The young man stood no more than five feet from the operating table, hands in pockets, uneasily gazing at the traffic outside. Cars, trucks, ambulances, and police vehicles rushing to and fro, with no aim in sight other than the cyclical nature of humanity’s desire for pleasure, power, or possessions. Why are ambulances called krankenwagen in Germany? Who would want to ride in a sick wagon for any reason? Germans are weird. Those were his thoughts as two nurses stood, one on each side of the bed, hands to their sides, each looking nowhere in particular.
“So, what would you like me to do?” Asked the young man. “I’ve never done this before.”
Both nurses exchange a quick look, some joke passing between them in that glance. The young man picked up on this but returned his gaze to the cars rumbling and tumbling outside. The older nurse, a motherly Filipino lady with rectangular glasses and blue scrubs approaches the middle of the bed and pats it down, smoothing the paper stretched over it with her hands.
“You can stand at the edge of the bed,” She pats the paper down some more as if her hands could iron the wrinkles out of it. “Face away from the bed and pull your pants down to your ankles. Once done, just hop onto the bed and lay down.”
In most cases, well, in most cases within a James Bond movie, this is the scene where we get to watch the main character disrobe, his or her muscular physique, slim build, and picturesque body on display for the audience to indulge. But the young man isn’t in a Bond movie, he isn’t Bond either. His body is that of a middle-aged retiree, his joints creak and groan when he squats, and the only villain in his life is his alarm clock.
There is no right or wrong way to disrobe in front of people. Well, correction. There is no right or wrong way to disrobe in front of nurses and medical professionals when prompted to do so. Considering the clinic, the environment, the practice, and their purpose, I’m sure they’ve seen their fair share of anatomical extensions, therefore there is nothing to be shy about. Medical professionals are taught this from the start. Bedside manners are an important aspect of medicine and to forego it is akin to a mortal sin within the field. The young man knew this, he was trained in that field earlier in life as well, aware of the added value respect, care, and patience add to someone’s experience in their most vulnerable moments with a medical professional.
“I’m just going to wrap this around your,” Said the older nurse, holding a strange mesh net apparatus with tape at the end. Our young man’s mind went elsewhere as she approached, gathered, wrapped, and taped down his nether part to his body. “And now I’m just going to use this cleaning agent to sterilize your…”
Words were exchanged, packets were ripped open, gauze pads were dampened with a dark orange substance, and his parts were patted with the mixture, ever so gently.
At this moment, the young man was not sure what subject would be best to broach or what topic would be convenient or appropriate enough to engage in considering the circumstances. Discussing the spike in homicides in town would be an interesting conversation but perhaps one best had over coffee with someone equally interested in true crime and forensic work.
“Okay,” Said the older nurse as she finished her prep, pamper, tape, scrub, dry, and air out project.
“Dr. Graham will be in shortly. Do you have any questions?”
“No, ma’am. None that I can think of. Thank you for everything.”
There wasn’t anything else the young man could say in such a compromising posititon. Thank you for cleaning my already clean parts?Does anyone else ever thank nurses for this part of the process? Are other men dissatisfied with the prep and if so do they voice their dissatisfaction? Have some men requested a second clean-up because of some obsessive-compulsive disorder? An irrepressible compulsion that demands of them that if you’re going to clean something you cannot simply do it once. A second, third, or eleventh clean is necessary to accomplish the cleanliness desired. Have men taken it upon themselves to do the most English man thing imaginable by firmly but gently taking the cleaning utensils away from the nurses and cleaning themselves so that nurses would not have to place themselves in an uncomfortable situation?
These and other thoughts rushed through the young man’s mind as he thanked both nurses, the older motherly one to his right and the younger one who stood to his left.
The motherly nurse removes her gloves and tosses them into a bin close to his head. She then excuses herself and leaves the room to attend to other men who are in the same vulnerable state, awaiting their unexpected clean and pamper session in a room or two away from his.
“So how many kids do you have?” Asked the younger nurse. Also Filipino. She dawned blue scrubs as well and looked no older than a kid out of high school. She stood there like a professional statuette, maintaining the calm and peaceful environment in the room like a pro.
“I have four kids!”
“Wow. Four kids. Boys? Girls? How old are they?”
“Six. Four. One and something months. And the last one is four months old.”
“Wow. They’re so close together. Boys? Girls?”
“All girls. I’m a girl dad through and through.”
Nurses are supposed to be professionals. In moments of extreme vulnerability, these pink-collar elites are expected to exude the highest level of stoicism in the face of change and trauma but here the young nurse broke character and began to laugh. Not the cackle of a wicked witch but the snot flushing kind of laughter where one has to wipe her nose once done but to her benefit she was wearing a mask. She laughed as if there were some sort of joke only she knew about but was unwilling to share more about with him.
“That’s great.” She finally said.
“Hello, how are you?” Said Dr. Graham Lohlun as he rushed into the room, reaching for the faucet to rinse his hands. Whether he used soap or not escaped the young man’s line of sight. There is not much one can see from that position, especially with a bright and beaming overhead light pointed at his delicate region. Depending on where a light shines on a man, he can go blind, you know.
“I’m well, doc. How are you?”
“Any second thoughts? This is your last chance to back out.” He said, padding his hands dry with paper and then stretching blue gloves over his well-trained and steady fingers.
“No, doc. I think I’m good.” Sweat began to develop over the young man’s forehead as the doctor explained the next steps.
A syringe was mentioned, numbing was discussed, the site of injection was determined, and a cold grasp felt. The young man was asked to take a deep breath, not that it would help diminish the feeling of a needle creeping into his flesh but at least it would help him think of something rather than nothing at all. Thinking about one’s breathing makes them aware of the involuntary nature of their body. No one thinks about breathing. They just do it.
Moments later, a pinch, a sting, dread, and awaited horrors haunt the young man, but nothing came of it. The young man laid there, tranquil, hands over his chest as the physician worked through the numbing process like a horologist works on a watch, ever so gently moving one part here, placing another part there, addressing this section, and balancing that section over there. Thankfully, however, there was no twisting or hammering of any sort involved. This physician knew exactly what he was doing.
“Are you feeling any pain or discomfort? If so, please let me know.”
“No doc, I honestly cannot feel a thing. I do, however, feel some pressure, as if there is a pull or some weight, down there.”
“That’s normal. Let me know if you feel any discomfort, okay?”
Their discussion jumped from personal interests, sports, geography, and South Africa. Dr. Lohlun has an Asian background, possibly Filipino, but he was born and raised in South Africa. The young man had the urge to ask whether Dr. Lohlun lived through the apartheid but was discouraged from doing so considering the gravity of the situation they were in. One misguided question, misunderstood opinion, or poorly constructed supposition and the wrong anatomical function would be severed.
That would not be an ideal outcome for our young man.
“Being from Brazil, do you watch a lot of soccer?” Asked Dr. Lohlun.
“Well, I cry when Brazil wins and I cry when they lose.” He responded with laughter. “I have no choice.”
Their prototypical operation room conversation came to a close no more than ten minutes later, having discussed dating, marriage, kids, likes, and dislikes, and how to best take care of one’s marbles post-procedure, Dr. Lohlun completed his work.
“Doc,” Said the young man as he sat up and inched towards the edge of the bed to pull his pants up. “I hope to never see you again.”
“You know what,” He said. “I wouldn’t even recognize your face. I’d sooner recognize your,” They laughed.
The nurses laughed, too. Perhaps, having heard the joke for the umpteenth time. The young man was one of nineteen procedures that day. Nineteen. Dr. Lohlun is in there performing vasectomies three times a week. Do the math. There’s a higher chance you’ll meet a secular eunuch in Edmonton than a bear in the Albertan Rockies.
Pleasantries were exchanged. The nurses wished the young man well and out of the room he went, rather uncertain of how to walk after such an intrusive procedure.
“Am I good to go?” He asked the front desk receptionists, two Filipino ladies who were somewhat unaware of their surroundings, their purpose, their job, and the young man who dragged his feet past their desk.
“Oh, yeah, you’re good to go.” They mumbled to no one in particular.
After thanking the would-be human beings sitting at the reception desk, the young man exited the doctor’s office. The door felt heavier and maneuvering past it was a rather difficult task for him. Having placed as much distance between himself and Dr. Lohlun’s office, the young man found himself in front of an elevator, which, to his surprise, was out of service. Had he taken better care of his mental health he would have remembered that when he first entered the building the elevator had an out-of-service sign slapped on and around it, as technicians worked on it. He assumed they knew why he was there and they picked just this day to service the machine to his detriment.
“Stairs.” He sighed, inching his way forward, further down the hallway, more steps, more than he wanted to take, all in the name of science, love, and whatever else men decide to do this for.
Once he reached the door to the stairs, he felt an inkling of fear, not knowing how this was going to work and how much pain he’d feel descending a flight of stairs after having his member nearly dismembered. But fear resides in the heart and mind of every man, woman, and child, what we do with it, however, is the tricky part. And not wanting to call his wife who sat in the car outside waiting for him, he opted to take the risk and get it over with.
The first step is the hardest, fear subsiding, he kept moving, feeling as if his groin was going to prolapse, making him infertile, but then he remembered why he was there, to begin with. What’s the worst that can happen, right?
The sight of a newly vasectomized man waltzing down three flights of stairs would have been a sad one had he had not had a mirror to watch himself do it all. Every floor had a black reflective mirror-like wall and his galloping down the steps had him laughing and complaining at the same time all the way down to the first floor. He managed to get down and out of the building, even stopping to help an old lady on a walker get into the building.
“Damn luck.” He muttered but recalled something about Jesus and going the extra mile or opening a door for old ladies on walkers or something to that effect.
“Aw babe,” Said his wife, half fake crying, half laughing as the young man crab-walked back to their car.
“Here let me help you.”
“No, no, I’m fine. Thank you.” He wasn’t.
This entire sequence, the entry, the awkward stares, the nurses, the bed, the weird orange gauze, the needle, the numbness, and the tug and snip would have all been a forgettable memory, a blur on this young man’s mind had he not started coughing that morning.
You see, little did this young man know, he was about to test positive for Covid-19. In any other world or reality, he would have been fine or at least understanding of a situation where he is either Covid-19 positive or dealing with a post-vasectomy recovery. Dealing with both, on the same weekend, was to his estimation, worse than anything imaginable, save pineapple on pizza.
The fever was manageable. The head cold was dizzying but manageable. The aching joints had him bedridden but drugs helped him get through that phase as well. Having received his Pfizer shots helped him get over his illness sooner. He didn’t mind the various symptoms this little bug had introduced into his system save the fact that they wandered into his body on the worst weekend of his life.
What truly bothered him.
What truly pained him and left him nearly immobile for just short of a week was his lung destroying cough.
You see, when you cough, your pelvic floor, and your core muscles assist in getting all that slime out of your lungs, up to your throat, into and then out of your mouth. It’s quite the beautiful process, seeing the interconnectedness of the human anatomy and physiology at work to get rid of unwanted microorganisms. The same happens when you consume something your stomach rejects and then you have to throw up. That weird invisible punch in the get you to get that helps the carrots fly out of your mouth and into the toilet is all thanks to your diaphragm, your pelvic floor, and your core muscles. It’s beautiful, save the carrots.
Unless that is, you’re on your first day out of a vasectomy.
Our young man felt as if every time he coughed, sneezed, or moved, his members were short of exploding out of his body.
You won’t have much swelling, he recalled Dr. Lohlun saying. But little was said about how to cope with the death-inducing pain of coughing as parts of you bled inside.
“Oh, my poor baby,” Said his wife, as she set his meals before him, pampered him, and loved him dearly. “I hate to say this but now you know what giving birth and recovering four times feels like.”
Granted, if men were to give birth through their constricted canal, men would reconsider a lot of things. Well, men would reconsider living, for one. But he laughed this thought off, laughed his wife off, and nodded gently, not sure if in agreement with her or if planning some devious prank to make her regret the words.
“Yeah.” Was all he could muster as his groin began to feel as if it were on fire from within. With every cough, sneeze, movement, or thought of the area, pain shot up his core and then back down to his potato carrier.
He couldn’t help but notice that the ballooning in his groin was not the fault of his vasectomy or its recovery, which, save Covid-19, he would have been back on his feet a day or two later. What troubled him was just how much pain coughing brought him. With every cough, he transitioned, like a mutant metamorphosing from a crab into a penguin. His gait no longer arced, his back was now stiff, and his stature that of just that, a penguin.
