Tag Archive: Facebook

A Social Media Discussion Between an Evangelical and an Atheist

pascals wager

What follows is a discussion between an atheist friend of mine and an Evangelical. I no longer engage in such discussion on social media, choosing to focus on my blog, but the following discussion reminds me of the discussions I once had with Christian zealots on Facebook and Twitter. In just but a few comments, the Evangelical trots out an interesting version of Pascal’s Wager, threats of judgment and hell, with a zesty seasoning of you are angry and bitter to round out the discussion.

Enjoy!

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President Trump and Race: Fighting Generational Racism

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Graphic by Matt Bors.

Note: I realize this is a long post, but it was impossible for me to address the issue of racism in 1,200 words or less. I hope you will read to the end, and then share your thoughts in the comment section. I would also appreciate you sharing this post on social media.

Donald Trump. What more can be said about the orange-haired toddler currently inhabiting the White House. Fair-minded people see Trump as a narcissistic psychopath whose entire approach to policy and governing can be summed up in one word — winning. In recent weeks, mental health professionals have begun to question the president’s sanity and mental fitness. Could it be that the millions of people who voted for my dick-is-bigger-than-your-dick Trump were duped by a man who is mentally unfit for office? Or is Trump more like Jack Nicholson’s character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest — a man who is artfully manipulating the system for his own good. Looking at the tax overhaul plan released today by Trump, I would suggest the latter. The president is asking Congress to reduce the number of tax rates, while also reducing the rate on the highest tax bracket from thirty-nine percent to thirty-five. Trump also wants Congress to do away with the estate tax, drastically reduce corporate tax rates, and fundamentally change how American corporate profits earned overseas are taxed. The big winners in the president’s plan are millionaires, billionaires, and large corporations. In other words, Trump wins big, to the tune of millions of dollars a year in reduced taxes. And when he dies his vast estate would be passed on to his heirs tax-free. Talk about winning. Trump wins on both sides of the grave.

None of the above surprises me in the least. Trump is the culmination of forty years of Republican attempts to gut the federal government, impoverish the states, and reward wealthy capitalists for their political support. Begun by Saint Ronald Reagan with what George H.W. Bush called voodoo economics, Republican economic policies are now such that there can be no doubt that their end game is the enslavement of the working class and poor and the enrichment of the corporate oligarchs who now rule (and own, bought and paid for with campaign donations) federal and state governments. And these haters of progressive values are not finished. We still have Paul Ryan and his Tea Party cohorts masturbating to a statute of Ayn Rand with Adam’s Smith invisible hand. These despisers of the poor will not rest until all the social progress gained since World War II is returned to the “hell” from whence it came. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, the Civil Rights Act, the Gun Control Act, Welfare, Food Stamps, Obamacare — gone, gone, gone! In its place is a resurgent wild west where corporations are free to misuse and abuse their employees, pollute waterways, foul the air, and donate millions to politicians who do the bidding of their business overlords (along with a military tasked to protect corporate interests across the globe).

Underneath the anti-human policies mentioned above is a subtle, and, at times, not so subtle, racism. There is no doubt, at least in my mind, that President Trump is a racist. And white supremacists, Steve Bannon of Breitbart fame, David Duke of the KKK, and the white marchers that took to the streets of Charlottesville think so too. White America — eighty-two percent of white Evangelicals vote for Trump — overwhelmingly voted for President Winner. While this in and of itself isn’t proof that Trump is a racist — after all, the overwhelming majority of blacks for voted Barack Obama — the president’s speeches, policies, executive orders, and Tweets — despite the token blacks at his Ain’t I Wonderful pep rallies — reveal that the man is indeed someone who is, at the very least, indifferent to matters of race. While some on the left want to give the president the benefit of the doubt, suggesting that he is a non-politician learning on the job, I am not one such person. Eight months of living in the swirling vortex of a Donald Trump presidency has shown me that the man is a racist.

