Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes


#168 Africa

posted by Stephanie Drury

africa2.jpg

Christian culture sure likes Africa. It is their continent of choice for missions work. If you grow up in American Christian culture you hear so much about Africa that you have a strong suspicion that God will make you a missionary there when you grow up. You learn in Sunday school that Amy Carmichael prayed for blue eyes every day and then she grew up to be a missionary in India and thus her brown eyes help her blend in better and that’s why God didn’t give her blue eyes. You are pretty sure God will do something like that to you even though your eyes are blue, but he’ll probably send you to Africa and not India like Amy.

africa1.jpgAs a product of Christian culture, your understanding of Africa is comprised entirely of lions, elephants, and unsaved savages, and you are only vaguely familiar with the political unrest and economic corruption there but you’ve inferred somehow is that if Africa were a Christian nation then they wouldn’t have these problems. Then one day you might read The Poisonwood Bible and think, hmm, maybe all these missionaries aren’t actually doing what Jesus said to do. Maybe some of them don’t even know Jesus at all. Then you might think “What if Christ and Christian culture aren’t really on the same wavelength?” Then you might start a blog about the disparity between the two and Beliefnet might take a liking to it and ask to sponsor it and put ads on it with IQ quizzes and graphic pictures of people’s muffin tops. And all because of Africa. Isn’t the universe strange?



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Lee Herring

posted July 7, 2010 at 12:41 am


Dear Ms. Drury,
‘The Poisonwood Bible!’ What a classic. Its a good thing I went to Africa before I read it.
Thanks for the post.
Yours, Lee



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Julie Presley

posted July 7, 2010 at 12:42 am


I was amazed to find out that one of the countries in Africa was made up mostly of white people who spoke close to English, when a huge family from there immigrated to my hometown in Canada. Now I can pick out a South African accent just about anytime I hear one.



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John M.

posted July 7, 2010 at 12:45 am


Perhaps the deep connection and passion for Africa is embedded in our DNA, since mitochondrial DNA teaches that Africa is where humans originated. But you would have to make your theology stretch to fit evolutionary context, in order to accept that.



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Rocky Presley

posted July 7, 2010 at 12:56 am


When I think of Africa, I think of a young one who is meant to be king, but before he can learn that, his evil uncle takes his father’s life, and said future king must go on an unlikely adventure with Nathan Lane and Ernie Sabella, meet a hot female, and discover that life is problem free, only to discover that that isn’t the case at all.
Oh, and I think of black people.



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Julie Presley

posted July 7, 2010 at 12:57 am


That man up there? That Rocky person? He’s my favorite.



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Amy

posted July 7, 2010 at 2:50 am


My youth pastor used to play this tape in her car all the time. I’m having a flashback to 7th grade, brb.

Scott Wesley Brown – Please Don’t Send Me To Africa
Preacher Speaking:
[You know I also attended
Holyland USA in Del Rio TX
Home of the drive in baptismal car wash
and disco house of worship
say Hallelujah
Brethren, that reminds me of a story
I’ll never forget the movie Jungle Book
Say Hallelujah
You remember it dont’cha? Dr. Livingstone
say Hallelujah
Beautiful man, pillar of the community
Well you know, quite frankly he went into
The wilds of the jungle and never came back]
Oh Lord I am your willing servant
You know that I have been for years
I’m here in this pew every Sunday and Wednesday
I’ve stained it with many a tear
I’ve given You years of my service
I’ve always given my best
And I’ve never asked you for anything much
So, Lord I deserve this request
Chorus:
Please don’t send me to Africa
I don’t think I’ve got what it takes
I’m just a man,I’m not a Tarzan
Don’t like lions, gorillas or snakes
I’ll serve you here in suburbia
In my comfortable middle class life
But please don’t send me out into the bush
Where the natives are restless at night
I’ll see that the money is gathered
I’ll see that the money is sent
I’ll wash and stack the communion cups
I’ll tithe eleven percent
I’ll volunteer for the nursery
I’ll go on the youth group retreat
I’ll usher, I’ll deacon , I’ll go door to door
Just let me keep warming this seat
(Chorus)
Please don’t send me to Africa
I don’t think I’ve got what it takes
I’m just a man I’m not a Tarzan
Don’t like lions, gorillas or snakes
I’ll serve you here in suburbia
In my comfortable middle class life
But please don’t send me to the ends of the earth
Where the natives are restless at night



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Patricia

posted July 7, 2010 at 3:20 am


Modern CC missions give me a bad taste in my mouth.
My boyfriend is a missionary all right: to his next-door-neighbor’s partying, marijuana-smoking, odd-company-attracting apartment, where he is often the only sober one and is hit on by men and women alike (We’re talking about a ruler-straight, lightweight, Southern Baptist introvert who doesn’t cuss, is a virgin, and listens to conservative talk radio to wake up in the morning). He tells me about these discussions about faith that go till 4am. He also tells me about other conversations concerning sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll. I have yet to see photos of him dee-jaying (his 80s and 90s R&B mix is quite a hit, I’m told). He participates in their drinking games with bottles of water he buys specifically for himself and other people who feel like being sober. He has the ability to be his conservative self but still love and have fun with the people around him. He is comfortable with the dysfunctional. His neighbor considers him his best friend even though they have vastly different values, especially when it comes to faith.
He didn’t seek for this to become a mission field. It just happened. He just wanted to hang out and meet some friends. Now a lot of people see a side of Christianity they have never seen before, the loving, compassionate side, as a direct result of him just being there. It’s an amazing thing. All he has to do is walk out the door.
Most people (myself included) would probably rather go to Africa and play soccer.
I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t go on overseas missions. I think I’m saying that a mission shouldn’t be validated simply by marking off a checklist of Stuff That Must Happen While In ________, which is the impression I had growing up. Its about loving and building relationships with people vastly different from ourselves.
Hey, that concept sounds familiar :)
Sorry for the sermon. The word “missions” brings up some bad memories for me. Sad, yes. And I haven’t even gone on one.
the cheetahs



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Valerie

posted July 7, 2010 at 10:23 am


Best. Post. Evar. Stephy, I went through the EXACT same thing. I thought I was going to be a missionary to Latin America for most of high school and part of college, converting those heathen Catholics. Now I work in a Catholic school and take American Catholic students to study religion and Spanish in Guatemala.



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Valerie

posted July 7, 2010 at 10:24 am


Oh, and The Poisonwood Bible is one of the best books I’ve ever read.



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Frank

posted July 7, 2010 at 12:15 pm


Christians are using Africa as their own laboratory for social engineering. American Christians are leading an anti-gay pogrom there. With the support of religious leaders like Lou Engle, Uganda is first modern Christian country in the process of making homosexuality a capital offense.



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stephanie drury

posted July 7, 2010 at 12:55 pm


HAHAHA Rocky!



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Chrissy

posted July 7, 2010 at 2:35 pm


This is scarily accurate! Like, overwhelmingly accurate. Except I read a blog about the disparity between christian culture and Christ instead of write it. God’s will for our lives is limitless! He called Stephy to write and me to read. Suck it, Africa! Or more precisely: Suck it, christian culture, with your skewed perception of a terrifying and dangerous continent!



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Anna

posted July 7, 2010 at 3:44 pm


What started me on my path away from Christianity was a mission trip in Utah. It’s too long of a story for a comment but what I learned was that some Christians, the Christianese, care more about their personal agenda than the trials and heartache that their fellow Christians are going through.



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Steve D

posted July 7, 2010 at 7:40 pm


@ Patricia
“He didn’t seek for this to become a mission field. It just happened. He just wanted to hang out and meet some friends. Now a lot of people see a side of Christianity they have never seen before, the loving, compassionate side, as a direct result of him just being there. It’s an amazing thing. All he has to do is walk out the door.”
This post and specifically this paragraph should win an award. No pretense, no formulas, no pray this prayer. If more Christians would do this, the church would grow like wildfire.



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Mar

posted July 7, 2010 at 8:06 pm


“if Africa were a Christian nation…”
It seems they also like treating Africa as one big country, rather than a continent which encompasses a lot of very different countries with unique governments, histories, politics, and cultures. But that could also just be a white people thing.



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stephanie drury

posted July 7, 2010 at 8:21 pm


Yes! Haha! My experience has been that Christian culture does think of Africa as a single country and culture.



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pete

posted July 7, 2010 at 8:47 pm


When I was 16, i was DYING to go to India as a medical missionary. God never arranged for me/us to go there. Now, I am 61, and a home missionary to the US representing Christ to my non-Christian Republican neighbors and family.
God works in mysterious ways, indeed…..



