, I want to do just about anything I can to avoid this misery… For me, anger has been one tool of recovery from my depression. I have needed to reclaim anger from the garbage can of evangelical etiquette (where the natural human spectrum of feelings must go according to fundy interpretations of scripture} and to use it, to use anger sometimes without balance, and certainly excessively.
    Once again, I have to face the fact that dear sweet baby Jesus is not the author of my depression: Evangelical fundamentalism was not started by Jesus but by humans walking along and suffering delusions and feelings, men mostly, clever sorts and long-sufferers who carried untold pain with them and could not endure alone with it. And fundy evangelicalism itself is also not the first-cause of my depression-trail: It does not get off scott-free but it was not the first-cause.
    Depression in my life is very much a body feeling, or rather, a lack of it. It is the result of the cul de sac I have found myself facing by being alive and the child of people who live in depression. My mom was a child of a Baptist preacher with Calvinist beliefs. My dad had a more mixed background but lived his childhood out in hard labor on a farm until he was able to get into preacher school and become a Baptist minister. My dad did not talk much at all, was timid socially but quite able to take the pulpit and share the Baptist gospel. He never had a friend, my dad, as far as I could tell and refused to talk to me about his personal history. There was talk of a suicide on the farm, perhaps an uncle of my dad’s but the history stopped with dad because he refused to share it. He loved to read and preach and serve God but he was so solitary and sad. He could smile some within a Christian context, as in talking abot salvation. Both my parents were depressed people and both used their belief systems to structure their lives and their depression.
    What use is it to resist that one is worthless and fallen when it is so obviously true and your parents. your home and social circle prove it all as being as obvious as black and white. And what use is it to resist the glory of God’s miraculous sacrifice on the Cross to save you even if your body/mind seems to say no-way. Your own body and mind are liars and cheats and undeserving of the boundless love of Christ.
    These ideas and feelings are love given to children, to innocence. They are the template laid down for our lives as we are born into the new life of salvation. They are freedom and service to the one true Cause, the one true God…. And it fucking wrecks a child’s heart and life. It tears down all natural joy of living. It makes the glowing world go dark and dank and dumb all around you. Only Jesus can drag you up and those of us who have been depressed know that even magic Jesus and his hymns cannot save us sometimes from the dark cul de sac that is our vision and breath. We depressed people are shallow-breathers. We do not fill our lungs like hundred-yard-dash lovers but take little breaths of air into our bodies, just enough to get along to the next shallow breath. Just barely breathing, just barely scratching through scabs so they bleed a bit more, just ripping a bit more fingernail so the pain reminds us we can’t fucking own even one thing, not even our bodies. I hate fucking depression and I hate that religion does not value the natural human being but rides the delusional path set forth by the apostles telling us what Christ meant by saying this and that…. when he told me I had to walk away from my own father and mother and follow him, I should have known, shouldn’t I? But my parents lived in depression and gave that to me too and Jesus promised more. Surely I should embrace the promise of a fuller life in Christ, right? Maybe Jesus would take my misery away. He would take it away for sure if I could only commit to Him and turn from the evil that is me.
    Well, of course, Jesus did save me and I felt huge glory and relief and my parents’ pride and all the rest and it lasted awhile, a year, some years on and off. But the depression. Why is my body so heavy and thick over me? Why do I feel so tired and down and out? Why doesn’t faith keep me bobbing along with the joy of eternal promise… what a disappointment I am in the mirror. What a crock of breathing shit.
    You know the drill, all of you here, who have been down this path, who have been lost and saved and lost and saved. In fact, we are all Bruce Gerencser, that blogging preacher who was never genuinely saved but faked the good news of Christ for a quarter century or so. We are all failed believers who did not do it right and are still fallen just as God decreed for us. We are all doomed from before time began.
    I still suffer depression at times and I still walk the cul de sac, even in my dreams sometimes. I sometimes find myself in dreams in an institution of higher learning and unable to find the lecture hall I need to be in…. Go ahead and have a laugh as I panic and realize that I will miss key points and necesary knowledge to pass! I know how to get to the hall but it is not where I go, never there, always elsewhere and it is too too late!
    Anyway, damned depression is very very common, most common among survivors. We have honestly earned whatever relief we find in having walked away from it and from belief systems that feed it like it was worthy of our love. I do appreciate being able to share my feelings and thoughts as they are here with you all because some of you know. I can make no sense at all in my saying and still you know exactly what i am saying. The deep shame that results when someone looks at me and says, WRONG! is almost unbearable. I know why nowadays, after a lifetime of wandering in it. I’m not that bad. I am no worse than Allison or Charles, in fact we are all in a fundy family of sorts, some of us rejecting the family direction and others of us trying to invent the right concoction of faith and belief and some of us deeply engrossed at how lucky a bunch of worms we are!
    Charles, I asked my own older brother to stop being an asshole a few weeks ago because he kept sending me every mailing he gets of Days of Praise and he knows how I feel about it, this rag of bullshit I call Daze of Preys… He stopped sending it for a week or so, then started up again with CAPITAL LETTERS: What a JOY to KNOW the FATHER is WITH US and SUSTAINS! (and so forth) He is rabid Christian, the kind you would growl at but he still endures me! I am indeed nasty sometimes, I know, and so are you. I stop sometimes, when I am fortunate enough to have some self-awareness, and I just focus on breathing. If I can fill my lungs right up, I am a winner!