If I had any doubts about Trump’s racism, events that have transpired over the last week have put an end to them. He is, without a doubt a racist. First, there’s the president’s verbal and Twitter attacks of black NFL and NBA players. My counselor and I were talking about this very matter today, and he asked me if I noticed how Trump artfully moved the reference point of discussion. When Colin Kaepernick took a knee, it was to protest racial injustice and police brutality against people of color. Over the weekend, hundreds of black (and white) NFL athletes refused to stand for the National Anthem. Their reasons for protesting range from racial injustice and police violence against blacks to Trump calling them sons of bitches and demanding team owners fire them. Trump moved the discussion goalpost by changing the point of reference from race to patriotism. The protests had nothing to do with race, according to the president, and everything to do with disrespecting the American flag. Trump did the same thing when he was sharply criticized for his atrocious tone-deaf comments after the white-supremacist-driven carnage in Charlottesville. The protest wasn’t about race. Oh no, the marching whites in Charlottesville were protesting the left’s attack on their Southern way of life, complete with Confederate flags and Civil War monuments. By turning these protests on their head, Trump hopes to avoid being labeled a racist. Sadly, many of his followers have followed right along with him, asserting that neither they nor President Make-America-Great-Again are racist.

Want to see how racist many people in America still are? Just turn to the comment sections on news sites and blogs, or slog through posts and comments by Herr Donald supporters on social media, and you will see George Wallace-worthy — I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever — racism. From support of Trump’s racist immigration policies and his callous indifference to the suffering of non-white Puerto Rico to their defense of his on attack black athletes and whites who oppose his policies, these dog-whistle-hearing sycophants show that we are generations away from living in a post-racial society.

If you doubt these issues are about race, let Steven Colbert of The Late Show fame,The Daily Show’s Trevor Noah, and Nick Wright from ESPN put your doubts to rest.

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I am sixty-years old. I grew up in a flag-waving, John Birch Society-supporting, Evangelical home where racism was never far from the surface of day-to-day life. My parents moved to California in the 1960s. It was there that they were exposed to the virulent racism at the heart of American exceptionalism, Christian nationalism, and ideologies trumpeted by Richard Welch, Jr, the founder of the John Birch Society, 1964 Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, and Democratic/Independent candidate George Wallace. I have no doubt that the preaching of their pastor, Tim LaHaye, from the pulpit of Scott Memorial Baptist Church helped to stoke my parents’ rage against blacks, Mexicans, Martin Luther King, Jr, the Black Panthers, the United Nations, Vietnam War protesters, and anyone and everyone who ran afoul of their white sensibilities.

none dare call it treason john stormer

None Dare Call It Treason, 2.2 million copies printed in 1964 alone

It should not be surprising, then, that their eldest son, picked up on and adopted their beliefs. As a first-grader in the San Diego public school system, I took several of my mother’s books to school, one of which was None Dare Call it Treason by John Stormer. One of the books had graphic photographs of violence perpetrated by Communist Russia. I primarily brought the book to school so I could show my fellow classmates the photos. My teacher quickly confiscated the books and sent them home with me at the end of the day with a note saying the books were to remain at home. I am sure my parents were proud of my preaching of right-wing gospel.

As a young adult, I frequently told racist jokes. While I often had to hide my racist views of blacks in public, in private conversations with fellow white restaurant managers I would lament the laziness of black employees. Even in our foster care provider days when we had a black teen girl living with us, I saw myself as a benevolent white out to help a helpless black girl. I was, without a doubt, the son of Robert and Barbara Gerencser, warriors for all things Christian and white.

My views on race began to change while this black girl lived in our home. In 1983, I started a new Independent Fundamentalist Baptist (IFB) church in Somerset, Ohio. Needing local housing, we arranged to rent a farm-house from a retired teacher. The day we called to pick up the keys for the house, this virtuous pillar of all things Christian told us that she was going to rent the house to a family member instead. This, I later learned, was a lie. The truth was that she discovered we had a black foster child living with us, and according to someone who knew her well, she “wasn’t going to have a nigger living in her house.” We moved, instead, to New Lexington, thirteen miles south of Somerset. There we enrolled our foster daughter in the local public school. She was the only student of color in the school. Needless to say, this made her a target of racist rednecks who made her short stay there a living hell. Eventually, our foster daughter was returned to the system in hopes of her being placed in a home located in a more racially diverse area.

