Carlos A. Rodriguez is the kind of person we need more of these days …

My brother and I were talking on the phone last week. We talk often. We’re best friends.

We were discussing a religious perspective. I was saying that one person’s advocation for God is similarly worded criticism of it.

For example, if you say, “Look at how God has blessed you. You have a great life and your history shows just amazing God has blessed you.” My interpretation of that will often be, “Well, why didn’t he bless umpteen other people?”

To play favorites with your children, if that’s what we truly are, is an unflattering behavior trait. If I won the lottery of being born in America and adopted by great parents who raised me superbly in the late 20th century with amazing healthcare options, unfettered opportunities and endless possibilities and another child was raised in foster care or born into great poverty during any time in history, I tend to wonder if the arbiter of blessings is a overly stingy.

Why should I be a reflection of a benevolent God while another child, born to poverty-stricken parents in the Philippines is sold into sex slavery to be fondled by strange men as long as she’s young and pretty enough and then thrown out like dirty bathwater when she’s too old to induce a man to a boner?

The rationale for benevolence is constantly countered by the rationale for something non-benevolent. The argument is, whelp, that’s the devil. But I do believe that people who love and pray to the benevolent version of the universe are constantly being let down by his crossed-arms inconsiderate, turned-up nose of insolence.

I was trying to make that point to my brother. I’m not sure I did a great job. But he brought up a guy on Instagram named Carlos A. Rodriguez. He’s a fellow Puerto Rican (like me). And it seems he’s a pastor. But take a look at his feed. He appears to be the kind of Christian I wanted to live like. One that valued Christ’s teachings and life of countering the status quo. He constantly belittled pious acts. He fought the establishment only to inspire a culture entitlement and hypocrisy. He relentlessly advocated for the little guy, the one’s considered worth less than others.

But the evangelical culture of the late 20th century taught otherwise. It drove me and my interpretations of Jesus from itself. Far from it.

It’s been successfully pointed out to me that I really don’t qualify as an atheist. I don’t think a person can believe 100% that God does not exist. Or Jesus or any of it. One cannot prove that anyone’s spiritual life is bunk.

I think when one person’s spiritual life wants them to prove everyone else’s wrong, that’s a problem.

On this blog in the late aughts, I angrily argued against religion and plunged a gigantic flag of atheism in the digital landscape. I’ve since taken that anger back and removed the flag. Today, if someone asked, I’d say I was an exvie or ex-evangelical.

I don’t advocate for disbelief and instead tell people who believe that they SHOULD believe. It’s what they know and love. Why take that away? But my musings about my own fall from belief shouldn’t be unheard. Not to me anyway.

What’s great about my brother is that he can hear me, disagree with me, but not feel attacked. I don’t believe a lot of believing people listen that way. Maybe I’m wrong. But somehow discussing my views is an attack on someone else’s beliefs.

But dudes like Carlos Rodriguez and Naked Pastor David Hayward are the guys in the room whom I wish were around when I was deconstructing my faith. I don’t believe I would have retained it. But at least I would have seen that there are believers who aren’t dicks about it.

Dick is a strong word. Sure. But I wonder how people who say things like, “Look how the good Lord has guided your path” understand that it’s working oppositionally to their motivation?

Why say anything at all? Or why not assimilate your audience’s feelings to the matter? Or in the very least, say, “I see God’s fingerprints all over your success. What do you see?”

Trumping conversation with a magnanimous, unprovable statement causes closed lips and scrunched up faces.

It’s amazing to read about the decline in religious populations especially in young people. The older religious folks wonder why when the answer is beating them in the face. The absence of support for LGBTQ youth, lack of focus on science and progress, and insistence on things unseen is driving thoughtful people away from the pews. What we are taught is not how we are to act. So to act like Jesus, it requires us to desert the steeple.

I’m steeped in the values, morals and disciplines of Christianity. But to call myself one would be a counter intuitive to my upbringing. So I have to call myself an exvie and keep moving.

I was listening to reports on NPR about the 100 year anniversary since the Black Wall Street massacre. And there was a followup story about whether or not to pay reparations to black communities who suffered since those awful events.

The mayor of Tulsa made the argument that people today should not have to pay for the mistakes of people in the past.

I got whiplash whipping my head toward the radio. “What the fuck did he just say?

People today shouldn’t pay for the mistakes of people in the past?

Or better yet, let’s rephrase that to say, “People today shouldn’t have to pay for the sins of the past?”

Isn’t that the bedrock foundation of the church? We were born paying ransom to the sins of Adam and Eve. If it weren’t for Adam & Eve and their great disobedience and subsequent cancellation from the garden, we wouldn’t need to believe in Jesus to cross over from life on earth to death and life in heaven or hell.

Paying for the sins of the past is what is beat into our heads as kids.

What the mayor and anyone who supports that logic is saying is, “We’ve got all these bills already. We can’t take on a bit more.”

We owe debts of humanity and kindness to real people who suffered greatly, but we refuse to act like Jesus and extend an unconditional hand of mercy and grace.

Greed is a huge factor that drove me from the church steps. Not only my own, but the greed of my heroes.

It’s as if claiming belief in one version of God gives carte blanche to act and behave any way BUT in the manner of Christ.

What’s cool about Carlos Rodriguez is, from a social media perspective, he’s living out the truth in an honest way. He sees the inconsistencies and hypocrisies in his own views and isn’t afraid to point them out.

I hope I’m wrong about Christianity. I hope there’s a heaven and a place for people to live out eternity. I happen to think all people should be there. It shouldn’t be a club with a price tag. It should be free. Truly free. Not with conditions of thought crimes.

But who am I? Blessed or something?

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