Mama Said Knock You Out

I’m not much of a fighter. Like just about everyone else in the world, I don’t at all enjoy conflict.

When I was eight years old, my dad tried to teach me how to fight. In classic 50′s-dad fashion, he never paid any attention to me—and suddenly he wanted to turn me into Floyd Patterson.

He took me into the backyard.

“C’mon, son,” he said. “Hold your fists up like this.” His fists in my face were so huge they blocked out my view of our house behind him.

My dad was six-foot four, and weighed about 240 pounds. (I say”was” because, old now, he’s shrunk.) I was three-foot nine, and weighed about .004 pounds. I was so skinny that, for Hide ‘n Seek, I’d squeeze into the space between a doorjamb and a closed door. (And lemme tell you: that’s no place you want to be when some moron starts trying to use the deadbolt.)

“Stand like this,” said my dad, doing something I couldn’t see behind his Volkswagon-sized fists.  “Hunch up your front shoulder, see? You protect your face that way.”

I hunched up my shoulders, and almost blinded myself with a clavicle.

“You gotta get tough,” my dad said. “You gotta learn to defend yourself.” I had no idea what he was talking about. No one was trying to beat me up. Except him maybe, if things kept going the way they seemed to be. I held up my fists for him, though. They looked like olives on the ends of toothpicks.

“Now bob and weave!” I immediately thought of a guy named Bob, knitting. What kind of guy knits?

“See, like this,” said my dad. He bobbed and weaved. It wasn’t pretty.

He punched me on the shoulder. “See? See how I jabbed you there?”

So I clocked the bastard, and knocked him out. Who the fuck did he think he was playing with?

(See? Now that’s an example of exactly the kind of thing I was talking about in “I, the Comfortably Cursing Christian.”)

Speaking of me being a Christian, and fighting.

As you may know, lately, on my blog, I’ve become (again) The Christian Guy Who Writes About Gays and Christianity.

Many people like what I have to say on that issue. Many people don’t.

I got, like, six emails yesterday, from people wondering why I “keep” writing about that subject.

You know why I write about gays and Christians as often as I do? I mean, you know, besides the fact that it’s ripping the church apart like the pants of a fat man kneeling for confession? Because of my friends. That’s the whole reason. I have always had gay friends in my life. And they’ve always been … well … friends to me.

I’m not good at a lot of stuff in life. But I’m exceptional at being loyal to my friends. When it comes to that one particular personality characteristic, I’m … canine, basically.

I’m loyal to my friends, and I’m loyal to God. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anybody tell me, or anybody else as long as I’m within earshot, that those two don’t belong in the same room together.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • Kara K

    You’ve officially made me laugh and cry at the same time with this one. Thanks, I needed that.

    • Anonymous

      Lovely. Thank you.

  • http://www.barnmaven.com Barnmaven

    As a writer, you write about what moves you. Its not up to the rest of the world to tell you what to blog about, if they don’t want to read and weigh in on the subject, then they can move on and go read something somewhere else. Its your blog, and while readership loyalty is nice, its still your choice what you want to say on your corner of the internet.

    One thing I like about you is that you are unafraid of your opinion and you’re not sucked into the quest many bloggers seem to have about being liked and being ‘popular.’ Your writing is driven by the convictions you hold, not the need to please.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, it’s true. In fact, I’m PROUD of being wildly unpopular. In fact, I won’t quit writing until the only person reading me is … well, me. And even then I’ll start … grossly misspelling stuff. No, but thanks very much, Bar. In truth, you’re exactly right, about how it is that I make a huge internal point of asking myself, every morning when I sit down to post something here, what is, at that moment, NATURAL for me to write. I always go inward; I never think about what people might want me to write next, or what they might expect, or prefer, or whatever. You can’t chase an audience; all you can do is what’s right and best and natural for you to do, and … see if anyone cares. If they don’t, fuck ‘em. If they do, great. In the end, you’re a better writer for that two or three (or four or five) hours you worked on your craft, and (if you’re me) that’s what matters most.

      All that said, though, I can’t tell you how often I’m buoyed up by readers and comments just like you and this kind thing you’ve said here.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric

    “So I clocked the fucker.”

