Friday, August 29, 2008

#40 Frosted Tips


Frosted tips refer to a men's hairstyle in which the hair is formed into short spikes and then bleached such that the tips of each spike will be pale blond. Frosted tips were popular in mainstream culture from 1994 until 1997. Christian culture, gay men in rural communities, and NASCAR fans are the only demographics that continue to endorse this look. The only other event in which frosted tips are seen is on the show "Lockup Raw" on MSNBC. Occasionally on this show you will see inmates with frosted tips. (How they get bleach into prison is a mystery.)


In Christian culture frosted tips are most commonly seen on males under 35 and on pastors of any age who want to be relevant. Youth pastors, worship pastors, singles pastors, creative pastors and their cousin the creative director most commonly have frosted tips. You will also see frosted tips on lead or senior pastors of large warehouse churches who wish to appeal to young people.


Sometimes you will see the frosted tips and a goatee worn in tandem. You can be sure that this individual owns a guitar and at least one vintage bowling shirt.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

#39 Side Hugs


When greeting someone of the opposite sex, Christians often employ the side hug. This is an unwritten rule of greeting so that you don't mash your naughty bits together and trigger stumbling.*


*The Christian phenomenon of not causing others to "stumble" usually refers to lusting and will be discussed further in a future post.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

#38 Bible Covers


Bible covers are purchased almost exclusively by Christian women aged 18 - 94. They usually have a tranquil scene or a Bible verse sewn on them. Little girls often receive Bible covers as Christmas and baptism gifts. In the south they are frequently quilted.


There is also a market, however small, for men's Bible covers. These are made out of something rugged like leather, polartech, or burlap. You will never catch a Christian guy carrying his by the handle because that's too gay.



Some Bible covers have covers of Christian culture books printed onto them which lends mystery to what kind of book is actually inside. Is that a Bible in there or is it the book whose cover is, um, on the cover? But rest assured it's always a Bible. Maybe the formula or inspirational quote on the Bible cover is just there to give its owner a sense of certainty and purpose (see #32).



Tuesday, August 26, 2008

#37 Not Masturbating


Christians are preoccupied with this subject, perhaps to the point of obsession. Christian culture starts them young. Beginning in youth group boys are pulled aside for "one-on-one time" during which the youth pastor tells them that sex is a beautiful gift from God and then urges them to remember God's call for purity. The message seems to be: If your thoughts are pure then you won't want to masturbate, right? Thus begins the shame spiral.


Sometimes in youth group a guy will stand up and ask for prayer for his chronic masturbation. Accountability partners are assigned so they can keep tabs on how they're not whacking off. The youth group leader approaches guys at church retreats and asks "Do you struggle with masturbating?" The college singles group announces an Every Man's Struggle workbook study. Support groups are formed for the whackmasters to congregate and discuss how hard it is to keep their hands off their junk. No validity is given to the medical assertion that it's the first thing men do when they're coming out of a coma. (Poor guy, fresh out of a coma and already he's lusting.) No one seems to engage the possiblity that giving this subject so much attention could be feeding the obsession, creating a fetish, or becoming idol worship.

[He's totally checking out her ass.]

A typical excerpt from a Christian book on male masturbation goes like this: "I can still remember the first issue of Playboy I found in the ditch behind my house. The images are etched on my brain. Little did I know this encounter would lead me down a path of desolation and destruction that would dismantle and distort the God-given design and gift of sexuality."

You're not likely to read a Christian culture book that goes "I can still remember the first issue of Playboy I found in the ditch behind my house. Little did I know this encounter would one day lead me down a path of exhaustive married sex that is unspeakably better than wanking."

Monday, August 25, 2008

#36 White European Jesus


All scientific evidence suggests that Jesus was actually quite swarthy, but the vast majority of images portray him as a cracker.

If we're going to physically represent Jesus, why not go for a little accuracy. Here is the classic Jesus's Senior Picture, except it features an ethnic Christ. It's a start.


Sunday, August 24, 2008

#35 Rachael Ray

by guest contributor Ryan Jones


She's a gal on the go who combines the perkiness and wholesomeness yet absence of vulnerability that Christian culture women admire, and her recipes are great for moms with a house full of kids (see #23) and a husband who doesn't help out that much (per their defined roles).

#34 Lock-Ins

by guest contributor Ryan Jones


What church youth group is complete without an annual lock-in? There's nothing quite like being literally locked into the church all night with only pizza, games and ministry to keep you up the whole night through.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

#33 Chubby Bunny

[photo from here]

This is a game where everyone starts horfing marshmallows and whoever can enunciate the words "chubby bunny" with the most marshmallows crammed in their mouth is the winner. It was played at every church retreat, bible camp, and youth group event ever and then someone somewhere died from choking during Chubby Bunny and the church insurance won't let you play it anymore.

