Final Thoughts Before the 1st Round

Posted in Uncategorized at 7:55 pm by Administrator

it’s the Eagles’ big day.

i’ve changed my mind about what i’m hoping for in the 1st round of the NFL draft tonight. but for starters, let’s acknowledge that the Eagles could be drafting absolutely anywhere in the 1st round. i’d say that our ability to move up to pick #2 for Mariota looks like a 50/50 proposition at this point. i wouldn’t be displeased if we could swing it; but it is not my best-case scenario.

my best-case scenario is a move up to pick 5 or 6 to get Amari Cooper, at the price of our top two draft picks and Mychal Kendricks. obviously, that’s a very conservative price right there, and the key to me is value. if we can emerge with a breakout WR prospect for a lesser price than what we would’ve had to pay for Mariota, then i think we come out of round 1 as an undisputed winner. do i think the Skins or Jets would bite? the Skins don’t need a WR as much as a pass-rusher, and some good pass rushers (i.e. Randy Gregory) are sure to be there at pick 20 this year. the Jets will definitely be in the game to trade down as soon as the top 2 QB’s are off the board. i think it could happen, if we want it.

if amari cooper is my 1A option, then my 1B is to sit tight at pick 20 and get DJ Humphries. absolutely no one is linking DJ to the Eagles. he did not visit the Eagles, nor have they met with him. but of the players that are likely to be available at pick 20, he’s clearly the best one available for us. from what i understand of Humphries, he’s a rare O-line prospect and not someone we can afford to pass on. and given that Kelly’s system absolutely hinges on effective o-line play, and given our concerning lack of depth on the line, i think kelly will give DJ a serious look right there if the opportunity presents itself. it’s a steep drop-off after Humphries; and the prospects at other positions (Byron Jones, Jaelen Strong) are relatively high-risk propositions. we have to remember that as notably awful as our defensive backs were last year, the principal reason for our december meltdown was two-fold: 1) dismal o-line play and 2) Mark Sanchez.

if we’re still on the draft board at pick 20, there are obviously a lot of philly fans that will campaign hard for a cornerback or a WR, and of those options i think that i still prefer phillip dorsett. but the trouble with Jones, Darby, Strong, Dorsett, and Agholor is the level of risk. with the WRs in particular, the route-running and the ability to fight through press coverage strike me as major concerns for all 3 of the receiver prospects. i’m just not sold on the corners and receivers in the mid-late 1st, despite our significant needs there.

cooper for a nice price or DJ Humphries: those 2 options are on my wish-list for tonight, and that’s all i’ve got before the draft. it’s time for a PHILADELPHIA SUPER BOWL


to the boys in baltimore

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:20 pm by Administrator

if i had just five minutes to talk to all the boys in baltimore who are involved in the violence on the streets of baltimore, this is what i’d tell them:

no one watching you on television cares about you. they couldn’t give a rat’s ass about you, your life, or your people. when you throw a rock at the police, some people cluck their tongues; others are amused. when you break glass or loot someone’s store, some people nod their heads because they expected no different from you. but no one, not one of them, cares about you—not the people who call you thugs, not the leaders who tell you that you ought to know better.

the only people that care about you are the ones who’ve invested themselves in your life: the people who pay your bills; the people who go to work so that you can survive; the people who live in your home and share your neighborhood. and you’re going around wrecking the places where they live, work, shop, and play. you’re doing this to the people who care about you. you’re doing this to them.

don’t hurt the people who care about you. there aren’t many of them in this world, and there are less of them all the time. take care of the people who care about you. the rest of them out there—the people who watch you on the news or read about you in the papers—want you to be poor, black, reckless, and irresponsible, and i say go tell them to fuck themselves. but you—be good to the people that live in your city, be good to the people that live on your block, and be good to the people that love you. they’re all you got.


ex machina, star wars, and the nfl draft

Posted in Uncategorized at 9:16 pm by Administrator

after i saw the previews for ex machina, the main thing i wondered is what this movie would add to the cinematic exploration of artificial intelligence. i was skeptical; and the movie confirmed my reservations.

it’s not that it was entirely unsatisfying to me. the movie is visually very interesting. but it intentionally probes to the level of ideas, and as such it is only satisfying insofar as its exploration reveals something interesting or new. Ava—our prime object of study—is decidedly unoriginal; and her process of self-actuation is neither sensational enough nor poignant enough to separate her from the multitude of far more prominent case studies in the genre.

take for instance Rutger Hauer’s “Roy”, from Blade Runner (1982). Roy is not simply a robotic revelation, in his curious mix of aggression, intelligence, and doubt. he is also one of the most complex and compelling creatures ever depicted in film, as evidenced in his transformation over the course of one brief, poetic monologue from a villain of the most chilling variety into a hero of poignantly tragic proportions. Roy, unlike Ava, doesn’t simply surprise us or challenge us philosophically; Roy compels us to empathize, in a manner that is both disturbing and deeply provocative.

i didn’t expect Garland to duplicate Blade Runner’s brilliance; but i did expect a film about A.I. to tackle an increasingly familiar idea in novel ways. i was disappointed to discover that in the end, Nathan was just your classic narcissist, and his creation proved to be little more than a robot femme fatale.

anyone who’s heard me complain about movies knows my mantra very well: good movies are all about good old-fashioned storytelling. nothing turns me off more than a movie that tries to obscure its lack of a real story with gaudy visual effects and a celebrity cast. and this is part of the reason why i’m already skeptical about the next star wars episode that is planned for a december release this year. from what i’m reading, it would appear that the prevailing opinion is that episode 7 will bring back all of Star Wars’ good elements without any of the bad. that means no stupid characters (Jar Jar, Amidala, and basically everyone else in the prequels), no stupid scenes (i.e. romancing on Naboo), and no more totally contrived light saber duels. but if that just means that episode 7 will give us snappy smart one-liners by beloved characters, a brilliant outer space light show, and a sleek new Sith villain, then please count me out. this is starting to feel like a bunch of franchise fiends desperately trying to rebuild a Death Star capable of incinerating our collective imagination yet again.

quite obviously, what made Star Wars great in its original presentations was good old-fashioned storytelling. it was about an ordinary boy discovering his extraordinary gift; it was about a hero discovering that his greatest nemesis was in fact his own father; it was about a princess falling in love with a reckless swashbuckler. light sabers and Tie-fighters, in and of themselves, could never have survived the test of time; but the genuine anguish that comes from that tension between faith and fury is the stuff of stories eternal. to me, the only way to save the Star Wars franchise is to abandon Star Wars, in what it was and what it has become. it demands a new and compelling mythology. that takes a writer of unique talent, someone capable of transcending the old story lines and their strangleholds on the imagination. is JJ Abrams that guy? he did well enough with the new Star Trek that my jury is still out and ever deliberating.

lastly, the NFL draft.

i’ll maintain that i was right on in my assessment of the Eagles’ 2014 NFL draft last year, but that gives me little or no consolation here at the brink of the 2015 draft. while i like the fact that Chip Kelly is in “desperation mode”, that’s mostly because i think he ought to be coaching for his job this year. he’s proven to be a mediocre NFL coach and a fairly poor evaluator of talent at the NFL level, and he now has very little room for error in this year’s NFL draft. if he can’t dig up with his eight picks at least two players who can contribute to the team’s success this coming season, then we will be witnessing the decline of the Eagles in the NFC East pecking order. that would not only be humiliating for Eagles’ fans; it would almost certainly spell the end of the Chip Kelly era.

