Second-Wave Anti-Amandism

I’m always happy to raise awareness on important cultural issues. TODAY’S cultural issue is: the problem of systemic Amandism.

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Racism is bad. Sexism is bad. Ethnocentrism is bad. And Amandism is bad.

That’s pretty straight-forward, right?

Our goal as a society is to stop hating people just for their race or gender–and, most near to our hearts on this blog, we fight to stop the hate based solely on Amanda-status.

I’m proud to say, we’ve come a long way in the fight against Amandism. Nobody has said anything to make me feel agitated or uncomfortable for several weeks, and I must attribute that to the footwork being done by loyal Amanda-Activists from all corners of my living room.

Girl power! etc. etc.

But, as society shifts and meets my demands, it’s necessary to shift my ideology along with it.

It occurs to me that people named Scott or Jessica or Logan may need somebody in their corner as well… And, though the first crusaders who spoke out against Amandism were primarily concerned with–uh–ME, there’s room in our group for anybody who feels oppressed!

We are the Activists! We fight for equality!

Whether you’ve been victimized as an “Amanda” or a “George” or a “Humphrey.”

Second-Wave Anti-Amandism isn’t just for Amanda. We want equality for EVERYBODY–not just those people with my DNA.

(Who can possibly be against that?)

Do you believe all humans should be treated with dignity and kindness? Congratulations, you’re an Anti-Amandist.

Do you believe__________? See? You’re an Anti-Amandist, too!

Do you believe icecream is delicious and puppies are cute? Well, that makes you an Amanda-Activist like me.

In fact, if you think you’re NOT an Amanda Activist, you really just don’t understand what the definition of Anti-Amandism is. (Maybe you’ve been exposed to bad stereotypes?…)

But TRUST ME. You’re one of us.

EVERY decent human being is one of us!!!

The only reason you could possibly NOT be one of us is if you’re a hateful jerk, which means you are proving how much more work we have to do before we achieve Equality, you bigot.

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Welcome to the movement!

-Amanda

Why We Love Daddy

Hey, Guys!  This is “The Peaches” speaking.  And I want to tell you a story that comes from an era almost 30 years ago–when the only person in the whole world who called me “The Peaches” was John Branyan, my dad…

I was probably in First Grade.  Maybe Second?  And that would mean my little brother, Tim, was in Kindergarten.  (The other two Branyan siblings hadn’t made their debuts yet.) 

At that time, there was nothing we liked more than our special juice boxes (especially frozen, so we could eat them with a spoon!)…and playing with the Forbidden White Board tucked in a corner of the office.

You see, our parents joined a certain Multi-Level Marketing company during the rise of the MLMs in the early 90s.  It wasn’t Pampered Chef or Longaberger… But you might be able to guess the name as I continue telling this tale.

My little brother and I were not allowed to touch the white board and dry erase markers, because “daddy needs them for work.”  Whenever we’d ask for specifics about exactly what type of work Daddy was doing to be afforded such enviable tools of the trade, we were told, “he teaches people” or “he shows people how things work.”     

But these explanations never really satisfied our curiosity.

Finally, perhaps in exasperation, my mom told Tim and I: “Your dad is the Marker Man!” 

And, suddenly, it was perfectly clear why HE was allowed to use The Markers, while the two of us were not.  We finally accepted we needed to stay away from the sacred white board, until such time as we could become Marker People, like him…

Now, I’ve since learned the term “Marker Man” was not unique with my parents.

In fact, the title is the intellectual property of the marketing strategy organization hired by the MLM my parents joined, to teach their independent consultants how to run a business.   I’m throwing that in here because I’m not trying to get slapped with a lawsuit for copyright infringement.  I only want to describe an actual memory I have from my actual childhood.

Continuing on…

One day, my mom told us she had a project to surprise Dad on Father’s Day. We were going to make a special book for him—filled with all the reasons we loved him.    

In a stroke of poetic genius, we decided to title it, “The Why We Love Daddy Book.”

I don’t remember each reason word-for-word.  But I think one of them said “because he plays catch with us,” with a rudimentary illustration of a ball and bat.   One page said, “…because he wears a tie.”  (I mean, what’s not to love about a guy like that?) 

Near the end of our brainstorming session, Tim shouted out: “We love him because he’s THE MARKER MAN!”   (He was pleased with himself, knowing this would make Dad laugh—which was always a main goal of ours.)

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Why am I telling you this today?  Why was I even THINKING about this random piece of my past?

Well, because…

I’ve been working as the Event Coordinator for my dad’s comedy career more than 7 years–and I’ve suddenly realized:

I still love that he’s the Marker Man.

He still goes to work and helps people understand things more clearly.

