When Satire Comes True

I hadn’t heard, until today, about the college president who hosted an event for black students that included cotton decorations and collard greens… but, I’m not surprised.

A couple years back, I wrote a satirical piece about a museum that tried to make black students feel more “welcome,” as Michelle Obama recommended. (Yes, she actually encouraged businesses to “welcome” more black individuals.)

Can you imagine how that would sound?

Certainly patronizing:

Tour Guide:   (*Big smile)  WELCOME BLACK PEOPLE!!!!   And, of course, welcome to the rest of you, too.  We’re glad everyone is here.  But we are especially glad to see the kids we wouldn’t normally see in a cultured place like this! (*to a black male in the group)  I assume, young sir, that you’re here for Free Black Admission Day?

Black Male:  Actually, I’ve been buying my own student pass every season for three years now…

Tour Guide:  Really?!  Well, that’s okay! You can still pick up your complimentary “I’m Welcome at the Museum” T-shirt before you leave…

That would be ridiculous, right?

But that’s what happens when businesses and schools and the culture in general all begin focusing on something as petty and impossible as making ALL PEOPLE OF COLOR “feel” a certain way.

Eventually, the focus on diversity must turn ridiculous. It’s inevitable.

That’s because differences of opinion have far more to do with individual personalities, family values, and education than they do with skin color.   This means (SHOCKINGLY!) that not all black people think the same way.

Thus, when businesses and schools focus on making “black people” feel heard and validated and welcome, it ends up being patronizing instead. That’s why identity politics ends up feeding the stereotypes it claims to be fixing.  Always! (Click on the underlined words to read more about how that happens.)

At the end of my satire piece, the tour guide yells out, “Hey, what if we do a promotional deal where you can get a free bucket of fried chicken?”  (And, of course, the patrons begin to mutter and leave.)  So, she tries again:

“I can throw in a grape soda! We just want you to feel welcome!” 

And THAT’S what the president of Libscomb college was trying to do with his collard greens and cotton theme. 

It’s ridiculous.

It’s patronizing.

But what else was he supposed to do?

From all sides, he is being pressured to MAKE certain groups feel a certain way…not based on their shared values and ideas, but based on their skin color alone.

Make all black students feel included.

Make all black students feel heard.

Don’t let any black students feel offended.

Um…that’s only possible if all black students think the same.


 

The “Cotton-and-Collard-Green Debacle” was brought to my attention when someone shared this student’s post, and I almost went cross-eyed reading all of her contradictions.

“People at Lipscomb are ignorant of the feelings, thoughts, and culture of black lives…

BUT

“I am only one black person among millions, and I DO NOT represent everyone.”

(How can people be less ignorant of the feelings, thoughts, and culture of black lives, if all black people are different?  Answer: They can’t! They will ALWAYS be ignorant. For the same reason, people at Lipscomb are ALSO ignorant of the feelings, thoughts, and culture of white lives…unless they know every, single white person in the world intimately.)

Or how about these quotes:

“These students who are apart of your body are hurting… They’re hurting because people on this campus don’t listen to them.”

BUT

“…there are white students out there claiming that their black and white peers who are hurt are being over sensitive… I want you to reevaluate why you think you are allowed to have that opinion on a matter that you can’t ever truly understand…?”

If people get hurt when they’re not listened to, then I’d like to announce formally how much I’m hurting, too!

Now, why does this student think she’s allowed to have her opinion on a matter she can’t ever truly understand? (That is, she’ll never understand what it’s like to be a white student and told–point blank–that her opinion doesn’t matter as much as an offended black person’s.)

The answer, of course, is that ALL OF US are “allowed” to have opinions as individuals, because all of us have different personalities and upbringings that affect our perspectives.  

This student is allowed to believe that anyone who is “hurt” automatically gets the microphone.

She’s still wrong. But she’s “allowed” to have an opinion, just like everyone else.

Unfortunately, she gets tripped up when she keeps trying to bring whiteness and blackness into the mix.

Making somebody’s complaints and sensitivities RACE-BASED isn’t just wrong–it’s dead wrong.  

