The Guardian 6/6/16
Ten-year-old Andrew Sommerkamp, with his shy demeanor and floppy blond hair, mounts the stage of the Kids On Fire church camp, and nervously tells the crowd that he’s struggling with his belief in God. He’d spent days watching his fellow Christian campers weep uncontrollably, repenting and begging God’s forgiveness, and he has a confession to share.
“I just want to talk about belief in God … I’ve been having a hard time with it,” he says, staring at the ground, scared and confused as the other kids look around at each other with anxiety in their eyes. “To believe in God is hard because you don’t see him, you don’t know him much. Sometimes I don’t even believe what the Bible says. It makes me a faker, it makes me feel guilty and bad.
This is one of several emotionally exhausting scenes in the 2006 documentary, Jesus Camp.
Ten years later, Sommerkamp (yes, that’s his real name) has abandoned evangelical Christianity, living with a group of spiritual seekers in Mount Shasta, California. His split from the evangelical world happening when his father came out as gay. He says he spent several years angry at the church, but has since discovered peace in eastern mysticism, quantum mechanics, and psychotropic drugs.
The Guardian 4/5/16
One stormy night in the summer of 1992, I walked down the basement steps of my parents’ house to await the apocalypse. The Iowa air was thick with humidity, the ominous green sky prophesying a tornado. My 10-year-old hands trembled as I laid out my inventory: animal crackers, juice boxes, a Bible, and every sharp knife in the kitchen.
My parents were home late and my first thought was that they’d been raptured up to heaven. I was a sinner who had been left behind to face the Earth’s destruction.
Would Jesus Celebrate Christmas?
The holidays wouldn’t be the same without a “war on Christmas.” The annual embittered pleas from evangelicals to “keep Christ in Christmas” have now become as much of a holiday tradition as caroling or “planning” to volunteer at a homeless shelter. Waiting all year to find out what fabricated moment of anti-Jesus discrimination has virally incensed Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh (Starbucks cups? Bet you didn’t see that one coming!) now fills me with the same narcotic anticipation as freshly wrapped presents did when I was a child.
While I admire their enduring tenacity and ceaseless creativity in keeping this up each year, I can’t help but wonder if at some point in their pursuit of a homogenous holiday if they ever stop to wonder: Would Jesus celebrate Christmas?
Considering that the holiday wasn’t even developed until centuries after Jesus’s death, and went through endless mutations, and has been protested by Christians as often as it has been protested by atheists, it’s difficult to know how J.C. would feel about his birthday bonanza.
Marjoe is the story of an abused child preacher who grows up to become an Evangelical con man, living a double life as a dope-smoking, girl-chasing hippie in LA. The documentary went on to win the 1972 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature and earned massive amounts of critical acclaim. But despite the accolades and outrageous story, the film was only played in a handful of theaters on the coasts and was never screened below the Bible Belt. It was eventually forgotten and thought to be lost for good due to the only known copy being badly damaged. However, in 2002, the original negative was rediscovered and the film was released three years later on DVD, introducing Marjoe to a new generation with a greater appetite for films that were critical of religious institutions.
As same-sex marriage inches closer toward legalization nationwide, bakeries have emerged as an unlikely new battleground for those opposed to marriage equality.Attempting to mirror anti-discrimination rulings against bakeries that refuse service to gay couples, activists have been contacting LGBT-affirming bakeries requesting custom cakes frosted with anti-gay slogans. When the bakeries decline, the customer claims religious discrimination.
In the most recent incident, Colorado resident Bill Jack filed a religious discrimination complaint with the state’s civil rights office, after Denver’s Azucar Bakery refusing to make a Bible-shaped cake decorated with two-men holding hands, covered by an “X.” The bakery’s owner, Marjorie Silva, told Out Front Colorado that she offered to “bake the cake in the shape of a Bible, and then I told him I’d sell him a [decorating] bag with the right tip and the right icing so he could write those things himself.”
The Cannabist 11/26/14
At a time when western society is becoming increasingly sensitive to appropriation of American Indian cultures in sports (Washington Redskins) and pop music (Flaming Lips), and eagerly cries foul at any white person costumed as a foreign minority, we are still living in a minstrel-show culture when it comes to the “No problem, mon” depiction of Rastafarians. Ironically, this gap in the PC protocol is an extension of the most successful tool white colonists have used to subjugate black people in both the U.S. and Jamaica’s post-slavery societies: Anti-marijuana propaganda.
The same campaigns that have convinced society that potheads can’t be taken seriously have also led the world to believe that Rastafari is not a real religion, and therefore undeserving of the same reverence and respect we give to other beliefs and traditions.