Which Road Are You On? You Should Spend Some Time On “The Road to Edmond”

The Road to Edmond

Which Road Are You On? You Should Spend Some Time On “The Road to Edmond”

Just finished watching “The Road to Edmond.” It’s been over a decade since I’ve watched something that centers on telling a “Christian” story. I just don’t have time for stories with two-dimensional characters where the only “honest” people are the brave Christians who, in the end, have all the Bible-based answers to rescue the sniveling former-non-believers. “The Road to Edmond” isn’t that kind of story. It may have taxed the acting skills of the two main actors and the story sometimes felt like a weird parable, but getting past that, it shows how sloppy and difficult real love can be and the pain left over from lost opportunities when one is restricted by literal religious beliefs. As a former-believer, I appreciate the struggle for human connection despite the objection of orthodoxy and that these film-makers have added their Christian voices to recognizing our shared part in this journey “On the Road to Edmond.” I hope you get a chance to catch this interesting tale on one of the streaming services, now that this recent pay-what-you-want on-demand offers is expiring (on 2/28/2019) at https://theroadtoedmond.lpages.co/the-road-to-edmond-pay-what-you-want/

I love the ending credit song:

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Which Jesus?

I saw this post and immediately thought, “which Jesus?” It was complicated enough when the discussion was limited to personal piety, how to best live the words of the gospels, but to elevate things so that sins become crimes and that interpretations of the biblical texts become state issues is terrifying. Does anyone remember when civic western civilization last fell and religion stepped into the gap, something called “The Dark Ages”?Continue Reading

In Good Faith/In Bad Faith – Easter 2018


In Good Faith is about the promises we make and the promises that are made to us. And “In Bad Faith” is the reality that it’s always more complicated than promised. How far off things are from the promises matters, and this needs to be addressed (thus this blog). For example, mom wants me to be in church this Easter Sunday. Being back in Las Vegas after a short SoCal visit this past week, she’s not really in a place to see that I’m in church. I told her that I would be spending Sunday morning with friends. I didn’t tell her that it was my non-believer friends at Sunday Assembly. Either way, she worries that I’m not going to do “the right thing,” which begins with going to church and probably ends with me marrying a nice Latina Catholic (who has never married and is very traditional).

Yeah, I’m spending Easter Sunday with my tribe, my community, so I won’t be alone, but I’m afraid I won’t be fulfilling my mother’s other wishes any time soon. This isn’t some hopelessly delayed teenage-rebellion but an attempt at carefully respecting my mom’s traditions and being my own person (which was also part of what she taught me). At the same time, I have to be honest that for whatever reason this time of year has always been important to me.

I have memories from my teenage years during this time of year reading Michener’s “The Source” and some modern Catholic version of Genesis and being entirely confused from the experience. My “conversion” from traditional Catholic to Jesus-freak happened when I was 15 around this time of year. Over the next 15-years I took my faith to Loyola Marymount as a Religious Studies major and studied with the Jesuits than got my Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies at Biola University and then started a Master’s program in Theology at Fuller Seminary. All of which got derailed when I got divorced (around Easter time) in 1987. Everything I believed in got derailed.

I spent the next 15-years making my way in the world without my Christian heritage. I didn’t do the angry-with-god thing because I’d already spent that energy when I converted from Catholicism and saw a lot of that from former-Catholics at Biola University. But I was in uncharted territory for me. At the time there weren’t any “unbeliever” groups and I noted that something was missing in my life. I don’t doubt that I would have stayed on that unbelieving trajectory if I hadn’t fallen passionately in love in 2001 with a married college sweetheart and some how that affair translated into renewed devotion to my Christian roots. Yeah, I don’t do anything normal.

During that extended period of insanity, I fully plugged into my Biblical roots and was absolutely amazed at all of the computer tools that had emerged in the years when I’d walked away from my faith. Sadly, all these years later after that madness ended the only thing that remains from those years of self-torture (being in love with someone who couldn’t or wouldn’t return the favor), is that I still get emails from the Bible-study software vendors with whom I’ve invested hundreds of dollars. And I’m tempted to update said Biblical studies software because there’s a part of me that still loves the study for meaning and for that part of our shared human history.

So, this time of year means a lot to me. For the things I’ve gained, for the things I’ve lost and for trying to balance the good with the bad and trying to maintain my sanity in the midst of my loneliness and recognition of the importance of community, I endeavor to renew my move into a better future. As I said a few years ago, to my Christian friends, Happy Easter and to the rest of us, enjoy all the chocolate.

Daily Random Sh*t: As We Celebrate the Holidays Please Remember Universal Human Rights Day’s 70th Anniversary

Universal Human Rights - Eleanor Roosevelt

In a normal year we would celebrate the desire that everyone in every nation and region experience the fullness of human rights. This isn’t a normal year. Some would have us bicker that others aren’t worthy of “special treatment.” What happened to treat others as you would be treated? Especially at this time of year, you’d think we would want the best for everyone, instead of limiting the good we experience to us and our own. Every person and family should be free and have full access to the good (rights) that many of us enjoy. This shouldn’t be some political “us against them” thing. We do better when all of us experience our full human rights.

70th Anniversary of Declaration of Universal Human Rights

Daily Random Sh*t: Reckoning & The Bible

Virgin Mary Statues by Sean MacEntee

Daily Random Shit: Reckoning & The Bible

In view of Senate candidate Roy Moore’s defenders & Moore’s apparent defiance & our culture’s history of predatory behavior my thoughts: Hiding behind the Bible is the shameful act of a predator… if this happened, no bible excuse even remotely justifies it… shameful.


Virgin Mary Statues by Sean MacEntdee, https://flic.kr/p/9NBRTb retrieved 2017-11-11, creative common – attribution license

The Day after The End and The Rest of Your Life

Blood Moon by Hanzlers Warped Visions

I stayed up way too late into Sunday morning messing around with my blogs, such that I completely forgot about the “Apocalypse” that had been getting so much buzz on the web. Then I noticed that someone on my social network feed had “checked in” on an apocalypse page as “safe” like someone checking in after riding out a hurricane. Really? 2017 and we’re still playing this “I know when Jesus is coming back!” game? If you’re such a great biblical scholar, uncovering some unknown truth hidden for 2000 years in the Book of Revelations, maybe you should spend a moment or two explaining how you can completely ignore this statement:

“However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself.[a] Only the Father knows.” Matthew 24:36

Egads people, how much must you hate your life that you are desperate for divine intervention to fix your life at the expense of some world-wide calamity? Over the course of my life I’ve already witnessed endless dates set for the Lord’s return. Beginning as a teenager in Southern California I remember the proclamation of the Chuck Smith, of Calvary Chapel fame, that Jesus had to come back one-generation after the founding of the modern state of Israel in 1948, that being the late 1970. The net result was that thousands of young people literally not planned on living into their 30s (granted young people are not really known for having any long term plans…). But year after year, someone has generated a following based on secret knowledge about Jesus coming back bringing the End of the World, despite Jesus’ own worlds in the gospels warning against such knowledge. Insanity.

At the same time, I’m cautious about full-on calling believers on such things because, while I wish we were less willing to believe such bullshit and swallow delusional crap from charlatans and religious fools, this “hopefulness” isn’t entirely unrelated to our ability to succeed against all odds and do the impossible. It’s complicated.

So the day of this apocalypse has come and gone and no one will hold the “prophets” accountable for the false claim and the hopeful will lurch forward waiting for the next prediction (the next date now being October 15th). I found a video of one believer acknowledging what didn’t happen but still believing and doubling down on getting the next prediction right. Ugh. For my part I’ve long since realized, now that I’m in the last year of my fifth decade, that it’s silly for me to spend any concern on a Biblical Apocalypse when my own personal demise is guaranteed and I have fewer years ahead of me than I’ve already lived. Why wait for signs in the heavens when I already know that my part of this story is over half over. And knowing that how do I choose to spend my remaining time?

We traditionally spend so much energy on “some day,” often avoiding or shirking the responsibilities of right now. You don’t have to be a religious nut job to get that all wrong. Are you completely engulfed with the day-to-day, such that you’ve forgotten that there should be some destination (in this life) for all this effort? Or are you so about the “some day” that you’ve abdicated any joy in your daily efforts? It’s not an easy thing to balance. I had to get seriously in (in 2012) to realize that I couldn’t just let the days fly by. I’m not waiting for some mythical guy on a white horse to appear in the skies over Jerusalem or something that’s supposed to sound like trumpets to work on balancing the day-to-day with overall plan. And I haven’t been a “what’s your five-year plan” kind of guy, but I’m just now figuring that out. I don’t have forever, so what’s the plan? I hope the religious nut jobs find what they’re looking for, I’m just trying to figure out what I’m supposed to do with my remaining years (hopefully) and how often I should order that bucket of Coronas.

– Blood Moon by Hanzlers Warped Visions Follow
Blood Moon, https://flic.kr/p/bpFyAF retrieved 2017-09-27
– San Antonio bucket of coronas by Joe Bustillos, photographed 2017-06-26


Believing in Evolution – Unexpected Bedfellows

DailyRandomShit for 2016-05-06

When this video came across my social feed I was pretty amazed. It was posted by a number of Christians as a proof against Evolution. Wow, it’s very refreshing to see Evangelical Christians promoting and agreeing with a Muslim.

