Monday, December 13, 2010

#205 Capitalism

If you have spent time within American Christian culture, you have probably inferred that free-market capitalism is God's chosen economic system. American evangelicals are some of capitalism's biggest fans. Christians in many other parts of the world cannot believe this. They have no idea how someone could reconcile capitalism with the teachings of Christ. But in true American spirit, they seem to be reconciled by sheer force of will.

For every ounce that American Christian culture loves capitalism, they detest socialism with equal passion. The reasons for this are murky. If you decide to ask an evangelical how it is that they can subscribe to both capitalism and Jesus' teachings, you should be aware of a few things.

First of all, evangelicals tend to become defensive when asked how capitalism is embraced by people who say they follow Jesus. I mean, in my experience, they will really get their dander up. If you want to have a peaceable, copacetic exchange then you probably shouldn't broach this subject in the first place. But if the Christian you are dealing with doesn't seem to derive their identity from their politics, you might have a reasonable shot at a productive conversation. (A word of warning: even though a conversation is peaceable it is still possible for them to dismiss you. Dismissal is a handy tactic that allows one to remain outside of relationship while superficially appearing to engage you and is Christian culture's modus operandi. Just a heads up.)

This post originally appeared on Beliefnet. The original post and its comment thread can be seen here.

Friday, December 3, 2010

#204 Not giving money to the homeless

When encountering someone holding an "ANYTHING HELPS" sign, evangelicals will sooner pass them by than give them money.

There's an unspoken bias in Christian culture that is skeptical of those asking for a handout. They wish the homeless would grab those bootstraps already and start yanking. But they are faintly aware of what Jesus said about the poor so they will sometimes give them food, but never cash, citing that they might use it to buy drugs or malt liquor.

When stopped at a light by a needy person holding a sign, the typical evangelical might rifle around a bit and see if there is a granola bar or Swiss Cake Roll to give them but they will not give them money. If the person stopped ahead of them sticks a dollar bill out the window, there's a good chance an evangelical will say "They're just going to go get drunk with it. Sighhhhh."

Monday, November 29, 2010

#203 Using visual aids during sermons

Nothing gives your sermons that extra something quite like visual aids. They're the only kind of AIDS Christian culture openly embraces. Ha ha haaaaaa but seriously, folks. The pastor really wants to keep your attention. He reckons a visual aid will make his sermon that much more intriguing and applicable.

In non-denominational churches and many Baptist franchises you stand an excellent chance of getting a visual aid with your sermon. Visual aids during sermons will never be found in the mainline denominations or in Episcopal/Catholic churches. Those guys do not follow the evangelical trajectory and wouldn't even consider such cloying gadgetry.

Some common evangelical visual aids are vines (for a vine-and-branches sermon series) and a wall (for any number of biblical references to walls, literal or figurative). Pastors like to walk around and brandish the vines, or stand and sit on the walls. Then there's the prop bed for the have-married-sex-for-30-days sermon. They're making it interactive, y'all.

The sanctuary's screen is a lax version of a visual aid, but it's a visual aid nonetheless. It's mostly used to display the words to non-hymnal worship songs and count down the minutes till the sermon begins, New Year's Eve style. Lately they're being used to illustrate points and display audience-engaging images (engaging the audience being a priority in Christian culture), as well as just flat-out ask for money (see below). No beating around the bush here.

Then again, some energetic pastors forego gadgetry and just try to make their speaking as engaging as possible. Do veins popping out of your neck count as visual aids?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

#202 Elisabeth Elliot

Elisabeth Elliot is an exalted figure amongst evangelicals. They regard her with similar reverence that NASCAR fans regard Ricky Bobby. She is most widely known as the widow of Jim Elliot, the missionary who gave what he could not keep to gain what he could not lose. Her book Passion and Purity recounts their chastely tormented five-year courtship and became the de facto dating manual for Christian culture in the '80s and '90s. Subtitled "Learning To Bring Your Love Life Under Christ's Control," it is responsible for countless Christian breakups and no-kissing vows after its readers became "convicted" regarding dating.

