Giving Thanks for the Bridges I’ve Burned This Year

Many times a day I think about them—the people I used to feel close to, the ones I once felt at home with, those whose presence I used to find comfort in. They are family members, lifelong friends, co-workers, neighbors, former church friends. My mind shows me their faces and lists off their names, and I begin to grieve the loss anew as I remember what once was but no longer is.

I think about the massive and quickly widening space between myself and these people; the great distance created by silence or hurtful words or simply by me knowing what I now know about them. I rewind through the social media skirmishes, the cold family gatherings, and the incendiary verbal bombshells we’ve exchanged this year, and I survey the bloody fallout.

And I’m keenly aware that I am likely burning bridges between us in these days.

Simply by my steady volume, by my refusal to nurture falsehoods, by my insistence on calling out hypocrisy, by my intolerance to hatred—I am probably forever altering the connection between us.

I’m going to have to risk this.
I’m going to have to be okay with the burning.
It isn’t that I find any satisfaction in the separation or the slightest joy in the severing of ties—not even the cheap high of a middle finger flip, mic drop as I walk away. It’s simply self-preservation.

I am speaking unapologetic truth about the things that matter the most to me.
I am enduring the collateral damage of full authenticity.
I am clinging tightly to my integrity and my sanity—even if I have to let go of these treasured relationships to do it.
I’m holding onto my soul at any cost, because in the end it is worth more to me than even they are.
More than appeasing someone else or accommodating their prejudices, I need to be able to look myself in the mirror and to sleep at night.

A part of me still looks for common ground with these people, still longs for restoration, but honestly it is growing smaller and smaller as I see how far apart we are, as I find how fundamentally differently we see the world, and as I hear the sound of my own clear voice ringing out. The more they dig their heels in, the less and less interested I become in making an uneasy truce with the things that turn my stomach and break my heart—even when those things come from people I love and respected. There isn’t time for that.

And so yes, if saying that Black Lives Matter, and affirming the Muslim community, and condemning treason, and standing with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and calling out men who boast of grabbing women by the p*ssy, and demanding care for sick people—if these things ignite the bridges connecting me and these people, so be it. I’m not reveling in it but I can live with it. I can still even love some of them, but I will simply love them from a safe distance.

I know that in the space made as these tethers burn away, there are other beautiful things being built: connections with people who too are willing to sacrifice comfort in order to resist unacceptable things, a different tribe formed in the affinity we have for all people, a more expansive community of faith with a far bigger table.

Most of all, a truer, stronger version of myself is being formed in the crucible of this new distance—one that refuses to waste a single, fleeting second being silent in the face of a hatred that compels me to speak.

Yes, I suppose I’m burning some bridges.

It happens when you find yourself on fire.

 

 

 

 

124 thoughts on “Giving Thanks for the Bridges I’ve Burned This Year

  1. I’m still grieving. I realize nothing has changed except that now they know who I really am and where I stand. I am printing this off so I can reread it, again and again. There’s a part of me that wishes I could just not care as much about the hate I see, here and in real life, but, I can’t stop myself from being shocked over and over again by hate and even worse, the indifference of church people. I once was them and then real life happened and I became part of the group on the fringes of the church and I cannot ever, nor will I ever go back.

    • I feel the same. I recently picked up some religious literature at the local Helping Hands Ministries. I was shocked to see the pastor rant and rave about how homosexuality and transgender people are to be viewed as so different in their sexuality that God does not love them. WTF? I wrote him a 2 page letter letting him know that people like him are the reason I no longer attend Church. How can you preach hate in Church? I just don’t get the religious right. I believe in the 10 Commandments because they are good rules to go by but when churches target those that are different, to me, that is completely UN-RELIGIOUS. Let’s celebrate loving differences and STOP THE HATE.

    • Amen Rachel:
      John again, as spoken so eloquently and without malice or pride but just as a human being, being responsible for people that God has placed on this Earth., no matter their colour, creed., orientation and the list goes on., but that he chooses to love and live and enjoy those things around us that make us people of the living God. I do so love the words he wrote in paragraph 9., We too., here in our household have been hurt, angered, shocked by what we considered to be friends for so many years and thought we really knew them., when in fact we did not., we did not know how hateful and prideful and outright nasty they could be if the world did not rotate around them, in their so called Christian walk. We we too, have just had to let them go., yes, we grieve and pray and hope that someday they will see and hear what Jesus has preached regarding his brothers and sisters., but, I will not hold my breath. So we have joined the larger faith Community which have become followers of Jesus Christ and his teachings., not some regurgitated out of context words that once pinned my ears back., but now I really hear. So, it is so great to know that we are not alone.

    • What disapointed me the most was finding out the true colors of some of these people. The church has done more hurt to me than any others. There are a few churches in Charleston that are filled with people who think as I do but right now I will just wait and see before I go back to any church.

  2. Well Said , In life YOU cannot please everyone
    When you think you are , then life crumbles in despair.
    Many performer in life and on stage will tell you the same thing
    They never feel completely accepted or as though they are accepted.

