Posts tagged 10 Things I Hate About Christianity

QUESTION: When Was The Last Time You Had To Explain What You Believe To Someone?

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Question(s) for you:

When was the last time you had to explain what you believe to someone? Who was it and how did it come up? How did it go?

I’ve heard it many times over:

Religion (or beliefs) are personal–they’re not something you should talk about. You should keep that part of your life to yourself.

Do you agree? I understand why people say it. Either they:

1. Don’t want to go through the discomfort of trying to formulate words that make sense based on their beliefs.
2. Don’t want to go through the effort that figuring this all out takes (and then go through #1 also).
3. Don’t want to do the above two and then deal with the reaction of what someone might say.
4. Don’t want to be challenged on what they do (or don’t) believe.
5. Don’t want to change how they’re living if they start thinking about what they believe and start believing something different (or actually start to believe at all).

Over the years, I have explained what I believe (the whole God and Jesus thing…) many times over. It doesn’t matter what you believe, it’s something we should all think about and do from time-to-time. Why?

Because you should be sure of what you hold true. It is this deeper philosophy about life and origins that will shape how you live.

There is a follow-up question to this:

Does the thought of explaining what you believe excite you or terrify you?

This is also something we should all think about. And we shouldn’t be scared to talk about what we believe, or keep it to ourselves.

First, because these are the most interesting conversations in life.

Second, as a Christian, Jesus told us (as followers of him) to talk about him with others.

We just need to figure out how to do it in a way that is respectful and relevant. So standing on a soap-box on a street corner yelling about the “FIRES OF HELL!” probably isn’t the best approach. Over coffee after lunch might be better.

So figure out what you believe, down to the foundations.

>>>

10 Things I Hate About Christianity Named #1 Book of 2009!

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It’s crazy. My book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith was named the #1 book of 2009 over at Should Be Reading.

I didn’t prepare an acceptance speech for this great honor. But let me just say:

“I’d like to thank God for still putting up with me, my wife for supporting most of my crazy ideas, my children for still think I’m cool, and Should Be Reading for giving me this most prestigious award.

And I would also like to mention that I have assembled a Discussion Guide (which is totally FREE!) for 10 Things I Hate About Christianity. Thank you to everyone!”

>>>

10 Things Makes It Into LEGION Movie Review

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Something cool happened last week. My book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity made it into a movie review of LEGION. Here is an excerpt:

“You get an immediate understanding that God is the bad-guy in this
film, so if you have no flexibility in your faith, you might want to
check out 10Things I Hate About Christianity, it helps put things in perspective.”
(Read the rest here)

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41hnvrkSwaL._SL500_AA240_.jpg

‘Hater’ hopes new book on faith will open eyes

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*Here is an article for an interview I did a few weeks ago. It is a subscription-based site, so you can’t go to the source. But here it is:

‘Hater’ hopes new book on faith will open eyes

 

Jason T. Berggren says he has learned something some Christians never do.

“I learned to come to terms with the realization that faith in Jesus didn’t mean all my problems would go away or be fixed,” he said.

Along those lines, Berggren, a married father of three in Alpharetta, Ga. has written a book, “10 Things I Hate About Christianity:  Working Through the Frustrations of Faith.” Even though he has a degree in theology, Berggren admits he has more questions than answers about his Christian faith.

Yes, Berggren, 36, has a lot of questions and self-doubt. He took all his inner and spiritual turmoil and turned it into 10 chapters that wrestle with faith, the Bible, rules, sin, hell and more.

“I’m just trying to take an open and honest look at what it takes to make my faith work in everyday life,” Berggren said.

He insists he doesn’t hate Christians. What his book attacks is the questions he and other believers have had and continue to have in trying to figure out how to follow Christ in the 21st century. Among those questions is the relevance of the Bible, a book written by so many different people, so many centuries ago. He wonders whether he still has to follow a biblical rule that prevents him from mixing wool and linen, and getting a tattoo.

“Drinking or smoking are not necessarily a sin but (they) may not be good for that person,” he said.

In that same vein, Berggren’s blog has a recent entry called “10 Things I Hate About the Holidays.” For starters, he hates shopping and decorating.

“I love when things are decorated, I just hate decorating,” he said.

But he also has a dislike for political correctness, holiday blues, spender’s remorse and Santa Claus.

Uh oh.

It’s not that he hates the Christmas character, he said; it’s the debates he gets drawn into with atheists and agnostics who put God and Jesus in the same category with mythical childhood characters such as the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.

“These people have had no problem telling their kids about a fat guy sliding down the chimney with a sack full of gifts and eating  the cookies and milk, his elves, flying reindeer, and somehow doing this at midnight in every home all around the world … (yet) they want to wait to introduce ideas of faith and religion when their kids are old enough to decide for themselves,” he said in his blog.

