Friday, July 28, 2017

Central America Does Not Need Evangelical Jesus!

For a couple of years now we've been reminded, again and again, about the hard work, sacrifice and need for money by one of Evangelical Quiverfull's royal families - Jill Duggar Dillard and her husband Derick and their mission for Christ to the poor nation of El Salvador in Central America.

The couple continually ask fans for their television show 'Counting On' to donate money towards their mission trip. They have to raise funding for their mission trip all the time because they have applied to different mission-sponsoring and certifying organizations and have been rejected. Most of the organizations have certain requirements to join, many times these requirements are minimal in nature. Usually something like a small number of classes in Bible studies at a university and other lower-level educational requirements. Nothing too tasking or onerous, but the Dillards have failed to meet the rules, or even make a cursory attempt to comply. They've demonstrated that they think they should be exempt from regulations because of who they are and their zeal for the Lord.

Here's the thing, looking through the postings of what the Dillards are doing in El Salvador it's not very clear exactly what they are doing. It looks much more like vacation-tourism-prayer situation.

Moving to a rural 3rd world area of Costa Rica five weeks ago has given me a completely different view of the Dillard's 'mission' in Central America. Yes, there are critical needs here in Central America, particularly I witnessed this in the country next to El Salvador - Nicaragua, but I'm also seeing oodles of tourism-missions going on in the area that do nothing to address any of the legitimate needs of the populace.

The closest to meeting needs I've experienced here was a group of teens purportedly here to built sidewalks around the schools. They seemed to spend minimal time mixing the cement and actually installing the needed walkways, and more time hanging around in big giggly groups at the luxurious American- style local coffee shop. Yes, I understand being without wifi might make that coffee shop something you really really want to visit since they have the only decent wifi in the area.

But even as many of the mission trips to Central America seem to be more tourist-oriented there's an even larger reason why people like the Dillards and church groups really do not need to be here using the local resources without providing a real benefit. Central America is one of the most religious places I've seen. I'm betting the pervasive religion in the culture of Central America rivals even the biggest towns in the US Bible Belt. It is in every single sphere of life here.

It's not uncommon to see random pictures of Jesus in places you would not expect, like the side of a bus, at a bus stop, in a cafe, and, of course, in everyone's homes. Jesus is EVERYWHERE!

Most of this area is heavily Catholic. Now I know the Duggars and pals think that Catholics are not real Christians and that they are going to hell, but having attended the local Catholic church here for a number of Sundays now I can only conclude that there's not a lot of difference in core beliefs based upon the sermons I've heard here. Plus, Evangelicalism has made vast inroads here. Most people attend church here, it is serious, taken more seriously than many places I've lived.

Faith is taken so serious here that there are national holidays based upon religion. Next Wednesday the nation takes a holiday named 'Virgen de Los Angeles' and if you scan through a list of Costa Rican holidays you will see many are based around religion. On August 2 locals will walk in pilgrimage to the basilica in Los Angeles to honor the La Negrita, the end of the trip taken on their knees.

So what are Derick and Jill supposedly saving people from here? Higher percentage of Christians here and a much higher percentage of weekly church attendance. Oh, I forgot, evil Catholics.

Evangelical missionaries aren't needed here, or at least the ones that don't do anything to meet the needs of the people. Missions shouldn't be endless vacations. If you want to come here and make a difference then come to do something like teaching English, or to help dig and set up a community well, to help out with medical treatment in communities several hours from medical help.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Godly Granite or Making This Up As You Go Along?

I've had a hard time keeping my mouth shut lately in regards to the total and complete hypocrisy of Quiverful/Evangelical female cultural enforcer Lori Alexander of The Transformed Wife.

Lori has recently been martyrbating over the fact that many of us resist her theology, mistakenly claiming that anyone not lining up with her claims hates her.