of all of the roster holes we have to fill, i would rate our needs at wide receiver far more pressing than our needs on the o-line or in the secondary. granted, we lost Herremans and have backup-level talent now at right guard, where we almost certainly need premiere talent in order to effectively execute Chip’s patented ground game. and thanks to four straight years of abysmal drafting, we don’t even have a mediocre defensive back to put at strong safety. as bad as those holes are, the situation at wide receiver is even worse. due to our perplexing inability to re-sign Jeremy Maclin (and someone has to step up and take the blame for that after we dropped all the money we could have given him on Ryan Mathews and Byron Maxwell), we are now tentatively fielding one of the very worst receiving groups i’ve ever seen in professional football. we have an athletic project in Jordan Matthews that we reached for unnecessarily in the 2nd round; we have a raw, unproven speedster in Josh Huff, who shouldn’t even be considered for a starting position this year; and we’re thinking about starting Riley Cooper again, who is now better known for dropping passes than racist rants. this is a team that’s asking for 8 in the box, against a shaky QB looking for a career revival.

we’re not going to fix the WR position through the draft alone, but there’s absolutely no doubt that WR in the 1st round is the only logical move for the Eagles. as deep if not deeper than last year’s crop, this year’s WR class has impressive prospects all the way through the projected top-10, with plenty of tape and data to back up those predictions. in contrast, the cornerback prospects in this draft are far more speculative in value. i could argue that there isn’t clearly a starting-level talent at cornerback outside of Trey Waynes. the situation at safety is even worse, and i think the growing concerns about Landon Collins’ fit in the Eagles scheme are well-founded. to me, there’s simply no way around committing to the best wideout available at pick 20; there’s little justification in passing on a top-10 receiver in this top-heavy class.

almost for certain, cooper, white, perriman, and parker will be gone by pick 20. with those 4 off the board in all probability, the question for me is which of the remaining prospects has the best chance of being a star for us. because at pick 20 in the 1st round with a WR group as bad as we’ve got, the Eagles need to identify not a solid contributor but rather a potential downfield dominator for years to come. we will likely have a choice between jaelen strong, nelson agholor, dorial green-beckham, and philip dorsett.

among traits that i like in a wide receiver, the ones i rate most highly are short-area quickness, upper body strength, and tenacity. yes, i like height, hands, and straight-line speed, but i’ve seen plenty of sub-6 footers win with sheer force of will. steve smith will always be one of my favorites. i’ve been going back and forth over the past week, but my impression is that philip dorsett could be that guy for us—the guy who skims the top off the defense and breaks their back when they cheat. agholor doesn’t look like a star, and you can’t bet a 1st round pick on a head case. i’m thinking dorsett this year. let’s put some serious speed on the line of scrimmage.


Understanding After-Life

Posted in Uncategorized at 5:20 pm by Administrator

a couple weeks ago, my wife and i finally got around to watching “interstellar”, which we enjoyed (though the movie certainly had its imperfections). the experience actually brought back very specific memories of “2001: a space odyssey”, which i had not seen in about twenty years. so we borrowed that and watched it (my wife’s first time). not only that, but i decided to read arthur clarke’s “2001″ novel, based on the screenplay of the movie that he co-wrote with kubrick.

all of this science fiction fairly predictably brought me to a place of philosophical quandary, a place that is very uncomfortable for me. because any serious meditation on the metaphysical possibilities of our universe inevitably compels me to consider the very difficult question of eternity—not merely whether it is possible but also how we, as beings of consciousness, could possibly tolerate it.

i’ve written previously about the moment in biblical scripture that i find most horrifying. it is in fact the most horrifying matter that i’ve ever considered. it regards the “fall of man”. here we have Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, living in proximity to God and veritably in communion with Him. at least in my concept of perfection, it ought to have been a state of perpetual transfixation for Adam and Eve—an overwhelming satisfaction in their active beholding of the immediately and manifestly present God. yet, the story of Genesis suggests otherwise; Adam and Eve were not transfixed. in fact, they were dissatisfied with their experience of God. they were so profoundly dissatisfied with God that they were willing and wanting to find satisfaction elsewhere, outside of the things He had directly provided them.

