For Collard Girls

For Collard Girls - With Tamika Jay & Laura James

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For Collard Girls who we were always told that God was a man until She finally spoke to them.

For Collard Girls is a journey, a conversation, and podcast, that shares the unique, bold and beautiful narrative of womyn of color who are in spaces in the church, in the community, and in the world. We are writers. Activists. Entrepreneurs. Religious Leaders.

We want our narratives as womyn of color to enrich and challenge all “faiths seeking understanding” in world that is grappling with truth, justice, and femininity.

Join us on the journey and conversation about God, justice, and the world of #ForCollardGirls

Listen to Season 2, #FaithBecomingOurOwn in the app today


Everything Falls Apart by Rev. William Gilligan

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Everything Falls Apart

By Rev. William Gilligan

Day 1

I am a pastor just North of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I love it. We have four seasons, an amazing city, and the church I serve is filled with great people who truly believe in Jesus. I wake up each day and feel close to Jesus; it is one of the times in my life where I feel truly close to Jesus and that I am doing what he called me to do.

One day, I was on my way to a church meeting and hit a deer. A week after that I fell skiing and obtained a concussion, then shortly after that both my kids came down with a cold. How could so much be going wrong? I thought I was right where Jesus wanted me. Shouldn’t life be easy? Shouldn’t things constantly go my way? I mean, after all, I was exactly where Jesus wanted me to be.

Maybe this is the kind of thing you have experienced. Where it feels like life is harder than it should be. Where it feels like everything that could go wrong is going wrong, even when it shouldn’t be going wrong. Maybe it is unemployment, illness, or something else. So often we find pain and agony in the midst of everything else going right.

In Matthew 14, all of Jesus’ followers climbed into a boat and set off to the other side of the lake. Jesus wasn’t there but said he would join them later, so they set out on their way. By nightfall they were a long way out, when Jesus came walking on the water. Peter decided to walk on the water with Jesus and was successful until he saw the waves. The waves were all around him and everything was going wrong. Peter started to sink.

How could Peter possibly sink when he was so close to Jesus? How could he possibly doubt when he was actually walking on the water? I still haven’t found the answer to why so much goes wrong, but what I have found is that even when we are sinking, and everything around us is going wrong, Jesus is still near us. We know that things will go wrong; we know that the world around us is a mess; and we also know that Jesus is right next to us, with us, in the mess.

Finish reading this 5 day devotional in the app. Find it on the “When Senseless Violence Comes” shelf.


Queer Christian Grief by Laura Jean Truman

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Queer Christian Grief

By Laura Jean Truman

I sat and cried at the East Atlanta rainbow stairway today.

It had been a rushed kind of day. The latest Desiring God article RE: “The Harvest in the Gay Community” (y’all, we are not parts that you harvest like aliens coming for our kidneys) put me in a grumpy, anxious mood. And I was just a little bit behind, a little bit late, and a little bit rushed when I took the shortcut down the side street and ended up at the rainbow stairs off Memorial Drive.

It’s a little brand-new staircase, chirping #PrideMonth and winding its way up from yellow to pink to blue, brilliant against the surrounding grey cement. It was so joyful.

I pulled over and cried.

It was a full gasping torrent from my gut that I had no idea was waiting for me. I got out of the car and sat on the yellow bottom step and touched the chipping paint, and cried from my stomach on the rainbow stairs by the cemetery.

It hit me, all over my body, that there is a well of queer Christian grief that is always full, always there behind the Church’s crisp white walls.

On the rainbow steps, I cried for all my Christian LGBTQ friends who were hurt so deeply that they will never go to church again.

I cried for all my gay friends who still talk about Jesus wistfully, like a high school sweetheart that they will never see again.

I cried for lesbians who showed up eagerly to Bible studies, who endured whispers, side-eyes, and finally, a coffee date with the leader to talk about their “lifestyle.”

I cried for gay kids who thought that they were loved unconditionally by their Christian friends, but discovered that they are youth group projects, targeted for “preaching the Gospel”—a gospel of Straightness.

I cried for the trans women who have been called abominations.

I cried for the bisexual men who have been called whores.

I cried for LGBTQ people who didn’t grow up in the Church and discovered Jesus like spring after a long winter—who then spent months of frustration on church websites, hunting for policy clarity, then weeks on the phone with pastors. And who, after months of driving for hours every Sunday to the nearest affirming church five towns over, wearily gave up.

I cried for every queer boy who has wept behind their steering wheel after leaving a lunch conversation with someone he used to think was safe.

I cried for all the trans college kids who out of deep love for Jesus faithfully showed up to Christian therapy and their accountability partner because they believed that they could root out this sin like they rooted out gossip, greed, envy, and selfishness. I cried because they can’t fix what isn’t broken, and I cried because in trying, they are breaking their own soul.

I cried for every closeted gay pastor who is trying to shame himself into being sexually attracted to his wife.

I cried for every gay worship leader who is so scared that Jesus is as disgusted by him as he is.

I cried for the beautiful, profound, wise, queer women who took their beauty out into the world after the Church discarded them, who are now thriving, bent but not broken—leaving a Church that is broken without them.

I cried for the Church. Because every day that she keeps this community out, she loses a piece of her soul.

Finish reading this 3 day devotional in the app. Find it on the “LGBTQ+ Spirituality” shelf.


Breaking Alabaster by Kristin Miller

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Breaking Alabaster

By Kristin Miller

A Costly Love

Main Verse: While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” – Mark 14:3-9 (NIV)

When Mary of Bethany broke her alabaster jar and anointed the head and feet of Jesus with her costly perfume, the disciples were indignant at her waste. Such valuable commodities were now lost, they groaned. These treasures should have been sold and the money given to the poor, they grumbled. Over a year’s wages would have gone a long way, they complained.