Slowly, slowly, we’ve been scheduling fewer stand-up gigs, and replacing them with consulting opportunities.  My dad literally wrote a book about how to be funny.  He can take any speech, sermon, or blog post and find the humor buried in them. 

People who make their living in performance arts are calling him WEEKLY to pick his brain and regain their sense of purpose. And, though Dad doesn’t use literal markers much anymore, he has a way of drawing pictures with his words to bring clarity to a situation.

Daddy teaches people. 

He shows people how things work.

And—guys—he even pays me to be a fellow Marker Person on his behalf!    (No kidding. I have a complete set of assorted colors.)

Years ago, my brother and I didn’t know what it meant to “go to work” and “help people learn stuff.” But I understand much better now.    As an adult, I can see my dad is thoughtful and creative and a gifted communicator.  It’s a joy to glean wisdom from him, when he shares pointers about things he has spent decades studying himself.

Dad doesn’t sell JUICE BOXES anymore. But he understands the philosophy of Funny Stuff better than he ever understood food service.  

And, when you contact John Branyan Comedy, I can go on and on about all there is to love about him.

Do you want to consult with John about how to use humor to make your life better? Give me a call:  888-203-0372 or email amanda@johnbranyan.com .  

If you book him as a speaker (whether it’s a workshop or fundraiser or Date Night Event, etc.) I know you’re going to love my dad, too…  

…And, if you ask, he might even wear one of his ties.

Motherhood is NOT Humbling

I had an epiphany at 3:30am, after changing my toddler’s wet sheets and tucking him back in bed. I was thinking about how deeply grouchy I get toward the middle of January every year…

During those barren, icy weeks, when the Christmas stuff has been returned to the boxes and it seems our motivation to tackle schoolwork was packed up with it–that’s when everything feels like such A JOYLESS CHORE.

I do a lot of yelling and feeling sorry for myself during this S.A.D. season.

“Why can’t you guys __________?”

“Ugh, of COURSE something like this would happen today!”

“You know, I have better things to do than _________.”

The dishes never stay washed. The toys never stay picked up. The homework never gets finished. And the Mother never has anything nice to say.

And it finally occurred to me in the wee hours of this morning:

Doing a bunch of humble tasks every day does NOT necessarily lead to humility; it can also lead to bitterness.

Is that shocking to think about, considering how often women are praised for their “humble role” and their seeming ability to “do it all?” Is it weird to call the problem “bitterness” when the world usually calls it “overworked” and “underappreciated” and “deserving a break?”

I think we talk about the “humble” role of motherhood all the time, without stopping to wonder whether we’re actually mothering humbly.

And, the truth is, I have found myself caught in a Pride Cycle, which many other mothers may recognize, if they stop to think about it with me:

#1. The kids do or say something legitimately ridiculous, rude, or self-serving, which we must correct. They make messes–we correct it. They fight–we correct them. And the repetition begins to establish itself. (So far, so good.)

#2. Then we start to keep a running tally of how much work we’re doing, and it occurs to us that not many people could handle the same stuff we’re juggling 24/7…

#3. Eventually, everything we do seems like an ‘A’ effort, while everything the rest of the family does is an ‘F.’ Our standards become the All-Encompassing Standard of Righteousness for everyone else, and no one measures up…

#4. Everyone, especially Mom, gets grumpier and grumpier, because it’s exhausting being a perfect Paragon of Servant Leadership, surrounded by failures.

What was especially jarring to me was how quickly I was tempted to DEFEND my pride–almost immediately after I noticed it. I jumped right back up to step #1 and clung to the fact that my kids genuinely make bad choices constantly, and somebody has to lay down the law.

It’s actually hard NOT to feeling a bit superior, when the people closest to you are regularly using their beds as toilets. It would be false humility to pretend I’m not better than that, I reasoned.

So maybe it bears repeating that–yes–our children do things all the time that are objectively, honestly NOT GOOD, and part of our role is to set standards with consistent enforcement. (Sometimes our husbands and parents and siblings and friends at church do things that are objectively, honestly NOT GOOD, too.)

But, there’s a difference between having godly expectations for our whole family and having an ugly, Prideful attitude accompanying it.

How can we know when that line has been crossed?

Well, for me, it’s when I start spiraling in misery and barking at everyone nearby, as if my emotional and spiritual well-being depends on their cooperation.

Yes, it’s hard not to become wise in our own eyes, when little people are coming to us constantly for the solution to problems. (And, I mean, they are really eeeeeasy problems to solve.) But if we’re falling apart over something as easy as putting sheets in the washer, are we really that much more mature?

Who’s acting childish here?