    Can NOT stop laughing.

    • Anonymous

      Dig it. Thanks, tiny-headed Ric.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve been trying to picture that too. I/m thinking that you probably got him from below.

  • Kara K

    Gotta ask – is fat man a friend of yours or are you missing an ‘a’ between of and fat? You could write about the adventures of Big John and Fat Man.

    • Anonymous

      Ooops—hit the “Like” button. Which is fair enough: I DID like this post. I depend on my … citizen proofreaders to keep my posts in perfect order. THANKS, KARA!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Wisner-Miller/1310612074 Mary Wisner Miller

    This one made me tear up, but in a good way. My sentiments, exactly, John.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you, Mary! (And thanks for your tee-shirt buy. Did you get my email about including a book with it, since you brought it right before my Gigantic Christmas Sale Extravaganza?)

  • Marie

    I’m trying to clap my hands, dab my eyes, not spray coffee laughing and type at the same time. You are LOVED in this household, John Shore. Admired and celebrated. BRAVO!!!
    And thank you. Perfectly beautiful thing to read as I begin this snowy, gorgeous weekend.
    Namaste. ♥

    • Anonymous

      Well, how sweet is that? Thank you, Marie. Dig it.

  • Anonymous

    I may not line up solid with everything you write, John, but I come back to read your blog again and again. I find that what I do agree with, inspires me. What I don’t agree with, challenges me. Iron sharpens irons and i believe the wounds from a friend are preferable to kisses from an enemy. Loyalty doesn’t demand sickening suck-uppery. In fact, I think that loyalty pushes back, challenges and even occasionally “clocks the fucker!”…in love, of course.

    • Anonymous

      You’ve been reading and making great comments to my blog for years now, Siriuslee. I’d be nowhere without thoughtful readers and commenters like you.

  • Mindy

    If I were gay, I’d very much want you in my corner. I’m not, and I still want you in my corner. I have some clocking I need done . . . . .

    • Anonymous

      I’m sure you’re capable of … tending to your own clocks, Mindy. Thank you for these lovely words.

      • Scott

        I *am* gay, John. And I for one am very grateful for allies – no, *friends* – such as yourself.

        • Anonymous

          What a lovely thing to say. Thank you.

  • Anonymous

    Thank God for you, mister.

    Your words are hideously beautiful and subtly in-your-face.

    You, sir Shore, are the f-bomb.

  • Stuart

    It does amaze me how people think they can tell you what you should or should not write about on YOUR blog!

    These are probably the same people who complain to shop assistants in Walmart about the fact their favourite waffles are no longer stocked!

    The world is so much bigger than the narrow path we make ourselves walk down!

    • Anonymous

      You know, Stuart, it’s the one thing I say least but think the most. I’m always thinking, “It’s a BLOG. It’s a stupid, personal, private little BLOG that I write for me and the online friends of mine who read it. It’s not … a modifiable entertainment portal, or whatever.” Plus, you know, it’s FREE. I don’t do a subscription thing; you don’t have to register to read it—nothing. It’s just … a BLOG. And the thing that always, always kills me, is how UPSET people get when I block them. They always start raving about free speech, and censorship, and how grossly despotic I am, and all this sort of thing. And I always think: Hello? BLOG! I can block you because my foot itches, and you’ve got a name that sounds like the maker of a pair of shoes I don’t like. It’s MY BLOG.

      Actually, though, I think all that kind of stuff—as hairy as it can get sometimes—is a kind of compliment to me, the way people sometimes respond with such … personal fury, or with that sense of almost entitlement about what I should write. There’s a lot to that whole dynamic that I understand as what amounts to flattering to me. Anyhoo. Thanks for listening.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-W-Lukens-Goodson/100000194585042 Mary W. Lukens Goodson

        ROFLMAO!!!!! I DO hope my name doesn’t sound like a maker of shoes that make your feet itch. LOLOLOL…. You crack me up buddy!

      • Anonymous

        Being free really means a lot to me.

  • A’isha

    Amen!
    …and another line from you I have to find a way to use: “…besides the fact that it’s ripping the church apart like the pants of a fat man kneeling for confession?”