And they rebuked her. They rebuked her harshly for an act of love they deemed too costly. Waste! they cried.

Jesus in turn rebuked His disciples and commended Mary. He will always commend love, especially, I think, when it is costly.

Like the day she sat at Jesus’ feet, drinking in His every word, it seems that Mary had again chosen what was better (Luke 10:38-42). In her Master’s estimation, just as she had chosen the best use of her time, she had now chosen the best use of her treasures.

In total approval of her act that night, Mark 14:9 records that Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the whole world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”

Mary’s story is well known and has been held in high regard among believers for centuries. But Jesus said wherever the gospel is preached what she did will also be told. This gave me pause as I read it this week as I don’t recall hearing the anointing at Bethany worked in to any evangelistic messages I’ve heard of late. Or, I should say, worked into any evangelistic messages I’ve heard. Ever.

As I pondered these things, I wondered if I was thinking too literally. In other words, it’s not that the actual story of Mary’s anointing of Jesus would be told with the preaching of the gospel, but that the anointing at Bethany is the gospel. Or, that is, a picture of the gospel. Consider: Mary’s alabaster jar was broken and its precious contents poured out. So too Jesus’ body was broken, His precious blood poured out. She did it for love. So did He.

The accusation of waste comes now into shocking clarity. No wonder He rebuked them. Well intentioned though they might have been, they had no idea what they were suggesting for they had no idea that Mary through her act that night was preaching His gospel. A gospel of great cost. A gospel of great sacrifice. A gospel of great love.

Forgetting herself, Mary broke her alabaster jar, symbolically showing that very soon the Master would do likewise. Because of His great love, Jesus’ death was the breaking of an alabaster box for us. Shouldn’t our lives be the same for Him?

Thank you, Mary, for not only showing us the best use of our time and the best use of our treasures, but for forgetting yourself and showing us the gospel.

Finish reading this 2 day devotional in the app. Find it on the “Who Was Jesus Tho” shelf.






For All The Saints by Dominique Atchison

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For All The Saints

By Dominique Atchison

Day One

“For all the saints who from their labors rest,

who Thee by faith before the world confessed…”

-William Walsham How

This devotional is dedicated to all of the saints who have gone before us. Those who fought for justice and those whose legacy inspires us to fight on. During this All-Saints Day, we remember the saints, those who came before us in the faith. We also remember those who inspire our faith and our resolve to seek justice.

For all of my personal saints, the women of unwavering faith. For the grandmothers and church mothers. For Lueana, Gertrude, Nola and Bessie. For Helen and Edith. For Ms. Davis, Ms. Martin, Dr. Goodson, Minister Merryweather, Dr. Miller and all of the unnamed and unknown. You may not know these names, but if you know me, you know their influence. I proudly live in their legacy.

Take a moment to remember those whose influence makes you who you are. Remember those on whose shoulders you stand. Remember those who lived in daring ways, who gave you courage to stand strong in the face of injustice.

Today, we give thanks for all the saints.

Finish reading this 3 day devotional in the app. Find it on the “Holiday Meditations” shelf.






Alter Guild

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Podcasts We Love

Heave you heard of Alter Guild? It’s a podcast and a collective. Maybe you’re at a loss for meaningful, life-giving words these days. Not information, arguments or agendas but wonder and hope that meet you in your curious and progressive faith. The Alter Guild podcast introduces you to four pastors who wander through stories and scripture, their perspectives ever-altered for a new generation of being the church.

Laura Jean Truman

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Writing From The In/Between

#FeaturedAuthors

Featured Author

Meet Laura Jean Truman. She is a queer writer, preacher, and former chaplain living in Atlanta, GA. Originally from New England, she has a BA in Philosophy from the University of New Hampshire and an MDiv from Emory University: Candler School of Theology, with emphases in Hebrew Bible, monasticism, mysticism, and existentialism. She supports her itinerant chaplaining and writing by slinging drinks at a local historic bar in downtown Atlanta.

You can read two of her devotionals in the app: “Evil With Its Mask Off: This Kind Only Comes Out By Prayer and Fasting” and “Same-Sex Attraction, Celibacy, and Jackie Hill Perry.

Timothy Arliss O'Brian

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Composer. Author. Visual Artist.

#FeaturedAuthors

Featured Author

Meet Timothy O’Brien. He is an interdisciplinary artist specializing in music composition, writing, and visual arts. He started life in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and eventually made his way to the Portland, Oregon. Timothy has self-published multiple literary works, and premiered music and visual art throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Timothy has worked with Cascadia Composers, Sound of Late, Oregon Society of Artists, and the Concordia University Literary Arts Journal.

Timothy is currently working on self-publishing more literature and writing/recording passionate new music.

"My goal is to connect people to accessible new art, literature, and music that showcases virtuosic abilities without losing touch of realistic emotions and virtue. I want to produce writing that connects the reader to themselves in a way that promotes growth. I would also like to create visual art demanding of the senses that thrusts people into a new world and a new perspective." Read two of his devotionals in the app:

“Cultivating Inner Strength” and “Keeping Hope.”

Gracia Rich

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Women In The Bible

#FeaturedAuthors

Featured Author

Meet Gracia Rich a Civil Litigation and Criminal Defense Paralegal for The Weaver Law Firm. She is a divorced, mother of four who resides in Marion, South Carolina. 

She is the founder of the Broken Dolls Initiative, an organization whose goal is to provide encourage and empower women to find their best selves and to assure them that there is life in second chances. “I have always had a passion for women throughout my life and I know that it is my God-given purpose to share my story with them so that they will understand that perfect does not equal power, it’s the potential that makes the possibilities.

You can find two of Gracia’s devotionals in the app. Just search for:

Jael: Equipped for Purpose

Abigail, Rahab & Deborah: Big Faith

We Belong: A Devotional Series For Those In the Borderlands

The Only One (Day 1 of 10)

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Anayelsi Sanchez

#BaggageClaim

“But now even more the report about him went abroad, and great crowds gathered to hear him and to be healed of their infirmities. 16 But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray.” - Luke 5:15-16 (ESV)

“Be careful with me, do you know what you doin’? Whose feelings that you hurtin’ and bruisin’? You gon’ gain the whole world but is it worth the girl that you’re losin’? Be careful with me” - Cardi B

I always feel a sense of loss when I sell one of my paintings. Each piece takes hours to create and is often a labor of love and pain - a chance to expel what is happening inside me onto canvas. There is one piece in particular that I still struggling with the loss of. She is called “Brown Girl Worshipping” and I sold her to a White woman that had subjected me to several racial microaggressions over the course of an evening. I was the artist being showcased in a small bookstore and she was a friend of the owner. Friendly and complimentary, she still misnamed me several times and repeatedly tried to practice her Spanish on me despite me telling her I am no longer fluent. I found her exhausting and was especially grieved to hand her “Brown Girl Worshipping” - a piece about the constant struggle to practice my faith in churches where I am continuously othered. The sad irony in her loving and buying this painting is not lost on me. I wanted to say, “No, you can’t have her. You don’t deserve her.” but I needed the money and I didn’t want to make things awkward. So I said goodbye to the painting. I think about her and the woman that purchased her often. I find myself hoping she passes it everyday and is slowly convicted.

How often do those of us on the margins find ourselves in this place? We are alone even in the presence of others. We make allowances that hurt us for the sake of others comfort? We give up pieces of ourselves that we desperately want to hold onto.

I wish I had told that woman No. I wish I had said Yes but… “You need to understand what this painting represents. When you look at it, I need you to know you are complicit. Do you still want her?”

Learning to navigate spaces where our very skin color, the language we speak, and the people we come from subjects us to these inevitable wounds is a daily practice in survival and boundary-setting. We can not always exit those spaces. By virtue of choice or circumstance, we end up there and it becomes about being able to breath, grow, and flourish despite the limitations of that space.

When we feel like we are alone, isolated by our identity, we must find ways to say,

“No”
“Yes”
“I need you to understand… I need you to know…”

Being the only one like us means taking control to ensure the spaces we are a part of, for as long as we need or want to be there, are as safe as possible. It is about being clear about what we are and are not willing to accept into our life.

Learn from Jesus, a man alone in his divinity. Jesus knew how to prioritize his needs, sometimes over those of others, and he knew when to lean into a community and when to step away.

Creator, help me to take courage from the example of Jesus. Remind me daily that, though I may be alone or isolated in my identities, like Christ, I have the authority to name my boundaries and to retreat when needed. Protect me from the toxicity of racism and white supremacy. Thank you for reminding me that I have the fortitude to break free - even in the midst of these spaces. Amen.


Read days 2 through 10 in the app

So, We Launched. Now What?

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WHAT'S NEXT?

We are still adding features to the app. In the coming days and weeks you'll be able to spruce up your personal profile, search and add friends, and chat in both private and group chat areas. It will only get better from there because as we grow we want to continue to offer you the best in inclusive devotionals, your favorite bibles, books, podcasts videos and more.

INTERNATIONAL DROP DATE

Launching in the US means we are one step closer to launching world wide. We've heard from many of you in Canada and the UK and we love knowing that you're in this with us. Check back soon to find out when we'll be releasing to our international homies or add your email to the list and we'll contact you directly. 

#ShutTheHellUp: Day Nine

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

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(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


(Dis)Belief. Psalm 27:3

“Though an army besiege me, 
my heart will not fear; 
though war break out against me, 
even then I will be confident.”

Where there is fear, love cannot be present.
Where there is love, fear cannot be present.
The two cannot hold the same space.

Your liberty must make the choice.

Shall I respond with fear or love?

When you feel scared to stand up against hate, you tell fear, “Shut the hell up!
When you feel scared to stand up for truth, you tell fear, “Shut the hell up!
When you feel scared to express Love through action, you tell fear, “Shut the hell up!

This is the ultimate war within. Let Love lead this battle, and no army wins against you. For the ultimate power is Love, even for your enemies.

Being confident in this Love, addressed against your enemy, weakens the fear residing in them.

The enemy is then shown to grow in Love within. The enemy will learn the ability to tell their fear, “Shut the hell up!

But, alas, remember, “Love IS PATIENT, Love IS KIND…” Therefore, do not put a timetable on your enemy for change.

Lead by example; allow your actions to speak for you. The more you Love, the more they in turn will begin their journey from fear to Love.

God is love. Therefore, wherever we write “love” let it be written, “Love.”

Love always, always Love.

xoxo,
Ranjeeta Singh


About The Author

One of today’s featured contributors is Ranjeeta Singh. Her bio is:
Whole Body Health/Life Coach
Mind, body, and soul
Race — human
Religion — Love
Living in my truth. I love, Love.
God is Love.

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

#ShutTheHellUp: Day Eight

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

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(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


Unsettled. Mark 1:2–3.

Mark’s Gospel starts with a bang. Its words pierce the first-century skies of Palestine. We rarely read — or hear — it that way, however. It’s been shut up for so long, hidden beneath layers of pious sentimentality, sanitized by what my friend and #ShutTheHellUp co-conspirator Tuhina Verma Raschecalls “purityranny.”

