Unlikely recommendation: listen to Kristin Chenoweth on NPR

Yesterday while driving, Tina and I were listening to Weekends on All Things Considered. There was an interview with Broadway star, singer and now TV star Kristin Chenoweth.

I’ve seen Chenoweth before, and if it weren’t for her country work, I might thinks she’s damn near the bee’s knees. I’m not personally a fan of the country genre.

Yet, there’s something nauseatingly attractive about her almost helium-inhalation voice. She’s got that somethin’ somethin’ that is both attractive and not. But I think attraction wins somehow in the end. It must be her hot chest.

But then I found out toward the end of the interview that Chenoweth is adopted. She said she gets a lot of personality characteristics from her parents (which I completely connected with) including comedic timing and the love for performance. She described herself as “the odd duck” which I really identified with.

As a little Puerto Rican-ish kid in a family of Dutchies, I tended to stand out … especially in the summer when my tan was the color of a Hershey bar.

During the interview with Chenoweth, Tina was reminding me where we’ve seen Chenoweth before. During the discussion, I missed a short part where Chenoweth talked about god, so I made sure to go check today.

Here’s how it was written on the NPR website:

She calls herself “a God person,” but adds, “It’s not my job to decide whether someone is ‘a sinner’ for doing something or being something or saying something. My grandma said, ‘Oh, Kris, I read the Bible like I eat fish. I eat the meat that serves me well, but I don’t choke on a bone.’ I loved that, and I’ve never forgotten it.”

But in the actual interview, she says a bit more than that. I’m going to try and quote her verbatim. To the question, “You call yourself a “god” person. What does that mean?”

When you say you grow up in church and in the bible belt, it sort of gives a stigma that some people may like or dislike. But I’m very proud of my upbringing. And, I wouldn’t have traded it for the world. Nowadays though, saying that you’re a Christian, there’s a lot of people who look at that in a negative light, which breaks my heart. I very proudly am a Christian and am a God person, and I say that because, for me, being at church and around people who believe like me is important, but it’s also very important to me to show others who don’t believe like me and don’t have faith like me that I accept or judge them. [This is where she says] It’s not my job to decide whether someone is ‘a sinner’ for doing something or being something or saying something. My grandma said, ‘Oh, Kris, I read the Bible like I eat fish. I eat the meat that serves me well, but I don’t choke on a bone.’ I loved that, and I’ve never forgotten it.

Let’s get sugary sweet, ya’ll

While I can get behind her sweet voice saying the sugary part of how it’s not her job to judge, that she wants to be someone who accepts other people and that she doesn’t know how anyone would view Christianity as negative, I want to attempt a polite retort that probably won’t be taken as “polite.” But for all intents and purposes, I’m as sweet as pie and hope my response is like closing your mouth around a fork topped with your favorite piece of pie dripping with vanilla ice cream or some other ice cream of your lustful choice.

Because for many of us atheists, it’s not Christians with whom we take issue. And as much as we say, write, scream or cry that, it seems that it doesn’t take hold. I realize it’s confusing. And it’s hard to separate something that means so much to so many people.

I get that.

We get that.

It’s odd that Kristin is confused about why some people would look at Christianity negatively, and it’s this blind positivity that befuddles me as a former Christian.

Even as a Christian, I knew that my “faith” was something that people would see negatively. I was taught that people would see through the negativity of other’s perceptions if I behaved “god like” or “righteously.”

But in that advice from my mentors and church leadership lies the rub. No matter which way you spray tan, spray wash, coat with wax, perfume, shine, spin, rub, or beg, the Christian message includes negative parts in its formula. God didn’t always act as the best mentor for showing other people “love.” So advising “god-like” behavior was, as the cliché says, really fucking stupid.

This is why I write things like, “Own up” or “Call a spade a spade.” 

I don’t understand why Christians are confused by this. I knew this as a Christian.

