I am big into perspective. Big. I have to be, in order to keep myself from becoming so narrow minded that I become an ODM who has condemned everyone to hell. I have gone far and wide looking for unique perspectives, and one of my favorites is Stephanie Drury. A self proclaimed “agnostic but practicing Christian”, she has spent years examining the “Stuff Christian Culture Likes“. I read this blog, sometimes laughing, sometimes cringing. I cringe for a lot of reasons, but usually because the nature of the article is all too true. I am guilty of a number of the things she points out. I found her on Facebook, and saw that there were even more lively discussions on her fan page. I mustered up enough “oomph” to ask her if she might do an interview. I figured in a month, I would be sitting in the corner on my office playing Jason Mraz songs on my guitar. (Did you get my message…) But she agreed, almost instantly! There is a bit of “colorful metaphor” here that might offend some readers, but I believe her perspective to be invaluable, and it shall remain unedited. Here is our conversation!
Tell us about Stuff Christian Culture Likes. What made you wake up one day and say, “The world needs SCCL”?
I never had any kind of realization about it or any kind of master plan, I just started the blog after reading the Stuff White People Like book. I had just gone on a road trip with my atheist friends and had spent a lot of time trying to explain evangelical culture to them. They were so fascinated by it. It was summer 2008 and the election was ramping up and they were asking me why Christians identify with the Republican party, which I could tell them all about because I used to identify as a Republican. Then I told them about church camp and Christian music and quiet times and Tooth and Nail and found the SWPL book around that time and realized I could write a blog like that about evangelical Christianity.
I have had some of those conversations. My explanations have changed over the years, as have yours. Why do you think Evangelical Culture so readily identifies with the Republican Party?
I think evangelical culture loves the Republican party first and foremost because of the abortion issue. They really get into the pro-life thing, which is so interesting and maddening because they equally back the war and the death penalty.
I agree with you 100% on the Republican Party magnetism. It is a single issue that stops most at the polls. Rachael Held Evans gets her book pulled from shelves, while Mark Driscoll’s book remains. Why?
Yeah, those ass clowns at Lifeway. The fact that they will sell Mark Driscoll’s blowjob endorsements but won’t stock Rachel’s book because it says vagina is a perfect example of why evangelical culture is horrible. I would never work with a Christian publisher, but they surprise me sometimes with the stuff they’ll put out, like Zondervan publishing David Dark. I feel like he’s doing kingdom work on Babylon’s payroll.
When you think back to the hundreds of articles you have done on Stuff Christian Culture Likes, what is it that really digs at you the worst? What one thing just bugs you the most about Christian Culture?
Just the fact that it has nothing to do with what Jesus was actually on about.
I am going to paraphrase a question from one of my fellow moderators, BrianD. A recent Pew Forum study concluded that “unaffiliated” numbers are on the rise. Do you think this is in any way due to the “Elephants” in the church?
I think that people don’t want to associate as much with people whose dogma trumps relationship. From what I can tell from the SCCL community there is a lot of fatigue from being treated as projects to be saved and then to conform to the ways of the Elephants like Driscoll and Furtick and Acts 29, all of those. Most people wake up to manipulation and absence of relationship for the sake of the Gospel eventually. It usually causes a pretty severe crisis where they have to reassess their identity as a believer and the fact that many of their church friends won’t stay in relationship with them if they leave the church.
Which is a perfect intro to the next question I have. You get quite a few e-mails and comments from seriously hurt people. I know that we, at PhxP sure have. What seems to be a common thread in the agonizing tales you have received?
The common thread seems to be that everyone has felt pressure to be a certain way or act a certain way in order to obtain favor with God. And that’s the farthest thing from what Jesus had to say. But all these Christian denominations and organizations have patterns and deep-seated beliefs that still deeply harm people in the name of Jesus, and the reason they get away with it is because they seem to have so much good going on. So many people are afraid to call out mistreatment or abuse, they’re so afraid to name it, and I understand that. Everything will change for them once they name it because they will be moving closer to dealing with that reality. It’s such a faithless thing, though, to hide and not live according to what they feel is true, for the sake of safety. But I understand it. It’s very human to want to hide and put up with mistreatment or things not being quite right.
Sovereign Grace Ministries now has a pending lawsuit for sexual abuse coverups. The Huffington Post made an effort to point out the increase of these lawsuits since the massive one scaled against the Catholic Church years ago. Do you think that church abuse has become more prevalent, or just more confronted? Do you believe it will make a difference?
It’s definitely always been as prevalent and I think it’s becoming easier to expose with the sense of community fostered by the internet. Just knowing someone has been through something similar can be a lifeline. And seeing a group name the ways they’ve been harmed validates your experience. Victims are conditioned to think they deserved their treatment and it keeps them not only from speaking up but from believing their worth, and it keeps the cycle of abuse going.
Starry eyed at that response! You and I have something in common, that is a bit unique. We were both PKs. That lends us unique experience. I think it may have shaped some of what we believe today. Could I ask, how has your view of Christianity changed since the days when we probably did not know much better? Was it due in part to growing up a PK?
I feel like it keeps changing. For awhile I believed everything they taught me and when I started to question things got really rough, but also better, if that makes sense. I feel like realizing you’re not sure of everything makes you more vulnerable and that’s where a lot of crises come from. I get emails from people who are in the middle of that kind of crisis and I relate because I think I’m always in a state of crisis, really feeling the tension between what I know and what I don’t know but that my intuition or whatever you might call it pulls me towards. I’m really compelled by stories about Christ and church history and original texts and also new age thinking. The ways that the unsayable affects people and how they interact with it are so fascinating to me and I think about it all the time. I think that growing up PK may not have actually been that different from plain old growing up with church-going parents who voted Republican and didn’t drink, because I know my curiosity towards mysticism and other religions was not encouraged, which only made me more curious, but that could have happened even if I wasn’t a PK. Once I got to investigating what they didn’t want me investigating I thought “well, no wonder. This challenges everything they stand for, their utter assurance and how they know things ‘beyond a shadow of a doubt.'” But no one really knows that sort of thing beyond a shadow of a doubt. I am so fascianted by that space between what you ‘know’ and what you feel. I think that’s where all the beauty and all the pain is.
Makes perfect sense. I first found out about you through following Mark Driscoll’s tweets. I was a fanboy in those days. I saw a tweet from a person called “Fake Driscoll”. Googling that, and then I found SCCL, and so on. I thought at the time that you probably needed salvation via-baseball bat. Now, I look forward to the tweets! How did “Fake Driscoll” come about?
When I first got on twitter I noticed parody accounts and thought I could do a decent one for Mark Driscoll since I’m fascinated by him. I’ve been in group therapy with women who have been involved at Mars Hill and the stories they told completely shocked me and scared me to death. I cried every week hearing that these people were being taught that following Jesus had to involve so much shame and guilt. There is such a system of control in place there. I listened to Driscoll sermons and read all his stuff to try to figure out what he’s on about, and because I know his voice so well I just started fakedriscoll.
Your husband is THE “Holy Roller“. Rumor has it, Mark could not have the public bromance with David at the free screening, because of his out of control wife. Public statement? LOL! I really have no idea what to ask, because it just makes me laugh.
I don’t do fakedriscoll anonymously and I have my blog as the referring url on the profile, so the Mars Hill empire knows it’s me and they’ve sent me an email saying I have to make it absolutely clear it’s a parody account. I just wrote back that it’s right in the name: fakedriscoll. They’re pretty paranoid. Case in point: a documentary my husband was in was being screened at Mars Hill and they asked him to be part of a Q&A panel after they showed it. Then they found out he was married to me and they disinvited him from the screening. The reason they gave was they didn’t want the husband of Stephanie Drury to share their pulpit. He called them and wanted to know more, and he was just going to be there to talk about the movie, but they were pretty firm that he wasn’t allowed there.
Thank you so much, Stephanie. Reading you and the people in the SCCL community, has made me take a hard look at things. I am thankful for your presence. It is good to know “The Stephy” is out there.