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.


  1. Wow. Really?

    If I were still a practicing Christian, attending the church I once attended for much of my life, I would think that parody was hilarious. I think — and maybe I’m wrong — the point of the ad is that faith isn’t about what’s on your car, rather it’s about what’s in your heart. It’s not some invitation to be a jeans-wearing slacker dude. I certainly didn’t see it that way.

    The Suit Guy runs around with bumper stickers pasted to the inside of his jacket. Are Christians like that? No, not most of them. Likewise the PC guy from the Apple ads is an overly stiff “business” buzzkill with no sense of humor. Are PC users that way? No, not most of them. The hip Christian and the Mac guy seem to just know what to do and always get it right. Is that true of hip Christians? Nope. Is it true of Macs? Absolutely not. Both the Apple ad and the linked parody are using hyperbole.

    I didn’t attend a “seeker” church and the parody would have been a big hit amongst that congregation… even amongst the people carrying their “swords.” (Probably not King Jimmy versions.) I guess I just don’t see what is causing the outrage.

    To the point about “picking and choosing,” there’s always someone more pious than thee. How’s that plank in your eye? :-D

    Comment by Allen — December 9, 2006 @ 1:38 am

  2. The hip Christian and the Mac guy seem to just know what to do and always get it right. Is that true of hip Christians? Nope. Is it true of Macs? Absolutely not. Both the Apple ad and the linked parody are using hyperbole.

    Hiya Allen, how’s the snow?

    The problem is the ad portraying both the Mac and the Jeans Christ-Follower as so much more superior. Just because we know they “don’t always get it right” doesn’t mean the intent of the ad is gone–to portray one as better than the other. Mac is trying to make money. What’s “Christ-follower’s” excuse?

    Certainly I don’t write my best when I’m mad, but I had to get that out of my system. And because I was mad, I forgot to emphasize the most important point: that CCC really tells you all you need to know in the tagline of the ads: Christian No More. They’re just plain embarrassed to carry that label. I really think they’ll find that stance coming back to bite them in the butt: “Christ follower,” in the end, will not gain them any more traction than “Christian” with their presumed target demographic of those who think of Christians as intolerant, hypocritical stuffed shirts.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 9, 2006 @ 1:50 am

  3. Ah, okay. I think I understand your point. I agree that trying to ditch the term “Christian” isn’t the best idea if they’re really trying to promote Christianity. One of the commenters at HotAir seemed to think that the CCC’s doctrine was sound. I’m not interested enough to look it up but, if that’s true, the “Christian No More” slide at the end of each ad would seem to work at cross (no pun intended) purposes to their mission. Maybe it’s supposed to be one of those “viral” campaigns meant to cause a ruckus and draw attention. It did seem to do that. …for better or worse. Mostly worse, I suspect.

    What I think they’re really railing against is The Pharisee — the dude who is all puffed up and full of show. If they had made suit guy a “Pharisee” and jeans guy a “Christian” they could have called it “Pharisee No More” and been much clearer in their execution, especially if they had revealed that jeans guy reads his Bible too but without all of the pomp of a big King James. But they didn’t ask me to direct. ;-)

    The Thanksgiving snow is finally melting. More snow is on the way. I’m loving it, actually. Pretty snow!

    Comment by Allen — December 9, 2006 @ 3:19 am

  4. I actually loved this clip, but I think I saw something different in it.

    I grew up surrouded in a church filled with Suit Guys, folks who’d interject “Praise the Lord!” into every conversation, who plastered their cars with “I found it!” bumper-stickers, and who refused to let their children participate in Halloween (because it’s “satanic” in their views) or in any non-Christian holiday programs (because those are disrespectful to God). Their brand of Christianity seemed to be a lot of form and performance, but not big on the expression of love and forgiveness that’s at the heart of Christ’s message.

    The “Jesus slacker dude,” on the other hand, struck me as being more concerned about his own relationship with God — not how other people might perceive it.

    I don’t think the point about being a ‘seeker’ or a ‘Christ-follower’ boils down to “picking and choosing,” Anwyn. I think the whole point is to remind us that NOBODY gets it right: we can only keep our focus on Jesus as our role model and keep trying, not by carrying stacks of books and pasting our cars and coats with bumper stickers, but by trying to live a life that’s both oriented around and demonstrative of our faith.

    Comment by Venomous Kate — December 11, 2006 @ 1:05 pm

  5. I get very exasperated with “Praise the Lord” being thrown into everything as well, but in addition to the “Christian No More” evasion, I really have a problem with them shutting off a whole category of their Christian brothers and sisters–insecure dorks, as they see them, who give the rest of Christianity a bad image. That also, to me, negates Christ’s love and forgiveness just as much as Suit Guy’s telling people what to wear to church. And again the important part is “as they see them.” It was a stereotype, and as I tried to make clear, some of the old-fashioned suit wearers who like decorum in church are the reserved, private Christians and some of the laid-back slackerdudes are the “Praise the Lord” types. You get all kinds, and they’re trying to box up a kind they see as undesirable and then secede from the box, labeling it “Christianity of a kind that we don’t really subscribe to.” I don’t really think it works that way.

    There are knee-jerk “Halloween is bad” folks and then there are those with honest misgivings and who make an effort to give the kids something fun to do that doesn’t focus on scary stuff … I grew up with a little of that.

    Look, I’m no kind of perfect and NO kind of perfect Christian. I know Christians who get on my last nerve and who I’d rather avoid than not. But I have a real problem with them trying to attract people to “Christ following” through methods like this. They should be working to promote Christ, instead, even if some people do imbibe Him in a rigid and dorky form.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 11, 2006 @ 3:38 pm

  6. True. And you’re right, that “Christian no more” thing really threw me. I still don’t know how to take it.

    Comment by Venomous Kate — December 11, 2006 @ 8:46 pm

  7. I gotta say, when I saw the “Christian no more,” I thought it was a parody made by ATHEISTS.

    Look, I’m no kind of perfect and NO kind of perfect Christian. I know Christians who get on my last nerve and who I’d rather avoid than not. But I have a real problem with them trying to attract people to “Christ following” through methods like this.

    Anwyn, I agree with you 100%. It’s not funny to me at all; they’re rejecting the term “Christian” because it’s not hip (or whatever). That’s absolute BS. A Christian shouldn’t be ashamed of his or her faith, and shouldn’t DENY what he is.

    Hello, Judas? Your church (CCC) is calling!

    Comment by Beth — December 12, 2006 @ 6:55 pm

  8. Thanks, Beth–and you’re right, it completely is a betrayal.

    Comment by Anwyn — December 13, 2006 @ 10:36 pm

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