Thursday, July 19, 2018

Blogaround

A chicken sitting on two puppies to protect them as if they are her babies. Image source.
1. The Bible is literature for the resistance (posted July 12) "And so the Bible honors women like Shiphrah and Puah, the Hebrew midwives who defied the Pharaoh’s orders by safely delivering the sons of Hebrew slaves, and Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who essentially “took a knee” by refusing to show the required patriotism at one of King Nebuchadnezzar’s state parades." Preach.

2. This sun-chasing robot looks after the plant on its head (posted July 12) Adorable!

3. What Reporting Sexual Harassment Taught Me (posted July 9) [content note: sexual harassment, victims being re-victimized when reporting] "These questions convey the message that we should only report incidents that were traumatic, and only if we’re sure that the harasser deserves dire consequences. This is part of a broader pattern of holding people who report sexual harassment to an impossible standard."

4. Film Theory: Can You SUE a Superhero? (Disney Pixar's The Incredibles) (posted June 19) "Clearly this timeline isn't an accident on the part of Pixar."

5. Abortion is Immoral, Except When It Comes to My Mistress (posted July 11) [content note: violence against women, "pro-life" politicians] 

6. Trump’s Spiritual Advisor Calls Babies Smuggled into the U.S. “Sinful” (posted July 16) What Paula White did here is called taking the Lord's name in vain.

Related: If y'all aren't already reading Libby Anne's blog, you should. All her recent posts about immigration, politics, and Christianity are very good.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

What "God's Calling" Means For a Naive Kid

2 disciples leaving their fish and nets to follow Jesus. Image source.
All right, I'm an adult, I've been working full-time for a few years now, changed jobs a few times, responsible to pay my own rent and bills and stuff, and I suddenly remembered something.

Remember back when I was in college and I came to China on a mission trip? When I was 100% devoted to Jesus, and a bunch of the other students on the trip were talking about how they were planning to be missionaries in the future. Like, long-term, called-by-God, all that. I had never considered that before- I planned to just live my normal white American life- but I believed God was in charge and it wasn't my decision. If God said I should move to some strange country and be a missionary, then that was that.

I was worried, actually. I was worried that God would "call" me to drop out of college and become a missionary immediately.

Fortunately, God didn't, and I stayed in school a while longer and got my BS and MS degrees. Then came to China.

Now all these years later, I think about that again, and I'm like HOLY CRAP, HOLY CRAP do you know how bad that would have been? If I didn't have a college degree? Do you know how much harder everything would be? For the rest of my life...

All the full-time jobs I've had- no chance I could have gotten them without a college degree. All that job interviews I've ever gone to- nope, they wouldn't have given me the chance with no degree. I know that now, I'm an adult, I know how the real world of jobs works. I didn't know ANYTHING back when I was in college. Only a life of academic success, always being the top of my class, accepted to all the colleges I applied to (except MIT). Authority figures always gave me opportunities, gave me a chance to prove myself, and always were impressed at my intelligence. I didn't know how hard it would be for me to even find a entry-level job. I didn't know about the paradox where you can't get a job because you don't have work experience, but you can't get work experience because nobody will give you a job. You guys, it was hard for me even with an MS degree. Turns out job interviews aren't about whether or not people are impressed with my raw talent in math. They're about a company trying to find a person to fill a certain role. If the company is looking for someone with a certain amount of experience I don't have, yeah maybe it's not "fair" to me but so what? That's not something the company concerns itself with.

I did it, somehow I did it. I'm working full-time as an engineer in China. (Been doing this for a couple years now and it's going great.) That was my goal. But wow, can you imagine? Can you imagine if "God" had "called" me to drop out of college? 

I was so naive back then. I knew nothing about how the real world works.

Sure, I knew that it would be "harder" to get a job if I had no degree, but that was just a vague word- "harder." I've done a lot of hard things in my life; I like challenges. I didn't get that it wouldn't be that kind of "harder"; it would be "harder" as in, I'm completely ineligible for the interesting engineering jobs I want, I'm stuck in some low-paying thing that requires way more people skills than I have. For my whole life. And maybe I could go back to school someday, but it wouldn't be like going to school as an 18-year-old, it would be with all the responsibilities of living an adult life, on top of the classes and homework.

How easily we threw around the idea of "leaving the nets and following Jesus" back then. We didn't know anything.

I prayed, on that mission trip in China back then. I worried, because a mission trip seemed like the kind of setting where God might "call" people. I didn't want to drop out of college. I really really didn't want to.

My reasons? Mainly that studying math and engineering was (is) a huge part of my identity. I identify as an engineer (even when I worked as an English teacher when I first came to China, I still told people "I'm actually an engineer"), and so it made sense that I should be in college, majoring in engineering. If I left that behind, I would have to reevaluate my identity. Ooooh, was I making it an idol? Was I finding my identity in STEM instead of in Jesus?

Also, I didn't want to drop out of college because my classmates might think some sexist thoughts about what women aren't good at. Did God understand that? It wasn't just about me; I'm a representative of women in engineering, whether or not I want to be.

And I didn't want God to "call" me because then I would have to tell people. I would have to tell my parents, who paid for my entire education. Of course they would have tried to talk me out of it. They would have told me having a college degree makes a huge difference. They would have said a lot of things that were true about the real world, but which I wouldn't have been able to understand, with my privileged life and radical Christian missions ideology. Education handed to me so easily that I took it for granted, and Christian leaders preaching about how wonderful and beautiful it is to give up everything for God, to suffer for Christ, "it's hard but it's worth it." I had no idea what I was talking about.

Those were my reasons, back then. Finding my identity in my STEM ability, feeling a duty to defy sexist stereotypes, and the fear of telling my parents. Those were the reasons I hoped God wouldn't force me to quit school. It never occurred to me to think about the consequences for my career, consequences that would follow me for the rest of my life.

Would I have done it? Well... here's what probably would have happened, if God "called" me: I would have convinced myself/ my parents would have convinced me that God meant I should finish undergrad firstand then go off and be a missionary. Which I believe, from my current vantage point of being a real adult with a real job, would have been okay. Having a BS degree makes life much easier than not having one. That would have been okay, in terms of future job prospects and my financial situation.

(Pretty similar to what I actually ended up doing, except I stayed in school long enough to get an MS, and God didn't "call" me- I came to China because I wanted to.)

I was 100% committed to Jesus back then, so if I really believed Jesus wanted me to quit school, I would have done it. But I don't believe there was ever really a chance of that happening, because I can't imagine how I could actually be so certain that's what Jesus wanted. It's much more likely I would be certain that he wants me to go to a particular country but I don't know the details of the timeline. In which case I would finish school first, because that makes sense. Because that's how it typically works. When my friends said they're going to be missionaries someday, they meant after they graduated college.

I was so naive back then, back when I wanted to "give up everything for Jesus" as if that was some beautiful adventure, complete with romanticized suffering that would "draw me closer to God" and let me experience his [sic] deep love and how wonderful it is to rely on him and know him.

And yes, I was naive when I actually did make the decision to move to China. I came here right after graduation, and I became an adult here. And it's been hard. Show up as an immigrant with no full-time work experience and expect to find a job. That's why I was stuck teaching English at first. It's been hard.

I don't regret anything, because I love my life and it's not useful to wonder about if I should have done things differently in the past. I'm proud of myself for learning Chinese and working as an engineer at a Chinese company. I love my Chinese husband.

But wow. I really didn't know anything back then.

And wow, I think about how easy it was for me to imagine God "calling" me to drop out of college. I didn't get how big of a deal that would be- how bad of a decision. I didn't get that it would affect my career for the whole rest of my life. We were just kids- privileged kids on fire for God. We didn't have any idea what we were talking about.

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Related: 
I Didn't Count the Cost Before I Moved To China
Runaway Radical: The Stories You Can't Tell In Church

Monday, July 16, 2018

In Your Anger Do Not Sin (a Hulk fanfic) [part 3]

Bruce Banner, looking unhappy. Image source.
[part 1]
[part 2]

[content note: suicide attempt, gun, abusive Christian theology]

"You haven't fixed this yet?" his boss said in Portuguese, gesturing toward one of the factory machines.

Okay, thought Bruce, be calm, don't get angry. "I worked ..." he answered, in broken Portuguese, trying to stay calm. "... You said ... fix the power supply ... is more important."

"No!" the boss answered. "I told you to fix this one!" Okay, that wasn't true though, thought Bruce. His boss had said yesterday the power supply was a higher priority.

Anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment, thought Bruce. Love your enemies. Take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. He couldn't let himself get angry. He couldn't give in to the temptation, no matter what the boss did, it wasn't an excuse to sin.

Think of God, think of God's love. Jesus, help me. Love, love your enemies, like Jesus did. Just think good things. Don't feel. Jesus doesn't want me to get mad.

He looked down. He didn't answer, because he didn't trust himself to answer without getting angry. Just submit, he told himself.

He nodded. He'd just try harder and do what his boss said.

Okay, it's going okay, now he just needed to remove himself from the situation before the temptation got worse. He looked down and nodded again. After a few seconds, the boss left without another word.

All right. Success. He didn't sin. He didn't give in to temptation. He controlled it.

Praise God.

-----------

But a few hours later, he maybe didn't want to praise God.

That was a success? He had stomped down all the anger, he was very very nice and polite, he didn't hulk out, but ... why did he feel so terrible?

This is gonna be my whole life, he thought. Best-case scenario, I control it, we never see the other guy... and I feel like crap. Because what I did this afternoon... I can't keep doing that. I can't live that way. Focusing so hard on fighting the temptation, I could barely even think. I can't force myself to not feel my feelings. Even though that's the only way to not sin.

It was too much. Too hard. He had dedicated and rededicated his life to Jesus too many times, and still he could barely control his ... the other guy.

I can't live like this anymore, he thought. I just can't.

Bruce opened his closet door and pulled out a pile of blankets. And there it was, underneath, where he had hidden it. A gun he had stolen. Because... he thought it might come to this. He stole this gun in case he ever needed to kill himself.

Yeah, he was a thief. Yeah, it's one of the Ten Commandments. Add that to the list of all his other sins.

God, you have to understand, he prayed, I keep hurting you with my sin, I can't stop it, can't control it, I'm crucifying Jesus over and over again, wouldn't it be better if I just died? Bruce prayed, but didn't listen for an answer. He didn't really want to hear from God right now. Because God would definitely disapprove of his plan. God would want him to repent instead. Well, whatever. He already knew he was going to die here, in his sin, and probably go to hell. But at least then he couldn't hurt God anymore. He wouldn't be wasting God's time with his pathetic prayers, wouldn't be breaking God's heart over and over.

I'm really going to do it, he thought. Finally this is going to end, and I won't have to fight the other guy anymore. He was actually feeling relieved. Bruce was no match for the Hulk- even with the Holy Spirit supposedly living in him... well, probably he wasn't getting help from the Holy Spirit anyway because he didn't pray enough and he wasn't devoted to God enough. And he had never even tried to look for a church after moving here. Whatever, it doesn't matter anymore. He wouldn't be stuck in this losing battle anymore.

He decided to go outside, to go into the forest where no one would find him. "Where can I go from your spirit, where can I flee from your presence?" Ugh, why did a bible verse have to pop into his head right now? Okay fine, God knew where he was, God knew what he was doing. Whatever. He was in rebellion against God anyway. He wasn't going to pray anyway. God was too pure to look at sin, so it would be better for Bruce to not even try bothering him.

He was alone, outside, in the middle of nowhere.

There was no hope. Every thought he had was a sin. Just piling up higher and higher, burying him. There was no way out. He could never be good enough. He could never get his flesh to surrender to God. He had tried and tried and just couldn't stop himself from sinning. He could never please God.

Just this one last sin, and that would be the end of his fight. He was so tired.

Bruce closed his mouth around the end of the gun.

And then...

God didn't save him.

The Hulk saved him.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Blogaround

1. ‘The Soreno has politely said No’ (posted June 26) "The manager of the George Washington Hotel in West Palm Beach refused to allow black major leaguers to stay at his hotel, but this was simply good manners and “not … political.” Equality under the law would be political. Inequality was merely polite."

2. Trump administration moves to block victims of gang violence and domestic abuse from claiming asylum (posted June 11)

3. Unlearning Shame: My First Pair of Short Shorts (posted July 3) "At school I was constantly bullied for being fat and ugly. All of this additional fat shaming and lack of autonomy was reinforced by the church and their fixation on keeping girls like me pure and modest."

4. The Shame in Puerto Rico (posted June 3) "After surveying random households across the island and comparing mortality rates they encountered to those before Maria, they came up with an estimated 4,645 additional deaths through the end of the year — a third of them people who died for lack of medical care."

5. 'They treated us as though we were animals': Letters from inside an immigration detention facility (posted July 4) [content note: first-hand accounts of parents whose children were taken by the US government, it's pretty emotional] "But I want you to know that I miss you a lot. And that every day, I pray to God that we'll be together again soon and that they will never again separate you from me because you are the most beautiful thing that God has given me, you my son."

6. Vice President Mike Pence Defends Cruel Anti-Immigration Policy With Scripture (posted July 4)

7. Xi Jinping: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) (posted June 17) John Oliver's report about Chinese president Xi Jinping. I'm over here in China watching this with a VPN, thinking yep there's no way any of this is getting past the Chinese internet censors.

Also we all know Xi Jinping looks like Winnie the Pooh.

8. Sexplanations- This is a sex-ed youtube channel. Content note: very NSFW, explicit sexual content and images

9. disappointment is the guide to happiness (posted June 12) "I still experienced the entire emotional spectrum but was taught to ignore a significant section of it, to bury those feelings."

10. The kingdom of heaven is like Kesha performing "Praying" at the Grammys. (I know I've posted this before, but wow it's just so good.)



Wednesday, July 11, 2018

But if that doesn't help you, that's fine too

Image text: "Beliefs" with a silhouette of a head and a bunch of thought bubbles in the brain. Image source.
Yesterday I published God Is With Us (a post about autism), which was about my understanding of the Incarnation- I believe God lives in us (all of us, no matter our religion) and feels our emotions at the same time we feel them. In particular, God experiences the pain of sensory overload, and the stigma from being misunderstood or judged for being autistic.

For me, this idea is really meaningful and helpful, but I want to say this: If it's not helpful for you, that's totally fine.

Like maybe someone would object, and say "So what if God feels our pain- they don't actually intervene and do anything to help, so what's the point?" And indeed, I don't believe God intervenes in our lives. If I believed that, it would raise a lot of awkward questions about why a world where God is constantly micromanaging the tiny details of my life is also a world with so much systemic injustice. How could I credit God with helping me find a new job, for example, when God hasn't fixed the widespread societal problem of resumes with "black-sounding" names being less likely to get called for interviews? (Yes, quite awkward to give God credit for something that I actually got through white privilege...)

Because of the problem of evil, I don't believe in a God who actually does tangible things in our lives. But I do believe in a God who is with us and feels what we feel. It's comforting for me, but if it's not comforting for you, I get that. That's totally fine. You don't have to believe any of this.

If you don't believe in God at all, that's also fine. I'm ex-evangelical and still a Christian, but if you're ex-evangelical and not Christian anymore, that's fine too.

And I don't try to convince people my beliefs are right. I'm not interested in convincing anyone to become a Christian. It really does not matter to me what people's religious beliefs are- what matters is how they treat people.

Back when I was evangelical, I would have answered the question "why are you a Christian?" by trying to make an argument about why everyone should be a Christian. I would have seen it as an opportunity to "do evangelism" to the person who asked. I would have crafted my answer with the goal of getting them to think they should be a Christian too.

But now, my answer is that I love the concepts of resurrection and incarnation so much. I love "your kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven." (As Belinda Carlisle said, "Heaven is a place on earth." That's my religion.) These ideas are so beautiful and meaningful to me, and so I believe them. Maybe that's not a very good reason to believe something- okay, sure, that's why I'm not trying to convince anybody. If you think it's not a good basis for belief, I get that. That's totally fine.

A few months ago I was talking with a friend who's queer and non-religious, about my experiences coming from a queermisic Christian background and then coming to a new understanding of Christianity that's queer-affirming. He asked me, why continue to believe at all? Why not just get rid of the whole thing? And I said, yeah, some people do that, and that's also completely valid, I get it.

So if I ever say "God is like this or that" I don't mean it in the sense of "this is the right answer and if you don't agree then you are wrong and you need to change." Of course that's how I meant it back when I was an evangelical, but please don't take it that way now. When I call people out for having terrible beliefs, it's because I know those beliefs lead to abuse, mental health problems, mistreating people in the name of God, etc. It's not because we disagree about some abstract idea related to the nature of God. I don't care what religion you are; I care how your beliefs affect people. The Sabbath was made for us, not us for the Sabbath.

---------------------------------

And since we're talking about incarnation, let me share one of my favorite songs about it~ "The Final Word" by Michael Card~
"Their final word was Jesus, they needed no other one"


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You asked and I answered~ In my 2018 Reader Survey, one of the top 5 topics you voted for was "the Christianity that Perfect Number believes now." Hence this post. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

God Is With Us (a post about autism)

Image text: "Immanuel, God with us" on a starry background. Image source.
When we feel scared, God feels scared too.

When we feel lonely, God feels lonely too.

When we get excited and obsess over one topic for days and days, God is excited too.

When we feel overwhelmed because everything is too loud and crowded, God feels overwhelmed too.

When we feel like no one understands us, God feels like no one understands them too.

When we feel confused about how to communicate with people, God is confused too.

When lights are too bright, they're too bright for God too.

When sounds are too loud, God feels pain too.

When smells or tastes are repulsive, God feels the same disgust we do.

When textures are uncomfortable on our skin, God can't stand the feeling either.

When we're distressed because plans are changing suddenly and everything feels disorganized, God is freaking out too.

When we're embarrassed because we can't handle something that everyone else seems completely fine with, God feels that shame too.

When we think maybe we're just weak and pathetic because we have such a hard time with things that other people think are no big deal, God feels bad about themself too.

When we have so many emotions and can't even understand them, God is overwhelmed too.

When we are stuck in a situation that's too intense, forced to stay there because other people don't listen when we say we're not okay, God gets more and more stressed and panicked at the same time we do.

Sensory pain. God feels it too. The same pain.

Fear. God feels it too. Just as intense.

Loneliness. God feels it at the same time we do.

God is with us. God is autistic too.

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Related: The Sound [trigger warnings for globophobia/phonophobia]

Follow-up post: But if that doesn't help you, that's fine too

Monday, July 9, 2018

In Your Anger Do Not Sin (a Hulk fanfic) [part 2]

An image of Bruce Banner, but with eyes green to represent the Hulk too. Image source.
[part 1]

[content note: abusive Christian theology]

I really need to pray, Bruce thought. He sat on the floor of his new home, which was even cheaper and dirtier than the previous one, leaned against his bed, and closed his eyes. God, help, he began. God, I need you so much.

Maybe I could worship with music, he thought, and he turned on his mp3 player. He closed his eyes again and listened.

I keep trying to find a life
On my own, apart from you

The words seemed to sink into him, convicting him. He was so bad at following God, so rebellious all the time. Selfish, stubborn, proud.

I am the king of excuses
I've got one for every selfish thing I do

This was Bruce's prayer. He knew those words were all true. He was always straying so far from God.

What's going on inside of me
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicions
That I'm still a man in need of a savior

The words washed over him, and there he was, guilty and ashamed before God. He was so low, so sinful, so in need of God.

I wanna be in the light
As you are in the light
I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens
Oh Lord be my light and be my salvation
Cause all I want is to be in the light

He wanted it so bad. He wanted to get rid of his sinful nature, this green monster that lived inside him, and just be with God. Why was it so hard to just be with God? Why did the other guy have to get in the way? He loved God so much, so why was it such a struggle? Like Paul said in Romans 7, "what I hate I do." Who will rescue me from this body of death? thought Bruce.

The disease of self runs through my blood
It's a cancer, fatal to my soul
Every attempt on my behalf has failed
To bring this sickness under control

It was true, it was all true... He'd failed so much. He'd run away to South America, left behind everything he cared about. Running from his responsibilities, maybe even running from God. And what did it get him? The other guy was inside him- running away was useless.

The other guy... Bruce could feel the other guy getting a little angry. No, he wouldn't let him out. This was his quiet time; he was listening to God and praying. Keep it under control, he told himself. Why did the other guy have to act up when Bruce was having such a deep worshipful moment? Just shows how the devil tries to get us distracted and away from God.

No, he thought, have to push the other guy down. Keep it inside. This is just me and God. Oh God help!

He turned up the volume, so the sound would surround him and overpower the temptation he was feeling. And then he was singing, because this was his prayer, the only thing he could do:
"Tell me what's going on inside of me!
I despise my own behavior
This only serves to confirm my suspicion
That I'm still a man in need of a savior!

"I wanna be in the light," he sobbed, "as you are in the light..."

I wanna shine like the stars in the heavens

But he was hiding in Brazil, not "in the light at all" ...

Oh Lord be my light, and be my salvation

"... cause all I want is to be in the light..." he managed to say, hiding his face in his hands. How could he even pray that? Did he even want God or not? Why was he running from his problems? Why was he not fighting his sin? Why did he have this thorn in the flesh? (A messenger of Satan, to torment me... yeah if that wasn't a description of the Hulk...) Why was it so hard to keep the Hulk down? Why couldn't he just "take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ"?

So sinful. And he knew he had always been like this. Gamma rays don't have morals- his failed experiment didn't make him a rage monster, it just revealed the sin that had always lived inside him.

God, he started to pray, God ... I need you.

But why would God want him? Why would God show him unconditional love when he was such a failure?

God, I don't know why you love me... I'm unworthy... but I need you so much. Just help me get through another day. Help me not sin.

It was all he could do. It was all he had. He was a pathetic sinner, but he would cling to God.

To be continued...

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Blogaround

Two cats. Image source.
1. The Sims banned in China and the Middle East ‘over same-sex relationships’ (posted June 25) "And while the developer did not specify what the regional standards were, online users said it was because the game allowed gay relationships and marriages."

2. Immigrant toddlers ordered to appear in court alone (posted June 27) "'The parent might be the only one who knows why they fled from the home country, and the child is in a disadvantageous position to defend themselves,' Toczylowski said."

3. How I Lost Faith in the “Pro-Life” Movement (posted 2012) "If the pro-life movement believes that even a very small chance of a zygote being flushed out is enough reason to oppose the use of the pill, then there should be an extreme amount of concern about the much, much higher number of fertilized eggs flushed out of the bodies of women not using the pill." This is an old article, but I'm sharing it again because it's one of the best articles out there about the "pro-life" movement.

4. That Ohio Bill Does More than Require Teachers to Report on Transgender Students (posted June 27) [content note: transmisia, mention of child death] "I feel obliged to point out that Ohio is where Leelah Alcorn died."

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

In Your Anger Do Not Sin (a Hulk fanfic)

A pair of glasses with one lens broken. Image source.
A fanfic where Bruce Banner is an evangelical Christian

[content note: abusive Christian theology, suicidal ideation]

-----------

God, why did this happen?

Bruce tried to sit up. His shirt was gone and his pants were ripped. Why? What had come over his body? All he could remember was running away, out of control, smashing. And something green.

He prayed, God help me. God what's wrong with me?

He was in the parking garage outside his lab. There were huge cracks in the walls and pavement, and the car beside him had its entire back end smashed and flattened. This is bad, this is really bad, he thought.

Slowly, he walked back to his lab, trying to ignore all the craters in the walls. The door of the lab was smashed to pieces, all over the floor. Ohhh this is bad.

Bruce grabbed his things- phone, laptop, backpack- and got out of there.

-----------

It's because I was too proud, wasn't it? Bruce thought. That's why God let this happen. I've just been so busy, and I haven't been spending time in the Word... I've been acting like I can do it all myself. I started this big experiment, this big important milestone in my career, and I didn't even pray about it.

He sighed. God, I'm sorry. You have to forgive me. You have to help me. I don't know what I'm going to do.

He normally didn't kneel when he prayed, but that night he did. He wanted to humble himself before God. He had seen his sinful nature in a way he never had before- big, green, monstrous. It's always been inside me, he thought, but I didn't take it seriously. A bible verse popped into his head- "If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall."

Yes, Bruce had always known he was a sinner. That his heart was deceitful and desperately wicked. He knew all that- he had prayed the prayer at age 5 like a good church kid. But before today, it had been a cliche, an abstract theological point that people threw around carelessly. Yes, he knew he was a sinner- but now he REALLY knew it.

Yes, he knew- in an abstract way- that his sin had killed Jesus, that every sin is an infinite offense against a holy God, that his sinful nature was a dangerous thing that shouldn't be taken lightly, that it meant he deserved nothing good, he deserved to die and go to hell... but today his sin had literally turned him into a huge green monster. He had smashed the door, smashed the walls, smashed that car. Thousands of dollars in property damage. Because that's who he was. That's who Bruce Banner has always been. Always. A sinner. Totally depraved.

