Tag: fame

America Is Not Great, And Evangelicalism Is Not Good

Countless women and men of selfless valor have died for her.

Many have given their life’s work to prosper her.

To be sure, she embodies many good things worthy of honor and thanksgiving.

Yet, no matter how many times we pat ourselves on the back. No matter how loud we cheer ourselves on. No matter our resilience to believe in brighter days ahead. No matter how vigorously we attempt to wall ourselves off from our own shameful realities. The truth that we desperately don’t want to hear is in fact the one bell whose ring could free us all, if we’d only listen—America is not great.

Privileged? Yes. Powerful? Yes. Wealthy? Yes. Domineering? Yes.

Great? No.

In fact, the foundational attributes that make greatness truly great reveal themselves to be much the opposite of who have we become. Search through the tenets of nearly every world religion, especially the very Christianity many deem to be foundational to the fabric of our country. There you will find common definitions of greatness that cast an epic dark shadow across our history, current realities, and aspirations.

Jesus, Gandhi, Buddha, and many others of divine wisdom all sit at the table and sing from a familiar chorus—”Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.

Yet, sadly these are not the sounds of our national anthem nor our ethos.

No matter how large the flags we unfold onto the playing fields of American life with jet fighter flybys and fireworks. No matter how subtly we sanitize our history to insure the ignorance and compliance of future generations to our atrocities. No matter how many “bread and circus” shows we materialize in order to deflect from the evil of our endeavors. There is a prophetic chant of life-giving truth crying out from the wilderness of our nation, “America is not great, not great at all.”

Just unravel the American scroll but a few inches.

Consider the bloody rape, murder, pillaging, and displacement of millions of native Americans for the purpose of personal and religious conquest largely driven by white conservative Christian males seduced by evil visions of a twisted sense of manifest destiny. Consider the brutal enslavement, abuse, and murder of millions of black people for the purpose of personal and religious conquest spiritually justified by white conservative Christian males addicted to their privilege. Consider the vial discrimination, demonization, and marginalization of thousands of people in the LGBTQ community for the purpose of personal and religious conquest largely influenced and orchestrated by white conservative Christian males intoxicated by power and the control afforded by their bigotry. Consider the diabolical invasion of countries, the false flagging of wars, and the killing of innocent women, children, and men without legitimate provocation for the purpose of personal and religious conquest predominantly authored by greedy white Christian conservative males whose appetites will stop short of nothing less than ruling the world.

We have long lived by the swords of spiritually justified violence, greed, and imperialism, and now we are dying by them as we bury our heads deep into the sand and numb our collective conscience with the opioids of mass denial.

Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than people in most every other country. Gun-related murders in the United States rate 25 times higher than all of the high-income countries of the world. America is ranked 16th on the world’s top 100 corruption list. We are cited as one of the top 10 most racist countries in the world. America is home to the highest number of overweight and obese people. In fact, we throw way 200,000 tons of edible food daily. 34% of billionaires are Americans, yet the US poverty level is the highest in the developed world. Americans constitute 5% of the world’s population but consume 24% of the world’s energy. America makes up 37% of the 1.6 trillion dollars spent globally on military expenditures. Not surprisingly, the US military budget is the largest in the world. All, while US college students face tuition rates that far outrun inflation rates with more than $1.2 trillion in student debt, an increasing middle class and elderly population that is being further denied adequate health coverages, and Social Security projections that significantly decrease future payouts. And to top it off, America, the land of the free, ranks 47th in press freedom—no surprises there.

There is no doubt, for those with eyes willing to see and ears willing to hear, we have become the bratty narcissistic child who has warped divine freedom into barbaric ferociousness. With all the world our sandbox, we have become consummate experts at casting blame upon everyone else for our problems, gas-lighting the crap out of our dissenters, and bullying anyone and anything that challenges the elite’s quest for power and privilege.

Make no mistake, in the eyes of Jesus and the common sense goodness of humanity, we are not great, not great all.