—–

The point is, I have been feeling very discontented lately. And I want to confess that publicly, because I finally realize the ugly sin which is hiding at the root of my bad attitude.

It’s pride.
No excuses.

Our culture’s response when a mom starts confessing like this is to pile on encouragement to reassure the mom that she meant well.

“Yes, you DO work hard.”

“Yes, it IS frustrating when no one obeys your good laws.”

“Yes, your kids and husband SHOULD appreciate you more.”

But, this only serves to feed the sense of Superiority, so it ultimately leaves us feeling worse…

Our discontentment grows as we feel trapped in an unfair situation where everyone knows we deserve better, but they just can’t give it to us because they’re SINNERS. So the best we can do is try to forgive them for failing to make Motherhood as fun as it could feel, if everyone worked harder.

The only way to stop the pride cycle is to call it what it is and ask God for help keeping it in check.

Again, completing a long list of humble jobs every day won’t automatically lead to godly humility. Sometimes it leads to bitterness and self-righteousness, when we spend all our time meditating on how much better our lives would be, if we didn’t have to deal with OTHER PEOPLE’S sins.

Lord, help me let go of my Superiority and be lowly in spirit.

Help me recognize all the ways I’ve let pride take over my subconscious, especially when the culture likes to insist there’s such a thing as good/healthy/necessary pride. Weed out my self-righteousness and replace it with godly humility, to set my household free of this monster.

Set us free from the Tyranny of my Flesh.

Lord, you are infinitely more deserving of the recognition than I am. (Look at what an angry, graceless god I become, over the smallest stuff!) Please forgive my arrogance and give me another chance to be HUMBLED by my role, rather than continuing to spin in the cycle of pride and bitterness.

On Repenting for Careless Words

How many MILLIONS of careless words are spoken every, single day? And when was the last time you bothered to think about all the toxic goop flowing out of your friends’ mouths, rather than absentmindedly joining the Vomit Fest?

I first started thinking about this when I was only a kid, meditating on cliched phrases like “God bless you” and “In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” I wondered if God ever got tired of looking up from his book, saying, “Yes? You called?” only to discover his children weren’t actually calling Him at all. They were brainlessly going through the motions again.

In fourth grade, I had a sunday school teacher who explained to my class that the Third Commandment regarding taking the Lord’s Name in vain referred to basically ANY word uttered in frustration, without thought.

He told us not to say “darn” or “heck” or “shoot,” because those are just substitute words designed to help us get as close to swearing as possible without getting in trouble. And he said not to say “Oh my,” because that’s just one breath away from “Oh my God.” (Texting didn’t exist at the time, but I’m absolutely certain he wouldn’t approve of the abbreviated “OMG,” even if you changed it to “OMGosh.” …because ‘gosh’ was another Substitute Word.)

Say what you will about that level of Legalism…

…at least it taught his students to CONSIDER their speech before letting it fly, even if they eventually determined (as I did) that ‘shoot’ isn’t a bad word… and, honestly, ‘shit’ isn’t automatically bad, either. (Fastforward about ten years to the first time I read “pisseth against the wall,” in the King James Bible and felt cheated out of important information!)

(I digress.)

Now that my fellow sunday school attendees are all grown up, I think we are faaaaaaar more concerned with calling out old-fashioned, pharisaical, Fundies like our old teachers than with asking ourselves whether God is pleased by our word choices.

It’s as if we’d rather swing to the OTHER extreme of slandering ourselves constantly–rather than risk being as conscientious and principled as our grandparents were. (Ugh, moral standards. How terrible.)

What do I mean?

Am I talking about the word “shit?”

No, I mean the fact that it has been less than a year since thousands of Christians were declaring a 2-year-old WOULD RISE FROM THE DEAD, because God was GOING TO WORK A MIRACLE and the grave was GOING TO RELEASE HER BACK TO HER PARENTS.

For four days, Christians sang songs and wrote social media comments and prophesied with enthusiastic heresies–and how many of them repented for taking the Lord’s name in vain, when their prophecies didn’t come true?

Did any of them?

Those warnings about keeping a tight rein on our tongues don’t apply in the New Covenant, I guess?

I’m talking about the fact that Paula White and other members of President Trump’s team declared that Trump WOULD WIN A VICTORY and that it WOULD BE A LANDSLIDE and that he’s NOT GOING ANYWHERE because he HIS GOD’S CHOSEN INSTRUMENT. Even after President Trump exhausted his legal efforts and announced there would be a change of administration (“peacefully”), some of his fans continued to exclaim that it’s NOT OVER, and Trump is STILL GOING TO PULL OUT A VICTORY…

Has anyone asked them how they’re going to react if all of that is just wishful thinking?

I’m talking about the fact that you will hear endless, unholy words just walking down the street if you start paying attention.