The young man, days before, thriving, healthy, well, save his aged knees, was turned into an ice walking, flightless, orca fleeing land creature.
There wasn’t much he could do but consume over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs. Acetomenophin, ibuprofen, guaifenesin, and dextromethorphan. Pain, inflammation, expectorant, and antitussive. Morning. Afternoon. Night. Repeat.
Some nights, he’d wake up in cold sweats and in pain because in mid-sleep he would turn his legs one way or his body in another and accidentally brush up on the finer parts of his person which were still tender to the touch.
Penguin walk from bed to the restroom. Penguin walk to the kitchen. Penguin walk to the couch. Penguin walk to the car.
Everyone else eventually got sick with the same virus so when he felt just a little better, he foolishly thought he could waltz from the couch to his car and drive to the convenience store next door to grab some more OTC to help his family get through their bout with Covid.
After hanging on to a shopping cart for dear life and pushing it through a store that seemed larger and longer than he previously remembered, he found all the items he went there for. His back and shirt, now drenched with sweat from either the fever or the fact that his insides burned with pain, he made his way home, into the garage, up the stairs, and into his medicine cabinet where he found a select few precious brown pills that eased his dis-ease in a matter of minutes.
Two weeks later and the young man is doing so much better. He now walks like the homo sapien he is, at times devolving into a neanderthal when one of his kids accidentally (or intentionally) bangs into his nether area, sending his saintly demeanor to hell and back, unscathed, of course.
He is proud of his decision, though. He understands the horrors associated with childbirth, the risks, and the damage a woman suffers and endures, sometimes for the rest of her life as a result of bringing a baby into the world. So he is confident in his decision to endure the knife, the cough, and the penguin walk if that would keep his wife from the knife and possible complications associated with having her tubes tied.
Plus, he’d never hear the end of it had she been the one to get tied up.
He now spends his days looking staring into the nothing. The open air. Space? He has come to peace with the fact that two spherical members now lay and rest inside him, both useless, yet so proximal. He carries them as one carries a memory of an event, an undertaking, a trophy that no longer holds its value. The merits and rewards are present stil. They annoy him every day, all four of them, jumping from wall to couch to wall, eating all his food, taking all his sleep away from him, and soon enough, his retirement funds as well. But he isn’t troubled, though.
“But don’t you want to try one more time, for a boy?” He can hear the calls of ignorant wolves and beasts ring in the back of his mind. “No, I’m happy with my girls. They’re lovely. I love them all.” When all he ever wants to say is…
Well, I’ll let him speak for himself on that one when you get the chance to meet him and ask him yourself.
Now that he’s, well, ball-less, or ball-full but ball-useless, he may be a bit more reckless with his life choices.
And the moral of the story?
Have your kids. Don’t have them. Your choice. Just don’t catch Covid before, during, or shortly after getting your members snipped or else you’ll join the Snipped Penguin’s Society.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. – Proverbs 31:8 NLT
I’ve had the privilege of meeting, befriending, wooing, dating, and later being engaged to and finally marrying the love of my life.
Her name is Irma. No one knows how to pronounce her name, and honestly, the way she pronounces it is probably wrong too.
We met on social media, namely, Instagram, then Facebook, then Skype, and finally in person. She wasn’t a serial killer so I survived our initial meet and the second time we met up I asked her to marry me. We met in February of 2014, got engaged in June, were married in court on September 29, and celebrated that marriage with friends and family on October 18 of the same year.
That was seven years ago!
We’ve lived in Florida, vacationed in Brazil, visited Toronto together, and now live in Edmonton, AB, Canada. Our first little girl was born in Naples, Florida, the next two in Edmonton, and the fourth is slated to be born here as well if we don’t just so happen to move to Japan in the next week or two.
My heart is full. Everything I dreamed of and wished for in a partner I can gladly celebrate in my wife. The humor, the chemistry, the beauty, the proactive maturity, the effort, and the awareness of all things.
She’s my friend, my best friend and I’m glad we’ve made it this far but it’s not far enough since I hope to spend the rest of my life with her before I end up on a Cold Case file somewhere.
Anywho… what can I share with you from seven years of marriage?
Through thick and thin, ups and downs, wealth and almost sure poverty, health and sickness, life and well, abundant life?
What can I impart to you, my dear friend?
Nothing that concerns you anyway.
My marriage is none of your business therefore you can go out there and marry the love of your life and you’ll realize that it’s more important to spend time with them than it is to write about it for others.
So go live your life. Enjoy the ice cream and wine. And by ice cream and wine I mean sex.
Enjoy it and thrive in it.
Happy Anniversary, my love. You are my waking dreams and when you don’t salt the rice well enough, you become my waking nightmare. But that’s okay. Love suffers all things. Especially unsalted rice.
I cherish you, I praise your wisdom and intellect, I value our conversations about ideas, concepts, systems, structures, peoples, theology, eschatology, soteriology, race, childrearing, and yes, 90 Day Fiancé on TLC.
Distance dating was our story but that seems like a distant memory now because I cannot imagine life without you now.
I could not have found a better friend, a better partner, a better wife, nor a fellow conspiracy to commit… well, you know what than I have found in you.
To ice cream and wine.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. – Proverbs 31:8 NLT
Welcome to Olivet Theory’s Bad Advice series where I, Mr. Theory, give you the worst advice imaginable on just about anything. I’ll cover topics surrounding your family life, parenting, romance, money management, faith, and social interactions. Advice that is so appalling that you’ll have no choice but to do the exact opposite of what is mentioned here.
How To Argue With Your Wife
Do you regularly find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to argue with the love of your life? No, not the Ford Mustang. Your wife, remember? The woman you married and vowed to love and care for until death or a homicide cold case do you both apart?
You’re impressively patient when she approaches you with the occasional omen ‘we need to talk’ and the anxiety surrounding the ‘what about’ mounts with every passing minute. She lets you know that she wants to talk only after you’ve left for work or minutes past midnight while you’re out with friends.
Are you unsure of how to navigate these kinds of uncomfortable conversations with your beloved? Are you new to married life but you find yourself constantly avoiding weightier topics because honeymoon passion and disagreements over towel colors do not mix?
Look no further my neophyte male reader. I’ve got you covered.
And what about you, yes, you, the veteran husband who has been married for twenty-plus years but still struggles to say something more than, ‘yes dear’ or ‘sorry dear’ when arguing with your wife. Are you tired of being at the losing end of every argument? Are you tired of dealing with cold shoulders, cold cuts, and coleslaw for dinner six nights a week?
Well, it’s time you took your manhood and husbandry authority back so that every argument you find yourself, unfortunately, will be resolved without conflict, without hurt feelings, curse word laced tirades and broken beer mugs.
Follow these next few steps and you will become a veteran argument winner and your wife will begin to respect you once again. She’ll be the submissive wife you’ve always wanted but could never afford.
This is one for you, kings.
Step 1 – Avoid Her At All Costs
Imagine you get that dreaded text message as soon as the clock hits 12 AM. You know you stayed out past curfew, and curfew hour is subjective here. If you’re married with kids, the curfew is 6 pm. If you’re married but have yet to have kids, the curfew is 11 PM. Either way, you’re out way past curfew and you check your phone but your friends mock you for being chained to the woman of your dreams. You mock them back for being either single or married to a wicked caricature of their mothers and grandmothers. It works because it’s true. Your friends laugh it off but squirm with shame deep down inside because they cannot escape the fact that they have been ignoring their phones as well. They don’t have good taste in women either or they’re single so the only way they cope with life is by deriding one another, yourself included.
You check your phone again and this time, through the haze of exhaustion, tears, and whatever substance you’ve been consuming for the last hour or two make it difficult for you to see through the blur that you have sixteen missed calls and thirty-six text messages from your wife.
You know you’ve blown it. You’re out way past curfew and you recall your wife saying something about an anniversary or birthday dinner that was supposed to happen earlier but because you have a genetic flaw that prevents you from hearing dates, times, and events clearly and the same genetic flaw makes it hard to retain important marriage related information in mind so you forgot.
So, knowing just how precarious a situation you’re in, you have two options.
Option one is to call your wife immediately, as you head for your car, if you’re sober, of course, but you’re most likely not sober at this point. And you can have your greatest of friends pay your tab this night because you have to make it home alive and survive long enough for the police and emergency personnel to make it to your residence to resuscitate your corpse once your wife is done with you. You can be driven home or taxied home. Either way, you’re mincemeat.
Or, option two. Avoid her. Just don’t check your phone. Don’t take her calls and never, under any circumstance, respond to her messages. They’re book-length sermons at this point.
Sit there and enjoy the niceties of a night out with friends. Not only mock your married friends’ spouses but allow them to mock your wife as well.
When the establishment you find yourself hiding from your wife closes for the night or morning, be sure to sleep in the car. You can up the ante by crashing on your friend’s couch.
Come morning, wait for your wife to leave for work before returning home. You’ll need to do this if you want to take a quick shower. If she takes the day off to file for divorce, then wait her out. She’ll have to visit a family attorney sooner or later so you can get inside your house once she’s gone.
If you happen to be home once she returns, leave through a window or hide in the basement until she’s either asleep or she’s out of the house again.
You must avoid your wife at all costs.
Step 2 – Dismiss, Dismiss, and Dismiss
Your cover is blown and you’ve been found. You’ve been hiding in the basement for days not but it is no longer a safe refuge and now you’re faced with a woman whose anger is so strong you can taste it because the first thing she did when she found you snoring in the basement bathroom, slumped over the toilet seat, was punch you in the mouth.
What now? What can you do?
And you must be quick in putting this second step into motion otherwise it’ll backfire and you’ll have no choice but to be confronted with your immature behavior for the last 24-168 hours. She claims she knew you were sleeping in the basement this entire time because beer, spirits, and chips kept going missing from the fridge and pantry upstairs.
You’re caught. Red-handed. You know this because you left flaming hot Cheetos fingerprints on cabinet tops, door hands, and toilet seats you forgot to put down. The only way you’re getting out of this alive is if you dismiss everything she’s upset about.
That’s it. Dismiss it. She makes mention of your late-night escapades and you have to dismiss her because they weren’t escapades, they were outings.
She makes mention of your unwillingness to answer her calls and your incompetent immature nature in being unable to respond to a single text message.
Refresh her memory with the fact that the filthy dungeon you often frequent with your miscreant group of friends has little to no cellphone reception. And that there was no point in returning a missed call since it was missed, to begin with. Plus, even if you could text her back from the oubliette of body odors and bad jokes, your large manly fingers would not have been able to properly formulate a response she would be satisfied with. Plus, men don’t text back.
When she questions your manhood and points out how real men face their problems and deals with them when they come, dismiss her silly invective as a veiled invitation for getting down-n-dirty. Her degrading comments are nothing more than coy attempts at reinvigorating your robust masculinity.
Step 3 – Play the Trump Card
Your dismissals are not working but that is just fine. At this point, you have a key element in your treasure trove of argument-winning weapons that will resolve this issue without fail.
Use your Trump Card.
Now, this isn’t a physical card you carry in a fanny pack like your Harley Davidson Leather and Tights Tough-man subscription card. No. This is better.
Use this timeless, classless, and tasteless move to your advantage.
Walk up to your wife after ducking her second punch and grab her. Now, pay very close attention to the qualifications for the proper use of the Trump Card. This will only work if you’re a thrice-divorced, porn star hush-money-paying, failed businessman whose father got arrested at a Klan rally in the 1920s.
If that’s your gig, go for it.
Grab her by the… purse. When wives are mad they let you do it. You can move on her like a barbarian.
You need to grab her by the purse because when he found you in the basement she was actually headed for the family attorney’s office and she just so happened to have her purse on her.
You want to do this to reassert your dominance over her skin, or, eh, her leather accessories. It reminds them who’s the man of the house and they love it.
Step 4 – Play Dead
Once Step 3 fails and your wife is standing between you and the stairway, both of her hands rolled into fists and all, you have to grasp your chest with both hands, fall to the floor, and thrash your body violently like a fish would once out of water. And use that last packet of Alka-Seltzer tablets you keep in your pocket in case of an emergency when out with the boys for Philly cheese-steaks. Toss both tablets in your mouth and give your wife an Oscar-worthy performance. Fight the urge to spit the acidic chemical reaction taking place in your mouth all at once. This performance has to look as believable as possible.