It’s condescending and patronizing to make skin color a basis for listening to a person.

Now, I’m going to get a snack…can I bring anyone a grape soda?

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How To Get Your Kindergartener Punched

This opinion piece is making the rounds on Facebook because everybody loves the idea of a tough little girl, defending herself against evil little boys:

Why My Daughter Has Permission to Kick Your Son in the Balls.

Sure, every time the author advices that we teach our son to keep his hands to himself she adds the parenthetical, “and your daughter, too!”

…But I can’t help noticing the headline focuses on physical aggression toward little boys, and that’s what makes me uncomfortable.

It doesn’t say, “Why My Daughter Has Permission to Punch Yours in the Ovaries.”

Something tells me that article would be less popular.

Here’s the deal: I recognize that self-defense is a necessity at times. I get that we live in a world where we might have to react PHYSICALLY and VIOLENTLY if a stranger acts physically/violently first.

But, do we really expect 6-year-olds to understand if and when “keep your hands to yourself” doesn’t apply?

Are we really making the playground a safer place when we send our ball- kicking Kindergarten girls to join the butt-touching Kindergarten boys and expect the teachers to figure out who started it all?

But, most importantly: what happens AFTER your little Amazon completes her Justice Jab on a boy’s tenders?

I’m guessing, in the minds of the many mothers who shared this article, the young girl leaves the boy on the ground, writhing and promising “I’ll never do it again!” while the girl takes the walk of pride back to the classroom and all the other kids on the swing set cheer.

That’s how you think it works, right, moms?

Can you hear your daughter’s badass theme music right now?

Unfortunately, there’s a problem!

The only way your 6-year-old daughter gets to enjoy her empowering moment is if the boy suddenly starts following the “don’t put your hands on girls” rule.

Otherwise he’s going to stand up and bloody your Princess’s nose…

…and THEN what?

******

You know, there’s a reason bank tellers are taught to just hand over the money and sort out the details later.

Armed robbers have guns!

And, when the bad guy is capable of hurting you worse than you can hurt him, suddenly the self-defense thing becomes more complicated.

Suddenly, keeping your hands to yourself MIGHT be the best strategy to keep yourself from harm until the (better-armed) authorities sort out the details.

Call me anti-feminist, but I don’t trust Kindergarteners to understand all of that.

I tell my kids–both boys and girls–to keep their hands to themselves. Period. Full stop.

Because it’s not smart for me to send my little vigilantes to school, ready to take justice into their miniature hands…

…when they’ll probably get hurt worse eventually…

…and the root problem with the bully still won’t be solved…

…and they can just go sit with the teachers until the authorities figure out a solution that doesn’t involve amateur wrestling matches breaking out.

(Note: I will not be kicking any principals in the nuts.)

Moms, we need to think through the advice we’re giving and make sure we’re not just living out our own fantasies of beating up other people’s brats, through our kids.

There’s a good reason there are NO VIOLENCE policies in elementary schools, where the aggressor and the victim change moment to moment. (The same reason we don’t send kids to school with mace.)

If you want to establish new rules for your kids, may I recommend homeschooling? (Seriously! I’m a big advocate for homeschooling!)

And when your daughter and YOUR son are the two who can’t get along, you can be the one who figures out who started it and who is allowed to do the punching.

Maybe you can tie your boy to a tree, so your girl can get a fair shot without retaliation?

But, in the meantime, stop telling six-year-olds it’s okay to escalate situations while you’re at work. If your daughter kicks my son in the nuts, he’s going to punch her in the face.

You should at least warn her about that.

My Testimony

I wrote this in 2013, intending to read it at my church.  

That never happened, for one reason or another. And I eventually forgot it existed!  It wasn’t until today, when I got an email asking for details about my depression, that I realized I’d never published this account. 

It’s long.  But if you want to know about my death and rebirth, here’s the story.


 

My name is Amanda McKinney, and I’m an idolater.

In theory, I’ve always known that I had idols. But I never really understood how many things I love more than God, until He took all of my comfort—stole my idols right out from under me—and left me broken and shaking in fear.

This is my story of darkness, depression, and mind-numbing terror.