In the Berggren house, there is no plate of cookies or glass of milk left out on Christmas Eve.

“We’re not Grinches,” he said. “We tell our kids the story of the real Saint Nicholas. But we’ve decided that’s where it stops.”

Berggren thinks his book and his blog make good discussion starters in any situation with people of various levels of faith.

“This is for the new follower, the disillusioned. It’s really going to help someone searching spiritually, who is looking for the message of Jesus,” he said.

And he hopes it will pique the curiosity of those who are well grounded in their faith and make them bold.

“I’m hoping people would take risks to get people to talk about Jesus,” he said.

Berggren’s book also challenges the faithful to go into the world without getting lost in it.

“Yes we’re going to be different but let’s not make it any worse than it already is,” he said.

Berggren looks more like a roadie than a pastor. The former member of several Christian rock bands, he said “10 Things I Hate About Christianity” is the first thing he has written aside from lyrics. He hopes the book will teach the reader that there is no cookie-cutter model for being a Christian, but keeping Christ at the center is the key.

“Focus on the messenger,” he said. “Treat your relationship with God like any relationship you want to work.”

“Christians mess up, too. Just because someone is a jerk to you doesn’t mean they are not a Christian,” he said.


 

By Jane Bellmyer
jbellmyer@cecilwhig.com

Copyright © 2009 – Cecil Whig

 

 

 

Online Paper Interview

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*Here is an interview I did a few weeks ago for an online paper. Sorry, but I can’t link to it since it is subscriber based.
—————————————————————————
By Jane Bellmyer
jbellmyer@cecilwhig.com
Jason T. Berggren says he has learned something some Christians never do.
“I learned to come to terms with the realization that faith in Jesus didn’t mean all my problems would go away or be fixed,” he said.
Along those lines, Berggren, a married father of three in Alpharetta, Ga. has written a book, “10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith.” Even though he has a degree in theology, Berggren admits he has more questions than answers about his Christian faith.
Yes, Berggren, 36, has a lot of questions and self-doubt. He took all his inner and spiritual turmoil and turned it into 10 chapters that wrestle with faith, the Bible, rules, sin, hell and more.
“I’m just trying to take an open and honest look at what it takes to make my faith work in everyday life,” Berggren said.
He insists he doesn’t hate Christians. What his book attacks is the questions he and other believers have had and continue to have in trying to figure out how to follow Christ in the 21st century. Among those questions is the relevance of the Bible, a book written by so many different people, so many centuries ago. He wonders whether he still has to follow a biblical rule that prevents him from mixing wool and linen, and getting a tattoo.
“Drinking or smoking are not necessarily a sin but (they) may not be good for that person,” he said.
In that same vein, Berggren’s blog has a recent entry called “10 Things I Hate About the Holidays.” For starters, he hates shopping and decorating.
“I love when things are decorated, I just hate decorating,” he said.
But he also has a dislike for political correctness, holiday blues, spender’s remorse and Santa Claus.
Uh oh.
It’s not that he hates the Christmas character, he said; it’s the debates he gets drawn into with atheists and agnostics who put God and Jesus in the same category with mythical childhood characters such as the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy.
“These people have had no problem telling their kids about a fat guy sliding down the chimney with a sack full of gifts and eating the cookies and milk, his elves, flying reindeer, and somehow doing this at midnight in every home all around the world … (yet) they want to wait to introduce ideas of faith and religion when their kids are old enough to decide for themselves,” he said in his blog.
In the Berggren house, there is no plate of cookies or glass of milk left out on Christmas Eve.
“We’re not Grinches,” he said. “We tell our kids the story of the real Saint Nicholas. But we’ve decided that’s where it stops.”
Berggren thinks his book and his blog make good discussion starters in any situation with people of various levels of faith.
“This is for the new follower, the disillusioned. It’s really going to help someone searching spiritually, who is looking for the message of Jesus,” he said.
And he hopes it will pique the curiosity of those who are well grounded in their faith and make them bold.
“I’m hoping people would take risks to get people to talk about Jesus,” he said.
Berggren’s book also challenges the faithful to go into the world without getting lost in it.
“Yes we’re going to be different but let’s not make it any worse than it already is,” he said.
Berggren looks more like a roadie than a pastor. The former member of several Christian rock bands, he said “10 Things I Hate About Christianity” is the first thing he has written aside from lyrics. He hopes the book will teach the reader that there is no cookie-cutter model for being a Christian, but keeping Christ at the center is the key.
“Focus on the messenger,” he said. “Treat your relationship with God like any relationship you want to work.”
“Christians mess up, too. Just because someone is a jerk to you doesn’t mean they are not a Christian,” he said.
He is working on a new piece for his blog called “10 Things I Hate About New Year’s Resolutions.” But he is not stuck on hate. The tentative title of his next book is “10 Things Every Christian Needs to Know.”
Copyright © 2009 – Cecil Whig

Book Review of 10 Things…

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Here is another review of my book that appeared on IHEYO.com. It is a site for young humanists:

First, let’s get something straight: the
author, Jason Berggren, is neither an atheist nor agnostic; rather,
he’s a pretty middle-of-the-road Christian fellow who has written a
somewhat humorous, quite introspective and not the least bit ranting
dissertation on the things which bug him about Christianity. This is
not a tirade against Christianity from the point of view of a person in
another religion, but more like the private observations of the
frailties of the religion and its flock from the perspective of an
insider.

Once I grabbed the overall concept of
the book as such, it was a pleasant surprise to see such candor from
someone of the born-again Christian faith in print. For the author’s
first book, he’s done a fine job and I recommend it. When I got to
chapter 10 the book reached its crescendo. The most fallible thing
about any institution is of course its people, and sometimes the
behavior of our peers can be downright embarrassing. It was refreshing
to hear from an insider how difficult things can be for a moderate
Christian and to be reminded that there are good and great people
struggling with the challenges of all their respective faiths.

Here are the 10 Things:

1. Faith “There is
no evidence for what we believe. That’s why it’s called faith. God
doesn’t appear at the mall with Jesus to buy you sneakers.”
2. Prayer “You do it, and it feels like it doesn’t accomplish what you
want it to accomplish. You wonder: What’s really changed? Sometimes God
takes time and asks us to accept no.”
3. The Bible “So often you read something and wonder, is that
trustworthy? Is it helpful? Does everything always have to be so boring
and confusing?”
4. Sin “Am I really so evil or so bad that I have to think of myself as
sinful? Of course, we’re all only two or three decisions from ruining
our life completely.”
5. Rules “Why are there so many rules, and do I have to keep them all? There is too much to keep track of.”
6. Love “It feels too hard to love everyone all the time.”
7. Hell “Why would a loving God create hell?”
8. Answers “I don’t always like the answers that Christianity gives. Do I have to accept them?”
9. Church “Everyone says go to church. But how does that make me a better person?”
10. Christians “Why are Christians so crazy, annoying and judgmental?”
Reviewed by


John Cloutman 

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A Grateful Flashback

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This blog answered a question from the reader a couple weeks ago. The question was, “What books are you grateful this year?” The 2nd one on the list of five was MY BOOK! That’s so amazing. Here is what the reviewer said:

10 Things I Hate About Christianity by Jason T. Berggren~ because finally someone was bold enough to say what is wrong withChristianity these days! Finally someone spoke up about how things arejust too hypocritical and legalistic! Thank you, Jason! I applaud you! <img src=

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Thank you!

Question for Christians: What Is the ONE THING I Need to Know About Praying?

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I’ve been tooling around with some thoughts for my next book (title forthcoming). In fact, I have a brief sketch of it (V will depend on money. I’m still way upside-down from my first book. It will also depend on time. The day-job and family (and current book) keep me very busy–not sure when I will have time to write the new one. I can’t take the time off and pay our bills from our line of credit this time around. Anyway, enough whining…

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is prayer. Yes, I know I discuss it in 10 Things I Hate About Christianity. But it such a huge part of a Christian’s life, it will often be a reoccurring subject. And this is what I’ve been wondering:
Imagine that we are having a conversation over a cup of coffee (or beer, Coke, or whatever you fancy). We both know it’s likely we’ll never see each other again, for whatever reason. So I am asking you a variety of questions. They are mainly life-lessons. I want to glean from your experience and gathered wisdom. One such subject is praying. So I ask you, as a fellow respecter and follower of Jesus, is:
What is the ONE thing I need to know about prayer that I can take with me for the rest of my life?”
So you lean back in the oversized leather armchair (which is standard cafe decor these days) and you say…
That’s what I’ve been thinking about. Lessons like this are the essence of the vision of my next project (in several different areas besides prayer).
So how would I answer that question?
I have one, but you’re gonna HATE me. Because you’ll have to wait for my answer.

Aussie On 10 Things

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My book has popped up down-under again, mate. An interview I did has made it to an Australian paper. Here’s how it starts:

“He received a stack of hate mail after recently publishing his book The 10 Things I Hate About Christianity…”

Northwest University Reviews 10 Things

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Northwest University has a paper called the Talon. One of the writers, Racheal Arteaga, has reviewed my book for their November edition. Here is what she said:

Hate is a strong emotion, an attention-getter, a buzzword in the political world. But is there more to hate than dislike? Jason Berggren, a punk-rocker turned pastor is stirring up controversy and conversations with his new book, “10 Things I Hate About Christianity”, an exploration of the author’s problems with the Christian faith.
    A former screamer for the hardcore band Strongarm, Berggren had a faith experience in his mid-twenties and began to investigate the Christian faith. While he agreed with many of the principles, he found some tenets of the faith troublesome, even annoying. Rather than walking away from this new found faith altogether, Berggren made the decision to work through each and every one of his disagreements and tensions with Christianity in an effort to make a positive step towards a better understanding of his faith.
    His book has elicited both praise and anger, especially the latter, in regards to his use of the word ‘hate’ in regards to the Christian faith. On his blog and in interviews, Berggren claims to use hatred to incite change within the church. But this hatred is not without purpose. In an interview with ABC Nightline News’ Dan Harris, he says,“I use the term [hate] in an honest, open, passionate expression. It’s a deep, angst-ridden frustration that can propel you to forward motion.” One may say that they hate eating broccoli, or hate country music, but Berggren is unafraid to say it about everything from prayer that doesn’t work to love that is conditional.
    From other Christians to the Bible, especially the King James Version, Berggren spares no touchy issue in his book. Those seeking a political and religious rant will not be satisfied, but readers who seek a deeper understanding of the mysteries of the Christian faith will find a kindred soul in Berggren’s version of hatred. “If there’s any hope that the message of Jesus is gonna happen in modern day,” Berggren says,“we’ve got to be honest. I‘m not claiming to be authentic, but I’m trying.” This authenticity has won over many critics and reviewers alike, even those from outside the religious community.
    Because of his stance on the Christian faith and his views of the problems within the faith, Berggren is not unfamiliar with negative reviews. While many have expressed their agreement, there are many who see “10 Things” as antagonistic or too scathing to be helpful to the religious community. However, Berggren has a different perspective. “I have worked in construction off-and-on for years. The first thing you do before you remodel is demolition. If you ever watch HGTV, you know this to be true,” Berggren says. “You tear down walls and break up old cabinets to make way for the new. That’s what this book and this website [his blog] are about. I am simply trying to change into the person I want to be and inviting you to join me in the process.”

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Rambles Reviews 10 Things

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Here is a review of my book I found over at Rambles.net. It is by Nicky Rossiter:

Well, with a title like that, this book will surely get noticed, and I suppose that is the first rule of publishing. The “anti” lobby will reach for it looking for justification, while the “pro” groups will get it to check it out to try and refute it.

So,to avoid confusion, I’ll state from the start the author is using rhetoric here. Like thousands who went before him, Jason T. Berggren preaches the message by looking initially at the obverse of his beliefs, then working through the arguments to turn that initial thought on its head.

As anyone who has ever believed in a cause, a religion or even a person will agree, there are times when that belief is tested. No belief that is never tested is worth having. If you believe in God and things never go against you, where is the challenge? If you love a person and they constantly agree with you, won’t you get bored?

Berggren is not your average preacher. He does not look the part and he does not write the part. He challenges not just the reader but the faith, and in so doing he attempts to win over one and solidify the other.

The chapter headings cover everything from “Faith through Love”and “Hell” to “Church.” In all of these he confronts the reader with real-life dilemmas, but not necessarily major, life-changing ones. In”Sin,” for example, he presents us with a situation every one of us has encountered. You buy an item and a genuine error is made in the charge.The clerk is too busy or disinterested to notice, but you do. The loser will be a big chain store; do you pocket the change and walk away or do you point out the error? Christianity is clear. A sin is a sin is a sin. That is what can make people hate Christianity.

10 Things I Hate About Christianity will challenge you like this through the range of topics, and I suppose only after reading it can you answer the question of whether you hate these things about Christianity or about yourself. This is a thought-provoking book that could be very useful in group discussion, not just about the religion but about morality and our understanding of society.

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Pastor to Host Bible-Burning

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Here is a pastor that hosted a book-burning on Halloween night.

Was he burning copies of the latest Harry Potter book? Maybe.

Did he burn copies of the Quran? Perhaps.

Was he burning the latest copy of the Bible? Definitely!

Pastor Marc Grizzard claims:

.”..the King James version of the Bible is the only true word of God, and that all other versions are “satanic” and “perversions” of God’s word.”

Oh brother! Here we go. As if this isn’t dumb enough, he also burning several other copies of the Bible calling them “Satan’s Bibles.”

On a lighter note he is also burning some satanic country music (which I might actually agree with…HA!), the works of Mother Theresa, the Pope, Rick Warren, and Billy Graham. He calls these “Satan’s popular books.”

Don’t worry, this kook only has 14 people that go to his church. But that may not really surprise you.

This is so ridiculous. It’s something I talk about in my book. I just don’t picture doing a book-burning ceremony.

Do I think Jesus cares about truth? Yes.

Do I believe Jesus hates evil? Of course.  

Do I wonder if this might be the wrong context and application of those truths? Definitely.

I just don’t think Jesus wants followers of him to be the moral police for culture. So a display like this does more to hurt the message, teachings, and person of Jesus than doing nothing–in my opinion.
This is also something I talked about in my ABC interview. 
What say you?

Intersection Interview

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*Here is an interview I did with a site called The Intersection. It’s motto is “Where faith meets life.” It is an effort by a denomination (Disciples of Christ) that is losing ground with young adults. This is something they were honest with me about. So I was very happy to do an interview with them. I believe my book to be a great tool in learning what young adults are going through in their faith journey.

Rebecca Woods: So, what made you decide to write this book?

Jason Berggren: I used to write the lyrics (and sing) in the
band I was in (Strongarm). But I hadn’t written anything since I quit
the band in 1996 (Dec. 1995). In 2004 I was in the middle of helping start a church
in Miami, Florida (Calvary Fellowship) and serving as an assistant
pastor. We went as a staff to a conference in Atlanta called Catalyst.
It really impacted me.

During the conference I realized I had always wanted to be a writer. I
wasn’t particularly good in school. I was pretty lazy. But writing was
the one thing I did well. I mentioned it to my wife, who wasn’t too
excited about the idea at first. We had just sacrificed quite a bit to
help get that church started. We were broke, and just had our second
child. The prospect of taking on something else that would take lots of
time, work, and (most likely) money — and also mean another big change
— wasn’t all that appealing.

I started by sketching out some ideas, including several children’s
books. (In fact, I have one written along with illustration direction
notes). But in the end, I couldn’t stop thinking about 10 Things… It
was my hardest idea. It was the most personally challenging and bold. I
just felt like the message had to come. I wanted, more than anything,
to help people connect, and maintain that connection, with God.

RW: “Hate” is a strong word, yet you’re intentional about using it to
describe your frustrations with Christianity (as illustrated by the
photo on your book cover). Do you catch a lot of grief from people for
using the word “hate”?

JB: I do get a bit of grief for using the word “hate”. Mainly, it is from Christians. Let’s be clear, the title is 10 Things I Hate About Christianity. That small word, “about,” creates a very important distinction. I don’t hate Christianity. And the subtitle is key as well: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith.

I found a definition of hate that works perfectly for the context in
which I use it. It’s on the back of my book and says “A feeling of
dislike so strong that it demands action.” But some people just can’t
get past it. I understand. I think it really has to do with a person’s
level of self-awareness and honesty.

The people that are the most offended by the title are the ones that
need to read it the most. If the message of Jesus is going to have any
hope in our modern world, it’s going to have to be delivered by people
who are authentic to a risky level.

RW: What’s the role of critique in Christianity? Do you believe it
ultimately makes Christians and the church stronger? If so, how?

JB: I am a person that gets tired of pretense and seemingly
hidden agendas. I think many who follow Jesus are afraid to be truly
bare-bones honest about their struggles and frustrations. There is a
feeling that if we are, we’ll give God a bad name. But nothing could be
further from the truth.

People want to know what to expect. People want the truth. Being open
is the most helpful, productive, and healthy thing we could do for the
state of faith in our lives and the community around us. In fact, I
have a phrase in my book. It is a life-lesson I have learned: wrong
expectations lead to absolute frustration. The reality is, if we don’t
tell people what to truly expect in this faith-journey, we actually set
them up for failure.

Faith brings clarity, peace, and contentment more than anything else.
But there are still difficulties and pain to deal with. It’s not all
rainbows and lollipops. That’s called Heaven.

RW: You’ve gotten some criticism from Christians for writing this book.
People might assume, at least from the title, that atheists would like
it, but that’s not necessarily true. What are their complaints?

JB: Yes, I have. I first want to make it clear that the reviews
and comments by readers are extremely positive. People often thank me
taking the risk and writing the book. And then they tell me about
people who’ve they’ve given it to. The book’s definitely a conversation
piece. The challenge for me, and for all of us, is to frame our faith
in a way that is helpful for followers of Jesus, while peaking the
curiosity for those that don’t. That’s essentially the challenge of the
Great Commission as given by Jesus at the end of the gospel of Matthew.

More specifically, the people who don’t like the book/title are always
one of three types. They are self-proclaimed ‘mature’ Christians. I’m
fine with this. I don’t particularly like that description anyway. To
me, it is antithetical. The sad thing is, a read of my book would give
them more influence with people who don’t believe or are struggling. It
would help them see what people are going through.

The other type of person that doesn’t like the book is similar. They
are professional Christians (ministry or church leaders). I recognize
from my own ministry experience when starting the church, there is a
tendency to live in a bubble. But I believe the book can be very
helpful for the same reasons as stated above. It would help us
understand what faith looks like from the outside.

Lastly, some atheists/agnostics who are mad that I used the title.
Curiously, there are several who have read it and enjoyed it. They
appreciate the fact that my book might help Christians be more like
Jesus. But there are some that are mad that I used this title and am
still a Christian. It’s as if I used the title before them. It reminds
me of when my kids are fighting over a toy yelling “No fair!”

RW: So when Christians notice a “tension” when it comes to some aspect
of faith, instead of denying it, they should acknowledge it. But where
do they go from that point? Where do you go? Is there a process? Do you
have a group of Christian friends who are willing to have open
conversations?

JB: You have to do whatever it takes to wrestle and come to a
point of understanding in whatever area you are struggling with. Talk
to friends, get a Bible handbook, commentaries, take a class. These are
all things I’ve done (and do). And they are all key.

I think you have to pursue your relationship with God with the same
fervor and devotion that you would any other relationship that you
wanted to work out.

RW: What’s the most frustrating aspect of being a Christian for you right now?

JB: The thing I struggle with the most is love—it’s one of the
chapters in my book, in fact. The problem is, I am always on my mind. I
have been for a long time. Ever since I can remember, I’ve been
thinking of myself. Everyone is self-centered to a certain degree. And
it can get in the way of true love.

Having to be loving, and loving everyone, is a real challenge. You
always have to be willing to sacrifice your ego and pride. You have to
be willing to change. That’s never easy.

To love like this (like Jesus did) is divine. And it is choice.

RW: How would you describe yourself theologically?

JB: I’m pretty conservative.

RW: Does God ever surprise you?

JB: In the moment, I feel like the answer is so often no. And I
know that’s a function of the limits of my personality and perspective.

But when I look back over the past, the answer is always yes.

RW: You obviously love Christianity more than you hate it. What do you love most about Christianity?

JB: There is nothing more amazing than when followers of Jesus
are moved to their core to make an impact for the sake of the gospel.
Historically, most hospitals, colleges, and world-relief efforts have
been founded, funded, and sustained out of the generosity of followers
of Jesus. They give like no one else does, sometimes financially,
sometimes with their time, and sometimes with their very lives. That’s
what I love the most.

Christians like this are the very evidence of God.

Landover Baptist Church Takes On 10 Things I Hate About Christianity

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The Landover Baptist Church
I think I may have arrived. What do I mean?
Well, my book has made it into the scopes of the peeps over at Landover Baptist Church and their website. 
Maybe you’re thinking, “What’s Landover Baptist Church?” or “Who cares?”
Among my friends and I, Landover Baptist Church is famous (and notorious) for telling people they are going to Hell, and other things of that nature. In fact, we suspect that it might all be a hoax of a site and church–just some dudes stirring things up for fun.
So when I recently discovered that my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith make it on a forum on their site I was very excited–especially when I read what was being said. Here are some comments in the thread:
*The resultant product has no integrity, and neither do the people who follow whatever new fashionable cult that comes from it.

*This book is to Christianity what the Holocaust was to the Jews!

*Leave it to a pacifist Swede to try to offend no one. In his attempt, he ends up offending everyone instead.
Yes! There you have it. Believe it or not, this is a sign of accomplishment. I will go about my day with a spring in my step… all the way to Hell I guess.

ABC Interview from the Show “Beliefs” Yesterday!

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Frank Viola Reviewed My Book

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Frank Viola is a big leader in the organic church movement. He speaks and writes. In fact, I was asked to review his book From Here to Eternity and did. Well, he reviewed my book over at his site Reimagining Church. Here it is:

“10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT CHRISTIANITY by Jason T. Berggren is a refreshing book in many ways.  What I like most about it is that Jason nails many of the problems that many Christians think, but would never admit. This book tracks with some of the things I’ve written, though I think our solutions may be a bit different at this juncture in life.

When It’s Good To Hate? [Pt. 2]

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Yesterday I posted Part 1 of When It’s Good to Hate? I described and defined what I meant with this curious claim. And I mentioned how I deal with this in the context of an area like marriage in my life. Here is the conclusion:


PARENTING:


This one involves my wife as well, since it is something we do together. We have three boys ages 2, 5, and 7. Some people tMore people equals more problems. Parenting is hard work. And it is frustrating.


Again, when it came to parenting we had a lot to learn. But we do know a few things: we want to raise children that will become wise, well-adjusted, exceptional adults. That means we have to constantly change our strategy to deal with behavior we hate–talking back, fighting, and outright defiance are unacceptable. Any home with kids is ripe with such things. And every parent knows that if you don’t stay on top of this stuff it spirals out of control. It can only take a week to undue a year of work. Just leave your kids with their grandmother while you vacation, if you don’t believe me.


We also really hated discovering our kids were often displaying bad attitudes and behavior that they were learning from us. You can’t expect your kids to be someone you are not willing to be. You have to figure how to work on this (yourself) even more. 


My wife and I have to constantly work on ways to encourage, instruct, and love our children. And by the way, the kids are always growing, changing, and have different personalities, so this takes a lot of diligence and creativity. Many parents get annoyed with their own children for the bad behavior they themselves perpetually let slip. And many children begin resenting their own parents because they are expected to be people their parents aren’t willing to be.


So we sense this angst-ridden frustration and try to work on it–before it takes over our family.


FAITH:


This is a BIG one. In fact, I’ve tried to capture this journey within the pages of my book 10 Things I Hate About Christianity: Working Through the Frustrations of Faith


Faith is the most important thing to me. Why? I’m convinced that there are basically two kinds of people in this world: 1) those that believe that this is all random and accidental and 2) those that don’t. I fall in the “don’t” category. That’s where my faith begins.


In short, I had a very real spiritual experience involving the teachings of Jesus just over 20 years ago. But learning about, developing, and maintaining my faith has always been a challenge. And since it is the most important thing to me, it is the most frustrating thing when it doesn’t work–or work out-the way I want it to. I really hate reaching that point. I got stuck in my spirituality in many areas. So I had to figure out how to work through this stuff in order to keep my faith alive. 


For example, these are some things I’ve wondered:


Why doesn’t praying work?


Is the Bible trustworthy or just a tool of the rich white elites (especially men) to control the masses? Is it outdated and old-fashioned?


Do I have to love everyone all the time?


Why are some Christians so crazy, annoying, and judgmental?


Why would a loving God create Hell? Let there be so much evil in the world? Let bad things happen to good people?


In a very real sense, my faith is where all areas of my life converge. That’s why I call my book the intersection of real life, simple faith, and raw emotion. But what do you do when the most important thing to you–the one thing you know to be true–becomes a serious point of frustration? So much so that it makes you angry?


You have to work this anger out. So I did. And I still do–before it takes over my faith. 


This precipice of emotion must be an indicator that something needs to change. Otherwise we will fall over that edge into bitter anger. If we train ourselves to stay cautious and aware, it can actually be good to hate.


We’re going to reach these points. We’re going to hate. And to trying avoid it, ignore it, rename it, or be politically correct about it is dangerous. Sometimes you have to name things what they really are in order to truly deal with them. If not, it can damage what is most important to you. That’s what doing nothing does.


The question isn’t whether or not you’re going to reach this point and meet this emotion. The question is, what are you going to do about it when you do? Why not turn the tides? Be honest. Be open. And use this emotion to help you move forward. 


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When It’s Good To Hate? [Pt. 1]

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Hate: (n) a feeling of dislike so strong that it demands action*


Hate. It’s an emotionally charged word. It gets attention. It creates buzz. 


Personalities such as Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are accused of stoking hate against their philosophical opponents-like Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Barney Frank, and President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, these political elites accuse their Republican opponents and fans of these political opinion jockeys of being racists, hate-mongers, and authoritarians. Be it debates on health care, the economy, the war effort in Afghanistan, abortion, the mortgage meltdown, or climate change, there’s always someone or something to hate.


But is all hate bad? Can the emotion ever be useful?


My dad never let me use the word hate. He said it sounded too violent. But it was often the only accurate description of how I felt. Part of me understood, but another part of me rebelled. I always felt that avoiding the emotion was impossible, but ignoring it was dangerous. 


Although it is not politically correct to say so, hate is not without it’s uses. We can all feel hate. Even in the good, productive, and meaningful aspects of life, there’s frequently a level of frustration that overwhelms us when we are faced with trying to achieve certain goals—like getting in shape, making the grade, or straightening out our finances. When placed in a specific context it can be quite effective, maybe even productive. At least that’s what I say, and, ironically, I’m getting a lot of people mad for saying it.


Hate is inevitable. In the more important areas of our lives–in the things closest to our hearts that matter most–there is a thin line between love and hate. For example, we all know people who were once the best of friends that have now become bitter enemies.


How does that happen?


The problem is, many people haven’t learned to navigate this potent emotion. Too often people get stuck on that thin line between love and hate and don’t know what to do. Or don’t want to do what needs to be done. Frustrations build and people often let things simmer, until they’ve boiled over into bitter anger. This turns the heart cold and closed. There’s no peace, no clarity, and no contentment. But it doesn’t have to be like that.


I believe we can learn to use hate to propel us forward toward personal growth and momentum. It can be a signal that something needs to change. Before it becomes bitter anger, this angst-ridden frustration can be quite an effective indicator and motivator.


What do I mean? What are some key areas in my life that I use the appearance of this potent emotion to help me move forward?


MARRIAGE:


I’ve been married to Lisa since 1999. We spent the first 2 years fighting. We didn’t know much about developing a healthy marriage. We both came from divorced homes and blended families. Our examples confused us at best. But we knew one thing: we wanted to stay married. So we had to learn some healthy habits. We had to learn to turn our anger around. 


One thing we started doing regularly was “couch time.” I know it sounds goofy, but it helps. When our day ends, we sit down and talk about what went on. We share what is bothering us, both in our relationship and outside our relationship. And then we brainstorm on how to change those things. 


For example, my wife doesn’t quite appreciate the quality of humor that is hidden beneath my sarcasm. In fact, she hates it (by the way guys, most girls do). So within the context of our marriage, I try curb it so as not to hurt her and damage our relationship. Important relationship-building information comes out during these times. It diffuses the tension and brings us closer to each other. Healthy communication does that. 


There are many other things we do, like date night, but you get the idea. When we sense that angst-ridden frustration, we work at it and resolve it–before it takes over our marriage.


*WordNet® Princeton University lexical database for the English language


[ClICK HERE for Pt. 2]


*Here’s brief video I did to help explain this idea:


A Catholic Reviews My Book

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Yesterday I talked about Catholics encouraging people to pray before sex. Today I am posting a review of my book by a Catholic. Her name is Sarah Sharp and it appears at USCatholic.org:


So much for Paul’s assertion to the Corinthians that “the greatest of
these is love.” Jason Berggren openly admits in his debut book,
subtitled “Working Through the Frustrations of Faith,” that hate isn’t
what you’re supposed to feel, but he’s an angry young man and he does
anyway. He hates that parts of his faith don’t make sense, he hates
that faith takes so much work, and he hates that he wouldn’t have it
any other way.


Perhaps making a negative argument for Christianity seems
counterintuitive, but that’s what makes 10 Things so appealing. Young
people struggling with their faith especially will find Berggren’s
musings relevant. They’ll appreciate his focus on the mundane, everyday
challenges of putting that faith into practice.

Some of Berggren’s frustrations make complete sense: It is easy to
understand hating things such as hell, sin, and rules. But to hate
other Christians or prayer or even love? What’s not to love about love?

For one thing, Berggren says, “It seems like it shouldn’t be so much
work, but it is. . . . Love is unnatural that way.” And yet that is
what makes it all the more lovely and worthwhile. “Life minus love
equals zero.”

Far from being a raging diatribe against Christianity, as the title
suggests, this labor of love is Berggren’s attempt to explore what
makes him stay faithful to Christ and dedicated to Christianity in
spite of it all. For Berggren this hate has become as motivational as
love. “We can train our minds to use our hate, and . . . we can create
forward momentum: We sense the tension, wrestle with the issue, win the
battle, learn a lesson, grow as an individual, and move ahead,” he
says.


Often Berggren has more questions than answers. He can’t explain
everything; sometimes he doesn’t even try. He is no expert on faith,
and he’s certainly not holier than thou. He’s just trying hard to
figure it out, and sometimes he, like all of us, just have to work
backwards.


Logo

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iratefilms.com reviewed my book

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Here is a review of my book over at iratefilms.com. It’s a very interesting review. And by the way, it is one of the best sites out there for movie reviews. Here’s what they said:

The dedication to Jason Berggren’s 10 Things I Hate About Christianity says it all, “to those who continue todoubt, are curious about spiritual ideas, and are courageous enough tosearch them out.”

Berggren takes you on a page by page journey of his life through theeyes of a child, a student, and finally a father and husband as hesearches for his personal path to the almighty.  Regardless of yourfaith, this book will be a pleasant read, filled with humor, drama andmoral lessons that don’t come across as preachy or proselytizing.

At times, Berggren uses personal quirks that we might not all share,but that we can all relate to on some level.  We all have things in ourlife that we constantly struggle to keep at bay.  For me, I am a Cokeaddict myself, so when his book started out that way – I chuckled tomyself.

You see, I have known Jason since high school, where he was mybus-mate for a magnet school; that meant we spent a great deal of timetogether as we transitioned from place to place and challenge tochallenge in our pursuit to find out who we were.  He was always thereally cool, down to earth “Christian” guy who I looked up to as anunderclassman.  He also had a three foot red mohawk but could carry outa theological or philosophical debate with anyone on the planet.  Thisbook shows me that he still can, and does.

The provocative title of the book has a double effect, in that itwill draw away some “Christians” and possibly pull in some atheists. But, it is like escargot, I didn’t know I liked it until I tried it. Jason’s book is a lot like that for me, I am glad I tried it, and it isGREAT with garlic (and Coke).

If you want to attack his arguments, you really can’t because heputs things in a personal perspective that defies theologicalcriticism.  Can anyone, can any one man,truly say they know what Godis, what is the correct path to take, or even the right “voice” to useto get to him – or her.  That is me talking by the way, not Jason.

But, it illustrates the point, finding God is a personal journey. So, pick up Jason’s journey, enjoy this book, don’t be taken aback bythe title.

Be brave enough to read this book, and you will see how Jason cameup with the title, it was another bit that made me chuckle.  And,Jason, I think God would be very proud of you – and the other Jason aswell . . . I shall always consider you my friend.

Rick Swift

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