Once you hit the floor understand that your wife will begin to mock your performance. She will again reduce you to the child you are inside but do not budge. Remain still for as long as possible.
If you lay still long enough your wife will walk away and the argument will stop there. This works for many men. Some, under the prudent nature of their manly intellect, opt for the Play Dead technique first, this way, the wife calls an ambulance and you’re carted off to the emergency center in no time.
I have heard of cases where men use this step often because they’re good friends with the ER physician on call that day. They’re kept in the hospital overnight where they’re forced to endure the grueling process of having to take more Alta-Seltzer tablets to mimic symptoms but I hear this is preferable to dealing with angry wives.
Some men and these are the veteran warriors I speak of, use this technique twice a week just to avoid an argument.
But should your wife call your bluff, which she does since this is the fifth time you’ve fallen prostrate, in the fetal position this month in an attempt to avoid conflict, she surmises you’re mentally incapable of having an adult conversation to resolve marital issues.
Step 5 – Raise Your Voice
Once you wipe the antacid from your chin you’ll need to wise up and even the playing field a bit.
Your wife, at this point, is yelling. The volume of her voice is what made you flinch back to life from your catatonic pseudo-myocardial infarction state. You attempt to explain to your now red-faced wife that you nearly died from a ‘mayo in-fart-session’ and she calls you on your nonsense because you’re a bad liar and you suck at pronouncing medical terms when plagued by a guilty conscience.
So you’re forced to take things to the next tier just to win this argument so you raise your voice to match hers.
This takes practice as most men struggle to sound masculine enough when they yell. Husbands who have followed my steps in the past have learned that when they shout their battle cry their voice takes on an orotund and stentorian tone scaring their foes into oblivion. Without practice, however, your voice may sound high-pitched and fruity. Instead of sounding like the leathered-up Harley Davidson advert you instead end up sounding like a bearded fairy from a Disney movie.
Practice makes perfect.
And this is where your high school Spanish or French comes in handy because when you raise your voice you cannot, by any means, say anything intelligible or logical. If you’re responding to an argument with another argument it’ll only further aggravate your wife and allow her to continue this altercation for another hour.
When you yell, be sure to say things in a language your wife does not understand. This will confuse her and in her histrionic state – which you must accuse her of in any and all cases when she wants to argue – will dismiss your nonsense as the initial stages of someone who needs to be institutionalized immediately.
Sample 1 – Spanish: Coge la escoba y barre la cocina. ¡No olvide sacar la basura!
Sample 2 – French: Vos compétences culinaires sont médiocres et vous salez rarement nos repas correctement. Lavez-vous les coudes.
And if you’re proficient in German, mind you, you needn’t be, you just need to speak with as much spittle dripping from the sides of your mouth and with as much resolute confidence as that of an infamous German dictator we seldom speak of anymore. That’ll make you sound as German as Berliner. Here’s an example.
Sample 3 – Deutsch: Du bist die Liebe meines Lebens, aber deine Einstellung macht Stinktierfurze und Spinat steckt zwischen deinen Zähnen.
Step 6 – Reference Her Best Girlfriend
Yelling normally gives you enough wiggle room to run out of an argument and if possible, out of the room. Especially if you sound deranged enough that your wife considers calling your mother. Find an opening to squeeze out of this situation without having to translate your psychobabble and if you’re stuck in a basement, like the husband in our example story is stuck, try and exit the basement now.
If this doesn’t work, it normally does, but if it doesn’t, consider the Jocular Evasive Revision Knock move.
You can perform the JERK move by reminding your wife that her best girlfriend, yes, the very good-looking one that just so happens to be single and looking, never yells at men or throws tantrums over trivial matters. Remind your wife that her girlfriend handles inconveniences with more grace and emotional intelligence than she does.
You must emphasize keywords when winning arguments or evading them with your wife. These include but are not limited to:
“What are you talking about?”
“I don’t know her.”
“I don’t recognize that number.”
“I did not ask for these pictures.”
“That is not me in those pictures.”
“It’s not even that serious.”
“Have you gained weight?”
Remind your wife that Sally, Lilah, Raquel, and Diane never once raise their voice at another man and that she would be wise to follow in their footsteps.
At this point, if the top of her lips begins to sweat from rage or whatever it is women feel when they’re inconvenienced by men having fun with their friends, just know that your technique is working.
Step 7 – Compare Her to Her Mother
Now that she has stopped yelling and is paying full attention to you, remind your wife that she is behaving like her mother.
Now it is crucial that you understand who your mother-in-law is. If your mother-in-law happens to be a saint, remind your wife of just how disappointed ‘mom’ would be to see her taking things out of proportion all the time.
If your mother-in-law is, well, the opposite of a saint, remind your wife that she is behaving like the daughter of the queen of the underworld. If your wife is theologically sound and asserts that there is no such thing as a ‘queen of the underworld,’ you must concede to that fact and then inform her that if there were to be one, it would be her mother.
Step 8 – Talk About Your Salary/Income
At this moment, most wives will walk out of the room to seek refuge from the brute realization that the argument is won by none other than you, king. Most women do not have the courage to face their defeat so they scurry off to a room to drown in their bitter tears or they end up in the kitchen. If your wife happens to run into the kitchen, this is the perfect time to ask for a sandwich and a beer or your spirit of choice.
But if your wife is not like most women and she has been cursed with a stiff back and an analytical mind, you’ll realize that she no longer looks at you but she looks past you, into the kitchen, where the knife block sits and her eyes go dark for a split second.
At this point, you must take the initiative to deviate her attention from violent ideations and onto something more important.
Now, understand that it doesn’t matter how much money you make, how much she makes, whether you make more than she does or not because what’s important is that you remind her that you are the breadwinner of this family.
And ‘breadwinner’ is just another term for king or lord of the castle but semantics and cultural degradation of etymological understandings over time have left us with softer terms for crucial authority matrix nomenclature.
Whether this is true or not is irrelevant.
Most wives will succumb to the indomitable fact that without their husband’s income, they’re days, if not minutes away from living in abject poverty. They tend to turn-tail and run for the kitchen, dutifully kneeling at your feet in submission at the mention of money.
If possible, remind her that the dress she has on, the food in the fridge, and the very home she lives in were all blessings that fell at her feet from your benevolent hands.
That exact wording, if possible.
Step 9 – Question Her Sanity
This next step takes careful consideration. Understand that your wife, when she is enraged by her inability to find joy in seeing you enjoy your life, will experience something called a psychotic break. You can call this hysteria.
You’re moments away from winning this and just about every argument the two of you will ever have. Keep following these steps to save your marriage and possibly your life.
Once you’ve convinced your wife to put down the steak knife and informed her that second-degree murder still carries a twenty-year sentence, reassure her that her mind isn’t in the right place.
Go for the jugular, king.
Take a step or two closer to your wife. Do not, by any means, attempt the Trump Card again. That is a very dangerous move to make while your wife is wounded by her delusions.
Quietly and softly inform her that she’s out of her mind and that she needs to see a psychiatrist who can help her deal with her anger issues. Let her know that a normal wife would not take a knife to her husband’s head, forcing him to duck to miss the first blow and then perform a stiff pirouette to dodge the second.
Kindly inform her that your love for her supersedes her mental stability or instability and that you can both work things out if she just puts the knife down and consults a professional first thing the following day.
Step 10 – Leave For Hawaii With Your Friends
You’re almost there, king.
This is the final step to win every single argument with your wife.
Once she is heavily sedated by the three bottles of red wine you were planning on drinking by yourself in the basement but had to sacrifice to save your life and other important members of your body, quietly reach into her purse, her regular purse, for her wallet and fetch her credit card.
Now, book yourself and your friends, miscreant friends, a trip to Honolulu with your wife’s credit card.
This has to be done immediately as women have the tendency to ruin any and all plans, especially the plans you tend to make with your guy friends.
Give your buddies a call, have them pack their bags, which just like the bag you’ll pack yourself, will include two pairs of underwear, six pairs of socks, which you won’t use, a pair of Abercrombie & Fitch beach sandals, and ten floral tank tops.
Be sure to leave for the airport as soon as possible and you’ll be in paradise in no time to enjoy the festivities of life with your fraternity brothers.
If you follow my ten very practical steps from How To Argue With Your Wife you will have a successful life, a happy wife, and a fulfilling marriage.
Ignore those calls, texts, and emails from that misunderstood attorney’s office and live your life to the fullest.
Just remember, you’re always right and your wife is always second.
You got this, king. You got this.
If you loved this episode of Olivet Theory’s Bad Advice Series – Chapter 4: How To Argue With Your Wife, stay tuned for the next installment in our series, Chapter 5: How To Argue With Your Husband And Crush His Dreams.
Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise. – Proverbs 17:28 NLT
Note: 408 days have passed since we left Mill Creek Christian Assembly. Our last day as members of that community was July 26, 2020, I first wrote this post on February 7, 2021, and I am publishing it today. It grew like a balloon in my heart, swelling with time, and today is the day I set it free.
Why write about it if it ain’t pretty?
One: It’s the truth. We left in haste and without a word so as not to tarnish a fragile structure. Many wondered why, some assumed, others spread rumors, all, in ignorance, of course. The Truth sets us free and the truth with a lower case ‘t’ helps clear the air. So get your stories straight.
Two: Racism is still a big problem in the Church. Racism is still a problem at the MCCA church. If racism is not confronted and excised from a Christian community it tarnishes that community’s Christian witness. Now that the issue of racism has been raised it is my hope that this community will venture to rectify that which went wrong. Not with me but with its own history.
Three: Start more conversations about history. Not just white-washed history that you learned in grammar school but comprehensive history. Especially the history of how the Church helped destroy so much, kill so many, enslave so many more, and has now decided to remain silent about its participation in the horrors of the past. If we cannot discuss these issues with love, empathy, and lament in the church, then they will be discussed without love, empathy, and lament, outside the church.
We cherish the MCCA community. We love its youth community which we helped rebuild and reform by God’s grace. And please understand that we harbor no grudge against this community and its members; not even toward the ones whose behaviors and comments persuaded us to leave in the first place. This is why I have redacted snippets of information from this post to protect their identity and their safety.
Curiosity, Masked Suspicion, and Possible Animosity
It would be foolish to think that racism was the sole reason behind my family leaving a white church. It was a lack of compassion that led me to an irrevocable decision. A decision that brought me angst.
“We have the privilege of having a dark handsome brother with us today.”
Those were words the assistant pastor said from the pulpit my first time in attendance.
Oh my God! Did he single me out because of the color of my skin? In front of everyone?
I did what any black person in the same situation would have in a moment of unimaginable shame, I laughed it off. I mean, it’s funny to identify your visitors by the color of their skin, isn’t it? If they’re offended by this amicable jest then they’re snowflakes.
Service came to an end, we were glad to be on our way out when the same assistant pastor greeted us at the exit.
“It’s so nice to finally have some color in this church. We’re happy to have you here.”
He was so enthused by my presence that I couldn’t help but reciprocate the same energy. I’ve never met a white brother who seemed so excited to meet a black man.
What I presumed to be an anomaly turned out to be a precedent of dated buffoonery worthy of contempt. I would endure an intermittent barrage of racially insensitive comments and gestures like these for the next three and a half years.
I sparked up a conversation with a member of the praise and worship team about race, politics, and life in Canada. Here we discussed the brokenness of the world we lived in. We unraveled the polarizing effect social media has on the masses. I shared a harmful experience from my past with him. A horrible situation where a county clerk told me to return to my country. The reason for my visit to the DMV that day was to inquire about why my driver’s license was taking so long to arrive. She advised me that it was better to wait for my documents while living in the United States of America. Or I could complain from the comfort of whatever country I was from.
This gentleman’s response to this event was as ignorant as they come.
“Well, I have friends of color who haven’t experienced any form of racism in Canada.”
His deflection from the topic we were discussing was so evident I blurred out his next few sentences. It’s as if the absence of racial injustice in one part thus erases its existence elsewhere.
Lazy. Dirty. Leeches.
“They’re lazy, dirty people who love to leech off of white people.”
Those were the words out of the mouth of another brother who had returned from the Bahamas. He was none too bothered by the comment. There was an air of pride under his statement. I wanted only to greet him, ask about his trip to the tropics, and welcome him back to the fold. My curiosity about his trip was innocent and hopeful. I’ve yet to have the privilege of visiting this Caribbean paradise so I wanted to hear from him, first hand, about it.