 

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From the Saint John’s Bible (1998), the first handwritten Bible since the Middle Ages.

Mark is a story that refuses to back down. The shortest, oldest, and arguably most visceral of all the biblical narratives of Jesus, Mark says #ShutTheHellUp in many ways throughout its sixteen chapters — to the demons that plague God’s people; to the disciples who never seem to get it; to the powers and principalities who think they have a good handle on this uppity rabbi from Nazareth.

And to be honest, the Gospel of Mark doesn’t give a damn if we’re unsettled or not.

It’s sometimes difficult to get a good handle on biblical stories when we don’t encounter them in the way they were meant to be experienced. Our ancestors in the faith — when many of the stories of the Second Testament were first recorded — lived and breathed and worked and loved and died in a primarily oral culture.

And so when we read them today, often silently, alone, outside of community, from a book, we often miss the point entirely.

The former executive director of the Network of Biblical Storytellers, International, Dennis Dewey, says that when we tell Bible stories, our job is not to “bring the Bible to life.” Since, as people of the Book, we’re supposed to already believe in a living Word —

Our job is not to kill it.

I invite you to hear the story in this way, getting out of the way of its life-giving identity, learned by heart. No tricks, no gimmicks. This isn’t a midrash, either. Biblical storytellers aren’t making this up. These words come from our original script of scripture, passed down through the generations.

 

We’re so used to hearing these verses that we may miss the utter offensiveness of the first fourteen words.

It’s unsettling, this stunning proclamation to begin Mark’s Gospel.

The beginning…

This echo of Genesis is intentional. This is a creation story, y’all. The beginning of this story, though, doesn’t herald the beginning of the cosmos, but the beginning of a new world order. Everything is about to change.

…of the good news…

This word is also translated as “gospel,” and in today’s 21st-century we forget to divorce it from our overly Christian context. When Mark’s Gospel first appeared on the scene, the gospel was one thing, and one thing only: Pax Romana. It was the “peace through strength” propaganda of the Roman Empire. According to one contemporary historian, Rome “made a wilderness and called it peace.”

Caesar Augustus, the Roman emperor at the time of Jesus, was specifically called the “son of god,” the great “savior” of the whole earth, bringing “peace” to Rome. The announcement of this was heralded as “good news.”∞

Mark’s Gospel takes these words and unapologetically, unabashedly, unsettlingly turns them on their head.

 

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Roman currency at the time of Augustus — the back of the coin names his God-like heritage, calling him “Divine Julius”

When Rome, in all its military might, conquered a people, whom they called barbarians (the word “barbarian” comes from ancient Greek, and simply means, “not Greek”), they would often erect a monument to honor it. This death and destruction was good news to those who lived under Rome! And they better believe it, and celebrate it, and be grateful for it, and fucking pledge allegiance to it — or else. (Sound familiar?)

…of Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God.

According to Mark’s stunning opener, Jesus’ title (not his last name) is Christ. In other words, Jesus is Lord — the most ancient of all Christian proclamations. And in first-century Rome, that meant something subversive, something punishable by death — Caesar was not Lord.

 

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These aren’t just nice adjectives for a carpenter’s son. These are radical, inappropriate words. To use the very words reserved for Caesar in order to describe Jesus was nothing less than treason.

The Gospel of Mark — truly, a good amount of the biblical narrative itself — unsettles the Powers That Be. This is intentional. And it’s dangerous.

It’s unsettling when the powerful and mighty hear this. Fifteen chapters after Mark’s provocative beginning, they string Jesus up on a tree, executing him for the whole world to see.

And it’s not just unsettling way back then.

We see the effects today when the powerful and mighty are unsettled: Poor people are blamed for their poverty. Trans people are murdered for their courage. Unarmed black people are shot for their insolence. Women are silenced for their honesty. People of color are demonized for their identity. People working for justice are shamed for their audacity.

And. That isn’t the end of the story.

The Gospel of Mark opens with a bang. Everything is about to change. A new world order is on the horizon. Now only if we could #ShutTheHellUp and listen for it.

§

∞ For a deep dive on this subject of Rome during the time of Jesus, read Kurt Willems’ thoroughly researched article.


About The Author

Today’s featured contributor is Tamika Jancewicz — a mother, womanist, and partner — is a spiritual empath and advocate for social justice and womyn empowerment. She is currently studying to obtain her MDiv at United Lutheran Seminary, while she spends her last two years as Vicar of Christ Lutheran Church in DC. She is a womanist theologian, who believes in the sacredness of the stories we choose to share. And she especially believes in the beautiful transformative power of biblical storytelling.

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

#ShutTheHellUp: Day Seven

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

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(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


(En)Fleshed. Ezekiel 36:25–26.

Water” inspired by Ezekiel 36:25–26.

(en)Fleshed: give bodily form to; make real or concrete.

To make real. Real clean. Concrete in God’s cleanliness.

Clean from our idols. In our bodily form.

Have you ever heard of the expression “Cleanliness is next to Godliness”? I have. I’m not sure if my mom used to say it or not, but it was certainly meant to be an “encouragement” to keep yourself clean.

God don’t like dirty people, I guess…

Often when Xians are talking about cleanliness, it is associated with a sort of purity. To be made clean is to be a sinful being no longer. To be made clean is to be a good Xian that doesn’t do bad things.

God don’t like bad, sinful people, I guess…

These are all things I’ve grown up believing. It’s the silencing, damning shame that guilts you into believing that God will only accept you if you strive for this perfection in Christ. Being human is acceptable if you deny yourself a real bodily existence. Be clean. Individually clean. And in return, you get this individual blessing that is only for you; and maybe your neighbor can get on it if she does what you’re doing, so you should tell them.

