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Guest Post on Praying the Rosary

Woo hoo! I got to write a guest post for Carly Gelsinger‘s series From Grape Juice to Red Wine, stories of people shifting from mainstream, conservative, or fundamentalist evangelical to “high church” liturgical traditions.

I had the chance to meet Carly in person at the Faith & Culture Writers Conference a couple of weeks ago.  She’s really cool, the sort of person who makes you feel like you’ve known her forever even though it’s only been a single weekend.  She has a way of putting people at ease with her warmth. The coolest thing was finding someone else who shared my own experience–that of choosing (rather than having it forced on us) a conservative evangelical path before finding our way out again.

I’m excited to add my voice to the conversation, especially because it echoes my own journey so well.  Go check out my post, and while you’re at it, give Carly some bloggy love on her other writing.  Happy Friday!

Housekeeping, Honesty, and Changes

I promised I would post more about the Faith and Culture Writers Conference, so I’m back with another post.  I could tell you about the almost magical experience of having my eyes opened to new ways of thinking about my writing and the practice of writing.  I could go on forever about how good it was not to feel alone in some of my feelings about writing.  But there is one big thing I learned about myself that pretty well overshadows the rest, if only because the rest falls into place after understanding it.

Here it is: I discovered that I have a lot of trouble being honest with myself as a writer.  I’m pretty good at knowing what I’m feeling, even if I don’t always handle myself well.  But when it comes to writing, I still doubt, second-guess, and let shame and fear hold me prisoner.

Those are things I need to let go of.  I’m tired of the emotional drain of holding back because I think someone won’t like the real me through my writing.  Oddly, I don’t fear people disliking me the person–life has shown me I have nothing to worry about there.  People like me or they don’t; it doesn’t bother me either way.  Yet as a writer, I still want approval in some way.  I’ve seen it happen time and again that people become the devil incarnate for writing something that someone else doesn’t like or agree with.  It’s this tendency to put people on pedestals and then have our hopes dashed when they turn out not to be perfect.  I suppose I would rather have people see me as flawed first, rather than hating me later because I ruined their image of me.

While I was at the conference, I missed an opportunity to use my writing honestly.  I volunteered for an exercise, and our charge was to write an obituary for one of our fictional characters.  Instead of writing what I wanted to, I crossed it out and started over, using humor to cover my insecurity that what I had wasn’t good enough or might offend someone.

I’m done with that.

I realized that I’ve been hiding my fiction writing from my regular blog audience by keeping it compartmentalized.  Sure, I link to the occasional stories or snippets of my work-in-progress.  But it’s still in its own space, a gap between that and what I write here.  I told myself it was because they’re too dissimilar.  Fiction can’t possibly belong here because the first “rule” of blogging is to have narrow focus.  In reality, I just didn’t want to have to share it and be vulnerable that way.

As part of my move forward, I need to be able to share what’s inside me.  My fiction doesn’t stray far from my passion for a more loving, inclusive faith as expressed here.  Years ago, a friend said that when I was ready, I should “keep open house with my heart.”  That’s what I want to do.

Next week, you’ll see some changes.  First, I’m combining my other blog with this one, and I’m going to change the look of the page.  This is temporary; I’m in process of creating my own piece of Internet real estate in the form of purchased hosting.  I have a lot of reasons for this change, not the least of which is my own readiness to move forward with my writing.  That will take a while, and when it’s ready, I’ll let you know what’s coming.

Second, I’m going to begin using the name under which I plan to publish.  This is not dishonesty; the name still belongs to me, and I’m reclaiming it as part of my identity as a woman and as a writer.  I’ll be using my initials and my birth name.  I promise I’m still the same person.  My legal name is still important to me as it relates to my connectedness with my family, but my family is not who I am.  I need that separation from my label as WifeMommy.

For those of you who have subscribed, liked my posts, commented, and followed me, many thanks.  I hope you’ll stick with me on this road.  Further up and further in, my friends!

Faith & Culture Writers Conference

So, I did something.