  11. Avatar
    Carmen

    Yes, Brian. You ARE a winner. The fact that you can share your vulnerability like that is courageous and praise-worthy. The other thing is, you DID win. You figured out the deception on your own, using your brain and good sense. I think that’s indicative of a real champion. 🙂

    I wish Allison would read this thread and realize that she could be a winner, too.

  12. Avatar
    Brian

    Thank-you, Carmen! It is all about getting a good, full breath and beginning (again)… As for Allison, many things in the Bible turn out for me to be wise sayings, ideas. One is that a message is always for those who have ears to hear. I went through many years not truly hearing my own self but deafened by the cacaphony of my family history. I heard what I was told to hear but my body always protested. My depression was and is still that protest from inside reminding me to breathe, deeply. Most of the real dark has passed and does not revisit me. I think that when I released Jesus from my prison, I also released myself. Weird but so….

  13. Avatar
    Carmen

    I’m so glad you released yourself! Savour your freedom and give yourself a big pat on the back! That really is the good news. 🙂

    But I always think, when I read stories such as yours, “If s/he can do it, why can’t all the others??” Rational thinking, it seems to me, is much more comfortable than magical thinking.

  14. Avatar
    anotherami

    I read the comments here and I’m both saddened and encouraged by them. Saddened because I believe it was Charles that led me to discovering this blog and my experience with him on another blog is that while sometimes he can get carried away, his heart is generally in the right place. Encouraged because of Brian’s comments and the way he lays out his humanity for all to see. And stupid bleeding-heart liberal snowflake that I am, I just want to hug both Charles and Brian until the pain and anger is so far removed that not even its memories remain.

    Maybe that’s because I know the pain of depression intimately too. I understand the anger of innocence that was not lost but stolen by adults I trusted and loved. Maybe that is why I cannot let go of my faith; it gives me hope when nothing else can. And without hope, I wouldn’t have made it to 14, let alone added another 4 decades+ to it. Without hope, I could not even take joy in my children and grandchildren. Hell, even with it I sometimes wonder if I did my sons a grave disservice by bringing them into this world in the first place. I am certainly plagued with guilt over my many failures as a parent, even though I am proud of the men my boys have become. Life for me has been filled with more pain than joy and I need hope to be able to face each new day. Hope that it can be better. Hope that love really does win in the end. Hope that the love will be greater than the pain today or maybe it will be tomorrow.

    That is my hope for today for Brian, Charles, Bruce and all of the readers and commenters here. May love win for you all this day.

  15. Avatar
    Zoe

    @ Brian March 19, 8 am

    This -> “We depressed people are shallow-breathers. We do not fill our lungs like hundred-yard-dash lovers but take little breaths of air into our bodies, just enough to get along to the next shallow breath. Just barely breathing, . . . ”

    So true to my experience. Learning to recognize it and breathe again took a lot of practice. I suspect I will practice the rest of my life.

    This -> “Anyway, damned depression is very very common, most common among survivors. We have honestly earned whatever relief we find in having walked away from it and from belief systems that feed it like it was worthy of our love. I do appreciate being able to share my feelings and thoughts as they are here with you all because some of you know. I can make no sense at all in my saying and still you know exactly what i am saying. [ . . . ]”

    I know what you are saying. Giving voice to all that is within isn’t easy. Keeping it in, vulnerable. Letting it out, vulnerable.

    • Avatar
      Brian

      “Letting it out, vulnerable…” Yes indeed but vulnerable is free as the sparrow, is childhood, is what we knew before we knew what was the truth given us, that we were given over to….
      So vulnerable is more whole for me, more connective and doors opening. I will practice the rest of my life too, Zoe.
      Meanwhile the preachers yell at us from the street corners because they know and are at the end, an end I never wish for myself or anyone mortal.