#32 Formulas

[image via The Resurgence]

Christian culture likes to dissect prominent Christians' lives and figure out how they do stuff. They study what their daily life looks like, how they balance family and ministry, how many books they've published, and how large their churches that they founded are. Then they make study groups based on this or preach a sermon series on it. It makes us feel good to get it down in black and white so we can have steps mapped out.

Faith is uncomfortable and illogical but when you distract yourself with details then you don't need it. Faith requires sitting in the discomfort, feeling tension and wrestling with God and unfortunately it requires doubt, which is scary because then you question your own worth, your worldview and God's very existence. This is not fun.


Human nature rejects gray areas and we would way rather have a goal to work towards so we can feel accomplished about something. A sermon series on a "successful" Christian or a Christian labled "arguably the greatest" at anything (preaching, church planting, parenting, serving, leadership) is pleasantly distracting and even inspiring but if Jesus didn't need to die in order for that sermon to be preached, then it's not a Christian sermon.

Formulas are at the core of Christian culture: distract yourself from the unsavory realities of faith and relationship and focus instead on projects and being "certain" instead of "struggling with God." It really is a lot easier this way, but the price is that you can't be a whole person.

#31 Astroglide


Christian women give this to each other at bridal showers and as it is unwrapped they say cheerfully "It's a married woman's best friend!" If you find this unsettling, that feeling is valid.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

#30 Chick-Fil-A


All-white meat, made by Christians, for Christians. It's the best fast food in the free world*, too bad it's closed on Sundays.

*next to In & Out, which curiously enough is also run by Christians and they write John 3:16 on the bottom of their cups.

#29 John Calvin


Talking about John Calvin makes many Christians feel sophisticated and avant-garde. Theology students who begin required reading of Calvin fall in love with him and his four (sometimes five) spiritual laws. They volley big words back and forth and go to Starbucks to discuss things like "limited atonement" and "perseverance of the saints." Ardent debates are spawned over the issue of predestination and absolutely no conclusion is reached. This is a great deal of fun for them, and yet it can all take an ominous turn if someone is not in agreement with you on how the word "total" in "total depravity" should be interpreted.

It is plausible, but not scientifically confirmed, that reformed students spend more time studying Calvin's teachings than they spend studying Scripture. Weirdly enough, this may mean they've crossed from Gospel into Law (uh oh), but we'll never know for sure. Kind of like predestination.

#28 Success


Success. In all areas of life. As a pastor, it's all about church size, relevance, and impact. If your church is big, you must be doing something right and you become an expert/celebrity and you speak at conferences and write books and tell people to do it your way.


Everybody else feels like a schmuck because they're not as big/relevant/impactful/cutting edge as you are. It's a tyranny, I tell you.

#27 Fox News


The Fox network ranks A number-one with most Christians when it comes to getting their news. It is their very favorite.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

#26 Innocuous Music


By definition, Christian culture likes contemporary Christian music. Music that is made by non-Christians is called "secular" music. Some Christians don't listen to secular music at all, but those who do enjoy U2, The Fray, Michael Buble, James Blunt, John Mayer, Dave Matthews, Sting, Enya, Innocence Mission, Over The Rhine, Norah Jones, U2, Harry Connick Jr., Moby, Coldplay (see #3), Allison Krauss, U2, and Sufjan Stevens. Did I mention U2?

Christians also enjoy country music, especially "new" country, and they all like Johnny Cash since he was a Christian, however gritty. They don't like rap. Same goes for R&B and hip hop.

Monday, August 18, 2008

#25 Asking Someone "How's Your Walk With God?"

This question is as acutely personal as asking "How's sex with your wife?" and yet many Christians feel entitled to casually ask it of each other.

Settings in which you are likely to be asked "How's your walk with God?" include:

—men's prayer breakfasts

—ladies' weekend retreats

—a pre-dawn prayer group that meets weekly and involvescoffee

—if you have just tried to be vulnerable with someone and discuss your recent hardships with them.

When this question is asked, any of the following may legitmately be assumed:

—that the person asking this is saying it as a Christian culture version of asking "how are you?" and is not super interested in your honest answer.

—that the person asking it wants to hear you say something positive because that will be more comfortable for them.

—that if you tell this person that you don't know what a walk with God is, they will feel a mite superior to you, then feel the need to "minister" to you.

—that if you tell this person that your walk with God plain sucks, they will not know what to say and could possibly want to get away from you.

—that this person believes that if someone's walk with God is good then their life will be easier.

—that this person thinks a good walk with God involves a sort of formula.

So what does constitute a good walk with God? Well, it was rather nebulously defined by Jesus as "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40) But that is kind of vague. People prefer formulas. So Christian culture made some.

