Of all the stories I ever heard in church the one that absolutely terrified me more than any other was that of Jonah and the Whale.
For the uninitiated of you, gather round.
Jonah is this dude. He’s just living life. Probably having a cappuccino and baguette and flirting with the wait staff at the hipster coffee shop of the ancient world. And then one day God tells Jonah, “hey bro… you gotta go to Nineveh and tell them they suck and I’m mad.”
And Jonah is like, “Oh, Heeeeeeelllllllllllllll nah. Nope. Absolutely not. Peace out y’all. Buh bye.”
And Jonah jumps on a boat and tries to go literally as far as he can in the other direction away from Nineveh to put as much distance between himself and this city that has displeased God.
Cool. Free will, right?
NOT A CHANCE IN HELL DUDE. NOT WITH THIS ALPHA AND OMEGA.
A storm erupts of such supernatural origin that it spooks these professional boating fellas. Everybody on the boat is like, “is your god doing this? Not my god.” And finally they bug Jonah, “You’re being awfully quiet here, dude…” and Jonah is like, “Sorry bros, it’s my fault. I’m ducking this responsibility THAT I DIDN’T ASK FOR and since Free Will only works when you do the thing you’re ordered to do and I don’t want to do that thing… I guess we’re all screwed.”
He gets thrown off the boat and the storm immediately stops.
And Jonah… this poor bastard… yaaaay! now he’s stuck drowning in an ocean and he can finally drown and NOT have to go to Nineveh. Problem solved.
But God is a rather crafty God being the Creator of All The Things and God makes a whale eat Jonah. I mean… teleportation wasn’t an option? God’s weird like that, I guess.
And for three days– as punishment and humiliation cuz our Alpha and Omega just LOVES to punish people– Jonah sits undigested in the stomach of a whale until the whale swims his stubborn ass right back to the middle East and vomits him out on the shore. Remember kids, just because it doesn’t make sense doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Humbled, Jonah goes to Nineveh and tells them how much they suck. The people repent. And then there’s sack cloths. And dusting of thyselfs. And gourds. And withering of gourd shade…. man, it’s a whole thing. Read it for yourselves.
But as a child, and an adult, this story has always particularly terrified me.
The idea that God would select someone to do a thing. What does that mean? How does it happen? Post card? Burning bush? Booming voice in the sky? The idea that you would be tasked by God to do something. How does one know?
And then, what if you don’t want to do it?
I never wanted to be a missionary or in the mission field. This is pushed very heavily in Evangelical circles, just like every other cult– er… religion does. Go and spread the word. Recruit people. It’s a command from Jesus, “Go and make disciples of all nations.”
I remember my Bible teacher in 7th grade reading from a book about missionaries who went to the Amazon to bring the good news to these heathen tribes of savages. Of course everyone gets murdered on behalf of God and blah blah blah. Books like this were read to us all the time. I even did an episode about being a white missionary in a brown country! It’s a rather popular concept in Evangelicalianity.
This stuff terrified me. I don’t want to be a missionary. I don’t want to be tasked by God to go tell powerful people unpleasant truths in scary places. I’m a timid person. I hate doing stuff like that. I just wanna make movies and audio theater projects and act. Isn’t that what I was put here to do?
And then the consequence of NOT doing it. Jonah tries to exercise his Free Will™ and God’s like, “naaaaaah this ain’t about you… sucks to be you.” And I always felt tremendously sorry for this poor dude who was minding his own business and now he’s floating in the dark inside the guts of a whale before he is unceremoniously puked up in the final indignity. Thanks, God.
And I don’t know what was the most scary part for me. Ocean storms in little boats? Check. That’s scary. Giant sea monsters eating me? Yeah, terrifying. Whale vomit? No. Thank. You.
But I think the part that scared me more than any other was the idea that God would make me– little ole me– go and be forced to tell powerful people that what they are doing is wrong. That is abjectly horrifying to me. Like that’s more scary than the thought of having diarrhea at someone else’s home and they’re out of toilet paper. Just… *cringe*
I hung a trial as a juror once. The experience was utterly traumatizing. I was by myself. 11-1. To be the lone person holding out or declaring “something is wrong here” was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life. It exposed me to ridicule, people questioned my sanity, my intelligence, my humanity “think of the baby that burned to death”, I was manipulated, berated, yelled at, laughed at… man the whole thing sucked. (This will come up later in the narrative for those who are curious. We would not be here without that experience.)
Anyway, I believed in my heart at the time that God put me on that jury to protect that defendant as the trial played out. How crazy of a thought is that? (In the end I was correct and the 11 who wanted to convict were wrong… so maybe we gotta listen to that internal voice?)
And so, I acted in accordance with what my conscience was telling me to do whether I liked it or not.
And I do so again in these pages.
Believe me when I tell you I do NOT. want. to. do. this.
But, folks. Evangelicals… we’ve got a whale of a problem. That you created. And I created. We all created this problem. We all perpetuated it.
I opened this series mentioning a certain person inside the AIO fold had told me “it wouldn’t be safe for my family…” if I speak out about these things.
This weekend I was reminded of the literal danger of white supremacy, right wing messaging, guns, white grievance politics… the Buffalo shooting.
I got a family. I don’t want some racist, piece-of-shit, asshole with a gun and a small dick and a belief that I’m a blasphemer to show up and hurt me or the people I love. I worry about even writing that sentence in case it puts the idea in someone’s head. Locally, in the political scene Proud Boys are being organized against Democrats in my home town. I’ve come face to face with these guys in the past. They’re threatening violence to people that I care about. And I don’t want it to get worse.
And if I say nothing… maybe… maybe I can escape my responsibility of having to speak out against these things. Maybe nobody will be mad at me. Maybe I won’t have to hurt people I love who are still trapped in the system. I don’t want to stick my neck out.
But the storm keeps getting worse.
Trump. The January 6 Insurrection. Proud Boys. Oath Keepers. Tiki Torches in Virginia. Boogaloo. They are trying to start a Civil War. And what am I going to do about that? What are YOU going to do about that, Evangelical Follower of Christ™?
MAN, IT’S ALMOST LIKE THERE’S AN APOCALYPTIC POLITICAL CULT trying to burn the country down right now and the Evangelical Industrial Complex has been utterly complicit in aiding that effort and doing nothing to stop it.
And somebody has to speak up.
Many. Many. Many good and courageous people have already spoken up about this. People have been begging to be heard in the Evangelical community. And every message to the Evangelical crowd has apparently fallen upon deaf ears, because dear Evangelicals guess what:
YOU HAVE THE POWER TO STOP THIS INSANITY MORE THAN ANY OTHER GROUP OF PEOPLE IN THIS COUNTRY AND IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD.
YOU. HAVE. POWER. TO. STOP. THE. INSANITY.
Yet… YOU DON’T.
YOU’RE TOO BUSY.
YOU’RE NOT THAT INTO POLITICS *shrug*
BUT FETUSES AND THE ABORTION HOLOCAUST!! Right?
So why don’t you stop this?
Why ARE your ears deaf? Why are your eyes blinded to the chaos you’ve caused and contributed to?
I personally think it’s because you intentionally deafen and blind yourself to The Scary World™ to avoid legitimate criticism and instead choose to play the role of martyr and act like a victim to excuse the bullshit you peddle. (More on that later)
It’s almost like you want this to happen… BUT THAT WOULD BE UNCHRISTIAN.
But, for years now, I’ve been waiting for some Evangelical insider to step up and call this bullshit out. Blow the whistle dammit. And no one does. crickets.
All while I keep trying to swim as faaaaaar away from Evangelicals as I can get. I’m not gonna do it! Not me! Somebody ELSE should do that!
But there’s this nagging feeling that puts chills down my spine from time to time and makes the hairs on my arm stand up.
“Tell your story”
OH HEEEEELLLLLLLLLL NAAAAAAAW
Did you see what they did to me, Lord? Did you see how they treated me? The abandonment? The cruelty? The ones who claimed your name? Every time I’ve opened my mouth about my story to this crowd over the last 30 years IT HAS NOT BEEN A PLEASANT EXPERIENCE. Those people suck. Don’t make me go back there. That’s trauma. Talking about my story is trauma. Talking to those people about the trauma THEY CAUSED?!? That’s trauma on top of trauma and it will create a whole trauma vortex that will swallow me alive.
Nope. Huh uh. Not gonna do it. No way. I got better things to do with my life. The Evangelicals have already taken too much from me and damaged what was left over after they were done. I’m NOT gonna do it. They suuuuuuck.
And how arrogant does one have to be to actually think that God is pushing them to do something? Like that’s batshit crazy. And wha– like how literally crazy do I have to be to think that telling my story now is gonna be any better than the 30 years prior? Isn’t that the definition of insanity– doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? What could possibly be different this time?!?
Well. That’s kinda what this story is about.
Maybe it takes someone crazy to do these things.
But… but… Nobody’s even gonna read it. I’m not that important. This is an exercise in vanity. This is delusional.
“Tell. your. story.”
But. They. won’t. listen. to. me!
“You are the only person who can actually tell this story this way. And no one else is coming to save you from the burden of doing it.”
Anybody can tell this story! Why me?!?
“Because you’re Jimmy fucking Barclay and it’s gonna sound very different when they hear it from Jimmy fucking Barclay.”
Geez okay… language alert
“I AM GOD ALMIGHTY AND I INVENTED THE CONCEPT OF FUCKING AND I CAN SAY FUCK BECAUSE I ALSO INVENTED THE WORD FUCK YOU FUCKING MORON”
(Editor’s note: God and I may have a kinda sorta contentious relationship.)
But… why… me?
“Because I made you Jimmy Barclay and no other person on earth. I protected you in that role. I made that role for you. And maybe this was the reason. Also, you obstinate SOB… where were you when I made the stars?”
Check. Mate. That’s… well, that’s an obnoxiously good point. I guess. Dammit.
I would argue I was among the stars you were making– OKAY OKAY I’LL DO IT.
There is a verse from a song Neil Young wrote called When God Made Me that has always hit me particularly hard:
“Did He give me the gift of Voice
So some could Silence me
Did He give me the gift of Vision
Not knowing what I might See”
Dammit Neil. Dammit God.
What if you had the power to affect a few dozen people?
Would you have the courage to spill your guts?
What if spilling your guts hurts others who are complicit in the problem but not aware they are?
What if it went viral? What if it’s more than a few dozen? What if it’s waaaaaay more? I was told a decade ago a million people per week listen to AIO worldwide.
Can I get a boat outta here?!?
What if it makes you a target?
But damn… storm’s blowing hard! We don’t have time to worry about this! White supremacists in the name of God and abortion and Trumpianity are storming Congress.
If I do and say nothing, I will drown in this storm and our country will fall into a Civil War and authoritarian Dictatorship and full blown white supremacist uprising. Political purges. Death squads. We’ve seen this all play out over the centuries all over the world. You’re a fool if you think otherwise.
If I do do something and say something… we may still go down that path and this was all for naught but now I’ll be persona non grata with everybody I know and end up being made an example of speaking out against White Evangelicaltopia on a gallows.
And what if I do all this work and no one even notices? What if I’m worried for nothing and nobody cares? What if this is an exercise in total futility? That’s actually my preferred scenario. I hope none of this ever sees the light of day.
But, maybe… just maybe- maybe I can affect some tiny positive change here. Maaaaaaybe I can sway a few hundred/few thousand people in a few hundred counties in some red states to rethink the way they vote?
And is that not my civic responsibility? To speak up. Is that not the role of Citizen? To use my voice for noble purposes? For the health of my country? To use my voice to speak about the things I’ve seen?
Sure! Or maybe it kills me.
What would you do? WWYD?
The whole thing sucks.
So apparently, God wants me to address the fraud of the entire White Evangelical Industrial Complex and call out some of the most powerful people in our country and tell the Evangelicals how much they suck and have displeased God. In the most heavily armed country full of the craziest white supremacist assholes on earth.
Crazy. Absofuckinglutely crazy.
To even consider the arrogance and ego of such a thing.
Sometimes. Somebody has to be crazy enough to jump into the stormy seas not knowing what’s going to happen.
A leap of faith is in order.
And maybe it takes a crazy person to do it.
Maybe only a crazy person could do it.
Fucking Evangelicals™. Y’all suck*.
*I’m not the one saying Evangelicals suck. God is. But, I agree with God in this instance.