Sunday, August 5, 2012

Chick-fil-A, I Jump In

I try to stay out of most current issues on this blog because they incite feelings that are not in proper perspective yet. I have been hearing about this Chick-fil-A thing over facebook posted by my American friends. I am really shocked by how incapable of empathy the Christians involved are. I do not believe they are doing this out of hate but ignorance for the most part. I would like to help my fellow Christians understand what they are in fact doing by asking them to imagine. I would like to point out I may not know all the details because I am not actively following it, too lazy to research. Also I have a massive headache today and my focus is a little divided but I really wanted to write this.

Let us change the name of the franchise really obviously, Pork-fil-A, the other white meat. They are proudly Atheist owned they have been promoting values of personal freedom for years and as a result discriminating against Christians because they believe in authoritarian values that go against their deeply held company philosophy. A prominent kid’s show partners with them by providing toys for their kid’s meals, both profit. The prominent kids show pulls said toys at a moment’s notice saying it is because of Pork-fil-A’s discriminatory practices against Christians. The owners of the kids show are pro-religious freedom and cannot abide with partnering with a company that discriminates against people due to their religious affiliation. Pork-fil-A openly claims it was not due to the values issue but because kids were getting hurt by the toys, people argue about it.

Two camps are formed: One Atheist saying those toys were dangerous and Pork-fil-A has a right to not encourage those hateful, crusading, personal freedom denying Christians. Religion is a choice, they choose to believe in bigotry and hatred and endangering the values of personal freedom this country was built on. The other camp is those Christians so much persecuted since the Roman days feeling pushed down again feeling like the kids show had stood up for them and their rights to believe what they want and live how they want. After all religion is not a choice, really, when God speaks you listen and follow. How could you deny God? It is their identity after seeing the living God they can’t help it. They realized Jesus was the way and against oppression and unbelievable prejudice and possibility of persecution they came out of the religious closet and declared they would not live a lie anymore and be honest about who they were. Then the Atheist activist camp decides to support this brave company and all go there and buy sand witches en masse. I mean they are good and support the cause of personal freedom they believe in so much and they need to be supported. Meanwhile the Christians feel persecuted because the company that is anti-God, anti-Christian is being so publicly supported for their discrimination of who they are. They see it as an act of hate against them. They live in a society that says: Be quiet about who you are and what you believe in because if you are honest you will not be given the rights to be who you are, but Crist told them not to hold their light under a bushel and they want to let that light shine and not to live a lie. These people are rallying at Pork-fil-A to say: Lie, don’t be who you are and suffer the depression and anxiety that comes with being a closet believer.

Well, maybe that helps. God gave us the ability to see the other side to walk in the shoes of others. Jesus went and ate and talked with sinners and Samaritans and got to know them and to understand them as people and why they were the way they were. Why shouldn’t we? If we are unable to see why homosexual people are feeling discriminated against by the dollar vote we are not looking at the issue as Jesus would have. We are ignorant and doing hateful things out of love, twisted isn’t it.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

'I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else.' says my church

Luke 18:11 Seems to be the attitude of my church.

As I have mentioned I am in the middle of a project to live in faith. It was going really well, I was feeling happy and balanced and I felt like I was making some real progress in my efforts to be more forgiving and getting rid of all that anger I have stored up inside of me from all the times I have been hurt by other Christians. Then I stopped praying every day and I started getting angry again and stopped being productive. During the time I was praying every day I was able to keep my house clean for the first time in my life. I read a ton and not just the Bible either. I started writing a novel and got to 30,000 words. 

Then I stopped and my house went to hell in a hand basket, and I have harder and harder time working on my novel. So here I am feeling like my experiment was successful and I want to go back to it. The worse side is now I really cannot stand my church. I had been avoiding going so I won’t  get triggered but today I had to go to the service and the guy preaching was the dude who keeps contradicting himself and I really have no idea if I disagree with him or not. It is infuriating. One moment he says all the rules of the Old Testament are still one hundred percent valid and should be followed and we cannot pick and choose, like the liberal Christians. Then the says we need discernment in knowing which rules to follow and goes on to explain how the rules are still valid. Is it just me or is there something missing? The worst part is this is exactly what he preaches every time he gets in the pulpit. He also says some of the most insulting things. He implies Muslims are evil, instead of just misinformed. There is a huge difference there, one is okay to say in a church and can be said with love, the other is not okay and has no love in it. Also when the tsunami happened in Japan he said it took place because there was so much idol worship there.

He is not the only one who says these things in service. Last week I did not go but a guy preached on how HIV was a punishment from God for immorality. I cannot bear this. I just cannot seem to gain anything of spiritual value from majority of the sermons at my church. There are a few people who preach and they are good but when there are just as many a**holes up there it just does not seem worth it. I have very few other churches available to me and the morning service in Finnish is just as bad. The last sermon that was delivered by the regular pastor was on the homosexual agenda.

Then I saw this posted on my church’s facebook group (presented in its original form all spelling and grammar original):
Dear friends and prayer partners in Christ vineyard,

This is very sad news, but I have to tell you about it. On August 2nd homosexualists want to organise the gay parade in Jerusalem. When I got this info my heart was so sad! How can it be in Jerusalem – the holy city of King of Kings?! Our role is to be high priest and to prepare the way for returning of the King of Glory!

If you are jealous for Jerusalem and the atmosphere in the Holy city please join us in the prayer for Jerusalem! We are going to meet on July 23 in the evening at 19.00 in the center of Jerusalem. I have some info about where the gay parade was pland to be (in which streets). We can walk the same streets and pray and proclaim the word of God and to devote these streets to God that unclean spirit can not touch this land and holy city! We are called to stay in the gap for Jerusalem not only in the physical world, but also in the spiritual world. It doesn’t matter which language you speak, but if you live in Jerusalem or other cities of Israel you are welcome to come and join us!

Our role as the high priest is to pray also for forgiveness of these people, who are homosexualists, and to confess their sins before God, because our war is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph.6:12) And more that this, we have special authority from God to do it! "Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you (Lk.10:19).

You can invite your friends to pray with us in the streets of Jerusalem. If you do not live in Israel or if you can not come to Jerusalem, we want to encourage you to pray alone or to organise a special prayer meeting with people from your church in this day.

“If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill. May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth, If I do not remember you, If I do not exalt Jerusalem Above my chief joy.” (Ps.137:5-6)...PLS INCLUDE THIS IN YOUR PRAYER CLOSET ...Thanks

I am just absolutely overwhelmed by the ignorance and intolerance. This parade is actually an annual event that has been going on for over 13 years and has seen its share of violence with participants having been stabbed and otherwise attacked. I will be praying for the safety of the participants.

I feel really stuck. I wish to belong to a church but living in Finland I do not have a whole lot of choice. I have not joined this church for the reasons complained about above. The community is wonderful, I love the people.  The woman who posted this is a wonderfully sweet woman but so willfully ignorant I might die from contemplating it. So is everyone. I like the sense of belonging to a community of immigrants that is so close knit but I cannot be truly honest with them.
What are the alternatives? Home churching? Well, home churching is done by creepy fundies.  Also the Bible says we need to be a part of a faith community. Here are my other options: Baptists, Methodists, Freechurchers (The Evangelical Free Church of Finland), the Quakers that meet only once a month and not in the summer, Lutherans and the traditional Pentecostals. From what I have heard, one the Baptists churches is even worse around here, also we checked out their website and there were a ton of red flags. I suppose we could give the other church a try. I could try the Methodists, I know the pastor. I have translated some teaching materials for them. Also I could try the Freechurch. The Quakers are a little different brand of Quakerism and I really fear we would not fit in there spiritually like we did in our old church that we still belong to, but we could still try. The Lutherans are fine, I suppose, but they have a tendency to be a little spiritually dry and not committed, let’s just say they are a really respectable institution. They are exactly what you would expect out of a state church of a free and democratic nation. The Traditional Pentecostal church, we they are traditional, like they don’t let women preach, at all.