“I hate all this traffic.”

“I’ve never been so hungry.”

“If I have to wait in that line, I’ll scream.”

“I can’t take any more of this.”

“God bless you!”

Even in my house, you will regularly hear me say things like YOU KIDS ARE DRIVING ME CRAZY and I NEVER GET ANYTHING ACCOMPLISHED and I NEED A VACATION and dozens of other favorite swear words, which I don’t really mean and hardly hear myself say.

When I say things out of sadness or fear or frustration, I’m usually just emoting, selfishly and without thinking about what’s true.

That is to say: when I don’t care enough to watch my words, everything coming out of my mouth is saying “Truth be damned.”

No, I’m not talking about banishing the word “gosh” from your vocabulary.

But maybe we can make an effort to stop perjuring ourselves so often?

Maybe we can try saying what we really mean:

“If the Lord wills it, He will work a miracle.”

“I really, really want Trump to win the election because I think Joe Biden will make a bad President.

“I feel like saying angry words right now.”

(Or, more specifically in my case: “I’m so frustrated right now that I want to blame everyone else in the house for this mess, even though I know deep down it won’t make me feel much better.”)

True, it doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue as quickly and smoothly as, “Y’all are driving me crazy!” But maybe that’s the point.

Maybe that’s why James told his readers to be “slow to speak” and the writer of Proverbs said “Whoever guards his mouth preserves his life.”

I know how tempting it is to unload the first thing that pops into our head when we feel Big Feelings. But, for the love of God, can we try to get a grip on our careless declarations? (See what I did there? I intentionally chose a forceful phrase that included God’s name. Isn’t that clever?)

THINK about what you’re typing and talking about today.


“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak …” Matthew 12:3

A Humble Plea to Be More Like Me

Hello, fellow Christians.

I am a Millenial woman, here to tell you that I USED to be an extremist (like you)–but then I became more moderate (like Jesus is), and you should do that, too.

Let me explain.

I noticed that you are currently disagreeing with somebody over something, and it reminds me of a time when I used to disagree with people, too. But, now that I’m walking more closely with Jesus, disagreement makes me uncomfortable. You see, back when I used to do what you’re currently doing, I was wrong.

When I realized that disagreeing with people made me unpopular, I stopped disagreeing as much as possible and started taking the Middle-Of-The-Road instead! What does it mean to take the middle of the road? Well, it means you can always count on me to play the referee every time there’s a Theological argument. I will butt in and remind everyone that what you’re saying may be TRUE–but the TONE is what matters most…

My battle cry is “Love, love, love, love, love.” This may not seem very helpful in the midst of a conversation about the moral consequences of killing babies or the rise of racism in the black church or whether it’s okay for Christians to send money to corporations distributing child pornography.

But, trust me, these issues are not as important as you Extremists think they are.

Therefore, YOU NEED TO COME TO THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD WITH ME! If you just stop worrying about those human troubles and start focusing on “love” instead, it will make the world a better place. If we all become referees, there will be no one left to wrestle. See?

Wouldn’t that be amazing?!

Look at all the fighting out there! Look at the way iron is rubbing against iron! Look at all of those SPARKS! (You know, the unchurched people of the world can see our sparks, and they’re not very impressed.)

Again, I hope you can hear the LOVE in my voice, as I plead with you to lay down your weapons. Out of love for the poor and love for the marginalize and love for the Church and love for animals–out of love for jazz music and pumpkin spice and puppies and Jesus: I bid you to join me here, in the Holy Center.

Here, in the middle, you will find the answers I didn’t have before, back when I believed some things were worth fighting for. Here, in the middle, our Lord sits squarely on a fence gently calling you to do the same. Here, in the middle, there is a comfort zone of lukewarm pacifism, which is about a million times more spiritually beneficial than the FIRES you keep starting out there in Extremist Land.

Just look at the fires, people! I don’t know about you, but my faith is more precious than gold, and it just can’t handle all that fire…

So, in closing, please think of people like me before you decide to engage in a heated disagreement, which could easily become a fire. We don’t like it. It breaks our hearts. And I’m pretty sure it breaks Jesus’ heart, too, because his feelings almost always match mine.

I love you, and I love poor people, and I love the police, and I love people who distribute child porn, and I love racists, and I love EVERYONE.

So, share this post with all of your loving friends, and together, we will show the world the proper way to be Christian… the Good Way… the Middle Way…

Love, love, love!