I put on my grown-up pants and flew across the country for the 2014 Faith & Culture Writers Conference.  About six weeks ago or so, I had a mini-meltdown.  I was feeling utterly burned out and frustrated, and I needed a change of scenery.  My husband suggested finding a conference to attend.  I tweeted that I was looking for something, figuring maybe someone would know of one within driving distance.  Jessica of Faith Permeating Life suggested the FCWC, so I looked it up.

It was in Newberg, Oregon.

I actually laughed out loud because the idea of flying alone across the country to meet a bunch of people I only know online was completely absurd.  Right?  Turns out not so silly after all.  My husband practically hovered over me to make sure I didn’t chicken out as I registered.  He booked my flight and my rental car while I took care of the hotel.

Was it worth it?  You bet–every minute.

I would be lying if I didn’t say that the best part was meeting a bunch of pretty awesome people from blogging, Facebook, and Twitter.  Forgive me for name-dropping, but it was incredible seeing these people face-to face.  Believe me when I say they’re as cool in person as online.  Besides Jessica, I spent time with Natalie Trust, Carly Gelsinger, Stephen Carter, Aaron Smith, Kate Schell (who is definitely one of my favorite people to have met–she’s just a really neat person), Emily Maynard (whose breakout session on speaking up was outstanding), Ben Emerson, Justin Hanvey (who graciously forgave my frequent introverted awkward silences), and Micah and Sarah Murray.

One of the highlights of connecting with so many wonderful people was the chance to chat with Sarah Bessey.  If you’ve never met her in person, one thing you need to know is that she is every bit as terrific as she seems from her writing.  I had the privilege of driving back to our hotel with her after dinner on Saturday night.  In the car, she asked how I ended up at the conference.  I confessed my emotional drama and how I had desperately needed a break, and instead of thinking I was weird or oversharing, her response was, “Of course.”  Two words that made my feel about as validated as any lengthy blog post could have.  If you ever get to meet Sarah, you’ll see what I mean about the kind of person she is.

I promise to write more another day about the conference itself and why I came back changed.  For now, I’ll sum it up by saying the trip was one of the best decisions I’ve made in ages.  Here’s hoping I can make an annual trek somewhere to meet and talk with my fellow writers.

I’ll be back later this week to write more about the conference.  Tomorrow, please check out my other blog, where I will have another piece of my work-in-progress.

So, long, Pete Seeger.

By Dan Tappan, via Wikimedia Commons

Not even a day after I said I was burned out and taking a break, and here I am again.  I did say I would write if I felt inspired, though, so I have a good excuse.

Today, I am sad.  Singer/songwriter Pete Seeger passed away at age 94.  For the first time, I actually cried at the loss of someone famous.  Not that I’ve never been sad about a celebrity’s death, but none have touched me in quite the same way.

I should say here that I didn’t actually know Pete, of course.  I know people who knew him, but I never met him personally.  But I grew up on his music, and I’m grateful that I did.

I’m a genuine product of the 1970s.  As most children do, I listened first to my parents’ music.  The Beach Boys and the Beatles were often on the stereo.  My dad didn’t often dance with me when I was little, but I remember him teaching me a few steps to the early rock ‘n’ roll tunes he loved.  Since I was the youngest sibling by quite a bit, I also heard my fair share of Pink Floyd, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, and Queen.  But it was my mother’s folk music I liked best of all.

By Fred Palumbo, via Wikimedia Commons

For as long as I can remember, I have had a physical response to Pete Seeger’s words and music.  I imagine what I feel is very much the effect contemporary church worship leaders often work far too hard to achieve.  I’ve never had a “mountain-top” spiritual experience when singing praise songs, but I sure have when I hear one of Pete’s tunes.

It’s not the complexity of the music or even Pete’s voice (which was, let’s be honest, middle-of-the-road).  It’s the something that just speaks right into my soul.  That sense of longing, of there being something better–and perhaps I can, in my humanity, bring that something better to fruition.

