Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes


#182 Swank church buildings

posted by Stephanie Drury

office6.jpgAmerican evangelicals enjoy posting pictures of their swanky church buildings online. These evangelical churches typically expend great effort and spare little expense to make their worship and gathering facilities intriguing and relevant.

office3.JPGAs megachurches build out, they’re under greater culturally-imposed pressure to make each of their satellites a little hipper and that much more relevant than the last. They’ve gotta reach people, you know? Who wants to visit a boring-looking church with lame fonts and hymnals? The ancient church’s mission is relegated to the backburner. They are now primarily seeker-friendly.

office4.JPGThese churches are very proud of themselves when they’ve completed a remodel. For hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions of dollars, wouldn’t you be? They’re excited to get the pictures on Facebook and in the paper to show off the building, which is always charming and dreamy. It looks happily air-conditioned and they’ve got snacks! And it probably still smells like drywall. I want to visit it. I bet I’d feel like no terrorist could get me there.

office2.JPGIn order for a Christian church to spend that kind of money on this type of thing some substantial cognitive dissonance must be in effect. Ghettos and homelessness are in the same communities as each revamped state-of-the-art church building. In the south, the poor and homeless tend to stay safely away from the middle and upper classes which makes them easier not to think about. On the coasts, poverty and homelessness are usually on the same block as awesome new church buildings that have security systems and espresso in the lobby. In either case, it’s super easy to stay away from the poor and needy or just step over them on your way to church. Same goes double for the rest of the week. Just like Jesus said to do. Glory to God!



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juls

posted August 19, 2010 at 6:48 pm


what’s up with the “dream center” sign? is that real?



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stephanie drury

posted August 19, 2010 at 6:57 pm


They’re all really churches. Here is a photostream of newly remodeled churches you might find interesting. http://www.flickr.com/photos/jodyforehand/with/4777585513/



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 6:58 pm


Ah, those stuffy Evangelicals. More vocal about what they are against then what they are for.
Guess what?
Maybe you’ve become the very thing you despise.
Here’s a challenge for your next post. Find something, somewhere that is even remotely POSITIVE about anything and write about it. I bet you can even find something positive about Christianity (gasp). I dare ya’. Try it, you might like it.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:03 pm


It is so freakin’ obvious you are a preacher’s kid. Do you really think you are the only one that carries around some baggage from that kind of upbringing? Of course there is a ton of things that are quirky and maybe even freaky about the whole subculture and then the lifestyle involved with growing up in that environment. But there are a lot of PK’s out there that don’t resort to public forums such as blogs or pulpits to vent out their childhood frustrations. There are other ways and wisdom would call for it.



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stephanie drury

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:05 pm


Well, snacks and air-conditioning are good. Those are two positive things. And the smell of drywall. I love the smell of drywall.



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shelly

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:05 pm


Looks like someone has missed the point of this blog.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:14 pm


Stephanie,
LOL!
So you’re telling me the most positive things you can find in the world, not to mention Christianity, are snacks, AC, and drywall.
Bummer. Funny. But bummer.
Or it might be that like Beck and Limbaugh, being sardonic is the best way to get ratings…or blog hits…or whatever.
Being positive sucks for ratings.



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stephanie drury

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:19 pm


I love Christianity. I don’t like Christian culture.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:25 pm


Understood.
But there is a fine line between good satire between family and friends that love each other and that which borders on vitriol.
Poke fun at extra Biblical Christian subculture all you want. But I would caution you not to frame it in bitterness. Because here is something that Christians throughout the centuries have cherished and that is charity. As in “charity to all”.
There are definitely sacred cows for the knocking down. Luther painted pictures of the Pope passing gas. But don’t be known for what you are against so much as what you are for.
Don’t let rage, even if justified, be what fuels this.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:26 pm


…or else it becomes a train wreck. And people might be watching you and reading your posts but not for the right reasons.



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stephanie drury

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:37 pm


I used to give that same advice to people all the time.



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David

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:38 pm


“Don’t let rage, even if justified, be what fuels this.”
I’ll bet someone said that to Jesus before he turned over the tables in the temple.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:43 pm


“I used to give that same advice to people all the time”
So what changed that?



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stephanie drury

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:44 pm


Jesus. He’s pretty neat.



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juls

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:47 pm


Rage? Who’s talking about rage? Framing in bitterness?
Jorge— go calm down. Get a sense of humor.



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second nature

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:51 pm


Rage? Yikes, Jorge, I don’t get that from this blog at all. Maybe you need to relax and laugh at yourself a little bit.
I have evangelical acquaintances here in The South ™ who keep trying to sell me on their megachurches. Funny thing is, this usually involves talking about the snack/juice bar, play center for the kids, big screen TVs where the men can watch the game after the service, cool outings to amusement parks, etc. LOL, who wouldn’t want all of that entertainment for free?



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:53 pm


Ah, touche’.
But did not Jesus point out the good that was in the Torah as well as mock the inconsistencies of the “Torah Police”?
He didn’t make it his life long quest to only mock the ridiculous but also esteem that which was of any virtue in Judiasm.
That’s all I’m saying.



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Chrissy

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:56 pm


Jorge must have a thing for swanky church buildings.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 7:58 pm


Stephanie,
You should’ve just kept your answer in it’s original form, “Jesus”.
To later tack on the “pretty neat” is making some of my points regarding condescension.
The first answer was sweet.
The second, not so much.
I’m just trying to have a conversation, here.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:00 pm


Stephanie,
Your first answer, “Jesus”, was sweet.
When you changed it to, “Jesus. He’s pretty neat”, not so much.
That has to do more with my points concerning condescension.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:02 pm


Oops. My bad on the double post. Have a broken the record for most posts, yet?



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Not A Preacher's Kid

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:02 pm


Jorge, I’m pretty sure that Ms Drury subtly alluded to a positive aspect of Christ’s message in toward the end of this very post… the part about the cognitive dissonance and all of that… perhaps you missed it?



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stephanie drury

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:03 pm


He is pretty neat, to put it mildly. You’re reading condescenscion into it.



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Bill

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:05 pm


I think she might have said that caring for the poor and needy was of virtue in Christianity. But I might have misread. Especially since I might be watching Stephy and reading her posts for the wrong reasons. Which apparently everyone besides me is supposed to know and be accountable for.



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Sterling

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:06 pm


Re: “Here’s a challenge for your next post. Find something, somewhere that is even remotely POSITIVE about anything and write about it. I bet you can even find something positive about Christianity (gasp). I dare ya’. Try it, you might like it.”
http://blog.beliefnet.com/stuffchristianculturelikes/challenging/2009/04/index.html
Jorge: the whole point of this blog is a satirical look at Christian culture. Then you come in here and decide that you’re going to “challenge” the author to write posts about some topic that you pick. That’s not really how blogs work. If you want to write something, go ahead! Anyone can get a blog. But you can’t honestly expect Stephanie to drop everything and start writing off-topic posts.
tl;dr version: Jorge is a troll.



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Valerie

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:06 pm


Jorge, you are obviously not a regular reader of this blog. I’ve been reading this blog daily for about a year now. I rarely comment, but I have to say that reading this blog has been a healing experience for me. I was angry with myself for a long time for allowing myself to be caught up in some of the more silly and arrogant features of American evangelicalism when I was younger. Stephy’s writings, and the discussions on the various topics, have helped me see that it’s possible to love and follow Jesus and at the same time reject the silliness that I grew up with. Stephy’s posts resonate with a lot of us who feel that regret for past behavior and are looking for a more authentic relationship with ourselves and the world around us.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:11 pm


Stephanie,
Would you mind addressing my point about Jesus esteeming was good about Torah as well as ridiculing the ridiculous culture that began to surround it?
After all, I am single handedly, with all my posts, boosting your comment section!



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Valerie

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:11 pm


@Sterling: LOL! Good one!



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Chrissy

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:12 pm


Jorge, A few questions:
Are you saying Stephy has made it her lifelong quest to mock the Pharisees?
Do you have superior insight into the personal goals of all bloggers, or are you merely assuming Stephy’s entire life is based around this blog?
Have you ever asked her what she esteems in Christianity, or did you merely demand she say something positive to appease your discontentment with her writing style and content?
What do you esteem about Christianity?
If you are just trying to have a conversation, why do you sound so pissed off? “Pissed off” always sounds more like an argument to me, which is not the most appealing invitation for discussion.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:15 pm


Okay, okay… one at a time.
Hey everybody, I get it.
“I like your Christ, I don’t like your Christians”.
Understood.
We agree that healing is needed, it just how we go about it we might be disagreeing upon at this time.



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Meghan

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:15 pm


Jorge, believe it or not, Jesus also didn’t make it his lifelong quest to police the thoughts other people shared in good humor and good faith. Where you see rage and bitterness, a lot of other people come to this blog and see humor, and experience fellowship, and start to reconcile their differences with the church in a positive, safe environment that is USUALLY free of judgment and condemnation. So, thanks for the fly in THAT ointment.
Also, what the hell is up with your dig at Steph’s childhood? I think humor is a great way to deal with childhood resentment- not that Steph has revealed any of that here. But when there are problems involved with something you care about, like, for instance, the body of Christ, you can a: do nothing, b: pretend they’re not there, or c: speak up. Steph is speaking up, and she’s doing so with grace and wit, which beats the kind of soapbox ranting you see so often elsewhere.
You said, “don’t be known for what you are against so much as what you are for,” but you’re obviously not reading very closely. Behind the language of satire (which is something Christians have been using effectively to discuss the issues that arise with faith for centuries, now, thanks), Stephanie regularly points out what she’s for. Authenticity. True faith. Honesty. Building relationship instead of just “doing things.” Love. Y’know. The stuff Jesus taught.
You’ve chosen deliberately to miss the point of her blogs, and to skew her comments to support your own position. You’re not demonstrating an interest in helping or contributing here. Jesus taught us to speak the truth in love. You, on the other hand, are pretty vehemently sidestepping the truth to point fingers. And attacking the blog author personally, yeah, that’s a nice cherry on top.
You’re finding offense where none is intended, taking personally what is intended to be general observation, and I wonder if you’d tell Jeremiah and Hosea and their ilk to try to find more positive things about Israel and Judea, too. Your criticism lacks a constructive quality. It’s angry and vile and poisonous. And it’s not even based in reality.



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Jess P

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:17 pm


Jorge,
A couple points:
Satire in Cristian Culture is alway looked down upon as being “rebelious” “bitter” “resentful” “angry” etc. Satire is actually a inteligent way of communicating points of disagreement. that being said, I like SCCL quite a bit. I wish we had more satire in our lives. But you are correct that if everything is satire, then maybe you should take a look on the sunny side of life.
This brings me into point two: This blog is a satire about christian culture. Of course she isn’t going to write about “The 7 best things happening in Christianity today” or “How to see miricle happen in your life.” It goes against the whole theme of the blog. I’m sure in Stephanie’s life she has positive conversations with others.



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Andrew

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:18 pm


“But I would caution you not to frame it in bitterness.”
Sounds like Jorge has a touch of the ol’ bitter goin on… :)



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:20 pm


Bill,
I said, people “might” read for the wrong reasons. You know, like rubbernecking past a crash scene. Some people will do that with PK’s and blogs and books. Look at Franky Schaeffer.
Crissy,
“Are you saying Stephy has made it her lifelong quest to mock the Pharisees?”
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…
Nothing wrong with mocking Pharisees. Just don’t be a one trick pony about it.
Valerie,
I’ve read this blog long enough to finally “dip my foot in the water” LOL.



