Breakup Songs for the Church

I’m really really mad at the church tonight.

By church I mean the conservative(ish) North American Evangelical church. And all fundamentalist streams thereof.

I’m mad at churches that preach theology that hurts human beings, like complementarianism and “faith over fear” and other forms of Christian self-flagellation.

I’m so DONE with all of it.



So I like to play angry breakup music and dedicate it to different aspects of Christian religiosity.

For Those Books, Purity Culture and Fundamentalism in general:
Since U Been Gone by Kelly Clarkson


For the North American church preaching self-flagellation and other messages:
You Give Love A Bad Name by Bon Jovi


For religiosity and harmful theology:
We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together by Taylor Swift


I feel better now. Marginally.

Noisy Grief

In Ancient Egypt, wealthy families who were grieving hired professional mourners for the funeral procession. They would yell and wail for the dead person as they proceeded through town.

Ancient Hebrews would tear their garments, beat their chest and sit in a pile of ashes. 

Nowadays in Western culture, we grieve in more quiet ways. Crying. Hugging. Putting on black. A loud wail of anguish may be permitted occasionally, if the grief is particularly deep or remarkable. 

But I long for more dramatic, loud and messy ways to grieve. (And to grieve this way with people.)


Yelling and screaming at the sky

Blasting heavy metal music 

Smashing old plates and glasses

Whacking punching bags with baseball bats

A chorus of loud wails and sobs

Furious dancing 

Flailing at the air


Reciting poetry loudly

Proclaiming that which has been lost


Our grief, my grief, is so quiet. 

I fear that even when presented with such opportunities, I would shrink back, because I have been taught that grief should be held close, compressed, kept quiet.

I yearn for the day when I can express my grief with bombastic noise, because I’m no longer afraid, because I have found a safe place where it can be released. 

But for now, I will sob quietly in my room. 



Yesterday was a long day. I woke up early, worked all morning, drove to another town and back, and worked until 8:30pm at a market. I was TIRED.

It got dark, and then I heard bass-ey thumping. Somebody in the neighbourhood was partying it up when I was getting ready to sleep. I hate it when you can hear music but kind of not really. And I especially hate it when I want to relax.

I was lying in bed trying to sleep, working hard not to think about the noise. Which only made me more and more annoyed at the thumping sub woofers. To relieve my annoyance, I started creatively cursing them in my mind. Sweet satisfaction! I soon stopped hearing the noise and drifted off.

Why use f*** you! or d**** you! when you have this lovely selection at your fingertips?


May all mosquitoes within a hundred square metres congregate on your deck.

May your toenails grow inordinately quickly.

May the soles of your feet be covered in plantar warts.

May any water you drink taste like dirt.

May you get Call Me Maybe stuck in your head on repeat forever.

May all your can openers be dull.

May your garden be invaded by cabbage flies.

May your socks always be wet inside your shoes.

May your eyebrow hairs never lie flat.

May you get static shock every time you pet your pet.

May all your fork tines be uneven.

May your teeth feel fuzzy like after eating green bananas or stewed rhubarb.

May your fruit ripen so slowly it rots before it gets ripe.

May all your elastic bands snap as soon as you stretch them.

May your cellphone battery lose its ability to hold a charge.

May the tags on your clothes be un-removable and highly itchy.

May the skin above your cuticles peel.

May you hit your funnybone repeatedly.

May you bite the inside of your cheek every time you chew.

May your showers always be cold. And not a bracing or refreshing cold. A just-not-quite-warm-enough cold.

May autocorrect always choose the most embarrassing option possible.

May the library never have the book you want.

May every DVD and CD you ever use have a scratch right at the most dramatic bit.

May Netflix or your live streaming media service freeze right at the most dramatic bit.

May every radio station you tune into be in the middle of an ad grouping.

May you lose all your pens.

May a cheerful bird make residence right outside your bedroom window and chirp loudly and incessantly at 5am.




The Super Film Set

Shower thought from last night: What would each film department choose for their super power? 

Sound: Telekinesis — bye bye boom poles!

Actors: Shapeshifting — why work out for the role when you can simply morph your muscles?

DoP: Weather Control — the best natural lighting all the time.

Grips: Super Strength — because duh.

Electric: Lightning — why use generators when you can BE THE POWER!

PAs: Super Speed — helpful when running all over set.

Editors: also Super Speed — for reasons.

Scripty: Cloning Self — it’s really a job for three anyway.

The Entire Art Department: Mind Reading — so they can understand exactly what the director means when s/he says “I want it to evoke feelings of majesty”.

Greens: Plant Powers — obvious

Animal Wrangler: Speak to Animals — also obvious

Producer: Turning Stuff into Gold — What “financial woes”?

1st AD: Warping Time — No more worrying about falling behind schedule.

Screenwriter: Teleportation and Time-travel — First-hand research made easy!

Director: Multilingualism — Because each department has its own language. And now the actors will finally GET what you’re asking for.



On Loneliness

I am lonely.

Oh, I have a lot of friends. Though most of them live two hours away, minimum, there’s always Skype and Facebook call. I’m part of a young adults group in town, and a mom’s group (even though I’m not a mom). I work with awesome people. I live in a small town and bump into people I know on a relatively frequent basis. The librarians know my name.

And yet, some days I still feel a crushing sense of isolation, because it feels like all the responsibility for social interaction is on me. I have to call up a friend for a coffee date. I send the message to organize the Skype. I drive myself to MomTime and walk to the library to see the librarians who know my name. And that young adults group? I started it with a couple friends because I didn’t have enough social interaction.

I would love, LOVE for people to reach out to me. I fantasize about getting invited to people’s houses or answering the phone to a friend who simply wants to chat.

Yes, it’s a lie that I have to do ALL the work. Last month I was spontaneously invited to a Bible study. My friend asked if I wanted to sew with her. I got some long newsy letters in the mail. And yet, it feels like I give 110% to only get 25% back. It’s exhausting. I wish I could share the weight.

Are my expectations too high? Maybe a little. I need to stop overextending myself. (110% is not healthy.) But all the same, is it too much for me to ask people to call now and then just to chat, to see how I’m doing? Or to say, “Hey, let’s go for a walk sometime”? Or to have a friend invite me over just to hang out and do nothing? If this is too much to ask, what kind of society are we living in?

Do I just not have many friends? Or is this what being an adult in modern-day Canada is like? If so, it sucks and we need to bring more of our childhood play dates back.

Now, this isn’t a plea for pity, though if you know me and genuinely want to hang out, YES PLEASE, sign me up. But I want to point out that even though many things in this world can be made better by changing our attitude or perspective, loneliness is not one of them. Curing loneliness takes multiple people. We all need to play our part. So go call a friend or invite them on a walk. And not just one time. Your lives will be better for it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who daydreams about receiving a friend’s invitation.

Not All Hard is Created Equal

There are different kinds of hard in the world.

One of them is like wading through molasses. On a cold day. Just living feels unbearably heavy. It’s that feeling you get of trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. Or wanting to eat chocolate icecream and only getting vanilla while your tastebuds scream “WANT CHOCOLATE”. It’s when you go to bed exhausted and wake up the next morning still tired, and you don’t want to get out of bed.

The other one is like that feeling when you hit the fifth kilometer running on a forest trail. (For someone who likes running.) At some point part of you is like, STOP NOW, but the other part wants to keep running and running and running. It’s going to bed exhausted, but still wanting to get up in the morning.

Because the English language doesn’t have simple phrases for these different types of hard, I’ve decided to call the first one Philbert and the second Eugenie.

I think we do a huge disservice to ourselves when we say “You need to do hard things to get anywhere in life” or “life is hard” without taking into consideration the difference between Philbert-hard and Eugenie-hard. Eugenie-hard is healthy kind of hard, where struggle is part of growth. Philbert, on the other hand, is a drag, a heavy weight, an encumbrance. I personally don’t want to put up with Philbert. I will embrace Eugenie-hard. But Philbert-hard just sucks my energy and makes me crabby. If they were people, Philbert would be a person you must deal with occasionally, but you don’t invite them home. Eugenie, on the other hand, would make a great friend.

(P.S. I also think there are other kinds of hard. Dorothea-hard is a cousin of Philbert’s, where your energy is drained, and it’s like dragging yourself across a desert. BUT you do it because of a deep love for another person. And so the pain of Dorothea-hard is worth it because there’s love. There is no love with Philbert; just shame, condemnation, exhaustion and all those nasty things.)

In Which I am Punched in the Gut (Metaphorically Speaking)

I am very hard on myself. Whether it’s because I’m a visionary and I see what could and should be better than what is, or whether it’s because of past legalism telling me I was never good enough, I struggle to see my positive qualities. I’m learning slowly to focus on what is there, not what is missing, but it’s a process.

Last night was rough. Self-condemnation reared its ugly head, and I felt like an unfinished mess of flaws. I was discouraged by how far I have to go. The voices, “You’re not measuring up, you’re a broken mess, you’re a pain in the butt, you’ll always struggle with this,” were loud and strong. I knew that wasn’t true, but it was so hard to see in that moment. I could only see what I was bad at, where I was failing, where I was struggling. So I reached out to my friends on Facebook with this post:

“Help. I’m really good at seeing the problems in my life and areas where I need to improve. I’m not so good at seeing my skills, talents and positive traits. I need some outside perspective. What am I GOOD at?”

And then I went to bed because everything is 300 times worse when you’re tired.

In the morning I checked my Facebook, excited and curious to see what my friends had to say. And then I read this comment:

I see many good traits in you, Lyndall, but instead of listing them I want to encourage you to look to God instead ❤️
Pray for Him to reveal what gifts He has granted you. While it can be helpful to receive the opinions of others, we cannot look to other people to affirm us. This is a beautiful time to pray, ask God what He thinks of you. Read your Bible and see what it says! And take the time to explore what you enjoy doing.

Self-confidence is found in God and His Word! And you better believe He’s given each person gifts and abilities to be used for His glory. Even if it’s the gift of being a janitor… Be a janitor to the glory of God!”

Did my friend mean well? Yes.
Did she want to be helpful? Yes.

But I felt like I had been kicked in the kidneys. I wanted to throw my phone across the room. And I started crying. Because what I heard in my friend’s post was

You’re not trying hard enough.
You’re doing it wrong.
Your needs and feelings don’t matter, just listen to the Bible.

I had asked for help, and instead I got a sermon. I’m sick and tired of hearing religiosity when I simply want love and encouragement. It’s not like I haven’t already read the Bible and asked how God sees me. But humans need affirmation from other humans too.

I’m not angry at my friend. But I am upset and angry at a system that overlooks human needs and genuine heart-cries with Bible verses and pious phrases.

Leslie Ludy: I’m No Longer a Fan

As you may have gathered so far, I have some issues with the things Leslie Ludy teaches. Prepare yourself, because this blog is going into details over the next few weeks.

I loved Leslie’s books as a teen. I was super passionate about loving God and serving Him with all my being and actions. Leslie showed me practical ways to do that. I loved her passion for Jesus, for purity, for living a set-apart life. And I wanted to do that too. I had read a lot of books about Christian femininity by other authors, but they were from the Christian Patriarchy movement, and seemed a bit too extreme or old-fashioned to be realistic. Leslie, on the other hand, was more in touch with the real world. And yet she wasn’t part of the world. In it but not of it. She was my prime example of what godly femininity could look like.

I prayed for a Christ-built warrior poet. I dressed modestly and watched how much of my heart I shared, to avoid causing my brothers in Christ to stumble. I surrendered my life to God and stayed far away from  profanity and entertainment. I spent more time praying and reading the Bible. I pored over the latest gorgeously-designed Set Apart Girl magazines, and devoted myself to the lonely but oh-so-worthwhile life of devotion to God. I traded my fantasy novels for missionary biographies, and avoided any music that wasn’t Christ-honouring. I did my best to live the life that Leslie promoted.

And I felt stressed and guilty all the time.

Which leads me to my Big Question: How did something that seems so Christ-focused bring so much anxiety, stress and heaviness into my life?

What Leslie preaches is supposed to be all about centering our life around Christ. It’s about how to make him Lord of our lives, to live with vision and hope and deep satisfaction. And yet, all I experienced was pain and frustration. Maybe I didn’t try hard enough. . . But I think if I’d tried any harder I would have killed myself. I burnt out.

Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And “A good tree produces good fruit”. Paul said “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom”. I didn’t experience that from Leslie’s writings. In the last few days I’ve come across a couple other people who had similar experiences, so I know it’s not just me.

That’s why I’m reading her books again–to find out why something that would appear to bring life actually brought death to me.

Leslie Ludy and Single Women’s Books

Leslie Ludy has written a host of books for young women. Young, Christian women who are presumably single. I own four:

Answering the Guy Questions
Authentic Beauty
Sacred Singleness
When Dreams Come True (co-written with her husband Eric)

I’ve read a bunch of her other books, though it’s been a while.

When God Writes Your Love Story (again, written with Eric)
Set-Apart Femininity
The Lost Art of True Beauty

Leslie also has an online magazine called Set-Apart Girl, and a blog devoted to topics of interest for young, single Christian women.

Last week I was re-reading When Dreams Come True, which is an autobiography of the Ludy’s love story. Eric and Leslie alternate telling their story in different chapters. This time, something hit me that I had never realized before.

Leslie was never a single young woman.

She met Eric when she was around 16, and they began dating (or courting or whatever you want to call it) a few months before her 17th birthday. She got engaged at age 18, and married at 19. When Leslie was still single, she was a girl.

I find it very strange that a woman who has had no adult experience as a single person is writing so many popular evangelical books for young single women. It’s just as strange as a 21-year-old single, Joshua Harris, writing the top-selling Christian book on dating and relationships.

Now, I do realize that there are basic principles of life than can apply regardless of your age or marital status. However, I believe that when you’ve lived something, you have more wisdom and weightier advice to bring to a situation. This is why I’m not telling my friends how to raise their kids; I haven’t had kids, so I don’t really know what I’m talking about.

I wish Christian publishers would stop publishing books by under-qualified authors. It’s not healthy or helpful for us. And the damage is worse when the audience is young impressionable people who haven’t yet developed wisdom or discernment.

It’s going to be interesting re-reading other books by Leslie, having realized that she never was part of her target audience.



Counterfeit Manhood according to Leslie Ludy

A couple days ago I decided to go through Leslie Ludy’s Answering the Guy Questions. I’ve read it a few times, but not since I kissed legalism goodbye. I’ve been going through it and taking notes about how the ideas affected me as a teen, and what I notice now as an adult. It’s been educational. And I’m only partway through chapter one.

Leslie begins the book by describing “Counterfeit Manhood”. She talks about the dismal state of modern masculinity, which I find especially interesting in light of the current discussion about toxic masculinity.

She starts the book with a discussion of her seventh grade experience. “Boys were loud and obnoxious, insensitive and crude.” She then goes on to talk about guys who “treated  every girl like a piece of meat to either lustfully consume or carelessly discard.” Her high school experience was even worse. Most of the guys she knew actively viewed pornography. Her youth pastor constantly asked the girls if they had boyfriends, and flirted with the attractive girls. She constantly overheard guys lustfully describe girls’ bodies, and when she finally called a guy out on it, he told her that’s just the way guys are.

All of this is utterly foreign to my high school experience. I was home schooled and the guys that I interacted with were decent people who respected the girls and women in their life. Some were obnoxious, selfish and arrogant, but they never treated women like meat.

What Leslie talks about is far removed from what I know. “Like most girls my age, I reasoned that being treated like a sex object was better than being disregarded by guys and spending the rest of my life alone. So I began catering to the masculine perversion all around me by dressing seductively to gain male approval, laughing carelessly when guys touched or grabbed me sexually in the school halls, and giving away my heart, emotions and almost all of my physical purity to one casual, meaningless fling after another. Like most other girls my age, giving in to the dismal state of modern masculinity left me heartbroken, wounded and plagued with debilitating insecurity.”

I was horrified when I read that. And then something clicked in my mind. This isn’t a description of modern masculinity. This is a description of sexual harassment and toxic masculinity.

Just to be sure I did a quick google search. I ended up at the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s page about identifying sexual harassment . Certain points fit Leslie’s story all too well.

  • invading personal space
  • unnecessary physical contact, including unwanted touching, etc.
  • derogatory language and/or comments toward women (or men, depending on the circumstances), sex-specific derogatory names
  • gender-related comment about a person’s physical characteristics or mannerisms
  • displaying or circulating pornography, sexual pictures or cartoons, sexually explicit graffiti, or other sexual images (including online)
  • sexual jokes, including circulating written sexual jokes (e.g. by e-mail)
  • bragging about sexual prowess
  • questions or discussions about sexual activities
  • requiring an employee to dress in a sexualized or gender-specific way (ok, she wasn’t required to dress a certain way by an employer, but there was definitely a cultural pressure to “dress seductively”)

I’m horrified and sad that her school was like this. Yes, I’m probably naive, because people will say that’s just what high school is like. But that’s not what it should be like.

What disturbs me most about this chapter is that Leslie calls all this “modern masculinity” and “counterfeit manhood”. She perpetuates the lie that nearly all guys, and especially non-Christian guys, are like this. She takes the blame for not standing up and having high morals, and not encouraging guys to do better. She doesn’t call out sexual harassment for what it is: An unhealthy and unacceptable way for guys to interact with women, regardless of whether the’re Christian.

Thankfully in college I never experienced what she described. If I had, I probably would have believed that unwanted touching or sexual comments were my fault for interacting with a non-Christian guy. Because after all, what else would I expect from a modern man?

This leads to greater problems later in the book. One premise of Answering the Guy Questions is that we can inspire men to valiant manhood by being princesses of purity. We can make guys behave better by following God’s Plan™ for femininity. Thus the responsibility for men to change is put on women’s shoulders. Which is ridiculous. We can’t manipulate guys into changing their hearts.

What we can do is call unacceptable behaviour by its true name. Let’s not pretend that leering, catcalling, unwanted advances and inappropriate touching is just “the way modern guys are”. No. It’s sexual harassment, and it’s wrong.