Christians of a feather

Mourning Dove On My Roof

Dear John,

I have read your blog for ages. I was involved in charismatic and fundy churches for ages, and, after being involved in ex-gay ministries and church for more years, came out as gay after a suicidal depression, and began to rebuild my life.

I lost all my church friends, and the anger towards church and Christians is palpable still. Every church I have gone to had people who behaved like shitbags. I’m not anti-God, but anti-church, and want to be able to break through this. Any thoughts?

Shitbag. Man, that is one harsh curse word. If anyone ever calls me a shitbag, I’m just gonna … be pretty darn sure they don’t like me.

Then I’ll kiss ’em. Then they’ll be all confused. But I’ll walk away knowing that, because I’m such an awesome kisser, I’ve just left them with one disgusting sexual fetish.

That’ll teach ’em. Call me a shitbag.

Anyway, back to you.

Dude: You can no longer rid the world of [I just can’t bring myself to say it]bags than you can rid the world of people with teeth. IJCBMTSIbags are everywhere. People suck. They’re mean, stupid, selfish, rude, opportunistic, and just … Obnoxious in General.

I know I am. Right before starting this blog post, for instance, I tweeted this:

A wood dove is building a nest right outside my window. I could build a better nest with 7in. of dental floss. Sad. #InstictFail

That’s me, making fun of a bird.

Poor bird. All it’s trying to do is build a nest.

Unfortunately, it’s trying to build one directly atop sloping roof tiles. Which don’t grip the nest. So the nest keeps sliding off the roof. And when it sees that happening, the bird sort of panics, and real quick tries to keep the nest in place by sitting on it. Then bird and nest go sliding off the roof. Then, about halfway to the ground, the bird remembers that it can fly, and saves itself.

A few minutes later, it comes right back to the same place on my roof, spends a while fretting over and accusingly staring at the spot, and then starts building another nest there!

Unbelievable! I’m, like, “Hey! Birdbrain! Try a tree!”

But does it listen? No. It’s a wood dove. They’re also sometimes called mourning doves. And do you know why those doves mourn? Because they have the dinkiest head of all the birds in the bird kingdom.

No room for brains! You couldn’t fit a BB in a noggin that size. Hence their sadness! They can see that their nests aren’t working; but, alas, are helpless to figure out why.


Wait. Now this dove’s looking through my window, right at me.

I think it wants me to help with its nest!

It probably thinks I built my whole house!

Man. I dunno. I might squirt a little glue on my roof, see if that helps. But I don’t how much I want to get involved with upsetting the whole order of nature. You start building nests for birds, and then what? Where’s it end? I don’t want coyotes showing up at my front door at two in the morning, asking if I can come out and help them strangle a cat.

I think I better do the right thing here, and close my blinds.

And my window. So I don’t have to hear the sadness.

Anyway, the point is: People are no different from … certain almost spectacularly slow birds. We’re all just out here, trying not to slip off the roof.

If you’re at a church where more people treat you poorly than well, leave that church. Life is hard enough without having to suffer IJCBMTSIbags on a Sunday morning. Find a church where people aren’t crazy—or where less of them are, anyway. And if you can’t find such a church, start one. Find some Christians you like, meet with them on Sunday mornings, do a little Bible reading and general communing, and you’ve got yourself goin’ on a little nurturing, grassroots Christianity.

Why not? Birds of a feather, and all that.

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  • Please post video of the bird. For the children.

  • Well, I do like making children cry …

  • Lymis

    I’m reminded of the C.S. Lewis piece (can’t remember the reference at this point) where he points out that the issue isn’t whether or not the people in church are better than the people who aren’t in church, but rather whether those same people are better than they would be if they weren’t.

    That, absolutely, there were wonderful people who weren’t Christian, and completely horrendous people who were, but that in his estimation, many of the worst of the worst were holding onto their humanity expressly because they had found that church was making them slightly less sour, less judgmental, and less awful than they would have been left to their own devices.

    That’s not to say that we need to put ourselves through hell because this might be true, or that if attending a particular church (or any church at all) is a net negative for your own personal spiritual journey, you shouldn’t even let the pew get warm before you dive for the door, but it’s worth considering.

