What the Hell Heaven?

Filed under:Church of Liberalism,Religion — posted by Anwyn on December 8, 2006 @ 10:56 pm

This is really ticking me off. Allah’s got it posted but doesn’t think it’s nearly as serious as I do: “The ribbing is gentle, but it’s still surprising to see this kind of religious stereotyping in an ad. Even if it is intramural.” Just watch:

It’s not gentle, Allahbabe. It’s self-loathing masked as the snottiest of self-righteousness and superiority. “See, teeming masses of Christian fear and loathing so great that you deny yourselves the simple pleasures of ‘Christmas’? We’re not to be feared! We have no rules that you must follow that might take you out of your comfortable lifestyle! You can wear jeans to church! It’s all good!” I don’t have a problem with the jeans. I have a problem with the stereotyping, which is laughably wrong, and with the doctrinal implications, which are lamentably watery.

Let’s assume for a moment that their stereotypes are correct, that buttoned-down man is the one who carries his Bible, listens to whatever passes for [younger, Christianer] Amy Grant and Cynthia Clawson and Keith Green these days (I wouldn’t know, I don’t listen), and wears those stupid fracking WWJD things–and memo to Community Christian Church, those bracelets were popular eight years ago. I haven’t seen them around in a good long time.

But I digress. Let’s assume the portrayals are correct. Suit Guy is annoying as hell, but at least he’s armed, and yes, the Word of God is referred to as a sword. Jeans Guy follows Christ … how? The same way you’d follow a diet? “Yeah, I follow Atkins, but man, I just had to have that Krispy Kreme after lunch today. Hee hee.” He doesn’t seem to need a guide; he just follows Christ in how he lives his life. Swell. Will we see him dying on a cross any time soon? At least most people know that’s what Christ did; Jeans Guy seems to be carrying all he needs to live a “Christ-following” life around in his own head, so hey, no need for those pesky rulebooks and ethics studies and … oh yeah, “morality plays.” Whatever the hell those are. Seriously. Suit Guy may be insecure enough that he feels he has to flash his religion to the world, but is it safe to assume he secretly doesn’t take it as seriously as Jeans Guy for that reason? Of course not.

Now let’s get to the truth: that the stereotypes are way off. On the contrary, it’s the newer, “seeker” Christians, the ones who fancy themselves sooo hip, as if they are the first to discover how cool Christianity can be if you only lighten up a little, who are more likely to walk around with the books in their hands, the music in their ears, and WWJD in their mouths. You put “WWJD,” “God led me to see ____,” and “This is where God wants me” into a sack one of those seekers is carrying around and just see which falls out first. Or if it’s not a seeker, it’ll be an older Christian trying desperately to remake Christianity over into something that won’t frighten the young fry away. They talk the most talk, try to grab the most non-Christians by the elbow, and try to shake the hands of the most visitors to the church. The problem is, it’s not just going to be the Bible they’re walking around with. Koran … Purpose-Driven Strife … God’s Politics … to Suit Guy’s books and superiority, they add wide-eyed enthusiasm and Jeans Guy’s non-judgy perspective. It’s the worst of both worlds. It’s all good … as long as you can say God led you there. Most of the older Christians I know are more of the “don’t pray on street corners” variety. They carry their Bibles … because they need to read what the pastor’s referring to when he speaks.

Apparently being a “Christ follower” means you get to pick and choose and live however you happen see Christ as living. Unfortunately being a Christian takes a bit more guts and commitment than that, even if it means disdain from others. (Newsflash: it always has meant that!) Too bad Community Christian Church doesn’t seem to want to man up.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace