Redeemer Lutheran Church, Ft. Collins, Colo.

11 a.m. to ?

Chosen because…late service

Biggest church I’ve been to.  It sits in a giant field surrounded by wealthy neighborhoods. Not only does it have a welcome center, which gives makes me feel like I’m walking through an airport rather than a church, it also has a worship center, life/center gym, preschool, student center, etc.

I’m grateful for the coffee/donut room. Guilt kicks in so I donate $1 to the coffee collection. This is the only donation I’ve made to a church thus far. After service I feel duped, used and wish I could take my money back.

Love Money, Then Jesus

Remember this scene from Jerry Maguire? This is Redeemer Lutheran Church.

JERRY MAGUIRE SHOW ME THE MONEY


The preachers or whatever are dressed in white, red sashes resting on either side of their chests. Huge choir. Massive movie screen. Many people wearing buttons purporting their love for Jesus. At least I think that’s what they’re for.

It’s “commitment weekend,” a time for parishioners to place donation envelopes they received via mail in Pottery Barn-like donation baskets. Before they do, the preacher fills them with artificial love, hiding the church’s need for greed behind Bible passages such as “whoever does not love God does not know love.”

When the preacher quiets, this message is conveyed, falsely — though song — and soundtrack as people in the sound booth add thunder and other such nonsense to the melody.

After guilt by love, the preacher gets down to business. This whole love B.S. will continue for 36 months because the church is on a mission to a) Raise up stewards b) Pay down debt c) Further the mission.

So learn about God, pay down the Redeemer Lutheran‘s $2 million debt during the next 36 months and then spread God’s word through costly missions. Appalling.

Need for Greed

He uses the following mantras to encouraging giving…and love.

“Love is not really love until it’s given away.”

“I hope you get to learn during this season we get to give love away.”

“We don’t want to whore the message of God.”

Then we watch a clip from Schindler’s List. It’s at the end when Schindler realizes the money he spent on material excess could have saved thousands of Jews.

People sniffle. It’s an emotional scene and a cleaver way for the preacher to beg for money. After the clip, he invites everyone to bring up envelopes of money, encouraging them to “woo hoo” when they dump it in Pottery Barn-like baskets.

I’m sick to my stomach. This place of worship is an infomercial, not a church. I leave and head to a dive bar in Loveland of all places, to cleanse my soul.

The leaders of this church should be ashamed of themselves for their unabashed call to greed. Redeemer Lutheran Church is antithetical to Jesus’ message. It’s disgusting.

St. Joseph’s Church, Fort Collins, Colo.

8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Chosen because…good Catholic friend in town

I will never go back to St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, not because I tainted the holy water in elementary school, but because it’s the most judgmental church I’ve visited. Nothing about St. Joe’s embodies peace, love or understanding.

Before I delve into my own judgments, let me say I know it’s contradictory to condemn judgment and then judge but processing experience necessarily requires judgment. Also, this opinion is based on the 1.5 hours I spent in one church. By no means do I think all Catholics adhere to these values or lack there of.

Choice, Freewill, Abortion

From the street, St. Joe’s is beautiful. From the street, you can’t see the picture of a fetus (it isn’t graphic) framed by words urging congregants to pray to end abortion.  I don’t care what people think about abortion. Life, choice, whatever. I also don’t care about political views. Democrat, Republican, anarchist, whatever. What irritates the living hell out of me is listening to a priest tell a hundred people or so how they should feel about abortion or politics.

Unfortunately for the congregation and the advancement of peace and understanding through Christ, this priest focused on condemning those who make poor choices, such as abortion. Well, that and contradicting himself.

One of the day’s teachings included the following:

“…we should not be passing judgments on others, for this is the Lord’s right. Rather, we should joyfully await his return, when all shall be brought to light.”

Sometimes I’m a little slow, but the Bible led me to believe that there’s only one God. Google’s helped me understand that there’s billions of people on this earth so, if the relatively small St. Joe congregation judges those who abort, doesn’t that mean that more than 100 people in tiny little Ft. Collins are playing God?

Good Old Catholic Spanking

My dad was raised Catholic. He’s got some great stories about naked swimming and nun brutality. While I can’t speak to his experiences, heavy-handed Catholics continue whacking from the pews.

The woman in front of me had three kids. The husband immediately left with the little one. The poor thing was terribly sick but I would have preferred her fever and hacking cough to time with mom who, between praying and singing, occupied her time by whacking her sons on the head, pinching their arms, yanking their wrists, flicking them in the middle of the cranium with her thumb and pointer finger and threatening spankings.

Doesn’t Catholicism sound fun?

The Punisher didn’t smile, but neither did anyone else. I saw a lot of kids and a lot of young parents — good honest Catholics using the ‘ol rhythm method, holding tight to their anti-abortion stance — but I didn’t see many smiles and I certainly didn’t feel like I was part of a community. In fact, not one person returning from communion reception looked happy or even content even. Either something’s askew in the church or Christ tastes like garbage.

Not that they’d want me, but I’m passing on Catholicism.

NOTE: Once again I blew it with the pics. I took plenty, but I’m out-of-town and forgot the adapter. I’ll add them when I return.

Suck Me in and Spit Me Out

January 24, 2011

Grand Avenue Baptist Church, Hot Springs, Ark.

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Parking Lot Sign: “You are now entering your mission field.”

Chosen because…”You’re in Baptist country honey.”

For the majority of my eight-hour drive from Tennessee to Arkansas, I fantasize about this church experience. Small Baptist church in a field of sunshine. Large black women in robes singing in the choir. As the only white person, I stick out and after service, the women embrace me, invite me to a picnic. The pastor’s wife asks me to stay at their house for undetermined amount of time. I ask them about racism, get it on film documentary style. I’ve seen too many movies.

Woke up early. Asked white desk clerk how to get to the church. Said he didn’t have a phonebook (?!). I should ask the black bellhop. Awkward, did it anyway. Old white maid gave me directions.

“Is this OK to wear to a Baptist church?” Concerned about jeans and tennis shoes.

“Honey, as long as your dressed I don’t think they’ll give a damn.”

Suck Me In

Church is in large part about community and I loved this community. Over perfumed women walk to my pew, squeeze my shoulders, cup my hands, talk to me in those darling southern accents. Swoon.

No one looks at my shoes but then again, the man next to me has a Band-Aid in the middle of his forehead. I’m second tier entertainment.

First up, a baptism. Dressed in white, the pastor ascends to a spotlighted platform six feet above the choir and dunks a teenager. Creepy. Too much power. The pastor magically disrobes, descends, sits with kids on the stairs like Mr. Rogers and says, “Committing yourself to Christ means you’re willing to do something just a little bit weird.”

Asks those needing prayer to raise their hand. I want to raise both hands and legs, but I’m writing. Pastor invites people to pray at his feet. Men join him and they cry. Heaving shoulders. I cannot stand seeing grown men cry, especially if I’m the source of the pain. I want to hold them but they’re burly and I know I can’t assuage their pain so I cry.

Emotional pain manifests itself physically. When I start to cry, my left calf cramps. I lean down to rub it and smash my forehead on the pew back in front of me. This gets some attention. I turn red.

Spit Me Out

Then the sermon: “The Invisible War, Spiritual Warfare.”

The pastor talks about using prayer as a weapon against evil we can’t see — devils, warlocks, etc. The next eight weeks are devoted to this topic. Not only does he use the Bible and prayer as a weapon and religion as warfare, as he speaks his face changes, it’s almost demonic and every time he wants the congregation to “mm hm,” “amen” or laugh, he cups a hand to his ear.

One of the men in my pew sees me taking notes and gives me “The Invisible War: What Every Believer Needs to Know about Satan, Demons, and Spiritual Warfare” by Chip Ingram.