  • Meg

    As a gay woman, I love having John Shore in my corner! Keep clocking those fuckers, John!

    • Anonymous

      I can’t believe you use language like that. I’m APPALLED!

      • LSS

        it’s not so anonymous when your face is still on there LOL

        but yeah. keep on clockin’ em metaphorically (cos they probably won’t listen so good if unconscious)

        • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

          Yeah, that was this weird glitch in the system where for awhile there everyone who commented was coming out “anonymous.” Odd.

  • Budcny

    I’m still laughing… Whether people agree or not isn’t really going to change how you express your opinion.. I want to thank you for being the “christian gay guy” lol what you do is get people talking and thinking regardless of where they stand..
    And it gets them to do this with an area that has been avoided to long and just isn’t discussed or we are taught that we shouldn’t think about it unless you are a radical :-)

  • Textjunkie

    I’m loyal to my friends, and I’m loyal to God. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to let anybody tell me, or anybody else as long as I’m within earshot, that those two don’t belong in the same room together.

    Amen and Amen to that!! Love it, love it, love it…

  • http://luwandi.wordpress.com Beth Luwandi

    Perfectly crafted. Nice. Again.
    And yes, part of what is most enjoyable here is your communication with your readers after. Your unswerving devotion to that inner thing that gets you writing a particular thing and then the conversation that follows.
    Love it. As I’ve said so many times.
    And the t-shirt IS stunning. :)

  • Kim

    Oh John, another spot on blog. I am so glad to have you in my corner. Thanks for being you and being so effin funny. You make my day!

  • Anonymous

    Ignore those people! The “gay issue” is what led me to ex-communicate myself from the Catholic Church, what led me to your blog, why I have a certain bumper sticker on my car. It is one of the few topics that can get me going from zen-like calm to flailing-limbs anger in no time flat. I can’t think of many other issues where the will of God is being so disgustingly twisted into something that it is NOT, with callous, unfair, life-altering consequences to many of His children. Until your blog, I felt like a lone duck on the topic and was getting tired of feeling like no one else agreed with me or even cared about what our churches were doing to gay people. Now I feel empowered to keep up the good fight and I know I am not alone. Also, from reading your blog I can actually articulate better what I feel in my heart, instead of just getting mad and calling people “poopyhead” because I couldn’t put it into words.

  • Ladyofleisuredc

    On this- those people either know gay people but refuse to KNOW them out of fear or don’t know any gay people and refuse to make the initiative to KNOW.
    I’m not sure what that fear is? That “gayness” would rub off on them or that they would actually start seeing the gay person as a HUMAN BEING and would get convicted beyond measure by the real TRUTH? Love.
    Who likes to be sucker punched into the truth? It isn’t pleasant especially when pride is standing in the way but it is totally worth it, Lord, trust me, I would know.

  • Donna Runion via Facebook

    That was a sheer delight to read, thanks.

  • http://www.unchainedfaith.wordpress.com Amy

    I love this! And *thptht* to those people who tell you to give it a rest. People like you keep me going when I feel like I’m alone in having an inclusive faith.

  • Lee Marshall

    And we, your friends, GLBTQ and not, are loyal back. Love you, John!

  • Leslie Marbach via Facebook

    Well, damn, John. That was timely wasn’t it? I forgot about that post but it really freaking rocks!

  • Duane Marshall

    I just found your site by way of someone else liking it on Facebook. I am not a Christian..I am Wiccan. But I really like your common sense view of things. Having just read “Momma said Knock you Out” I have “Liked” your page and book marked it.

    I enjoy when people can take a look at themselves and be honest. This works, that does not…but we are ALL people and ALL deserve the same respect. That is awesome.

    My daughter was writing a paper on religion and I ended my “interview” with this statement and I think it can apply here as well.

    You God may not be my God….and mine may not be yours…..but I bet they are Best Friends….so shall we all be.

    Thank you

    Duane

    • Diana Avery

      Cool!

  • Ellen

    Thank you so much for continuing to write about this. I just came from one of my favorite Christmas parties of the year thrown by two friends who are the essence of why gay marriage should be legal. As a single woman these gay men are an example of what I look for in a relationship.


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