When my son was younger and I homeschooled both kids, we used to listen to all kinds of music together.  One of the first songs that made an impression on them was “Turn, Turn, Turn” (yes, I know the Byrds sang it; but it’s Pete Seeger’s song).  My son created elaborate interpretive living room dances to it, and he knew all the words before he was six years old.  I was delighted to be able to play more for him, and even more delighted by his enjoyment.  I am honored to have been given this gift by my mother, and I feel so fortunate to be able to pass it on to my children.  Perhaps one day, they will have children of their own with whom they can share it.

I kept my son home today because of the cold weather.  Later, the kids and I will fire up YouTube and find some of my favorite Pete Seeger songs.  We will listen, and we will talk.  We will speak of the legacy Pete has left and the future they can create and their place in the larger tapestry of the world.

There is a candle on my mantle, lit in loving memory of Pete Seeger for all he’s given us.  Thank, you Pete, with all my heart.  Thank you.

Some housekeeping and a writing project

I know, I know.  I promised I would get back to blogging.  But I’ve been wrapped up in another project, which I’ll share with you.  For the last few months, I’ve been working diligently on . . . a novel.  In case you didn’t know, I keep a second blog where I post mostly fiction with an occasional book review or post about writing.  For about a month, I’ve been participating in WIPpet Wednesdays (WIP = work in progress) with a wonderful group of writers from all over.  The link-up is closed for this week, but if you’re interested, you can join in next week.  I always post the link in my WIPpet posts, but I’ll post it here, too.

Now for some links for you:

Here are this week’s WIPpets (link-up is closed, but do go and read them–they are wonderful!)

This is the writer who hosts WIPpet, K. L. Schwengel.  The link is on the right side of the blog.  Just in case I’m silly (like I was this week) and forget to link to it.

Here’s a link to all of my WIPpets since I started.  They list newest first, so I recommend scrolling down to the first one and reading them in order.  It doesn’t really matter, but they are chronological to the story.

This is the series I posted this week for my fiction blog, inspired by one of David Hayward’s cartoons (linked in the posts).

Happy reading!  I’ll be around occasionally.  I’m hoping to finish a good chunk of editing on my novel and on a secondary project this weekend so I can get back to snarking about Fifty Shades next Monday.  I’m rethinking how I want to do that–I may stick with finding the worst lines per chapter and mocking them because that was far more fun than going through the whole damn thing and trying to summarize it.

Have a great rest of the week.  Catch you all later!  (Er, “laters, baby”?)

Book Review: Devil’s Dilemma

Image courtesy of Amazon

Happy Monday!  Today, I’m thrilled to introduce to you another one of my favorite new authors, Sirena Robinson.  I had the privilege of being one of Sirena’s editors on this book.  For a little background:  I received a chapter through a beta-reading service and honestly, my first reaction was, “It’s a bit religious.  I wonder if I will enjoy it.”  I generally don’t read the sorts of books one finds in Christian book stores.  Well, trust me, this is not your average religious fiction.  It’s intense and exciting and unusual.  I loved working on this novel, and Sirena herself is an intelligent and interesting woman.  Many thanks to her for giving me the chance to work together on this!

Sirena will be doing a give-a-way at the conclusion of the blog tour on March 1st, 2014. Five names will be drawn from the comments and each winner will receive a free e-book copy of Devil’s Dilemma. In addition, one grand prize winner will be drawn to receive a goody bag full of books from other PDMI authors.

Here is an excerpt from the novel:

Alaria turned and saw Beelzebub walking toward her. She smiled wickedly and sauntered in his direction, her heels clicking sharply, her whip—with the chain on the end—clinking against the stone floor with each step. She lifted her other hand and studied her fingers, forming a white hot fire ball with nothing more than a thought. Casually, with one flick of her wrist, she sent it at him. Beelzebub dodged, but it struck him in the shoulder, melting his suit and singing the skin beneath. Unconcerned, he brushed a hand over the wound and flicked off the ash.