it is a horrifying moment in biblical history for one principal reason: it suggests that a man in intimate communion with God can be dissatisfied with God. he can become bored with the experience of God Almighty. and when one considers that a third of the angels left the Lord and defected with Satan even before Adam rejected God, one can see that this dissatisfaction with God was not necessarily the unforeseen exception to the overwhelming rule of God’s greatness. the beings that God creates can weary of Him; it is in their design.

if one accepts this implication of the creation story, it should not be so hard then to understand why the afterlife can and should be such a troubling idea. because eternity is tolerable and even good if it is defined by enduring if not ever-deepening satisfaction; but an eternity of existence is torture if one’s satisfaction is somehow, however infinitesimally, incomplete. eternity, in other words, leaves no room for even a hint of dissatisfaction. eternity is Hell without total, all-encompassing, and inescapably pervading fulfillment. the decision of Adam and Eve to disobey God does not simply represent to me their interest in exploring alternate realities; their decision suggests that an eternity with God was unbearable to them. and thus, the question faces us: how can we know that we will not recapitulate the fall of man, once we see what an eternity with God really is?

that is the horror of the creation story: the idea that we could experience perfection—and be left wanting.

when i see what became of man after the Fall, i can understand how merciful were the actions of God in the times that ensued. it was merciful for Adam and Eve to be exiled from the Garden; for after all, what would an eternity in paradise be for them but unceasing and ever-plaguing shame? how is life livable once life itself has proven to be unsatisfying? to be released of that burden was mercy; death for man promised a liberation from the prison of his mind. and later, when God saw what became of the lives of men, He saw fit to shorten their span of life, reducing their years from millenia to the short space of a century or less. this too was a mercy, for the time spent in bearing with his dissatisfaction and malaise was nothing less than a cruelty for the lost nomad of the destitute world. the plight that God bore witness to as a result of sin was this: a race of men who, on account of their inability to profoundly enjoy the Lord, could not bear to live with themselves. from the beginning of time, this has been God’s great grief—that He created man to love life, but instead what He discovered in His image bearer was an inevitable death wish.

when i look upon Christ and what He did to redeem man, i believe that on a philosophical level what He accomplished was the demonstration of an utter and human satisfaction with God. and by preaching rebirth, what He sought to teach us is that it is possible for man, despite his origins and his nature, to become something that can be totally satisfied by God. in other words, Christ accepted the axiom that man could encounter God and nevertheless remain unimpressed and untransformed; and He wrestled with this not by aiming to prove God’s inexorable beauty but by in fact reinforcing this fact, through His own plain, deliberately unimpressive, and mundanely human form. His message in this regard was simple: some, not all, were called to be enthralled by the Lord, and for them, the experience of God can be truly satisfying, forever.

how this enduring satisfaction is possible is for me the real quandary of my humanness. in my universe, only robots and machines can remain consistent in their form and function over time. a human defines himself in perpetual dissatisfaction, in the continual exploration of all alternatives—even the alternatives to his ongoing existence. my consolation lies in Christ’s simple teaching regarding the psychology of worship, when He tells His own to “let the children come to me… for the kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these”. implicit in this teaching is the idea that the experience of perpetual satisfaction hinges upon the perceptual framework of the nascent mind. we can tolerate eternity, in other words, if it is ever beyond us, and if it always prevents us from the patterning and the predictions that mark the adult psychology. this is perhaps one of several reasons why the “star child” metaphor at the conclusion of “2001″ resonates with me. for us to be eternal, we must be able to look upon ourselves and our universe with new eyes: a child’s eyes no less.

it does strike me with some sadness that in this long-distance relationship of lovers that have never met, it is the Lord who pleads with us to endure and to believe that He is every bit worthy of our affection. i can be enough for you, He contends. i can be your satisfaction, for all time


The Undignified

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:43 pm by Administrator

yesterday, i was thinking about a few of my patients and why it is sometimes so difficult for me to work with them.

that’s when God asked me, can you hold them?