  • I like your advice to start a church. I am regularly worshipping (and, gasp, even leading worship) with a group of people who had finally had it up to here (visualize hand waving way above my head) with being bullied and abused by those who thought that the church was their personal social club. The quality of worship and community is amazing when you get it out of those rigid denominational structures.

  • Janet

    That is the funniest thing I’ve read in a while. Not laughing at the man’s issue, though. There really ARE churches that will welcome you. Really.

  • Lymis: You know, that’s a point I make quite often make myself (though mostly in private conversations, because in a blog post, “Yeah, but imagine how obnoxious that person would be if they WEREN’T Christian” can make for a really deep hole really quickly). People always complain that Christians are, or can be, or whatever, cretinous. And I always say, “Yeah, but if you talk to any one such Christian, what they pretty invariably say is that being a Christian–and trying to live as they believe/know a Christian should—makes them LESS cretinous than they know they’d be if they weren’t Christian.” GENERALLY SPEAKING (he emphasized, already preparing his defense), Christianity does give people a standard, and a way, to become better, kinder people. And at their deepest, truest level Christians almost always look at it that way. That’s been my experience, anyway.

  • I laughed so hard writing this I thought I was going to pass out. I was remembering the time I actually saw a squirrel fall out of a tree. And this poor, dense dove outside my window. I would squirt a little glue out there if I wasn’t too terrified of what would happen next.

  • Kerry

    Very funny! I need to work out my smile/laugh muscles more – thanks for getting today off to a good start! (Going to follow-up with a serious post for the letter writer too)

  • mike moore

    Glad you qualified it 🙂 Sometimes it feels like church just wrecks people. The hate from so many church folk here in North Carolina is almost palpable.

  • Kerry

    Dear Person Who Wrote to John,

    I’m SO sorry for what you have been through. It is understandable how you would feel angry at people who contributed to you feeling so depressed about yourself that you almost took your own life. I can totally understand how you would feel wary of churches.

    I wanted to make sure you knew about and also the Directory of Churches found at this link

    I also wanted to say, I am glad you made it past the pain and please know you have love and support and fellowship here and at the links above.

  • Leslie

    Guy Who Wrote To John,

    I’m really sorry people were jerks to you. It sucks and virtually all lgbt Christians have faced something similar in churches. I like John’s idea. Church doesn’t have to be in an already established church building. If you can find one that isn’t full of jerks that’s great. I found one in a tiny, rural town so I know there are welcoming churches everywhere. But do, get together with others. It’s good for us to be in a community of some sort to propel us further and walk with us as we wrestle with Scripture and with God.

    Blessings to you!

  • 🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Gina Cirelli


  • Soulmentor

    A tree is barely a better location . Doves are stoooopid. Their nests are little more than collections of loose twigs easily destroyed by wind or wiggly branches, which branches often are. They’d actually be better off on foundations of sand, until a cat came along. They never learn. How the species survives is beyond me.

    IJCBMTSIbags at least have the capacity to learn, tho I do wonder about that in many instances. People can be dumb as doves and not nearly so sweet. Life’s too short. Learn to shrug and live it.

  • Soulmentor

    PS: Try United Church of Christ (Congregational) or ELCA, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Both are gay friendly. You might find a jerk or two, but they won’t be the anti-gay type.

  • Julie Lumpkin

    My church meets in an Irish Pub. All are welcome. It’s awesome!

  • Jill

    Ah, how I love the way you educate and amuse, at the same time.

    “We’re all just out here, trying not to slip off the roof.” Not a truer statement was uttered.

  • For the children??

    Heck let us be honest here. Its for us grownups.

  • Jill

    Letter Writer, I’m working through this too, and I don’t claim any great epiphanies or successes as yet (maybe never, who knows?), but I can say that I’ve had to allow myself the space to trust again along with the space to have that trust not validated or returned. And the space to try again somewhere else later. It’s all a risk, of course.

    But I’m assuming we’re older, wiser, smarter perhaps, to do this a little differently this time. As in, not expect much, but allow room to be pleasantly surprised.