Passion and Purity decries impatience, praises "biblical" gender roles, and shows Jim's love letters to Elisabeth which should be in a collection of their own, so raw and throaty is Jim's eloquent agony for Elisabeth, or at least for his idea of Elisabeth. Jim tells her he is waiting on God for the word to marry her, and she shares her own beautiful diary entries of the time which say she is "clogged with wishes" and "oozing ache." The table of contents is scandalous to the youth group mentality but it was somehow given a pass by her Christian editor, the chapters titled things like "Four Bare Legs In A Bed" and "Little Deaths" (which seems an unwitting and ironic allusion to le petit mort). Separated by school and the mission field, Jim wrote to her "I have you now unravished" and "Thunder of great Heaven! What gaping bliss that would be tonight!" which made yet-unravished teenage girls swoon and then vow to stay pure if it meant a man would someday write us letters like that.

An exigent theme of the book is Elisabeth's assertion that kissing is superfluous and kind of stupid, and that she "deplore(d)" seeing couples parking (this was in the 1950s). The youth group demographic ate this up, and it may have single-handedly ignited the "Waiting until the altar to kiss" phenomenon that we've been discussing with morbid fascination.

Elisabeth has said many times that the theme of the book is to bring all you do "under Christ's control." But Christian culture is looking for steps to follow in all scenarios, so frightened they are of their own humanity that they cannot see how it could ever earn God's approval. And so the taking of steps is in order. Elisabeth's example is simple and clear-cut and Christian culture took after it in earnest. They love agreeable bits of information served up on small plates.

Passion and Purity was also largely responsible for Christian culture's next de facto relationship manual I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which was written by a guy this time (a preacher's kid! represent) and is a most agreeable blueprint that explicitly defines "defective dating" and decries the worldly notion that love and romance are to be enjoyed "solely for recreation." This book joined Passion and Purity as The Other Manual for evangelical dating and even reintroduced the courtship model as allegedly biblical and a deterrent to heartbreak. (The increasingly popular courtship model as Christian culture's answer to dating will be discussed in a future post, and with great enthusiasm, I might add.)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

#201 Dry weddings

The dry wedding is the standard sort of wedding in Christian culture. Sparkling cider is all you get. Dry weddings are mind-boggling to Anglicans, Catholics, mainline denominations and Europeans, but to the evangelicals that's just how it is.

Alcohol often isn't permitted on church grounds, especially in the Bible belt, so if your reception is in the fellowship hall then it's out of the question. But even off-site receptions for those in Christian culture serve no alcohol. The devout avoid being photographed while holding tea or cider lest it be mistaken for an adult beverage.

Many who now consider themselves Reformed were raised evangelical and for them drinking is newly permissible. At these weddings there is sure to be a showdown. The evangelical parents of the bride and groom might say they may have wine at the reception if they pay for it themselves, but this holds an unspoken message that there will be a relational price to pay if they defame their Christian reputation by serving wine.

Monday, November 8, 2010

#200 Ovation guitars

Worship leaders want to strum. To do this they need an acoustic guitar, but they're hard to mic without getting a lot of god-awful feedback. The solution? An Ovation, the tinny-sounding, plastic-backed guitar that needs to be plugged in to sound only halfway crappy.

Ovations have a signature tone that lends itself to the new country genre as well as contemporary Christian music. Ovations often have barbed wire or patriotic lore etched on them and a cutaway for bitchin' solos. Very Nashville. Now the worship leader can play campfire-style praise songs in the capacious worship arena, feedback-free. Problem solved!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

#199 Countering the gay agenda

Christian culture feels the recent anti-bullying legislation is a subversive means to infiltrate the vulnerable younger generation with the homosexual agenda. The It Gets Better Project addresses the epidemic of suicides in gay adolescents who have been bullied, so you might think the staunchly pro-life Christian culture would champion this effort, but the gay issue seems to supercede suicide prevention.

Christian culture is deeply afraid of some sort of indoctrination by homosexuals. At this website they say "Gay activists realize that if they can capture the hearts and minds of the next generation, they will, for all practical purposes, have won the culture war." There's that culture war again. The fact that Christian culture is so invested in the idea of a culture war is interesting because the Jesus they claim to follow didn't promote a culture, but rather a consuming love that casts out all fear. The fact that Christian culture is so frightened makes you wonder what their motivation is.

