Archive for Christianity

Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing

My buddy asked me to talk on her blog about the recent news of Jack Schaap getting into trouble, and it has got me wanting to talk a little bit about the Church. If you didn’t know, Jack Schaap was pastor of a big church in Indiana and he was caught fooling around with a teenaged girl. Bad news though it may be, I wasn’t particularly surprised to hear it. He has had quite a track record of inappropriate remarks and misogyny over the years that he has been in charge of that church. I am truly saddened for the people who are going through this, but I am especially saddened by the way things like this reflect on Christianity.

I’ve read many news sources and internet conversations in which people have pointed to the faith as a distinct source of corruption, and although the term “Christian” gets used a lot by groups and individuals, I think it’s important to distinguish real Christianity from people who just use it as a social category. That label “Christian” is an adjectival name for a person who acts like “Christ.” Someone who follows Christ is a Christian. That’s it. We don’t say that every piece of psychology is Freudian, only statements or beliefs that follow the teachings of Sigmund Freud. We don’t call every person from South America Uruguayan, only the ones who are actually from Uruguay. Similarly, we should not call every sort of religious person with a Christian-like background in the USA a “Christian.”

You’re a Christian if you follow Christ. By definition, this can’t be an incidental part of your life or an inheritance; it’s a conscious choice. You can’t just claim the label and go around living a life that is completely unlike Christ. This type of thing is rampant in the USA right now, and it’s no wonder so many people pretending to be Christian are making the faith look toxic.

Now, I know that it’s also possible to vacilate in your opinions and be still genuine in your beliefs, and I am NOT trying to say that a person isn’t a Christian if they slip up once in a while. (That kinda thing is a whole different problem in itself.) What I AM saying is that just getting a job in a church does not a make person automatically a follower of Christ. Just because a man says he is a Christian is not enough to actually make him a follower of the teachings and life of Jesus. It’s just not.

When you base your communication with people on critism and name calling, you’re not acting like Christ. Biblically speaking we have no record of him using harsh language with people (unless they were the crooked religious leaders), and I think it’s safe to take that and say it is Christ-like to use respectful, kind language when we speak to people. If you can’t talk to someone about their behaviour without being nasty or hurtful, you’re not being a Christian. Westborough can call themselves whatever they want, but they’re not acting like Christ, and they’re not talking like Christ. That’s not Christian. They’re not a Christian church.

Similarly, just because Jesus was compassionate is no reason to claim that his life exuded tolerance. Jesus was honest about practical behaviors that were not Godly. If you’re going around telling people that the message of Christianity is love and tolerance, I’m not trying to be rude, but that isn’t what Jesus taught. You’re not emulating Christ, you’re emulating one facet of his behavior. It’s not Christian. It’s nice to be nice, but Christ taught that “sin” was a real thing. If you don’t believe that, okay, but you’re not a Christian.

I am a firm believer in moderation, and I dislike taking a dogmatic approach to spiritual issues, but, I love being a Christian. I enjoy learning about God and knowing him, and I find it very troubling that people like me are told that tolerance is the same thing as kindness and exclusivitiy of any sort is equated with hate speech. This faith is a relationship with God, not a psychological cancer, or a tool for cruelty and social power. All the richness of living peacably with others and enjoying spiritual completeness is shouldered to the side when people like Jack Schaap come out publicly spewing evil in the name Christendom.

A long post demonstrating why I shouldn’t blog about politics (and probably not sheep and giraffes) but I did it anyway

Since the president announced endorsing gay marriage, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the Christian response to the American gay community and while I don’t typically use this blog as a platform for my beliefs, I have two loosely related thoughts to discuss about this issue.

The first of these is the president’s decision making process and the subsequent resurgence of obamaluv that occurred because of it. Ignoring that this may be an important year for him, he had a moment of personal epiphany during a conversation with his daughter when he realized that could no longer justify denying support to the gay community in their efforts to legalize same-sex marriages. Does anyone seriously believe his little girl prompted this?

I know all presidents pull these stunts, but I find it especially manipulative when they use their children (“our little girl Tricia, the six year old, named it ‘Checkers.’ And you know, the kids, like all kids, love the dog, and I just want to say this, right now, that regardless of what they say about it, we’re gonna keep it.).
Let’s not pretend some deep, personal conviction drove this. If he really cared for the well-being of the gay community, why couldn’t he speak out when the PR payoff was lower? I feel like he’s jerking people around because he knew that he would score big if he played that card in an election year.