So no wonder, then, when we find ourselves in times such as these, it’s so damn hard to see God in the midst of it all. No wonder when an oppressed, marginalized people scream at the top of their lungs,”Shit ain’t right,” those who hold power speak even louder to silence them because “what about individual accountability?” “What about being pure?” “What about your sins?” “If you knew Christ…” “If you would just do better…” “If you could just stop being…”

And to those who suppress the real and present oppressive suffering of others, I say Shut. The. Hell. Up. All of it.

You are not listening enough. Hear the words of the prophets before, and those who are here and now. Hear God’s promise to a deported, suffering, and exiled people pushed out and silenced by a violent and oppressive government. A promise of wholeness. A promise of restoration. A promise of holiness in real flesh. And a promise of transformation. Not individually, but in community.

I will make you clean from your uncleanliness and from all your idols I will clean you.

And this cleanliness.

It will change your heart to flesh. Real. Concrete. Beating flesh. To feel. To really really feel.

And how can we feel if we don’t acknowledge what is happening? How can this real, concrete, bodily existence indeed be transformed if we can’t seem to hear the pain of our neighbor as God so lovingly does?

So please stop. Listen. Be made clean. Let your heart beat in its full whole, messy, dirty, bloody state. Real. Concrete. In our communal bodily form.


About The Author

Today’s featured contributor is Tamika Jancewicz — a mother, womanist, and partner — is a spiritual empath and advocate for social justice and womyn empowerment. She is currently studying to obtain her MDiv at United Lutheran Seminary, while she spends her last two years as Vicar of Christ Lutheran Church in DC. She is a womanist theologian, who believes in the sacredness of the stories we choose to share. And she especially believes in the beautiful transformative power of biblical storytelling.

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

#ShutTheHellUp: Day Six

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

shutthehellup.png

(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


For the Love of God. Jeremiah 1:7.

The Lord responded,
 “Don’t say, ‘I’m only a child.’
 Where I send you, you must go;
 what I tell you, you must say.


About The Author

 

Matthew David MorrisWriter | Musician | Postulant to Holy Orders in TEC | Student @iliffontheroad | Worship @SaintDavidPDX | Married @slamteacher | Queer | Mestizo

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

#ShutTheHellUp: Day Five

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

shutthehellup.png

(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


Shitstorm. Hosea 6:1.

Given the recent decision by the U.S. government to relocate the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, Tuhina Verma Rasche and I sat down to talk about it and today’s word, shitstorm, for #ShutTheHellUp.

Thanks to everyone who has been following this Advent digital discipline. We love you, and we couldn’t do this without you.

Peace, salām, shalom.


About The Author

Jason Chesnut| jesus-follower | anti-racist | feminist | aspiring theologian | ordained pastor (not online) | founded @ANKOSfilms | restless creative | #BlackLivesMatter

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

#ShutTheHellUp: Day Four

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

shutthehellup.png

(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


Contempt. Psalm 79:4.

We are objects of contempt to our neighbors, of scorn and derision around us. — Psalm 79:4

Contempt.

I am no stranger to contempt. In fact, my earliest memory of it takes me back to a cool and breezy day (as cool as south-central Texas can be) sometime in early 1998. I was seven. My mother needed to run into the gas station (I believe it was a Diamond Shamrock) on East Southcross Boulevard, but I didn’t want to get out of the car. She let me stay, promised not to be long, and hopped out to finish a quick errand. You could do that then without the fears so many parents have today. As I relaxed in the seat, a beaten-down four-door rolled up to the right of me.

My eyes were met by a man with his arm in a sling behind the steering wheel and a woman resting on her hip in the passenger seat. I smiled, as was customary, to signal that I had manners. The man replied, “Hey you.” I don’t think I had expected verbal communication because hello, STRANGER DANGER! I didn’t respond, but I looked at him confusingly.

As cool as the day, he said, “I hate your kind.”

The woman in the car slapped his uninjured arm and screamed, “Shut the hell up! She’s just a kid!”

I carry that memory with me every day; it is not something I can forget. Some experiences are etched into our minds by the impacts they have even before we know what those effects will be. There is no shortage of people who tell us that what a stranger thinks about us shouldn’t matter, and I agree — and yet I can recall multiple instances of scorn from people whose names I never knew.

Scorn.

My senior year of undergrad, I got pregnant. I was working multiple jobs, taking a full course load, and preparing to student teach in the fall. Even with the 50+ hour work weeks, I qualified for Medicaid and SNAP benefits. I was embarrassed.

The way so many people spoke about Americans who received SNAP or TANF or some other type of social welfare made me hate that I qualified for it. I wasn’t any of the terrible things people called recipients of these services, and neither were they. I’d never bought into the “Welfare Queen,” “they’re all just lazy,” “they need to pay taxes” narratives to begin with, but now I was hypersensitive and aware of it, especially from “good” people in my life who regurgitated such callous words.

Here I was, busting my ass — day in and day out — to make it out of poverty and the hole that I was born into, and people who supposedly loved me were so open about their disdain for Americans who needed assistance. I was paying taxes. I was working. I was excelling in school. I was doing all of the things they said SNAP recipients don’t do. I wasn’t the exception either. They didn’t need to know that I was one of those Americans in order to change their views. If they had ever taken a minute to shut the hell up and reflect on the rotten words spewing from their mouths and tips of their fingers, maybe they would’ve realized how hurtful their commentary was to other people.

The 79th Psalm speaks to the willful destruction of Jerusalem and God’s people at the hands of unbelievers. It reads like a prayer or petition for leniency, reconciliation, and relief. It is a cry from people experiencing decimation and relentless oppression from their fellow human beings. I’d like, though, for us to juxtapose that context with what marginalized people face at the hands of dominant groups committed to maintaining the status quo.

