Evangelicals: Do Better.

I was dedicated to the Lord as a baby at a Baptist church in Utah. I was raised in the Assemblies of God, competing in Junior Bible Quiz (although I wasn’t very good at it) in elementary school and Fine Arts all throughout high school. I loved attending church as a child, so much so that if my family’s car broke down or the road conditions were too dangerous to drive to church, it would ruin my entire Sunday.

But I no longer feel that way.

It is not that I don’t believe in God. I am a believer in the God of the Bible, and of everything that I have learned about Jesus. I pray and read my Bible every day. My Bible app has to send me reminders, but the important thing here is that I do read it.

And it’s not even that I don’t like church. I want to join the Cru worship team when I start at CSU this fall, and there is nothing quite as powerful as sitting in awe at the stained glass windows in a sanctuary.

But ever since November 9, 2016, I can no longer feel at peace among many of the Christians I had known for the majority of my life. And before you groan and call me a snowflake, know that I respect political differences. Not everyone can support the pro-choice or LGBTQ movements, and I understand why.

But here is what I cannot understand.

For the longest time, I believed that Christians were required to vote Republican, and that I would be writing myself a ticket to Hell if I admitted that perhaps I believed my LGBT brothers and sisters deserved the right to marry, or that maybe the state of Israel is not blameless. Even now, it makes me feel strange to tell my peers that I am a registered Democrat. But I refuse to be shamed or silenced on this, and boy do I have a lot to say.

First of all, how did we get here in the first place? I’m a black woman, so obviously I was never surprised that social injustice was still a thing, but… at what point did any of you think that it was a good idea to elect someone with no political experience who ran his entire campaign on hate? *sighs and adjusts glasses* I don’t understand how anyone could have thought that he was a better alternative to Clinton. But we’re beyond that now.

Everything that I feared about this administration has come true. I love the USA, and I respect those who have worked to protect it (e.g. my literal dad), but I do not respect Donald Trump or anyone who supports his agenda. And I don’t believe that I should. And I am gradually losing my respect for Evangelicals.

The Church should be fighting against this. And yet, it has not only let all of this happen, but most of the people in it are supporters.

With no due respect (because at this point, you don’t deserve it), how can you be a Christian and support the detainment of immigrants seeking Asylum? How can you be a Christian and believe that we should not house refugees? How can you support the separation of children from their caregivers?

You should not forget that unless you’re Native American (and I’m not talking about the “I’m 1/46th Cherokee” crowd), your ancestors were immigrants. Not all of us came here willingly, but most of us are originally foreign to this land. Don’t forget that.

And let’s not forget what our Holy Book says on this topic.

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. (Leviticus 19:33-34)

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against… those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the Lord Almighty. (Malachi 3:5)

There are many other verses, but I have to get to my point sooner or later.

My point is that it is obvious what God’s stance on this is. It is obvious what the Church’s stance on this should be. But what went wrong?

What went wrong is the main thing keeping me out of church these days. The vast majority of middle-upper class American churches have been running on turning away from other cultures. They send people to countries in Africa that they didn’t even know existed six months ago to take pictures with little brown children, but they probably wouldn’t have wanted Cameroonian refugees to come here. They sing the same two David Crowder Band songs in worship, but they act like they don’t how how to praise when a gospel choir sings a Mary Mary song. They talk about reaching out to their communities, but they try to raise money to move the church to a more suburban location in a “better” part of town. When asked to talk about race, they say that everyone is a shade of brown and that they don’t “see” color.¬†But they never fix the problem. They ignore it at best, and support it at worst.

Fellow Christians, our nation is in crisis. Yes, we should be praying for our government. Yes, we can send our thoughts and prayers.

But we have to take action. We have to actively stand with our brothers and sisters who are being attacked by this administration. We have to exercise our right to vote in the midterms. And even if you did vote for Trump, it is not too late to do something. We can do better, and we have to be best do better.

