The Evangelical Jesus wasn’t any of that girly imagery of the deity. Or as Mark Driscoll put it, that “neutered and limp-wristed Sky Fairy.” So there I was, looking at early sarcophagus art of…Jesus?
I’m reading Tammy Faye Bakker’s 1978 memoir, I Gotta Be Me. When she was three, her father left a family of a wife and two kids. Their church said Tammy Faye’s mother was to blame. The insults, the barbs—she remembered it all.
“I was very young when I became aware that the church people were being mean to my mother,” she writes. “To the church, my mother was just a harlot.”
She writes: “They didn’t have any spirituality in themselves so they had to find a ‘bigger sinner’ to pick apart.”
That’s a big insight into Christianity.
At age ten…
But he had a spiel about how his paintings radiated a divine light. “My paintings are messengers of God’s love,” he told Christianity Today. And Christians bought it.
Off-camera, he was a fall-down alcoholic. He died in 2012 in a haze of booze and Valium. I set out to track the religious references in his story, wondering: Was Thomas Kinkade really a Christian?
Because his whole career smells like a hustle.
An in-house documentary, An American Artist, released on YouTube in 2013, keeps up the image. He was a wonderful “family man.” His work was filled with divine grace, etc.
Set for release on November 3rd, The Most Reluctant Convert purports to be a depiction of Lewis’ early life and progress toward becoming Christian. And yet there’s no Arthur Greeves.
Typically, Christians don’t get called on their fake histories, which are often passed off as fact. But here’s the story of an erasure.
In Surprised by Joy, we learn about young Lewis, called ‘Jack’, meeting Arthur Greeves, a boy who lived nearby. Getting to know each other, Jack realized that they liked the same things.
Lewis calls the relationship a “wonder” and compares it to a boy’s first love with…
And for decades, his sister Luci Swindoll was along for the ride. She had a companion ministry to his, arguing that being unmarried is a valid religious choice. In the “family values” religion, that was startling.
She died last October of COVID-19. A friend wrote to mention that she’d been a rather ‘queer’ presence in the religion. I spent a little while looking up her unusual story.
This was horrifying to her mother. Swindoll recalls the speech she gave in her 1982 book, Wide My World, Narrow My Bed.
“Mother, I don’t want to get married. I want to go…
As I’ve been catching up on Bible scholarship about Mary Magdalene, I have to laugh. She’s a spiritual quester, a feminist role model, a visionary. But Christians were too addled by misogyny to see her.
Say her name: Mary Magdalene. Notice what you’re not saying: a man’s name. She isn’t being defined in reference to a male family member! As Joan E. Taylor notes in a 2014 paper, her name is evidence that Mary is “an independent woman with no connection to a man.”
Mary Magdalene is the story of a woman who is herself—and who is oddly close to…
How many images of a Black or dark-skinned Jesus are to be found in the Christian world? On Twitter, I noticed, an Episcopal cleric was posting photos of one just going up in his parish. To find a Black Jesus, then, one could visit Trinity Episcopal in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
They must be many more, I thought, perhaps in unexpected places—my favorite place to find things. I went in search.
For months there was speculation, but he’d denied it—until casually mentioning it as if an incidental detail. This is a fascinating scene in Evangelical history. I set out before me the story of a secret.