Friday, May 28, 2010

My religion podcast

The Grapes of Rad podcast I was on the other night is up now. Religion was the theme and we kind of told our stories and people called in to tell theirs and talk about what they struggle with and what they're glad of and what they're resentful of. So you can listen to it here and leave them a comment if you like.

Monday, May 24, 2010

#157 Lost

Christians love Lost like they love 24. They're currently mourning the finale and discussing it with anyone who will sit still. They loved its arresting portrayal of journey and American folk eschatology but feel it lacked a solid worldview, to their chagrin. Christians love a solid worldview.

They object to the Universalist belief system they say is the overarching philosophy but its talk of the "next life" and the struggle for redemption made this series irresistible to Christians. Right now there is surely a book on how to find Jesus in "Lost" being rushed together by Zondervan or something.

(Jacob the immortal protector reads Everything That Rises Must Converge. Oh so rife with allegory!)

Friday, May 21, 2010

#156 Hedges of protection

When praying for someone's safety, Christians use the phrase "hedge of protection."

They just can't help themselves.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

#155 Sharing a Facebook account

 Not all Christian couples share a Facebook account but the people who do tend to be Christians. The reason for this is unclear. Actually, both are unclear: why someone would share a Facebook account, and why Christians do it the most.

People who have shared Facebook accounts tend to forget we can't tell who's updating. Jeremy-N-Wendy just updated their status, but which one is it, Jeremy or Wendy? Guessing is required. When their status is something like "Jonathan&Sarah is counting down the hours left in the Obama administration" that could well be either Jonathan or Sarah. It's easier when a gender-specific activity is mentioned. Stati* like "ToddAndMelissa The 'Hawks really cleaned up in the draft" and "Josh&Heather is harvesting my peas on Farmville!!!!" require zero guessing as to which spouse made that update.**

Sharing an email address is another prevalent internet trend in Christian culture. This will also be explored in a future post and it will also have no satisfying conclusion.

* That's Vulcan for "statuses"

**In Christian culture it's unlikely the wife would be playing fantasy sports or that the husband would confess to playing Farmville. Outside of Christian culture you may need to wonder, but within it, gender roles are pretty pervasive.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

#154 The word "backsliding"

Backsliding is a word used by Christians when people fall away from the faith. The adjective form is "backslidden," the present participle is "backsliding," and if you want to sound southern about it the past participle is "backslid."

This word isn't used in many contexts outside of Christianity with the prominent exception of a Rancid song. Christian musicians who question their beliefs seem to gain the most notoriety. Nefarious musical backsliders include Amy Grant, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and David Bazan.

Christian culture views backsliding as something that can be prevented by one's earnest efforts. (In Christian culture, most faith-related things should involve earnest effort.) Backsliding isn't viewed with much clemency or seen as a valid and perhaps vital part of someone's spiritual journey. Ergo, 10 handy steps to stave away backsliding can be found by clicking here.

Those who admit to faltering faith typically receive a healthy dollop of rebuke and admonition from the Christian culture, followed by an urging to "do what's right." The notion that they are doing right by themselves and by God in being honest about their misgivings has little if any validity in Christian culture. But if the Bible is true then the God of the Bible can withstand questioning and even demands it. He blessed Jacob after Jacob wrestled with him and he didn't promise to spit his naysayers out of his mouth, only the lukewarm. Christian culture doesn't know quite what to do with this. Be warned that if you express your doubts or struggles to someone enmeshed in Christian culture these will be met with disapproval and handled with severity.

Monday, May 10, 2010

#153 Mother's Day

Mother's Day doesn't have anything to do with Christianity, but Evangelical churches customarily make an event of it. The cover of the worship program says "Happy Mother's Day!" and moms present are asked to stand up mid-service while everyone applauds. In the Bible belt chrysanthemum corsages are distributed, identifying the breeders. The plight of the infertile or single woman (neither is exactly celebrated in Christian culture) doesn't seem to be an issue to those who orchestrated the special mommy recognition.

Recognizing mothers during church seems harmless enough and quite lovely really, and it is, if you haven't suffered a miscarriage, infertility or an abusive/absent mother. Statistically, many people attending a church service have been affected by at least one of these. A Mother's Day service couched in God-speak may not be what they need.

Such survivors feel conspicuous if they don't clap and smile during the applause portion of the program (clapping and smiling being the brick and mortar of Christian culture) so some posturing is assumed in order to endure the service. And it's a fresh, caustic hell for the woman who has miscarried to be asked by the guileless church greeter, "Are you a mother? Well you get a corsage if you are! No? Oh, it's a long story? Wait, don't cry. Come back! Jesus loves you!"

Friday, May 7, 2010

#152 Not the swimsuit issue

Men in Christian culture see the swimsuit issue as their kryptonite. Some of them (like my dad) give Sports Illustrated strict instructions not to send it with their subscription. The rest of them (like the guys who were in Campus Crusade with me) dispose of it upon finding it in their mailbox.*

The week the swimsuit issue comes out is a heavy time for Every Man's Battle groups. Same goes double for the Victoria's Secret catalog.**

*Or at least they say they do.
**Or so I've been told.

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

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

#151 The National Day of Prayer

Christian culture has really thrown itself into preserving the National Day of Prayer. They very much want it to be recognized as a national institution and are rather put out that Franklin Graham was disinvited from speaking at the Pentagon's National Day of Prayer service after saying some inflammatory things about Muslims.

Christian culture seems to be more upset that Franklin was disinvited from speaking than they are that he called Islam "a very evil and wicked religion." They see this as speaking the truth in love, no matter how it comes off. But most of all they are really bent on urging Christians to preserve the godly foundations upon which America was built. They don't appear to know just how Christian the forefathers really were, or were not, rather. Investigating the truth behind that could lead down a rabbit trail and then they might have to consider the possibility that God could be bigger than a government and bigger than laws and that some of their efforts to help him out seem hateful and are actually hurting the cause. Then their perspective and possibly their belief systems would have to be reevaluated and hard questions would have to be asked and that would really make things uncomfortable and messy. It's so much easier to just accept what you've been told by people whom you have trusted. No one can argue with that.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

#150 The unspoken prayer request

Before commencing group prayer each person is usually queried for their personal prayer requests. If the request is highly personal people sometimes say "I have an unspoken." (You don't say I have an unspoken prayer request, just I have an unspoken. The final two words are also unspoken.)

Announcing an unspoken prayer request leaves the rest of the group no choice but to speculate as to what could possibly be the matter. If a girl has requested "an unspoken" you may assume she needs prayer for her Woman Bits. If a guy has requested "an unspoken" you may assume he needs prayer for chronic masturbating.

The unspoken prayer request is meant to offset gossip via prayer request (as previously discussed here) but manages to spark gossip anyway. Unspoken-prayer-request gossip is even juicier than normal prayer-request gossip thanks to its speculative nature. If you have been entrenched in Christian culture for awhile then you know what will be assumed when you announce your unspoken need and often you will just let it go un-prayed for rather than invite any dirty presumptions.