WHY SHOULD LAUREN DAIGLE NEED TO DEFEND BEING ON ELLEN?

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Maybe it’s because I’m a Christian who happens to be an artist, or an artist who happens to be a Christian. Maybe it’s because Ellen Degeneres is one of only 2 comedians I’ve ever gone to see live many years ago (the other was Eddie Izzard). Maybe it’s because I’m just fed up with a certain ongoing badminton game of opinions that’s been going on for decades, if not centuries. But when I read about this recent “controversy,” I automatically grabbed my laptop and started WordPressing…

I’ve just discovered a kindred spirit and don’t know how I hadn’t heard of her till now… I came across an article about a Christian singer who’d been on Ellen. The heading was something about her receiving criticism. Silly me, I thought maybe someone who isn’t a Christian had criticized her singing a song about Christ on national tv. But then I was reminded of the judgmentalism that is still, very sadly, rampant in the people who claim to follow Christ. It was them criticizing Lauren for something I find so absurd that I had to write my first blog post in ages about it…

The “controversial” thing Lauren did was… wait for it…

Lauren was on the Ellen show. Yup. That’s it. And this was controversial why? Because Ellen is (gasp) gay. Really, people? That’s what you took away from the fact that Ellen had a Christian singer on her show singing a song about Jesus?

When I read about Lauren’s response to being questioned about her “radical” act, I instantly knew she was a kindred spirit. You can read that here. Her response was drenched in grace and wisdom.

As a Christian who is thankful to know many people who are not in the judgmental camp, I’m compelled to say to the Christians who think they are in a place to judge gay, or any other people: get over yourselves. You’re not doing Jesus any favours.

Certain types of scripture quoting are nothing short of pharaseeism/religion clothed as concern about people’s souls.

I know some who read this may be prone to judgment, so I’m extending some suggestions for how to overcome this and hope it will help…

  • Ask yourself how many gay or trans people you actually know personally.

 

  • Become friends with LGBTQ people and get to know them.

 

  • Listen to people’s stories without having an agenda. 

 

  • Read up on how many LGBTQ people have struggled with suicidal thoughts due to being raised in families and churches where they couldn’t discuss how they felt for fear of being ostracized by people who claimed to love them. Perhaps watch the movie Boy Erased.

 

  • Read the stories in the Bible about the people Jesus called to follow him. Take note: they weren’t the Pharisees; they thought they already had God all figured out and that it was their place to look down their noses at those “sinful,” “other” people.

 

  • Get over the notion of “other people.” God loves us all. Just because some people may not know it or believe it, doesn’t make them any less loved. Judging them doesn’t help them believe it.

 

  • Look in the mirror and focus on keeping your own heart pure (single-minded) rather than assessing the purity of others. Put simply, BEGIN WITHIN.

 

  • Instead of sitting behind the screen judging gay people, find something more productive to do with your time.

 

  • Connect to how deeply and profoundly you are loved by God, no matter what, so that you can freely love others without needing to judge them.

This is a topic I haven’t commented on much (apart from my post called A Deeper Compassion: Entering the Transgender Discussion) because of the drama that goes with talking about stuff like this and how people just loooove to argue online, from the safety of their computer screen.

But now…

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Some theories I have about people who have trouble simply loving ALL people and who prefer to keep themselves away from those “other” people:

  • Perhaps there are unfaced issues they have been unwilling to look at within themselves or someone they’re close to.

 

  • Perhaps they, themselves, struggle with something relating to gender or sexuality and have been afraid to admit it to themselves.

 

  • Perhaps they simply need to remind themselves that they’re in no position to judge.

 

  • Perhaps their self-righteousness is a veneer for shame over their own past or present issues.

 

  • Perhaps they don’t really believe they’re loved themselves just as they are.

Nor are these people to be condemned. We’re all here working through our own brokenness, wounds, and stuff. The answer is not judgment, but LOVE. That’s the core of everything Jesus taught: JUDGE LESS. LOVE MORE.

Back to Ellen and Lauren…

Ellen actually picked the song that Lauren sang called “Still Rolling Stones”. Uh-huh, a song about Christ. It’s her favourite one of Lauren’s. Ellen had more grace and kindness towards Lauren than many of the responses have had towards Ellen or Lauren.