For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Galatians 5:14)

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The Conservatory Rejection Letters: How My Faith Improved My Performance

“Things are looking up, oh finally! I thought I’d never see the day when you smiled at me… I’d never trade it in, ’cause I’ve always wanted this and it’s not a dream anymore… it’s worth fighting for.”

And now everyone reading this knows I went through a Paramore phase. Well, my first week of sophomore year of college is going on right now, and let me tell you, some major stuff has been going down.

the conservatory rejection letters (1)

First things first, I had choral auditions this past Sunday. I had been dreading going to them, because I didn’t exactly look forward to seeing the voice faculty after what happened the last time they heard me. I even considered just not doing choir this year; however, I reminded myself that the worst that could happen is that I would be placed in the same ensemble I was in last year, so I figured I should just give it a shot anyway.

The audition went the same way they always go– I did some scales (I was really disappointed in the range I displayed; I expanded my range to a high C this summer, but did I even get above the staff at the audition? Nope), sang my piece (“God Help the Outcasts” from Hunchback of Notre Dame… and that is foreshadowing for something else), and did some sight-singing, which could have gone better, but also could have been worse, so, you take what you get.

After I finished my piece, one of the faculty members told me something along the lines of, “So I was at your audition last year.”

*panicking* Oh *insert obscenities* what does she remember I shouldn’t have come here why did I think this was a good idea I’m that person that people give as a bad example in lessons *insert obscenities*

“I must say, you have really improved.”

Huh?

“There’s something different about you this year, even in the way you carry yourself. You have come so far since the last time I heard you.”

At this point, I was sure I was dreaming, because when was the last time someone acknowledged my progress?

“Uh, well,” I started, “I’ve really been working on my performance anxiety and stuff…” I said other things, too, but I’ve mentally blocked out pretty much everything I said because it was painfully awkward.

“Well, whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.”

That surprised me.

I left the music hall choosing to believe the audition went well. Even if I’m placed in the same ensemble again, I thought to myself, there’s no denying that I’m getting better. So I’m going to choose to be happy with my performance today.

Well, lucky for me, this story has an even happier ending.

I got placed into the ensemble I wanted– Treble Choir! I also got placed into the vocal part that I requested (Alto II was getting way too low for me, so I am now an Alto I).

At our first rehearsal, each new choral member was partnered up with a veteran to discuss our goals, fears, etc. When discussing what made us the most nervous, I stated, “I don’t want to sound like trash next to you guys (er, girls).” My partner told me, “You wouldn’t have been picked if you sounded like trash. [Our director] chooses every girl in this choir because she sees potential in them.”

So… I don’t sound like trash, I guess.

In other news, I might get to be a part of the Hunchback of Notre Dame chorus at a local theatre company, and I placed into a pretty good music theory section (we won’t talk about solfege).

But why the sudden confidence? Why am I doing so well right now?

I believe I owe this to my faith in God. I just finished reading a book called Destiny and Deliverance (written by multiple authors, including Max Lucado) about the Biblical inspiration behind the DreamWorks film The Prince of Egypt.

First of all, let’s get this out of the way. I love The Prince of Egypt. I can’t wait for it to get a Broadway adaptation (and it’s on its way– Casey Cott played Moses in a recent stage production of it. I’m pretty sure he’s not even Jewish, but whatever). Everyone who knows me knows that if they hand me the AUX cord and put one of my playlists on Shuffle, eventually the sound system will start blaring, and I will start shouting,

I send a pestilence a plague into your house into your bed¬†into your streams into your streets into your drink into your bread upon your cattle on your sheep upon your oxen in your fields into your dreams into your sleep until you break until you yield! I SEND THE STORM I SEND THE HORDE THUS SAAAAAAAIIIITTTTHHH THE LOOOOOOOOOOOOORRDDD. Once I called you Brother, once I thought the chance to make you laugh was all I ever wanted I SEND THE THUNDER FROM THE SKY I SEND THE FIRE RAINING DOWN and even now, I wish that God had chose another serving as your foe on his behalf, is the last thing that I wanteeeed I SEND A HAIL OF BURNING ICE ON EVERY HILL ON EVERY TOWN this was my home. All this pain and devastation, how it tortures me inside. All the innocent who suffer from your stubbornness and pride I SEND THE LOCUSTS ON THE WIND SUCH AS THE WORLD HAS NEVER SEEN ON EVERY LEAF ON EVERY STALK UNTIL THERE’S NOTHING LEFT OF GREEN! I SEND MY SCOURGE I SEND MY SWORD THUS SAAAAAAIIITHHH THE LORD you who I called Brother, why must you call down another blow? I SEND MY SCOURGE I SEND MY SWOOOOORD let my people goooooo THUS SAITH THE LORD THUS SAAAAITH THE LOOOOOOOOORD you who I called Brother, how could you have come to hate me so? Is this what you wanted? *sick trumpet part in unison with the chorus* I SEND MY SCOURGE I SEND MY SWORD then let my heart be hardened, and never mind how high the cost may grow, this will still be so. I will never let

Your

People

Go.

THUS SAAAAAAAIIITH THE LOOOOOOORRRDDD

Thus saith the Lord…

I will not let

(let)

Your

(My)

People

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

“Hope, why did you just type all of those lyrics? We got the point after the first five lyrics,” you might say. And you’re right. All of that was completely unnecessary.

So, where was I? Oh yeah, the book being inspired by the film that must not be named, else this post will never end. Which, by the way, you should totally read it! I believe the book was written while the film was still in development, because sometimes they’ll quote songs and I’ll be over here like, “I’ve seen that movie and listened to the soundtrack at least two hundred times and I know they never said that.” So I think that’s pretty cool.

But back to the serious stuff (I gotta get to my point eventually… I’m supposed to tie this back to music somehow). I never realized how much I related to Moses until I had read that book. I have read Exodus multiple times, and I’ve seen POE several times as well. But Exodus isn’t exactly the (sorry, Moses) most entertaining book to read, because it’s slightly confusing. And long.

When Moses was at the burning bush, he was a changed man. He had been living a quiet life in Midian as a shepherd for about 40 years, he had killed a man (!) back in Egypt, and so I guess you can say he was kind of trying to run away from his destiny. So much so, that when God told him to return to Egypt to fulfill his destiny to free the Israelites, his response was a blatant “No. You must have the wrong person.”

Who says “no” to God? What kind of bravery…

So, naturally, God (in the movie) kind of starts yelling at him.

Who made man’s mouth? Who made the deaf, the mute, the seeing and the blind? Was it not I? Now go!

This point in the movie always kind of scares me, not in a monstrous kind of way, but in a majestic way.

How often in my life have I been Moses? I mean, at this point in the film, we’re all like, “You dun messed up.” Like, who says tells God He’s wrong? Who argues with God?

But we all have. The scary thing is that I have been praying for direction in my life. I have been praying about what to do about my career, and for the first time in years, I think I know what God is saying to me. And the frightening thing is, I think He wants me to stay at BW and try again.

But surely someone else can do the job. There are plenty of music therapists and teachers out there; why do I have to be one of them? They won’t want me. I’m not nearly as good as the other vocalists out there. Yeah, I have good grades and practice/study habits, but is it really enough? Besides, I’m not strong enough even if I am good enough. I get nervous. I’ll stutter (like Moses). I’ll shake. I’ll fail again, and I can’t afford to fail again.

But I am given peace when I remember what happens after this exchange.

“Oh, Moses. I shall be with you (…) I shall be with you, Moses.

The night before my choral audition, which I should not have been nearly as nervous about as I was, this kept ringing in my head. “I shall be with you.”

Even today, it keeps ringing in my head and nearly bringing me to tears. It brought me such an enormous peace as I was preparing for my audition and leaving it, knowing that I was not alone, that I did not have to repeat the mistakes I made last year.

I am terrified about what may happen to me these next few months. I know that I want to stay at BW now, but I also know what that means. If I want to stay, there is no getting around it: I will have to audition again.

So I don’t know what I will do. But whatever happens, I know that I can cast my fears aside, or at least try to. Because I know He will be right there with me, holding my hand.