My second and more substantive concern with this issue is the position of the Christian right wing. We make a show of defending the divinely designed institution, but surely the gay community is not entirely to blame for the disrespect society seems to have for it. If we were so excited about protecting marriage, I can think of a few other good candidates for picket signs…

Some people couldn’t be more obvious about their utter disregard for the values of those around them if they wore a sandwich sign declaring it.

Furthermore, America is not the Church, nor is it a branch of the Kingdom of Heaven (I guess that one depends on your theology), but we have gotten so comfortable calling ourselves a “Christian nation” that we’ve started to believe there really is such a thing. Of course there isn’t. A country is no more “Christian” than a shelf or a box. But then, there was such universal acceptance of Christianity in previous decades that it was socially unacceptable not to pretend like you were Christian.

Today it is unacceptable not to be clear that you don’t take your religion too seriously. Celebrities and politicians may boldly proclaim Christianity of any stripe, as long as they demonstrate to the public that tolerance is king. This is what has the right wing all worked up. I hear often that America is no longer the “Christian nation” that it used to be. Well, wanting the nation of which we are citizens to support Biblical righteousness isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not the top priority, and when we act like people should behave as though they are Christians, it doesn’t encourage the cause of Christ, it just usually ends up looking really weird.

I actually made this a long time ago about a dress-code related policy at my church, but I think it translates.

Bethel Baptist Church is made up of ordinary people.

Right now there’s so much tension in our church family and so many people assuming badly of each other, and I keep thinking about this song today. Maybe we’ll get through this okay, maybe we’ll crumble and end up ostracizing one another, I really don’t know. We’re all just ordinary people, folks. There’s no Boris Badenov among us, (speaking from a purely shallow, human level) who’s just looking for ways to be evil.

I’m convinced that everyone is just trying to do what they think is right. How I wish we could all just start mentally saying that to one another. I feel like it would change so much for the better. This has been a very rough year in our church.

The Only Responsible Way to React

Bad day at work here; lots of stress and sad, tense people. My response has been to binge on KFC and french fries and Reese’s and also a couple apples and about fourteen gallons of coffee (not related to the stress- that’s typical) and also a canteloupe and some other stuff that came within reach of my mouth. I’m not actually sure what all I ate today. I ate a lot today. Lots of Ibuprofin, but apparently not enough as I still have a stiff neck and a minor headache.

My husband’s response (he’s a lot wiser than me) has been prayer. He told me this morning that he began praying for our church that we would not be able to cover up those little secret sins and that any hidden ones would be brought to light. That was wise, wasn’t it? He’s a pretty wise man. It’s exactly what we needed, just like a person needs to have a rotten tooth yanked out of their mouth. It may be an awful experience, but if it needs to be done, nothing else will do.

I went out and bought shoes. Three new pairs of shoes. After eating all those Reese’s, I guess I needed the exercise… I had initially planned to also go for a jog afterward, but that part didn’t happen. It probably should have. I bet I wouldn’t have this stiff neck anymore.

I’ve been playing Oh Sailor by Fiona Apple. It’s almost applicable lyrically (actually no it isn’t, but so what), and the drunken seasick disgusting people dancing in the video suits my mood so well. Oh, Sailor, why’d you do it? Good song.

Sorry for the depressing post.

Reblogging: This is so Amazingly Awesome You’ll Get Pregnant Just Reading It.

There they are, folks- the greatest men in the world! I just saw this on SFL, and couldn’t possibly leave it there. I wonder if it’s a real fliar, but I don’t wanna check and ruin it if it’s fake, and considering some of the other self-praising publications I have seen from some of the crazies in the uber-fundamentalist crowd (this may actually become a cited remark, if I get the time to do some research and provide a few links when I get home unless I stop caring by then, which I probably will), it looks pretty authentic to me.

David Hyles created teenage soul-winning? (Non-Christian/fundy readers, that term means converting a non-Christian person to Christianity.) I seriously don’t even know how such an outlandish statement is even supposed to be construed. I’m so bowled over. I want to make something out of this poster. I was thinking gift wrapping paper? Maybe a nice piece of origmai jewelry? Maybe I’ll just have it printed on a T-shirt. I dunno.

Some abbreviated thoughts on my faith.

Superficially, the most profound thing about these lyrics is that they rhyme (which is typical of this genre). Underneath that, a deeper reality is that knowing God means having a completely vulnerable relationship with Him. This kind of music is very emotional and can be very moving, if you allow it to be, and that’s what its real function is. This song is about my accepting the simplicity of God being beyond me, and placing my faith implicitly in Him.