when i come upon very hard times, i often think of Christ’s prayer in john 17. as He approached the end of His time on earth, He issued that prayer for Himself and for His people, a deeply emotional and personal prayer. in that prayer, Christ declared to God the evidence of His faithfulness to the Father—that He had not lost a single person that the Father had entrusted to Him. He had held each one, like the good shepherd, all the way through and to the end.

the idea of “holding” someone is, for me, a very profound idea. holding someone, in a psychological sense, is offering relationship without condition; it’s about assuring safety to the other, however vulnerable that person may be. in a spiritual sense, holding someone is about care and responsibility; it’s about committing oneself to seeing the other person through his or her journey. at a very basic level, holding is both a listening and a tolerance. it transcends patience and presses toward a genuine understanding. holding someone is about sharing life; it is about walking with a person down the long road.

i struggle to hold people. and God has given me many people to hold at this time in my life. i think of one young man in particular. i know that i was meant to “hold” him, because God once told me that He would hold me accountable for this man’s success or failure within our community. i have my times when i’d much rather go my own way and let this guy go his. but at every turn in the road, i remember what God told me. it frustrates me a bit, because i recognize that i can’t just pick and choose my friends and commitments anymore. most people think that they have this freedom, and once upon a time i took this for granted as well. but the deeper i am imbedded with God’s people, the less choice i have about whom i associate with. whom i give myself to, and whom i serve—increasingly, these are God’s decisions and not mine.

at work as well, i recognize that my patients and i did not find each other by accident. like any patients, they have their troubles, and their interactions with me can at times be very stressful. the patients that i have the most difficulty with are those with histrionic personality disorders, whether it’s frank histrionic behavior or anxiety-related disorders. many of my patients fall into these categories, by virtue of their social backgrounds and the complex issues surrounding their poverty, drug use, and sexual and gender orientations. i think it’s fair to say that being gay in america is very hard, and being transgender in this society is even more difficult. the specific difficulties my patients have endured have made some of them very hypochondriacal, others addicted, and still others hostile and untrusting. i have patients who yell at me routinely; i’ve had patients that threatened me with physical violence. i have fired several of my patients over the past several years, and i even pressed charges against one who threatened to shoot me, eventually testifying against him in court and having a restraining order placed on him.

the single thing that most gets under my skin is when i encounter a “train wreck” of a person who responds to the best of my efforts with an attitude of entitlement rather than gratefulness. those moments bring out my worst every time. i think to myself some ugly things in those moments:

who are you to demand more from me than i can give?
who are you to demand more than what others receive?
who are you to entitle yourself to what other people actually pay taxes and premiums for?
who are you, when you have nothing?

with my most difficult patients, and in my very worst moments with them, i think to myself that these people deserve nothing. i can’t hold them. i can’t sympathize with them, and i don’t want to be a part of their lives.

yesterday, i was thinking about how much some of my patients really bother me. i was struck by the idea that what really bothers me most is how undignified their behavior is at the very moments when they ought to be most respectful. how can they not realize, after all, how much they inconvenience me with their dubious disability applications, their opioid pain medications, their long-winded diatribes against anyone and everyone in their lives? they impose on me, without grace or basic manners. to think on these things filled me with revulsion and disgust.

and that is when God asked me, can you hold them? can you hold my people?

i was about to give the logical response (”no!”) and satisfy myself with that when i was struck by a particular picture of Christ. it was not the Christ i usually visualize—serene and meditative, like in a Botticelli, even in His last moments of excruciating life. no, this time i saw Christ the Undignified. i saw the Christ who picked quarrels with men who wanted to befriend Him. i saw the Christ who confounded crowds with parables and riddles meant to frustrate them. i saw the Christ who went into the temple courts and threw a tantrum, breaking people’s property. i saw the Christ who rode into Jerusalem in peasant clothing and yet still expected the people to recognize Him and give Him adoration. i saw the Christ who told the crowds that followed Him despite all of these things He had done to antagonize them that most of them were following Him for no good reason at all.