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Kevin

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:21 pm


I, for one, like what Jorge is saying, especially the part about being charitable. He should listen to himself.
A charitable reading assures me that Steph comes from a place of deep compassion that is a testament to her faith. Furthermore, a charitable reading of this blog leads me to wonder how Steph manages to stay so rage free in the face of the idolatry, xenophobia, and profiteering that all too easily passes for Christianity.
It would take a very uncharitable reading of this blog to come up with “rage” as the supposed fuel for this blog.



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm


Oh really, Andrew? You (or anyone else) enlighten me.
What am I bitter about?



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t-man

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:28 pm


poor jorge



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Chrissy

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:29 pm


How would we know, Jorge. You sound pissed off. Why did you “yell” at Stephy and call it a “conversation”? It suggests some sort of bitterness. Perhaps it’s bitterness toward people who don’t like christian culture? Only you know the answer though. Why do you sound angry if you’re not angry?



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm


Okay, at the risk of being misunderstood as a hit and run.
I know pastor’s kids, the culture that surrounds it, the blessings and the cursings, and how upon reflection it would seem the cursing far outweigh the blessings.
Just keep this in mind when it comes to “experts in Christian Culture” (ie Pastor’s Kids) such as Stephanie, Jon Acuff, or any other PK for that matter…
They are an expert because they’ve seen it all. The good, the bad, and the ugly. And therefore it is the pastor’s kids that pay the price for their Pop’s service in preaching the Word of God. Some of this price was inevitable, being held to higher standards (whether fair or not), other times this price was something brought on by the massive ego of a father that has the personality to not only tolerate the spotlight of the pulpit but to relish it and embrace it. Often, most very often, it takes a different kind of cat to actually want to get in front of people every week and talk.
Couple that with inconsistencies at home, to various degrees depending on how large a hyporcrite Pops was, and you have a perfect storm with all the elements needed to form deep seated cynicism in the heart of a son or a daughter.
And, just an aside, the only reason any pastor is ever estranged from his daughter is his own ego. See: “Footloose”. Of course, that’s only in my humble opinion and I may be wrong.
My only point here, no matter how awkwardly I tried to make it, was that for the PK’s OWN benefit, don’t allow a train wreck to proceed from your own baggage and hurts and issues from the past. You’ll only derail your own path in life. Wisdom builds up, folly will in the end only tear down.
Work through it with a few close friends, a trusted and skilled professional counselor, some spiritual leaders you relate to, and of course, most of all, the Wonderful Counselor Himself…
As far as the point of this blog, the understandble satire that Christian Culture deserves (see: “Stuff Christians Like” blog by Acuff)is good and even helpful. And the satire here is good as well with even greater potential if it doesn’t cross into sardonic tones.
And my thought was, if you add those things you are FOR as well as make fun of those things you are AGAINST… perfect balance.



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Lauren

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:36 pm


Jorge, you have a right to your opinions.
However, I’d like to respectfully ask that you examine the statements you’ve made and consider whether you’ve used punctuation appropriately.
Thank you.



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Kevin

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:38 pm


Conversations don’t usually begin with one person telling another person what to say. They don’t normally continue with a person bemoaning how other people express themselves.
If you wanted a conversation, Jorge, you should ask questions out honest interest, not make demands and accusations.



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Bethenny

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:43 pm


Jorge, passing off your personal experience of a group of people as empirical fact is reckless stereotyping at best and dangerous at worst.



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t-man

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:53 pm


So Jorge, that’s a whole boat load of presupposed crap you just laid on Steph without knowing her really at all. Then you went on a kind of ongoing rampage against her and her blog. From my limited viewpoint that’s a lot of unloving behavior. Maybe she should devote a blog post just to your kind of Christian culture behavior – which I see all over the blogosphere. But I doubt she will because from what I’ve seen here on her blog she treats her readers with a lot of respect, which she has done to you as well.
I think folks are right here to sense a heavy dose of anger and self-righteousness from you. Your comments seems to be dripping with it. And I don’t sense others here are being overly sensitive. I see where you are coming from, but an explanation at this point, after so many comments, is a little late and little weak.
And then you go on to cite “Footloose” as a defense for one of your arguments. LOL. Really, LOL.
It’s all kinda funny and sad at the same time.
I think it’s time for you to start your own blog and just let ‘er rip!



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Bill

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:59 pm


Jorge, I see your point (I think), but I don’t understand the correction.
If you’ve read this blog, have you read the comments? Yes, there’s sniping in them. But there’s also, as others pointed out, genuine healing, genuine reconciliation to our own lives of faith. Not for everyone–for this is a diverse community of responses to the Evangelical experience–but for enough of us that I think it’s really inaccurate to say Stephy frames in bitterness, and then allows us to gush so religiously. Other sites that send up Christian Culture would laugh us religious types right off of them. So this place is really different, and if I were Stephy, I would be fine with letting the site be known by its fruit.
Personally, I have never felt more encouraged and more built up by any community I’ve been a member of, formal or informal, than the SCCL community and the folks I’ve encountered here. That’s enough proof in the pudding for me.



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Dave H.

posted August 19, 2010 at 8:59 pm


Dear Jorge,
Hi!
I’ve thought for 10 minutes about how to find a gentle way to tell you that you’re coming off as a condescending prick. I’m sorry that I can’t think of one. Yours is one of the least self-reflective strings of comments I’ve read in a while. It almost seems intentional to be so internally contradictory and obtuse. I’ve therefore concluded with others here that you’re trolling. You had me going there for a while. But if you’re not a troll, yeeesh, you’re in trouble there dude.
Also, an alternative suspicion, is that you are my Uncle Jerry. Is that you Uncle Jerry?
Dave



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Jorge

posted August 19, 2010 at 9:00 pm


You got it, t-man. Sorry I didn’t help as much as I thought I could. Godspeed to you all.



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Chrissy

posted August 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm


Thank you for explaining your opinions, Jorge. Your concern for Stephy’s path in life is admirable. However, having gotten to know her over the past year, I can assure you that she will be ok and is working out her salvation in fear and trembling, like the best and worst of us. She is a good wife and mother and friend. She even emails me her pastor’s sermons. Hopefully that appeases your concern.
Now for my opinion: Jon Acuff’s blog bores me so. I understand why some people enjoy it, but it’s just not my favorite. If many of us have found a safe community here and it has helped us heal, what do you care? Must you agree with our methods of healing in order for them to work? If you get more out of Acuff’s blog, I don’t mind. It’s simply a matter of taste. Our taste differs. Ain’t no thang. I just don’t like when you yell at my friend because you prefer someone else’s style. That’s mean.



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Kevin

posted August 19, 2010 at 9:03 pm


Thus ends the saga of Jorge the Healer.



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Chrissy

posted August 19, 2010 at 9:14 pm


It’s not that he didn’t help as much as he thought he could, it’s that he didn’t help at all. Rebuke fail!
Now how ’bout those swank churches?! Snacks!



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Tucker

posted August 19, 2010 at 9:14 pm


It seems to me that the aesthetics of these hipster churches comes from the same design/marketing firms that create those wonderful interiors of hip organic grocery stores. “I thought I was going to church but found myself at Whole Foods. Oh well, God is good.”



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Bill

posted August 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm


Except Whole Foods has beer. But maybe these churches do too?



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LutheranChik

posted August 19, 2010 at 10:02 pm


But I LIKE Whole Foods…



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Sarah

posted August 19, 2010 at 10:06 pm


Well played, everyone. Well played.
Jesus spit on some dirt and smeared it all over a dude’s eyes to make him see again. That’s pretty gross, right? They didn’t brush their teeth back then. Even Jesus. And they didn’t have the same kinds of sanitation that we do now, as far as waste disposal was concerned, so I’ll bet some of that dirt was REAL nasty.
But it made someone see. It healed.
Let’s not go criticizing the methods. On the offchance that you’re not a troll, Jorge, do you really think you’re the first person to yell at Stephy for “not being loving” in her satire of the things that would, I posit, send Jesus on another temple rampage? (Maybe this time he’d overturn the snack bar and the espresso cups. And maybe he’d throw a rock through the big screen. And hack up the sound system wires.) Really? (And honestly, I fail to see where handling abusers — who abuse in Jesus’ name — with kid gloves so as not to hurt their feelings counts as “love.” Maybe we should define the word.) Jesus was not at ALL nice to the Pharisees — the people who confused their cultural rules with mercy, who mistook oppression for obedience. He was downright rude, even. Strange that his methods should have become so discomfiting and unacceptable…at least where pointing out Phariseeism, and not “sin,” is concerned.
Stephy has been courageous enough to speak the truth from her experience, and to allow a whole hell of a lot of people who have been through a whole HELL of a lot thanks to ye olde Churche to share in her process. It has been the closest thing to redemption I have ever experienced. If it looks like mud-slinging to you, consider that it has helped a lot of people to see, and to be healed.
Love takes a lot of forms — but doesn’t stick to a formula. Which is great, actually — it means that different methods work for different people. So go read “Stuff Christians Like” (which makes me want to vomit — categorically not my method) and be happy. And try to be a little kinder — “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,” maybe — to people doing good work in ways that make you uncomfortable. The disciples weren’t comfortable with outsiders driving out demons in Jesus’ name, but Jesus said it was all good.



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Lee

posted August 19, 2010 at 10:26 pm


Hi all,
Wow, that was an exciting set of posts! Jorge, I hope you find a website to your liking, if this one isn’t what you’re looking for. There.
What I was originally going to say was that Christianity has been spending way too much money on churches for about a couple of millenia now. But then again, so have other religions. Guess people like a good show.
Or maybe people feel the need to “build big” to make an outward show of their love for what they consider the devine. Hmm, discuss. Or not.



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Kevin

posted August 19, 2010 at 11:38 pm


@Lee, good discussion question.
Yeah there’s been some spending going on in Christianity for centuries. But those older churches are, well, they’re just better. I love the ancient cathedrals I’ve seen. They bring me, an atheist, into a place where I can connect with that sense of humility, community, and humanity that I think churches should engender.
I was at the Sacre Coeur (not ancient, I know), as a tourist on my honeymoon, and as I was trying to find a good place to snap a photo, I spotted a Frenchwoman weeping in a pew. I put my camera away and sat down in the center of the church and thought about how amazing such a place is. A place where it is okay to let go, to grieve, to remember. I immediately understood that, even though building that church was about prestige, it was made for emotion.
Nothing about modern Megachurches is made for that, especially not if they need “crying rooms.”



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Rachel

posted August 20, 2010 at 12:20 am


I think that one of the reasons that older churches might be, “better,” to use Kevin’s term, was that the architects for those cathedrals were using the building as an act of worship in itself, with tall spires and ceilings reaching for Heaven and letting God’s light shine through the windows. They also tried to repeat forms in nature, as a testament to the God who created the earth. But I definitely agree that such churches are emotional safe havens that are meant to be used.
Modern mega-churches are more like malls, in more ways than one.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 12:29 am


Hmmm… the people Jesus mocked and turned over their tables were his enemy. They hated him. They killed him.
Is everyone here willing to put Evangelicals as a whole in the same category as that?
You guys are so sure that you are on Jesus’ team. It makes you absolutely no different than the ones you mock and disdain. No difference whatsoever.



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Spinning in Air

posted August 20, 2010 at 12:44 am


Why does Jorge sound like a character from The Three Billygoats Gruff? ;)
More seriously, I don’t see how it’s in any way productive – or kind – to drop in on someone’s blog and start ripping them. Which is what Jorge is doing.
WWJD? (meant only half-ironically in this case.)