“Here, you can take your notes in here. There’s plenty of room for note taking.”

Though I’m a heathen, I respect my elders. I take it so as not to hurt his feelings.

Take Away

I’ll go to a Southern Baptist bakeoff or chili cook off for community but faith by fear is not cool.

If the pastor wants views faith as war against the spiritual world fine. That’s his opinion. I can accept that. But would he accept mine? Unlikely.

When the Holy Sprit first arrived, onlookers were a bit confused, mistaking those who understood the Holy Spirit for unwieldy alcoholics. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is responsible for the horrifying, cult-like activity we refer to as “speaking in tongues.”

Renee and girls speaking in tongues


I cannot believe people continue this insane display especially because the Holy Spirit isn’t a mental illness, it’s inner peace.

According to the Acts: “…when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power.”

Power. Not insanity. The Holy Spirit is equal parts id, ego and super-ego. It’s balance and when we are balanced, we have the power to effectively govern our lives.

Aside from the tongue loonies, the individuals in the Bible that have the Holy Spirit are calm and unwavering in their dedication to sharing the Lord’s message. Conceptually, the Holy Spirit is the same as a harmonious id, ego and super-ego. Those who can pull it off are content with themselves and satisfied with whatever they deem to be their purpose.

But, other than emoting a metaphor from a pew, how does one find that sense of calm?

Stopping Point: More Acts

Stand in an elevator facing the people, not the door. Be middle class, refuse an education. Stare. Be honest. Don’t mow your lawn. End a conversation because it’s boring. Loaf. Say what you mean. Wear flip-flops to meetings. Follow your dreams. Deviate.

Last week I spent about 30 minutes staring at a German schizophrenic. He was sitting across from me on a train to the Dusseldorf Airport. Everyone else avoided him, presumably because they understood his shouts and murmurs, which must have been offensive as everyone moved away from him immediately.

He asked me if I spoke English. I pretended I didn’t giving both of us the freedom to gawk. He smelled, as homeless people tend to do, but as I’ve said before, I have this smelling thing. Good or bad, it’s an unappreciated sense. We’re taught not to stare at people particularly people who are down on their luck, those we’re taught to ignore. But because I was in a foreign country and incapable of understanding this fascinating man, I was uninhibited by the social norms that would have turned me from him at home.

I’m catching up on my Bible reading, just whizzed through the Book of Hosea and the Book of Jonah. Hosea is a softie who does everything God tells him to do including staying with a cheating wife, and Jonah does what he pleases but eventually goes back to God. Why do they do this? Because they’re supposed to. They’re told to go back to God. It’s the thing to do. It relieves guilt, consummates loyalty. It’s the norm.

So anyone who adheres to norms gets a pass but who creates those norms and why do we follow?

I don’t know who creates them (sociologist please), but we follow them because the repercussions for breaking social norms are difficult to endure. In some cases, the pressure expounded on these social outliers is so great it leads to suicide.

Unfortunately norms are homogenizing, they keep us from entertaining what we want to do and encourage us to criticize those who do differently.

I’m young(ish) so I’m supposed to network. I hate it. Listening to uninteresting, self-righteous professionals talk about their accomplishments is torturous. All I ever want to say is, “You’re uninteresting and I hope I never spend one more second with you even if you are one of the most ‘successful’ young professionals in the region.” But that’s rude. So I don’t network. I keep my mouth shut, fall in line.

Yesterday I watched “Meet the Press,” which always causes heartburn. Sen. Jim DeMint (R/Tea Party-S.C.) was asked how to right our country’s debt so we don’t have to raise the $1.4 TRILLION debt cap (shiver). Does he want to raise taxes? Cut spending? He said we can do both but refused to explain exactly how that might work. Due to time constraints, what have you, he got a pass.

We take this stuff in stride, take our grievances to the ballot box — what a joke — and accept these non-answers. I’d like to go live with a suggestion to waterboard politicians — a small incentive for details — but I don’t because of the kickback. The last time I said something moderately controversial in a blog titled “Please Just Shut the F%*& Up,” a narcissistic Midwestern mayor got himself in a tizzy, complicating my job for about a month. (If you’re interested in this piece, let me know. I’ll send you an email.) On this one, the personal repercussions were minimal, but because I cantered outside of the norm and spoke my mind rather than following the path of the “objective journalist,” I couldn’t access resources I needed. Really? Because of an opinion? Perhaps a new(ish) idea?

I give major props to columnists and individuals who put their opinions out there without any excuses. Since we’re so politically correct and hold so tightly to this idea of being normal, this is a rarity. We don’t like to rock the boat or confront the mighty social norms.

So, did Hosea and Jonah profess loyalty to God because it was easy? Is religion a norm? Do people do it because it’s easy, because they’re afraid of social repercussions? Before getting defensive, think about it. Do what I do. Tell people — without apologizing — that you don’t believe in God or go to Church. My guess is that the person will either pity you or try to save your soul. It’s uncomfortable. It’s not normal.

(Interesting side note: “Are Independent Thinkers Mentally Ill?”)

Stopping Point: The Book of Micah

*FYI, I’ll be publishing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I need to make up for last week’s absence.

I’m sure you all get sick of my voice so we’re incorporating some guest bloggers. We’re hoping for a few a month and we’re starting out with Laura Talley, creator of the blog Redheaded Skeptic. Laura started this blog after she ended her marriage to Baptist minister. Now she’s an Atheist. Her blog is fun and interesting and I would encourage you to check her out. Laura…

LT: Life is never a straight line. It seems we often go the hard way to get to our goals, if we ever make it there at all. Someone did the math on the Bible story of Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt into the Promised Land. They wandered in the desert for 40 years on an eight-mile line from point A to point B. That’s how I feel at times.

Five years ago today, I was a conservative Baptist youth minister’s wife finishing up my psychology degree and preparing for motherhood and a life of serving at churches alongside my husband. Today I am married to another man, I have a 4-year-old daughter, I am working on pre-requisites for medical school and I am an atheist. You never know where life is going to take you. I am in the last place I ever thought I would be.

To explain how I got here is like explaining how the Israelites wandered in the desert for so long. Full of twists and turns, and not all of it seems to make a lot of sense.

I married my now ex-husband at the age of 20. While we worked at a Baptist church, we also attended school. Bob (a pseudonym) attended his theology classes and we discussed them when he arrived home. Learning about the different theological theories sparked my curiosity and I began doing my own research. I became more moderate in my theology over time, and from moderate to liberal. By 2007, it was quite clear that I no longer belonged in a Baptist church.

When we graduated, we moved to a tiny town in the middle of nowhere with our infant daughter. The isolation from family and friends while caring for a new baby in a miserable marriage in a church where I felt I could not express my opinions led to a severe depression, but no one saw me fall and no one really cared as long as I still attended church and put on a spiritual face. No one, that is, except a friend of mine from college who had moved into general region to attend law school about an hour away from where we lived. When my marriage finally ripped apart, I stayed with the friend while my fundamentalist family showed no support.

Away from the conservative strangle, I delighted in attending a Presbyterian (PCUSA), and later Episcopalian (liberal) church. But I found that the questions I had while a Christian didn’t go away just because I liberated myself from an oppressive situation. I kept exploring and found that I no longer believed any of it anymore. A year after I left my ex-husband, I left the church entirely.

Happily ever after doesn’t usually come all at once. For me anyways, it’s coming in pieces, often more slowly than I would like. In 2009, I married Steve, the friend I stayed with after leaving my ex, and the friend who has stayed with me despite the enormous amount of baggage I brought to the relationship. He saved my life. We have struggled through school together, and he finally graduated from law school last spring. We moved from Fayetteville, Arkansas to the Little Rock area, where I will hopefully begin classes for medical school next spring. It’s not perfect, and it never will be, but it is getting better. It may not come all at once, but for me, this is happily ever after. Or, to carry the Israelite theme all the way through, this is the Promised Land. Now I just have to build my house. . .

Sympathy for the Devil

October 26, 2010

Here’s a christian favorite: “The Lord works in mysterious ways.”

He sure does. I dozed off during today’s reading. I blame Gog, a man with an interesting name and dull tale. When I woke up I thought, “What the hell am I going to write about today? All I’ve got is Gog.”

To stay awake during the rest of the reading, I turned on Pandora and wouldn’t you know, the first song was “Sympathy for the Devil” by the Rolling Stones. When I finished reading, I got an email from a reader about Stones’ front man Keith Richards quitting the Bible in 2008 because “it was boring.” Coincidence? I think not. God wanted me to find inspiration in the devil.

Before boring Gog, I read “The Valley of Dry Bones.” Anorexics existed during Biblical times (many people nearly fasted themselves to death in the name of the Lord) but this valley is full of bones, no flesh, no organs, no fuzzy faces. Bones.

God breathes life into these bones, thereby creating new humans. How, might I ask, does this exclude reincarnation as a possibility for Christians? What if God screwed up and breathed souls into animals or trees? I’d like to delve into this topic, but I’m brain dead and it’s almost Halloween so let’s get back to the devil.

All God has to do is breathe life into bones. The devil, on the other hand, has to personalize purgatory for every sinner. That, my friend, is quite a task. I am not bothered by the prospect of spending eternity in inferno. Extreme heat is not on my Top 100 List of Irritations. When I go to hell, the devil’s going to need to customize a chamber for me, Ivy Hughes, and it should include the following:

Old people eating liquids

Barking dogs

Morbidly obese people in motorized scooters

Snakes

Politicians (there’s some overlap here)

Glenn Beck and his stupid university

Bjork

Mark Zuckerberg

Raw chicken

Those are just a few samples from the list I’ve been compiling for about a year and that’s just me. My husband’s chamber would include wet socks, mismatched socks, Oprah and unsolicited contact with bodily fluids.

Imagine how many people are in and will go to hell. Imagine customizing purgatory for each and every one of them.

In “Sympathy for the Devil,” the Stones say the Devil “stole many a man’s soul and fate.” Imagine managing all of those stolen souls? The Devil only gets one holiday — Halloween — so make sure it’s a good one.

The Rolling Stones : Sympathy For The Devil (live) HQ

Stopping Point: The Book of Daniel

*We’re adding faces and opinions. Thursday our first guest blogger, Laura Talley, creator of the Redheaded Skeptic, will contribute to ThumpMe. If you’re interested in contributing or have suggestions for contributors/subjects, please leave a comment or contact me at ivy.hughes@gmail.com

Puff the Magic Prophet

October 20, 2010

Mescaline is: “An alkaloid drug, C11H17NO3, obtained from mescal buttons, which produces hallucinations. Also called peyote.” (Definition provided by Urban Dictionary contributor, Adict).

This hallucinogen is obtained from cacti and special beans. I don’t know if mescaline producing cacti grow in the Middle East, but I assure you beans belonging to the Fabacae family are a prevalent food source in Middle Eastern diets and, based on his extremely bizarre visions, I’m going to guess Prophet Ezekiel fancied this particular food group.

Ezekiel learns he’s a prophet after four creatures with human-ish forms appear before him. Each of these forms has four faces — a human face, lion face, bull face and eagle face — four wings, straight legs, hooves (like a bull) and four human hands under each wing. Wheels with eyes sit next to them and there’s additional detail about subsequent wheels and fire, but it’s too confusing for me to explain. Despite Ezekiel’s descriptive efforts, I cannot imagine how these things moved or what they looked like.