And it’s a story of the sweet, sweet safety of Jesus.
****
First, a little about who I was in August of 2013, while anticipating the birth of my second child:

I’ve always been very introspective. I’m a question-asker and a voracious reader. I was raised in church, graduated from a Christian Highschool and college, AND spent more than a little of my spare time writing about God and theology on my blog.

I could quote Scripture with the best of them.

I’m familiar with G.K. Chesterton, C.S. Lewis, St. Augustine, and Martin Luther. I could argue evidence for the existence of God from ten different angles and explain why the Prosperity Gospel is heretical. And I almost always tackled three or four books at once, on topics I both agreed and disagreed with.

In short, I had an answer—or at least a theory—for everything.

But after the birth of my son, I struggled with Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, which threw my entire world for a loop.

It started with not being able to sleep well. My racing heart and anxious thoughts kept me awake all night, which began to take a toll on my already-worn-out mind.

After several days of fighting irrational fears and telling myself it would get better soon, it became harder and harder to believe I really WOULD be alright again. My body physically dealt with the symptoms of panic attacks, while my head and heart struggled with their own issues.

Like that horrible song you can’t get out of your head, my brain kept telling me everything was BAD…SCARY…and eventually MEANINGLESS.

I could not stop thinking:

“What if I don’t sleep tonight? What if I’m never able to enjoy sleep again? What if I’m so tired that I can’t take proper care of my children? What if? What if? What if?”

And, eventually, those questions turned to the Spiritual realm as well:

“What kind of God allows mental illnesses like this in the first place? What could the purpose be? What if He’s not really as good as the Bible says He is? I honestly can’t remember feeling truly happy…and it certainly doesn’t feel like I ever will again. What if I don’t ever, ever feel happy again? What if…?”

Now, let me remind you, I know a lot of Scripture. I’ve read tons of commentary about pain and suffering—including Lewis’ excellent book The Problem of Pain.

But none of that head-knowledge was comforting to me in the least!

The ability to appreciate Scripture was rooted in my mind, and that was the thing that was broken and hurting!

Where could I turn, when I couldn’t even trust my own thoughts? What was the point of all the learning I had done all my life, if it was basically useless to me at my most desperate hour?

And, most importantly, WHERE WAS GOD?!

As days wore on, I became more and more desperate for relief…for just a spark of hope..for a glimpse of God to remind me He is there, and He is good.

I wrote this in my journal one night:

“I used to criticize all the ways humans self-medicate. How they cling to false theologies and comfort each other with pretty lies. But now that I’m experiencing the hurt for myself, I understand completely. Don’t bother me with complicated theories and scary Truth right now. I’m totally head-learned out. Lie to me if you must! Just help me, Jesus. Be my Healer. Hold me in your arms. Promise me peace and joy!”

I wasn’t looking for another quote about God.

Instead, I was desperate for HIM—personally, intimately…and He felt very, very far away.

The longer I went without His voice, the more I realized I was experiencing emotional Hell. What else would you call the absence of God?

No joy. No hope. No relief. No God.

Where, where was He? And, if He was so good, why had He left me in Hell?

####

Then, finally, God came to rescue me. The details are somewhat long, and they wouldn’t mean as much to you anyway.

God spoke directly to my heart and confirmed His presence in the way that I needed to feel it.

Suffice it to say: through some eery “coincidences”–and the video testimony of a perfect stranger online-–God got my attention.  And then he answered my prayers.

I literally couldn’t stand, from awe and amazement that the Creator of the Universe was interacting directly with ME.  For years, I had been repeating, “God sees you and loves you.”

But to actually experience that truth…it overwhelmed me.

Furthermore, God revealed that He was using my horrible, panic-filled battle with depression to address deep soul questions I hadn’t been motivated to tackle until I was at the end of my rope.

All my life I had asked to become more like Jesus, and finally I was learning for myself that it’s NOT an easy process.

That “refining fire” we hear so much about? Yeah, turns out it burns. And Jesus wasn’t kidding when He said, “In this life, you WILL have trouble.” That’s a promise, folks.