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 12:47 am


Well, I might as well add another to the myriad I’ve already posted on what would otherwise be a random thread with about eight comments on it…. :)
Let me put it this way. I see where Stephanie is coming from. Like King David was irate over the same sin he himself was guilty of, we all know the Bible teaches and pop psychology reaffirms that we are most angry with the sin in others we fight within ourselves. You know, speck/plank and all of that.
I, too, have seen the belly of the beast. I once shouted to the hilltops the folly of the Fundies and Neo-Conservatives and basically everyone who votes for Sarah Palin.
But I would like to think I have been seasoned with time. And my life has only benefited since I learned to scale back on the Jon Stewart schtick. It’s not that I sold out, it’s that I refocused. Emphasizing what I am for, not what I am against. What is right about the Gospel, not what is wrong about Christians. Now I am not saying we should never be a “voice shouting in the wilderness” or “turning over tables” against what is wrong. Indeed, as someone pointed out, prophets of old did exactly that. But you better bet the farm they knew they were speaking on behalf of God. A false prophet in the OT had to bat 1.000 or else!
I wonder how many trees we’ve chopped down that might have some fruit on them. I wonder how many people we say, “Lord they are out of their minds” and he would reply, “Let them alone, if they are not against us then they are for us”. I wonder if we’ll reflect in eternity over battles we fought that were not only unnecessary but detrimental to the Kingdom. That would be sad.
And don’t get me wrong. I don’t see Acuff as the poster boy here for blogging. I wouldn’t even do what he does in light of these things I just mentioned. But maybe by adding also what is good and right he might be more enlightened than not only I give him credit for but also than maybe even me. Who knows, maybe you are to? But this is how I see things from my perch.
As you can tell, I am doing some venting, projecting, and preaching here. It’s not that I am trolling. It is that more than politics, or end times study, or anything else, this…well, this interests me and I have strong feelings about it.



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Spinning in Air

posted August 20, 2010 at 12:51 am


@ Jorge: Dude – it’s not your blog.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 12:52 am


Okay. Are there rules I’m missing here? Like not having too many posts. I am asking seriously.



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Spinning in Air

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:00 am


@ Jorge: No, I don’t think there are rules you’re missing; what I said above was a (slightly) more direct way of pointing out what some previous commenters have said to you… insofar as not unfairly attacking Stephanie, being able to air things on one’s own (you own?) blog, etc.
I’m all for civil discussion, and I have no problem with anyone wanting to state their beliefs and opinions. But I do think there are productive ways of doing that, and not-so-productive ones.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:00 am


I’ll go back to my cave. :)



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Spinning in Air

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:02 am


nah – stick around! (see my other recent comment.)



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:07 am


SIA,
We posted at the same time. Hence, the cave remark. :)
There are productive ways. And you have every right to instruct me.
But I have a right to voice my opinion as well.
And blessed are those that aren’t easily offended. They will find the truth in it all.
And if my means to the end has been far less than stellar than I have no problem apologizing whatsoever.
And you know what… I do. I apologize for choosing methods that are not to this blog community’s liking on a blog I’ve been reading for some time now.
At the same time and having said that, censorship is never the answer. Whether in the church or in our homes, diversity of thought is usually always going to benefit because everybody has something to bring to the table.
I will not deny Stephanie has something to offer. As do you. And I believe as do I. I will stand by the overall content, if maybe not the tone, of my previous comments.



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Bill

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:09 am


Kevin, it’s amazing how similar an experience I had. Last year I visited Asia for the first time. Fancying myself a fan of Buddhism and Taoism–at least the intellectual kind–I made it a point to visit a lot of temples. What they don’t tell you in the guidebooks is, the “not to be missed” temples are not museums but are still active places of worship. At the first one we visited, wanting to take a picture of the amazing statues of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, my brother and I entered but stumbled on a woman weeping and praying. Refusing to disturb her, we left and have photos only of the outside. It happened over and over. It was very humbling.
So Lee, I agree with Kevin, and agree with your build-big principle. But there is a difference between the deliberateness of artisanship and architecture that inspires worship, and a sense that fish-symboled espresso bars are important. Those are worlds of difference between what the sponsors consider the divine.
(And Kevin, the next time we meet at a Whole Foods, the beer is on me.)



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:19 am


Wow, I just made comment of the day three minutes ago on facebook.
That’s the second time I’ve made comment of the day in less than twelve hours.
I have a feeling that it isn’t because they are viewed as good and helpful, though. :)
BTW, why don’t some of you come on here and say the same things, using the same language, as you do on the facebook page? Just curious.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:21 am


In other words, say it to my cyber face. :)



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:34 am


All right. Reading that those facebook comments does on the surface seem juvenile. Using language and metaphors that don’t fit in a good Christian dialogue or even a mere philosophical one for that matter.
But let me cut through all of that and say that I see your perspectives. It’s just too bad that you harm your own cause with mass censorship and, if not that, then marginalization of a different point of view.
As bad as you may view my tone, it pales in comparison to that many (read: most) of you have voiced there about me.
So let me speak directly, yet again, to Stephanie. I get it. Been there myself. Just taking a morbid fascination on this day to a PK, who like me, is headed down a road that is an understandable result of a world, home life, and subculture gone mad. But you are wrong. I submit to you that narcissism is the fatal Achilles Heel (pardon the mixed metaphor) of every pastor’s kid that has come from a wrong construction of the world and even the Bible.
The truth is, as wrong as it may be, it’s not on level with Pharisee-ism that was hell bent on crucifying Christ and destroying any credible shred of truth to protect it’s own interests. There are elements of that in parts of nearly all Evangelicalism but, you know, there are parts of that in us all.
At the end of the day, you have to take the sum total of the Christian Church and love it because it’s not your Bride nor mine but Jesus’. And I don’t think it’s up to us to judge the TOTALITY of His bride the way the overall direction and tone of this blog does.



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Spinning

posted August 20, 2010 at 2:50 am


@ Jorge: Oh, I don’t think the criticism here is about the church per se – lotsa people out there following Christ in the best way they know how, no? (I think we can certainly agree on that!)
What it *is* about – in my understanding, at least: elements of evangelical church culture that really don’t have a whole heck of a lot to do with Christ himself. We *all* have cultural baggage, no matter where in the world we come from.
Doesn’t it seem a bit weird to you that individual churches spend hundreds of thousands – even millions – on what they believe to be “trendy” or “cutting edge, seeker-sensitive” buildings and TVs and projection and sound systems and all sorts of other bells and whistles when it *might* – perhaps – be better to have more modest buildings that aren’t nearly so costly *and* to spend the cash that *might* have gone into creating such buildings on, say, working with the homeless and emigrants who are struggling to learn English and with people who are down and out and need help of various kinds to get back on their feet again and…?
To my mind, at least, that seems to be exactly what Stephy is saying. Moreover, I can remember (all too well, I’m afraid) the way in which Christian Culture-type folks (of which I was one) just plain locked the door on any attempt to help people with AIDS (most of whom were dying of multiple opportunistic infections on top of HIV, many of whom were horribly disfigured by one of those infections – Kaposi’s Sarcoma)… and all of whom could certainly have some real, down-to-earth, loving acceptance and care (that last in multiple ways). But no, we either averted our gaze or ranted about how these folks were morally bankrupt homosexuals, or tried to convert them to heterosexuality instead of meeting them right where they were, as one human being to another.
I think we have a lot to answer for (not you personally, I mean “we” in a corporate sense), and I have every reason to believe that what Jesus would have done for those suffering people (so many of them shunned by their own families, employers, even medical personnel) looks VERY different than what we – his body here on earth – actually did.
OK, now I’m ranting! ;) Better hang it up for tonight.
But I do want to reiterate that i think there’s a convo worth having, right here, and that if you let down some of your defenses, you might just find that people would be more than happy to welcome you into it. Cool?



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Kevin

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:11 am


@Bill, I’m sorry, but replying to you comes second because someone else managed to be very rude, even though I kn0w that this person is not worth it (don’t feed the trolls!).
@Jorge-”Eight comments” eh? We WERE trying to talk, but like a fart under the bedsheets, you crept up again.
You aren’t here to discuss anything, therefore, whatever “rules” you don’t understand would be lost on you.
You are here to insult and denigrate. It shows. The fact that you had the unbelievable gall to call our host a narcissist is not a bon mot for you, it is an insult. One not befitting a person who claims to be here in defense of their Christian faith. Your claim to champion charity, and a love of faith does not match the horrendous rudeness of your comments, and your attitude towards your host and fellow guests.
You are, in short, a fraud.
“And blessed are those that aren’t easily offended. They will find the truth in it all.”
I may not be a religious dude, but I know one thing. Any person who says that kind of thing is either a liar, or the kind of person who confuses obtuse moralizing with actual logic.
You are not the font of truth my friend.
And do not try the censorship card, unless by censorship you mean having it repeatedly demonstrated how incoherent your argument is. But, if by censorship you mean, actual censorship, you have not been censored. No one has told you that you don’t have the right to your opinion, though you seem to be saying that we do not have the right to ours (Unless it conforms to your venerable teachings). No one has told you not to talk, and our host has not banned you or deleted your comments.
You are more than welcome to talk. But you aren’t here to talk. You are here to tell other people, beginning with our host, how THEY should talk. You have tried to tell them how to worship, what to say, and (most deplorably) how to blog. If anyone’s actions come close to censorship, it is yours.
So practice that charity you were talking about earlier and respect that this blog is a place for honest and open communication between friends, not sniping by bitter wankers who see every counter-argument as censorship while they try to browbeat others into thinking and speaking as they see fit.
@Bill and Rachel
Thanks for the kind words. I know that “better” was a poor choice, but, c’mon! The architecture! The glory! I saw a church that had been raided by protestants, in which all of the idols had been defaced (noses removed) and yet the defaced statues remained as a testament to the communal history of that place! HOw could I (a thoroughly washed heathen) NOT love that place?
Seeing the earnest emotion at the Sacre Coeur and Dom Kerk (in Utrecht) I had to really reassess my take on religion. I saw people in real pain, who needed the safety and community. I came home and read a bunch of Paul Tillich(among others) and really came to understand the idea of God being the beginning of being. I found those places to be a great source of peace while I was there, and found a new appreciation for beautiful churches when I came back.
And there really is a difference between the design for glory, and the market-based/focus groupthink approach taken by the megachurches Steph mentioned. I can’t see anything that inspires worship LESS than an espresso stand call “Godbucks” or whatever.



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Aaran

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:11 am


I think this post is spot on. I don’t know why it prompted such a reaction Jorge. Jesus used sarcasm. I have been waiting for this one for a while since reading these articles;
http://kingdomproclaimed.blogspot.com/2010/03/ordinary-means-of-growth-ligon-duncan.html
“there are basically three views of Gospel ministry. There are those who think that effective cultural engagement requires an updating of the message. There are those who think that effective ministry requires an updating of our methods. And there are those who think that effective ministry begins with a pre-commitment to God’s message and methods, set forth in His Word.
Thus, liberalism said that the Gospel won’t work unless the message is changed. Modern evangelicalism (and not just in its “seeker-sensitive” and postmodern permutations) has often said that the Gospel won’t work unless our methods are changed. But those committed to an “ordinary means” approach to church life and ministry say the Gospel works, and God has given us both the method and the message. This is vitally important in a time where one of the dominant story-lines in the churches has been that of methods unwittingly, unhelpfully, and unbiblically altering both the message and the ministry.”
Or for a more pointed analysis read
http://www.darrelldumas.com/selling%20Jesus.htm
“The Church is at a crossroads, a point of crucial decision. Will the Church seek to be relevant by bowing and catering to culture and thus render God, His Christ, and His Gospel powerless to effect real change? Or will the Church recover the true nature of God—His glory, holiness, power, and transcendence, etc”
“Is there hope and a future for the Church? Of course there is hope—hope not in marketing, selling, technique, coffee and doughnuts, or entertaining music—but hope in Jesus Christ and His promises. As William Hendricks says, there is the “hope of Jesus’ promise that He would build His church and nothing, not even hell itself, would overcome it (Mt. 16:18). However, nothing in that promise obligates Christ to maintain ‘our’ church. He has committed Himself only to building a church, His church. So the issue is not how to get people back into churches, but how to make our churches into His church.” The Church does not need to sell Jesus because Jesus and the message, when proclaimed correctly, will sell themselves. May God give the Church in America today this vision, and may the Church have eyes to see it and ears to hear it, so He will be worshiped in reverence and His glory honored.”



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Kevin

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:12 am


@Bill, I’m sorry, but replying to you comes second because someone else managed to be very rude, even though I kn0w that this person is not worth it (don’t feed the trolls!).
@Jorge-”Eight comments” eh? We WERE trying to talk, but like a fart under the bedsheets, you crept up again.
You aren’t here to discuss anything, therefore, whatever “rules” you don’t understand would be lost on you.
You are here to insult and denigrate. It shows. The fact that you had the unbelievable gall to call our host a narcissist is not a bon mot for you, it is an insult. One not befitting a person who claims to be here in defense of their Christian faith. Your claim to champion charity, and a love of faith does not match the horrendous rudeness of your comments, and your attitude towards your host and fellow guests.
You are, in short, a fraud.
“And blessed are those that aren’t easily offended. They will find the truth in it all.”
I may not be a religious dude, but I know one thing. Any person who says that kind of thing is either a liar, or the kind of person who confuses obtuse moralizing with actual logic.
You are not the font of truth my friend.
And do not try the censorship card, unless by censorship you mean having it repeatedly demonstrated how incoherent your argument is. But, if by censorship you mean, actual censorship, you have not been censored. No one has told you that you don’t have the right to your opinion, though you seem to be saying that we do not have the right to ours (Unless it conforms to your venerable teachings). No one has told you not to talk, and our host has not banned you or deleted your comments.
You are more than welcome to talk. But you aren’t here to talk. You are here to tell other people, beginning with our host, how THEY should talk. You have tried to tell them how to worship, what to say, and (most deplorably) how to blog. If anyone’s actions come close to censorship, it is yours.
So practice that charity you were talking about earlier and respect that this blog is a place for honest and open communication between friends, not sniping by bitter wankers who see every counter-argument as censorship while they try to browbeat others into thinking and speaking as they see fit.
@Bill and Rachel
Thanks for the kind words. I know that “better” was a poor choice, but, c’mon! The architecture! The glory! I saw a church that had been raided by protestants, in which all of the idols had been defaced (noses removed) and yet the defaced statues remained as a testament to the communal history of that place! HOw could I (a thoroughly washed heathen) NOT love that place?
Seeing the earnest emotion at the Sacre Coeur and Dom Kerk (in Utrecht) I had to really reassess my take on religion. I saw people in real pain, who needed the safety and community. I came home and read a bunch of Paul Tillich(among others) and really came to understand the idea of God being the beginning of being. I found those places to be a great source of peace while I was there, and found a new appreciation for beautiful churches when I came back.
And there really is a difference between the design for glory, and the market-based/focus groupthink approach taken by the megachurches Steph mentioned. I can’t see anything that inspires worship LESS than an espresso stand call “Godbucks” or whatever.



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Kevin

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:13 am


Sorry for the double post y’all.



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Bill

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:16 am


Jorge, we don’t have a cause. We have whatever this is. We have whatever we are. Don’t reduce us to some cause or slogan because you have to have an enemy. You don’t have to have an enemy here, but you are making them because you are judging a person we love. Somehow you think it is your place to correct her, out of the blue, and outside relationship.
If you think Stephy is narcissistic you either don’t know a whit about narcissism or don’t know a whit about Stephy. Or both. Take your pick.
I personally think you are quite wrong about the American Evangelical Church and how it guards its own interests. But anyhow, I don’t think that’s what Stephy is saying. If she didn’t think it was redeemable, I doubt she would speak out so. I think Stephy has an understanding of Grace that most Evangelicals, in their quest for holiness and inability to achieve it, have no frame of reference for, let alone understanding of. Let them have ears to hear.
It seems strange that I would have to type it, but Evangelicalism is not the TOTALITY of the Christian Church, let alone the totality of His bride. It is up to us to examine our own actions, and this blog helps us do that. If Stephy was a liar, then this blog would hold no threat; I think it is only because it is truthful that there’s some smarting.



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Kevin

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:25 am


@Bill
I accept your beer and agree with your noise.



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Eli

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:34 am


I am not a fan of direct attack. I do find it interesting, however, Jorge, that you used the terms “Biblical” and “Christian Culture” were used together. Because, I think part of what the irony of this blog is pointing out all the ways that Christian Culture is NOT Biblical. And this may not be how you see it. And that is fine. I think what comes off rude, is the air of telling her she’s wrong. Who is to say you’re right? If the arguement is in letting people have their own opionions, let her have hers, even if you don’t agree. Trying to tell people why they are wrong and should believe as you do is one of the downfalls of Christian Culture. At least it was for me. Took me awhile (& I’m a bit of a smarty pants so I still often try to be “right” in other aspects of life, but I’m working on it) to realize it is stupid and unkind of me to think I have the answers enough to tell someone the “right” way to go about Christianity.
Preaching at others isn’t helpful, nor is it kind.
Also, your note about how people may take it a certain way: Well, bully for them if they do! I don’t think that we are to be concerned with what others think of us. If we lived for that, we WOULD be living like the Pharisees.
Perhaps I have misread your intent, and I apologize if that is the case. I am sure you aren’t a bad guy. But, I would say it is rather unwise to come into a place such as this one and become a dissenter. Many here are healing (readers) by reading and realizing that they aren’t alone in seeing cracks in the Christian System. What we call “church” is vastly different of the definition of the word when it was written biblically. Hence, the way we do “church” hurts people a lot. And so a place where healing can take place is good. But to go into a place where healing is taking place, and people are realizing it is okay to not agree with the way we were told things must be; and to tell them “you’re wrong,” ” you need to stop being so negative,” etc is just asking for trouble. Because whether or not you thought you were just talking to Stephy, you were also addressing the many who find her blog a refreshing & safe place to heal.
Take care of that plank before you go after our specks, please.