I’m reading a Bible with pictures, drawings really, sometimes they’re helpful, sometimes not. This is the one place where I could really use some imagery but for some reason, the creative team behind my edition of the Bible thought it more valuable to include a drawing of a man shaking his fist in the air than the quad-faced roller derby creatures.

So, I’ve had to improvise. This is a little amateurish, but this is what I picture.

Oh, the eye wheel.

I’ve heard it’s difficult to explain hallucinations. I suppose it’s like explaining dreams, which is why I’m going leave Ezekiel’s second vision of God to the imagination.

In all seriousness, I’ve always wondered how a person becomes a prophet and, more importantly, how people believe that person is a prophet. Prophets claim to have seen God in some form or another but plenty of people claim to have seen God. They see his image in toast, concrete and candy bars. Others claim God reveals himself through substance induced hallucinations. One guy founded an entire religion based on four golden plates allegedly bestowed upon him by God’s angels. Another man convinced 39 people to kill themselves because, after a near death experience, it became apparent to him that he was one of the two witnesses in the Book of Revelations.

Who gets to decide what is a hallucination; an idol; a dream; a message from God; or a joke? What, really, is the difference between someone who sees a four-faced, four-handed creature and someone who sees Jesus toast? Talking stuffed animals? Golden plates?

I find this all very confusing but make no mistake, prophets lead horrible lives. Forecasting death, cannibalism, fire and starvation is an intense, thankless job. Poor Jeremiah nearly lost his mind. Ezekiel, was much more matter of fact in his role as bearer of bad news. I don’t think he was insensitive, I just think he had a little something-something to get him through the night.

Make no mistake, if God ever reveals himself to me, forcing me into a life of prophesying, my food pyramid will consist entirely of mescaline…or beans.

Stopping Point: The Book of Ezekiel 25-48

I’m going to overlook the fact that this book is a compilation of C-grade poetry because it validates the notion that every great nation must fall, an end people hasten by refusing to pay attention.

God went hoarse warning the people about their greed, excess, corruption, etc. but they didn’t listen and bam, good by promise land, hello dust and thorns. I’m not a history buff so I can’t say what round of empire destruction we’re entering, but I know which country’s citizens aren’t paying any attention. It’s the same one that’s on deck for obliteration and, unfortunately, we’re living in it.

I had a rather church-like moment Sunday. You need a whole lot of patience to get into my favorite breakfast place on a Sunday so I headed to IHOP, a post church destination for many people in the greater Lansing area.

The last time I went to IHOP the décor was tan and brown, the waitresses were rude, wore orthopedic shoes and delivered meals sized for humans, not elephants. IHOP 2010 is like the dining hall of fat kids camp, flat screens on the walls, meals for $6.99 that include two eggs, four pieces of bacon, hash browns and bottomless pancakes and servers at the ready with two types of hot sauce and ketchup. The bottomless tank of coffee was already on the table as were the five different flavors of syrup. To make room for this mess, I had to take my Bible off the table and put it on my lap. My breakfast at IHOP was so excessive I couldn’t even read, which is a microcosm of what’s happening in this country. We’ve excessed ourselves to stupidity. (My version of spell check doesn’t recognize “excessed” though it’s fairly prevalent on the Internet. Evolution?)

I know history is cumbersome. Lots of dates, lots of names, lots of little details about metals and string and begetting clans but is it too much to ask people to pay attention to the present? Even just a little. I covered the Michigan Senate for about three years. In case you haven’t tuned into the news for oh, years, my state in a bit of a predicament. Something about high unemployment and aging industries… Anyway, it’s damn hard to watch politics that intimately and then watch how little the public reacts. Actually, reaction would be good. Generally, I don’t see anything.

I’m not suggesting violence, but unless “bloody uprising” becomes a new Wii game, I think the citizens of this country are going to keep their heads in the sand, coming up for air to yell racial slurs after tourist attacks; borrowing a popular “celebrity cause” for dinner party conversation and, occasionally voting for people they don’t like and issues they don’t care about.

