Thursday, November 7, 2013

#236 Labeling dissent as cynicism

Christian culture doesn't have a category for grief and anger over wrongs done in God's name. They see it all as cynicism.

Anger is messy and frightening to Christian culture. It puts you in close touch with your raw humanity and doubt. This makes an essential step of the grieving process, anger, a threat to those who don't know how to hold grief and sadness alongside possibility and mystery. They feel Jesus's tantrum in the temple was okay, but all other anger stemming from abuses by those in religious authority will be swiftly shamed.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

#235 Jon Acuff

Jon Acuff pioneered the Stuff Christian Types Like genre of blogs with his blog Stuff Christians Like before I came along with this ripoff. A couple years ago he began working for Christian culture overlord Dave Ramsey but has recently resigned and his blog has disappeared.

Resigning suddenly under nebulous circumstances from a Christian organization with copious "We are definitely, definitely on good terms and the Lord is leading us in different directions" missives are yet another thing that Christian culture likes, and they make you wonder if everything is really okay. Could thou protest too much?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

#234 Daddy-Daughter Dates

Christian culture is way into daddy-daughter dates. Yes. They're exactly what they sound like. To their credit, evangelicals have recognized that absentee dads are more or less a societal menace and they appear be taking steps to rectify this within their frame of influence. But the emphasis they place on the daddy-daughter relationship is wildly disproportionate to all other parent-child interaction, to say nothing of creepy.

Part of the discrepancy can be seen by the quantity of ink devoted to this concept. There are pages upon internet pages about daddy-daughter dates, while the number of pages on mother-son dates that I could find are under a dozen. I found even fewer on daddy-son and mother-daughter dates, but no shortage on the daddy-daughter front. These articles lay out details for how and why and when and where to "date your daughter" (that is really what they call it). This appears to come from a lovely sentiment and honest desire to help shape girls into women who know their worth and won’t settle for dodgy men when they’re adults. And yet an equivalent amount of emphasis is not placed on the mother-son / mother-daughter / father-son relationship, and the tone of fatherly ownership of daughters is remarkable. Christian culture does not appear to have a problem with this.

Not surprisingly, the chatter surrounding daddy-daughter dates is directly in line with Christian culture’s M.O. of Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship. Rather than learn about why your relationship with your daughter or son is important, rather than seek to understand why vulnerability is crucial to emotional health and that bearing each other’s burdens is where relationship truly takes place, lists are given and dads check them off.  If fathers were instead reading about female psychology and relational intimacy, instructions on how to facilitate bonding through dates wouldn't be necessary as they would be organically acting out of their desire to know their daughters and honor them. But we don't live in that kind of world. And so here is some actual advice from an actual Daddy-Daughter Date article

“Keep your eyes on her. Looking at your daughter and not cutting your eyes to what walks by takes a little practice. Sure, you can look up at the server once, but that’s it after you order.” 

Now this appears quite inoffensive and even commendable, but no one seems to be asking why this sort of instruction to grown men is even necessary. If he can't relate to his daughter organically, an article on how to go on a date isn't going to touch the root issue. And his daughter will be able to tell if he is doing what he was told as opposed to whether he is truly interested in her as a person. This advice continues: “Keep a few open-ended questions handy.” “Girls want you to pay attention when they’re talking.” (As if boys don’t.) "So here’s the core list of Daddy Dates ‘Dos’: Do call her up and formally ask for the date. Do hold the door for her. Do tell her she looks nice. Do have her choose the music in the car. Do give her a flower. Do talk to her."

And on and on. The exhaustive instructions beg the question: are dads interested in who their daughters are as people or are they more interested in completing a checklist in order to feel they’ve done the fatherly duties required of them? Why are mother-son / father-son / mother-daughter dates not given one-tenth the amount of attention in evangelical culture that daddy-daughter dates are? It's an epidemic within Christian culture: actual relationships are not emphasized, but instead guidelines are given of what would follow naturally from a genuine relationship. They've put the cart before the horse once again.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

#233 Giving Kiosks

With the way tithing has been cramping our cyberactive lifestyles, we had to know we’d live to see the Giving Kiosk. Forged by Mother Necessity/megachurch-era capitalism, these glowing monoliths of conviction are humming in lobbies of evangelical churches across North America. You may now foist over your firstfruits anytime, anywhere. Your excuses have vanished ascension-style.

Judging from Giving Kiosk’s customer feedback, everyone loves this system. But the folks at Giving Kiosk say they don’t toot their own horn, they let happy customers do that for them. Yes, "customers." Don’t be cynical. That could just be their love language. Now the churchgoers/customers don’t have to haul out their checkbooks or hate themselves beyond standard Calvinist depravity when they leave their money at home. And Giving Kiosk even has an app so you can give at stoplights, worship rehearsal, women's Bible study, men's discipleship breakfast, or from your marriage bed.  

Now, they might seem a little spendy. An upright Giving Kiosk is $3,895, but their website says most churches see a 20% increase in tithes. So even if your church can’t afford the pastor’s life insurance right now, that 20% increase track record should have it paying for itself pretty soon (and maybe even for some new daylight projectors, MacBook Pros, thermal-regulated baptismal tanks, plexiglass sound-isolated drum kit booths, plasma screens and worship woofers). And if a church really can’t afford it, they can even lease the kiosk. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Doesn’t Dave Ramsey say leasing is bad?” Don’t get your soul patch in a twist. Giving Kiosks are in line with Ramseyism because their Ramsey Clause™ specifically states that they encourage the use of debit-based giving. But they're not legalistic. They can configure their products to accept credit cards, too. You never know how the Lord will work. He might call for you to give him money you just don’t have. What’s more self-sacrificial than that? Dump a wineskin of perfume on Jesus’ feet and wipe it off with your hair already!

With the security of the Ramsey Clause™ you can push to the back of your mind Dave’s “Leasing Is Fleecing” mantra. You can even use your leased Giving Kiosk to conduct registration for your next Total Money Makeover event. It just means they take your business seriously, which of course is the message of the cross, or maybe the message of the bottom line and charge capture. Don't worry. There's no way Martin Luther is rolling over in Wittenberg right now.