“It was good. We got a tan. Now I almost look like you.” Nervous laughter. These belittling comments were a customary form of conversation with this particular brother. I asked him about the locals, their warm and receptive character to which he replies.
“They’re lazy, dirty people who love to leech off of white people.”
This happened right after a Sunday morning service. We were waiting in line for complimentary snacks.
George Floyd’s lynching rekindled the fight against police brutality. Later that same year, Breonna Taylor’s murder accentuated this first cause. It was impossible to avoid public demonstrations that took root around the world. Conversations about racial injustice were unavoidable. I took the initiative to share several links on my personal social media account. Links about police reform. Stories of racial profiling. Black history through the lens of black Americans. History stemming from 1619 through to 2020. These posts allowed for restorative conversations with friends across the world. We understood each other’s pain and vowed to honor this cause.
These interactions were all helpful. Refreshing. Discussing race and injustice with friends was so therapeutic. And then June 5th hit and I checked my Facebook messages.
“I’m pretty sure that black people would have treated white people the same way as white(s) treated black (people) had they been in a position to do so.” Said one church brother who I respected.
“I’ve always thought that in Canada racism is not that much of an issue.” He continued. “At least I’ve never encountered one (issue of racism) myself.”
“I’ve been enjoying your ministry in our predominantly white church.” At which point I knew where these comments had come from. “I’ve never heard once of a single issue with racism in our church in [redacted] years I’ve been there. I guess you have brought this race-based division to us now.”
Being one of two black attendees of that church I wasn’t shocked. And I was a member of this ministry whereas the other POC was comfortable as a recurring guest. The race issue had taken a backseat in monochromatic churches for centuries. For our church, it was never a topic because it hadn’t been integrated. But here we were. Two colored persons attending a “predominantly white” church and we have race-based division.
But none of this prepared me for the statement that would come next. Sentiments that brewed underneath the surface of this church community for decades went on seemingly untouched. Unmentioned. Words that I read again, again, and again with mouth agape. Unwilling to accept that I had survived so long within a body of believers that saw my people in such a dim light.
“As to [the] hair incident or other negative emotional encounters you’ve described, knowing [the] East European culture, I can hardly see them as manifestations of racism but rather a lack of manners and insensitivity. What if I walked in a predominantly black church? Wouldn’t people stare at me with curiosity, masked suspicion, and possible animosity?”
It is convenient to reduce my hurtful experiences to a lack of manners and insensitivity. To know that the elder who pawed my hair twice was being insensitive. How a brother told me that brown people migrating into Europe would be the end of European society. When asked to elaborate he walked away. How another brother told me Obama and Muslims are what’s wrong with the United States of America. When asked for his source of information he said, “Fox News, where else?” That Bahamians are lazy, dirty, and love to leech off of white people is but lack of manners?
His concluding thought was revelatory. I’ve been a member of diverse church communities for decades. Black, white, brown, yellow, and red. I’ve been a part of well-integrated communities from birth. I’ve never looked at a person from another race with ‘curiosity, masked suspicion, and possible animosity.’ I can speak for my many communities. Confidently so. His perspective of colored people was detrimental to my well-being. It shattered my peace within this community.
Another brother contacted me in hopes of broadening my perspective.
“Police have a lot less reason to profile you here [Canada] for the same reasons why police in the USA [has] a higher legitimate reason to profile you there.”
Reassuring for sure.
I watched as another brother interacted with a popular social media activist. He was responding to a public Instagram post.
“Disappointed with all the famous Christians, pastors and worship leaders who have no idea who #BlackLivesMatter is!”
And his response.
“I’ve traveled to [redacted African nation] [a] few months ago, to love, serve, help and pray for black people…. But not falling for this insanity today. Thank you for speaking up!!!”
This person was a prominent member of our church. A board member of our church. It’s sad that traveling across the world to love, serve, help, and pray for black people was enough to appease his conscience. Enough to discredit hundreds of years of injustice on a local, national, and global scale. Enough to dismiss the calls for racial equality. Enough to discredit our cause. Enough to silence the only two persons of color within his community who dared speak about racial injustice.
His response to this statement was in keeping with how our church thought. I would find this out the following week.
Board Meeting and Final Decision
Our province dealt with the Coronavirus pandemic in an adequate manner. We experienced shutdowns, closures, and canceled services like everyone else. Restrictions had prohibited indoor gatherings in March but were eased in mid-June. Our church leadership and board scheduled a meeting to discuss our safe return to church initiative. We were to discuss safety measures, attendance numbers, sanitation, and other health-related topics. I was not a member of the board but my pastor invited me to take part because I was the youth leader. Our meetings would return to normal as well so I thought it would be prudent to attend.
Our pastor began the meeting with prayer and went into his introduction.
“Brothers, thank you for being here. Before we start I want to advise our church members who are posting about Black Lives Matter on social media to desist. There are brothers complaining about it and we want to avoid unrest. Thank you. Now let’s discuss our return to church packet.”
You can imagine my shock. One of two black people in the church. The only black person in that meeting. The only person who was discussing racial justice on social media. And personally invited to take part in this board meeting. This was how the meeting began? These were the first words out of my leader’s mouth? Now?
This meeting is about how coronavirus has affected our church gatherings. It is about how we can protect our church members who opt for in-person services. A meeting to proactively protect our vulnerable and elderly members. How to best follow provincial and federal guidelines.
But the meeting becomes a point from which our church denounces Black Lives Matter. A podium from which we halt any discussion about race on our personal social media platforms. An institution that silences the only two black voices it has left. George Floyd’s death? Silence. Breonna Taylor’s murder? Silence. The cries of my fellow colored brothers and sisters? A leftist liberal plot to take over the world.
My mind was a blur for the next thirty minutes. I felt sick to my stomach. The way the meeting started to have an effect on the members of the board. Eyes hovered my way and sat over my presence. I cannot recall what was said about safety, cleaning, limited attendance, and other topics. I cannot recall what happened next. But for thirty minutes I sat and simmered.
I have to leave this place. I no longer feel welcome here. My peace is gone.
I excused myself, got up from my chair, and walked out. That day it was decided for me that I no longer belonged there. I agreed.
A month after this meeting I had the opportunity to preach, which I did, with all my heart. After service, I handed my pastor my letter of leave. I handed a similar letter to my fellow youth leaders. I hugged them goodbye and left.
My pastor then invited me for a sit-down where we discussed these interactions, private discussions, and his meeting opener. He was sad that my family decided to leave. Sad that we felt the way we did. He didn’t believe race was the issue. He even invited me to come back and hold an open forum on race which I declined.
“Pastor, the other black member of our church is a trained professional who knows how to discuss these issues professionally. Invite him to speak and teach the church.”
He shrugged. He didn’t believe the church would listen to that individual. Mind you, that individual is a university professor, holds a doctorate in sociology, and is a published author.
When I pressed him again about how our church had a race problem he again distanced himself from the idea. That the gospel should be the focus of our efforts, not social issues.
We finished our coffee. My mind was made. He again pressed for me to stay, “What about the youth?”
I knew tactics like these were used to guilt people into staying in environments where they continue to suffer abuse.
“Christ began the work. Christ will complete the work, pastor.”
I’ve witnessed four of the fifteen youth members I served walk down the waters of baptism. Two before my leave. Two after I left. Christ will guide their faith. I believe this to be so.
Once news of us leaving the church became public I received another Facebook message.
“News broke that you are leaving MCCA. I hope the reason you’re leaving is not rooted in the theme of our above conversation. Whatever it might be, it is always sad to see a member of [the] church leave, especially a valuable one. It’s been nice to have. Your ministry has been a blessing to my family and myself. May God bless you on your spiritual journey!”
This being the same brother I respect who also said:
“The biggest enemy of [the] black community is their victim mentality and bitterness, which does breed the culture of violence. […] In my opinion, the more you raise in [a] judgemental manner the topic of racism, the more ruin, and division you’ll bring to our community. It is as offensive to us, white people, to be branded racists, as for black people to be called slaves. People will go into defensive mode, they’ll become more distant and hostile. […] When you think we mistreat you in MCCA, think about the fact [of] how quickly you rose to [a] position of respect and leadership. You preach on Sundays, you lead and teach our youth, the doors of P&W [praise and worship] group are wide open to you too. Isn’t that the manifestation of the highest degree of trust and respect our predominantly white church has shown to you? Man, I’ve been in our congregation for [REDACTED] years and I haven’t achieved half of your success.”
Seven months have passed since this last meeting. My family has found a new church family that understands the wrongs of the world around it. It doesn’t distance itself from pain. It doesn’t hide behind the Bible. Behind gospel-onlyism. It confronts individual and collective sin. It loves expository preaching. It loves social efforts. It lives for Christ.
The other person of color within the church, the professor, had a conversation with the pastor. He was more than willing to start an open forum on race. He was willing to lead this restorative discussion in hopes of mending the racial gap within the church. He was then dismissed by the leadership. His efforts were not accepted. His intellectual expertise on the subject was dismissed. A professor, nonetheless, dismissed.
He phoned me after to share with me his many run-ins with members who suffer from a lack of manners and insensitivity. Members who suffer from diarrhea of the mouth. His words. We mourned. We felt ashamed. Pain. He said he would never set foot in that place again.
I don’t blame him.
“This church is struggling with a hardness [of heart] that might stem from past trauma. National trauma that was left unresolved. It has made it hard for them to empathize with our pain.”
To which I agreed, wholeheartedly. The world struggled with the coronavirus pandemic. Our church struggled with the endemic evil of racism. An evil ignored.
I feel like I can breathe, again. As if I can be myself, again. I no longer have to repress emotions because someone reaches for my hair. No one reaches for my hair anymore. We don’t have nativist sentiments. We don’t harbor a hidden hatred for immigrants. Especially those of brown skin. We don’t harbor hatred for Muslims. Or anyone of a different faith.
My wife isn’t approached by church members inquiring about when she got pregnant. When we got married. Members who are surprised that she and I share the same faith. She isn’t approached by church members who feign shock at how dark my girls look.
My wife is white. She was born in Germany. Yes, that white. My girls are mixed. To no one’s surprise wife is more comfortable in our new diverse church community than this previous one. She is a sister in Christ. Not a lab specimen. Where her private life is subject to scrutiny because she married a black man.
Here we see people. We acknowledge their trauma. We feel their pain. We walk with them to restore that which was taken. That which was lost. We are living the way Christ called us to live again. Preaching and living the gospel.
Whoever visits our new church; no matter their skin color or walk of life, will not be a victim of curiosity, masked suspicion, and possible animosity.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. – Proverbs 31:8 NLT
Growing up in a Brazilian offshoot of the Assemblies of God taught me so much about the Bible, Biblical characters, faith, prayer, church community, developed in me a fervency for social reform, the temperance movement (anti-alcohol consumption), the holiness movement (high ethical standards and separation from what is deemed sacrilegious), the pentecostal movement (continuationist belief of spiritual gifts such as, speaking in tongues [glossolalia], new revelation [prophecies], interpretation of tongues, healings, miracles, signs, wonders, gift of discernment and etc.).
I grew up in a church of diverse people groups, both wealthy and impoverished, white and black, mixed, even. Former drug and alcohol abusers and users. Former sex trafficking victims. Former wife beaters. Former battered wives. Abuse survivors, really. Former drug kingpins and cartel leaders (some from within my family). I grew up listening to the story of one of my family members exchanging gunfire with police officers, surviving the firefight, although not unscathed as some of them would show me bullet wounds. One family member still has bullets lodged in his body, deemed non removable by surgeons lest they risk his life mid-operation.
Many of the drug users and criminals within my family became laypeople. Some went on to become clergy, holding pastoral roles after kicking the drugs and crime, the life of substance abuse and homicide (probably), to become emancipators and heralds of the gospel. Reaching their impoverished and crime-ridden communities for Christ. Feeding the poor and preaching a message of holiness, hope, and societal change.
I witnessed various transformations in my family and it was a sure reminder that what we believed was what everyone believed. Or at least what everyone else should have believed. Who wouldn’t want drug addicts to kick drugs after attending Christian para-ministry-funded halfway homes and rehabilitation centers? Who wouldn’t want criminals to ditch the life of drug peddling and then take on honest work to support their families? Who wouldn’t want to see a community focused on caring for the poor, gifting children with toys, homes with food, and families with sustenance?
We were part of a movement that promoted pastors into politics and politicians to the pulpit. There was no divide. Pastor so-and-so would preach at our church on Sunday and after the sermon, we would give him an offering to help his political campaign. Next Sunday we would host a politician who had a Christian bark but an adulterous bite. Men who wanted votes would sweat on stage to deliver barely substantive Christian messages of hope, love, and political party lines, for the sake of political dominance in our municipality.
Honestly, it felt as if we had monopolized morality, politics, and social work. In a way, we had. At least in my mind, we had. We looked down at Baptist denominations as spiritually dead churches. We thought of the ‘Four Square’ denominations as culturally errant because they did not dress as modest as we did. We thought Presbyterians were theologically compromised because they sipped whiskey, drank beer by the barrel, and smoked Cuban cigars or any make of cigars they could get their hands on. Little mention was made of Methodist/Wesleyan and Episcopalian denominations because our beef was primarily with interdenominational Pentecostals and majority protestant groups, namely, Baptists and Presbies. Baptists because they called us heretics for speaking in tongues and beef with Presbies because they also called us heretics for speaking in tongues but they were drunk when they did so.
We chided Catholics, priests, and nuns as non-Christians because they hailed Mary, worshipped saints, and shunned the Holy Spirit’s spiritual gifts. Not just that, but because they were Catholic and were by definition a morally depraved collective for following every beck and call of the Pope and allowing the Papacy to exist for as long as it did.
We were at war with a culture that perhaps didn’t even know the church, our church, had declared war against it in the first place. Brazil at that time was predominantly religious, most adherents attributing their faith to Catholicism and later Pentecostalism, primarily to the Assemblies of God.
Hate was never named from the pulpit but it was definitely disseminated to anyone who failed to fall in line with our perception of Christianity and holiness standards.
Granted, what the Assemblies of God had in doctrinal prowess and social reform it lacked in clarity of theological thought, compassion, and common sense. I thank this denomination for existing and evangelizing Brazil at the start of the 1900s. White men coming from the North to preach Jesus to Catholics and disenfranchised addicts and impoverished blacks in the Americas. What could go wrong with a Eurocentric theology in a predominantly colored South America?
Anywho, the Assemblies of God espoused love for God, doctrine, holiness standards, and literature. Well, as long as the literature in question was not antithetical to the Bible. Our ministry, as part of the Assemblies of God, was called Assembleia de Deus, Ministerio Belém. Assembly of God, Bethlehem Ministry.
This is where I spent most of my church life. Where I studied scripture, I met pastors who wore the robes of politicians and politicians who covered themselves in sheeps wool to pass as pastors. This is where I developed a love for theology, unaware of what kind of theology it was I was falling in love with, but, nevertheless, a love for God. Here is where I met church friends who made up most if not all of my social circles for years to come.
‘Murica – We Ventured North
Once we immigrated to the United States and settled in Florida, we began to attend church six nights a week. It was community forming and community building. People helping each other out. We spoke Portuguese only because the community was made up of Brazilians with a few scattered Latinos and the rare white American soul who ventured into the building. These Anglophonic individuals came either out of curiosity produced from the loud music we played or because they were dating one of our church members.
Either way, Brazilians in America were opening up churches and ministries for Brazilians. And, the same assiduity that was so fervent in Brazil for doctrinal purity, denominational clarity, focus on spiritual gifts of glossolalia and prophecy, and holiness standards were present in the Brazilian Assemblies of God in the United States.
The small and budding community of the Brazilian Assembly of God, Bethlehem Ministry teams were spreading like wildfire in Florida, Massachusetts, California, and beyond. (As of today, there are Bethlehem Ministry churches in Dallas, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Charlotte, Pittsburg, Columbus, and more spread throughout the United States of America. In the Pacific, there are churches in Honolulu, Kanalui, Wahiawa, Christchurch, Queenstown, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, and Rockhampton. In the European continent they can be found in Madrid, Almeria, Barcelona, Paris, Orleans, Geneva, Lausanne, Bern, Zurich, Basel, Munich, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Berlin, Cologne, Rome, Bristol, Cardiff, and London. Just to name a few spots. And in the African continent, Mozambique.) Wherever Brazilian immigrants or tourists land, there, in that city, we would open a church and rotate ministers through them so as not to develop independent churches. But the pastor rotation rodeo situation a whole different post.
But in America, (North America), we did not see as many disenfranchised souls as we did in Brazil. In the US., everyone was hyper-individualistic, unlike the community-centric vibe found in the motherland. We could not see the impoverished because we rarely ventured out of the church to evangelize and minister to our communities. And ‘evangelism’ in America simply meant reaching Brazilians in America. Not white Americans. That wasn’t our focus just yet. We wanted nothing more than to grow the Bethlehem Ministry brand by finding and dragging (nicely) as many Brazilians in Orlando, Ft. Myers, Miami, Lighthouse Point, Ft. Lauderdale, Pompano, Vero Beach, Sarasota, Kissimmee, and beyond into our churches as possible.
And we did.
Churches blossomed and swelled from ten to twenty adherents in some parts and in the hundreds and hundreds of members, yes, not just attendees and participants, but members in other parts.
My family first moved to Orlando from Campinas, São Paulo. Well, my dad first moved to Boston with a pastor/politician guy to help the ministry start a church there. When the call to restart a ministry in Orlando, Florida was made, this pastor/politician fellow decided to take my multi-talented instrumentalist dad down to Florida with him. And it is here where we are to arrive to meet up with my dad. In Orlando, we partook in a ministry that grew well and because the ministry was fond of rotating pastors from one church to another they then opened another church in Naples, Florida and that’s where we went next.
The pastor/politician fella didn’t last long in this ministry and was later moved to another church, for reasons unknown or unmentioned, I don’t know because much of it was hush-hush, as is the status quo in churches these days. But my family settled in delightful old Naples, Florida and it is there where we spent most of our time in the US.
Again, evangelistic outreach was an attempt to reach Brazilians in America (North America) for Christ. English-speaking Americans were handed little pamphlets outside of bars, clubs, and large buffets where they would later use them to wipe their nose or just throw them away. We weren’t sure what to do with English speakers other than inviting them to sit through simultaneously translated sermons. Not many members of our church community were able to wield the English language well enough to bring English speakers into our community so we didn’t focus on them that much or at all. This would change but not yet. They would show up, hang out, watch our singers sing, then our worship bands worship, in Portuguese, of course. And towards the end of the service, they would sit through a poorly translated sermon where the minister half-spoke in tongues and half-ministered about hellfire and brimstone. After service, we would have our comes e bebes (coffee, tea, food, and treats; it was a fraternization period) where English speakers were adored, welcomed, and greeted, but few were the church members who actually spent time with them or time getting to know them because we barely spoke their language and they didn’t know a lick of Portuguese. There are Americans we’re talking about here. They barely spoke English well enough.
And remember, this was initially a Brazilian pentecostal ministry in America (North America) with the sole focus of evangelizing unchurched Brazilians and heresy plagued Brazilians who had run off to worship God in pagan centers like Baptist churches.
We wanted nothing but Brazilians and that’s what we got.
Again, in Brazil, evangelism was primarily focused on the poor, disenfranchised, destitute, addicts, and socially oppressed but in North America, we saw abundance, wealth, and lucre. Of course, impoverished families were everywhere but not as visibly so as in Brazil so we had to change our strategies.
As we adapted our youth (myself included) to the culture, assimilating and learning the language, the ministry began to build up new leaders to lead and pastor bilingual church services.
Our initial success paled in comparison with this second wave of evangelistic outreach as our predominantly Brazilian-led services took on Colombian, Venezuelan, Mexican, Argentine, Bolivian, Honduran, Costa Rican, Puerto Rican clergy to lead services in both Spanish and in Portuguese. Because we lived in Florida you can imagine how our Latin American ministry blew up.
The more we integrated with the surrounding culture the more people we managed to bring into the church.
But nowhere was there a higher shift in our evangelistic outreach and ministerial identity than when we focused on the American culture surrounding our churches.
It was here that the fundamentalist aspect of our ministry peaked its head high and above the rest.
You see, American Evangelicalism, in its matured stage in the 1990s and early 2000s had become hyper-political with the rise and prominence of the Moral Majority and the religious Right. Ronald Reagan, Billy Graham, Bob Jones University, Jerry Falwell Sr., Liberty University, Fox News, and a plethora of conservative white evangelicals led us to believe that as we reached out to English-speaking North Americans we ought also to join in the culture wars of the land.
Mind you, we were already involved in political power struggles in Brazil, hosting and supporting political candidates from the pulpit. But in the US, in the land of the American Dream, culture wars were nefarious, dangerously close, impending doom was imminent, and the end of our Christian witness and religious liberty was on assault on the daily, causing us to battle Leftist Liberals and theological liberalism anywhere we could.
We weren’t just attacking Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons, Catholics, Baptists, drunk Presbies, and backsliding Pentecostals. No. Now were bent on explaining to our churches (which consisted of undocumented immigrants with lapsed visas, living in the country illegally, or having entered and remained in the country illegally) that we should fight the culture wars of America.
I can recall seeing three to four flags flailing from our pulpits every single Sunday. The star-spangled banner flag was almost always center stage. Some pastors joked that if immigration officers burst through the back doors with deportation orders in hand and saw our predominantly illegal immigrant group praising the American flag then they’d turn away and leave us alone. Besides that flag, we would have the evangelical flag-waving about freely. I would later see January 6 insurrectionists bull-rushing the US Capitol waving this same flag. Little did I know, that flag was more about Christian Nationalist ideals than Christian virtues and ethics. Either way, we also carried the flag of Israel with the star of David in the middle. Being a fundamentalist meant you loved everything about Israel and hated everything Arab or Muslim. And lastly, we had the Brazilian flag. We were a Brazilian ministry in the United States of America.
Our evangelistic outreach moved from the disenfranchised people groups to political culture wars.
My evangelical development began as a neo-fundamentalist evangelical. And I was oblivious to it.
You must understand that these religious movements operate in complete invisibility to their adherents and work in frameworks that make everything outside of them or opposed to them satanic, devilish, godless, pagan, spiritually oppressive, occultic, evil, and more. This mindset in its fundamentalist rage would later help elect Donald J. Trump to office in the United States of America because he promised evangelicals religious liberty and freedom, the destruction of abortion rights, exclusive privilege in the White House, and favor toward the nation of Israel against Arab nations and Palestine. He told them he loved and served God. It was near orgasmic for North American evangelicals when Trump actually won. And also a reason for suicidal ideations when he lost. Some still think he won the 2020 election.
This same neo-fundamentalist segment of our church mentality helped the far-right Trump of the tropics, Jair Bolsonario, become the president of Brazil. He ran on the same ticket as did Trump. Hate for left and left-leaning Brazilians, he loved evangelicals and even prayed in public, attended church services. His vitriol against political opponents was unhinged in parts, making Trump sound domesticated. The man was a military lifer turned politician turned religious right hero turned president of a 211 million inhabitants nation. His downfall came through his misogynistic tropes, his islamophobia in equating Arabs with ISIS, and his disdain for liberal politics, his vitriol, and yes, just as with Trump, Covid-19. Jair Bolsonario questioned the validity of vaccines and thought they altered human DNA/mRNA thus postponing Brazil’s access to life-saving vaccines. Now that Brazil has reached well over 400,000 covid complications-related deaths, his popularity, as did Trumps, has faltered.
But how did I come to understand that I was once part of neo-fundamentalist evangelicalism?
We spent a great deal of time with the Assembly of God, Bethlehem Ministry, but once we received a recalcitrant, malcontent failed former lawyer turned pastor as a pastor of our member bleeding church, something clicked and then broke in me when the man would not stop bashing other pastors from our very denomination. Remember, bashing outsiders and apostates was acceptable but our own? It was too much even for my pharisaical heart. He had a knack for calling them monges (monks) because monks, according to him, were religious hypocrites.
He did this so often that during one of his diatribes at one of our weeknight bible studies I stopped him mid-sentence to ask him to desist from such nonsense.
I don’t believe a man of his stature and prominence had ever been confronted by a church member before. Less so a black one who was not clergy but mere laity and part-time voluntary treasurer for the ministry.