    This is normal , as we should always feel our best in our inadequacies know that this is what keeps us humble, lowly and meek
    Be care Full to do all things in obedience to God 1st then your rewards for good service come from the right source.
    No the acceptance of many, all , and those who you should never seek acceptance from.
    Their is a way that seems right to mankind.
    This is the way of Good Feelings, Good Vibes, Good Will that satisfies only one s self, and Good news , that leads to death.
    The Bible is Clear on Salvation if one really wants it. and has determined that they want a changed life, a way of escape from the Eternal Fire , How many ways man has created to get to heaven by his own ways, works, power.
    That is what the bible calls Vanity.
    Selfish, Self centered, Self Seeking only to satisfy himself, herself , ones own goals .
    God is Clear on one thing.
    There will always Be Offense’s
    And if you are Telling the truth , or speaking the Truth in LOVE , you will offend
    There is no way around it.
    Everyone in life , Thinks they are the best, greatest, full of Pride , Full of conceit, and Definitely Ego Driven.
    These Attributes are not very popular
    lowliness, Servitude, Humility, Selfless Giving
    Godliness which gives all Glory to Jesus Christ, Gods Son, The Holy Spirit.
    And Most of All Taking NO CREDIT for what they do.
    Pride of life is what man Teach’s and want s to believe so they, he, you can accept our own, your own failures
    until we humble ourselves an confess we are no better than anyone else, and give God , Jesus Christ, Full Control , We will never Change.
    God Hates Sin, Rebellion, Pride, Arrogance
    God Love s Mankind , wants change, wants repentance, self denial, selflessness, caring with out exception as an obedient child .

  3. Thank you. Thank you for your courage. Thank you–unironically–for your righteousness. I hope that sometime in the future, the people to whom you burned those bridges will see their way to building them back to you.

  4. You speak my truth. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them but if my life is to have meaning and if my grandchildren’s life in not to be upended by what they perceive to be alright then I will continue to fight for what I believe and against what they are willing to inflict on the rest of us. So once again I thank you and wish you Peace and Love. The planet needs you.

  5. John, could it be that you’re in the closet? I’m not being sarcastic, I am being sincere. Some people say if you disagree with homosexuality or Speak out against it, that supposedly means that you’re secretly gay. But there are others who say that if you show support for it, then that also means that you’re in the closet. So could it be that you’re struggling with feelings of same sex attraction? And if you are, would you ever come out of the closet?

    Thanks

    • Actually Manny, usually those most outwardly opposed to the LGBTQ community are those in denial about their sexuality—not those who support them.

      The fact that I am fully affirming of the LGBTQ community, means that I do not view being LGBTQ as a flaw, a moral failure, or anything negative. So the idea that I’d feel shame is a faulty premise.

      Now, the hateful Conservatives… I’d ask them.

      • Thank you for the Perfect answer. I have always supported the LGBTQ community, I am a straight 75 year old and hate closets. That was a strange comment. Wow,

      • John, not so fast. I’m confident that I’m older than you, and it has been my experience that men who go out of their way to support homosexuality, has a vested interest in doing so: they are a member of the “Family”.

        My wife and I have known several Married men who even have children and grandchildren, but they were living secret lives gay men.

        We were on vacation in Hawaii and met two men who were in the next room to us, and they came out on the balcony and talked with us.

        We learned that they were both Married men, had several Children, were prominent GLAAD supporters, and their wives believed that they were in Hawaii on “business”.

        We know of a very prominent Pastor in Houston, Texas, who is very Married to a woman, and he is very well known for participating in gay pride marches because “he wants to show support for equality”. He has been put on paid leave at least two times due to being caught with other men. He is so out there that he even make trips overseas just to get with foreign men.

        And I could go on. I believe that both Tim Caine and Barack Obama are gay men who went out of their way to support the gay cause because they are members of the Family.

        So given those realities, you could very well be in the closet! Your delimma would be of course, is how would you break the news to your wife and precious small children.

        Whenever I see a man going beyond the call of duty in support of homosexuality, I generally think, “yeah, home boy is struggling with something!”

            • I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school and have rejected most religious institutions since then. I started reading your columns during the election and appreciate your honesty and willingness to speak your truth regardless of the backlash you often receive. I have never responded to a column before but I have to say I love your response to good old Chuck, you rightfully did not try to engage him but shut him down perfectly. Thanks…

            • That would put you pretty high on the intersectionality rankings. You could be higher if you identified as a woman. Think bigger, JP!

            • But where does that put this 80-year-old white-haired granny who has always accepted gays of either gender? I had three children with a fantastic man who definitely was all male, and accepted everyone as well. Thank you for speaking out.

        • Chuck Walker, not only is that the most ignorant premise I have ever heard, it is just statistically impossible.

          Whatever your personal “experience,” there are too many heterosexual men and women who support LGBTQ equality for them to all be “a member of the “Family” whatever you are trying to imply .

          Just as there are many people who support the Second Amendment but do not own guns, or people who support the right to protest but never have. I am sorry this is a foreign concept to you, but it is still quite normal.

          No doubt, you may well know “several Married men who even have children and grandchildren, but they were living secret lives gay men.” That is entirely possible as the cruelty and judgment of society gave them little choice for centuries and in fact still judges like you do. That does not however, prove your premise.

          I am sure you could “go on” making up slanderous accusations about others to “prove” your lie. But don’t bother, you are not among whackadoodle “Christian” right-wingers here and it will not go well for you to keep doing such things.

          But, did you even stop to consider that if your premise is right and so many more millions of men (and I am sure you say the same about liberal women) are gay, then that is just more proof that it is not a choice and just the way God made them? No, I suppose not.

          Whenever I see a man “going beyond the call of duty in support of homosexuality,” I generally think they really believe in the American ideals of equality, equal protection under our law and the love of God in action. Maybe it is your thinking you need to adjust.

        • The idea that those who support LGBTQ are secretly gay is as ridiculous as the notion that those who believe homosexuality is a sin are secretly self-loathing closeted homosexuals.

          Both claims are erroneous and not supported by any evidence. At least none that I have seen.

              • In 19 peer-reviewed studies, researchers found anatomical and genetic differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals (different brain structures, inner ear anatomy, smell sensitivity, chromosome markers, etc.), observed innate homosexual behavior in animal species (from fish to fruit flies), and evaluated the effects of “conversion therapy.”

                http://borngay.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000006

            • I wasn’t necessarily saying that there are no cases of hidden homosexual behavior in people who show disdain for homosexuals, I’m sure it happens.

