Thinking Out Loud

June 26, 2014

“That’s So Typical of Christians…”

I Like Your Christ - Gandhi

  • “I know what Dutch people are like”
  • “I know what left-handed people are like”
  • “I know what red-haired people are like”
  • “I know what people from Arkansas are like”
  • “I know what French people are like”
  • “I know what lawyers are like”
  • “I know what landlords are like”

No, you don’t; you know a few, not all.

  • “I know what Christians are like”

No, you don’t; you know a few, not all.

We are a community of the broken. We are fallen. We are flawed. So naturally you are going to see us at our worst as well as sometimes at our best. You’re going to see us not living up to the standard we should. You’re going to see us when we’re “moving toward the cross” and when we’re “moving away from the cross.”

Ideally, we are people of love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness… Ideally, we are people of grace. Ideally, we reflect the character of the Christ we follow. That’s what we call “positional truth.” In terms of “practical truth,” we miss the mark, often by inches; often by miles. Just as suddenly, we sometimes get it right.

But we’re also not all the same. We have good days and bad days. We have people among us who are a real embarrassment to us, and people who truly model the life of Jesus in everything they do.

We are a community of faith. You don’t have to be “pure” to get in. You don’t have to “clean up real good” to join. It’s a “come as you are” party. And people do.

There’s no status, no seniority, no gender, no ethnicity; nobody can claim “spiritual dominance,” or “spiritual oneupsmanship” over any of the others. It’s as long and wide and deep as any cross-section of the broader society.

In fact, there’s no generic portrait of a Christ-follower that captures us all. There’s no homogeneity. There’s no ‘Mecca’ to which we must travel. No rites or rituals in which we must participate. No prescribed term of missions service we must all complete. No earthly head who speaks for all of us. No secret mantra we all recite.

There is respect for elders, yet sometimes “a little child will lead them,” and truths are spoken “out of the mouths of babes.” Younger brothers — even youngest brothers — are sometimes served by older brothers. Newcomers can make as viable a contribution as seasoned veterans. The next generation is free to reinvent the wheel. The generation after that is free to rediscover the ancient practices and classic disciplines.

It’s an upsidedown kingdom. An insideout kingdom. It’s a family. It’s “two or three gathered together” in a living room Bible study; it’s a multitude of people on a grassy hillside listening to a summer conference speaker. It’s elegant cathedrals and small country chapels. It’s quietness and solitude. It’s the making of a joyful noise with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.

There’s the doctrine — what is believed. There’s the ethics — how that belief is lived out. There’s the experience — what happens to us when we believe the orthodoxy and live out the orthopraxy. There’s the ‘macro,’ big picture version of Christ-following; and there are people focused on the ‘micro’ issues, or a number of individual ‘micros.’

There are those who have locked in for life. There are those who will leave and then return. There are those who will drift away. There are those who will look in, but as one looking through a window from the outside.

Some will give tirelessly to this — in every waking hour. Some attend services at Christmas and Easter. Some give substantial parts of their income. Some give the minimum required to stay on a membership list. Some grew up with this faith. Others came as adults. Some nurture their children in their beliefs. Others feel their kids need to choose, to ‘take ownership’ of their concepts about God.

Personalities are factored in: While one person may be demonstrative about their faith, another might be reticent about their personal beliefs. Whereas one person might be given to an emotional, relational kind of worship; another might prefer a formal liturgy, a quiet, controlled worship environment.


…do you still think you know what Christians are like?

I’m part of this, and I don’t. I just know that I’ve joined myself to a company of people who are trying to live a new life in a new way; a group of people who I otherwise would have nothing in common with.

Now, we have everything in common.

January 27, 2014

Google Doesn’t Lie, Does It?

This just in: People think Mormons are hot!  But they also think Buddah is fat, which somehow seems politically incorrect.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey is a former writer for Christianity Today who now lends her talents to Religion News Service. As a religion writer you’d think she’d know better than to play the Google game; the one where you type in a key word to see how Google auto-completes it. Or would she? Perhaps she trusts her reporter’s instincts that Google doesn’t lie, and that the commonly asked search criteria reflect both the perception and the reality of how religious groups are viewed.  So here’s what she posted on Twitter last night:

Why is…

Christianity: important?
Islam: so strict?
Hinduism: polytheistic?
Buddhism: important?
Catholicism: important?
Mainline Protestantism: declining?
Evangelicalism: on the rise?
Pentecostalism: so popular?
Jesus: white?
Muhammad: called the seal of the prophets?
Hare Krisha: a cult?
Buddha: fat?

Why are…

Baptists: in the south?
Methodists: liberal?
Presbyterians: called the frozen chosen?
Episcopalians: rich?
Evangelicals: turning Catholic?
Atheists: so angry?
Jehovah’s Witnesses: so nice?
Mormons: so hot?