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Lee

posted July 7, 2010 at 9:05 pm


Great story Patricia. You never know what impact your boyfriend is having either. I know that sometimes I won’t think of something until say, ten or so years later and then all of a sudden at the most perfect of times, I will. Even though they didn’t actively evangelize to me (which was smart of them), the memory and influence of genuinely sweet good Christians won over the memories of all the horrible nasty ones I had known, prompting me to rediscover my relationship with God.
I’ve never heard of this “Poisonwood Bible”. Now I’m curious. I will add it to my ever growing list of books to read.



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Phree Thinka

posted July 7, 2010 at 9:42 pm


interesting post left by Patricia – you say your boyfriend is a missionary to his neighbors. what urk’s me about your bf’s missionary agenda, is that you classify “marijuana smoking” as a part of the neighbors dysfunction. Many states in the union make provisions for God’s green herb to be used as medicine for folks who want to manage their pain and suffering. Why judge people who use cannabis? why classify them as hell bound heathens? The cannabis issue is one of the biggest reasons why i STAY AWAY from christian culture. it’s primarily a huge fellowship of ignorant, judgemental fearful people. There are many a christ follower who have medical green cards…just a thought for y’all who judge those who medicate!
peace out.



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Patricia

posted July 8, 2010 at 2:26 am


Phree Thinka
I didn’t really mean to say whether or not marijuana is dysfunctional, although I can see how it would come across that way. The dysfunction lies in other areas that I don’t feel like making public. I was trying to illustrate the differences between my boyfriend and the people he was hanging out with.
Also, I think I made it clear that he has no agenda. Or, if you will, his agenda is to make some friends. That’s the beauty of it. He is simply being a friend, which is how I define a mission.



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Monica

posted July 8, 2010 at 6:54 am


This discussion makes me so happy, I am literally sparkling on the inside ^_^.
That being said, I remember the “Lord don’t send me to Africa” song. And I sang it, ALOT.
I thought that I was going to be either a missionary/tv minister. I would do all of my work in the inner city and make certain trips in European countries. Africa was NOT on my list. But my mother always told me never to say never or no when God was concerned.
I still said no. She went to Africa and had fun and a sunburn. I stayed home and held down the fort. When I did do missions, it was in the inner city. Which I guess it was good to volunteer, but the things that other missionaries said behind the back of folks in their countries or what have you…isn’t very Christ-like.
And now that I am 28, it makes me wonder…if folks who do missions work, really just want to feel better about themselves as an American Christian. I know for some that’s not the case, but I am asking about the most.



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Mon

posted July 8, 2010 at 7:39 am


Not my super Christian Culture friend. I somehow got sucked into seeing Jars Of Clay (very CC) and they stopped in the middle of their set to talk about Africa (which is in line with this particular post). She got really upset afterwards because she equates socio-political awareness with the liberal agenda. Maybe she falls under some strange sub-category of Christian Culture.



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Shannon

posted July 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm


“She got really upset afterwards because she equates socio-political awareness with the liberal agenda. Maybe she falls under some strange sub-category of Christian Culture.”
There are a lot of Christians I know who are paranoid about anything that could be related to being friendly with the Democratic party. I am surprised that Stephy hasn’t done a post about Rush Limbaugh or Glenn Beck by now.



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spinning

posted July 8, 2010 at 1:51 pm


Oh man – shades of the YWAM/Transformations/New Apostolic Reformation “vision” of “taking territory for Christ.”
The vocabulary and packaging change, but the message never does…
Agreed on the CC view of Africa as “The Dark Continent,” though certainly it’s rivaled by all the rest of the non-Christian world (certain Middle Eastern and Asian Muslim-majority countries in particular).
I think that once a person starts seeing that there are nuances (diversity, linguistic and cultural differences, etc.), the CC paradigm starts to fall apart. (Kinda what happened to me. I spent years trying to reconcile certain CC views of people from other continents with my love of said peoples’ music, art, etc.)