              What I’m saying is that this does not apply to the majority of people who profess hatred of gays.

              Regardless of what one feels the Bible says about homosexuality, I believe we are called to love others whether we agree with their actions or not — and I think it’s sad to see so many Christians who treat homosexuals as subhuman. It’s not how Jesus would approach them.

              In many of these situations I believe Christians have allowed themselves to be deceived into believing that treating gays badly is somehow “loving” them. I recently listened to a podcast where Joe Rogan interviewed the daughter of the pastor of Westboro church, and she confirmed that those folks really think they’re showing love when they show up at funerals and protest. It’s infuriating.

              • Excellent points Jeff. The license some “Christians” think they have to be cruel (and crude) about the LGBTQ community is stunningly unChristian.

                I am not someone who believes (or has ever said) that most or many of the loudest voices of hate harbor some homosexual tendencies but those who go to such effort to crudely discuss the sexual aspects of anyone’s sexual attraction have some serious problems IMHO.

                No way you can package that as love, as loving “correction,” or as common decency. It is far from the love of Jesus shown to every manner of fallen and suffering he encountered.

              • Jeff wrote “I wasn’t necessarily saying that there are no cases of hidden homosexual behavior in people who show disdain for homosexuals, I’m sure it happens.”

                According to the evidence I provided, which included 19 peer-reviewed studies, it is a frequent thing. Not an occasional one.

                “I believe we are called to love others whether we agree with their actions or not — and I think it’s sad to see so many Christians who treat homosexuals as subhuman. It’s not how Jesus would approach them.”

                Agreed.

                The people at Westboro must be suffering from a mass and shared delusion if they believe they are acting in a loving manner when they invade funerals and distress grieving people even more.

          • Jeff, other than what I’ve already intimated, I agree with you that just because someone disagree with homosexuality, doesn’t make them a closet gay.

            The people on this blog will fight you tooth and nail about that because they have to uphold that false narrative.

            I most certainly disagree with homosexuality, and I constantly Pray that God will continue to give me wisdom so that I will remain faithful to my beautiful wife of 29 years…. because I am very attracted to women!

            It baffles me as to how any man could look at a sexy and beautiful woman, and reject her because he’d rather have perverted sex with a man that has the exact same sexual tools that he has!

            That kind of sex is Nasty and very unclean.

            Now you better get ready for John, Sandi, and Gloria will go into protect and fight mode!

            • Chuck Walker, It is wonderful that you love your beautiful wife! If you cannot understand how others are attracted to their wives or husbands or partners that is your right to feel that. I don’t understand a lot of things about people. I have a bias against liars.

              But I do feel that humans are meant to be true to who they are and to love who they are. They are also meant to love who they love. You must believe in love because you love your wife. I bet there are women out there who you are not attracted to. That is how attraction works.

              How does your argument on this particular post pertain to, lets say, women who happen to be gay? Or, the ones who have the correct “tools” but were not born with the correct ones.

              I am not an authority, but I would think how they express themselves is no different than any married heterosexuals. Unless, of course, there is some mysterious rule regarding what goes on between married couples.

              I find a lot of male posters remark about the “perversion” of men’s actions yet only a few mention what goes on between women. Do you think maybe because they are ok with a little “girl on girl action” which has nothing to do with being homosexual but, I would imagine, a lot to do with the pleasure derived from porn? I think porn is a perversion because it is fake and a lie.

              Peace

    • Manny. No. However, in my opinion, the reason so many closeted gay Christians fight so hard against LGBTQ rights is because they fear that the society as a whole will one day fully accept LGBTQ people—and as a result—they too will come out of their closets into a world that is safe for them. They need laws against being LGBTQ, they need LGBTQ discrimination, and they need LGBTQ persecution—and need it desperately—because the fear of prison, pain, and rejection are the only things that are ensured to keep them safe in their closets.

        • I think the reason closeted LGBTQ people stay in the closet is because they do not wish to be treated as they have treated others: with contempt, disgust, and hate.

          The ancient Egyptians said it, Confucius said it, Buddha said it, Jesus said it, and every person who in emotionally and spiritually true knows it to be true “Do to others as you would have others do to you.”

  6. Well said. I know how you feel as i feel the the same way. I am frustrated. Why don’t they see what I see? How can they support such a man? No answers just stone cold silence.

  7. EXACTLY! Well said John P. In the end, it is our own soul on the line and keeping any relationship is not worth the cost.

    I no longer feel the loss, I only feel the empowerment and the lack of guilt at trying to maintain what I know was tainted and artificial as we tiptoed around the touchy issues. Now I am free to be what my faith, my integrity and my conscience demands and it feels good to be genuine.

    I will take the love of God with me to judgment when it comes. I will also have my tolerance and refusal to pick up the first stone with me. I will wear my refusal to blame (the minority, the least of, the immigrant, the refugee, those of other faiths, those of other sexual orientation, those of other gender identities, those of other cultures, those who chose abortion, those who have sinned and made mistakes). I will meet God with a heart that was willing to abandon family, friends, church and organizations that did not offer the love of God or the hope of respite.

    That is all on me and that is why it was easy to let them go. They may be right, but they are not the love of God. Maybe I took God too literally, but something repeated that often seems worth listening to over things barely mentioned. That is my truth.

    • Sandi, amazingly you think that love is supporting people in their sins, and then you go even further by thinking that God will have to see their sins the way you do. I’m worried about you because you’re very misguided as are most Homosexual people.