It’s terrifying when you think of just how much trouble one person might experience. (I was driving myself crazy asking all of those “what if?”questions.)

But I realized my obsessive desire for sleep and comfort actually reveal one of my idols. Turns out, I often want a trouble-free life more than I want Him.

Another of my idols is my own ability to reason and problem-solve. I spent hours sacrificing to this god, desperately searching for medical solutions to my problems on the internet…

…and the only thing I discovered, for sure, was just how little we humans really know about the human body and brain.

There were so many conflicting opinions! So much advice that promised to help me calm down and rest that only ended in disappointment!

Suddenly, I realized I wasn’t in control of my body the way I always thought I was. In fact, I realized the terrifying truth: I’m hardly in control of ANYTHING at all.

The mind/brain of which I’m so proud is a gift from God. But if I start valuing it more than I value Him, it can be stripped away.

There were two verses I focused on, while sorting all of this out.

The first is Romans 8:28 “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

And second, 2 Peter 1:3 says, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

These became the foundations onto which I rebuilt my understanding of God, even as my body still refused to cooperate.

Slowly, slowly, (muuuuch more slowly than I would have preferred), the Truth of these words began to sink into my heart….and God began allowing the horrible fog to lift from my brain.

#####

The whole time I was lying awake, scared and out-of-control, I comforted myself with the idea that things would go back to “normal.”

I thought I’d be “me” again soon—if I just could hang on.

But, now  I know that was a lie.

I’ll NEVER be the same.

The woman I was before Collin’s birth is DEAD, and the terrible yet beautiful truth is, God is the one who killed her.

Don’t be confused by the word “beautiful.”  It literally felt like death—frightening, lonely, and totally unfair. We pay lip-service to the idea of suffering in church, but it’s a whole different animal when you’re up all night choking on it.

It’s more than uncomfortable.

It’s bigger than “sad” or “worried.”

It’s trauma.

It’s surgery, turned fatal with the DEATH of our sinful selves.

And it takes lot of time, prayer, and loving/wise counsel to help us recover from that kind of pain.

It may be strange for some of you to think about “recovering” from an encounter with God, but I think it’s biblical. God wrestled with Jacob and popped his thigh out of socket. He had Jonah cast into the ocean and swallowed by a fish. He made Joseph wait in a prison cell for years, an innocent man.

It seems God constantly puts His children through serious, totally-unexpected and “unfair” crises that last longer than we ever thought we could endure.

In fact, that’s exactly what a mentor of mine wrote to me, when she heard about my struggles:

“We don’t get to choose the time, place or type of suffering – but anyone serious about following Jesus WILL suffer, even if it’s not direct persecution…

In times of suffering, most of what is happening is the removal of things; the emptying, not the filling, not the learning of lessons. It feels like dying, because, in fact, we are – we are dying to self, our tidy theology, our ability to control our circumstances and our fond illusions that we can… But after all that, when all hope has died, when we no longer put our hope in our deliverance (a subtle idol) – He resurrects us. He wants so much more for us than just to be once more at ease.”

In the middle of my depression, I couldn’t recognize the awful, painful experience as something for my good. But, now, I more fully understand Psalm 119:71, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn your statutes.”

I learned just how much of a control-freak I am—and how much I try to rely on my own head and strength to get me through tough times when, the truth is, I’m almost completely OUT OF CONTROL.

My mind could be taken from me in an instant.

It’s only thanks to God that good feelings like safety and comfort and happiness exist in the first place, and He determines when to give them out.

There is very little in this life that *I* get to steer.

But, in my pit of darkness, I was pierced with the reality that God truly is my ONLY hope, and that has been a worthwhile discovery. He saw fit to strip away my safety and to take happiness far, far away, to help me see how badly I need him.

It sounds crazy. But He took me through Hell to accomplish his good purpose.

####

In closing, God wounded me, and I still have scars from the ordeal. Not only that, but many of my questions remain unanswered, even though God has helped me better understand a few things.

As He continues to insist that I trust Him—completely—He keeps me guessing in a lot of areas. Unfortunately, I still have to answer “I don’t know” to many, many things…and I still struggle with anxious thoughts and trouble relaxing…

My name is Amanda McKinney, and I practice idolatry.