It’s past time for those of us — with whatever privilege we have — to be critical of our internal contempt and scorn for human beings over whom we might wield power.

No, you might not own a white hood or attend rallies, but your constant microaggressions and dismissal of non-white people’s words & experiences has to be addressed.

You might not call for the deaths of transgender people, but your commitment to disregarding their pronouns and reinforcing a binary society as the “right” way has to be addressed.

You might not picket against marriage equality, but your need to dehumanize LGBTQ people via “love the sinner hate the sin” rhetoric and the like has to be addressed.

You might not say that women are worth less than men, but your perception that women are liars or were born to serve men & birth children has to be addressed.

You might not contribute directly to stagnant wages or people’s generational poverty, but your inaccurate discourse on impoverished people’s “laziness” and self-inflicted struggle has to be addressed.

Contempt and scorn for others are seeds planted within us by anybody — stranger, family, or friend. Whether we choose to let them grow into weeds that strangle us and squeeze out our light is a matter of free will.

 

As we reflect on what matters this season, I pray that each of us challenges ourselves to confront the internal hell of contempt and scorn for others that we’ve comfortably conflated all these years with righteousness.

Peace to you.


About The Author

We welcome Chawanna Chambers (Twitter: @DrChaeEd) as our #ShutTheHellUp voice on this fourth day of Advent. She is mother to two and wife to one — incredible beings who teach her daily that constant self-reflection is essential to growth. When she’s not trying to change the face of American education as a curriculum & nonprofit administrator, Chawanna enjoys Netflix and Hulu binges while eating nachos & drinking Big Red.

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

#ShutTheHellUp: Day Three

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

shutthehellup.png

(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


Perish. Micah 4:9.

Callid’s words in the video above:

Micah. You ask me why I cry out loud.
Why don’t I put on a good face and prop up the crowd?
Why, you say, Can’t you just realize that things are getting better and have a little hope?
Your council is that I remember the glory of Zion and cope,
turning from the sight of now
to the promise of then
God, you say, has not perished and the time will come when
He will certainly deliver us.
But Micah, man, this news does crush,
It pounds and grinds,
And each cycle finds
More weight and burden that presses on us:

The stresses of lust.
The truth of power abused and revealed.
Covers blown once concealed.
Backroom deals and NDAs.
Nuclear weapons and trauma-laced days.

Do I hope beyond hope that someday we’ll see better?
I know I should. Write God some love letter…
But the fact is sometimes I feel like we’re in heaps of ruin out in open country
like stones have been poured down
and our foundations laid bare.

So, Micah… I hear you, I really do…
But right now there’s some stuff we’ve got to see through.

With the walls coming down maybe people will see
the American dream was built for me.
And if you aren’t quite this male or white or well
then this place can be horror, fright, and hell.

Micah, you asked “Is there no king in you?”
And brother, the fact is, the king’s in me through and through.

Too much desire to rule.
Too many kingdoms that need to be put down
given the civil unrest.
Too much power and too much beating my chest.
Yeah, that king is in me.
Captivity.

I’m trapped inside my need for power.
And when I don’t have it I use the King’s name.
Stake the King’s claim.
Play the same game.
Fan the same flame.
And call it destiny manifest.
 And so I confess.

So why do I cry aloud?
Because too many voices tell me to just stay proud.
To speak first and listen rarely.
To name it and claim it and stand squarely
in the middle of whatever space I want.
It’s mine if I’m here, and I’m here so I get more.
Whatever, whoever, any open door.

Have pangs seized me like a woman in labour?
No, no they have not.

Those cries yield life through struggle.
These tears are because I know I’ve smuggled
the words of scripture into my own pockets for my own use
like a thief I have taken the power they loose.

So here’s what I can offer, brother…
When that King in me perishes, or has repented
and when my life has turned from all that He represented,

Call on me then to talk of Zion;
of that land of promise and sweet fruit.

It is not until I am empty that hope will root.

And Micah, one thing more….
Many cry because they have been shot down or groped.
Many still remember the trees and their ropes.
Many have called out in the actual pain of birth
 their bodies full of power and grace.
 time bending to the pace
 of life emerging in flesh.

So before you go asking those questions to others
do some work and realize you are not the same as your brothers,
 your sisters, and those who labor out beyond our words.•

Micah, some cry because crying is right
given what happened that night.
And because by morning at dawn
the tears must be gone
so that breakfast can be made for hungry mouths and work can get done.

This world is nearly more than many can take.
But lives are at stake,
so they’ll rise and resist
and so I insist

Micah, come at me if you will,
but most others have already had their fill.

•It is important that those striving toward justice on all fronts recognize the need for categories that do not just easily split into simple categories. Yes, brother. And yes, sister. And yes to those whose gender doesn’t sort so neatly. There will always be people growing into who they were meant to be and ways of thinking that outpace the words we currently have. Our task is to learn, un-learn, and re-learn what we need to clear space at the table for any who want it.

About The Author

 

Callid Keefe-Perry is a minister within the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). He is an organizational consultant, retreat leader, and teacher of discernment deeply influenced by both Quakerism and Ignatian spirituality. He is the author of Way to Water: A Theopoetics Primer, has been a public school teacher, is a performer and coach of improv theatre, and was the co-founder of a community theater in Rochester, NY. He currently serves as the Executive Director of ARC, an organization committed to supporting individuals and organizations whose work is at the intersection of spiritual and artistic practices, especially as they are done for the building up of communities and work towards justice. Callid brings to us a unique, powerful, visual and verbal take on #ShutTheHellUp’s third day.