As for “disproving” evolution, the video producer makes several common mistakes such as proposing that humans came from primates or that it isn’t “observable.” Seems legit on the surface, but it shows a lack of understanding. For example, evolution is observable with species such as bacteria, that reproduce on a much smaller time scale.

The unfortunate truth is that there doesn’t have to be a conflict between someone of Faith and also believing in the Truth of Science. There are a lot of scientists over the centuries who understood that they weren’t working to dismantle belief as much as reveal the wonders of our world. If all you see in the opening chapters of Genesis is a literal description of Creation, then you are completely missing the point of the narrative.

Finally, I don’t think the Christian promoting this video have visited the video producer’s Facebook page. If they had they would see many posts such as the following one. I doubt they’d share that one with their friends.

Religion in the Classroom: A Video Reflection (1993)

Religion in the Classroom: A Video Reflection (1993)

In 1993, during my teacher-credential training I produced this video to address the notion of how one might teach religion in the public school classroom. Even in 1993 this was a controversial subject and probably not something one should publish as one was trying to get employment in the school system. This video was also produced without computers, using two video tape players and one recorder and audio mixer to edit and record the video in one take. Sorry about the audio analog hiss. Enjoy.

Written, Produced and Directed by Joe Bustillos
Filmed on Location in Irvine, CA
Audio: The Voice of Enigma by Enigma Mcmxc A.D., 1991
Audio: A Call To Us All by Teri Desario, 1984
Video: Documentary The Glory & The Power: Fundamentalisms Observed by Bill Jersey, PBS/BBC, 1992
Video: Kung Fu TV-Pilot episode, Directed by Jerry Thorpe, 1972
Video: Fall of the Berlin Wall CNN, November 9, 1989
Video: Altered States directed by Ken Russell, Warner Brothers, 1980
Video: Second Baptist Church of Santa Ana, Filmed by Joe Bustillos, December 1993

Video Project BTS Notes & Script (PDF version)

A Personal Reflection on the demands of Religion in the Classroom
by Joe Bustillos

There’s a call to us all to love all humanity
Every race on the face of earth 
come to unity
“Love your neighbor as you love yourself.”
These, the Master’s words, would do us well
But Man’s belief, religious creeds, can make him blind
The narrow way is not a narrow mind.
– Teri DeSario

My fundamentalist father and I had a boisterous discussion the other day about “the state of education.” In the past my father’s general arguments (true to his conservative roots) have centered around a need to return to the basics—reading, writing, arithmetic. He wanted to know how my teacher training was going to address the moral needs and foundations of my students. Ouch, I wasn’t ready for that one (I should have been ready—we’ve been having religious tussles since I was fifteen).

I wanted to say something about the separate roles of public education and religion but I knew that wouldn’t get very far. I mean, the question about moral education has always been a cornerstone to his theory about the decay of the education (which predictably includes the need to bring prayer and Jesus back to the school system). No, this was a very old discussion that I should have seen coming. I could have said something about Irvine School District voting to require graduating high school seniors to take courses in Ethics and Morals but I knew that that wouldn’t begin to address the crux of his concern. The real difficulty with what he wants is that to “teach morality” of the fundamentalist Christian variety in our divergent society is to open a Pandora’s box.

The thing is that I’ve been there before, I understand my father’s concern. He and I may not see eye-to-eye but I understand that “to not teach X” is “to teach Y.” That is, on the surface one can talk about Morals and Culture and Heritage and Religion like they’re all complete separate subjects with no association but that’s a bit like teaching To Kill a Mockingbird without talking about racial prejudice.

Humans are Religious creatures. The Soviets weren’t able to erase it in 70 years. In the West, Television and its attendant shallow pop-culture has defamed it and trivialized it but not eliminated it in 50 years. Those who say that they don’t believe in any religion are in fact practicing the religion of “no-religion.” In the end we believe or choose not to believe, not because of “objective scientific inquiry” but because of gut-level personal faith. We like to think we’re being rational but when push comes to shove the tenor becomes very emotional.

So then, how does one teach Morals or Ethics or Religion? Without being overly didactic, it’s a matter of casting a broad enough definition about what is considered “normal” human behavior and culture. One thing that I learned during my brief stint as an Anthropology major was that the Polytheistic cultures tended to reflect the greater range of human behavior in their gods without downplaying the moral consequences of that behavior. They didn’t suffer from the tyranny of the “One Standard” that on the outset is not a “Human Standard” at all. It will not satisfy the conservative factions,^ but teaching religion, or morals or even cultural diversity is a matter of presenting it as just another part of the “normal” human experience. This is certainly preferable to ignoring it like it was something our ancient ancestors did but that we’ve “grown beyond.”

Religion in the Classroom