and i was struck by this: that as undignified as the least of us are, Christ made Himself just as undignified. He came without beauty or wealth and yet expected to be received as a king. He came into the society of His times and yet refused to accustom Himself to its ways. He sat with men who had been appointed to lead, and He talked down to them as if they were children. in so many ways, He imposed on others with deliberate and unapologetic self-assertion; He entitled Himself to respect while giving so little respect to those who expected it. He was an upstart. He was a poor man who spoke with impunity. He was a troublemaker who refused to fit in with the times. and for this, He was despised, though He broke no law. for this, He was reviled enough to be executed by His own people.

when i saw Christ the Undignified, i understood what God was saying to me. it was as clear as day, even when the logic of it still eluded me. He was siding Himself with my patients, against me. i sit with your undocumented, outspoken, and angry gay man, He said. i stand with your transgender prostitute. i walk with your suicidal, smelly, and intoxicated homeless meth addict. i stand with them against you. i stand with them not because they are right but because you are wrong. and until you hold them, you cannot hold me. because i came as undignified, so that the error of your dignity might be revealed.

as i reflected on this momentary revelation more and more through the evening, i came to understand something about me and what God desires for me. i’ve always been one who loves what is beautiful. i love art museums. i follow beautiful people. i listen to music. i enjoy all things haut and refined. my favorite times are the moments i share with epicures, artists, and people of refined sensibilities. i don’t mean to be aristocratic or snide; but i have my own sense of what is beautiful, and i try to fill my life with those things. Christ could have been very much the same way. He could have proven Himself the most cultured, artistic, and intellectual man of His times; He could have been beautiful. but apart from being what was required of Him according to the prophecy—free of blemish, of the line of David—He made Himself plain, to the point of ugliness. He conducted Himself in a way that was unrefined and even deliberately undignified, because He aimed not to esteem what we find beautiful but rather to pointedly identify what ugliness reveals about true beauty. in doing so, He proved this one thing: that God’s people were meant to embrace what society finds ugly and despicable, because that is where God’s glory is invariably most abundant. throughout time, God has always delighted in using the small to shame the great, because the root of our separation from Him lies in our incessant idolization of ourselves. where we are dignified, in other words, there are we most without God.

today, i held a patient of mine in his most undignified moment. he was angry, he was alone, and he felt betrayed. without touching him, i nevertheless held him, as Christ held those who were the outcasts of His time. i held him, and it felt good to hold him, and the longer i held him the more i felt a certain burden being lifted from my life. and what at first seemed so ugly—this man’s anger and the shame beneath—became the thing that gave me purpose, the thing that pointed to hope. by holding him, i held that hope with him. it became like a light between us, that illuminated what we are beneath the clothes and the flesh and everything else that seems to matter. it became like a light that drives darkness away; and i sat in that light with him, and i enjoyed it for a little while


a religion that matters

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:35 am by Administrator

i’ve been studying for my board exam non-stop, for the last two months. it’s been exhausting, to say the least. after a full day of work, i head home, throw down a quick drink to calm my brain, and crack open the books. on weekdays, i’ve been studying four hours every night. on weekends, it’s twelve hours a day. i don’t know when i’m ever going to need to know why platinum chemo is preferred for midline adenocarcinoma of unknown primary, but what matters is that it’s fair game for the test. so here i am, learning about CD57 positive large granular lymphocytosis and how it compares and contrasts with Felty’s syndrome, which also happens to cause rheumatism, neutropenia, and splenomegaly. did you know that dream enactment behavior is a cardinal symptom of “Dementia with Lewy Bodies”?