As a Christian, I got fed up with the constant battle to plead with people that the faith I thought was 100% loving, perfect, awesome, and beautiful, includes percentages of real awful, shallow, destructive ideas. In Christianity, you can’t say my god is 100% amazing, but there’s some godly attributes like jealousy, envy, destruction, etc. that when added to the formula drop the 100% love down and include  hair, teeth and fecal matter in the pie.

Why are people like Chenoweth or even my old friends or family confused as to why anyone would view Christianity in a bad light? The bible says expect exception, not accepetion. It calls for ridicule and pain. All the pretty voices of the Christian movement, like Chenoweth’s, cannot change the complete package truth.

Buy or own? 

What would be the harm in owning up to the bad stuff, too? What would be the harm in saying, “Hey, my bible sucks sometimes.”

Most of us former Christians turned atheists, agnostics or skeptics understand the thrill and the joy of calling yourself a Christian. I fought for my Christianity. I told others. I helped people become like minded. I was a convincing little punk.

It’s not that I turned on God, or Jesus. I didn’t. I viewed a few things that happened to me as permissions to vocalize the doubts I was encouraged coerced to keep quiet.

It was allowing myself to doubt that led to the retirement of a one-sided love affair with a ghost, an invisible friend and a lousy one at that.

Jesus, what’s he good for? 

That’s all to say that when Christians like Chenoweth say, “There’s a lot of people who look at that in a negative light, which breaks my heart. I very proudly am a Christian and am a God person,” I get that. There was a time when I LOVED to think like that. I’ve got gobs of journals expressing my love for Jesus.

Do you read what I’m writing? I loved Jesus. God. All that. I had a lot of passion for the thoughts and ideas that I was taught.

But I wasn’t stupid. I knew that those ideas where divisive. They weren’t for everyone. Where do Christians get the mentality that everyone else is wrong about their god. All you have to do is read the bible to know that there are quite a few places that shine a bad light on god. It’s not rocket science or mysterious. It just is.

I was taught to say things like, If you only knew him, knew him knew him, like Chenoweth knows him, or my friends and family, then surely you would love him too.

I did, though. I LOVED god, the holy spirit and Jesus … as much as anyone can say they loved something. But I also knew the limits, and maybe that led to the doubts that led to atheism.

Surely I couldn’t have been the first and only Christian to understand that concept internally?

But if understanding the negative about god leads to atheism, can it be, really, all that bad? Atheism means all your friendships are physical, not spiritual. It means that a hug is a hug. And a kiss is a kiss. That when you’re helped, it’s from the hands of a physical person, as it always has been. The emptiness of spirituality is filled by the actual presence of a true and visible friend.

What is the harm in that? What? Eternal life in hell?

Oh, yeah, I forgot, unconditional love has conditions. 

God is like all good things that people love, but could kill them, i.e. alcohol, cars, drugs, sex, airplanes, motorcycles, food, etc. etc. etc.

I’m only an atheist toward the one thing that could kill me, but he never shows his pretty ugly little head.

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2 Responses to Unlikely recommendation: listen to Kristin Chenoweth on NPR

  1. zqtx says:

    Well said, Jeremy

    Good ol’ god – all of the credit and none of the blame.

    It sucks that those tornadoes in the midwest and south have wiped out so many lately, but it amazes me when I see folks on the news trying to rationalize it away by saying it’s all part of god’s greater plan.

    I heard many references to how angry and destructive “mother nature” was. Quite sad…

  2. Jeremy says:

    Thanks.

    I was entertaining the thought of a tornado post. The justifications our brains are capable of is nothing short of scary.

    And the Pat Robertsons of the world are too quick to identify places of destruction as places steeped in sinfulness.

    It makes you want to scream.

    Or I saw this video on facebook:

    If you couple soothing, beautiful hymns with imagery of millions of year old mountains, landscapes, clouds and fog, that equals the majesty of the heavens!

    Really?

    If you claim god did the good stuff, you best own up to the evil stuff like these tornados, kids.

    Someone (hint, hint) should download this song, edit in tornado destruction imagery and see if it gets the same “praise”.

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