My immediate plans are to get back to daily prayer and reading the Bible. Then I will attempt to go church shopping to the Methodists and the Freechurch and see if there are other alternatives.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Demon Haunted World (or not)

Is a tittle of a book but it is also a world view some people have that I don’t. Some people see the world, literally, as a battle ground between the forces of good and evil, angels and demons. People like this hear demonic voices whispering to them. Everything wrong with everyone is cause by demons. Think Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
I have a friend who sees the world exactly like that. She sees herself as exceptionally sensitive to the spirit world, maybe she is. I cannot feel what she feels or live in her head. I kind of find this infuriating because this gives power to all the self-deluding charlatans claiming spiritual powers and it is the antithesis of how I live my life.

To me the existence of demons and angels and of this battle is irrelevant. I read a short story once. I cannot remember where or what it was called but it was about a boy who lived in a medieval world and in that world everyone else saw angels singing hallelujah to the Lord as the sun rose and people were healed, curse, helped, by magic spells. This was a disability that set him apart of the rest of the world and was seen as defective. He wondered things like: What makes the sun burn? What is the source of its fuel? The moon and the sun must have different fuel because they have different light? What is the moons fuel? It also turned out he had an advantage over all the others. Sure, he could not see the wonder they saw, he could not be blessed or healed by supernatural means but he was also immune to all spells, curses and supernatural devices.

I feel like him. I don’t see these demonic powers neither can they hurt me. I don’t feel demonic voices in my head. Not that I don’t want to live in this fantastical world full of wonder, I just don’t. I think I know why my friend believes so readily in these powers. She used to be consumed by guilt because thoughts popped in her head that did not go along with the beatitudes. She looked for answers and thought it was just her, defective her, and she was consumed by guilt. Then she realized it was demons and she was absolved of guilt and self-loathing and now she just tells them to be quiet and it works. 

I was just the same, thoughts that I did not want crowded my head, I was besieged by desires and I could not stop them and I was consumed by guilt. Then I realized that Jesus had not been only crucified for my past sins but my current sins and all my future sins. He forgave me so I forgave myself and realized that quilt was not necessary. Repentance did not have to follow intense guilt because forgiveness had already taken place. Acknowledgement and conviction was all that was necessary. My guilt left and so did all those desires and thoughts. My guilt made me obsess and now that was gone and so were uncontrolled thoughts. I was free and so was my mind. She accepted that demons were whispering to her and I accepted that I was forgiven. Both resulted in a feeling of freedom and control. We indeed are very different.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

True Forgiveness

When I was praying the other day, before writing about my experiment I believe I felt the presence of God and also that I got told to go to the prayer meeting, Other stuff happened too actually. I addressed my resentments with the church to the Lord. I felt Him telling me I should be more patient and loving and forgive and as that happened I realized that I had never forgiven. I always thought I did. I merely forgot about it but at every reminder the resentment bubbled up. True forgiveness is not given for the sake of the other person but for the sake of our own wellbeing and I realized that I am not sure how to forgive. The list of grievances keeps growing and none are taken away through genuine forgiveness on my part and it is poisoning me and stopping me from enjoying the benefits I can receive through genuinely forgiving the wrongs I have experienced.

I am a particularly bad case because I take offence for impersonal things. Someone at church makes a racist comment about Muslims, well, I take it personally because I seem to have internalized the Martin Luther King Jr. quote about injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere so they might as well be talking about me. I felt the need to pray for the ability to forgive, because I am not sure how, and they keep in bits poisoning me. I cannot truly learn from the experience until forgiveness is brought about, then I can use my past experience in an impassionate way and know how to enact change.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Prayer Meeting

Well, none of you must be dying to find out what happened at the prayer meeting: Nothing spectacular. It was just like most other Pentecostal prayer meetings I went to minus the war vet freaking out due to his PTSD (he is a great guy and looks so sad all the time, I try to talk to him and greet him often but we have a language barrier, his Finnish is not the best and also he is shut off and I don’t know what to talk about with him).

I felt a little silly about it the next day after hearing God but I went anyway because, well, if I am going to live in a way that I allow God to lead me, I better follow even if nothing comes of it. So I went. As I expected, the praise and worship was boring but I like singing so I sang along and enjoyed it but as always was not able to connect to God. I can never feel God when I am singing along to P&W songs because I am concentrating on singing, not worshipping. So the P&W songs came and God was not in them. We prayed, but God was not in that either. I am not comfortable connecting to God with other people making noise around me. This really bothered me after I moved here leaving behind my Quaker congregation with its nice silent worship. I was starting to think by the time the sermon started that God would not show up for me. Then the music pastor started to talk about receiving the Holy Spirit and how it may not be something that happens all at once so we need to extend out our metaphorical cups and just wait and say: “God I am here, I am waiting.” We wait and if it does not fill we say: “Okay not today, but maybe tomorrow, I am here Lord.” Then we wait patiently and keep praying and extending out cup out. I thought that was an interesting contrast with the typical impatient Pentecostal attitude that you pray and strain like you are about to poop a bowling ball to receive the Holy Spirit RIGHT FREAKING NOW!

After the sermon we prayed some more and some people prayed in tongues, at low volume like whispering, this was a great contrast to most Pentecostal churches where the point is to get God to listen to you by seeing who can yell gibberish loudest through their tears. There was no overwhelming experience for the Skeptigirl of shaking in the Spirit or speaking in tongues but I think I know why I went and the journey continues.

So, if you read this far, time for the fun part. Let me tell you about the usual cast of characters at the prayer meeting, other than my PTSD friend. There was the token drunk guy. The actual drunk guy changes from meeting to meeting but there is always one. Sometimes he is disruptive and has to be escorted out by security but this time he was merely warned and did not get more disruptive than yelling out flowery but repetitive compliments for the praise band about every one of their songs. He sat in the back so we all heard them and the P&W band was amused and complimented. Then there were of course the proper Pentecostal disapproving old ladies who took a look back at him and scowled every time he piped up. He snuck in a twelve pack of beer somehow, and while I never saw him drinking it he was missing six cans by the end of the service. Then there were a few ladies dancing unobtrusively in their places a few people raising their hands and a developmentally disabled guy who was really, really into it.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Gifts of the Spirit

Some of you might be wondering if this blog is changing direction, I really don’t know but you could be. Let me assure you it is not. This blog has been about the same thing the whole way through: My spiritual journey and the questions I ask and the problems I have. This new direction on the same journey is me asking is the leading of the Holy Spirit real and useful? What does it look like and what would it look like? Will I speak in tongues and make a complete fool of myself and appear to be a fraud? Will I just gain direction in my life? Perhaps what I will find out is that the whole experiment was useless and nothing came from it. I don’t know, you don’t know but I am hoping me you, my <10 readers, will find out.

So I was thinking what are the gifts of the spirit again, I really cannot remember. I think there is prophecy and praying/speaking in tongues, the others I cannot remember. Up on looking up the possible gifts I could expect, if this whole thing pans out, there are nine. They are located in 1 Corinthians Ch. 12: 

1) Word of Wisdom
2) Word of Knowledge
3) Faith
4) Gifts of Healing
5) Working of Miracles
6) Prophecy
7) Discerning of Spirits
8) Divers (or different) kinds of Tongues
9) Interpretation of (different) Tongues

I think I know what some of them are but I have never seen a convincing case of any of them. I have been going to a Pentecostal church of one sort or another majority of my life. I have heard tongues but I have never been convinced about them (read my post on tongues to find out more). I was wanting to write a post on prophecy called: ”Prophecy: The Most Useless Gift” I think that sums up my attitude on that point. I still may write it as a part of my experiment series of posts.

I do know what some of the others are due to my very Pentecostal background. Word of wisdom is getting an insight about a person and giving them good advice without prior knowledge of the problem. That in my opinion would be an awesome gift to have. I always wanted to be a wise guru or something. Wisdom is actually one of top five qualities I ask for when I pray.

Word of knowledge is similar. It is getting information about a person or a situation without prior knowledge. Like if your dog got hit by a car and I came up to you just hours after not having heard about it and said to you: “I am sorry that your dog died.” that would be an example of word of knowledge.

Faith, hmm, I mean I know what faith is but I am not sure what it means as a gift of the spirit. This confuses me.

The gift of healing is the biggest Christian fool-them-and-take-their-money industry in my opinion. I have never encountered a person who had the ability to heal others. If those people who hold big crusades claim to have it why are they holding big crusades and raking in the money instead going to the children’s cancer ward and touching and healing children until they get kicked out for it?

Working of miracles, I don’t know. I have seen what I deem to be miracles in my own life but none of them were worked by anyone. I have never seen anyone work a miracle. I have always just seen things happen like running out of money and not knowing where the food/money came from, well usually I knew exactly where it came from but it always came. Thank our friends, thank God or thank random chance.

Prophecy, never seen it. I mean I have seen people “prophesy” but it was in distinguishable from them making stuff up. I will continue to be skeptical of this until I hear a specific prophecy and it come true specifically. Not a vague Nostradamus like mess and then try to cobble it to mean a hundred different things it could fit due to its vagueness.

Discerning of spirits basically means the ability to see demons. Like the old monk in The Brothers Karamazov by Tolstoy you see demonic influences everywhere. It could also be paranoia or schizophrenia but I really should not judge.

Divers tongues, well, I suppose that maybe speaking/praying in tongues but from what I have heard they are not diverse at all and all sound the same, not at all like what the Bible describes in Acts. My father says that he has heard non-Italian speaking Finns speak perfect Italian during services and say real coherent things that were relevant, but I have no personal experience with this sort of speaking/ praying in tongues.

Interpretation of tongues is the yin to the speaking in tongues yang. It is the supernatural interpretation of the speaking. I have heard it many times, I do not get it.

So, I am praying to receive some of these gifts now. Maybe I will receive them and then understand them. Never had a single one of them, or seen others have them in a way I could believe that they would be real, so I have no idea if they are real or not and how they feel and work. Let’s see what happens. I believe in God, it is his people that I don’t believe.

Monday, June 25, 2012

An Experiment in Faith

This is the start of something a little different in this blog. I have done casual spiritual tourist investigations into the Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. Now I present the first Skeptigirl experiment into the spiritual.

I am an extremely logical and practical person with in my spiritual frame work. I am not easily persuaded by signs and wonders and no Christian charlatan will get on over me. I have decided to start on an experiment. I am going to try to live more "intuitively" or not exactly. I do not believe in intuition and there is no evidence for it in double blind studies. There is something else that there is no evidence for in double blind studies either but I believe in it, at least in concept, the Holy Spirit.

As I said that I have been feeling a bit down. I have been feeling better and the empty feeling in my chest has dissappeared either through prayer, or through something else, while correlation does not imply causation, I have been praying a lot. I have also been reading a book called Chasing the Dragon (by Jackie Pullinger) and it is about a woman who just does what God asks her to do and succeeded as a missionary in a pretty tough place with some tough people.

I have decided to ask for God's guidance and see where it takes me. God has created me a skeptic, he wants me to be a skeptic, but I think he also wants me to try out the mystical side of faith and get deeper in the the wierd. I felt what I think is the Holyspirit, can't say for sure but we will see what happens. I also got this feeling I should go to the next service my church holds. Lately I have been not going because I am getting nothing out of it and on top of that the next service is the Tuesday night prayer meeting FMI (excuse the unchristian abreviation). I hate Pentecostal prayer meetings, so many people praying at once that I can't even hear myself think in the cacaphony. The Spirit seems to be taking me to the unlikeliest meeting my church offers, let's see where this goes.

In the mean while I hope you enjoy this dove with lazerbeams coming out of its bellybutton :)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Depression Descending


depression alone

There is no getting over it. The Skeptigirl is starting to get depressed. I only admitted it to the Skeptiboy last night when we got into bed. I haven’t been depressed for several years now, maybe three or four. Sure I have felt down but I have not been able to sustain it and I have bounced back. Everything has been getting really hard lately. I am panicking at night about small stuff I have to do and haven’t done. Well, I go through phases like that but overall it was the reason I failed out of college. I also feel lonely and empty inside my chest, now that is not a phase, it is only something I feel when I am really truly depressed. This makes me worried.

I am not exactly sure why I feel this way. My first guess might be to think it is because a recent string of disappointments and failures I have had like being rejected from the program of study I applied for, or the financial troubles we had because I messed up on my paperwork and lost my unemployment benefits for over a month, or that I cannot get job practice positions I want because other people do not think I am as awesome as I do. That still should not cause this. My depression has never really been circumstance related, especially since I am still optimistic about my future and have plans for it.

I also have trouble feeling God listening when I pray. I am not sure why but when I really settle down for a long conversation I just feel like I am talking to the walls. Also my disappointment with the people of God is rearing its ugly head. I am getting nothing but plain old friendship and company from my church community. There is just one guy who is a bit “special” in whom I feel the spirit of God (you know people who are just a little abnormal but completely functional and normally intelligent, just different). Seeing him and talking to him really encourages me. The rest seem kind of plastic. Actually I see no difference in them, or feel it for that matter, from the Jehovah’s Witnesses or the Mormons. I don’t feel the true spirit of God in any of them. I know “feeling” the spirit of God is vague and I am not authoritative gauge of God’ Spirit and the problem could be with me. An atheist would say “You aren’t feeling it because it is not there, idiot!” I think the best way I could describe how it feels is a feeling of gentle love and genuine concern. It is in the way a person listens and takes an interest in another and opens themselves up and acts out of love. I feel that in me sometimes when I help others and take a genuine interest in them and truly love them unconditionally. I am not good with that, I have never been, but sometimes I manage to love the way God intends.

In conclusion, I am depressed and having a religious crisis and getting nothing out of my church fellowship. Also, as Ghandi is thought to have said: “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” (source, the disputed section)

Friday, June 15, 2012

My Dream Lastnight

So I saw a dream just before waking.

 I was taking an exam. It was an essay exam. It was about the "Glorious past and the glorious future" in Christianity but for some reason I had started to write about music and had lost the question paper. When lunch time came I went to retrace my steps and Look for it so I could re-read the question. On the way down some stairs I was looking on the steps for the paper. Two kids came and asked me, politely and full of fear, to go because an older gentleman was coming and he was in a bad mood and possibly intoxicated. I was really pissed off at this point and spoke very rudely at the girl and she was visibly shaken. As I started to walk towards the eating area I started feeling tremendous guilt and could not figure out where to put my bike while eating, luckily the bike disappeared from my hands on its own and I saw the kids. I avoided the older gentleman and quickly and sincerely apologized to the girl. 

Then things got a little hazy in the dream for a while but it turned out that the older man was the MAGICIAN I was looking for. I went to him with my SIDEKICK and we spoke to him we ended up having a fight and it turned out he was not the real magician but had taken over all his moth eaten equipment as he passed away. As a result of the fight he was now dying, or maybe it was for unrelated reasons, like I said it was a little hazy. As he was dying he told us that a friend of ours was actually his son, he was an expert on MAGICAL ARTIFACTS. He asked if we could tell our friend of this familial connection and give him an object. As he was handing it to me when we both held it he said some magic words and he yelled maniacally afterwards:
"You fool, now I have released my UNDEAD ARMY!!!!" Then he died. Me and my side kick were like ”Oh crap!" and decided that taking the object to the alleged son was still the best course of action because he was the expert and might be able to figure all this out. We ran to the front door of my childhood home (apparently we had ended up in my dream's place of residence and center of operations). I cautiously opened the door and peered outside. It was a bright sunny summer day and just as I had expected no sign of the undead army because they could not have spread this far in just the few seconds it had taken. We ran to the garage. 

"No," I said to my side kick, "let's not take the convertible. Let's instead take the BATTLE VAN. It has extra weapons and supplies like shotguns and it is armored." I got in on the passenger side, because I cannot drive, and he on the driver's side.
"What if he did not mean ZOMBIES when he said undead but VAMPIRES?" he asked.
"Well then I can just whittle some wooden stakes and put them on the cross bows." I replied.
We rode off and I activated the home security system and called our expert.
"Let’s go down this road, it is like a hundred meters longer way but it may help us avoid the zombies but we still have to drive by the cemetery." I said to my sidekick. As we got to the stretch of road that went by the highway, remember it was still a beautiful sunny day; there were maybe a dozen zombies on the road, only that many had gotten out of the cemetery so far. Then WE JUST RODE RIGHT INTO THEM WITH THE BATTLE VAN, IT WAS SO COOL!