Yet sadly, we have long been blind to the evil Wizard pulling the strings behind the American curtain, and therefore, have wielded little power and success in turning the Titanic around. For conservative Evangelical Christianity is increasingly showing itself to be perhaps the greatest evil ever manifested upon the earth—nothing less than the foundational fuel behind the moral and spiritual decline of America. Yes, as hard as it is to hear and as difficult as it is to say, the very entity that has long postured itself as having the Savior is being exposed as harboring the Satan.

With a gospel that is no Gospel at all, as it actually further imprisons and entices people to sin while pimping the poison, not the cure. With a prescription for Christian living that most assuredly and directly leads to self-righteousness, judgmentalism, hypocrisy, duplicity, double standards, and pretentiousness. With a church culture overflowing with greed, consumerism, conformity, selfishness, exploitation, ministry empires, pastoral fame, and the franchising of Jesus. With a driving leadership of white heterosexual males fueled by their egos and an addiction to grandiose aspirations of ministry and cultural supremacy. With a declaration that they hold the infallible exclusive inside scoop to all things God, the Scriptures, and truth. With an overall purpose and vision of world domination that divides the planet into the converted-to-heaven and the condemned-to-hell. With a belief in a god who spiritually justifies violence, condemnation, sexism, murder, conquest, elitism, and imperialism, all under the twisted auspices of love—not to mention the worship of a white Jesus who encourages and enables personal prosperity and separatism. As has become America, conservative Evangelical Christianity is perhaps the most gun-loving, enemy-bullying, defensively postured, greedy, gluttonous, bigoted, oppressive, marginalizing, sexist, freedom-killing, narcissistic, imperialistic, militant, and controlling manifestation on the planet.

Truth be told, now like never before, America and conservative Evangelical Christianity have become two evil peas in a evil pod, creating a death cocktail that intoxicates the privileged and religious, and drowns out all others. Find me places in the history of America and our current endeavors where we have done and aspired to evil things, and there you will have found the underlying direct influence of a white heterosexual male-driven conservative Evangelical brand of Christianity. No wonder how such a deplorable president as Donald Trump could have been elected and remain continually supported.

For where in America are freedom of speech, thought, and belief most likely to be squelched? Where are women most likely to be shackled by sexism? Where is the LGBTQ community most likely to be demonized, condemned, and driven to suicide? Where are minorities most likely to be discarded and discriminated against? Where are the poor and vulnerable most likely to be exploited for personal or corporate gain?

Where? All at the feet of conservative Evangelical Christianity, that’s where.

And sadly, if this corrupted faith system has its way, it will be at the feet of all of America too.

To those who would criticize me as being harsh or overgeneralized, the truth is, these realities are just that deeply disturbing and widely infiltrating. I refuse to shrink back in fear and be recorded by history as one who became complicit out of an unwillingness to sound the alarm and stand atop the walls of humanity and shout the truth. For we are not far from a tipping point from which there will be little to no return.

No, there is no pleasure taken in shining a light into these caverns of darkness. No, not all conservative Evangelicals are willing participants or knowingly support such abhorrent things. Of course, no church, group, denomination, or faith expression is perfect. Yet, make no mistake, conservative Evangelical Christianity as a faith system is nothing shy of pure evil. And now more than ever, we are witnessing before us on a national and global scale the devastating fruitions of its hollow fruit.

These are desperate times that call for determined bravery—a bravery that begins with brutal honesty. For we have met the true enemy of all that is Jesus and all that is good—and it is us. We are the false accusers, the bulliers, the conquerers, the oppressors, the condemners, the deceived deceivers, and the exploiters of humanity and abusers of all that is God who is Love.

America is not great, and Evangelicalism is not good.

That’s the truth, and it’s high-time we wake up to it.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

A Pastor’s Desperate Plea To Justin Bieber

Justin, I don’t know you and you don’t know me.

We have never met, and I certainly claim no rights to bend your ear nor even expect you to read or consider these words.

Our worlds are completely different, yet we do share one very important thing—exposure to modern Evangelical Christianity.

For me, I became a conservative Evangelical pastor early in my career, leading contemporary churches for nearly 20 years. I certainly don’t believe to know your spiritual journey or dare to define it, but from what I have seen and read, it seems you are headed towards a similar path. I admire your love for Jesus and your willingness to go the distance with your faith. Your courage, transformation, and authenticity are clearly apparent.