      • Chuck, the person you need to “worry” about is you. Of course I think that the love of God is supporting people, even those not just like me. That is what God tells us it is. It is easy to love, accept, respect and defend those just like us. Not so much those we do not fully understand. You manage to love other sinners it seems, just not the sinners you don’t like… typical Christian right-winger.

        I have never said that “God will have to see their sins the way [I] do.” I said I would face God saying I was following the instructions God gave us rather than label them sinners and exclude them. I am not misguided by God, because unlike you, I do not pull man-edited verses out of context to rank sin and punish sinners. I leave that to God.

        • Chuck – I am sickened by the hate and ignorance in your heart and soul. Categorizing people into groups is stupid and lumping gays into that equation shows that you probably need to get out more or read a BOOK. Maybe you would learn something. Everyone is different – no 2 people alike (except for ID twins) – therefore, we should embrace and understand differences. Sad, sad, sad

          • Jerrie Mae Tunnell, I am also sickened by the things you are sickened by. I think many of us are.

            Here is what people of this ilk forget. God is love. God loves everyone. God loves sinners. Because we all are. God loves every single person on this planet, all who ever were, all who are now, all who are yet to come.

            If people of this ilk deny God’s love to certain categories of sinners, then people of this ilk are also saying they cannot be loved by God due to their own sin.

            What a very great horrible shame it is to believe God doesn’t love one because of one’s sins. Christ covered and forgave our sins, and Himself showed the unconditional love that He commanded us to show one another.

            Next, Easter happened.

        • Sandi, loving people doesn’t mean you agree with their harmful behavior. Who taught you that? Certainly not Jesus!

          • Chuck Walker, loving people means I do not persecute people who are different than me, I do not seek to exclude them from the love and hope of God, from equal rights in society, from equal protection under the law or to discriminate against them and yes sir, Jesus did teach me that. Jesus taught me that is not my job.

  8. There are people I miss and there are those that I was amazed how narrow minded and so easily lead some of them were. There were people I expected to be so much more intelligent who took every morsel that was fed to them and took as Gospel truth. I mean come on Hillary Clinton was a Satanist AND a sex trade member. These people Im not sorry to be out of my life. John I so wish I lived closer to be a member of your congregation

  9. John,

    I burned a lot bridges since the election of the ignorant sociopath Trump.

    I realized that trying to reason with ignorant and stupid “conservatives” was a futile task. I really tried.

    Since, I’ve officially joined the local county Democratic party to meet like minded people. Aside from their party affiliation, I’ve found them to be generally more intelligent which is so refreshing in my area.

    — Teri

  10. Thank you, John, for articulating why I am in the process of leaving the church I have pastored for the last five years. In this 500th anniversary of the Reformation -“Here I stand. I can do no other, God being my helper.”

  11. I can relate. My heart says there must be another way.

    So, too often I sit silent while overhearing hateful, bigoted conversations from the backseat of an SUV or from the perch of a barstool. I listen to the exchanges between loved ones; people I depend on. And yet never really knew. Is it selfishness? That I don’t “call out” this speech? These attitudes? I honestly don’t know.

    It’s exhausting. Which battle do I pursue? They feel it. The distance between us, just as surely as I do. My silence is loud.

    He says where two or more are gathered in His name, He is present. We gather together as a family of Christians, in whatever we do.

    Sometimes I silently ask Him, what do you want me to say or do? Often He is silent. I have to defer to love. But then is it misguided? Love for those present or those who are not; who don’t have their voice in the matter, whatever it is. He also says he who loves father or mother or brother or sister more than me is not worthy of me.

    This is all a slippery slope. Sin is getting more complicated by the minute.

  12. “Sometimes you have to burn your bridges to stop yourself from crossing them again.”

    In my time on Earth I have learned something I think is very important: Family is made of the people you love and who love you–and NOT based on accidental, incidental common DNA and genetics.
    Just because we share a biological relationship does not give anyone the right to treat us worse than a stranger on the street. We have the right, one might say even the duty, to surround ourselves with the people who want the very best for us–and it’s what we want for ourselves, not what they *think* we should have.

    We have NO debt of relationship just because we come from the same ancestral line, or because they shelled out money to provide food and shelter for a child. We owe nothing, not one damned thing, to any person “just because” they had authority over us when we were young–and still feel that they should be able to dictate how we are to live. (My own parents’ particular definition of the biological relationship we have.)

    Hell’s bells, we don’t even “owe” love to those who share biology with us. Love is NOT a biological imperative; if it were, there would be no unloved child, ever. Don’t mistake familiarity for fondness.

    And for those who are not actually related to us, but with whom we have a deep relationship–that is now being tested beyond its breaking point by the general divisions in every aspect of our society–things change. Everything changes, all the time. Birth, life, death (and rebirth if you believe in it) are the cycles of time in living. Something is born, it grows, it gets old, it decays and dies. That something can be the human life itself, or it can be a relationship. Nothing is permanent in the deepest sense of the word.

    Change is the only constant, even though that may sound like an oxymoron. Things always change, if only through the passage of time and experiences. Just because our friendship/s have been since high school/the military/first job/marriage/whatever does not mean that they will endure for any length of time, let alone for our lifetime.

    AND THAT’S OKAY.

    It is always sad when something dies, more so when it’s been something particularly treasured. Welcome to the human experience.

    Now please join me in singing, “The Circle of Life”, first verse only.

    Peace and blessings.

  13. Amen, John. While I myself have been fortunate not to lose close friends and family over the current madness, I know people who have. Apparently, “agree to disagree” is no longer a viable philosophy. Very eloquently and plainly stated, as always. Thank you for being a calming and reaffirming voice in the howling wilderness that now surrounds this nation.