One of my personal favourite things about Ellen — she’s a vegan animal lover who cares more for animals and creation than many Christians do. I sometimes hear about her acts of kindness and can’t help seeing what a kind person she is and how comfortable she makes people feel (like Louis Theroux does). Yet certain people have the audacity to focus on her sexuality rather than her heart?

My guess is that if Jesus had a talk show, he’d have Ellen on as an example of the kind of people he likes hanging out with.

I can anticipate the responses this post could possibly get, one of which could be that Ellen only does good things and has certain people on to increase viewers and for PR. I won’t even comment on that. Or any other negative, just-want-to-argue feedback.

Instead of rejoicing over Lauren being on Ellen, the negative Nellies had to go and start Bible thumping. Ah, well. Lauren will go right on doing what she does so brilliantly – bringing glory to God with her music in both secular and Christian settings, and Ellen will go on doing what she does – touching people’s lives with humour and kindness.

The question isn’t about whether it’s right or wrong to be gay. The question is whether you are going to love others or judge them — because you can’t do both simultaneously.

It’s one of the reasons I wrote this short film script.

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The logline is:  “A compassionate pastor challenges the religious snobs trying to condemn a transgender woman named Sammie. A present day retelling of the good Samaritan parable.”

Every day, we all get to decide whether we’ll choose love or choose judgment when we interact with others.

I know what I’m committed to choosing and I need God’s grace to do so.

To my Christian friends who started sweating as they read this, I love you. To my gay/bi/trans friends, I love you. You’re all precious and I love you all. Period.

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Love,

Monique

 

 

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What is Truth? (Frederick Buechner Excerpt)

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I was having a dialogue on Facebook recently with a friend who holds different beliefs from mine. We have a love and respect for one another that transcends any differences between us and we entered into a short exchange of thoughts about the Bible. She genuinely asked me how I can believe it with all its contradictions and questionable translations. I told her how I see it and we had a civil conversation about it that, I hope, left us both better people for having had it.

Not long after, I opened my email inbox which held my daily reading excerpt from Frederick Buechner. I’ve pasted it below and it’s pretty much what I was trying/hoping to say in that Facebook conversation. Hours before this, in another book, I came across another passage mentioning the particular silence written about below.

Since Buechner is a much greater master of words than I could ever hope to be, I wanted to share this because he puts into words what I can only struggle to say…

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“Somebody should write a book someday about the silences in Scripture. Maybe somebody already has. “For God alone my soul waits in silence,” the psalmist says (62:1), which is the silence of waiting. Or “Be not silent, O God of my praise,” which is the silence of the God we wait for (109:1). “And when the Lamb opened the seventh seal,” says the book of Revelation, “there was silence in heaven” (8: I)—the silence of creation itself coming to an end and of a new creation about to begin. But the silence that has always most haunted me is the silence of Jesus before Pilate. Pilate asks his famous question, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), and Jesus answers him with a silence that is overwhelming in its eloquence. In case there should be any question as to what that silence meant, on another occasion Jesus put it into words for his disciple Thomas. “I,” he said, “I am the truth” (14:6).

Jesus did not say that religion was the truth, or that his own teachings were the truth, or that what people taught about him was the truth, or that the Bible was the truth, or the church, or any system of ethics or theological doctrine. There are individual truths in all of them, we hope and believe, but individual truths were not what Pilate was after, or what you and I are after either, unless I miss my guess. Truths about this or that are a dime a dozen, including religious truths. THE truth is what Pilate is after: the truth about who we are and who God is if there is a God, the truth about life, the truth about death, the truth about truth itself. That is the truth we are all of us after.

It is a truth that can never be put into words because no words can contain it. It is a truth that can never be caught in any doctrine or creed including our own because it will never stay still long enough but is always moving and shifting like air. It is a truth that is always beckoning us in different ways and coming at us from different directions. And I think that is precisely why whenever Jesus tries to put that ultimate and inexpressible truth into words (instead of into silence as he did with Pilate), the form of words he uses is a form that itself moves and shifts and beckons us in different ways and comes at us from different directions. That is to say he tells stories.