I don't know about everyone else that opposes her, but I don't hate her. I feel sorry for her mostly, occasionally amused by her words and claims, but my primary emotion towards her is the deepest of pities. An emotion you might feel towards someone unable to see, or walk, or suffering needlessly.

She's missed so much. In her book 'The Power of the Transformed Wife' she exhibits she's never experienced some of the best things about faith, grace, mercy, lovingkindness. She's looking through a glass darkly, but it's gone on so long that she's blinded to anything but judgment and fear. She's missed out on a satisfying marriage, happy fulfilled motherhood and being loved deeply by others. She flails around, from legalistic idea to idea, changing her theology to suit herself and her life. The clearest example of this is her recent kitchen remodel.

I just finished a kitchen remodel myself so in the past three or four months I've been immersed in researching the complexities of remodeling the kitchen. My kitchen is small, I've never been into material things, but I wanted to upgrade it and remodel because we're renting it out while we're living in Costa Rica. I haven't touched it as far as upgrading in over ten years, from the time when my asthma went insane.

Lori had this to say back in May 2011 about kitchen remodels and granite countertops, which I found surprising considering how many times Lori photographs her own kitchen for blog posts:

Ken always thought I wanted granite counter tops in my kitchen with gorgeous stainless steel appliances. I don't. I never have but after watching that show, I realized if I did get those counter tops and appliances, they wouldn't make me any happier. Stuff never makes anyone happier. Being content with what we have makes us happy. Working hard and having a purpose greater than ourselves makes us happy. Having meaningful relationships in our life make us happy. Knowing who I am in Christ and all the riches I have in Him, being thankful for all that I have; this is what makes me happy. What makes you happy?
 Recently, during my own kitchen remodel, Lori also remodeled her kitchen. Good for her, I'm happy for her. But, Lori did a serious flipflop and has been promoting false ideas about that remodel by claiming that granite countertops and sinks are somehow 'Godly' because granite is a natural stone.

After endless research this just makes me laugh! Granite countertops are natural stone, but they undergo a seriously unnatural transformation into those countertops. The granite sinks are not entirely natural stone, but an amalgam of granite pieces and unnatural plastics.

Here's Lori's claims from her new blog:

 Our old sink was completely rusted out so it leaked and our stove top didn’t work well, plus our counter-tops (Corian) had cracks in it so we changed to granite, an amazing sink (Blanco which is 80% granite), and a new stainless steel stove-top. We then had our cabinets painted an off-white (replacing them is way too expensive!) and had a great tile guy create our back-splash with natural stone and glass tiles. We will paint the walls a warm beige in the fall (yes, the sunflowers will go). One thing I do notice is that products made by God (wood floors, granite counter-tops and sinks, and stone tiles) are far more beautiful and stronger than anything man can make!
 Granite is beautiful, that is for sure, even if I'm hearing from a few interior designers I know that it's becoming less desirable and dated in some places. It's not the most durable, it can be burned, scored or break.

This is one of those things that makes me laugh because I think it's perfectly fine to have personal preferences. What's not fine is to wrap it in claims that it is 'God's Will', like Lori does. As women spent more time in the kitchen that men in most relationship (there are exception, like my father who did all the cooking) it just makes sense to decorate or set it up in a way pleasing to the person that uses the actual room the most.

Lori just needs to come out and admit she wanted a new kitchen. There's nothing wrong with wanting nice things and to have a kitchen you want to spend time in. Just admit it.

I did not go with granite. Our house is going as a rental. If it was me remodeling the kitchen for my happiness I would have gone with a recycled glass and seashell countertop, so beautiful! But I'm afraid to leave that countertop for a renter because, like granite, it has its fragility and quirks of use. I went with a higher grade laminate with a copper sink and faucet, copper backsplash and copper fittings with white painted walls and appliances.

If we come back to the States to live in that house again I'll remove the laminate for the recycled glass and seashell and mount all the copper panels on the walls. I like nice things too, I just don't think my opinions are also God's opinions.

The sink:

And the kitchen when it was near completion: