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When I was a kid, Christian comic Brad Stine yelled at me about wearing a helmet while riding my bike. He also yelled about seatbelt and car-seat laws, smoking laws, and gay marriage through his stand-up routine that I sat in the front row for.
Stine’s act is some part facetious whining about how kids aren’t “tough” anymore, some parts right-wing screed about “personal responsibility” — a Frankenstein of Ben Shapiro and Jon Gruden. As a 12-year-old who was raised to agree with Stine, it appealed to me. Months later, as a 12-year-old who fell off his pogo stick and — this is a technical term — broke my face, the punchline began to sour. When I didn’t develop asthma thanks to smoking bans, I started to wonder if the act was misinformed.
Stine’s work seeks to reinforce conservative cultural myths. Through bloviated bravado, he complains that schools are indoctrinating kids, threatens those who “disrespect” the national anthem, and insists that political correctness is “literally” destroying the United States as envisioned by the “Founding Fathers.”
It’s these types of myths, bought into by conservatives and even many liberals, that allow us to embrace the horrors of oppression. Police can act as terrorists to Black people if the country believes these myths. Black women can be dismissed as legitimate nominees to the Supreme Court if we believe these myths. The Bible’s liberating message for the imprisoned can be ignored if we believe these myths.
Fortunately, we don’t have to believe them. And we don’t have to justify them or pretend they aren’t scary. We can sit in the horror of our reality and then we can work to make room for a safer world for us and the rest of creation — work that can be done while we are young, or even after death.
Here are 10 stories to help counter these myths.
1. Broken Homes of the Drug War
Far from aberrations or mistakes, violent police raids knowingly target Black homes in service of both racist aggression and real estate profit. By David Helps via proteanmag.com.
2. Putin’s Religious Vision Underscores the Danger of Christian Nationalism
Putin wants an Orthodox Church he can control in Ukraine. By Wesley Granberg-Michaelson via sojo.net.
3. Russian Invasion Reveals Fissures Among Orthodox Christians
The Orthodox schism between Moscow and Constantinople that broke open in 2019 is cracking further. By Meagan Clark via Religion Unplugged.
4. What Does the Bible Say About Prisons?
Here are 10 Bible passages that help us wrestle with questions of mass incarceration, criminalization, and violence. By Hannah Bowman via sojo.net.
5. Who’s Afraid of Ketanji Brown Jackson?
The powerful symbolism of her nomination runs deep. By Sherrilyn A. Ifill via nytimes.com.
6. What Can Horror Teach Us About the Bible?
Sometimes God is lurking by the riverbank at night, waiting to fight us. By Brandon Grafius via sojo.net.
7. Kurt Cobain Pushed the Boundaries of Gender and Made Room for Us All
Nirvana took every step to sand the edges of rock's obsessive relationship with toxic masculinity. By Niko Stratis via Catapult.
8. My Family’s Lenten Practices Prepared Us for Green Burial
In Lent, we consider our own mortality — and what our own deaths and burials mean amid a global climate crisis. By Mallory McDuff via sojo.net.
9. For the Planet’s Sake and Our Own, We Should Let Rivers Run Free
By removing aging dams, we can restore freshwater ecosystems, support Indigenous communities, and improve public safety. By Tom Kiernan via Undark.
10. We Asked Kids To Review Banned Books
Kids ages 5 to 17 told Sojourners what banned books taught them about loving God and their neighbors. By Josiah R. Daniels via sojo.net.