Category Archives: Religion

Have You Heard About Rob Bell Lately?

It seems as though the Christian world has now focused its attention to Rob Bell and his new book, Love Wins. There are many claiming (without having read it in whole) that Bell is a heretic and going against the Bible by stating that all people are going to Heaven. The fact that people are declaring they know the relationship with God that a person has without even having read the novel in question is one of the reasons that I get utterly frustrated with Christians…

Now, let me clarify that I am not a Bell fan. I am fully against the emergent church movement and Bell happens to be a part of it. (If you read anything Bell writes on the topic, he’ll state that he isn’t. However, most people involved with the movement claim to not be involved with the movement. Bell’s basic theology matches with it completely.) Like most Christian subsets I’m against, the emergent church gets some things right. I love the fact that they are so focused on the poor and the outcasts. However, completely ridding oneself of all traditions and ignoring pieces of Scripture that don’t seem to fit with your beliefs are giant red flags that there are issues with your theology. The idea is that God’s love trumps all, and while I would love to believe that, words and actions from both God and Jesus seem to suggest otherwise. There is some accountability on our part.

I think what I find odd about this whole situation is the fact that Bell claiming all people will go to Heaven (provided that’s his actual claim) is surprising. He has often preached of the power of God’s love in such a way that seems to suggest a far more liberal take on sin than the Bible backs up. He even has stated that he finds truth in all places and all religions, so long as they point back to God (I don’t understand what that even means). Yet many considered him one of the great Christian writers of our time and so many considered his ideas as straight from God’s mouth. Many people from my generation find him to be inspiring and are outraged at the idea that he might suggest this (or agree with him, but more on that for a later post).

Once again, it is frustrating to me that Christians find the need to jump to conclusions based on what people say. I’m not a firm believer on taking quotes without their context (it can have dismal outcomes) or for taking people purely at their word. Because of this, I have preordered the book from Amazon (I figured with all the attention it’s getting, the library would be impossible, yet I could resell it fairly easily). Even though I’m not a Bell fan, I will read it and review it IN context. Granted, you still shouldn’t take my word for it, because I’m human, but I’ll be telling you all about it in about a month (or two).

Practicing Discipline

This year, I didn’t make a New Year’s resolution. I thought it over and realized that every time I made one, I broke it, and then gave up on it. However, in mid-December, I decided that I needed to start being more disciplined in several areas. This was a decision that I made initially based on the fact that I had to write 30 pages worth of papers in the last week of the Fall semester and I saved it all for the last minute. I was incredibly stressed and didn’t sleep much. I realized that if I were more disciplined at the beginning of the semester, I would have gotten ahead in my homework and then had less to do later. But I decided to have more discipline in other areas of my life as well. In this way, my New Year’s resolution is kind of to be more disciplined, just unofficially, because otherwise I may give up as soon as I break it once.

Sadly, the one area I’ve been failing at is spiritual discipline. This isn’t to say I don’t pray. I pray daily, often more than once a day, but always at my own convenience. I’m failing at setting aside a time for God, a time in which I’m only focused on Him. Now, you may be thinking, “It’s okay, Lizzi. Everyone gets busy and fails at doing that.” But it’s not okay. To have a real relationship, you need to spend time with that person, and the same goes for the Creator of the universe. Christianity is a religion in which the relationship is key, and since it’s both a religion AND a relationship, this involves discipline within that relationship. And so, I’m going to begin REALLY observing the divine hours daily, and I’d like accountability on this. It will be the first step in my practicing spiritual discipline.

I like hiding in corners…

I begin my career as a University of Michigan School of Social Work graduate student in three days. Actually, more like two, since it’s already 7:30 pm on Saturday. Crazy. And terrifying.

At orientation, I found out that there were 1027 applicants this year to the School of Social Work. It’s the most they’ve had since 1977. There are 345 people in the upcoming class. Somehow I made it into that number. I remember back in December (cue Earth, Wind, and Fire) when I was considering not applying. It was the day of the early admissions deadline and I was putting everything together at a friends house. I sat across from my friend that I was studying with and said, “Maybe I shouldn’t click send. Maybe this is a bad idea.” I eventually did, and shortly after began to look at job postings to see what job I could get when U of M turned me down. I was certain they would, there was no point to it.

When I had sent the application, I prayed a very simple prayer. It was basically that the only way I’d get in was if God wanted me to go. I knew that the competition would be high and there would probably be a lot of amazing people applying. However, if God wanted it to happen, it would. So, I let it go. In February, I found out I got in.

Now I’m going…and I’m terrified. When I read about assignments I’ll be completing, I’m scared. When I think about how crazy my internship will be, I’m scared. I feel like I’m out of my league on this one. And yet every time I think about quitting, there’s this little voice that says, “You got in for a reason,” and I feel a bit calmer. Because it’s true, I did get in for a reason, and I’ll get out for that same reason. This year will probably be pure insanity. I’ll be interning 16 hours a week, working 10-15 hours a week, in class 12 hours a week, and doing homework for those classes in all the in between time. Maybe I’ll sleep or eat for some of that down time too, I don’t know. What I DO know is I’m completely called to do this. And I become sure of it when I get excited about class topics like Child Maltreatment, or for working in an environment where I’ll have to learn how to restrain a kid. Normal people don’t find such things exciting. Only people that have a fire put in them.

“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” James 1:27

Christian Girls Don’t Watch Tarantino

I can’t remember a time in my life where I enjoyed the stereotype of “good Christian girl.” For a long time, it seemed like some unattainable goal for me. Something I was supposed to work hard to become. It wasn’t until later on in high school that I began to realize that not fitting into this stereotype didn’t make me a bad Christian and that it wasn’t necessarily something I should be fighting for.

Let me clarify something: I am a Christian, and I’m continuously trying to figure out what that exactly means in how I live my life, however when you call someone a “good Christian girl,” there’s a specific stereotype that pops into your head that I just do not fit. I am 22 and unmarried, and right there, we have a problem in the good Christian girl category. I’m studying social work and considered voting for Obama (and ended up voting Nader). I don’t enjoy most Christian music. There are several more things I could list that I’m just not thinking of now…

However, the biggest reason I’m not a good Christian girl is in my choice of movies. I have the tendency to watch films that include sex, drugs, and rock and roll. It’s true. I view film as a medium of art, and the best art takes reality and makes it beautiful in some way. This sometimes means that what I watch has nudity or sex or drug use or violence or a lot of swearing, but I never focus on that. I’m a big picture person, and if the film is beautiful, the story is wonderful, then I fall in love with it. Also, a lot of these films are proving a point. Requiem for a Dream, American History X, American Beauty, Crash, Match Point, Almost Famous, and I could go on…these are all films that use these terrible things to prove some type of point. And it’s beautiful.

I find it slightly odd that many Christians will give me an odd look when I admit to loving something like Pulp Fiction only to then write a Facebook status professing their love for Edward (a fictional character) and how they are utterly depressed that their significant other cannot meet his expectations. There seems to be something wrong here, or maybe I just have the wrong idea about things. And last time I checked Harry Potter was bad because it was about witches, so why are vampires okay?

The ultimate point of this post is that stereotypes are lame. The last time I checked, we were all human, and we all fail constantly at being good at anything, let alone Christianity. The point of life as a Christian is to constantly be striving to live like Christ, which can be difficult at times, because, let’s face it, Jesus didn’t have a Blockbuster to go to, so we don’t know what He would watch. And there wasn’t any moment where he had to choose between listening to Tomlin or Death Cab. We don’t have a specific list of dos and don’ts when it comes to things like that. And, of course, Tarantino is awesome.

Difficult Christianity

“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” -G.K. Chesterton

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t get this whole Christian thing. I’ve gone to church my entire life, been a Christian for eight and a half years, and I STILL don’t feel like I get it. It’s really hard and I have the tendency to feel like I’m failing at it constantly.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I also have the tendency to feel as though my friends get it and they can do it all so easily. I often receive advice on Christian matters and feel as though the people giving said advice rarely, if ever, need it themselves. It makes me feel as though I’m a bad Christian or maybe not even a Christian at all. Then one of my friends will admit to struggling with something or will ask me for advice about something else, and for a moment, though usually a brief one, I think maybe I’m not so different after all. But eventually I will remind myself that no, they still have it more together than I do, and that is how it is.

My main issue in being a Christian is that I have major trust issues. I don’t want to tell God what my problem is, because telling Him means asking for His help, and I don’t want His help, because He may solve it in a way that I don’t think it should be solved, and that sucks. I don’t want to give Him control over my life because He might do something with it that I don’t want Him to. In a nut shell, I’m a control freak. I hate it when someone puts a movie that starts with an “S” in the “C” section because there’s an extra space. What makes you think I’m gonna be okay with it if God starts messing with the pieces of my life? Even if they fit better that way, I put them the other way for a reason, and now everything is out of place.

But I know it goes deeper than that as well. This past Friday I visited the University of Michigan and felt severely intimidated at the end of the day. All of the professors seem to be geniuses and I fully believe that the courses will be severely difficult. As I was touring the campus and came upon the wall of pictures of all the professors next to their MOST RECENT book that they’ve published, I couldn’t help but think that admissions had made a mistake. I wanted to run downstairs and grab someone and say, “Look, you’ve made a mistake. You’ve got the wrong girl. I can’t do this and I’m not qualified for this program. Take me out and replace me with one of the other brilliant people here that has yet to hear back from you. You deserve better students than myself.”

It’s the same way I feel anytime God asks me to do something, whether something large like studying social work, or small like getting up when I’m completely broken down and worn out. “No, you don’t understand, you’ve got the wrong girl. I can’t do this. I don’t know anything and I’m not strong enough for it. Find someone else because this isn’t where I fit. You deserve a better servant than I.”