“Your betrayal has not gone unnoticed, sister.”

Alaria shrugged. “Better with them than you. Millions of years of service, and still the outcast? I decided it was time to move on.”

“This was your chance to win favor with Lucifer. You’ve waited for this since the Fall. Just as we’re about to get it, you betray us and join ranks with our greatest enemy?” He hissed. “Did you really think He was going to take you back? Give you a shiny new set of wings?”

“Something like that.”

“Think He’d be brave enough to send Gabe down to Hell to fish you out of the pit?””

“I don’t pretend to know what He would do. It’s a moot point since you’re not taking me back down there.” She bared her teeth in an absolutely horrifying smile. “I’ve always liked Earth. Now that Michael is about to put Lilith back where she belongs, that frees up some real estate for yours truly.”

“I wouldn’t hold your breath.” Beelzebub struck out with a lightning bolt, knocking Alaria back several steps.

Alaria regained her balance and raised her whip to lash out at him. “Then it’s a good thing I don’t breathe.”

Griffin watched the exchange with bated breath. The Devils clashed violently with whips, swords, fire, and lightning. More than one demon was slaughtered just because they got too close to the fight. After several minutes, the loud crash from Michael opening a hole in the floor distracted Alaria, and she looked over long enough to see the Angel grab Lilith by the throat and carry her into the hole, the stones miraculously coming back together once he was gone. The distraction gave Beelzebub the opening he needed. He swept her feet out from under her and put one foot on her chest. He leaned down, grabbed her by her hair, and wrenched her head back.

“I’m going to make you wish you were dead. You’ll never get out of the lake, Alaria. We’re going to take turns carving you into pieces, then put you back together and do it again.” He gripped the dagger in his hand, prepared to drive it through her chest and kill the body she inhabited to send her essence back to Hell, where she would be trapped.

Before he could plunge the blade into her, Griffin raced out of the kitchen, the consecrated blade clutched in her hand. With a Warrior’s cry, she flung herself onto Beelzebub’s back and sank the blade to the hilt in his throat.

Devil’s Dilemma is available on Amazon in both e-book now and print as of 1-17.

Book Review: Devil’s Dilemma

Image courtesy of Amazon

Happy Monday!  Today, I’m thrilled to introduce to you another one of my favorite new authors, Sirena Robinson.  I had the privilege of being one of Sirena’s editors on this book.  For a little background:  I received a chapter through a beta-reading service and honestly, my first reaction was, “It’s a bit religious.  I wonder if I will enjoy it.”  I generally don’t read the sorts of books one finds in Christian book stores.  Well, trust me, this is not your average religious fiction.  It’s intense and exciting and unusual.  I loved working on this novel, and Sirena herself is an intelligent and interesting woman.  Many thanks to her for giving me the chance to work together on this!

Sirena will be doing a give-a-way at the conclusion of the blog tour on March 1st, 2014. Five names will be drawn from the comments and each winner will receive a free e-book copy of Devil’s Dilemma. In addition, one grand prize winner will be drawn to receive a goody bag full of books from other PDMI authors.

 

Here is an excerpt from the novel:

Alaria turned and saw Beelzebub walking toward her. She smiled wickedly and sauntered in his direction, her heels clicking sharply, her whip—with the chain on the end—clinking against the stone floor with each step. She lifted her other hand and studied her fingers, forming a white hot fire ball with nothing more than a thought. Casually, with one flick of her wrist, she sent it at him. Beelzebub dodged, but it struck him in the shoulder, melting his suit and singing the skin beneath. Unconcerned, he brushed a hand over the wound and flicked off the ash.

“Your betrayal has not gone unnoticed, sister.”

Alaria shrugged. “Better with them than you. Millions of years of service, and still the outcast? I decided it was time to move on.”

“This was your chance to win favor with Lucifer. You’ve waited for this since the Fall. Just as we’re about to get it, you betray us and join ranks with our greatest enemy?” He hissed. “Did you really think He was going to take you back? Give you a shiny new set of wings?”

“Something like that.”

“Think He’d be brave enough to send Gabe down to Hell to fish you out of the pit?””

“I don’t pretend to know what He would do. It’s a moot point since you’re not taking me back down there.” She bared her teeth in an absolutely horrifying smile. “I’ve always liked Earth. Now that Michael is about to put Lilith back where she belongs, that frees up some real estate for yours truly.”

“I wouldn’t hold your breath.” Beelzebub struck out with a lightning bolt, knocking Alaria back several steps.

Alaria regained her balance and raised her whip to lash out at him. “Then it’s a good thing I don’t breathe.”

Griffin watched the exchange with bated breath. The Devils clashed violently with whips, swords, fire, and lightning. More than one demon was slaughtered just because they got too close to the fight. After several minutes, the loud crash from Michael opening a hole in the floor distracted Alaria, and she looked over long enough to see the Angel grab Lilith by the throat and carry her into the hole, the stones miraculously coming back together once he was gone. The distraction gave Beelzebub the opening he needed. He swept her feet out from under her and put one foot on her chest. He leaned down, grabbed her by her hair, and wrenched her head back.

“I’m going to make you wish you were dead. You’ll never get out of the lake, Alaria. We’re going to take turns carving you into pieces, then put you back together and do it again.” He gripped the dagger in his hand, prepared to drive it through her chest and kill the body she inhabited to send her essence back to Hell, where she would be trapped.

Before he could plunge the blade into her, Griffin raced out of the kitchen, the consecrated blade clutched in her hand. With a Warrior’s cry, she flung herself onto Beelzebub’s back and sank the blade to the hilt in his throat.

Devil’s Dilemma is available on Amazon in both e-book now and print as of 1-17.

Fifty Shades of Clueless Hottie

DarkerWarnings: The Fifty Shades series is extremely sexually explicit and involves BDSM. Because of that, and because they are not exactly well-researched or high-quality literature, I will mention things such as abuse, rape, rape culture, male dominance, sexism, relationship violence, and consensual BDSM. Also, the books began as Twilight fanfic, so I will be mentioning Twilight (which is a major squick for a lot of people just by itself).

Having been derailed by fibromyalgia and Internet drama during the fall, I skipped four months’ worth of Fifty Shades posts.  But I had some requests to continue the series.  Because I love my friends (even if I don’t love Fifty Shades), I am enduring the pain.  You’re welcome.

We begin chapter 3 with Ana looking for the silver lining.  She says,

The one good thing about being carless is that on the bus . . . I can plug my headphones into my iPad . . .

I’ve been carless.  That seems like reaching.

Apparently, though, being able to listen to her Special Christian Grey “Mix-Tape” is a good beauty secret, because her boss remarks that she looks “radiant.”  Ana finds this inappropriate.  Now, if he were stalking her and giving her expensive gifts and taking her to his Red Room of Pain, that might have been another matter.  But how dare he say she looks radiant!  Everything in this story is some kind of innuendo, so that’s why she deems it inappropriate.  This is because Ana is a Clueless Hottie:  She goes on and on about how unattractive she is, but every man in her sphere is pining away with desire for her.  That might be the single most annoying thing about Ana, even worse than her Inner Goddess and her overuse of certain phrases.

Next, we get a series of emails between Ana and Christian.  I’m sick of these, too.  Can we just dispense with them?  They’re boring, for one thing, and for another, E. L. James isn’t an expert enough writer to pull them off without making Christian sound worse than he already is.  In today’s installment, Christian reminds Ana that she needs to eat (again) and tells her she’s going to need energy for begging him to give it to her.  Yeah.  I think it’s supposed to sound like naughty role-playing, but given the tone of their relationship, it definitely doesn’t come across that way.

After more boring and pointless stuff about work and another set of emails (including one about hers being monitored), Ana finishes her work day and her boss invites her to join the staff for a drink.  Because she’s a Clueless Hottie, she immediately imagines he’s hitting on her again.  She’s “relieved” when she finds out it’s not just the two of them.  This whole thing with every man wanting her reminds me of how we women are taught that all men everywhere are predators and we should protect ourselves.  The whole book series kind of implies that this is true, even though it’s not.

In what I’m sure is supposed to be a bit of humor, the bar is called 50s.  Ana tells Jack to order her a beer.  For a moment, that surprised me, but then I realized something.  She only does the high-end putting on airs thing when she’s with Christian.  By herself, she’s pretty down to earth.  She even drinks beer.  It’s too bad she can’t find someone who might like her for who she is, not who she could become.

Another series of emails later (I seriously think E. L. James was creating filler to make this into three whole books) and Ana is off from work.  She checks herself out (Clueless Hottie) and notices that she looks better than she has been.  (Incidentally, this is probably why her boss commented–wouldn’t you notice if your employee suddenly looked like the walking dead and then equally suddenly looked decent again?)  If the only thing she has keeping herself together is Christian Grey, that’s a scary thought indeed.

This is emphasized in the next few paragraphs, where she meets a woman who knows who Ana is but refuses to reveal her own name.  Ana describes her as looking like a ghost, and there’s an implication of this woman’s self-injury.  Ana immediately thinks this must have something to do with Christian.  Now, why would she automatically draw that conclusion?  That would seem like a stretch, but it’s the most self-aware I’ve seen Ana in this entire series so far.  She recognizes something in the woman that reminds her of herself, and she connects it to Christian.  If only she would make the leap that if he leaves women as shells of their former selves, he is someone to stay far, far away from.

I’m not wild about the way it sounds like women never recover from their encounters with him.  This is a dreadful combination of whatever abuse she suffered (and subsequently internalized) and the idea that we are nothing without our men.  Even if the story is supposed to be about Christian’s redemption, this whole scene would have been so much better if the woman had not been haunted and harming herself because she wished she were still in Ana’s shoes.  I’m not comfortable with the implication that Ana would have ended up like this woman if she hadn’t chosen to let Christian back in her life–and therefore it’s a good thing she did.

So that I don’t drag this post out too long, I’ll stop there.  Join me next week for Fun at the Bar with Christian and Jack.  Should be fascinating to watch two men fight over Ana like she’s an uncharted island and whoever wins gets to plant a flag.

Disney’s “Frozen”: A Step in the Right Direction

On Christmas, in lieu of buying everyone presents to set aside and forget about by next week, my husband and I took the whole family to see a movie.  We chose Disney’s “Frozen,” as we thought it would appeal to everyone from children to grandparents.  Of course, on the level of pure entertainment, it delivered as expected.  We all had a great time.  What I didn’t expect (especially given the negative reviews I’d seen from “Snow Queen” purists) was how powerfully it would resonate.

If you have not seen this movie, please stop reading nowThere will be spoilers, and I don’t want to ruin it for anyone.  If you don’t care or have seen it, read on. Continue reading

How Plato ruined everything

All right, maybe “everything” is a bit of an exaggeration.  Still, I’m convinced that Platonic notions color so much of our culture (not just Christian religion) that it’s hard to know where to start.

I suppose a word of explanation as to why I’m thinking about this is in order.  I haven’t blogged much this fall; there are several reasons why not that I won’t go into here.  One of the reasons, though, has to do with online politics and the constant pressure to get it right.  It was a crisis of correctness, I suppose, that led to my on-and-off writing over the last three months.  I blame Plato for that, too.

In an ideal world, life would work like this: No one would ever be distracted by the appearance of another person; every act of justice would take into account every possible situation and person; and no one would ever get off on picturing themselves licking whipped cream off a naked celebrity.

We don’t live in that world.

The problem with that world is that it doesn’t exist anywhere except in the heads of would-be online philosophers.  In all things, there’s some imaginary line that Must Not Be Crossed when it comes to behavior.  It might not have overtly religious overtones, but there’s still the same message:  If you don’t do things right, you are flawed.  Broken.  Damaged.