  14. Dear John,

    I am reminded of one of my favorite Sayings of the Desert Christians. Abba Lot comes to Abba Joseph and says,”Abba, as best I can I pray a little, I fast a little. What more can I do?” Abba Joseph holds up his hands and ten streams of fire shoot from them. “If you will, you can become all fire.”

    Over the years this Saying has meant different things to me about how I give my heart and my life to God, but it has always given me one steady purpose to be on fire for what is the truth and how loving God, how loving my neighbor compels me to act.

    “And so yes, if saying that Black Lives Matter, and affirming the Muslim community, and condemning treason, and standing with my LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and calling out men who boast of grabbing women by the p*ssy, and demanding care for sick people,” means I make enemies, such as those here on this blog, well, so be it.

    My God is a God of love, not one of fear that the religious right seems to have embraced.

  15. I sure do wish the ” Notify me of follow-up comments by email” appeared above the “Post Comment” button.

    LOL Silly me!!

    Happy feast of St. Benedict to you all.

  16. I’ve been lucky – this last year hasn’t meant burning any bridges. I was already surrounded by people who have similar open, welcoming, compassionate ideals. But I know that hasn’t been true for many.

    Generally, being a member of oppressed groups means that the people around you are also oppressed – and, frankly, because of that we better understand what justice really is, because we’ve been robbed of it for so long.

    Brave for you for speaking out and being present with those burning bridges. Thanks for being such a staunch ally.

  17. John – I DO believe in miracles! I have had much the same experience as you this past couple of years and never thought for a moment anyone with your message of love and tolerance could be treated poorly by friends or family. I am SO sorry you have had to burn those bridges – they actually burned themselves – but the heat and the smoke still burns your eyes and soul and the pain can be unimaginable! With you as my most respected example (and hero in so many ways) I can see I am not alone and I am in VERY good, if not even great, company – and it does help. … more than words can say. I am not alone and neither are you. And some day maybe those who are less tolerant or understanding will come to see their role in your pain and disappointment. But if not, know that our Heavenly Mentor does see you for the great man you are and loves you beyond human language for the crucial role you have played in others’ lives. Now, I send all the gratitude I can possibly muster and wish you peace on your new continent (Not by any means an island)

  18. yes the time is short. something I heard on NPR leads me to believe there may be only 30 years left and Life as we have known it on this Earth will have changed dramatically for the worse. it May mean there’s no future for our children even if we took steps to correct the ecosystem now. Stay close to the Holy Spirit. Lean not on your own understanding. constant contact is my way to get through these days. Do the right thing. Be kind. Shalom

  19. Thank you for articulating what so many of us are struggling with. I confess that I’m not as evolved as you; I cringe at the thought of burning bridges with those who share my DNA and history, but the failure to do so just draws out the painful realizations that these are not the people I thought they were. Praying for strength.

  20. Dear John Pavlovitz and Reader:

    ‘…you will know that Yahweh makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel’ [Exo 11:7].

    ‘…you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him’ [Mal 3:18].

    Blessings!

  21. Yep. That’s what happens when we live our truth.

    So a thought occurred as I read your words John.
    What if, maybe, on the outside of possibility, just perhaps, maybe – the ordasity of ’45’ being so uncaring about anything he says or does emboldens more of us to live in our truth? He certainly lives his truth which is nothing like truth.
    Maybe we all can be a little more bold and close the gap of spiritual people taking it on the chin but rather living our truth out in the open and eventually others will discover we are made of real gold.

  22. A friend of mine from a religious study group uses this phrase, which I have come to appreciate:

    “Addition by Subtraction”

  23. An ideology that is exclusionary and condemns its opponents or those who do not identify with its sentiments in a manner that is orthodox according to the criteria set by its most influential agents, is by its very nature fascist. I applaud you John for your bravery as you expose Evangelical Fundamentalist Grand Ole’ Party Christianity for the dangerous and wicked sect that it is. Sometimes we have to push ourselves out of our comfort zone and declare direct opposition to the very institution to which we belong. You tell them that you do not need their prayers and that you will be praying for them. You are an inspiration to all thinking people who have had to turn away from their own God and still want and need to see the magic and beauty in life.

  24. There is much common ground. You can’t see it because you ascribe bad motives to those who don’t accept your politics as if they are some kind of religious dogma. They see things differently and for good reasons of their own.

    For example, using one of my pet peeves, they see abortion as an injustice and you see their opposing it as “misogyny.” So you’ve taken their good and demonized it and then turn your back on them and burn your bridge. (And of course this applies to other issues as well).

    But I bet they have not done the same to you.

    And for the sake of argument, even if you are right, why burn the bridge at all? Why not keep channels of communication open? Why not wait like the father who waited for his prodigal son who did so much worse than vote for a Republican?

    And also why not allow for the possibility that they might know something you don’t and that you might have your own blind spots, and that they might not be as bad as you judge them to be?

    • Mr. JC. 🙂 –yesterday i was helping [2] homeless friends with their recycle , and we ended up standing in line for over an hour. we met a very nice lady, 82, that chatted w/ us, we talked about our churches and our faith, all 4 of us. (at one point, she leaned over and w/ tears in her eyes & said to me, ‘you really walk the walk’.) I told her, ‘Jesus saved me out of the darkness, I’m so grateful’.

      As we were walking back to our cars, I thought how good God is, that we can meet strangers, and be uplifted by other Believers, and also be a blessing to them. Then, I noticed a bumper sticker –‘War is not the Answer’. …(sounds good) then I noticed the companion bumper sticker, ‘Support Planned Parenthood’. [The juxtaposition to the previous moments gave me quite a jolt. ]

      The Holy Spirit showed me, –‘that’s her car.”

      I almost felt personally betrayed, ‘how could she?’ I was tempted to say something. I waved good-bye to her as she drove off, but she didn’t see me. I hope I see her again. The Holy Spirit is working –not me.

      • Of course as you know you built a bridge to her and you shouldn’t burn it because her bumper sticker. It wouldn’t make sense to do that, would it?

        • JC: yes. :-). It’s good to keep the door open to being in relationship. Our assurance comes from Him. [What can Man do to us?] A disagreeable person, cannot shake us.

          ‘Burning Bridges’ is advice that the World gives. (and bad advice at that.)

      • Greater access to cheap contraception is the proven most effective way to reduce abortions. Planned Parenthood has likely prevented more abortions than the entire history of the “pro life” movement.

        • Edwin, Absolutely. And, they have saved more women’s lives in the process.

          I just read that more and more women are dying from complications from child birth.

          How could this be happening in this country in this day and age. Could it be from making it harder for women to access affordable prenatal care? And the powers that be want to make it impossible for those who can least afford it. So their talk about valuing motherhood and births seems to be a bunch of horse pucky when what they are fighting for results in the opposite outcome.

        • Half the women who abort were using contraception in the month they became pregnant.

          And how can you say cheap contraception isn’t easily accessible. It’s cheap and everybody knows about it. When I was young and recently married and didn’t know any better, I used contraception, and I was poor.

          No, Planned Parenthood does not in any way “prevent” abortions. They promote them, perform them, and profit by them. Contraception is not an answer. Contraception is the evil twin sister of abortion. Our contraception culture is why we have an abortion culture. Abortion has become a backup form of contraception.

          • Joe, I see every word of this post to be in error. Can you show proof? Planned Parenthood saves lives of women and children. They provide birth control. Abortion was around long before even reasonably effective birth control was available.
            You will never change this dynamic while saying NO! BAD! History tells us this. Laws will not change this. History tells us this also. It would only cause more death and suffering to the ones who need help the most. The wealthy can afford any help they need. Money easily breaks lots of laws.

            You would do more good making sure those who cannot afford effective birth control have access to it. You would do more good speaking at your church or at schools about the beauty of love while also stressing the responsibility it entails for both the male and female. You would do more good working to change the foster care system or making sure adoption is for the best of the child not the pocketboo You would do more good to guide unwed mothers to places that offer care and counsel not blame and condemnation. You would do more good tracking down the fathers who impregnated that unwed mother and holding him accountable. You would do more good finding ways to stop drug addiction, child abuse, child molestation, murder of children, abandonment of children, alcoholism.

            I just read that the number of women who die from childbirth is rising in this country. How could this happen in this place and with the knowledge we have? You would do more good to stop that trend.

            You fix all of the above and I bet you could actually change the dynamic. Isn’t that what we all want?

            Peace Joe

          • Joe, I thought of one more important thing. If you could make sure that no woman will ever be raped again that would be tremendous. Last I looked 31 states let convicted rapists claim parental rights for a child born from their rape. Nothing says caring about and honoring mothers more than letting them have to put their child and their mental health into the hands of their convicted rapist for the rest of their life. Agree? Disagree?

  25. One comment:

    “Lloyd Bridges, Jeff Bridges, Beau Bridges, and Burned Bridges.”

    “It took us four days to hitch hike from Saggy Gnaw… I like this new 2018 Volkswagen commercial now being shown in movie theaters. It embodies my America:

  26. “I am enduring the collateral damage of full authenticity.” ~ YES. Your words remind me of another wise man, Stephen Levine, who wrote, “We are learning to live with the consequence of love.” –> The kind of love that, paradoxically, can estrange. It’s heartbreaking, this love. It’s the letting-go love that feels like an arterial bleed, this relinquishment for the sake of survival and sanity.

    It’s become so difficult to be a humane human being.

    My recent experiences of estrangement have been more personal than political … My brain was injured in a fall a few years ago, and it’s been a long, slow, often agonizing journey to recover functions and abilities that I used to take for granted. A brain injury impacts who you know yourself to be — and how you engage in relation. My personhood changed. Several people whom I considered my closest kin estranged themselves from me; from the perspective of time and contemplation (and grief that nearly undid me), I can understand why they disappeared. Some I’ve forgiven (including myself); some I’ve not.

    We tend to fear those whose differences from us are stark. I became markedly different, and am noticing (with relief and gratitude) a turn from long self-estrangement to a semblance of who I used to be. A brain injury is also a being-injury … and with it comes a radically altered way of being with others. Some can’t or won’t adapt to the alteration; this altered person (the injured one) is too different, too strange, too alien.

    I mention my injury as a way of realizing a deeper empathy with people who are “othered” — alienated — by a fact of being: that they are of a markedly different heritage, skin colour, religion, sexuality, belief system, etc. Before I was injured, I didn’t appear or seem to be too different from the dominant North American norm (that’s a big generalization, I know; please forgive it). My injury marked me, and blew some huge holes through my sanctuary of relation. I found out who my true kin were.

    What is true now? … Quiet, genuine, consistent kindness. Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem about the rarity of relations that last through every storm. “One man … will stick closer than a brother,” he wrote — “one in a thousand.”

    In these times … that one person in a thousand makes it not only possible, but necessary for the soul, to relinquish the other 999. My prayer for all of us is that we each have such a one in our lives … and the memory of such a one in our hearts.

    “… and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away,” goes the second part of an Arabian proverb. One of the strange gifts of this brain injury is that I have no interest nor energy for argument, political or otherwise (I never really did — and now seem to be spent of even the capacity for conflict). So many of my loved ones have died or otherwise disappeared that I am learning to cherish in every moment the few who remain (and, I hope, the ones yet to arrive in my life) … and my own goodness, which I’ve finally begun to affirm.