    I spoke up at a listening session at my new-ish church, holding back tears all the while. Got so many hugs, kisses, and thanks for my honesty I thought my head would spin. People can still surprise us…in good ways.

    If you’re missing the closeness of a like-minded community like I’ve been, try an Open & Affirming UCC (make sure yours is listed O&A–check their website One thing I’m noticing– the good ones aren’t really going to chase you down, very unlike fundy churches that make you feel like you have a bullseye on your forehead. You have to want to make yourself a part of it, and speak up for your needs. A church that listens, and really hears *your* needs, is a keeper. All the best to you, and let us know how it goes.

  • Jeff Lee


    Depending on the size of your town, there are probably options. UCC has two churches in St. Louis that are almost exclusively gay and probably other cities have United Church of Christ branches that are very welcoming. Also, I have an ACIM group meeting on Sunday morning that is held at a church that welcomes our using their facility. Unity churches often provide A Course In Miracles groups free use of space, as their views and ACIM ( and John Shore’ s Unfundamentalist Christianity) views are very similar.

  • Jill

    And so many churches do wreck a lot of people. I really get that it’s not the right answer for everyone, it may not even be for me long-term. I’m really doing this with the over-arching intent to forgive God for allowing me to feel so wrecked. I don’t want to live in regret and resentment all my life.

    Back on the horse, and all that. Only a much kinder, less bigoted horse this time. 😉

  • Jill

    Oh my, I was literally talking to my coworker about finding an ACIM class locally just yesterday! Another reason why I wish I was closer to St. Louis!

    My closest Unity is 40 minutes, and I don’t think they offer ACIM classes yet. I’ll keep looking though…

  • Natalie

    That sounds awesome. 🙂

  • Kathy in KC

    I too saw a squirrel fall from a tree. Only this was no ordinary spill. This rodent fell from nearly 40 feet right next to me as I sat in my lawn chair. There was an odd whistling noise as the squirrel passed through the tree canopy, disturbing leaves. Then there was a brief silence due to free-fall, followed by a significant “whump” on the ground. The arboreal creature was stunned for a brief moment and lay inert on the lawn. Then he got up and made a hasty beeline for the nearest tree, at which he made a quick climb with much alacrity. I still do not believe that this creature survived his precipitous descent. But it really did happen and I saw it.

  • Matt

    I can think of another reason why you’d want to be closer to St. Louis :).

    (Me. You know you love me.)

  • Matt

    “I would squirt a little glue out there if I wasn’t too terrified of what would happen next.”

    Right, because the glue would get all over the dove. Who would then be unable to fly. Then you’d need to perform neurosurgery so that the dove could properly experience existential horror.

    Good call, John!

  • Allie

    Laughing out loud at your description of the dove’s antics. At least you still have mourning doves… down here in Memphis, mourning doves have almost disappeared thanks to the invasive Eurasian Collared Dove, which is NOT ACCEPTABLE. Mourning doves (John’s wit aside) are called that because they make soft, mournful coo-cooo-cooo noises. Collared doves make a noise like “hoot!hoot!hoot!” and they do it constantly. They are defective doves.

    However, they are rampantly outbreeding the native mourning doves, so maybe it’s because they have sense enough not to nest on sliding roofs.

  • Allie

    Re: letter writer.

    At first I couldn’t think of a thing to add to John’s excellent comment, but then it struck me. I’m straight, and I’ve never been in a church where people didn’t act like … bags… either. From the people who whispered behind my back that my husband and I only joined in order to have a cheap place to get married, to the lady who made rude remarks about store-bought versus homemade potluck dishes. There is always, always someone acting like a bag.

    And you know what? That was true of my grade school, my high school, my college, my theater group, the group of people I rode horses with at my barn, my sewing circle, my recreation group, the people I hung out with at parties, the people I worked with at my first, second, third, and forth jobs, it’s true of the job I have now, it’s true of my mother’s circle of friends, it’s true among the kitchen staff at my favorite restaurant. There is no group of people anywhere where there is not at least that one person who goes through life spreading shit rather than sunshine. Church gets singled out because people in church are supposed to be nicer than ordinary people. But they’re not. They’re just people, only in a church.