Evangelicals are turning Catholic? That’s news to me. Unfortunately for you, what follows is merely a screenshot, you’ll have to do the search yourself. I did both the regular web search, and a separate one using Google Blog Search. And finally, I’m ashamed to say, I did a Google Images search for “hot Mormons” and “hot Mormon.”

I don’t want to talk about it.

Why Are Evangelicals Turning Catholic

August 7, 2012

Christianity is Sitcom Fodder in Two Series

Move over GCB, it’s time for two new series to put Christianity under the microscope.

In Canada, the series The L.A. Complex, broadcast on MuchMusic (our original counterpart to MTV) is adding a religious-flavored plotline in series two which features guest star Alan Thicke as the host/producer of a Christian talk show.  Wikipedia lists the plots for the first two episodes:

Episode One: Alica decides to take the dance troupe offer and moves out of the Lux. After the sever homophobic beating he gave Tariq, Kaldrick sets out to make things right, only to find that Tariq has gone into hiding. Meanwhile, in the aftermath burning down his own house, Connor is eager to drown his sorrows and turns to Raquel for comfort to hide his pain. But Raquel has her own issues as she faces life-changing news that she is pregnant, but keeps it to herself. Back at The Lux, Nick and Abby take their relationship to the next level, but learns that living together has its perks. After her movie deal falls through, Abby goes to an audition for a role on a Christian TV series called “Saying Grace” while Nick has a run-in with the jealous Sabrina during a meeting to land a comedy series writing offer that she also wants. Elsewhere, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Beth is a teenage runaway living in her station wagon with her 10-year-old brother, whom she sets to turn into a film star after his appearance in a TV commercial and decides to pursue the commercial’s director back to L.A.

Episode Two: Despite Abby’s best efforts to masquerade as a good Christian girl, her first day filming on the TV show “Saying Grace” goes right to Hell as she sees the dirty underside of the motion picture business which may threaten her career and life. This is nothing compared to Nick’s woes as he’s pitted against his former fling, the scorned and vindictive Sabrina, now that they’re working together, and whom sets out to destroy Nick’s career. Meanwhile, Connor gets an interesting offer from A-list movie star, Jennifer Bell (guest star Krista Allen), while at the same time, Raquel continues to hide her pregnancy from everyone so she can continue to work, but finds offers difficult to come by. Elsewhere, Beth and her younger brother, Simon, arrive in Los Angeles where they struggle to make their own way while trying to break into the movie business which eventually leads to them moving into Alicia’s vacant room at the Lux. Elsewhere, Kaldrick lands in the hospital after a suicide attempt and voluntarily commits himself to the psych ward, but he is still reluctant of opening up about his shame at being gay… apparently out of fear for his career, his tough reputation, and possibly his own life.

I printed the episode summaries in whole so you could see the religious storyline in the fuller context.

Meanwhile Christian Post is reporting on a new series being developed for U.S. prime time:

Political commentator and comedian John Fugelsang is developing a primetime show on Current TV that will tackle politics and religion, particularly taking aim at the “Christian right.”

“[T]his show of mine will focus on the hypocrisy of the Christian right,” Fugelsang told TheWrap this week.

The Long Island, N.Y., native has been unreserved about his disagreement with conservative Christians and he believes they’re distorting who Jesus is.

“I view Jesus much the way I view Elvis,” Fugelsang, the son of ex-Catholic clergy, said, according to Current TV. “I love the guy, but some of the fan clubs terrify me. I want to do with the religious right what Eliot Spitzer is doing with Wall Street. I want to take the Bible back from the creeps.”

Dan Kimball, author of They Like Jesus but Not the Church, believes the show could actually be helpful to Christians.

“[W]hen I hear evangelical Christians or conservative Christians mocked or viewpoints of the Bible made fun of, I personally don’t get mad or upset,” he said to The Christian Post in an email. “I do, however, like to read what the criticisms are and see if what is being said is valid or not as we all have things to learn from people who disagree with our viewpoints.”

continue reading here

Fugelsang told the Chicago Tribune:

“I want to do a show that takes on Chick-Fil-A and the Westboro Baptist Church using the bible,” Current TV’s new primetime host John Fugelsang told TheWrap on Wednesday…

…Fugelsang will mix comedy, politics and pop culture, introducing viewers to new music at the same time he dresses down politicians.

However, his real focus is on religion and the selective interpretation of the bible he feels conservatives have pushed on the American public…

continue reading here

July 21, 2010

Wednesday Link List

The Christian Internet:  Charismatic, Reformed, Fundamentalist, Catholic, Mainline Protestant and Evangelical sites all sharing cyberspace and competing for your attention.   Here’s a few we visited this week…

  • Our own link list cartoon this week is Joe McKeever at Baptist Press.

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