During the almost twelve years I pastored Somerset Baptist Church, my understanding of the complexities of race and the systemic problems faced by people of color began to change. I wish I could say that I had a Damascus road experience and the racist blinders over my eyes immediately fell off, but alas I can’t. It took years and years for my racist tendencies to fade into the fabric of racial equality and inclusion. And even to this day, I am not certain that I am blind to skin color. Several weeks ago, I participated in forum discussion on the subject, Does Racism Exist in Northwest Ohio? (You can listen to the podcast here. The podcast is also available on iTunes.) My answer was, yes, and I gave several examples to bolster my point; that underneath the white Christian veneer of rural Ohioans is a latent Obama-hating, affirmative action-hating, racism waiting to be unleashed. Last November, seven out of ten voting locals voted for Donald Trump. Confederate flags were unfurled for all to see. Racism, once buried safely below rural respectability, was legitimized and encouraged to rise to the occasion. The result is there for all to see on social media and on the editorial page of the Defiance Crescent-News.

During the aforementioned forum discussion, I mentioned an example of how Mr. Progressive, Mr. Color Blind Bruce Gerencser still had deeply buried racist tendencies. Several months back, while driving by Galilee Baptist Church on Ottawa Street in Defiance, I remarked, that’s where blacks go to church. True, Galilee is primarily attended by blacks, but when I drove by the next dozen or so churches, why didn’t I say, that’s where whites go to church? This illustration might seem quaint or not worthy of mention in a discussion on racism, but to me, it revealed that I still, to some degree, saw things from a racist perspective. I suspect that I will spend the remaining days of my life continuing to root out deep-seated prejudices towards people of color.

My wife, Polly, grew up in a family where racism was multi-generational, especially on one side of her family. I don’t remember Polly’s parents making strong racist statements, but their view of blacks revealed itself when they negatively talked about “colored” people. Why was skin color germane to the stories? Does it matter whether the wino, homeless man, thief, or murderer was black? Shouldn’t the crime or behavior be the focus of discussion? Yes, that’s how it should have been, but a racial designation was always attached when the perpetrator was a person of color.

Over the years, Polly and I heard family members tell countless jokes and stories about blacks. Sometimes, the stories were about how their white churches, in a paternalistic way, helped out this or that black family or how the white colonialist missionaries they supported were helping poor, ignorant blacks see the truth of the white Jesus gospel. Several discussions revolved around whether missionaries should require new black converts to dress and behave like Western whites. The answer, of course, was yes. Western Christianity was viewed as superior to African and Caribbean norms. Women were expected to wear bras, men ties, and everyone was to sing hymns the way they were sung at First Baptist Church. Black culture was a problem to be eradicated, not embraced, and missionaries were tasked with westernizing — in Jesus’ name, of course — their target groups.

A recent social media dust-up I had with the sixteen-year-old son of Polly’s Fundamentalist preacher cousin made me realize that the racism in her family is multi-generational. In a post titled Christmas, 1957-2014, I talked about the 2010 Christmas gathering for her immediate family. I wrote:

Christmas of 2010 was two years after President Obama was elected to his first term. Polly’s family didn’t vote for him, and through the night they made known their hatred for the man, Democrats and liberals in general. Polly and I, along with many of our children, voted for Obama, so the anti-Obama talk and the subtle racism made for an uncomfortable evening.

Most years, a gag gift is given to someone. This particular year, the gag gift, given to Polly’s uncle, was an Obama commemorative plate one of our nephews had bought on the cheap at Odd Lots. The grandchild of one of Polly’s uncles asked him what the plate was for. He replied, to go poo-poo on, poo-poo being the fundamentalist word for shit. This was the last straw for us

Fast forward to 2017, the grandchild mentioned above is a Fundamentalist Christian teenager, a staunch supporter, as were the three generations before him, of right-wing extremism. Recently, the boy raged against those (blacks) who refuse to stand for the National Anthem during pre-game ceremonies at professional sporting events. The latest protests, which he perceived was dishonoring of the military, the American flag, and the Christian way of life, resulted in him attacking those who refused to stand.