The man lambasted me for being ignorant, young, foolish, and a dunce. This all happened in front of the church. I then called him morally corrupt, immature, disqualified from ministry until he could seek reparation and reconciliation with the people he hated.
His son was present and his son said his father, the then pastor, had trouble controlling his words and tone. This poor man, the pastor’s son, even admitted that he tried time and again to correct his father’s problematic ways for years but to no avail.
This waltz of verbal assault and abuse between me and this pastor went back and forth for weeks. Every interaction we had, in front of anyone and everyone, he would call me a pejorative name and I would reciprocate. Never. Never had I had more disdain for a religious leader than I had for that man. Not because of his conduct which is normal for an unrepentant and impenitent man, but for a pastor of a holiness movement, holiness standard church to behave that way was way off for me.
Eventually, my family decided to leave the Assembly of God, Bethlehem Ministry we helped found, build, and advance in Naples, Florida.
We then joined the Assembly of God, The Vine Ministry, just a few hundred meters down the road.
Our leaving that ministry went without issue. The pastor in question and I shook hands, hugged, and said our pleasantries before parting. Whether he saw me as just another monk or not I do not know but that’s not the case here. We left as Christian brothers who knew we could not serve God in the same building anymore.
After that, none of the ministers and leaders from the Bethlehem Ministry that we had come to love, adore, and they love us and adore us ever reached out to us again.
We simply disappeared from their radar. It took nearly ten years for some of us to visit my parents place and some of them had also left the ministry.
What you have to understand is that it’s just a natural thing within the neo-fundamentalist evangelical circle to ostracize anyone who abandons not Christianity or Pentecostalism, but those who dare leave our particular ministry. Outsiders and backsliders who venture out of this Bethlehem Ministry.
So outside of this, we met new friends with The Vine Ministry, rebuilt lost or broken friendships with other Brazilian friends who had also fled the Bethlehem Ministry years earlier. People who had been traumatized by our authoritarian structure and fled for their lives. They escaped years of spiritual abuse. God bless them.
It was great to worship God and serve one another at The Vine Ministry but then my wife and I moved to Canada in search of financial stability and a future for our family.
Canada – Land of Apologies and Snow
In Canada, we joined a Slavic-Canadian pentecostal church that was stuck between modernity and early 1900s Communist Ukraine.
Having recently joined the Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada the church had to shift its services from their regular hybrid of Ukrainian-Russian speaking services to English-speaking services only. This was great because I wanted to understand what in the world they were singing about in their songs.
This church, being outside of the Brazilian paradigm of poverty and social issues and outside of North American hyper-capitalist, hyper-individualistic, and culture wars framework was primarily focused on religious consistency and discipleship, more than anything else. Minor struggles and disagreements surrounded what style of worship songs we should sing, whether we should stick to hymns or play to the tune of Hillsong, Planetshakers, Jesus Culture, or Elevation music. Some members dawned jeans and t-shirts while others, the Slavic grandmas in particular, dawned head coverings and skirts from their motherland.
Evangelism here was inner-centric. More about preaching Jesus to former communists and people who had survived communism as Christians but still struggled with legalist understanding of the gospel.
We wanted to teach the bad Christianity out of ignorant Christians. And it was working. Our community grew. Our youth group developed from a bunch of kids who were at first scared to ask tough questions to a group of Christianized hooligans willing to think for themselves. They went on to lead worship and lead services, participate in plays, mission trips (not on my part but still, awesome incentive on their part), pursue baptism, get married, and more.
Because this Slavic community was so removed from the neo-fundamentalist evangelicalism I was raised within in Brazil and in America (North America) I was able to see my faith a little clearer.
But before we proceed on how I went from neo-fundamentalist evangelicalism to neo-evangelicalism I must define and categorize evangelicalism as understood through the North American perspective. And because I’m not a scholar I will allow a scholar named Michael Graham, a writer for As In Heaven and the executive pastor at Orlando Grace Church to explain these categories for you.
In writing for Mere Orthodoxy, Graham states that there are six iterations or rather categories of evangelicalism so far. Here is Graham:
“The 6 Categories
As I have surveyed the evangelical landscape and discussed with pastors all around the country, evangelicalism seems to be fracturing into at least 6 different subgroups. Three of those groups (#s1-3) still have at least some connectivity to evangelicalism and the other three have cut ties (#s 4-6):
Neo-Fundamentalist Evangelical– Neo-fundamentalists are those who have deep concerns about both political and theological liberalism. There is some overlap and co-belligerency with Christian Nationalism (a syncretism of right wing nationalism and Christianity) but neo-fundamentalists do so with more theological vocabulary and rationality. Concerning threats within the church, they have deep worries with the church’s drift towards liberalism and the ways secular ideologies are finding homes in the church. Outside the church, they are concerned by the culture’s increasing hostility to Christianity, most prominently from mass media, social media, and the government.
Mainstream Evangelical – Historically this term has been Protestants who hold to the Bebbington Quadrilateral of conversionism, activism, biblicism, and crucicentrism. The emphasis for this group is on the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Concerning threats within the church, they share some concern for the secular right’s influence on Christinaity, including the destructive pull of Christian Nationalism, but are far more concerned by the secular left’s influence and the desire to assimilate since the world still remains so hostile. Outside the church, they are likely uncomfortable with the rhetoric Trump and other conservatives use but view this direction as the lesser of two evils.
Neo-Evangelical – People who would see themselves as “global evangelicals” and are doctrinally “Evangelicals” (w/ some philosophy of ministry differences) but no longer use the term “evangelical” in some circumstances in the American context as the term as an identifier has evolved to be more political than theological. Within the church, they are highly concerned by conservative Christianity’s acceptance of Trump and failure to engage on topics of race and sexuality in helpful ways, but they have not totally abandoned evangelical identification and likely still labor in churches with the broadest spectrum of these groups. Outside of the church, this group feels largely homeless in today’s world. There is equal concern, or slightly more either way depending on the person, at the threat the left and the right pose to Christians seeking to live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness.
Post-Evangelical – People who have fully left evangelicalism from a self-identification standpoint and reject the “evangelical” label yet are still churched and likely still agree with the Apostles Creed and Nicene Creed. They are more deconstructed than neo-evangelicals and they are more vocal in their critiques of 1s and 2s than 3s would be. Some remain firmly in Protestant circles and others have crossed over to mainline, catholic, or orthodox traditions while still holding to the basic creeds. Concerning threats within the church, they are focused on abuse, corruption, hypocrisy, Christian nationalism, and the secular right. Outside the church, they are primarily concerned with the matters of injustice, inequity, the secular right, and to a lesser extent the radical secular left. Many 4s are 4s also because their experiences with predominantly white evangelicalism have been so difficult and strained that physical distance seemed to be the only conclusion.
Note – there is likely a halfway point between 4 and 5 known as ex-vangelicals that don’t neatly fit either 4 or 5. This group is difficult to parse as the meaning that this group has taken on has evolved even this year. We did not want to exclude the group from this typology but given the evolving nature were hesitant to pin it down too precisely at this juncture. Some of these folks have actually dechurched, some have deconverted, yet some remain in the faith but are quite vocal on their critiques of the movement. In time this category might evolve and/or swallow up category 5 below or it might fizzle like other labels.
Dechurched (but with some Jesus) – People who have left the church but still hold to at least some orthodox Christian beliefs.
Dechurched and Deconverted – People who have left the church and are completely deconverted with no vestigial Christian beliefs.”
I transitioned out of neo-fundamentalist evangelicalism in Brazil and later in the United States of America thanks to distance but I moved away from mainline evangelicalism in this Slavic community due to racism and anti-intellectualism. What do I mean? The racism I experienced in this church setting was new to me, because, remember, the Brazilian church was very racially diverse. It was ethnically one but racially, we had white ministers, black ministers, ministers with Japanese ancestry, and Latino ministers, ministers from the African continent, and so on. Racism wasn’t acceptable in our racially diverse neo-fundamentalist evangelical churches.
But racism in this mainline evangelical Slavic church? Well, what did you think would happen when a black man walked into a Euro-centric church ministry that operated in Canada… of all places?
Anywho. The racism part I am still writing about and discovering as I am still dealing with it to this day. My experiences with racism in America came from outside the church. My experience with racism in Canada came from within the church. But I’ll write more about that later.
But the anti-intellectual aspect here, and by anti-intellectual I refer to historian Mark A. Noll’s work, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind delves into a group that is hyper-aware of intellectual works concerning construction and other vocational works but when it comes to Christian intellectual works they are limited. Quite limited. The exploration of theology, expositional preaching, exegesis, Christian church history, doctrinal history, and social issues were all lacking. Knowledge surrounding biology, archeology, anthropology, anatomy, physiology, psychology, philosophy, psychiatry, and science, in general, was lacking. No wonder there is a hyper-resistance toward vaccines and virology in the Slavic-Germanic mainline evangelical community here in Canada. Much love for God and holiness standards but a hell of a lot of ignorance surrounding the world around them. The very world God created.
During my last few weeks in membership with this mainline evangelical church, I witnessed an uptick in members spewing their support for Donald Trump. I mean, we’re in Canada, people. Canadians are too nice to support an orange man like Donald Trump. But our Slavic community tossed all brain and heart out the window and promoted pro-Trump rhetoric against immigrants, racial justice, and any issues pertaining to brown people. The irony was there but the masks had come off. I saw some of them for what they were. Racist Christians. The Christian part of their identity was debatable but their racism consumed the air around them. Around me.
It was no wonder that whenever the Black Lives Matter movement took shape in the political sphere and some accused it of Marxist ideologies our Slavic church shut its doors down on the topic. Period. There was no talking about race, racism, or harms done against black people and people of color because the unresolved trauma of Marxism was looming high and mightily in their repressed subconscious. If BLM was Marxist then everything they talked about or fought for was atheistic and diabolic. They were unwilling to consider that the fight for black equity spanned back hundreds of years. But fear triumphs over reason and they capitulated their witness on the altar of ignorance.
And short of my exit I picked up this book by professor Noll and devoured it. Strange thing is that I pulled this book from the church’s library, which no one ever frequented. I could have stolen the book and I don’t believe anyone would have noticed. But I read it, made notes, made connections between the idiocy in evangelical history to the idiocy I witnessed in my church, yes, my church because I was part of it too. And I was broken. I left not long after when the racism became too painful to deal with and far too many higher-ups from the church were spewing it for me to confront it alone.
Being one of two black people in the church stymies one’s aspirations for change, you know.
A short conversation with the pastor, an honest one, revealed just how intellectually and socially limited this environment had become or perhaps had always been.
We left and what was left behind was in fact my mainline evangelical faith.
I was comfortable there until I realized that racism and religious-political syncretism was still very much alive and well there, just not as angry as that within the neo-fundamentalist evangelical circle of my earlier years but it was still there.
I’ve since progressed to a neo-evangelical landmark. I’ve reached the precipice of evangelicalism. Behind me is a horrid trail of trauma and a history of evangelical evils and issues. And before me lies a pit of tenebrous open-theistic worldviews that have robbed Christ of His Deity.
I’m comfortable as a neo-evangelical because I’ve realized that my faith supersedes denominational lines. I can learn so much more about different philosophies without being guilted into thinking I’m a heretic for simply studying different thinkers. I appreciate the social ramifications of liberation theology and I love the fine-tuned nature of big-God/near-God orthodox theology. I love my transcendent Lord but He is also an eminent God. He strengthens my heart out of religiosity that damns the intellect and He pushes me into a wholesome religion that loves God and neighbor. I’m hostile to the idea of marrying religion and political ideologies. I hate poor theology but I love and am patient with people who are ignorant of good theology. They’re teachable you know. My most biting words are reserved for my friends who are still stuck in neo-fundamentalist evangelicalism. I’m patient with my friends who are on the wall between mainline and fundamentalist evangelicalism. You shout too loud and they’ll become extremists and if you whisper too much they’ll forever stagnate in mainline circles.
I’m comfortable being labeled a ‘global evangelical’ as I worship and serve Christ wherever I go. I’m not limited to national superpowers like the United States of America or Israel. Today I’m comfortable condemning Israeli terrorism against Palestinians. Before I would have spat at the mention of these poor souls. Today I favor a democratic society that espouses a higher ethic that values the civil rights of all people, not just Christians.