-Amanda

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For more on a similar topic, check out this podcast episode about the Idol of “Centrism” and needing to be viewed as “middle-of-the-road.” (That part of the discussion is just after the 34:00 mark.) https://branyancomedy.libsyn.com/war-on-drugs-is-not-racist-and-the-sin-of-centrism

Vote for Rape; Reduce Rapes

It has been over three years since I wrote THIS blog post unpacking a conversation I had with my militant Atheist troll (“Ark”). Over the course of a couple days, I tried to help Ark understand that merely reducing the overall number of abortions is NOT a Christian’s goal.

Our goal is to tell the truth about sin and immorality, and then let the chips fall where they may.

To help him wrap his mind around the problem with LEGALIZING something we know to be immoral, I asked him this question, repeatedly:

Would you “decriminalize” (legalize) rape, if it caused the numbers of rapes to go down?

As you can imagine, that question made him very uncomfortable, and he never really answered it. (You can click on the link above to read the dialog–which continued into the comment section.)

Unfortunately, it turns out that angry, God-hating Atheists are not the only ones who think it’s okay to support murder. Even some Christians believe the end-justifies-the-means.

Their reasoning goes like this: if the raw number of abortions goes down when a Democrat is in the Oval Office, then I should vote for the Pro-Abortion party in order to slow the occurrences of abortion!

If you see this type of justification from Pragmatic Christians, you can try using my question on them, too.

Ask Christians if they would vote for the Pro-Rape Party, if someone convinced them it would statistically reduce the number of reported rapes.

Perhaps you will see this cluster of statistics making it’s way around the internet…

Sorry it’s blurry. This is a screenshot of a photo.

If someone explains that they’re voting for Democrats because the best way to reduce abortions is by supporting abortions, then you can have this conversation:

Start with this question…
Wait for “Red” to respond, like she did here.
I rephrased my question, and then Red turned it around again.
Just keep repeating the question to find out whether these Pro-Choicers will take their reasoning to the logical conclusion…

Now, it bears mentioning the misleading nature of the original statistics. You can’t calculate effects of abortion policy from looking at how many total abortions occurred during each party’s occupation of the White House. You have to look at State and local government make-up. You have to look at which policies were actually signed into law. You can to consider whether there was a war or natural disaster, which could effect the economy… and a hundred other variables!

In fact, even SNOPES (which is a left-leaning website) has debunked the claim that abortions fall during Democratic presidencies and rise during Republican ones.

But the trustworthiness of the numbers doesn’t really matter, if we’re dealing with a bunch of Christians who admit they are willing to tell little “white lies” when they think it’s going to get the result they want. If a Christian believes it’s okay to ally themselves with Death and Rape–then they won’t mind sharing a meme that uses manipulated math, either!

So, first you need to determine whether they care about the truth.

Let’s assume the abortion rate DOES go down, when we make it totally legal to kill your baby. And let’s assume the rate of sexual assault goes down when we make tell men it’s “their body; their choice”…

Does that mean it’s okay to legalize Immorality?


As a quick addendum, I’m concerned that Christians don’t value the Truth as much as they once did. When my sister was getting married, one of the church ladies actually told her, “You can’t tell your husband what you really think! You need to make him believe it’s his idea!”

My sister pushed back by saying, “I’d rather not make things complicated with my husband; I’ll tell him the truth because it’s better than playing mind games.”

And the Church Lady replied, “Oh, honey, I haven’t managed to stay married for more than 35 years by telling the truth!”

I’m concerned that this isn’t being called for what it really is, in Christian circles: this is LYING and MANIPULATION.

This “strategy” of telling your husbands whatever you have to tell them, to control their behavior, is LYING and MANIPULATION.

This “strategy” of telling your children whatever you have to tell them, to control their sexual behavior, is LYING and MANIPULATION.

And the “strategy” of voting for the Pro-Murder party or the Pro-Rape party, because you think you will get the results you want in the end, is LYING and MANIPULATION.

Keep in mind that some Christian women have been getting away with this for decades. It could help explain why they are making a simple thing so complicated in voting for the Pro-Abortion party (while still claiming to be against abortion).

Well, for some of them, their actions haven’t matched their words for over 35 years.

And they believe that’s what Jesus would do!

To the Ladies at My Church

Dear Women of Fairfield,

Nobody asked me to write this.  (And I didn’t ask for permission, either.)  I just felt burdened by something weighing on my mind. And since I’M the one with the burden, I figured I needed to be the one who started the conversation.

Sisters, I’m concerned for the emotional health of our daughters.

I’m concerned that even the ministries which are trying to target the needs of young girls are going about it the wrong way. And I’m concerned that we’re letting young ladies grow up to be women who are controlled by their emotions–instead of giving them resources to bring their emotions under God’s control.

I once heard emotions described as “horses” that God gives us, to serve him.

Used correctly, they can take us where we need to go quickly. (And they can be fun!)

But, without the proper training, they can run off—with us clinging helplessly to their backs!—putting us in danger of hurting ourselves AND everyone around us.

Like horses, feelings are not all “good” or all “bad” by themselves.   Also, we can’t always control when they try to jump or buck or stampede. But, a young Christian girl who wants to grow into a wise WOMAN of God must be taught the skills to strive for emotional maturity and bring those horses into submission.

Usually we recognize there are certain temptations that tend to affect boys. I believe our sons are being taught to guard their eyes from lewd images and to use their God-given muscles to protect, rather than to hurt, their families.

But can we think of “female” sins and temptations to warn our daughters about?

When was the last time you had a conversation among women about the pitfalls WE AND OUR DAUGHTERS must avoid?  Do you know a young woman who feels like she’s going crazy because she’s restless, frustrated, sad, or generally struggling with negative emotions, and none of the “professionals” seem able to help?  (Side note: that was totally ME not very long ago…)

These are the things I want Women of God to begin addressing, and I believe it can start with regular conversations between women at Fairfield.  Paul says that older women must “be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Maybe reading about being busy at home or subject to your husband makes a few of your “horses” try to buck and run.  😉  If so, that’s okay!  I want to open the dialog about how it should look, practically, to be a reverent woman of God in 2020—and how we can keep our cool, have spiritual discernmetn, make our husbands look good, and model self-control for our children and grandchildren…

I’m formally inviting you to my home.

Literally, any time you’re able to drop by, you are welcome to be part of everyday life.   But specifically: every Wednesday, from 10:00am through 5:00pm. And every Sunday, from Noon to 5:00pm.  If you come during these times, you’re almost guaranteed to meet other sisters in Christ here.

These weekly family gatherings are “Open House Style.” My sisters come and go as needed, they bring their children, and we encourage each other to keep the faith. We talk about anything/everything that’s on our minds, while our kids play.  We bring whatever we have in our fridges to share for lunch, and we often end up having dinner together as well because no one wants to leave.

The kids sometimes fight.

Toys and furniture sometimes get broken.

And sometimes we disagree sharply about something and our horses want to run off screaming.  😊

But we are deeply, deeply committed to holding each other accountable and training our children, so that someday they can be leaders rather than victims of their own sin natures.

Does this sound like something you want to be a part of?

Then join us!   Contact me directly for my address.

You don’t have to call. You don’t have to worry that it might be awkward. (It will be, at first, but we’ll work through it…)   If you want to help us rock some cradles and rule the world, then you belong.

Reach out if you don’t have my address.  Let’s reclaim Femininity and show our daughters how real “girl power” can look.

Yours in Christ,

Mandy (Branyan) McKinney

An Apology Letter Your Pastor Can Use

It seems pastors and leaders everywhere are being asked to apologize for participating in systemic racism.  If they don’t repent (and, often, even when they DO repent) they will be “cancelled.”

If you are a white Christian, or if you are a black Christian who values biblical unity above racial tribalism, then you WILL be asked to apologize for vague grievances eventually.  Perhaps you have been asked already.

You cannot be Progressive and compassionate and careful enough.   Eventually, you will be accosted by a group of people who have embraced religious, “Anti-Racist” doctrine, deeply rooted in Critical Theory.  (See this 3-part documentary about the riots at a Liberal Arts college which led to the hunting of a Progressive professor: Part 1 and Part 2 and Part 3)

I’m not going to examine the problems with Critical Theory in this blog post.   You can read my declaration that I’m STILL Not a Feminist for some resources to get you started.  But, here, I’m simply going to give one important piece of advice for when (not if, but WHEN) you are told to apologize for offending the Anti-Racist religion.

Do. Not. Give. In. 

Be careful not to grow angry and bitter, of course.   In fact, I highly recommend this Important Letter to White People (note: it’s not what you may think!).  This is good advice to be careful not to “take the bait” of reacting with defensiveness and Reactionary Racism because growing bitter in return won’t help anyone.

But–DO NOT APOLOGIZE TO THE MOB, EITHER.

Instead, if you simply MUST say “sorry” for something, I have drafted a letter you can feel free to borrow and share as needed, for a ready response to the Cancel Culture mob.

—-

Dear Reconciliation Activists:

As a follower of Christ and a lover of Justice, I am truly, deeply sorry for several things which I would like to list here…

#1.   I am sorry if I have ever indicated a person’s skin color matters more than their relationship with God.

#2.   I am sorry that you are struggling with negative feelings toward me and/or my ministry.

#3.   I am sorry that you have been led to believe my ministry exists to make you feel a certain way.

Let me be clear:  I am not interested in a pop-psych or pop-sociological explanation about how the world works.   I want to glorify God, by seeking his objective Truth and applying his holy Word to every part of my life.