Here’s what the boy posted several weeks back:

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Several days ago, he posted a similar screed.

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Generally, I treat Facebook as a place to hang out with like-minded family and friends. I avoid political and religious discussions, preferring to look at shared photographs and cat videos. If I happen to inadvertently befriend someone outside of our extended family who is a Trump supporter or a right-wing Christian extremist, I quickly unfriend them. Life is too short for me to spend time wading through rivers of Trumptastic bullshit. Things are, however, a bit more dicey with family members. Polly and I, by far, are more progressive and liberal than many of the people we call family. When it comes to religion, we are the only out-and-out unbelievers in the bunch. While a handful of family members voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012 and Hillary Clinton in 2016, most of them vote Republican, and having had enough of the Kenyan-born socialist Obama, voted for Donald Trump over Clinton in 2016 (a few voted for Gary Johnson).

Knowing this about our extended family, I avoid political discussions with them, choosing to alternately laugh and cry over the lies and distortions they post on their Facebook walls. For whatever reason, yesterday I decided to respond to the aforementioned comments. Here’s what I said:

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My response, predictably, brought out lit Tiki torches, resulting in this reply:

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Let me summarize the boy’s argument:

  • There is no such thing as racism
  • There is no such thing as white privilege
  • Whites are the ones being discriminated against

I, foolishly thinking I could make a saint out of Malcom X at a KKK rally, replied:

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Needless to say, the shit hit the proverbial fan and it is still, today, spraying across the social media. The boy told me I was ignorant, and the boy’s mother, with whom I have had several skirmishes over her ignorant posts about atheists, sent me a red-hot message, letting me know that my comments were out of line, that I was a bitter old man, and that their family was NOT racist — we know black people! I attempted to respond to her, but, by then, she had blocked me.

I would have asked her, if your family is not racist, where did your son get his abhorrent racist beliefs? Dad? Mom? Grandpa? Church? (I featured the racist comments of one woman who attends the church this boy’s father pastors in a post titled, Christian Fundamentalist Shares the Sweet, Sweet Love of Jesus on Facebook. This boy did not come up with these beliefs in a vacuüm. He was taught these things in word and deed.

Needless to say, this Facebook altercation destroyed what little relationship Polly or I had with this particular family. And that’s fine. Perhaps, one day this boy will have an epiphany about his views on patriotism and race, along with his views on LGBTQ people, same-sex marriage, liberalism, and socialism, and vaguely remember his curmudgeonly old “bitter” atheist cousin once removed and his attempts to show him a better way. For now, he remain a textbook example of how racism and bigotry can affect multiple generations of people — even those who, with infectious smiles, say, Jesus loves you, and he has a wonderful plan for your life.

For those of you who are still talking to your uber-patriotic, flag-waving Republican/Evangelical/Conservative/Right-Wing/Tea-Party friends and family, how have they responded to Donald Trump’s racist comments and protests by black NFL players? Please share your pithy thoughts in the comment section. If you are a supporter of dotard Donald Trump, don’t bother. I’m all Trumped out.

Christian Fundamentalist Shares the Sweet, Sweet Love of Jesus on Facebook

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Earlier today, I stumbled upon the Facebook wall of a Fundamentalist Christian woman my wife and I attended church with in the late 1970s. After reading her loved-filled words about liberals, Democrats, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama, I took a few screen clips to share with readers of this blog. Enjoy.