  • ben

    I am a bit puzzled. It seems as if the blatant sin is not only being glossed over, ignored, and not addressed, but actually seems to be applauded and confirmed in the comments. Someone explain this to me? We should not extol and encourage sin like homosexuality. You cannot be an obedient Christian and be homosexual, it’s like mixing oil and water. Thanks.

  • Matt
  • spinetingler

    -pops popcorn-

  • John (not McCain)

    You aren’t puzzled. You’re just another shitbag.

  • DR

    Unfortunately for all of us, one can be a Christian and a bigoted asshole as our dear ben here has demonstrated to such a degree, that he and others like him drive gay kids to suicide rates that are completely out of control with this “theology” . Good luck with that on the Judgement Day. God have mercy on you for what you do to His beloved in the name of Christ.

  • DR

    JUDGMENT. Typos are the enemy!

  • Natalie

    I’m puzzled as to how you got the idea that you can’t be gay and a good Christian at the same time.

  • Elizabeth

    He lost me at ‘obedient’.

  • Mike

    Personally, I find it easier to imagine someone being both an obedient Christian and gay, than for someone to be an obedient Christian and call others ‘bigoted assholes’.

    In addition to appreciating John’s writing and perspective, the thing I find interesting and compelling about this blog is the community that has developed around it. By and large I think people are thoughtful, respectful, open to different ideas, and generally showing the qualities of Unfundamentalist Christians that John has summed up really well.

    Having spent a bit of time on some of the more conservative Christian blogs, it amazes me (and yet it doesn’t) how angry, unkind, and vitriolic people can be, especially if you take a supportive view of homosexuality. I hope this place will continue to be somewhere that people feel safe to ask reasonable questions and learn about a community that is indeed “above all, love”.

  • Lymis

    “I hope this place will continue to be somewhere that people feel safe to ask reasonable questions and learn about a community that is indeed “above all, love”.”

    I think I missed the “reasonable question.”

    He started out by flatly declaring that all gay people are inherently sinners and incapable of being Christian, then by extension, questioned the Christianity of anyone who feels that being gay and being Christian are incompatible.

    “Hi, you’re all sinners and extolling sin. Can anyone explain it to me?” isn’t a reasonable question. It’s a rhetorical question clearly intended to pontificate about the superiority of his own version of spirituality.

    My existence as a child of God isn’t a matter that is subject to debate, and I wish people would stop behaving as though they think it is.

  • Lymis

    As much as I hate the “No True Scotsman” thing, I guess I still tend to think that there are some churches that are at least trying to be what churches ought to try to be, and some that are some sort of parasitical alien pod-people growths that are masquerading as churches with no intention of actually doing any of that pesky love-your-neighbor stuff.

    I wouldn’t dream of trying to figure out a clear-cut way of distinguishing between them, but yes, you’re right, some of these organizations are ego-driven personality-based cash machines that seem to be specifically designed to play into the worst possible motivations of people – who often, sadly, seem to drink it all in with vicious glee.

    Back to C.S. Lewis, I can only imagine how scathing a modern update to the Screwtape Letters would be.

  • DR

    I love obedience, obeying Christ is true peace and freedom. The warped, destructive views of what that obedience looks like is what I won’t tolerate any longer.

  • Mindy

    Oh, Mike, c’mon.

    First, ben didn’t ask anything resembling a “reasonable question.”

    We had a neighbor, when I was growing up, who was an expert at insulting people the way ben did. She’d see someone in their new car, flag them down and say, “Oh, this isn’t what you’ve been driving? Did you get a new car or are you renting this til the new one is ready? I understand . .. ”

    Huh? She’d make sure that you knew just how far down her nose she was looking at you before she gave you a chance to respond. She gave her own kids “choices” by saying, “You can buy this shirt I chose, or you can get the one you like that makes you look like a tramp. It’s up to you.”

    ben has been here before, I’m pretty sure. He knows exactly what he was getting into, and chose shitbaggery, anyway. We reap what we sow, ya know?