    It’s all very humbling. I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, John, and this is the first time I’ve written a response. Thank you for who you choose to be, and for your voice in the world.

    Thanks for being a bridge.

    • Your post means a lot to me!! Especially this bit;
      //One of the strange gifts of this brain injury is that I have no interest nor energy for argument, political or otherwise (I never really did — and now seem to be spent of even the capacity for conflict). So many of my loved ones have died or otherwise disappeared that I am learning to cherish in every moment the few who remain (and, I hope, the ones yet to arrive in my life) … and my own goodness, which I’ve finally begun to affirm.//
      this is new territory in the spiritual landscape unfolding!! The sick, weak, lost, the last are the ones who explore it first I think!
      If you can do this it makes me feel and think that I could do it too!!

      • Thank you, Charles. Yes, you can do it too … at your own pace, in your own way, over a spell of time that feels right to you. I wish you well in your journey.

        You wrote, “The sick weak, lost, the last are the ones who explore it first…” ~ I agree. To explore our woundedness is what helps to save us, I think. I collect quotations … One that comes to mind is, “Fall down seven times; get up eight.” I keep aiming for eight … and have vowed to several dear people, to myself, and to God, that I won’t give up.

        There’s a certain exhaustion that comes, I think, with a mindset of constant conflict and argument. One of my loved ones from whom I’m estranged is a relative whose political viewpoint differs so radically from mine that it’s almost impossible to talk about anything without him injecting a certain attitude into the conversation. He wants to argue for his perspective, and to have me see things his way without thinking them through. I’m very moderate, politically, and in most matters, I lean toward “Live and let live, and do as little harm as possible while you do as much good as possible.”

        “… new territory in the spiritual landscape unfolding” — your words. Beautiful. Wouldn’t it be lovely (and transformative) if we were to infuse more genuine spirituality — the core wisdom of our great religious traditions — into our politics.

        Thanks again for your kind words!

    • I am blown away by your comment. Thank you so much for sharing and know that you made a difference this day in one little old lady. May your journey be uneventful from here on, with the love that everyone deserves. Peace and Love,

    • Catherine, I am blown away by your comment. Thank you so much for sharing and know that you made a difference this day in one little old lady. May your journey be uneventful from here on, with the love that everyone deserves. Peace and Love,

      • Thank you, Kathleen … and I am glad to know that my words have made a difference for you. I’m beginning to cross the threshold into “little old lady” territory myself — I’m nearly 60 — and every day I ask myself a question: “What kind of elder do I want to be?”

        Blessings on your journey,

        Catherine

    • Catherine. i really enjoyed reading what you wrote about yourself. i see your many sensibilities at work. You’ve reminded me, how beautiful & delicate, honesty is.

  27. My soul, my soul, my soul is on fire.

    My soul, my soul, my soul is on fire.

    My soul, my soul, my soul is on fire.

    We don’t need no water let those bridges burn!

    Let those bridges, burn!

    Apologies for a completely unimaginative ripoff of The Bloodhound Gang’s song “Water Fire Burn”, just for giggles.

  28. All the things in your blog has been what I feel. I have been in grief since the election and realizing the great divide I feel. I had to let my hairdresser know that she being a Hispanic religious woman, I could no longer talk with her or let her touch me. I’ve cried about it. I’ve dreamed about it. But I cannot make amends or apologize for what I feel down to my very soul. If you don’t stand by your principles and speak up, what is the use of living?

    • Jerrie Mae Tunnell, I am puzzled by your use of “Hispanic” Are Hispanic religious women inherently different than other religious women?

        • I thought my hairdresser and I would be in complete accord. Her being Hispanic which I didn’t even know for years, made me puzzled that she could not open her heart to others desire to live in America. I thought she would see it from her roots and I could not understand how she could be so selfish as to support bans on immigration of any “brown” people. The other hangup was her seemingly profound religious faith that I also thought would give her the insight that all humans are to be treated with respect, dignity and kindness. It killed my heart that I truly did not know where she stood on simple kindness for all humans. Race is not the issue other than, since I’m white, I thought as a Hispanic, she could enlighten me. I was wrong. Again.

          • Jerrie Mae Tunnell, thank you for clarifying what you were trying to say.

            At first reading, my thought was that the use of “Hispanic” was racist and so I asked my question to get more information. I am glad I did because I see that your point is that as a non-white person, how could she possibly discriminate against other non-white people.

            I wonder the same thing about any POC, woman, gay person who claims to be GOP since the GOP is so obviously only in favor of privileged, rich, straight, white males.

            • Thank you for asking me the question because I do not want to be misunderstood. I get mad every time I see a picture of the Statute of Liberty because it is a symbol of lies. Without immigrants, countries are weaker. I love meeting people of different heritages and hearing their stories which give me a new perspective. But I’m coming to the conclusion that I am no longer emotionally strong enough to fight the prejudices in the World, stand up for people, speak my mind to politicians – I’m just tired of the fight. I’m scared every day what trump will do next to injure, kill, rape, etc innocent people. For my mental health, I’m contemplating removing myself from Twitter, Facebook, etc. and to stop watching the news. I FEEL BEAT UP BY THE INSANITY and meanness expressed so easily and quickly. I’m losing my hope. I hope you can stay strong during this time of ultimate chaos. Love and peace to all.

              • Hi Jerrie, I feel the same way, but yet I chose to keep fighting. Maybe because others are depending on people like me to fight for them. Maybe its that I feel backed into a corner. Maybe I’ve been called to do it by the Holy Spirit. Maybe I don’t want to dishonor the people I know and once knew when they were alive. Maybe its my selfish stubbornness. Maybe its my personal sense of outrage and anger. Maybe it is nothing more than a choice. I really don’t know why anymore.