But, I know the One, True God is pursuing my soul. He is breaking down the Old Man and making something totally new. And, even when I’m awake and confused, He is producing in me the fruits of His Spirit…including joy, patience…and PEACE.

Will you praise Him with me?

You Don’t Speak for Me, Case Study #2

Awhile back, I wrote about the way identity politics CREATES stereotypes, though it claims the goal of erasing them.

Activists end up lumping people into categories using mainly color or gender and then speaking for the WHOLE group, as if all women and minorities feel the same way.

I challenged my readers to speak up whenever someone claims they are representing “black people” or “women” as a whole by saying in no uncertain terms:  YOU DON’T SPEAK FOR ME.

Today I came across this brilliant letter, written by an American immigrant from Jamaica and telling a black activist, plainly, that he doesn’t speak for all black people:

“My concern is that you and your book function as deputized stand-ins for the black male and the black experience in America, respectively. And I believe that as stand-ins, both fail.

Because I write as a black immigrant who chose to live in the United States, whose biggest hope as a child was to become an American citizen, and who chose to embrace the American Dream you condemn, please consider these words my Declaration of Independence—an independence that only my beloved America could have given to me.”

You can read the rest of his Declaration of Independence (from identity politics and thought-policing) by clicking here.

Weep With Those Who Weep

Imagine someone asks you to come to their house, because they’re in need of support after a heartbreaking incident.

Their son was killed in a horrible accident!

Obviously, you rush over and wrap your arms around your friend. You tell her how sorry you are for her loss. Such a terrible tragedy!

You are fulfilling your human obligation to weep with those who weep.

…But, just a few seconds later, you see your friend’s son walk through the door.

Yes–really–it’s him! He’s not dead at all! In fact, he walks across the floor, right in front of you, and heads to the kitchen for a bowl of Corn Flakes.

You actually watch him take a couple bites, to make sure it’s not a ghost.

The boy is fine, yet you’re still sitting with his mother on the couch, holding her while she sobs about how her life will never be the same.

Well NOW what do you do?

It would be kind of rude to interrupt your friend’s grief when she’s THIS upset!

You’re supposed to mourn with those who mourn, not try to talk them out of mourning!

She asked you to come and comfort her in a time of extreme need, and you’re thinking about invalidating those feelings like they don’t even matter???

SHE FEELS LIKE HER SON DIED, you selfish jerk!

So, you just sit there…. patting her back… and thinking about how much she must be suffering…

In fact, the more you think about her very real pain, the more the tears well up in your own eyes.  She’s really hurting! And that hurts you, too!

You’re both mourning now.

What could mere words do for either of you at this point?

Just weep!

Weep!

And don’t try to calm anyone down.

9.15.17 Weep with Those Who Weep

I Have Some Questions!

Want to know the secret of successfully making a point in the middle of a disagreement?

Do you think it’s possible to make a point, without using any direct statements?

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Have you figured out the secret yet?

LEARN TO ASK GOOD QUESTIONS.

This week, I witnessed not one, not two, but THREE people obviously dodge a question (or series of questions) posed to them, before finally–and embarrassingly–disappearing from the conversation completely.

(Plus one more possible example, if I wait another day or two and never get a reply.)

How about some screenshots?

First, in a conversation about The Nashville Statement, somebody (color coded Gray here) suggested that beliefs about sexual sins are just ONE interpretation of Scripture.

But notice how Green responds. Everything about it is perfect!

9.1.17 Unanswered Questions (#1)

Green repeated back to Gray what he thought she was saying.  And then he asked for clarification

If anyone reading actually thinks Gray will write a private essay this weekend, I’ll take that bet.

(And by the way, I have a pet peeve against starting conversations publicly and then moving them to private. It seems the only reason a person would opt not to answer quickly, then and there, would be to buy time and/or save face so they don’t look foolish in front of multiple people. But I digress.)

Questions are powerful. They force whoever is making claims to stop ranting and parroting and trailing off long enough to demonstrate they’ve actually thought about what they’re saying.