Then I woke up.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Movie Review: Courageous

I usually do not do movie reviews or really watch movies but I received a copy of the movie Courageous for my birthday a few weeks ago. Skeptigirl now is an old lady of 30 and calling herself a girl is sounding more and more absurd. Well anyway my pastor loved it so much that he bought many copies of it and then I opportunely had a birthday and so he gave one to me. At first I thought, how nice of him, I have not gotten a birthday present for some years. Then I thought “’From the makes of Fireproof.’ Doesn’t that have bananaman’s lover acting in it?” Then I calmed my prejudice and reminded myself that I have never seen these actors in anything else so there is no reason to look at it with anything but an open mind. So I entered into the movie watching experience as open mindedly as possible…

…and I was pleasantly surprised. 3/5 stars. I liked it despite the omens and might watch it again, one day. I thought the acting was the best I had seen in a Christian movie. The dialogue was good, natural and funny. I have heard people have conversations like that before. It has a few obligatory preachy spots and witnessing moments but they were not any more awkward than in real life. In fact I have seen many more awkward ones in reality. So I liked it, but I did not love it.

Why did I not love it? Why not 4/5 stars or 5/5? Three reasons: It had no female characters. You, a person who have seen it, may say: “But what about the wives?” Yes, what about them? The men had wives and two of them had daughters. Were the wives real characters in my opinion? No they weren’t. They were props without personality. There is a test ( you can do that will tell you if a movie is female friendly. This movie fails on all but the first criteria, having female characters. The women are never seen in a scene without their husbands. If there is a scene the wife is in without her husband you can bet he is a few seconds away from entering it or she is talking to him on the phone. The women develop in no way whatsoever. Well the last one is fine. The movie is about the men after all. The women are just wives that make them going out and working and having progeny possible. They are the helpmeets and not interesting or important in the movie. In fact they are children.

This move treats women like children. I actually would have liked this movie better if the women had been removed from it and the men would have been single dads or something. The movie is about men taking responsibility for their families and children. I suppose that is fine but they are taking responsibility for their wives too. Instead of giving them the respect as fellow adult human beings equally responsible for raising their shared children they are reduced to these adult children. In their pledge they say they will take responsibility for their wives. Are the wives taking equal responsibility for them? that is not addressed. I think it would be enough for them to just be responsible for their own actions and behavior and their children instead of trying to parent adult women who need to be responsible for their own actions. I am not saying married couples should not help and support each other but there is no way you can be responsible and take care of another adult in that way and not reduce them the a child. It is nasty to be married to one’s own child.

Then lastly, this may be anticlimactic because it is just one scene and not really that big of a deal to me next to the infantilization of adult women. There is this gross saccharine scene where one of the fathers takes his daughter to a fancy restaurant all dressed up for dinner and at the end gives her a worth the wait ring. This scene mirrors, and I think is meant to, a marriage proposal. This seems harmless but it disgusts the crap out of me and it seems incestuous. Why is this? He is just treating her like an adult. I am all for giving your kids the respect of treating them like adults and how will they act like adults if you don’t treat them like it? The problem to me is that he chooses to treat her like an adult in a sexualized context. Sure it is innocent and chaste but he treats her the way he would treat a woman he was dating, in the process of courting that would lead to sex. 

Why does he have to treat her like a woman he is dating? Is that the only way he knows to relate to adult women? Is that all they are good for? All women are to men inside Christian culture is marriage material or sexual objects. Is that so much different than in the main stream culture? After all mating as successfully as possible is what we have been evolved to do and be. Does this mean we need to blindly follow this drive and perpetuate this evolutionary imperative? No. I think Christians have a greater responsibility to rebel against what we have evolved to and not get stuck on the rising ape but try to focus on the fallen angel. We are more than our drive for reproduction. We are souls and we are infinitely valuable and not just in the context of pairing up, marrying and having babies. We are so much more than just men and women; we are immortal souls that thirst after righteousness and God. I really wish we could have Christian media that focused on us as something more than breeding machines, as complex human beings capable of so much more beyond the sum of our parts.