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!