30 Years, 30 Lessons

If you’re reading this, that means I’m 30. Yes, today’s my 30th birthday. Sigh. I’m one of those people who hates their birthday–I don’t like the attention, I don’t like having to choose everything we do, and I don’t like all the reminders that I’m another year older. And 30 is a birthday I’ve been dreading. I may not be old, but I’m definitely not young anymore. Sigh.

But one benefit of being 30 is that I now have three decades of wisdom and observations to impose on the rest of you. So here it is: 30 life lessons for 30 years of life.

Continue reading “30 Years, 30 Lessons”

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Why I’m Sorry About Being Sorry

You may have noticed that I haven’t updated the blog in awhile1. A big reason for this is that my posts had fallen into a rut, and I got frustrated.

Here’s my recent formula: I start with a very evangelical topic–prayer, missions, youth pastors, etc. I then carefully (oh so carefully) broach my difficulties with the topic. I do this through portraying myself as a sneering jerk lobbing unfair criticisms. But then I realized I was a jerk. After this breakthrough, I am free to love the topic, and admit that the only real problem was me.

There’s a reason all my posts hit these same beats–I didn’t want anyone to get mad at me.

Continue reading “Why I’m Sorry About Being Sorry”

The Time My Mom Was Right

The week before I started high school, my mom took me aside to have One of Those Talks. As only a mother can, she worried that my charm and winning smile would attract a bevy of girls. And some of those girls might lead me down the path of vice.

If mom ever saw me talk to a girl, she’d know she had nothing to worry about. My tongue turned to lead. Sweat beaded down my forehead. And when I started talking, a small piece of my brain told me that I was a thin-wristed loser who wasn’t pulling off that shell necklace. It’s hard to find a girlfriend under those conditions.

As high school rolled through college and into young adulthood, my tongue stayed as lead as ever. But my mother started believing that I was staying single on purpose. This was partly because she still saw me through mom-colored goggles.

Also, that’s what I told her. Continue reading “The Time My Mom Was Right”

The Real Reason Your Parents Don’t Like Liturgy

I used to think that every one of “Those Evangelicals” hated liturgy.

You haven’t heard of Those Evangelicals? It’s simple. Those Evangelicals are the shadowy others out there in the world. Whenever I disagree with Those Evangelicals about something, it makes me feel smart and edgy. And Those Evangelicals have an irrational fear of liturgy.

During my cynical days, I spent a lot of time defending liturgical traditions like Episcopalianism, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy against the ignorance of Those Evangelicals. I also spent time concocting theories about why they hated it. Continue reading “The Real Reason Your Parents Don’t Like Liturgy”

What They Don’t Tell You About the Evangelical Bubble

When I was a cynic, I loved talking about the “evangelical bubble.” It was a constant topic at my evangelical college, John Brown University1.

Cynics tell themselves that evangelicalism survives by hiding in its own cocoon. When exposed to the outside world, it shrivels in the light of reason and knowledge.

Evangelicalism may well be a bubble. But it’s one of many. When my cynical friends talk about seeing the “wider world of ideas,” they’re actually trading one bubble for another.

Continue reading “What They Don’t Tell You About the Evangelical Bubble”

Kids: How Not to Be a Cynical Jerk Toward Your Parents Forever

You may think I’ve been ragging on parents lately. That’s totally unfair. All I’ve done is write three consecutive posts (here, here, and here) detailing every single thing that parents can do wrong. Why so sensitive?

But seriously. I don’t mean to blame parents. For many evangelical cynics, their cynicism is more about their their own attitude than their parents’ mistakes.

That’s how it was for me. My parents weren’t ultimately responsible for my cynicism–I was.

Regardless, dealing with parents can be stressful. It’s even worse when you’re struggling with cynicism and doubt. So here’s my advice to kids when their parents are driving them crazy and they want to be cynical.

Continue reading “Kids: How Not to Be a Cynical Jerk Toward Your Parents Forever”

Why Do Cynics Love Knocking Evangelicals?

I’m about to start a series where I analyze the myriad reasons people become cynical about evangelicalism. But that begs the question: why does evangelicalism attract so much cynicism?

I think it’s the convergence of several factors. They include:

  • Evangelicals are sincere. Instead of the self-aware distance our culture adopts, evangelicals engage with people openly and directly. When somebody is so gosh-darn sincere about how his new beliefs changed his life, he’s wide open to cynicism.
  • Evangelicalism is simplified. At the risk of starting a larger theological argument, evangelicalism lacks the complexity of other Christian traditions. Evangelicalism is about a handful of simple ideas clearly presented.1 It’s easy to attack somebody whose beliefs are “simpler” than yours.

Continue reading “Why Do Cynics Love Knocking Evangelicals?”

What Makes a Person a Cynic?

Because my blog is about quitting cynicism toward evangelicals, in my last post I defined evangelical. In this post, I’ll keep defining things: what makes a person a cynic?

As a lawyer, the first thing I look for when researching a new legal topic are the terms of art. Certain terms and phrases get defined and redefined so much they take a specific legal definition that’s different from their everyday definition.

It’s not enough for a lawyer to use Webster’s dictionary for a term like “negligence,” or “fair use,” or a “reasonably prudent person.” They’re terms of art.

The same thing will happen with “cynicism” in this blog. So before I get too far in, I’m going to tell you what I mean by a “cynic.”

Continue reading “What Makes a Person a Cynic?”

What is an Evangelical Anyway?

My blog is about quitting cynicism toward evangelicals. But before I talk about that, we need definitions. What is an evangelical anyway?

This is weirdly complicated, and has gotten me in trouble a lot. I’ll explain with a mostly-true story:

I denied my faith in the Yale Law School courtyard. Or maybe I didn’t, I’m not really sure. It started with a question from one of my classmates during our year-end picnic:

“What are you, some kind of evangelical?”

Continue reading “What is an Evangelical Anyway?”

Why I’m Quitting Cynicism

I was That Guy at my parents’ church.

You know the type:

  • Slouching in the back pew with raised eyebrow.

  • Smirking every time the pastor made a point during the sermon.

  • Stewing in the corner after services, reading something intellectual and avoiding conversation with the dull-eyed parishioners.

I was a cynical jerk. I started this blog because I’m trying to change that. Continue reading “Why I’m Quitting Cynicism”