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

#ShutTheHellUp: Day Two

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

shutthehellup.png

(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


Defile. Psalm 79:1.

When I think about temples, my mind immediately travels to flesh and blood bodies as sacred temples, created in God’s holy and diverse image. Over the course of time, I think about how these temples have been named as marred and unholy.

I think about the cacophony of voices that claim a “Christian” faith, but have followed the unchristian practice of hammering nails into the vulnerable flesh of Christ’s body.

They are causing the outright harm of beloved people that are created as holy temples.

Everywhere I turn, I see the words that defile. I see actions that defile. Those in power have historically used words and have taken outright action to defile black, brown, indigenous, Jewish, disabled, and trans beloveds; those words and actions are amplified in this present day. Those in power who claim to follow Christ are laying Jerusalem in ruins. They are foregoing the inheritance that God has given them; they have ransacked the temple for their own gains. There are too many ways to express how those who claim to follow Christ have actually defiled the Savior’s very name and image.

“O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.”

Seeing these defiling words just not daily, but now minute by minute, are disorienting. The days and minutes are now stretching out to an eternity; my heart and my being are confused in this the midst of this disorientation. How can I keep up? Can I even keep up? I used to wake up reciting the words, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” As time progressed, it changed to “What the actual fuck is going on?” In these very recent days, it’s pretty much been, “Okay Jesus. Take the wheel.” The awfulness of what is happening in these days is enough to make me want to crawl back into bed and await the second coming of Christ.

I’m also noticing the defilement that has taken place within my own bones. I am angry. My anger is righteous and holy, and that anger serves as a spiritual gift to call out injustices taking place in the world. But I see defilement in my exhaustion, the lack of care I’ve given to this temple that God has gifted to me. The exhaustion comes as a brown woman living in a hostile environment that perpetuates a system of power and privilege that disregards my very existence and the existence of people I love, with that hostility causing a poisonous resentment in my own being. I’m tired of outside forces defiling and marring my body and my being, what I know God has created to be holy. I’m also tired of my own self-defilement, letting so-called “Christians” steal my energy and joy. It’s become unsettling and disorienting.

 

I then remember every year that the season of Advent stretches out time, and that in itself is disorienting. Beginnings become endings, and endings become beginnings. It’s the time of anxious waiting, watching, hoping, and praying for the vulnerable baby to arrive in a manger to take on our being and experiences. Yet it is also waiting for Christ to come again to make this world anew, to end this constant and violent defilement that takes place in these days. It is time to not just await that second coming that brings with it fullness and, dare I say joy, that has been made manifest in our midst, but also for us to live into that anticipation of fullness in these present days in a community of beloveds.

In this time of disorientation, I seek to reorient myself. I will reorient myself to find a rebellious joy. I will reorient myself, my time, and my being to anxiously await the arrival of a vulnerable child who will grow up to rebuke evil and death. I anxiously await the arrival of that child as a crucified and resurrected flesh and blood body who will reorient this world, who will rebuke those who take his name and defile it with grandeur and power that focuses only on the mighty.

May we all encourage one another to take on that rebellious joy and spread that joy to our communities. May we reorient ourselves to care for ourselves and to care for one another.

May we reorient ourselves over and over again to the one who, in the profanity of flesh and blood vulnerability, proclaims our temples as holy and rebukes those who have defiled God’s holy creation.

Defile. Psalm 79:1.

When I think about temples, my mind immediately travels to flesh and blood bodies as sacred temples, created in God’s holy and diverse image. Over the course of time, I think about how these temples have been named as marred and unholy.

I think about the cacophony of voices that claim a “Christian” faith, but have followed the unchristian practice of hammering nails into the vulnerable flesh of Christ’s body.

They are causing the outright harm of beloved people that are created as holy temples.

Everywhere I turn, I see the words that defile. I see actions that defile. Those in power have historically used words and have taken outright action to defile black, brown, indigenous, Jewish, disabled, and trans beloveds; those words and actions are amplified in this present day. Those in power who claim to follow Christ are laying Jerusalem in ruins. They are foregoing the inheritance that God has given them; they have ransacked the temple for their own gains. There are too many ways to express how those who claim to follow Christ have actually defiled the Savior’s very name and image.

“O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple;
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.”

Seeing these defiling words just not daily, but now minute by minute, are disorienting. The days and minutes are now stretching out to an eternity; my heart and my being are confused in this the midst of this disorientation. How can I keep up? Can I even keep up? I used to wake up reciting the words, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” As time progressed, it changed to “What the actual fuck is going on?” In these very recent days, it’s pretty much been, “Okay Jesus. Take the wheel.” The awfulness of what is happening in these days is enough to make me want to crawl back into bed and await the second coming of Christ.

I’m also noticing the defilement that has taken place within my own bones. I am angry. My anger is righteous and holy, and that anger serves as a spiritual gift to call out injustices taking place in the world. But I see defilement in my exhaustion, the lack of care I’ve given to this temple that God has gifted to me. The exhaustion comes as a brown woman living in a hostile environment that perpetuates a system of power and privilege that disregards my very existence and the existence of people I love, with that hostility causing a poisonous resentment in my own being. I’m tired of outside forces defiling and marring my body and my being, what I know God has created to be holy. I’m also tired of my own self-defilement, letting so-called “Christians” steal my energy and joy. It’s become unsettling and disorienting.

 

I then remember every year that the season of Advent stretches out time, and that in itself is disorienting. Beginnings become endings, and endings become beginnings. It’s the time of anxious waiting, watching, hoping, and praying for the vulnerable baby to arrive in a manger to take on our being and experiences. Yet it is also waiting for Christ to come again to make this world anew, to end this constant and violent defilement that takes place in these days. It is time to not just await that second coming that brings with it fullness and, dare I say joy, that has been made manifest in our midst, but also for us to live into that anticipation of fullness in these present days in a community of beloveds.