  • Jill

    Exactly. This is what I’m saying. 😉

  • Mindy

    You are exactly right, Allie – but I do believe sometimes the church-bags are bigger than your ordinary bag because they feel empower to spread their shit-not-sunshine nonsense from behind their bibles, which someone has told them gives them moral superiority. And they use it. And it stinks.

  • Mindy

    empowerED. Geez.

  • Mindy

    Matt – you are in St. Louis?! Where? Me, too! Right by the Loop.

  • Deborah

    Try the Presbyterian Churches that are members of the “More Light” subgroup in the denomination: One of the mission of More Light Presbyterian Churches is to work for the full participation of LGBTQ people in the life and ministry of the church.

  • Anakin McFly

    ‘Judgement’ is the British spelling!

  • Anakin McFly

    Do we know his stance on LGBT people, though? :/

  • Anakin McFly


  • Elizabeth

    I love obedience, too. Probably… not in the same way.

  • Elizabeth

    Fun fact: Jewellery is the spelling internationally. Not OK.

  • DR

    I completely agree! When people like ben start posing reasonable questions that aren’t trojan horses for condemnation, I’m all in. So far I’ve not seen it but I keep hoping someone who believes as ben does approaches this forum with questions that are really questions and don’t include an assumptive statement that gays are going to hell and Christians who don’t believe that aren’t real Christians.

  • Anne

    Dude! You are such a poser. Pretending to be puzzled and confused when what you are really doing is trying to mask intolerance and BAD theology under the guise of “poor simple me! I just don’t understand” [director’s note: read these words in a treacly, artificially high voice]. Lions and tigers and gays, oh my!


  • “Lions and tigers and gays, oh my!”

    Early working title for Siegfried & Roy’s Vegas act?

  • Anne


  • Robert

    Actually, you can. My brother-in-law is a minister and his church accepts LGBTQ people with no problem… so you can be Christian and accepting of the LGBTQ community….

    What you can be is a “Literalist” and accept the LGBTQ community. “Literalists” are people that say they believe GOD literally wrote every single word of the bible (but rarely follow the bible in a literal manner i.e. they eat gumbo and have credit cards both would be banned by biblical standards) and then use it to condemn others.

  • Matt

    Well, isn’t this a nice surprise? Always good to hear from a fellow Missourian–and you’re so awesome, Mindy. You are a credit to our state (as opposed to Rush Limbaugh, who should make us hang our collective heads in shame).

    I’m a bit nearer to downtown than you. I pass by Forest Park on my way to work every day.

  • Mindy

    That is a hoot. I, too, pass by FP every day, or go through it, taking my kiddo to school in Midtown. Have you seen the Charter School debacle in the news the past few days? That’s us! And the parents/students are going to win this one!

    Sorry to be off-topic, folks. My life is totally embroiled in this thing right now!

  • DR

    Lymis, I’m so thankful you’re here because of how much I grow spiritually and intellectually from your comments but I confess, I wonder how you do it. It must be exhausting to even entertain someone “reasonably questioning” your faith in Christ. While it’s irritating to have to deal with with Mike “tone police” and others like him who question my faith because I’m calling a manipulative “I’m just asking questions here, :innocent blink:” a bigoted asshole, it in no way compares to someone calling your very being before God into question . We’re quite blessed that you are up for enduring it.

  • DR

    This is fabulous.

  • Mindy

    What DR said. You are a brave, joyful soul.

  • DR

    P.S. – perhaps Mike, you might want to ask someone who’s gay how it feels to have to be on the other side of these “reasonable questions” like our dear Ben posted here every. single. day. I’m sure you’re quite well-intended, some people believe that the only way of getting through to people who are blind to the damage they do in the name of Jesus. Consider that anger is just as often, an activating agent and is often the only sword that pierces through the delusion we’ve encased ourselves within (that is evidenced in how we wrap our sin, our bigotry and our brokenness within questions that have a God-coated wrapper around them so we are immune to spiritual accountability. Be open to the idea that gentle and kind isn’t the only two ways the Holy Spirit pierces a heart. Thanks.