Yet Justin, I also know all too well the seductive evils of much of modern Evangelical Christianity—often cleverly concealed. I wasted so much of my life and ministry being duped and deceived chasing after the Evangelical dream, and now I pray this nightmare doesn’t become your story too.

At first, it feels like life, only to suffocate you later. No matter how well branded, produced, savvy, and culturally relevant it all seems up front, the basic tenets of much of Evangelical Christianity are shrouded in deceptive darkness. Underneath all the spiritual lipstick, God is diabolically portrayed as loving humanity while at the same time holding them over eternally consequential conditions—love Him back in return in all the prescribed ways or else suffer forever in a torturous hell. Jesus is personified as the Son who dies at the hands of a wrathful Father who requires His death in order to have the power to forgive. The Bible is reduced to a weapon used to condemn, label, burden, and lift one’s self over others. People are labeled as inherently depraved and evil sinners in need of fixing. The world is seen as “lost” and in need of saving through Evangelical ideology. The Christian life is presented as a never ending list of “to do’s” and sin management. And, the overall mission is to ultimately lead people to believe, think, and act like you—assimilated into the Evangelical Borg of conformity. Look behind the curtain, turn down the volume of all the smoke and mirrors—there’s a cowardice self-serving faith pulling the strings. Discrimination, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, nationalism, self-righteousness, and elitism are all lurking in the wings—no matter how modernly packaged.

Justin, I promise you, though you may not see it now, so much of what modern Evangelicalism has done with Christianity has left it looking and acting almost nothing like Jesus. For God is pure Love—not fine-printed conditions, Jesus is Grace—not condemnation nor punishment. The Gospel is peace—not fear pimped as faith, people are good—not intrinsically evil. The Bible is a catalyst—not a tool for judgement, and Jesus didn’t die at the hands of an angry vengeful God, but rather to keep us from a life of believing He is—angry and vengeful.

When it is was recently reported that perhaps you are now seeking to start a church, my heart gasped in fear that was a sure sign you had been tractor-beamed by the Death Star that is conservative Evangelical Christianity. With genuine concern, I wondered if the performance-driven, consumeristic, church-franchising, and personal empire-building allures and priorities of much of modern Evangelical Christianity had cast their spell upon you.

Justin, I beg of you, what the world needs now is not another church or celebrity Evangelical Christian. No, what the world needs now are authentic Jesus loving people rested in Grace who see the planet as their sanctuary and loving people unconditionally as their worship service—period, full stop. You being you, just as you are, is more than enough—as is, wherever that is. Whatever guilt, regret, or shame perhaps there once was in your heart, the pursuit of becoming something “big” for Jesus will only leave you with emptiness and disillusionment—I promise. In truth, much of Evangelical Christianity is so desperate, selfish, and insecure, many can’t help themselves at the thought of an icon such as you joining their team and buying into their flailing ideology.

Yet, truth be told, I see so much more Jesus in you peeing in a mop bucket yelling profanities at Bill Clinton than I could ever see in you becoming another mega-church pastor or famous Evangelical Christian. For Jesus is found so much more in the people, circumstances, and events the religious least expect or approve. Please know this, and know it for sure, God has been working in and through you all along, and now you’re simply awakening to it.

I beg you Justin, don’t let them steal, kill, and destroy what Jesus has always been doing in and through you by thinking it now needs the labels and looks of “Christian,” “church,” and “ministry.” Don’t sell your soul, abandon your authenticity, or surrender yourself to the blood-sucking monster that is much of Evangelical Christianity. You are the revival God is bringing to the world—not because of your gifts, celebrity, or new found faith in Jesus. Rather, simply because you are you—whole, holy, and God-imaged as is.

Justin, at the end of the day, for what it’s worth my sense is this, “My Jesus don’t like much of modern Evangelical Christianity, and He likes everyone.”

Take a deep breath, stay on course, don’t shed your skin or walk your soul to the plank overlooking Evangelical waters—you’re already the person and living the life God has for you. For it’s never been about your performance, it’s always been about His.

Thanks for listening.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

© 2017 Chris Kratzer

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