If you’re not speaking the Truth of God, I don’t want to hear from you.  And if you DO want to make a Truth claim, then you will be asked to back it up with evidence and logic and consistency.   (I’m sorry if you think these things were “invented by white people,” and that it would automatically be a bad thing, if they were.)

In my church/ministry, we appeal to a Higher Authority, and–I’m sorry to say–it isn’t your Lived Experience. 

If you would like to come and learn what I believe about God and Scripture and Sin and True Justice, then individuals of all beliefs and ethnic backgrounds are welcome to dialog with me.

But if you would like to come and dismantle the Unity in Christ that Christians have spent centuries working toward, then…I’m sorry, you are going to be disappointed.

ALL human prejudice must be left at the foot of the cross, including YOUR prejudice against white people. This is for your own good AND for the good of the people in the Church who are eagerly awaiting to become your Brothers and Sisters. Your bitterness and divisive Theology will destroy all of us.

This is not about you.

It’s about Jesus.

I’m truly, deeply, overwhelmingly sorry that you have ever been told it’s YOU who fully understands, defines, and executes “justice.”

With love and allegiance to the Living Savior,

—Amanda McKinney

Discernment Practice: How Should Christians Respond to THIS?

Imagine you are a church leader, and one of the members of your congregation tells you this story:

“I never kept a journal, but over a ten-year period, I realized that Benjamin’s moods occurred in six-week cycles. It went like this: Explosive, violent raging that lasted from ten minutes to several hours, then Silence that lasted for two to five days, then Friendly/cheerful/affectionate behavior that would last three or four days. (When things were going well, Benjamin would apologize and even ask me to find out what might be causing his “crazy behavior.”) But then there would be a long deterioration that lasted four to ten weeks. Ben would become increasingly more critical, condemning, and short-tempered. He would deny his earlier apologetic remarks. Finally, there would be an angry explosion, and the cycle would repeat anew. Once I recognized the patterns, I knew what to expect. This made things feel more manageable for me.”

–From the book “Stop Walking on Eggshells”

This sounds like pretty obvious abuse, right?

But what if I told you this story was actually written by a man–about his wife, Barbara–and I changed the genders?

Does it feel a little weirder now, calling Barbara “abusive” when you don’t know her?  Are you wondering whether there is more to the story? (If Barbara has a different perspective on their marriage relationship, would it be difficult to decide who to trust?) 

These are just a few of the questions we should be asking ourselves as we strive to be discerning Christians and wise spiritual counselors.  

Oh, I know, we don’t always think about our role as counselors. We like to think it’s only a job for licensed professionals with nameplates on their door and paying clientele.

But, the truth is, every single person in the world has been called to give “advice” at one time or another, and we are even more regular Counselors with the people who are closest to us:  our spouses, our children, our sisters/brothers, and our best friends.

At some point, we all need to acknowledge how difficult it can be to know WHAT’S TRUE, when we’re faced with a He-Said/She-Said situation and being asked for our counsel.  

Here’s another case study–this time borrowed from the Biblical Counseling Coalition website.  It says:

“After listening to each girl express her thoughts and questions, I asked them: “What would you want to say to your mother?” One of the girls said she wanted to know why her mother was acting contrary to what she had taught them in the past. (The child referred to Mom as a “liar” a lot.) Then her sister, a precocious child who knew the Bible well, replied that she was pretty sure Leviticus had something to say about how wives should stay with their husbands. Inwardly, I was both surprised by her response and impressed with her biblical knowledge.

In my interactions with the girls that day and in the previous sessions, it was clear…the girls are confused by their mother’s actions, but they love her. It hurts them that Mommy claims not to love Daddy anymore. The girls feel confused because their mother has become a very different person from the person in their earlier memories. She used to tell the children that her marriage vows were important.

Throughout their earlier childhood, their mother would sing Bible songs and teach them Scripture verses. She was their care-giver and nurterer, but now she had deserted the family. Now, she still quotes Scripture, but uses texts to justify her sinful decisions… People who know this mother are shocked by what has happened, but it is a reminder that all of us are prone to wander. This woman’s wayward life could happen to anyone. It is by God’s grace that believers are in Christ (Eph 2:8, 1 Cor 15:10). People could try to make sense of the situation, learning what happened in this woman’s life, discovering what went wrong, but, in the end, sin never makes sense…”

Does this story seem even less reliable, or is that just my opinion?

How does it feel to hear two little girls talk critically about their mother?

Do you wonder whether they have been swayed or coached at all?