  • Lymis

    I’ve also found literalists to be oddly resistant to the literal interpretation of things like “for anyone who loves is born of God and knows God” and “In Christ there is neither male nor female” and “nothing that enters a man makes him unclean” – the Bible is absolutely full of verses that can be applied to same-sex love if taken literally, but they’ll bend themselves into pretzels to avoid them.

  • Lymis

    I’ve always assumed that, as a product of his time, he would have been solidly opposed to gay relationships. His obviously lesbian characters in That Hideous Strength were pretty vile caricatures.

    At the same time, as far as I know, he never wrote anything that condemned us, so if he was disapproving, he kept quiet about it.

    I remember Dale Evans, who among other things was a prominent evangelist, being asked whether she supported Anita Bryant’s anti-gay political efforts, and said “I’m too busy loving everyone to hate anyone.”

  • vj

    FWIW, in ‘Surprised by Joy’ [chapters 6 & 7] Lewis briefly describes the same-gender sexual antics at his boarding school (a somewhat coercive ‘tradition’, it seems), but only to say that he wasn’t interested in participating, and also to say that he thought once schools went co-ed it probably would have carried on with girls instead of boys…

    Yes, he seems to have been a product of his time in regarding it as a vice (which seems to be based on it’s then-illegality, rather than as a moral judgment), but in checking the source now, I am struck by how gently (and totally without any condemnation) he views the participants, even suggesting that, in the brutal social structure of the ‘Public School’ of his era, such relationships were actually a source of comfort to some. Indeed, he goes so far as to accuse of hypocrisy those who regard it as the worst type of vice – “And what Christian in a society so worldly and cruel as that of [The School], would pick out the carnal sins for special reprobation? Cruelty is surely more evil than lust and the World at least as dangerous as the Flesh”.

  • Owengirl

    I hope Ben is still here…I want to paraphrase the Rev. Matt Miofsky. I for one do not want to be a stumbling block to gay men and women who are Christians or who are seeking Christ. Matthew 18: 6“If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!

  • CJ

    Guys…so harsh on our buddy Ben – for shame! Have some of us forgotten what it was like to be brainwashed into believing all gays go to hell? Only two years ago I would have responded the same unreasonable way…until I came out. Of course not until then was the power of that bigotry broken over me. Much to the amazement (and even chagrin) of my fundy friends, the Holy Spirit failed to evacuate my body and He continues to abide within me this very (gay) day. As expected, Ben is happily swimming in his fundy bubble, safely drinking his comfortable flavor of Kristian Kool Aid. I’ve been there. I understand. So pray that he finally meets a gay believer or two that is willing to lovingly confront his skewed sensibilities and force him to kick his dogma around a bit. Since I’ve come out, several of my closest fundy friends have changed their minds and truly embrace me as a “legit” believer. Amazing what the power of the HS can do. There’s hope for Ben! Claim it, sistah!

  • That was me when I came here. Although, I pretty much just read and read and read. John and all the commenters really helped me work through this aspect of my faith. I think most who come here are being led by the Holy Spirit because what he is bringing about in their hearts flies in the face of Christian dogma. It was a breath of fresh air to find out I wasn’t the only one believing the way I was. 🙂

  • Elizabeth

    Oh dear. That was so not harsh on Ben. We (and by that I probably mean me) sometimes pick on literalists just for fun. It’s a way of showing them how their dogma sounds from the other side. A bully is a bully is a bully. I am eternally hopeful someone can turn them around. Welcome!

  • Matt

    That was the purpose of my taking the time to collect some of John’s highlights.

    If he’s genuine (and not able to admit it readily), then he can go knock himself out with some seriously good writing. I’m all for self-education. If he’s not, he’s free to ignore it. A win-win situation–I don’t have to waste more time than absolutely necessary, and if he “gets it” he gets to be in private when his universe comes crashing down.

    ‘Cause paradigm shifts hurt like hell sometimes. Can’t get away from that.

  • Linnea

    I would also suggest the Reconciling United Methodists. My congregation is Reconciling, and two years ago, when I walked with the local RUMCs in the Twin Cities Pride parade, our pastor said he saw people weeping when we passed… they were so grateful at the very *idea* that a church would welcome and embrace them without suggesting that there was something wrong with them. Here you go: