Hi and welcome back to a Roll to Disbelieve Super Special! These are (semi-monthly) curated lists of past posts that I put together for folks to enjoy re-reading–or encountering for the first time. And now that 2019’s all tidied away and lining the cosmic birdcage, so to speak, I thought it’d be fun to look back at 2019’s top posts for today’s Super Special. A couple of these surprised me! Come on in to see the list–and enjoy some pics of Bother along the way!
10. Why Luke Parker Thought Hannah Brown Owed Him Anything. This Bachelorette brouhaha got a lot of attention!
9. Where Mark Driscoll’s Been Lately. We had a lot of fun poking fun at his new (terrible and ghostwritten) book and almost-completely-dead blog.
8. Loudly Christian Businesses and the Company They Keep. A huckster pushing products with a multi-level marketing scheme (MLM) blatantly uses Christianity to gain sales and avoid criticism. Hilarity ensues.
7. MLMs Might Finally Be Losing Ground. A bunch of bad news for LuLaRoe, a PR disaster for Herbalife, and an eye-opening revelation about NXIVM leader Keith Raniere. It all made me wonder if MLMs were finally starting to lose some ground in modern culture. (Answer: mayyyyyybe.)
6. Everything You Ever Wondered About Sex Demons. I guess it shouldn’t shock anybody that quite a few Christians really dig the idea of sex demons.
5. Ed Stetzer’s Ties to James MacDonald. If you like this recent series about the Toronto Blessing, this post was one of the stories that got me really interested in the incestuous nature of evangelical power-politics.
4. James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel: A Timeline of Their Infighting. And unsurprisingly, here toddled along the companion piece to that #5 post! This story just blew my mind.
3. Wait, HOW Many Churches Close Per Year? I talk about some of the common figures flung around–and reveal the difficulties involved in making such a count. (This post was technically from 2018, but it was close enough to the end of the year that I’m counting it cuz it showed up in the 2019 list too.)
2. Josh Harris Is Kissing His Marriage Goodbye. This aider-and-abetter of courtship culture and bestselling author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye began distancing himself from his own work a few years ago. Then suddenly he broke up with his wife.
Our #1 post from 2019 is… by a landslide…
Back in August, I accidentally scooped this one. No idea how that happened. But the resulting post drew in an astonishing number of views–easily triple those of the next post!
And I can totally see why, too. Sampson wrote an Instagram post about his deconversion, then deleted it. A bunch of Christian news sites picked up the story, but R2D was one of the only sources reprinting what the post had actually said.
I hope he’s doing all right. I see him on Insta from time to time. As you can expect, the “Christian love” still flows freely from his onetime tribe. It’s downright disgusting to see how they abuse him in public; I can’t imagine how they treat him in private messages.
(At this point, toxic Christians don’t seem to care about converting new people. Instead, it’s become a matter of terrorizing as many critics into silence as they can. Yanno, you can tell a whole lot about a group by how they treat those who leave their ranks.)
The 2018 Blasts From the Past.
As we saw last year too, a couple of older posts ended up on this year’s top 10! But what really surprised me is how popular they were–and what their topics both centered around. Apparently Catholicism was on people’s mind last year!
1B: Pope Francis and Satan, Sittin’ in a Tree: K-I-S-S-I-N-G. This 2018 post came in #2 after the Marty Sampson one at #1. I’m glad of it! The post covers some of the current bad news for the Catholic Church and then gave Pope Francis’ response to it: Must be cuz of Satan! Oh well, what can ya do? Everyone donate more money! Ick.
3B: John Ramirez Is Trying So, So Hard to Bring Back the Satanic Panic. This one came in right behind the church closures post. And I’m glad it got some love during 2019 as well! It’s a story people need to know about. The original Satanic Panic did an incredible amount of damage to a heartbreaking number of people–and the jerks responsible for that damage largely escaped even a tiny bit of justice for what they did.
At the time, though, the Catholics I knew wanted nothing to do with the Satanic Panic. They harrumphed and huffed about it all. Oh yeah! They were soooo much more evolved and wayyyy too sensible to buy into something so obviously wackadoodle. That nonsense was for those silly Protties!
Well, now we’re 20+ years further along the road and Catholic hardliners are currently doing their level best to drag America back into those panicky days. I guess they think it’ll distract everyone from the financial fidgy-widginess and all that child rape that keeps coming to light despite their top leaders’ very best efforts over many centuries to keep it all on the down-low. Demons? Hey, it distracted their enemies in the 80s and 90s! Why not?
Yeah. It’s time for another kitty break. Definitely:
New Year, New Us.
The last few years haven’t been awesome for a lot of people. Here’s to hoping that 2020 starts to turn things around. Yes, stuff’s really screwed up. Yes, it will be for a long time and yes, it’ll be tough to repair. Hang in there. Have hope. Nobody’s alone on this road–and even though times can get dark indeed, the sun always comes up in the morning to light our way.
Those aren’t just pretty words. They’re the truth. They’re the real “Good News.”
And here’s even better news:
There’s no supernatural beings out there making life better or worse for anybody. No, it’s all just us: people being people, doing people things and trying our best. When I look across the entirety of humanity, I see great hope and improvement. It gives me a lot of optimism for the future. It’s not just that we’re abandoning organized religion, though that’s certainly part of that improvement. It’s that we’re not making the mistake of plunging immediately afterward into something just as bad as what we escaped!
Yes. By fits and bits, we’re slowly moving forward.
I’ll wrap this party up with an observation from Mr. Captain:
“Here’s a movie some Christian should make: The Devil in Mrs. Doubtfire.”
Happy 2020, my dear friends!
Thank you, thank you, thank you
for being part of Roll to Disbelieve.
Here’s to another grand year. Together.
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This post is an Off-Topic Wonderland! ��� Soo… Ya got any big plans for 2020?