Jesus said the world will know his followers by their love. Ask some gay Americans if they've felt cared for and sought out by someone who claims to be a Christian and chances are they will say no. Interestingly, in many of the videos on It Gets Better bullying victims say that Christians and the church have induced much of their shame and fear. If Jesus spoke of love more than anything else and never addressed homosexuality once, which of the two might he be concerned with? Christian culture tends to couch "confronting" gay people with the truth about their sin as being loving. People in Christian culture don't seem to see themselves as being as sinful as they think gay people are. But claiming to follow God while refusing to humble yourself dooms all of us to repeat history as the Pharisees wrote it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

#198 Saying "freaking"

Replacement swear words are a key component of the Christian culture vernacular. The Christian who aspires to be relevant is often particularly fond of saying "freaking" while talking about the things of God. They feel it is risky, but not so much so it would actually make God mad. To really say the eff word would be going WAY TOO FAR.

Some common manifestations of freaking in Christian culture include:

"God is just so freaking awesome!!!!!!!"
"God blew the freakin' doors off the tomb!"
"I love Jesus and there is not a freaking thing you can do about it!"
"Andy Stanley pastors a freaking huge church."
"Do you frickin' believe the Word of God?"
"The devil doesn't need a freakin' advocate...he's doing pretty well all by himself."
"Our new church website is so freakin' cool looking! (I've gotta quit saying freakin', I'm a freakin' pastor for crying out loud!)"

When a pastor uses "freaking" from the pulpit or in his blog he expects to get some disgruntled feedback from some older stodgy legalists, but he considers this minor collateral damage compared to the young souls he will influence for Christ by speaking their language. Dawg.

Friday, October 15, 2010

#197 Multi-site churches

As evangelical churches vie to become bigger by use of business tactics, they're outgrowing their buildings. As such, the multi-site church has sprung whole from the American business model.

A multi-site church has a main campus and many smaller spawn called satellites that operate under the auspices of the parent church. (Vocab words are in italics.) The satellite church is sort of a sequel to the original. It's of the same lineage but everyone really likes the first one better, though in Christian culture they won't say it out loud. People prefer the original because that is where the charismatic pastor man who started the whole enterprise speaks live and in person.

His title is teaching pastor, preaching pastor or lead pastor, and he very seldom appears in person at any of the satellite churches. The satellites are basically theaters sprinkled around a 50 mile radius (sometimes larger) as overflow reservoirs. At these satellites the lead pastor's visage is beamed onto a big screen as he preaches live from the main campus. People assemble in the satellite buildings to sing worship songs, listen to the real live campus pastor make announcements, and then watch the main-attraction pastor speak via satellite. Everyone who attends accepts this arrangement as fine and even good.

When you see a pastor preaching on a big screen, there is a .0042% chance you would ever be granted a personal meeting with him. Again, this is accepted by the general populace as okay. The New Testament pastors understood they had a shepherding role over the church and felt a personal relationship with each of the members was vitally important, but this aspect of the ancient church is falling by the wayside as technology advances. What can I say, holograms are pretty cool.

This post originally appeared on Beliefnet. The original post and ensuing comment thread can be seen here.

Monday, October 11, 2010

#196 Not yoga

Christian culture has a big problem with yoga. To them it's a gate to the fires of hell. Its roots in pagan Eastern religions are the main problem. Even though Easter and Christmas are pagan festivals that Christianity incorporated as worship traditions, Christian culture is convinced that yoga is a trap to lure you into Satan's jaws. Where there could be room for God in the gaps, they tend to assign those gaps to the demonic. You know, just to be safe.

This sermon sums up the evangelical take on yoga. And I quote: "If you sign up for a little yoga class, you're signing up for a little demon class. That's what you're doing. Satan doesn't care if you stretch as long as you go to hell." Well that oughta cut down on evangelicals stretching, lest they hurtle down the slippery slope into eternal damnation. Maybe you'd better not do Pilates either, just to be sure.

[This post and its original comment thread are archived here on Beliefnet.]

Friday, October 8, 2010

#195 Theolojizzing

Anyone who has ever been moved by the pithy Chesterton quote or pastoral challenge to Do Something wants to issue quotes and challenges themselves. People who fancy themselves to be philosophical or spiritually minded have been getting off on spiritually-flavored musings for millenia. Now, with the advent of the internet, we're forging new frontiers for Christian culture's favorite pastime.