My views about abortion are the same. I’m pro-life through and through, not just pro-birth. But even there, I fall and lean on pastor Skye Jethani’s idea, preferring a world where abortion is legal but morally wrong and unwanted than a world where we repress laws and allow for the fruition of back-alley abortions to persist. A world where people risk death to seek out an abortion because birthing the child will be the end of their lives and that of the baby.
I prefer to look to the root causes in society leading women to believe they need an abortion. What leads them to that state of mind? We’re so focused on the clinical procedure, which is horrific and barbaric, but seldom do we focus on the social, financial, and mental issues that precede this decision. I’m in favor of leading a whole nation to destroy the structures that make women think they have to end their pregnancies to work, pay rent, buy groceries, be financially stable, get a job and keep it, graduate from school, apply for school, and have medical care.
Like… why aren’t pro-lifers, mainly pro-birthers from neo-fundamentalist evangelicals tackling those issues as well? They’re more in favor of a big military instead of big health care. I’ve figured that it’s because the left and left-leaning churches and groups are focusing on these issues, therefore, by affiliation, these things are wrong to even consider.
As a neo-evangelical, I still believe in the Bebbington Quadrilateral definition of evangelicalism, namely, biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionsim, and activism by which to spread the first three.
But in my biblicism, I am no longer a biblical literalist. I read the Bible with wisdom, with new tools by which to help me investigate the text, the author’s meaning, his intent, his audience, the culture it was written within, the principles, laws, and religious rules and laws of the time of writing. I consider the geo-political struggles of the time of writing, surrounding nations and their writers and philosophers. I understand metaphors, historical narrative, prophetic literature, poetic literature, wisdom literature, apocalyptic or eschatological writings, pastoral epistles, and the gospels. I rely on the Holy Spirit for clarity and trust Him when I’m told to use the many tools of study available to me. Outside of these tools, I would be a literalist and an idiot. Like the idiot I was in neo-fundamentalist evangelicalism thinking America was at the top of the world and everything around us was the Mark of the Beast and the antichrist. Putin, Hussein, Osama, North Korean dictators, and whatnot. One of them was bound to be the antichrist, I guessed.
I cursed homosexuals and chided Muslims. I damned atheists to hell and mocked them. I understood little of the difference between theistic satanism and atheistic satanism and thought they were both one and the same. This ignorance and arrogance stunted my approachability.
I’ve condemned friends to hell. I’ve ostracized friends by referencing dreams of them wallowing in hell-fire and their immediate need to convert otherwise they would be doomed for eternity. This is how conversations about faith, Jesus, and the Bible went between teenage me and my teenage friends.
I was relentless in assuming everyone’s eternal condition after five minutes of debating them online or in person. Why would I leave any room for doubt when I knew more about them than God did?
Either way, the extremist ways of neo-fundamentalist evangelicalism destroyed my intellect, heightened my fear of non-Assembly of God Bethlehem Ministry Pentecostals, and ruined so many of my friendships thus tarnishing my witness of Christ.
Mainline evangelicalism taught me that so many believers can worship Jesus with their hearts, accept Him into their soul, worship Him and pray to Him in their quiet place, and then live morally duplicitous racist lives in the church and outside the church. Even the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke against moderate mainline believers who spoke so highly of Christ but turned a blind eye to Christ’s creation, namely, black people during the Civil Rights era.
But in neo-evangelicalism, I can seek Christ, preach about the cross, about death, about resurrection, about sin and redemption, and the next advent of my Lord. And in neo-evangelicalism, I can confront the plight of my neighbor, assist them in their troubles, challenge structures and systems that have been set up to oppress instead of emancipate. I can challenge local bodies, both religious and secular entities, to work together, ecumenically, to help everyone everywhere.
But if you think I’m naturally progressing through Graham’s stages of evangelicalism toward post-evangelicalism or apostasy, be assured, I am not.
I have escaped neo-fundamentalist evangelicalism and walked out of mainline evangelicalism, by God’s grace, but I am nowhere close nor am I attracted to post-evangelicalism.
I follow websites and threads written by exvangelicals, post-evangelicals, and former Christians, and depending on their motivation to deconstruct evangelicalism I have found that their results are bleak. They end up destroying their faith instead of deconstructing the cultural colonization of their Christianity. It’s sad to watch people punch holes in the boat that’ll carry them across the lake. They ought to fix their sails, not tear them to shreds. Their faith compass needs recalibration but many of them are shutting their airs and trusting fate to guide them to safer shores. Some have jumped ship altogether, having lost faith in the boat’s ability to keep them above water. And this without a safety vest.
At times I have found more people leaving evangelicalism out of hurt and trauma and in other instances because they prefer to live within an antinomian framework. A framework sapped of moral attitudes and ethics. They want Christ as God of the world but not as Lord of their lives. Meaning, everything goes as far as sinful patterns inasmuch as they can read their bibles to conform it to their momentary pleasures.
In that case, I’d say some of them have moved from monotheism in Christianity to therapeutic moralistic deism. It feels good, must be right, and God or gods is out there, in the ether, somewhere, maybe watching.
Post-evangelicalism can work if one deconstructs not from faith and Christ but from cultural Christianity. Namely, Brazilian-centric or United States of America-centric Christianity. White Christianity. Euro-centric Christianity. Pan-African Christianity. Etcetera.
But if you’re moving away from biblicism, crucicentrism, conversionsim, and activism, then what are you moving towards? I ask myself that same question from time to time. If I abandon the word, the cross, regeneration, and the work that goes into disseminating this message, then what am I moving into? What have I moved away from?
Is this not the gospel? Does the gospel supersede the Bebbington Quadrilateral of evangelicalism?
But does the gospel have to be post-evangelical? It can be. It was before the term was even coined and its meaning as we understand it today solidified.
But I am comfortable utilizing my brain, my soul, God’s Holy Spirit, His Word, the beauty and horror of the cross, and my giving up of myself for my family and my community.
And listen, that community is not and does not have to be a believing community.
Loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind, and my neighbor as myself does not mean that my neighbor needs to be a conservative Right-leaning Christian for me to love, serve, and possibly even die in service for them.
I Am A…
I am a neo-evangelical and God has rescued me from fundamentalism and delivered me from stagnant middle-stance, middle-class centric Christianity that accomplishes much while it accomplishes nothing in mainline evangelicalism.
I am not out of the clear until I reach heaven and that’s why from time to time I converse with my pastor, interacting with him about ideas, what comes next for evangelicals, what ideas, good or bad, will be sucked into the vacuum created by the absence of evangelicalism in our cultural sphere.
What happens when we remove Eurocentric theology from our schools and vernacular? What happens when we burn slave-holding Christian theology to ash? What happens when we begin to listen to the voices that have taken a backseat in literature and theology for the last five hundred years? Who are these voices? Are they white, male, wealthy, and western? Are they French, German, English, Swedish, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, or Swiss?
Are these voices evangelical at all?
These thoughts and questions plague my mind every time I venture to read scripture for my personal development and the development of my church community.
I am comforted by the continual presence of this voice of inquiry because it was absent for most of my life. I thank God for the inquisitive pull in my heart. Not the cynic and skeptic. My faith is firm and sound on the Rock of Christ but the in-betweens that have dimmed my understanding for so long are still to be discovered and challenged.
I need these thoughts and questions to dominate my headspace otherwise I’ll recrudesce to fundamentalist fearmongering and that’ll be the death of my intellect.
This cannot happen.
I am too conservative for my liberal friends and too liberal for my conservative friends. I’m politically homeless. A political vagabond moving from one political railroad car to the next, exploring the goods, acknowledging them, sharing them, and then leaving it for the next. Wherever I find errors and wrongs I attempt to address them with Christic love and when that fails I’m booted forward or backward into another car. Whither this train travels I know not but that it travels forward is without question.
The final station is of less importance to me because no matter where this train of political ideology stops it is still flawed and filled with holes, carrying broken people from one place to another, ever full and ever empty.
I love my Lord, I love my wife, I love our girls, and I love the Church of Christ. The Catholic (universal) Church of Jesus is not held nor constrained by walls and windows and doors. Nor denominational lines.
Are you not sure where you fall on this spectrum and you want to take a quick quiz to find out, hit this link. Towards the end of the page you will find the Evangelical Assessment Tool. Share your findings!
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. – Proverbs 31:8 NLT
Because I’m in a relationship where love abounds. Now, don’t misunderstand me when I say that love abounds and nothing else. What I mean is that in this environment of love, kindness, care, appreciation, communication, and compromise, we also experience challenges induced by fatigue, lack of sleep, poor sleep, busyness, miscommunication on things as simple as: is this plate clean or where is the soundbar remote?
These trivialities are abundant within a healthy relationship. A couple that does not disagree or perhaps does not experience friction does not spend time together at all.
I am loved where I live and where I live I give love. Love can be demonstrated in various ways. It can be received and understood in many others. From gifts to affectionate gestures, time spent together, romantic or eros, philo and friendlike, paying attention to your spouse and whatnot. Too many ways and far more ways into which these methods intertwine and intersect.
Therefore, in expressing love and giving love, you must give it in as many ways as possible and be in sync with your spouse on how you best receive it. Also, how they would like to be loved.
Living in an environment where love is absent but commitment is present is a delicate and painful compromise.
What do I mean?
There are couples, married couples, who have lived together for ten, twenty, possibly, thirty years together in holy matrimony, with multiple kids (or no kids) and careers well behind them, friendships developed around them, and a community of known-ness between them and all who know them.
But… these couples lack love. What do I mean? Is not the longevity of their marriage a sign of lovingkindness and affectionate endurance?
No. But yes. But no. (Canadian expression).
It can be, but it isn’t always.
Longevity can be accomplished by simply enduring and repeating something without much thought given to it.
Also, a marriage that subsists in this environment does so out of duty. Consider religious cultures where shame rules their community and to divorce a spouse you do not love or are not compatible with is a sure sign that you will be ostracized by that community.
Shame culture is real and it is an ugly reality. If you live and move within a shame-based culture, please, for the love of your sanity, your spouse, your children, and your friends, leave it.
But people who endure their marriage, they perform certain aspects of it out of a sense of duty, almost, honorific duty so as to gloat or find pride in their suffering through this relationship.
Sorry, not a relationship, this exchange of bodily property for (x) number of years.
But living in this environment of duty and honor instead of an environment of love, commitment, and compromise can be destructive to a person’s well-being and emotional development.
The sensual aspect of this relationship is there. Granted. It doesn’t take much for a person to merely ‘enjoy’ an activity. The enjoyment is there. But the fruition from it, the connection and chemistry developed, not just on a physical level but an interpersonal and emotional level is tantamount to a healthy love-filled relationship. Couples who simply bond over this act to exchange pleasantries rather than continually build their relational affections are engaging in business matters rather than life matters.
It’s merely transactional behavior.
What I’m trying to say is that love is not a required factor for a couple to enjoy sex.
There are plenty of miserable couples out there that have better sexual encounters than we can surmise but their interpersonal connectivity and relational development are as poor as the glass cup from which Donald Trump had to use two hands to drink.
I know. It’s sad.
So, if you’re in a loveless relationship, be in a serious one that might lead to marriage or in a marriage that has sailed away from the docks of single-dome years ago, understand that you are not without hope.
It all starts with communication. First, communicate to yourself that you do not feel loved. Two, discover why you cannot give love. Three, you need to share these sentiments freely and fearlessly with your significant other.
If you’re afraid of being open with your significant other then by all means understand that there are more issues surrounding this love loss than anything else.
Ask yourself when it was that your love for them faded. Was there a stressful situation at work, home, in your social sphere that halted your emotional development? Are you overwhelmed by responsibilities or depressed by your unfulfilled dreams? Open up about these things. Journal about them so your thoughts are on paper and clear, clearer to you.
Ask yourself when it was that your loved one stopped or slowed in expressing their love to you. What happened in that season. Before that season. You’re not to blame unless you know 100% that you are responsible for something. Namely, cheating, gambling family funds away, cheating emotionally, lying, being emotionally repressive or oppressive, voting for Donald J. Trump, gaslighting, abuse; physical, verbal, emotional, and spiritual. But if the blame isn’t yours, don’t allow your brain to trick you into thinking it is because then you’ll both be stuck in an emotional stalemate. Discuss these things with your partner and allow them to open up to you gradually, understanding that they may not entirely understand their own feelings yet. And even if they do understand them they might have a tough time verbalizing them. So listen up to what IS said but pay attention to what is left UNSAID.