 

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Jesus On the Main Line, Tell Him What You Want

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Recently, an Evangelical preacher, friend, family member, and reader of this blog, posted the words from the graphic above on his Facebook wall. These words came from the song Jesus On the Main LineThe lyrics go like this:

I know Jesus is on that mainline
Tell Him what you want
Jesus is on that mainline
Tell Him what you want
Jesus is on that mainline
Tell Him what you want
Call Him up and tell Him what you want

Well, the line ain’t never busy
Tell Him what you want
Wo, that line ain’t never busy
Tell Him what you want
Well, the line ain’t never busy
Tell Him what you want
Keep on calling Him up
And tell Him what you want

Well, if you want His kingdom
Tell Him what you want
If you want His kingdom
Tell Him what you want
If want His kingdom
Tell Him what you want
Call Him up, call Him up, call Him up, call Him up
You can call Him up and tell Him what you want

Well, if you’re sick and want to get well
Tell Him what you want
Well, if you’re sick and you want to get well
Tell Him what you want
If you’re sick and you want to get well
Tell Him what you want
Call Him up and tell Him what you want

And if you’re feeling down and out
Tell Him what you want
And if you’re feeling down and out
Tell Him what you want
And if you’re feeling down and out
Tell Him what you want
Call Him up and tell Him what you want

I know Jesus is on that mainline
Tell Him what you want
Jesus is on that mainline
Tell Him what you want
Jesus is on that mainline
Tell Him what you want
Call Him up, call Him up, call Him up, call Him up
Call Him up and tell Him what you want

After reading the aforementioned Facebook comment, I thought, if Jesus really was on the main line, what would I tell him? What would I really want Jesus to do?  What follows is my phone conversation with Jesus. Please use the comment section to share your list of what you would like JC to do. I know, Jesus is not on the main line. He’s not on any line. His dead body was buried two thousand years ago in an unknown grave. Jesus remains dead and buried to this day. Forget what you know, and play the game. Pretend that Jesus is on the main line and you want to share your want/need list with him.

JC: Hello, this is Jesus, the alpha and omega, the first and the last, God the Father’s right hand man, and the winner of last night’s Heavenly Poker Game®. How may I assist you today?

Bruce: Hey JC, this is Bruce Almighty. I heard you would taking calls on the main line today, so I thought I would ring you and ask you to do a few things for me. Now, being the all-knowing, all-seeing, all-powerful creator of everything AND the winner of last night’s poker game, you would know these things already, I think. But, I know you have been busy helping President Trump advance your kingdom on earth, so perhaps you haven’t been keeping up with what’s up with me. That’s okay. Shall I begin?

JC: Please do, but hurry. I have Paul Ryan on hold. I have heard through Heaven’s grapevine that Paul “Ayn Rand” Ryan has a long list of things he needs to ask me about.

Bruce: Okay! Here is my Top Ten list of things I want:

  1. Please put an end to world hunger, providing everyone with sufficient food to eat.
  2. Please provide everyone with clean, potable water to drink.
  3. Please provide everyone with housing.
  4. Please provide everyone with clean, comfortable clothing.
  5. Please put an end to war.
  6. Please put an end to violence.
  7. Please destroy the means of war, starting with nuclear armaments.
  8. Please tell the religious of the world that their religions all come from the same place — the human mind.
  9. Please keep me alive until I see my grandchildren grow up and do great things to change the world.
  10. And if it isn’t too much to ask, JC, the Cincinnati Reds winning the World Series would be nice before I die.

JC: Jesus FU****** Christ, Bruce Almighty. Asking for much? I am too busy helping grandmas find their keys, curing colds, and keeping Evangelical preachers from lusting when they see a nice ass to do all these things for you.

Bruce: But, JC, your followers say you spoke the world into existence, that you saved them from their sins and gave them eternal life and a future home in heaven, just because they prayed: Dear Lord Jesus, I know that I am a sinner, and I ask for Your forgiveness. I believe You died for my sins and rose from the dead. I turn from my sins and invite You to come into my heart and life. I want to trust and follow You as my Lord and Savior. In Your Name. If you can do all that JC, surely you can knock out my request list in a few minutes.

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN  (sound of a disconnected phone line)

Bruce: JC, are you there? JC? Hello? Is anyone on the line?

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN

Bruce: I can’t believe JC hung up on me.