Chistian culture's formula for a "good" walk with God (based upon man-made strategies and qualifications for what "a good walk with God" means) includes:

—regular "quiet times" or "devotions"

—a daily regimen of ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication)

—being consistent in meeting with your accountability partner and/or spiritual mentor

—attending your weekly Bible study or MOPS group for some fellowship

—memorizing scripture (preferred methods: the Navpress TMS or 2:7 series)

—striking up conversations with random people in Starbucks for the purpose of "reaching out" and eventually asking them to your church

—spending time with "uplifting" fellow Christians and not very much time with non-Christians (they can drag you down with their non-Christian worldview)

—displaying a positive exterior (see #7 Acting Happy)

—no masturbating!*

*Not masturbating is big in Christian culture. It is discussed almost exclusively and with great fervor amongst the male sector and is generally assumed that girls don't do it so they don't need "outreach" for it. The feverish attention lavished upon the phenomenon of male lust within Christian culture will be explored further in a future post.

#24 Catchphrases


Christian culture enjoys a catchy quip on a t-shirt or bumper sticker. These quips are intended to provoke and possibly shame their reader.


It's unclear what Christian culture's motive is for doing this, when Christ was entirely about relationship and love. It is possible the Christians think that when people see their "Hell Ain't Cool" bumper sticker, the holy spirit will work in their hearts. By this logic the holy spirit can't work in people's hearts quite as well if the Christians are wearing something normal or even, heaven forbid, something halfway self-expressive or hip.


Keeping up relationships with people is a lot of work. It's way easier to proseletyze to them from your back bumper or your chestal region.


#23 Having Lots of Kids

Very rarely do Christian culture people stop at having one or two kids. They like to press on. Sometimes you meet the couple who says "We're going to have as many kids as the Lord wants us to have," which begs the question, why don't you eat all the food in sight? Since it's available it must mean the Lord wants you to eat it.

You never meet a Christian culture couple who says they don't want to have any kids. It does not occur in nature.

#22 Being Politically Conservative


Christian culture members by and large identify themselves as Republicans. The importance of doing this seems to be on par with believing Jesus died on the cross for your sins.

If you are raised in Christian culture or entering it as a "new believer," you are almost invariably taught that the left wing is God's opposition. The Bible doesn't mandate this; Christian culture does. You will infer that the ACLU is bad and Rush Limbaugh is good. Reagan & Bush: yes. Bill Clinton & Jimmy Carter: NO. Hillary Clinton: HELL no! Obama: NOBAMA. Universal health care is ridiculous. Clarence Thomas was telling the truth. Anita Hill was lying. Capitalism is the way God intended. Gay marriage will destroy the institution and the next thing you know animals will be getting married. Ann Coulter is a hero. Richard Dawkins is a threat. And on it goes.


When you are raised in any school of thought it is extremely difficult to challenge it. Venturing into virgin territory is uncomfortable for anyone. Some people feel they may face estrangement from the Christian community if they question conservatism. Questioning political affiliation may lead into questioning of Christian culture and subsequent discovery that the Bible doesn't condone followers of Jesus isolating themselves and assimilating to each other. Trying to get to the bottom of something and find the truth means you have to open yourself up to the same scrutiny. This may make you feel incredibly free, and it may scare the shit out of you. These emotions will often occur simultaneously.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

#21 "Relevant" Churches

by guest contributer Joey Sanchez with Stephanie Drury

Churches want to attract people. They want to be cool. They seem to think the message of Christ is not enough on its own, it must be accompanied by worship music played to tracks, preachers who offer sermon series such as "The Pathway of Peace," and services that last 58 minutes. (Other words in the relevant lexicon include "emergent," "resurgent," "missional," and "authentic.")

Pastors vie to be as relevant as possible. Distressed jeans, brewery t-shirts, wireless headset mics and thin Bibles that they hold rolled up in their hand whilst preaching are a must. These churches also like to play U2 during their worship sets, leaving an opportunity for the pastor to explain that we still haven't found what we're looking for.


If you attend a relevant church you will likely encounter a video screen either behind the pastor or brandishing the pastor's face if he is actually preaching from another location (which means you are in a church satellite). On this screen of relevance they will probably show a video ushering in the pastor's sermon. This video will be "edgy." To Christian culture "edgy" means that it is loud, features choppy editing, and that any old people in the church (there aren't many to start with) might hate it to the point of writing a vigorously annoyed review on the comment card and possibly not return.

mPhotobucketmark driscoll

In every instance of relevance the church prides itself on its creativity and may even have someone titled Creative Pastor on staff. But with this creativity they are pretty much doing the same thing as every other relevant church, so it doesn't really end up being too creative.

