Monday, April 26, 2010

#149 Calling the lobby the narthex

During church announcements the pastor will reference the narthex ("Information on our outreach programs is located in the narthex," etc.) and you must infer its definition from the context. Even the warehouse-iest of church buildings call their warehouse-y lobbies the narthex as it perhaps lends a bit of elegance, like saying fo-yay instead of foy-yer (the latter pronunciation being common in the Bible belt).

According to Wikipedia the narthex is the entrance or lobby area located at the far end from the church's main altar and the name dates back to the Byzantine era. This is news to me as I've lived my entire life thinking that narthex is named after the north (narth, same difference) exit (hence the -ex) even if the exit does not face north. It's like when I finally learned the wind chill factor is not actually the windshield factor, and it's not measured by sticking your face out the window next to the windshield to see how cold it is. But I digress. How should I end this? Narthex is a hilarious word, and that's the moral of the story.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

#148 Jack Bauer

Men in Christian culture have giant man-crushes on Jack Bauer. He is the prototype of Christian culture's ideal male, save for the profession of faith. He's macho, tenacious and tech-savvy (all qualities that Christian culture holds dear) and he's working his ass off under an apocalyptic deadline, which Christians can relate to. They even find themselves praying for Jack Bauer during the show and then laughingly confess to this when discussing last week's episode of 24 at Bible study.

Monday, April 19, 2010

#147 Saying "Great insight"

"Great insight" is the response of choice when a person in Christian culture says something spiritually poignant. Sometimes the word "brother" or "man" is appended to the phrase. If they choose to elaborate they often will say "God is really using you to teach me something."

This saying runs amok in Christians' blog comments and on Twitter. Do a search to spy on it in its natural habitat.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

#146 Mike Huckabee's stance on gay marriage

Mike Huckabee's recent statements on gay marriage made many American evangelicals quite pleased. Because boy howdy, Christian culture does not like the idea of gay marriage. They really, really, really do not. Christian culture feels strongly that legalizing gay marriage would hurt the institution of marriage and that it would be a shock to our fundamental understanding of human social relations and institutions. They also feel that legalizing gay marriage would cause God to bring his judgment against America.

Dr. James Dobson, who has been referred to as "the nation's most influential evangelical leader" by Time magazine, [1] also made this statement on the subject:
"Indeed, those charges are already being leveled against Christians who espouse biblical values. How about group marriage? Or marriage between daddies and little girls? Or marriage between a man and his donkey? Anything allegedly linked to civil rights will be doable, and the legal underpinnings for marriage will have been destroyed." [2]
The possibility of donkey marriage becoming legal is terrifying to people who hold moral conventions close to their hearts. But Jesus did not endorse morals or politics. Jesus endorsed love and relationship. In particular, he endorsed showing unmerited favor (i.e., grace) to members of society whom the Pharisees deemed unsavory (i.e., tax collectors and prostitutes. Do homosexuals fall in this category?). Making same-sex marriage legal would mean Christians would have to relinquish some political and moral control and trust the issue to God. It is quite a conundrum for the Christian culture, indeed.

Monday, April 12, 2010

#145 Saying that they "married out of their league"

Men in Christian culture like to say they have "married up" or "married out of their league." They make a point to speak of their wife in glowing terms as often as possible.

Phrases often heard from the husband include:
"What did she ever seen in me?"
"How did I get so blessed?"
"Yes, I married up!"
"My wife is way better looking and smarter than me."
"I married way out of my league!"

Likewise, women in Christian culture use their own sanctioned vernacular when referencing their husbands. The nuances of this will be explored in a future post.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

#144 The word "should"

Christian culture is all oiled up in "ought" and encrusted with "should." Should you do something or shouldn't you? The earnest Christian-culturist can ask down to the tiniest little things, and it's endless. Best case scenario, you can relinquish some guilt and start asking how valid the advice is. Worst case scenario, it will put you on the horns of a dilemma and keep you there.

Christian culture has a lot to say about what you should do in any number of scenarios. People never stop asking their spiritual authority figures what they should and shouldn't do.

Jesus got this a lot from the Pharisees. "What should I do in this situation? How many times should I forgive? Should I pay taxes? What should I do to enter the kingdom of heaven?" but he never gave them a pat answer. He told them "wrong question" and gave them something new to think about. It hacked them off.

Christ promised freedom but should-ing yourself to death doesn't feel much like freedom. The black-and-white is easy. Not having a pat answer is frustrating. How should we then live? It's a dilemma for Christian culture, all right.

Monday, April 5, 2010

#143 Spiritual gifts

Spiritual gifts were outlined in some of Paul's letters and today are the Christian culture equivalent of astrological signs. Both spiritual gifts and astrological signs have handy charts devised from ancient lore which people use to find their gifting/predisposition/reason for being lovely/reason for being a choad.

Some of the gifts Paul talked about are prophecy, ministry, teaching, exhortion, giving, leading, compassion, wisdom, knowledge, speaking in tongues, interpreting said tongues, and healing. Hey, that's twelve! Just like there are twelve astrological signs. Nah, there are probably more spiritual gifts to be wrung out than that. When it comes to Christian culture, there is always more Stuff you can Do.

Once someone has discerned their spiritual gifting they are usually quite excited to put it to good use. In this writer's case, her alleged gifting has prompted her to proffer "inspired" advice, casually ask intrusive questions, and tell her college roommate with immense smugness that she ought to take down that Metallica poster.

Friday, April 2, 2010

#142 Waxing authentic

Christian culture likes to reference their authenticity. This is interesting because actual authenticity needs no pronouncement. People can smell it on you like you can smell homeschool on the Duggars.