  16. Avatar
    Zoe

    @ Bruce, Mar. 19, 1:22 a.m.

    I didn’t even know that Charles was a Christian. But he seems to think I did.

    What Charles said here @ Mar. 18, 8:18 a.m. Charles wrote:

    “[…]Whether you and your other readers/commenters like it or not, I do not see Ms. Barron as a victim. I see her as a destroyer of lives—and even more so—she is a leader in the misguided fundie effort to destroy American lives in the name of Jesus.[…]”

    More time I think could be spent here but alas, probably not profitable. Perhaps for people like Brian, myself and others the pain is deep because in one way or another or many, we were Allison Barron? Recovery and healing isn’t easy when you carry that burden of guilt.

    Unlike Allison Barron, Brian and I, and others got out. We hurt for her because we hurt for ourselves. We hurt for her because others like her hurt us. We hurt for ourselves because at times we were her. 🙁

    We figured it out and got out. We put on our own oxygen masks and saved ourselves by getting out of the toxic abuse.

    Allison Barron is young. With time she may change her mind. One can hope.

  17. Avatar
    Brian

    Forgive me, but….
    “I do not see Ms. Barron as a victim. I see her as a destroyer of lives—and even more so—she is a leader in the misguided fundie effort to destroy American lives in the name of Jesus…”
    Charles gets very angry at the extreme harm being done and reacts in a very extreme manner because, I am supposing, he believes in punishment, the paradigm that crashes down on those seen as faulty and in danger of harming others. Hurt them hard and they might be stopped or at least slowed. Charles connects this young person’s efforts to what he perceives as a greater ill that is a natonwide effort to destroy lives in America. This is a big big reaction to a young person’s expression and I agree with him philosophically. I disagree with his attack on her as if she did not deserve basic human respect. She is not the movement to destroy American lives but a young person trying to serve her master. She does not believe she is worth a dime without Jesus and she bolsters her own spirit by including all the rest of us in the bargain: None of us deserve to be happy! We murdered Christ. It is in fact a very emotionally shallow statement but heartfelt and might have accompanied tears for all of us as she wrote it. I might have said exactly what she did at an earlier age in my life. (Not an excuse!) I know Allison’s intent and it is not evil and in danger of destroying America any more than Mexico is in danger of destroying the ol’ USA by crashing the borders. Somebody said to me that Mexico doesn’t like the wall at all but they’ll get over it. 😉
    Thank-you for mentioning this, Zoe. Your eagle eye reminds me of what I have glossed over and therefore missed.
    Like you, I find Charles’ comment a bit distressing in its suggestion that she is some kind of leader. I guess you could say that a blog writer is a leader but she is a young person and I like to give ground to young people to make statements! To stand and speak! To have a say! That is part of the very important process of self-discovery. The blow-back can offer perspective and painful consideration. I have no wish to crush her with my disdain but I know how anger can ride us to strong, strong statements. I think (my best guess, not knowing Charles) is that Charles blew out a gasket when he read her words saying he was not worthy of happiness. His reaction, to attack her appearance, was a shallow shot from his feelings. I wish he would feel okay to talk about that and share about his pain there but he has retreated for now. Maybe he can reconsider at some point as his attendance here has been appreciated by Bruce, it is clear; by me and others too. He represents a Christian stance that I have shared at one time and respect that he has the kahunas to be here, among non-believers. I do not think he can sustain his position but that is because I could not find a way myself to invent or embrace a Christian faith that allowed me to be honest with myself and to feel that I was where I belonged over time.

    • Avatar
      Bruce Gerencser

      I tend to be far more tolerant and compassionate towards younger Evangelicals. They are products of their environments, the result of being brainwashed and indoctrinated their entire lives. Been there, done that. This is one of the reasons I wrestle with deep seated regret and guilt. I was religiously and ritually misused and abused and I then did the same to my children and hundreds of congregants. My blog is my way of doing penance, of being a voice and ear for people trying to extricate themselves from Evangelicalism’s pernicious grasp.

      But, when it comes to Evangelicals our age and older, I’m far less tolerant or compassionate. These people areTHE problem, and I feel it my duty to go after their dangerous, cultic, anti-human beliefs. Their beliefs and practices must be exposed. I know few in this group will change. (Some will, after all I did.) They have too much time, money, and reputation invested to turn back now. This would be fine if they kept their beliefs to themselves, but they don’t. They seek children to mind-fuck, teenagers to turn into sexually repressed humans, and adults to continue the slavary of past generations. We need only watch what is going on with Trump and the Evangelicals who now have positions of power in his administration to see what happens when Evangelical beliefs and politics have the force of law.

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