Blogs do the job (see this one right here) but Twitter is fast becoming the preferred venue for Jesus-flavored self-promotion. It's like the Aeropagus (ancient philosophers' mecca in Athens) of cyberspace. Twitter is where the whackmasters convene to impress themselves with their gospel-y one-liners and congratulate each other on their...achievements. "Good word, brother. Amen." "Great insight!" After tweeting he/she enters his/her refractory period and and F5's the page to see how many time they've been retweeted. Oh yeah, right there. Another RT! Say my name, bitch! Hang on, something else is coming to me, something pithy and ecclesiastical. I gotta tweet this.

Legions of Augustine and Spurgeon devotees are theolojizzing all over the internet and Christian culture is cheering them on. Theolojizzing is a fun distraction and easier than the real thing. The real thing happens in the context of relationship and all its pesky inconveniences. Quicker to rub one out and tweet something that sounds profound and call it bearing witness to the gospel. The gospel Jesus taught requires sacrifice and community and bearing each other's burdens, but why go that route when you could hang out at the virtual philosopher's cafe? There's got to be a reason Luke only spoke of the Aeropagus (aka Mars Hill) disparagingly. Ooh, I should tweet that!

This post originally appeared on Beliefnet. The comments and conversation that followed are here.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

#194 Marketing spirituality

This is Jim. He could become a member of your church if you play your cards right. So we've done a lot of research to figure out what will make him want to commit to church membership. As an American he's already an expert at consuming things so we've figured out how to help him consume spirituality. All of this is in the Bible somewhere. We don't have a reference for it, but it doesn't really matter because we're getting people in the door. Quit dissenting. You're trying to tear apart Christ's bride.

So what you want to do is get Jim plugged in so he'll become a member and your church will grow. It's all about being consumer-friendly. Our market research indicates people are nine times more likely to return to a church that is hip and convenient and affirming. And you have to impress upon them some semblance of community, so try to rally some of that. True community isn't always convenient or fun though so that's a tough one. We use the natural flavoring theory, like the chemicals they call natural flavors that taste just like the real thing. Jim probably won't be able to tell the difference and if he can he won't want to stick around, which is just as well because then he'd ask a lot of questions and wouldn't fall in line. So anyway, we've researched what will get people to plug into your church and we are selling it to you, the earnest upwardly-mobile modern congregation. It's a few thousand bucks but you'll make it back good-measure-pressed-down-shaken-together-running-over style in the lifelong tithes from all those white-collar members you'll nab. Blessings!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

#193 Hooking up with the youth pastor

This is a time-honored evangelical tradition which Christian culture is loath to speak of, yet everyone who grew up in Christian culture knows youth pastors (plural) who were deposed due to the dubiously defined Moral Failure. And those are just the ones who were caught.

The youth pastor's fall from grace is never less than gory. Once found out he will either make a tearful public confession, feebly defend his shredded reputation, or both. He is then ceremoniously fired and flees town under a spectacular shower of emotional fallout while the abandoned youth group reels from this strange new trauma which Christian culture has no idea how to handle. In their heads they replay the years of Purity Talks he gave whilst conducting clandestine activities on the side.

Post-scandal, these pastors sometimes go on to be youth pastors in other churches. This usually happens even with the hiring church's full knowledge of his past. Youth pastor gets older, high school girls stay the same age.

This post originally appeared at Beliefnet, comment thread is here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

#192 PDA via Facebook status

Not all people who do this are Christians, but 93% of them are. The remaining 7% are rogue non-Christians who are unabashed corndogs.

If you are fortunate enough to have Facebook friends who do this, you know it often begins with the wife praising her husband in her status. Once she's posted it's only a matter of time before the freshly lauded husband reciprocates using his status. Other times the husband commits Facebook PDA completely unprovoked by a glowing review. When you see this you can't help but wonder if he did something dastardly and is trying to get out of the doghouse.

Couples who do this don't think that their Facebook PDA could possibly violate the intimacy of their marriage or nauseate innocent bystanders. They believe they are blessing everyone by sharing their joy. If you are part of a PDA couple who is unfortunate enough to have nauseous Facebook friends, those friends may think your need for people to be jealous of you is stronger than your marriage.

Married people who are not Christians generally don't engage in cyber foreplay. Christian culture might counter that this is because Christians have better marriages, but the divorce rate in the church would not support that hypothesis.