                I can totally understand a sane person wanting to retreat from this onslaught. You wanting to retreat really means that you are a sane and reasonable person, probably more sane and reasonable than I am. I do know that how we fight is as important, or more important, than if we win or not. In fact I expect to lose, but I refuse to stay silent.

                I see Gloriamarie and others still fighting from a position more disadvantaged and more desperate than I. If we lose I will survive but she and others may not. How can I, in good conscience, retreat while she and others are on the front line in this fight?

                • {{{{{{{{{Robin}}}}}}}}}}}} wrote “I see Gloriamarie and others still fighting from a position more disadvantaged and more desperate than I. If we lose I will survive but she and others may not. How can I, in good conscience, retreat while she and others are on the front line in this fight?”

                  Thank you for understanding. Yes, I stand to lose my very life as my home, my food supply, my medical care, are all under attack.

                  I am trying to mend a sheet I put my foot through because I can’t afford to buy new sheets. I am trying to reattach the elastic to my panties, because I can’t afford new ones. I am patching clothing because I can’t afford to buy clothes even at the thrift stores.

                  Yesterday, I had to go to the DMV because I could not find my license. I thought my research on the website told me tht at my age replacement was free but I was wrong and I almost burst into tears when she told me it would cost $27.

                  Since my representative payee only gives me $30 a week on which to buy groceries, gas, TP, etc, I almost burst into tears. OTOH, it also inspired to finally remember the last time I used it and to my very great relief I found it.

                  No, I will not give up because my life is on the line. As are the lives of a very great many USians.

                • At the time, I was ready to withdraw but I have never withdrawn from fighting for what I believe in no matter the resistance I have met from others. I organized a group of teenagers years ago and we protested the closing of a local swimming hole -the first time I appeared in a newspaper for participating in freedom of speech. I have testified at Police Jury hearings about dumping of animals and garbage in my rural Parish but I have never felt so powerless over my life and the lives of my 3 grandchildren. I always hoped to have a positive influence on other peoples lives and now I feel my foundation has been knocked out from under me. I AM CONTINUING THE FIGHT and thanks for the encouragement.

              • Jerrie Mae Tunnell, I am sorry you feel so trodden down.

                It is vital that we engage in good self-care. It is ok, IMO, to step down and rest yourself a while because we are all part of the Body of Christ and we do for each other what one is not able to for one’s self at the moment.

                Rest, be at peace. Be gentle to yourself.

  29. Pavlovitz, is it possible that you are being self-important here? By declaring a territory and dedicating yourself to the defense of it are you not showing your mindset to be more important than relationship? Is not the grace of God enough for us to draw from so as to be enabled to live out the commandment to love our enemies, even the ideological ones? It’s easy when people agree with us, a challenge when others think very, even diametrically, different from our habits. With division within the Body of Christ does not evil win? Are we not called to listen more than speak? And do we not make the greatest difference by listening to each other rather than by turning the other off with words shared in haste or passion?

    • Understanding the other is always the right move, however once you understand some people, you may find that they believe things you find incompatible with your own. Jesus met with all sorts of people but he didn’t just listen. See Matthew 23 for his condemnation of the Pharisees.

      In other words, if someone is still doubling down on taking away healthcare from sick people or denying rights to LGBTQ people, at some point their professed reasons aren’t as important as defending the groups being targeted. The listening we most need to do is of those who are being marginalized.

      Diversity is welcome. Bigotry and violence are not.

      • Adequate health care should be a right of all regardless of income. How can religious people support a health care plan that will result in thousands of deaths and misery for so many? God will not save you. She is not listening anymore because of humans stupidity. As far as gay rights, why should they not be treated equally and not ridiculed? Because that causes gay people to pretend to be straight, getting married, having children, and finally coming out – making those in his/her life feel betrayed. But the betrayal is that we as parents do not make it clear that whatever your sexuality is, THAT’S OKAY. I love people who are kind. I don’t hate anybody for their sexuality or beliefs. At this point, we are still a free country but if people don’t wake up from their Zombie existence and denial of truth, we are in DEEP TROUBLE AS A NATION.

  30. Thank you again John for sharing your heart. It is a hard road we are on to be sure. The one thing I do know, if our priority is to love, uplift and take care of everyone that needs us, then we are on the right course. Some people cannot be reached and we must accept that. “Do not cast your pearls before swine.” Thats a pretty harsh statement from the Son who was so full of love. Even he knew, sometimes to save your soul you have to let others go.

  31. Psalm 69:9Good News Translation (GNT)

    9 My devotion to your Temple burns in me like a fire;
    the insults which are hurled at you fall on me.

    Beautifully written , John ! I needed to read this tonight!!!

  32. Thank you for your perfect articulation of how so many of us are feeling. I am grateful for my new tribe – the friends I recognized from life before Cantaloupe Caillou – it warmed my heart to meet eyes with them at rallies, letter-writing meetings, etc., and the strangers I met on the march to the battlefields. Yes, I am sad – especially my family members – but this is on them, not me.

    Your last line – It happens when you find yourself on fire – pure gold , my friend. Don’t ever let the bastard trolls get you down.

  33. With the recent events in Charlottesville, and the ensuing FB debates with others over the reality of racism, etc. in our nation, this post sums up many of the emotions I have felt over the past week. Many among my acquaintance have shown their true colors in all of this (no pun intended), and I am heartbroken by the ugliness that has been revealed. The selfish privilege and unrepentant prejudices of conservative, mainstream American “christianity” are astounding. I’ve seen glimpses of it through the media in recent months, but never imagined I would hear it coming from the hearts and mouths of those I have called my friends. 🙁

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