Questions help focus the dialog on a single point, to demonstrate for everyone reading whether a person is interested in building a case–or just interested in making speeches without scrutiny.

Example #2 involved a conversation about Christians who hate Joel Osteen whether he “opens the church doors” for Houston flood victims or not.  After Yellow made the claim that Osteen couldn’t be a Christian because he teaches “a false gospel,” Red asked him a question. Brown is a third party who was trying to talk with Yellow at the same time:

9.1.17 Unanswered Questions (#2)

Since I know Red, I can say he wasn’t necessarily looking for a particular answer.  Is Joel Osteen a malicious liar who twists Scripture on purpose? It’s totally possible!

Red wasn’t necessarily defending Osteen.

He just wanted Yellow to make a statement–and then defend that statement…

…which Yellow will do, as soon as he gets to work…

It’s a long drive.

So far, 72 hours.

Example #3 is another one centered on the “Nashville Statement.”  (Although it’s a different set of players.)  This time it’s yours truly, and an anonymous person we will call “Blue,” who shared this terrible video of Perry Noble rambling.

Noble says Christians should stop trying to be right and just listen to other people. He calls that a “relationship.”

So I jumped in:

9.1.17 Unanswered Questions (#3)

If a person claims “The Nashville Statement makes it harder to establish a relationship,” I expect him/her to spell out HOW.

One answer, of course, is that being too truthful too quickly can rub certain people the wrong way and cause THEM to blow up the “relationship” before it has even begun.

So my next question after that would be, “Is that my fault?”

Or perhaps I would ask, “Does that mean I need to treat non-Christians like skittish deer and barely speak above a whisper, so they don’t get startled?”

Unfortunately, I never got to ask a follow-up question, because we got stuck at the first.

9.1.17 Unanswered Questions (#4)

I was trying to ask “how is the Nashville Statement to blame?” in a different way. But, again, instead of answering, he simply went on to detail what he never said…and to repeat what he’d already said twice and was still failing to support.

Stating doctrine is just unwise!

It’s harmful!

It’s make it hard to build relationships!

Apparently it’s just a foundational Truth and you can’t take it apart any further, or something? (It’s like asking, “How do you know you exist?” I guess.)

9.1.17 Unanswered Questions (#5)

And, truth be told, I DID have a good night.

I called my dad and we talked about how simple–and yet profound–this little secret is.

Sometimes it’s a small challenge to figure out exactly which point to focus on or what angle to take. But with practice, anyone can learn to expose problems without having to SAY anything declarative.

You, too, can be sending people off “to work” or “to write a private message” or “to have a good night,” never to hear from them on the subject again.  Like magic!

Just find a good, thoughtful question.

Houston Woman Shocked that Some People are Less Christian than Osteen

Most people know Joel Osteen as the botoxed preacher of a heretical gospel who leads a megachurch in Houston.

“He’s barely a Christian,” remarked local resident, Alice Underwater.  “His Theology is shallow. His books are shallow. His tweets are shallow.”

That’s why Alice was surprised to get more help from Osteen’s church than from the people Tweeting about his church. 

“I got diapers and formula from Lakewood Church yesterday, ” Alice reports. “If I had to choose between that and my Christian friend’s angry-tweets at Joel Osteen, I would say I appreciate the diapers slightly more.”

Christians from outside the Houston area have been weighing in:

 

8.29.17 Criticism for Osteens (#1)

8.29.17 Criticism for Osteens (#2)

After reading these comments, Alice Underwater responded, “Well, I’m not sure what a ‘proper portion’ of Joel’s wealth would be…but I didn’t get any diapers from Kim…and I did get some from Joel’s church… so….”

When asked whether they have experience organizing and maintaining a pop-up shelter, Osteen critics gave answers such as, “Those are just details” and “God would provide…somehow.”

Meanwhile, Alice continues struggling to wrap her mind around what happened.

“If you asked me who talked about helping flood victims the most, I would say ‘Osteen’s critics did,’ but I just can’t believe some of them actually DID less than him! It takes a lot of work to beat him in the hypocrisy department.”

Later she added wryly: “My baby can’t eat your outrage, folks.”