Relevant churches often strenuously encourage marriage. Once someone is married they often encourage wives to quit their jobs and husbands to earn a certain amount of money, and they prompt everyone to breed. Relevant churches also have "lay counsel," which are counselors who are usually not certified or qualified by any standards other than they may have gone to the church or been a Christian for a long time. Relevant churches often strongly discourage anyone to seek therapy or counseling outside of their dubiously-qualified lay counsel. As a result, untreated postpartum depression is rampant in these churches and poses a distinct threat to the marriages and children the church urged people towards in the first place.

#20 The Djembe


Christians took to this drum as starved dogs to a meat wagon. With this, set-up volunteers who do not have a musical bone in their body are given a chance to contribute to the band because, come on, how hard can it be to hit a drum? The sound of a poorly played Ovation* guitar with a horribly played djembe really draws people into the worship experience. It really does.

*plastic-backed, tinny-sounding guitar that must be plugged in to sound only halfway crappy. Very Nashville.

Friday, August 15, 2008

#19 Not Smoking


There are no ashtrays outside of churches. This is because no one in Christian culture smokes.* When a Christian culture member sees someone smoking they automatically assume, consciously or subconsciously, that that person is not saved. The reasons for this are not entirely clear.

Occasionally a member of Christian culture will have a drink, but not a smoke. The drinking Christian enjoys talking about wine and feels relevant because he knows things about wine. He is careful though to not make another Christian "stumble" by seeing him drink, unless their drinking has been adequately discussed with the non-drinker. This special breed of Christian will be discussed further in a future post (as will "stumbling").

It is not entirely clear why smoking is so taboo in Christian culture. On one hand, Christians hold the belief that your body is the temple of God and you should not defile the temple with something unhealthy. On the other hand, Christian culture members are not known for their cardiovascular fitness. They are especially not known for their cardiovascular fitness in the Bible belt. When church lets out it's a mad dash for the Cracker Barrel. Seriously, watch out.


#18 The Matrix


Christians love an allegory. First Neo tells the agents he won't bring Morpheus to them. Then Morpheus says the rules of the matrix can be bent and broken but there are consequences. Remind you of anything? Then those pesky agents are everywhere and always trying to kill people who know the truth. The Oracle knows what's gonna happen but won't be involved. The mean guy is named Cipher which almost spells Lucifer. Neo risks his own life by going back into the Matrix to save Morpheus. Neo has to die to defeat the agent and then he comes back to life. And there's a character is named Trinity. It is way too much to be resisited and it has spawned many a sermon illustration.

#17 Saying "Bless This Food To The Nourishment Of Our Bodies"

When praying out loud before eating in a group, members of Christian culture can't help but to say this. They just can't help it.

#16 Believing That America Is A Christian Nation


Christian culture is adamant that America is a Christian nation. The Constitution only mentions God and not Christ, but Christian culture very much wants our country to be Christian also. If God exists and if Jesus is who he said he is, he is much more concerned with individuals and their hearts than an entire nation conforming to a standard. But Christian culture clings to the idea that American is a Christian nation. It is a rather curious thing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

#15 Dry Humping

This is the complete inverse of waiting to kiss until your wedding day. Since you're not technically doing it, you can still technically remain pure. Dry humping most commonly takes place in the woods at church camp or in dorm rooms after Campus Crusade meetings.

How else are you supposed to wait till you're married? By compromising with this. It still makes you feel guilty, but that's kind of why it's hot.

#14 Worship Teams


A worship team leads the congregation in singing worship songs while standing on a stage that has carpeted steps. They never sing traditional hymns, only songs that have been introduced into Christian culture in the last twenty or thirty years. These songs are considered by the worship team to be inspiring and appealing to Young People. The lyrics are always projected onto a big screen via projector, often in Papyrus font.


There's a 67% chance this worship team is singing "Shine Jesus Shine."


You will know you are having a bona fide Christian culture worship experience if the following are present:

-Theatrical lighting
-Abundant use of candles
-The worship team's eyes are closed
-Outstretched arms
-Congas or any type of tribal drum then lends it self to the "world music" sound.


With most praise songs there is a key change just before the last verse. They'll go half a step up and often some instruments will drop out for a few measures before coming back in with force. This is supposed to add drama. You may feel they are trying to manipulate your emotions by doing this, and you may be right.


A special note on outstretched arms for those who don't know: this is when someone who is either especially bold, especially spiritual, or a showoff (you can never really tell) will hold their hands up while they sing. You don't see this very often in non-denominational, Presbyterian or Baptist churches, but they are almost always there somewhere. The arm-outstretcher is usually down front where they can't see if everyone else is doing it or not so they feel less self-conscious and thus are more likely to outstretch them arms.