This post originally appeared on Beliefnet. The original post and comments can be seen here.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

#191 See You At The Pole

See You At The Pole Day is upon us. Not to be confused with See You Next Tuesday, it is an annual event in which students pray at the flagpole of their school before classes start. It's touted as a great way to reach out to your school and minister to your friends and it happens to combine two of Christian culture's favorite things: public spectacle in the name of evangelism, and the American flag.

I don't mean to brag, but I participated in the first annual See You At The Pole in 1990. We held hands in a circle and prayed for the lost people at our public school with its liberal agenda and pro-evolution curriculum. People (pagans) hollered at us while we prayed, saying something to the effect that we thought we were better than they, which was true. When the bell rang we went to class feeling rather smug and keenly aware we had just Taken A Stand for our beliefs, eager for the persecution it would bring.

This post originally appeared on Beliefnet. The original post and its comment thread can be seen here

#190 Calling anger bitterness

Christian culture doesn't have a lot of room for people's hurt, especially when the hurt was caused by the Church. As such, when someone expresses frustration with God or church dealings, Christian culture's impulse is to label it bitterness and cite a verse.

Christian culture doesn't really know what to do with unsavory emotions like anger. They think Jesus' anger and turning over tables was great and holy, but they consider anger in themselves and others sinful and shameful. For this they often suggest an attitude adjustment.

When you try to share your frustration with an evangelical, you may reasonably expect one of these responses:

"Careful, your bitterness is showing."
"You need to repent of the root of bitterness has taken hold in your heart."
"One of Satan's most effective and popular schemes is bitterness."
"A bitter, sour Christian is one of Satan's greatest trophies."
"Quit whining. Get to worshiping."
"You need to change your attitude."

Christian culture is big on Changing Your Attitude. It's a lot more convenient than digging up ugly realities and the source of hurt, which caused the anger, which if not dealt with can lead to bitterness. Easier to label it bitterness straightaway and shame them for it in hopes they'll quiet down. But Christian culture's M.O. is Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship. It's a lot easier this way, but the price you pay is that you can't be a whole person.

This post originally appeared at Beliefnet. The original post and its comment thread can be seen here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

#189 Not The New Pornographers

A Christian college in Michigan recently acquiesced to pressure from its supporters after scheduling The New Pornographers to play on their campus. Rumor says the band name is an ironic reference to Jimmy Swaggart's (the Abraham Lincoln of Christian culture, or at least the President Taft) infamous statement that rock is the new pornography, but Christian culture isn't exactly known for its grasp of irony.

The school states they had invited the band in keeping with their "rubric of engaging culture through a Christian lens" and say they "remain committed to the difficult, yet important work at faithfully engaging popular culture." But this was a little too much culture to take. They couldn't explain the satirical name to enough people and for fear that their Reformed institution be thought pornography enthusiasts (and perhaps lose some alumni funding?) they issued a statement that they just couldn't explain the band name to everyone. But if a Christian college is that concerned about being thought to endorse pornography, they might let the nefarious internet activity on Christian college campuses speak for itself and remove all doubt.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

#188 Hipster Christianity

Christian culture is sure there's a way to be cool and be a Christian at the same time, they just don't know what that way is exactly.

Christians feel tension between being in the world and not of it, and they feel it hard. Christian culture exists to bridge the gap, but they're always aware they're not quite getting it right.

Unfortunately, if you need to announce that you're cool then you cease being cool. Like being classy or humble, proclaiming yourself as such means automatic disqualification. But Christian culture forges past this social code and labels its music, publications and thinking as hip, relevant, progressive, countercultural, innovative and cutting edge, but it can't avoid its signature move, which is being five to seven years behind what is actually cool in the mainstream. Bless their little hearts, they try so hard.

This post originally appeared at Beliefnet. The original converesation and comment thread is here.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

#187 Contemporary and traditional worship services

Evangelical churches are big on customer service. The last thing they want to do is alienate certain demographics, so many evangelical churches offer at least two services to accommodate generational differences. With separate traditional (old people) and contemporary (young people) worship services, the two generations need not co-mingle while singing worship songs that half of them don't like.

The traditional service always goes first, usually at 9 o'clock or thereabouts. The reasoning appears to be that older people go to bed early on Saturday nights right after Huckabee is over, so they'll be up and ready to make it. The traditional service has "classic" "hymns" and worship songs that the more mature congregant is presumed to enjoy. The contemporary service starts around 11 am. It's assumed that all the young upstarts were out doing What Young People Do On Saturday Nights, so they start things later and sing extended anthems to Jesus in which the word "I" is used a lot.