Would your impressions change if I told you I switched the genders on THIS story, too?…

Yes, if you click on that link above and read the original case study, it’s about a man who abandons his wife.  The girls repeatedly refer to him as a liar, and everyone in the community is shocked by the way his sin has transformed him from a Bible-quoting leader into a Bible-quoting monster.

Read it again.

Does it seem to make more sense when the man is doing the sinning and the woman is the one being abandoned?

—-

Maybe your answers to these questions are different than mine.

This is just a little thought experiment to learn about ourselves and our own possible blind spots or biases.

Being an impartial judge is HARD. (It’s so hard, in fact, that only God Himself gets it exactly right all of the time.) 

But, may we all continue to strive toward impartiality, so that we can be wise servants of God and seekers of Truth.   Not if–but when–we are called upon to offer godly counsel, may we seek the help of the Holy Counselor, to help us sort out these messes.

Update: I’m STILL Not a Feminist

Awhile ago, I believed that Feminism was the most fearsome False Religion facing the Church.  (This was before I learned the term “Critical Theory.”)  I could see the similarities between Feminism and Black Power movements and LGBT activism–but I didn’t know there was a word to unify all of those beliefs into a single worldview…

I only knew that I was a woman who could NOT agree with the religious nature of Feminism, and so I wrote about it a lot. 

The last couple weeks, we’ve heard much about being “Anti-Racist,” which is basically the race version of Feminism.  (We probably agree that another name for Feminism could be “Anti-Misogyny,” right?) To become an Anti-Racist assumes all light-skinned people have to “unlearn” racism, just as Feminism assumes all males need to “unlearn” their bias against women.

Men have more hegemonic power than women.

Whites have more hegemonic power than Blacks.

Heterosexuals have more hegemonic power than people who are sexually attracted to members of the same gender…
etc.

These core beliefs provide the foundation of Critical Theory.

And, on top of those fundamentals, the Critical Theorists have constructed many Commandments and customs:

#1.  Don’t “whitesplain” or “mansplain.”  Do not explain racism/sexism to an Oppressed Person. Do not explain how the microaggression which bothers them was actually just someone being nice. Do not explain how a particular injustice isn’t about race or gender. It’s an easy trap to fall into, but you can avoid it by maintaining a posture of active listening.
#2. Don’t equate impact with intent. Yes, we all know your heart was in the right place and you meant well. But your words or behavior had a negative impact on those around you, and that’s what matters. Apologize and do better next time.
#3. Don’t demand proof of an Oppressed Person’s lived experience or try to counter their narrative with the experience of another Oppressed Person. Systemic, institutional racism/sexism exists, no matter what anyone else says.
#4. Do not chastise Oppressed People (or dismiss their message) because they express their grief, fear, or anger in ways you deem “inappropriate.” Understand that historically, we Powerful People have silenced voices of dissent with our cultural idol of “niceness.” Provide space for POCs to wail, cuss, or even yell at you. Jesus didn’t hold back when he saw hypocrisy and oppression; so women shouldn’t have to either.

#5. Don’t get defensive when you are called out for any of the above. When a POC or a woman says that your words/tone/behavior are racist/oppressive/triggering, you stop. Don’t try to explain yourself. Don’t become passive-aggressive or sarcastic. Don’t leave in a huff. (It may be helpful, however, to inconspicuously step outside/go to the restroom and take a deep breath.) Remain cognizant of the dynamics of white fragility and toxic masculinity, and take note of how it usually shows up in you.

I didn’t write these Commandments, so please don’t think I’m exagerrating or trying to make this Other Religion sound more extreme than it is.

I took these warnings directly from a public note about “Whiteness 101,” posted on the “Be the Bridge” group on Facebook, and then I added the references to women and Feminism.  (Again: Anti-Racism and Feminism are basically two denominations of the same religion.)

If you’d like to read more about “Be The Bridge” specifically, you can start with this review by Neil Shenvi.

But I hope what you’ve seen from these “rules” is enough to help you understand why I’m grossed out by the cult of Critical Theory.

For me, seeing the way Feminists start with the wrong diagnosis and then try to correct supposed injustice in the culture by adopting EQUALLY SEXIST/ABUSIVE techniques was enough to convince me I AM NOT A FEMINIST.

And, I do my part to call out the Tribalism whenever I see it, by telling anyone who claims to be a Feminist that they don’t speak for me.   A woman who believes that systemic sexism exists may certainly share her opinions wherever she wants.

But don’t assume that she and I are on the “same team” just because the word “female” is buried in her religion’s name.

I don’t want there to be any confusion between the Feminist’s values and my Christian ones.

Thus, as the ugly fruit of Critical Theory begins to grow on the trees of its faithful, I’m only more convinced than ever that Feminism is a religion with nothing of value to offer me.