In this time of disorientation, I seek to reorient myself. I will reorient myself to find a rebellious joy. I will reorient myself, my time, and my being to anxiously await the arrival of a vulnerable child who will grow up to rebuke evil and death. I anxiously await the arrival of that child as a crucified and resurrected flesh and blood body who will reorient this world, who will rebuke those who take his name and defile it with grandeur and power that focuses only on the mighty.

May we all encourage one another to take on that rebellious joy and spread that joy to our communities. May we reorient ourselves to care for ourselves and to care for one another.

May we reorient ourselves over and over again to the one who, in the profanity of flesh and blood vulnerability, proclaims our temples as holy and rebukes those who have defiled God’s holy creation.

About The Author

Tuhina Verma Rasche Pastoring Lutheran-style in Silicon Valley. (Un)Intended disruptor. Loves/ freaked out by Jesus. Indian-American living life in the hyphen.

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit

#ShutTheHellUp: Day One

#ShutTheHellUp... To convey a visceral Gospel, we must sometimes use visceral language.

shutthehellup.png

(This is a week old repost. If you want to stay current visit Medium.com/fuckthisshit to stay caught up with the Advent calendar.)


“Woke” AF. Mark 13:37

Today begins Advent, the season of preparing for not just the Christ child in the manger, but also the second coming of Christ, come to reconcile the world into the fullness and God intended God’s original creation to be. Today also begins #ShutTheHellUp, the digital discipline as we await the arrival of Christ. In this waiting, many of us are realizing that in these days, the world is not as it should or could be. These are the days where we express to powers and principalities that their time is nigh with the arrival of Christ; that they will shut the hell up and be shut into hell on that day and time for which we long and wait. Here is the explanation for this year’s Advent digital devotional. Here is the video of what it could mean for those in power to actually #ShutTheHellUp.

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Today’s featured voice is Joshua Serrano. He is the father of two boys, who teach him levity. He serves as pastor of Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in San Carlos, CA. In his spare time he likes to learn Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, read, and watch unnecessary amounts of television.

I’ve known many children who have a hard time making it to midnight on New Year’s Eve. Heck, I even have a hard time now. I’m not as young as I think I am. Minutes seem to lasts hours and hours seem like an infinity as my eyelids get heavier and heavier. Sleep calls to me and beckons that I just shut out the world and close my eyes. But then I wake up on the couch having slept through the ball dropping on television.

It’s hard to keep awake sometimes, especially when it matters the most. It’s hard to keep awake especially when tribulation is on the horizon. Not the kind of wakefulness of trying to not sleep, but the kind of wakefulness that comes with opening our eyes to the world.

Tragedy is everywhere. Looking for it is not required, it will find you. Eventually.

When I found out my cousin died in a motorcycle accident I was awakened by my father crying, something I had only seen once before. He was screaming the word “NO!” over and over again with tears spilling from his eyes. I walked around in a a dream-like state after that. It felt like the moments in bed where I am not fully awake but I’m not asleep either. I didn’t quite know what was reality. Was I dreaming? Was I awake?

So many people walk around in a dream-like state when tragedy strikes. It seems that when reality seems most harsh we have a tendency to not accept it, disengage, and remove our embodied selves into a disembodied mode of being.

A couple years ago I felt like this when going through a divorce.

Some of the best advice I received was from a mentor. I told him that I felt like I was walking around in a trance, like I was dreaming. “Son, you’re going to have to be ruthlessly present,” he said. We sat in silence for a minute while I processed what that meant.

I began to call myself back into my body. Sometimes when grief overtook me while I was in the shower I would say to myself, “You’re taking a shower right now. That is all you’re doing.” When I was eating and thoughts came flooding in like a tidal wave I would say, “You’re eating right now.” I tried to stay in the moment to fight the dream-like state that would come. I was keeping myself awake and present.

Keeping awake is hard when I don’t want to accept the reality of the situation.

I can’t tell you when I woke up. In fact I can’t tell you that I don’t sometimes drift into the dream-like state again, because I know I do.

I can say that I have woken to the needs of others in my life. I have accepted the responsibility and complicity in my divorce. I feel more present to people, especially to my children. I feel like I have my body again.

And yet, in the midst of this never-ending tragic nature of the human condition, there are some of us who are held captive by hope. We are a resurrection people. New life resides in our bones. As sure as Mary was pregnant with the baby Jesus, we have to keep awake to the new things that God is doing in our world and in our lives. Keep awake! Don’t drift off into sleep. Look for what God is is doing in the world.

When I speak of hope, I’m not talking about the Pollyanna kind of hope or the masking of pain or the downplaying of tragedy. I’m talking hope where life springs from death. Hope creates new life, imagines a better world, and speaks into the void that would try and make us nothing. I’m talking about the kind of hope that springs from the pain of having to face injustice day in and day out.

I believe in the kind of hope that walks right up to the devil and demands that he shut the hell up.

My dear family of God, when Jesus commanded his disciple to keep away in Mark 13:37, he was commanding them to look forward to his return. My hope is in his coming again.

 May this Advent keep us awake and hopeful in the one who was, who is, and who is to come. Amen


About The Author

Tuhina Verma Rasche Pastoring Lutheran-style in Silicon Valley. (Un)Intended disruptor. Loves/ freaked out by Jesus. Indian-American living life in the hyphen.

#ShutTheHellUp is a organized by Tuhine Verma Rasche and Jason Chestnut. They rely on a collective of authors to grapple with messages of the Advent season. Find out more at Medium.com/FuckThisShit