Navigating Deconstruction: Finding Solid Ground in Faith

Deconstruction didn’t even exist, okay? When I really went through my process of what now was referred to as deconstruction, that word for me didn’t exist back in 2010,2011 when I was really allowing myself to be extracted from the, the head, the hegemonic constraints of the word of faith, charismatic and pentecostal holiness environments that I grew up in. So we all kind of land where we land. And the thing with that deconstruction process that I don’t even necessarily feel like a person like Mandesa was allowed to go through, and I don’t wanna speak for her, but I know that as a contemporary Christian singer, her career depended on her being locked in to a certain belief system. So my heart goes out to her in that respect. But I untethered myself on purpose and I landed where I landed on purpose. And I wake up every day reminding myself that it is my job to disappoint a lot of people. I disappoint people every day, a lot of my family does not plug in with the content that I do because I occasionally do touch on these topics. And in, you know, my point of view in a lot of ways goes completely counter to how I was raised. So for you, how important, I guess, was it you having been a pastor, having been a chaplain? Obviously having grown up very deeply steeped in the church, how important was it to you to land in a place that said, I still have this connection with my faith I’m still holding on to some element of my faith because for me, this is a very nebulous thing. I would. I do not call myself an atheist. I do not call myself an agnostic. I feel like I do still have that connection to God or to the spirit. I feel like it’s there, but that is the only thing that I owe that world, from my perspective, a connection. And after that, I do not accept any other constraints or constructs or demands to be placed on me. That’s kind of where I’ve landed. I do not accept your insistence that I conform to the constructs. And in some ways, I do still conform to the constructs, but I do not accept anyone’s insistence that I conform to the constructs.

So when you were going through this process, first of all, when did that process of deconstruction happen for you or begin to happen for you? And what were your expectations, patience of, was there an end goal? Was there an end game where you said, you know, I gotta be able to land on my feet. We gotta land right back, you know, somewhere where it feels like I have a solid footing in my faith, but I gotta be able to ask questions in that process. So what was your, I guess, goal within the deconstruction process and when did that begin for you?

Yeah, I have a few things to say about this star. Like I think one, thinking about Mendesa’s story, I think it’s so important for me to kind of pin the to this point about who we center and how we center certain, what Tony Morrison would call the white gaze, right? Like how gaze, how we center the view, important distinction for how we center the way that we’re being viewed and who we choose to be viewed by and how we think about those who, people who are watching us.

In many ways, the reason why I make content for black people, with black people at the center, it is a mental health decision. I have lived a part of my life trying to care about how I’m perceived by white people and in making decisions as a young man to do things in ways that would make White Peak people like me more or be okay, I’ve gone through that. And it is terrible for your mental health. I think similarly for my queer friends. They’ve had to make the decision and it’s why, in many respects, gay and lesbian and trans people end up being a bit alienated or choose to separate themselves from their families is because they can no longer weather a life dominated by what straight people think about it. Yes. Similarly for women, it’s the brilliance of feminism is that dissenters the male gaze. I can no longer live my life thinking as a woman might say, I can no longer live my, what my life thinking about what men think about me. I just can’t. I can’t maintain my mental health and be concerned how these folks so me, this is my third deconstruction.

Okay. Okay. My first deconstruction was from my conservative Christian upfront. Hum when I went off to college at a conservative Christian school that was perceived by my conservative community back home to be like the most Liberal thing I could do.

When I went off to from one conservatism to like a little bit further up the spectrum to another conservatism, I had to release myself. I had to free myself from the burden of thinking about what my pastor back home thought about me caring about that. I had to just release that. And it took a bit of deconstructing from that worldview when I went to seminary to get my master divinity, I found myself again deconstructing, because I was finally engaging with the book on my own. Perhaps for the very first time, I was really engaging with the Bible and theologians and other ideas and like this kind of world of thought where people are thinking deeply about what the Bible in ancient Mary’s history are saying to us today and how they’re all interconnected.

It was another deconstruction for me at that point. It was deconstructing from all the things I thought I knew, all the things that I kind of like, you know, now it’s just like pulling that apart. And then this final deconstruction was really from my expectations of god. I think what I thought, how I thought God was supposed to show up for me and how I thought I was supposed to show up for God. I was no longer feeling this burden to pray because I realize it was a bit obligatory. Like I was just kind of doing it because that’s what I was posted. And I didn’t feel it anymore. I, I, I, I, I, we could go down the entire list.

But my point is that there was, for me, this moment of deciding that I’m gonna go on this journey. And if God is real, if God exists, that God will go on the journey with me. I mean, the Bible says that God will never leave me nor forsake me. That’s what it says. So if it’s true, then I can go on this journey freely knowing that God is there with me and journeying with me. Because I’m being honest. I’m not. I’m being just truthful about where I am. And it seems to me the scripture rewards those who are honest, who are truthful. And so, okay, so that is all a part of, and I say all that to say that a part of that last deconstruction was also me almost relate releasing myself from the burden of caring what my religious community thought about the way I was going about my life.

It’s kind of funny. There was like, when I left back astoral ministry, there is this kind of like grumbling that like, wait a minute, you’re not supposed to leave. Like you’re not allowed to leave. Like you’re supposed to be a pastor for life and like you have a calling on your live that use calling is really more of a shackling to this religious institution. And I just don’t believe that. I just don’t believe it. And I’m not gonna live my life with that burden.

And so absolutely changed my relationship when I, you know, okay, when I said the most basic thing imaginable, that gay people deserve our respect, backed and our image bears and children of god. I was like castigated. They were writing articles and making videos, calling me every name but garrison is. And I say all that just, I kind of give all of that context just to say that I can’t live my life, and I think you would agree, we can’t live our lives bound to what these folks think about us. We have to live truthfully and we have to live according to our convictions. And those convictions come from a very deeply spiritual place for me. And when I say deep and spiritual, I don’t mean necessarily religious. It is just a part of me. And so for me, where I’ve landed is that there is some connection to the divine and all of that for me. But it doesn’t have to connect to somebody’s, you know, theological Creed or fundamental beliefs or whatever the case may be.