You can neither explain away faith nor can you generate faith by rationalizing it.

As a side note about this singer, I go back and forth on Annie Herring’s voice. There’s a quality in it that annoys me, frankly, but the earnestness and emotion with which she sings always brings me back to the spiritual nature of my faith. I love her love of God.

Stuff Fundies Like

So, the other day my hubby and I wandered into this website, Stuff Fundies Like, and it was really, really funny. (I’ve talked about this issue before– these are my people, but really… my people can be such fruit loops, and if you’ve ever been deep in the IFB movement, this is hilarious.) So I’m reading and it’s really funny, and then I see the video on this post, and I realize- this is a buddy of mine from back when ! I was quite stoked, I can tell you. I’m proud of you, Darrell.

I don’t want to be disloyal to my own, but some times Indy Fundy types can be really draining. The nonsense… oh the nonsense. This Sunday at my church, a guest speaker announced to the congregation that “Technology is killing our faith.” That is a quote. He explained to us all that things like print preview and iPods were a sign of moral degradation, and I’m not exaggerating. To this, I could answer that such faith is not worth keeping alive, but what do I know?

I need to adjust the size of the text on some of these, maybe tomorrow. I’m tired now though.


This piece is “Ultra Conservative Sermon” by Scary Pastor on Wordle. Click on these images to visit the page.

Wordle: Arminian Church Sermon Wordle: Catholic Sermon
Wordle: Charismatic Sermon

Wordle: Southern Baptist Church Sermon

Left to right, top to bottom, we have Arminian Sermon, Catholic Sermon, Charismatic Sermon, and Southern Baptist Sermon. I found these here.

My brother linked me to this website the other day. Maybe this stuff is only funny if you’ve experienced it first-hand, so if you haven’t been in the Fundamental Baptist culture maybe it won’t be hilarious to you. It certainly is to me; self-deprecating satire (not to be confused with ridicule). I’m proud to be called a Christian, but people sure can do funny things, and I think it’s healthy to laugh at ourselves… so here are some great opportunities to do just that! Tom in the Box has produced a few poignant examples of ways we’ve… um… mispriorized in Christian conservative circles along the way. Yeah, that’s a gentle way to put it. Misprioritized.

Christmas And A Little More Sarcasm Than Is Probably Necessary

Let me start by saying that I LOVE diversity- maybe more than most people. I genuinely enjoy learning about and experiencing other people’s cultures and tastes. But I seriously don’t get this schtick going around lately about people not thinking it’s pc to say “Merry Christmas.” There’s a school district in my area where the teachers have been asked to abstain from using red/green combos in the classroom decor throughout the month of December. I don’t understand that. In case everyone isn’t aware, a lot of people in this country celebrate Christmas. Many are Christians, many are not. It means different things to different people; as I am a Christian, it has a strong significance to me as the Earthly advent of the Savior of humanity. To many people, it means listening to feel good music and getting together with family to open presents. And that’s okay. It’s okay. It’s even okay to admit that people do that in this country. It should also be okay for businesses and publicly funded organizations to acknowledge this day and the fact that a whole lot of people around here like it. This really shouldn’t be offensive.

Today my husband told me about a campaign to rename French Fries “Freedom Fries” to lash out at the French for their lack of support on the US war in Iraq. See, I would just think life is too short for this kind of thing.

Well, apparently it’s not. There’s this big push right now to get the word “Christmas” out of common circulation. I’ve noticed that stores are running a little thin on ways to mention the end of the month of December without saying why they think it might be an especially good time to do some shopping, and end-of-the-year products that are a little ambiguous are kind of a hot item, soooo…

I’m making some cards!
I wanna make them downloadable so you can print them out, but here’s what I have so far:

I need to produce my own picture for the Festivus card- I got that picture here.

An Issue

Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16b) Followers of Christ ought to be shrewed and gentle in their interpersonal relations. This event appears to be neither.

As a Christian, I feel the need to respond to the Terry Jones situation in Florida. I don’t like all the attention this is getting and won’t write a book about a subject of which I have no first-hand knowledge, but I will link this blog post. It is a brief and, I feel, decent little response to the subject without getting pushy or know-it-all.

I will also say that I’m very bothered by people who confuse pig-headed confrontational aggression for boldness, especially when they attribute their behavior to the Christian faith, and it certainly looks as though that’s what is happening here. My husband said the church should go burn their televisions instead. I can’t agree more. That could do a world of spiritual good for a person (without slapping somebody else in the face).

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