The separate services make co-mingling of the generations less likely, but the church leaders might figure that wouldn't happen anyway. They don't seem to think young people would want anything to do with the older people and maybe vice versa. Fostering these relationships isn't a priority and besides, it might be too much to expect the young people to stick around during lame hymns. That wouldn't "appeal" to them. To create a bigger draw, they delegate someone with flat-ironed hair and guyliner to lead worship. The outsiders feel like they're being advertised to, and the congregants get the same message, if only on a subconscious level.

Some churches tout a night worship service if you just can't get your ass out of bed Sunday morning. The underlying missive: you get up early for work and school, but doing it for the sake of kingdom community on the weekend is asking too much. Point taken.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

#186 Witnessing on airplanes

People in Christian culture feel pre-witnessing apprehension whenever they step on a plane. Whomever they sit next to will have been placed there by the Almighty for the specific purpose of being witnessed to, right there, by them.

Christian culture regards airplanes as excellent settings for evangelism. Air travel invokes a heightened sense of mortality which can only help the earnest Christian's pitch. A popular tactic is to read a Christian-flavored book in hopes it will spark conversation. Another benefit of the airplane setting is your captive audience. The person on the receiving end of the witnessing is strapped in and held hostage. Should they say "I'm not interested in talking about this" however politely, the Christian will usually relent but often with a disdainful comment indicating they've just made the biggest mistake of their eternity.

This post originally appeared on Beliefnet. The original post and its comment thread can be seen here.

Monday, August 30, 2010

#185 The stay-at-home pastor's wife

There is an unwritten rule in Christian culture that pastor's wives do not work outside the home. Once married, most pastor's wives relinquish their vocation and set about the full-time business of wifedom. They are very earnest in their mission to be their husband's support, encourager, and Proverbs 31 vixen.

Most pastor's wives are indeed college educated (though often partially), having secured their husband by way of their university's Campus Crusade ministry. The rest of them met at Christian college where most everyone is looking to mate for life. If said wife does work outside the home after they are married, she will without question quit her job when they start having children. (And they will have more than one. You won't find a pastoral couple who has only one child. It does not exist in nature.)

The pastor's wife keeps extremely busy with her homeschool curriculum, coordinating the children's ministry at church and leading Beth Moore bible studies. But once the kids are grown and out of the house it is common for the pastor's wife to get her real estate license. This is an excellent business move, for from here she automatically becomes the real estate agent for every single person in the congregation.

This post originally appeared on Beliefnet. The original post and comment thread can be seen here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

#184 Saying "Now, I know what you're thinking."

This is a fun little catchphrase that every pastor keeps chambered. They use it after saying something they imagine was startling.

Common uses of this phrase in sermons include:

"I know what you're thinking. Isn't God supposed to be a loving God?"

"I know what you're thinking. Pastor Ed, are you going to lecture me on the evils of alcohol?"

"Now I know what you're thinking. Crazy preacher man spouting off at the mouth about the whore of Babylon and some such."

"Now I know what you're thinking. Pastor Mark, what do you mean I should tithe more than 10%?"

And the most common version:

"I know what you're thinking: easier said that done."

This psychic revelation is often followed by "I'm not here to lecture you" or "You'd better believe it."

Monday, August 23, 2010

#183 Not the mosque at Ground Zero

Much of American Christian culture opposes the Ground Zero mosque. They say their main problem with it is the disrespectful locale, but they often go on to say that Islam is probably going to annihilate America (a.k.a. "God's nation" in Christian culture) before long and they'd feel a lot better if those sneaky Muslims weren't setting up shop underfoot. As is their wont, they tie their Christianity to this argument, however tenuously.

The Christ whom these people purport to follow taught embracing and honoring of all people (including Muslims), but Christian culture seems to have swept that nugget under the rug.

This segment of Christian culture is ready to hold all Muslims reponsible for the actions of extremists, but if extremists' actions don't align with what Islam teaches then it seems their religion wouldn't actually be Islam. By the same token, people who call themselves Christians but don't practice what Christ taught often aren't Christians at all, and even though they claim to do things in his name, their actions speak much more loudly. Funny thing, that.