Instead of learning respect and consideration, we end up with the same fears often instilled by our religious communities–that we are not good enough and must seek to work towards this imaginary standard to which no human can measure up.  How many seconds is too long to stare at someone’s half-undressed body?  Which fantasies are okay to have when masturbating?  How carefully do we have to phrase things to make sure someone disagrees with our views and not our word choice or tone?

There’s no answer to that outside the heads of a few people who have styled themselves the Gatekeepers of Blogging.

My husband and I had an interesting conversation the other night.  He’s been taking a philosophy class–don’t ask me the details; I’ve never had much interest in that sort of thing.  I didn’t entirely follow everything he said, but the gist of it was that some people live in the realm of ideas and some people live in the realm of practicality.  About eighty percent of people are in the latter group.  The difficulty I see is that (at least on the Internet), the other twenty percent often see themselves as being at the top, and the rest of us should conform our practical existence to fit into the theories they’ve developed.

Well, screw that.  I can’t live that way.  When I started writing, it was because I was in a religious context in which I felt that there were specific people being marginalized (namely, LGBT people) and that the church had it dead wrong in how to care for them.  I remained anonymous for about a year and a half.  When some of my Christian LGBT offline friends began sharing my writing (not knowing it was me), I told them.  At that point, I decided hiding was a disservice to people I love in my non-bloggy life.  If they were out, why shouldn’t I be public too?

Note that I never said I blogged because I had some Magic Words of Wisdom on the church and LGBT people or any other issue regarding church teachings (which I also covered).  Honestly, I just wanted those I love to know that, and I wanted anyone like me who might be an ally in enemy camp to know they were not alone.  Practical purposes, people.  Nothing philosophical.

I recently stopped blogging as much because I had started to feel the same sense of “not good enough” that I’d had for over twenty years in the church.  I couldn’t blog about LGBT issues and the church because I didn’t know enough about intersectionality.  And other people who needed my support.  And not tagging every post on social justice issues as triggering (because, realistically, every post could trigger someone for something).  And not actually being LGB or T myself.  And not criticizing progressive Christians correctly.  The list goes on.

That, right there, is Platonism at its finest: There’s a right way to blog about these issues, and you’re not doing it.  There’s often a sense that the critic doesn’t actually know what the right way is, just that one must exist.  Well, no.  There is no hypothetical idealized advocacy.  There are some things that get it decidedly wrong (go research Human Rights Campaign, for example;p see also the Good Men Project).  Most of the time, though, it’s a matter of different people wanting or needing different things.

Another serious problem with forcing advocacy into a Platonic ideal is that the vast majority of the time, the people pushing it at the rest of us genuinely believe they have it right and we have it wrong.  There’s no sense that they might also be falling short of an unnamed ideal or that their particular philosophy might not be the best version because it still leaves some people vulnerable.  It’s an unfortunate reality that there are people out there who simply do not care about hurting people they think are in the wrong.  I’ve seen things get pretty ugly when one person gently explains why they need a particular type of ally and another person says the equivalent of, “That’s the wrong thing to want” rather than, “Tell me more.”

I spent several years deconstructing my faith.  I’m now in process of reconstruction, and there are some great people I can trust along the way.  Deconstructing social justice advocacy feels pretty similar.  I’m disappointed with the online community in a lot of the same ways I was disappointed in the church.  Before someone gets all heated about it, I’m not saying that social justice movements are abusive.  But are there abusive, powerful people within them who want to control the rest of us at any cost?  You bet. (“No! I don’t want to control you!  I just want you to get it right, dammit!” is, in fact, controlling–particularly when the person saying it does not belong to the group for which they are advocating.)  Those are the people I’m trying to steer clear of.

There’s no way to know where this will end up.  I don’t want to stop writing, but some days, I think I have no choice, at least when it comes to blogging.  I do know that it won’t change anything in my everyday life; my loved ones will still know they can count on me.  As for the online advocacy police?  There’s no reason I should care about their Platonic ideals.