Think About It
If you are in a loveless relationship you do not have to stay in it.
But here’s the catch. I do not mean that you have to leave it either.
What I mean is that both of you can work together to make it a love-filled relationship again.
Make Relationships Love-Filled Again!
Maybe we should throw that on a hat and make it our war cry.
That won’t work.
But you get what I mean.
To leave a loveless relationship does not mean you leave your partner. In fact, you both leave the loveless environment together and explore what it means to love and be loved, together, again.
This post is not meant for individuals who are in abusive relationships. If you are in an abusive relationship, please seek professional help immediately, for your safety and the safety of those in your household.
GoodTherapy. Hit that link. Click other links. Then delete your browsing history.
If your spouse or partner is abusive, contact law enforcement as soon as possible.
You are loved by a community you do not even yet know. You are more than your abuse and your hurt and your pain. You might only understand this once you leave and are free to heal, feel, and yes, be loved and love, again.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. – Proverbs 31:8 NLT
I dedicate my one-hundredth blog post to my lovely wife, Irma.
One hundred blog posts, hundreds of hours of research, and near the same amount of time dedicated to writing and possibly double that in editing alone all pale in comparison to the time spent with my wife.
Every word I dedicate to public knowledge, every thought I manage to scribble onto paper or type into a computer in hopes of producing something intelligible and worth sharing is because my wife has supported me in this effort.
The effort? To clear my mind through journaling, albeit public and communal journaling on things surrounding life, love, theology, and history. It’s my catharsis.
Her intellect has been a point of reference as I grow with every conversation we have on the topics I research.
Thomas Merton once said, “Love is our true destiny. We do not find the meaning of life by ourselves alone – we find it with another.”
It is disadvantageous to the writer, myself included in that category albeit in the nascent stages of writing, to presume that fame, prestige, and legendary status be the utmost goal in life.
I have found love in this true destiny of which the initial and end goal is love itself.
I have found it thanks to my wife.
Thank you, my love, for being so amazing and encouraging.
Other desires and aspirations, again, pale in comparison.
I have my love, my girls, and my books.
One day, I’ll write my own book or several. Until then I will continue to express that which is stuck and pressing in my heart and mind on here.
And, of course, I have my Christ and He has me. It all works out just fine in the end no matter how it ends.
This gives me comfort.
On to post #101! On to the many things I will cover and we will discuss together.
Thank you for reading these stories, ideas, and thoughts. Thank you for visiting the innermost thoughts and sentiments of a capricious writer.
I am grateful that we are able to celebrate another year of life and another Thanksgiving holiday. This year has been one of great tumult, confusion, and loss of life so I ask that you grant me the mercy to use this post to shed some humor and laughter into this dark and non-mask-wearing conspiracy theorist-ridden world.
I thank you, Father, for blessing me with enough head hair to fill in my neighbor’s toupee should he ask for it and a hairline that is too stubborn to recede.
Thank you, Father, for afros. Mini afros. Round afros. Retro afros and colorful afros.
I thank you, Father, for granting Canada the opportunity of being so close to the United States of America to benefit from its pop culture, whilst not being affected by its politics.
Thank you for snowfall, snowy roads, snow bears or polar bears, whatever they’re called. They’re all so beautiful. And I love it when my mustache freezes over in the morning air. It’s a strange feeling. Thank you for such strange feelings.
Thank you for granting my wife the ability to conceive children and granting me the ability to grant her that ability.
Thank you for winter tires, even though we have all-season tires on our SUV. Thank you for the tire shops that charge thousands of dollars for them, their replacement, and installation. Continue to bless these establishments with work and our above the Northern Wall cities with enough snowfall to keep these shops operational.
Thank you, Father, for toilet paper. Going without it is tricky. Sticky, really.
Thank you, also, for baby wipes. I’ve discovered they’re quite useful as adult wipes as well. Quite useful for wiping down counter-tops too.
Thank you for notifications and reminders. I’m a forgetful man and I love being reminded by Duolingo that it’s time for me to practice my German.
Thank you, Father, for “swipe away” and “clear” functions on my phone so I can delete my notifications without ever opening them.
Thank you for long church sermons, the ministers who promise shorter sermons, and the worship songs that last ten minutes longer than they should.
Thank you for blessing us with dentists. They’re nice. Too nice. Please bless them with a little less-niceness, if possible.
Thank you for dumpster trucks. Thank you for dumpster bins, too.
Thank you for wintery temperatures that make spiders and other bugs disappear for a few months. I love using the loo without having to worry about a creepy crawler paying me a visit.
Father, thank you for a strong heart.
Father, I thank you for food. I thank you for every dietary option available except veganism. Lord, thank you for bacon and cheese.
Father, I thank you for President Donald J. Trump, I ask that you bless his going away party with Happy Meals, toys included.
Thank you also, Father, for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris. Lord, I know they’re not perfect but I ask that they be competent enough to fulfill their professional duties without the assistance of the Ukrainians, Russians, the Chinese, North Koreans, and Hugo Chavez vote counter system.
Father, thank you for Sidney Powell’s oscar worthy performance during that one press conference where Hugo Chavez was mentioned. We’ll remember her acting skills for generations to come.
Father, I thank you for #ThanksgivingClapBack. I believe you laugh at some of these hashtags. You created humor. I mean, look at us. Look at elephants.
Thank you for my pet allergies, Lord. It’s a good enough excuse to postpone getting our girls any pets.
Thank you for masks, Lord, and the people who refuse to use them and the videos that are made public of them expounding their reasons for not wearing a mask.
Lord, truly, thank you for humor. We need more of these videos.
I thank you for family gatherings; the unnecessary political arguments we have once there; the near fist-fight inducing disagreements about sports, religion, best side dishes, what spirits go into a fruit punch, and other miscellaneous things we bicker about come Thanksgiving.
I thank you for the families who have opted out of hosting a gathering this year and their weird Thanksgiving-Christmas hybrid celebrations. Lord, protect these vulnerable people, they can’t help themselves.
Thank you for Apple products.
And now on a more serious note, Father.
Thank you for my wonderful wife, her beauty and elegance, her patience with us kids at home.
Please bless her next delivery, that our third little girl may be a light wherever she walks. Bless us with more flashlights and lanterns Lord, for when society collapses and we’re forced to live off-grid.
Thank you for my little Maya and my littler Maisie. They’re gems. Gifts from heaven we did not deserve. Seriously, they’re trouble makers but very healthy trouble makers and we’re grateful for them.
Thank you, Father, for my mother and my father. They’re still alive and I’m still annoying them to the best of my ability. It’s my duty to be an annoying son.
Thank you for my brother and his wife. They’re cool. We miss them. We hope to see them soon.
Thank you, Father, for my best friends. They’re amazing fellas and I hope we get many more opportunities to see each other in person to create more embarrassing memories of each other to share with each other later once we’ve gone our ways.
Thank you for church families, who help us with prayer, sustenance, encouragement, and sound biblical teaching.
Bless our local pastor, his wife, and their ministry. Keep them, Lord, for we believe you have great things ahead for them.
Father, please help our local community bodies and also our federal ones as they assist families in need, families in want, and families who are about to go without. Please send your servants to assist them so that people are fed, warm, safe, and loved.
Please help our medical teams, their jobs, so that they may be encouraged, strengthened, and their immune system improved. Grant them rest where possible, safety from the virus every day, and protection from harmful thoughts and harmful sentiments that fill the heart once exhaustion takes hold. From lab technicians to paramedics to LPN’s to nurses to physicians and beyond. Please guide them.
Please visit people who are lonely, Father, warming them with your presence. Those who cannot have visitors or see their family members because of this pandemic and other multi-layered reasons. Human beings weren’t created to be alone so I pray, Father, send your children to be at their side, safely.
Please, Lord, visit also the individuals who are suffering mentally because of this pandemic. Those who struggle with anxiety, depression, and a number of other problems that are inflamed by how crazy this world has become. Please keep them safe, away from harmful thoughts and suicidal thoughts. Send your servants to check up on them often, to be with them, help them, and the medical staff and professionals to assist them wherever necessary.
And finally, Father, thank you for faith, hope, and love. Thank you for giving us those things in your Son Christ Jesus. Thank you for this faith, which without, we could not hope for better days nor could we love our neighbors.
We ask and pray and thank you for these people and things,
In Jesus’ name.
Happy Thanksgiving to all and to all a Merry Christm…. well, we’re not there yet.
Every year, an average of two million (yep, that’s 2,000,000) love-hungry Americans find themselves at the altar reciting their vows, making promises; that in all honesty, they will not keep and at the mercy of their emotions as they cry through unintelligible, I do’s.
And in the same year, well over one million love-hungry American’s find themselves dissolving their marriage through no-fault divorce proceedings. This is disheartening.
What, then, is my advice to the a soon-to-be-married couple? What could I possibly add to this conversation after six years of being, myself, a married man?
Well, the most wholesome and practical advice I can relay to the uninitiated is this:
Mind your own business.
That’s it. Just mind your own business.
Stay out of people’s lives and keep your marriage gossip proof, baby.
Ain’t no reason you should be dipping your fingers into someone else’s problems, concerns, finances, and marital maturation.
Let them grow in peace. You, develop your marriage in peace as well.
Stop listening to love guru’s who probably live a very duplicitous, promiscuously loose lifestyle and instead, focus on your soon-to-be-spouse. Far too many problems arise in marriage because people want so much to live like, behave like, be empowered by, attain the same level of status like, promote a sense of stability like and be unimaginatively in love like power couples they see on social media or in their community.
Mind your business. Love the person you are coupled with and learn to compromise.
Now that we’ve passed from the first and most important advice I can think of, we can move on to other more practical tips.
This post is not for you. Move on.
The next post you read about marriage may not be for you either. You’re not paying attention.
Just because you’re in love does not mean you should marry that person.
Don’t marry for money but if money is involved, hey, don’t sign a prenup.
If you’re the one with money, produce a prenup.
Is this person you are about to spend the rest of your short life with worth the time and effort? If no, then why are you going through with it?
Debt. It’s the devil’s ingrown toenail. Talk about it before signing your life away to someone who has a $45,000 anchor wrapped around their ankles. Not a break-off, but a must-have discussion. Transparency is key. Debt can ruin families for generations ahead. Be smart. Be economically sound.
Have you had any arguments or disagreements? No? Have them now, before getting married so you can learn how to cope, compromise, apologize, reconcile and grow together before saying your I do’s. Determine if the person you are about to wed is a prince/princess in engagement but a brute/witch post-honeymoon phase by having productive disagreements before getting married. People change when they’re angry. Be careful.
Love is a commitment, not an emotion. Are you willing to commit to a life-long agreement of love, emotional and sexual investment, growth, trials, sacrifice, and more to one person under one institution? Sounds scary? It is. Take it seriously.
Marriage is not a place where you find happiness and fulfillment. If you cannot love yourself first, before entering into this union, you will not love yourself later. Your future spouse cannot bear the sole responsibility of loving you twice over because you fail to love yourself.
Again, disregard my marital advice. I beg you.
Because what works for us will not necessarily work for you.
Whatever works for you, believe me, will not work for us.
But one thing is certain, divorce is ugly, divorce is nasty, divorce leaves scars, but divorce is not the end of the world.
Consider what I just said, carefully.
Divorce is not the best option available if a relationship sours. Remember that reconciliation is possible. Rebuilding a broken marriage is possible.
It requires time, therapy, a willingness from both spouses, sacrifice, tears, love, patience, forgiveness, continual openness, and transparency. A badly damaged marriage is repairable. There are many examples of that in the world.
But, in cases of say, domestic abuse, well, for the safety and security of the abused, it is worth leaving alive and starting life again elsewhere.
Divorce is sad but your life does not end because of it.
To avoid getting divorced, don’t get married. But if you do get married, understand that you are making a life-long commitment. Like 100 years long.
So, for the love of God, please read this article and disregard it.
Go live your life. Learn to love wholeheartedly. Commit to a holy union that brings forth societal stability. One that develops you into a mature individual. Become one with someone.
Keep on minding your business and one day you will find out that your marriage is better, healthier, brighter, and worth having because your nose spends more time in your spouse’s neck instead of in someone else’s tea.
Move along. Nothing to see here.
For more non-advice from your favorite blogger, please visit www.mindyourbusiness.com or call 1-800-URB-ZNES and find out how you can excel in life, love, and marriage.