Frederick Buechner 
from The Clown in the Belfry & Secrets in the Dark

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10 EMPOWERING TIPS FOR ADDICTIVE PERSONALITIES

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Some weeks ago, I posted a piece called Hope for Addictive Personalities here. 

Following are some tips to help you get started if you struggle with any type of addiction—from serious ones to ones that are not necessarily life threatening. Whether it’s an eating disorder, a drug addiction, a relationship addiction, a worry addiction, an internet addiction, a shopping addiction, or a nagging addiction, these apply…

1. Admission. Acknowledge and admit that you can’t go on like you have. The first step of surrendering and putting your hands up to say, “I can’t do it on my own” can bring a flood of relief. Especially combined with turning to a power greater than yourself, whether that is the God you believe in, or a supportive community, or both. (I realize not everyone believes in God. A loving, supportive community is God with skin on though.) It’s not about trying harder. It’s about laying down arms and admitting you’re powerless over this thing. It’s humbling to admit we don’t have something under control, but it’s a lot less exhausting than trying repeatedly to overcome something that we’re obviously not overcoming.

2. Change your thinking by replacing disempowering thoughts with empowering thoughts. It all starts in our minds. Once we get that sorted out, our actions begin to fall into place much more easily. Where you focus your mind, your energy follows. Instead of allowing your mind to automatically fall into old ways of thinking (which can lead into old ways of behaving), find ways of thinking that fill you up with energy, hope and confidence. This doesn’t happen overnight usually. It takes some discipline, but be encouraged! Your brain wants to help you. As you form new patterns of thinking and acting, your brain creates new neuropathways that will eventually make the new thoughts and actions the norm for you. Identify disempowering thoughts and intentionally replace them with thoughts that edify you, rather than bring you down. This step alone can lead to amazing results.

3. Become aware of the words that are coming out of your mouth. Know that, as it says in Proverbs, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” Or as the poet Hafiz said, “The words you speak become the house you live in.” Think of each word you speak as being the brick and mortar of the life you want to be living. Which leads us to the next two…

4. Stop saying mean things to yourself. Life is hard enough without chanting about all that you don’t like about yourself and all you’ve done wrong. If you mess up, admit it, and press on. If you’re working on improving, then give yourself some credit for your willingness and tenacity.

5. Start saying kind things to yourself. Talk to yourself as you would to a good friend or someone you really care about, someone you want to encourage. It’s not egotistical to care about yourself. You could say it’s egotistical not to because when we care for ourselves and treat ourselves with love and respect, it’s easier to treat others the same way. Also known as “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Speak kindly both to yourself and to others.

6. Be intentional about your actions. This will flow more easily if you’re already thinking differently. Decide what you want to change, and take small steps towards changing it. At first it may be difficult, but difficult isn’t the same as impossible.

7. Tell someone. Talk to someone you know won’t judge you or try to rush your process, someone you know will come alongside and cheer you on as you take on the brave challenge of change. Not only will it give you accountability, it will give you momentum and courage.

8. Notice. Start noticing how, little by little, what once seemed impossible to change is becoming easier. You’ll see how you and your brain are working together to form new habits to replace the old ones.

9. Be gentle with yourself. If you have a day when you fall down, get back up. If no one else is around to do so, remind yourself that just starting on this new road is a huge hurdle you’ve overcome. Brush yourself off and try again.

10. Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. Any great work takes time and effort and a lot of faith to keep going. Remind yourself how far you’ve come. Remind yourself that your life is a great work. Think of all the possibilities that may lie ahead for you if you simply keep going. Michelangelo didn’t paint the Sistine Chapel in one day, or in one go. Abraham Lincoln had a nervous breakdown and many setbacks before he became president.

You may not be running for any elections or looking to paint famous ceilings in Rome, but whatever it is you are trying to overcome, you can if you simply do not give up.

And I hope one day these hurdles that you face will only have paved the way on your personal road to greatness.

If you’d like to have a conversation, please click here to book an appointment (no charge). I’d be happy to talk with you and see how we can move your life forward.

p.s. Here is the version of this post that was published on Elephant Journal.

 

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