He had always hidden it. People who knew him would say he was a good person. Ha, Bruce thought, there's no such thing as a "good person." But maybe lately he had fooled himself. Maybe he was acting like his sin wasn't so bad. Maybe it's because last week he was traveling and missed church. Whatever the reason, his real self had come out. God have given him over to it. He was a monster.

-----------

He went into hiding. He moved to Brazil. He found a job in a soda bottling plant. And he committed to reading the bible and praying for an hour every day.

Bruce flipped to Matthew 5, to the part about anger. "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment."

Well, that was pretty clear. Being angry is just as bad as murder. Hulking out is a sin. Obviously.

God, how can I avoid it? he prayed. How can I fight the temptation and stop myself before I hulk out? God I need you so much. I can't do it. I'm weak. I'm sinful. I'm too weak against this temptation.

It was a slippery slope, he thought. If he ever started to get a little bit angry, he needed to stop those thoughts before they had a chance to grow. Because now, the other guy would be there to reveal his sin to the whole world. Wow, wasn't it just terrible that he had only started to care about his sin because other people were going to see it? Really, all that matters is that his sin hurts God. "Against you, you only, have I sinned." Even before the lab accident, his anger was an infinite offense against a holy God, and he didn't take it seriously back then. Wow, how pathetic that he needed this as a motivator. It meant he didn't really love God; he just didn't want other people to judge him. Yeah, his heart was deceitful and wicked.

He deserved it, though. He deserved to have other people see it, see how evil he was.

God, I'm sorry, he prayed. Help, please help, I need you.

-----------

He had hulked out, and he felt terrible.

What happened? He had gotten into an argument with the neighbor from the apartment below his. The guy thought water was leaking from Bruce's apartment, but it wasn't, but he wouldn't listen, and... Bruce didn't want to think about it. He knew he had done a bad thing, he had somehow lost control and hulked out, he had totally forgotten to pray.

God, what do I do? he thought. He knew the right thing to do would be to go apologize to his neighbor. But I won't, he thought, instead I'm going to move. Because now that guy knows about the monster, and he's going to tell people, and I need to be gone before that happens.

He was just making excuses. He knew what the right thing was, but he wasn't willing to do it. He was just going to make this whole thing even more sinful by running away.

He was such a bad Christian. He said he was devoting his life to God, but really he wasn't.

I promise, God, after I find a new place to live, then I'll really get my life back on track. Then I'll pray more. I won't hulk out. I won't get angry. I'll submit my life to you. I'll read the bible every day.

It wouldn't be good enough, he knew. He could never be good enough; the sanctification process would last his whole life, until he was perfect in heaven. On earth, he would always have a sin nature and he would always have to fight it. But someday he would have a closer relationship with God, and it would be easier.

Or maybe he wished he could just die instead. Just take a bunch of pills and ...

No. Don't think things like that. He was going to rededicate his life to Jesus. Surrender all. Let go. Lay it all down at the foot of the cross. It would be hard, but God would take care of him. God loved him so much, and he didn't deserve it- he deserved to die. Surely anybody who saw the monster would agree Bruce deserved to die.

That night, he gathered up his things- only 2 backpacks' worth- and moved out.

To be continued...

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Blogaround

Two kitties laying on a giant snorlax pillow. Image source.
1. An Ohio Bill Would Charge Therapists With a Felony if They Don't Out Trans Kids to Their Parents (posted June 26) Whoa, not cool.

2. In honor of Justice Kennedy's retirement, here is information on abortion funds for each state that criminalized or extremely limited abortion prior to Roe v. Wade (posted June 28) Twitter thread. Donate to protect abortion access.

3. I Had a Giant Testicle for Two Years and Didn't Tell Anyone (posted 2015) Well this is quite gross. This is what purity culture does to people.

4. Hidden portraits: rare photos of African American life get a spotlight (posted June 21) "[Frederick Douglass's] spellbinding words are the inspiration for the exhibition African American Portraits: Photographs from the 1940s and 1950s, which opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on 26 June."

5. Democrats’ Views on Immigration Have Changed—Dramatically (posted June 25) This is an article about how Democrats' support for immigrants is way higher now than it was in the past. Probably as a response to the orange antichrist's violent and dehumanizing words and policies. But, Libby Anne points out, Obama wasn't really that good for undocumented immigrants either, and where were we back then? Shame on us for only caring about immigrants when it becomes a huge partisan issue.

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