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Rocky Presley

posted July 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm


“it’s primarily a huge fellowship of ignorant, judgemental fearful people.”
Ironic statement of the day. Now are the judgmental and fearful or are they afraid of being judgmental? Cursed punctuation! In this forum, you should certainly be afraid of being judgmental! I would bet on judgmental and fearful, and Patricia, you need to know that your boyfriend will now need to fit neatly into this category. It is much easier to dismiss the whole than to find any value in an individual associated with the whole. It’s that same line of thinking that has lead to some of the greatest atrocities ever enacted against man, but this one is very harmless. It is only directed towards those stupid Christians. At least it isn’t directed towards the Jews.
One thing that you can always find here at SCCL. Gigantic assumptions and generalizations, particularly towards those with religious affiliations, but a word to the wise. Never return that generalization with a generalization. Then you will end up “Joel-ing” the conversation, and God help you then!
My CAPTCHA is “minor cougars.”



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Patricia

posted July 8, 2010 at 6:43 pm


Steve D (I’m sorry its a while later but I’ve been kinda busy),
Thank you! We’ve both learned from experience that the “pray this prayer and follow the Roman Road” method doesn’t work because for us it is simply “memorize and regurgitate.” No one likes regurgitated anything. It means as much as an equation memorized for a mathematics test that is forgotten after said test.
Rocky: All I know is that if Phree Thinka actually knew this person, s/he would feel differently.



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Steve D

posted July 8, 2010 at 8:26 pm


@ Patricia
Your comments were very timely. I had lunch yesterday with a pastor from my church. We both came from fundamentalist backgrounds where your goal is to get them to say that prayer. We have a lot of artists in our church. We’d like to start doing shows out in the community. Not “preachy” art. Art that will get the conversation going.
Your post was exactly what we were talking about. I really do commend your boyfriend for what he is doing.
BTW, my church does some non-standard advertising. We presently have an ad on bar glasses at a bar close to the church. You have to go to where the people are.



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LutheranChik

posted July 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm


As mentioned above, another reason for some con-Evo Christians to love Africa is the tendency of many African cultures to embrace patriarchy and homophobia…since the conservatives seem to have lost, or be well on the way to losing, those particular skirmishes in the American culture war, how handy for them to shore up their ideologies overseas.



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copperchips

posted July 10, 2010 at 8:07 pm


It seems that many of you are desperately trying to intellectualize your reasoning for not liking conservative Christian culture. Too bad you’re spending all this time deliberating if modern-day “fundamental Christians” are too gullible and short-sighted to be acceptible among the current, biblical thinkers who think they’re the voice of mainstream Christianity. I think the Bible has a thing or two to say about those who try to interpret child-like faith with human wisdom. It’s rather interesting to fall upon a blog like “Stuff Christian Culture Likes”. It seems like someone should develop a blog that discusses how christians look down their noses at eachother and pick eachother apart.



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stephanie drury

posted July 10, 2010 at 8:44 pm


Copperchips must have gone on a missions trip to Africa.



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Lynn

posted July 11, 2010 at 7:54 pm


When I was going to a Bible college, I was always told about “the 10-40 window,” the area of the world that has the highest percentage of unsaved people, and thus is in the most need of missionaries. Anyone else know what I’m talking about?



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Yayeri

posted July 12, 2010 at 8:01 pm


forgive them father for they know not what they do!



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Dani

posted July 15, 2010 at 11:02 pm


@Lynn: Oh, the 10-40 window! God, that has been etched in my brain forever. My church adopted the Kurds, who land right in the middle of the window but don’t have their own country. We even had a map with a chain linking us to the Kurdish region in the middle east that we would discuss every week in Sunday School.
Okay, so I feel like Africa is so of the moment right now. But when I was coming of age in the church, it was all about the Soviet Union. I mean, what better place to go out in the world and evangelize than to those Godless Russian socialists! I think they were still on a high from the Reagan era and the fall of the Berlin wall.
Side note: Stephy, I think a post on CC’s obsession with the tribulation theories of Revalation is much needed. In my high school Sunday School class, instead of being lectured on the evils of secular music and video games (for a change), we had to listen to long diatribes about the important differences between Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, and Post-Trib theories. Needless to say, I’m still scarred from the book of Revalation.



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Chas Clifton

posted July 16, 2010 at 12:37 pm


This post reminds me of the time when my wife was enthusiastically recommending THE POISONWOOD BIBLE to a new friend, only to have that woman respond, “Have I read it? I *lived* it!”
It turned out that her father, an Episcopal priest, had been a missionary in Kenya when she was little.



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