Celebrities can get people off the couch. On Oct. 30, Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart are hosting joint marches at the Capitol, the Rally to Restore Sanity and the March to Keep Fear Alive. This is sure to be cute and I commend Colbert and Stewart for attempting to draw the public eye to the issues burying this country but the public eye is lazy, it rolls around IHOP on Sundays, lolling from a giant plate of pancakes to the sports ticker (or cartoons) on a big screen TV. The people in Jerusalem didn’t have big screen TVs, but they had wine and women and jewelry and once they developed lazy eyes, they lost everything.

Stopping Point: The Book of Ezekiel

(Note: I would like to relate at least one entry per Name Book  — ie. Mark, Daniel, John, etc. — to someone who shares that name. However, I’m short on a few. If you know a Ezekiel, Hosea, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah or Haggai I could talk to, please let me know. I’ll be flexible. If you’ve got an Oadie or Zeek, that will work).

If we walked among the prophets, there’s no way God would stand for such as thing as National Bullying Prevention Month, a lengthy, touchy-feely strike against bullying. On the other hand, God’s prophet Jeremiah would likely accept a position as National Bullying Prevention Month spokesman.

You see, at this point in the Bible, God was extremely upset with people for worshiping idols and ignoring him. As punishment, he vowed to slaughter them, smash them like jars full of wine, starve them and kill them with disease. His prophet, Jeremiah, the sweet, marrying kind, was devastated by God’s wrath and wept for the people, but was too afraid of God to go his own way. Because both were so extreme in their emotions, God appears to be a bully and Jeremiah the victim.

Unfortunately, we tend to focus on the extreme, which is why things like National Bullying Prevention Month exist.  Extreme instances of bullying are not a joke. These instances — 16-Year Old Muslim Beating; Four Teen Suicides in Ohio;  — are reprehensible and the people responsible for them should be severely punished. That being said, 21st Century America is overly sensitive.

There’s no reason to dedicate a month to something the everyone has experienced especially since those experiences are generally mild. If you’ve gone to elementary school or survived puberty, chances are you’ve been “bullied” or what we old fogies might refer to as “teased” and/or “made fun of.”

I have a fat face and when I was in fifth and sixth grade I was a tomboy and spent recess playing basketball with the boys. When I exercise, my round little ball face reddens. Unfortunately for me, side ponytails were the rage during my tomboy phase and after a particularly strenuous game, one of the boys told me the combination of my red round face and side ponytail reminded him of a cherry.

I’ve been made fun of for wearing a bolo tie and being a bookworm but my worst bulling moments occurred in junior. I was teased non-stop by a group of girls in junior high school. After I rounded out and switched social groups, they stopped teasing me.  One even asked if I wanted to be jumped into her gang. I’m not into teardrop tattoos so I declined.

I was never physically harmed like Ralphie in a “A Christmas Story.”

A Christmas Story – Bullying Clip

But, like Ralphie, I survived. We were kids. We got bullied. It happens.

Ralphie Loses It

If we’re going to start setting aside a months to recognize extreme situations, why not create a “National White Collar Criminal Roundup Month;” “National Political Accountability Month;” or “National Spend Less Than You Earn Month”?

Normalizing extreme situations is extremely dangerous. In between God’s threats and Jeremiah’s emotional breakdown, a reasonable outcome exists. But because the back-and-forth focuses on two extremes, it’s difficult to see the reasonable middle ground.

If we, as a society, could stop swinging between freaking out and not caring, we wouldn’t need things like National Bullying Prevention Month. We also wouldn’t cave to political wedge issues or overact to people who think differently than we do. I’m not one for ideals, but it would be great if we could just moderate. Everything in moderation.

This, of course, is coming from Little Mrs. All or Nothing. We’ve all got a little work to do.

Stopping Point: Book of Jeremiah, 31-52

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