despite the preoccupation, i’ve been absorbing so much news and information that bother me. i’ve wanted to write about it, but i just haven’t had the energy or time. and interestingly, i’ve found that the inability to blog has affected me powerfully. there is an important cathartic element to the process of writing that enables me to tolerate and even appreciate the world i live in; and when i deprive myself of it, the world gradually begins to overwhelm me. i’m sure that conversation would accomplish the same thing, but who can i talk to about all the various things that really trouble me? i don’t think there’s one person out there who could handle everything on my mind. this space, and this space only, is where i go to air myself out, to unburden my brain, and to find the strain in my thoughts that makes it all sensible.

and so i now come to the thing that i’ve been wanting to express and to explore for weeks. and now it’s Easter, and now i have to write it. i want to write about a religion that actually matters.

my old friend won ho recently got hostile with me during a chat in which i stated my belief that religion has been a force for destruction in society. i didn’t mean to imply that religion has been only destructive; but i did want to suggest that religious ideas often are destructive. religious ideas corrupt individual lives; they incite one people against another; and they destroy civilizations. never has that been more apparent than in the present age. many of the current wars actively being waged have a religious theme or core element.

and i don’t want to excuse the secularists either, because the atheists and the areligious postmodernists themselves embrace beliefs about morality and transcendence that drive them toward self-righteousness, exclusion, and violence. religion at its core is an imposition on a human being; it is an imposed responsibility, which drives that person to embrace, love, and hate things that are beyond his immediate scope of perception. it is a force which compels a man to believe he carries importance, responsibility, and power that exceed what might be implied by his otherwise unimpressive, mortal, and pitifully fragile physical form.

i look at the religious freedom laws; i look at the islamists overseas; i look at the Easter preparations of my society. i think to myself, here at last we see the real essence of religion. it is about inclusion and exclusion. and in truth, the muslims and the christians are exactly the same in so many ways; they disdain the atheist, they scorn the homosexual, they esteem martyrdom, and they are fixated upon an afterlife in paradise. they read and reinterpret words in holy books to justify their actions of prejudice and violence; and they kill, persecute, and maim in the name of God. they do things of this severity without empathy because in truth they do not believe that they ought to empathize. what common ground is there between the holy man and the heathen? one has met God; the other hates and rejects God. thus, the former will be enlightened, while the latter is little more than an animal.

when i think of Easter, i so despise religion. i despise the Christianity that manifests itself in denominations, in divisive theological debates, and in intellectual snobbery. i disdain the Christianity that defines itself in the persecution of women and the slander of gay people. i pity the Christians who define their faith in daily prayers and devotionals. i get mad at all of it, mad enough to cry out and punch a hole through the wall, because that Christianity only matters in the way it satisfies its adherents and excludes everyone else. in the one manner it ought to matter—its ability to purely and incontrovertibly prove the greatness of God to the world of this generation—this Christianity is irrelevant.

twelve years ago, i wrote similar things in my blog. but back then, i was angry at God—a God who seemed powerless to respond to the devolution and corruption of a terrible world that He did not take responsibility for creating. i am not angry at God now. i am angry at this thing we have made of Him—a deity consumed by his preoccupation with holiness. if i could find one person with whom this conversation might matter, i would tell him that here and now God would just laugh at the picture of Him we have drawn: a white man with a brown beard, mournful on the cross, filled with pity for the unbeliever. He’d draw it differently: the gay man you just shut out of your restaurant; the black boy you just put in handcuffs; the woman you threw acid on; the transgender prostitute who just walked into your Sunday service. He’d say that the religion that matters is the one that shows these people an unconditional and heartfelt affection. He’d say that because your religion disdains them, it’s no religion at all. it’s worthless.

i hate the church—that wooden institution full of its history and hubris—even as i love my church, that place where i discover Him. i hate these religious holidays—these token gestures of obeisance and self-exploration—even as i treasure the rituals of worship. i am full of anger and frustration and sadness and dismay, because i see that my religion doesn’t really matter in my world, and that makes it hard for me to believe that it actually matters in my life. i feel like Jonah, not like the prophet who did a great thing for Nineveh, but like the man so filled with self-loathing because he cannot help but despise the people that the Lord has chosen for mercy