Several months later, Bruce Almighty is watching his beloved Cincinnati Reds put a World Series-winning beat-down on the Cleveland Indians. He lifts his eyes to the ceiling, saying, Hey JC, one out of ten. One out of ten. Is that the best you can do?

NNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN

Dear Frank, Is Bruce Backslidden or Was He Never Saved To Begin With?

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Rick, 1996, Our Father’s House, West Unity, Ohio

Late last night, I received a Facebook notification about approving something Rick, a friend of mine, wanted to post to my wall. Rick is a long-time friend, former parishioner, and frequent reader of this blog. What’s interesting about his request is that he meant his message to be a private one sent to a friend of his by the name of Frank. The reason I got the notification is that he inadvertently tagged me. Here’s the message Rick sent to Frank — also a man I have known for many years.message to frank

Don’t be put off by Rick’s poor language skills. Several years ago, Rick had a major stroke. This affected his ability to write sentences. Best I can tell, the stroke has not affected his ability to study and read the Bible, nor has it affected his ability to read religious materials.

I met Rick in the late 1990s. At the time, I was pastoring Somerset Baptist Church in Mt. Perry, Ohio. Rick, a Calvinist, was looking for a Calvinistic church to attend and someone recommended that he check out Somerset Baptist. Rick joined the church, happy in knowing that he had found a man who was conversant in the doctrines of grace (the five points of Calvinism). For the next five years, I would drive two times a week — thirty miles round trip — to New Lexington to pick Rick up for church.

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Frank and Rick, 1993, Somerset Baptist Church, Sunday Dinner

One Sunday night, while on our way to the church, Rick was waxing eloquently about double predestination and whether children who die in infancy and developmentally disabled people are automatically a part of the elect — those whom God, from before the foundation of the world, has chosen to save. I told Rick, with a slight irritation in my voice, that Calvinistic Baptist great Charles Spurgeon believed such people were numbered among the elect. Rick, not the sharpest tool in the shed when it came to social cues, continued to defend God having the absolute right to eternally torture anyone, including infants and developmentally disabled people, in the Lake of Fire. I could feel anger welling. I thought to myself, has Rick forgotten that I have a developmentally disabled two-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome? Doesn’t he care how hurtful his words are? I slammed on the brakes and told Rick to get out of the car. He could walk to church, I told him. I quickly cooled down, telling him, I didn’t want to hear another word from him about whether infants and developmentally disabled people are elect. Rick complied, moving on to other hot button Calvinistic issues.

Let me share another Rick memory, one that I think readers will find funny. Rick worked third shift at a residential home for the developmentally disabled — Mount Aloysius. Unsurprisingly, Rick was quite tired by the time he arrived for Sunday morning church. Try as he might to stay awake, Rick would often fall asleep. Rick snored, so the entire congregation knew when Rick was sleeping. Sunday after Sunday I watched Rick fight sleep, his head bobbing back and forth during my hour-long sermons. One Sunday, Rick bobbed his head back and then forward just as he did Sunday after Sunday. This time, however, Rick’s head traveled forward farther than he intended, smacking the pew in front of him. I stopped preaching and went to Rick to make sure he was okay. Fortunately, the only thing harmed was his pride. After the service, I told Rick that perhaps he should skip the Sunday morning service when he worked the night before. That way he could be rested and mentally fresh for the Sunday evening service. By the way, this was the only time in twenty-five years of pastoring churches that I told someone, please don’t come to church.

I haven’t been Rick’s pastor for over twenty-two years, and the last time I saw him was in 1996 when he and Frank drove to West Unity, Ohio to attend services at a new church I had planted. Since then, I have traded a few emails with Rick, but nothing of substance.

Rick’s message is a reminder to me that people still talk about my deconversion. People who knew me well — as Rick and Frank once did — are still trying to square the pastor they once knew with the atheist named Bruce Gerencser. In Rick’s case, he wonders if am just backslidden, or is it possible that I never was saved. I am sure Rick prefers the backslidden explanation. I am sure trying to wrap his mind around the possibility of me never being saved is too much for him to emotionally and intellectually handle. If I was never saved, this means that Rick was taught for five years by an unsaved pastor, a man he heard expositionally preach hundreds of time, preaching that he believed was empowered by the Holy Spirit. I am sure he remembers the countless hours we spent after church talking theology. I am sure he remembers my love, kindness, and compassion, and my willingness to, week after week, drive to New Lexington and pick him up so he could attend church.  I am sure he asks himself, how is it possible that the Bruce I knew was never a true Christian.

The easy out for Rick is for him to embrace Arminianism with its belief that saved people can fall from grace. Doing so would mean that I once was saved, but now I am not. Of course, Rick’s Calvinism keeps him from believing I have lost my salvation, so he is forced to psychologically torture himself with thoughts about whether I am backslidden or was never a Christian to start with.

I wish Rick nothing but the best. I hope he will, in time, come to terms with my current godless state. I chose to be exactly where I am today. Or did I? Perhaps all of this has been decreed by God, and the person ultimately responsible for my lost condition is the divine puppet master, John Calvin’s God.

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Rick, Bruce, and Greg, 1993 , Somerset Baptist Church, Sunday Dinner

Dear Christian Woman: Is your Facebook Profile Photo Causing Men to Lust?

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Fundamentalist Christians rarely miss an opportunity to point out ANOTHER behavior that is a sin or causes others to sin.

Several years ago, Trisha Ramos  wrote:

No doubt our Facebook pages can be a witnessing tool for the Gospel and with the advancement of modern technology and all the various social media venues, we don’t even have to leave the house to be a witness for the Lord. In fact, why else have a Facebook, but to tell of the Lord’s wondrous deeds and call others to turn from their sins and trust in the Savior, Jesus Christ. I’m sure there are many other reasons why we have Facebook pages but in the midst of it all, proclaiming the gospel should be the chief aim for any follower of Christ.

To show this more clearly, when you accept a friend on Facebook, typically the very first thing they do is view your pictures. In fact, sometimes that’s all they may do. They quickly skim through them to see how you look and what you’ve been up to for the past decade or two and then off they go, onto the next person’s page. It reminds me of the ol’ adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” This saying refers to the idea that a picture communicates something. Sometimes it communicates too much. So with that in mind, when was the last time you went through your Facebook pictures and asked yourself, “Is this modest?” or “What am I communicating to my ‘friends’?” and “Would I want my brothers and sisters in Christ looking at theses pictures?”

Ladies, this is especially for us. If you are a professing Christian and if you haven’t done this already, here’s something practical that you can do: Go through every picture on your Facebook (This may take time depending upon how many pictures you have, but it will be worth it since on Judgment Day you will give an account to the Lord for all of these things) and if you are dressed in an immodest manner, hit ‘Delete!’

If you need help with deciphering what is modest and what is immodest, ask a modest sister in your local church for help, or a godly older women who can give you wise counsel, or ask your husband (assuming that he has biblical standards for modesty). And if all else fails and you have no one else to go to, well then, there’s always me and I’ll be quick to toot my modesty horn.

For starters, here’s a few specific areas that might help you out, let’s begin with cleavage. Ladies, if you are showing cleavage, hit ‘Delete’ as fast as you can! I don’t care how “cute” you look or if someone else posts to pic of you or if it was way back in your BC (before Christ) days. This is not acceptable in any circumstances for a woman who professes to follow Christ. Simply delete the picture or ‘Un-tag’ yourself.

If you have photos of you or your friends in bikinis, hit ‘Delete’ as quickly as you can and don’t look back. Or if your mid (midriff) section is showing hit ‘Delete’ please. And short shorts are a no no, so you know what to do with that, ‘Delete, delete, delete’. And then check your heart and ask yourself, “What is it within me that desires to present myself in this manner?” and “What does this speak of the condition of my heart?”

“In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel…” 1 Timothy 2.9a

Like the Pharisees of old, modern-day fundamentalists major on the minor. Cleavage is everywhere these days. Women have two breasts and the space between them is cleavage. Women have had cleavage for as long as I can remember. It is utterly amazing that anyone would give one moment of time to the issue of women showing their cleavage. Cleave away dear women, cleave away, I say!

Are Christian men so weak that any show of cleavage causes them to lust? Maybe I am too old, but when I see cleavage my first thought is “are the breasts real?”  I am glad to be free from the Puritanical shackles of fundamentalist Christianity. As a man, I am grateful that I have the freedom to say “nice” in the presence of my wife and not get a lecture on “if your eye offends you pluck it out.” It is refreshing to hear my wife say “that’s a nice looking guy.”  No fear of infidelity. No fear of moral compromise.

cleavage 2

We are sexual beings. It is quite normal to “look” and even speak out loud what we are thinking as we look. It is the Christian who is abnormal, living under fear of judgment or disapproval if they dare embrace and express their sexuality. I know the morality police will tell me that I am a licentious, lascivious person who has been given over to the lusts of the flesh. According to them, I am a reprobate who is beyond the influence of God. (Romans 1)

There is a lot of sexual dysfunction in the Evangelical church. Blogs like the one mentioned above help reinforce this dysfunction by teaching women to treat their body in ways that diminish their sexuality or turn their sexuality into something to be ashamed of. Christian men are viewed as helpless and weak, turned into horn dogs by the slightest bit of cleavage or leg. Evangelical women are taught that it is their job to keep these poor, helpless men from lusting and falling into sin. Time to cover up, head to toe…wait a minute…isn’t there another place in the world where women are required to do the same?

Note

Trisha Ramos is married to Emilio Ramos, teaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church in Frisco, Texas.

Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube

 

facebook twitter youtube

Last week, I cleaned up my personal Facebook account and  inadvertently unfriended some of you. Please accept my apology for treating our friendship so carelessly. My intention was to remove those I have no meaningful interaction, not remove those who interact with me from time to time or on a regular basis. If you find that I have unfriended you, please send me a friend request again.

If you just want to FOLLOW me on Facebook, then you can LIKE my page. I post everything I write to my page and I try to respond to everyone who comments there. In fact, I’d appreciate it if readers and Facebook friends would let others know about my Facebook page. I have had recent posts read by thousands of Facebook members who have never been to this blog. While I am not a huge fan of social media, I do know that Facebook and Twitter drive a lot of traffic to this site. Like every writer, I want my wonderful, delightful, poetic prose read by one and all.

Recently, I surpassed 1,000 followers on Twitter. I am still trying to figure out how best to leverage Twitter, increase readership, and connect with readers at the same time. I have found Twitter to be a challenge, but I continue to work at being a better Twitterer. I find 140 character discussions frustrating, but I have met quite a few wonderful people on Twitter. Of course, I have also come in contact with people who remind me of jock itch.

In the near future, I plan to do some YouTube videos featuring some of my writing. I have all the necessary equipment to produce top-notch videos. I just need to carve out some time to get it done. I do worry about YouTube comments and whether I should enable them. My experience has been that YouTube comments are, the majority of the time, worthless. Is that your opinion too? If you have experience making videos, especially for YouTube, and have any expertise or advice you are willing to share with me, I’d appreciate it. I think this is an untapped resource and I want to see if I can use it to become, as the Apostle Paul said, all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.  Except, I want to save women too. 🙂

If you want to follow my YouTube channel, click here.

Bruce

Facebook and Twitter

facebook and twitter

I decided I need some virtual human contact so I signed up for a personal Facebook account. This will be the place I hang out with family and friends, so don’t expect deep discussions about atheism or religion. Expect light discourse, pictures of the grandkids, and exposure to the “rest” of what makes up Bruce Gerencser. If you would like to be friends, you can friend me here.

As far as Twitter is concerned, I am not a big Twitter fan but I know others are, so I will do my best to accommodate the Twitterites by posting my writing to Twitter. You can follow me here.  Please don’t expect long 140 character discussions. I am not built for such discussions. I get too snarky. I am better suited for long, friendly discussions over coffee, wine, or a good meal.