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Aaran

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:35 am


I think this post is spot on. I don’t know why it prompted such a reaction Jorge. I have been waiting for this one for a while since reading these articles;
http://kingdomproclaimed.blogspot.com/2010/03/ordinary-means-of-growth-ligon-duncan.html
“there are basically three views of Gospel ministry. There are those who think that effective cultural engagement requires an updating of the message. There are those who think that effective ministry requires an updating of our methods. And there are those who think that effective ministry begins with a pre-commitment to God’s message and methods, set forth in His Word.
Thus, liberalism said that the Gospel won’t work unless the message is changed. Modern evangelicalism (and not just in its “seeker-sensitive” and postmodern permutations) has often said that the Gospel won’t work unless our methods are changed. But those committed to an “ordinary means” approach to church life and ministry say the Gospel works, and God has given us both the method and the message. This is vitally important in a time where one of the dominant story-lines in the churches has been that of methods unwittingly, unhelpfully, and unbiblically altering both the message and the ministry.”
Or for a more pointed analysis read
http://www.darrelldumas.com/selling%20Jesus.htm
“The Church is at a crossroads, a point of crucial decision. Will the Church seek to be relevant by bowing and catering to culture and thus render God, His Christ, and His Gospel powerless to effect real change? Or will the Church recover the true nature of God—His glory, holiness, power, and transcendence, etc”
“Is there hope and a future for the Church? Of course there is hope—hope not in marketing, selling, technique, coffee and doughnuts, or entertaining music—but hope in Jesus Christ and His promises. As William Hendricks says, there is the “hope of Jesus’ promise that He would build His church and nothing, not even hell itself, would overcome it (Mt. 16:18). However, nothing in that promise obligates Christ to maintain ‘our’ church. He has committed Himself only to building a church, His church. So the issue is not how to get people back into churches, but how to make our churches into His church.” The Church does not need to sell Jesus because Jesus and the message, when proclaimed correctly, will sell themselves. May God give the Church in America today this vision, and may the Church have eyes to see it and ears to hear it, so He will be worshiped in reverence and His glory honored.”



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TH

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:51 am


At this point I am not even going to address the Jorge thing, you all have done a fine Christian (and Atheist) job of that, seriously.
However, I have long been distressed at this phenomenon, and have a couple of points I want to make:
#1: In a discussion on the topic several years ago, the fellow that had engaged with me in this debate brought up the whole idea of all the money that churches had been spending on buildings for centuries. I challenged him to visit one of the two well known cathedrals in our city. One is Episcopal and the other Catholic, then go over to the East side and visit the most prominant mega church in our metropolitan area. (Which, by the way you can’t just walk in that one, but why would you want to.) Then with nothing going on, no sermons, no music, no crowds, sit for a while and ponder our earlier discussion.
Get my point?
#2: A couple of months ago one of my FB friends posted some pictures of a newly finished church facility on the North side of a large Midwest city. This place had it all, tiered theater style seating, obviously ridiculously expensive sleek and modern lighting, a sound room that would likely rival any major theater in NYC or Chicago; and a new children’s and youth facility that appeared to come shipped right from Walt Disney World. Out of curiosity I looked up the church’s website. After some navigation I came to the page describing their “Capital Campaign.” One of the first things that I noticed was that 10% of the $10,000,000 dollars that they were raising (at that time they had $7,000,000,) would be given to missions. Now just so you know, this idea of churches and ministries using the tithing concept in order to make the donor feel even better about giving is nothing new. But this got me thinking: what if this idea were switched around…howsabout if we seek to raise $10,000,000 for projects reaching the needy in our city over the next 10 years and committed 10% to remodel our current facility, ($1,000,000 will go a long way in new carpet, paint and jumbotron, maybe even two or three.) Would we have reached $7,000,000 in this short time?
What do you think?
I get a kick out of many posts here. However, this is one that stirs up a nauseousness in the pit of my stomach. I see this as a huge gaff in the church today. I truly believe that we will be held accountable at some point for what we have done in Jesus’ name. We as the church are neglecting the needs of the world around us for the sake of having a bright shiny coin to show off and be proud that it is ours, “and look at us, we will share it with you too as long as you fit in.”
Also, there were a lot of posts here and I didn’t read them all so if I am repeating someone else, I’m happy to be in cahoots.



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TH

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:58 am


“If she didn’t think it was redeemable, I doubt she would speak out so. I think Stephy has an understanding of Grace that most Evangelicals, in their quest for holiness and inability to achieve it, have no frame of reference for, let alone understanding of. Let them have ears to hear.”
@Bill: I concur!!



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Aaran

posted August 20, 2010 at 4:04 am


Sorry I double posted, I thought my page timed out without posting.



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Entomologista

posted August 20, 2010 at 4:05 am


I’m not a Christian, but I have witnessed somebody I once cared about devolve into this world. Stephy does a good job highlighting exactly what is so awful about Christian Culture.



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Simone

posted August 20, 2010 at 4:06 am


“Jorge”, you said somewhere amidst your stream on nonsense something about fearing people might read Stephy’s blog for the wrong reasons. Does that mean that if something is not going to be interpreted exactly as it should be, it shouldn’t be put out there? If you are going to talk about documents open to interpretation, I have one for you: the Bible. The Bible is like an atheist handbook. You better go complain to the writers and make them change it because some of us got the wrong message.
I’m an atheist who had a blanket disdain for all Christianity. Once I met Stephy I learned isn’t all about the idiotic culture surrounding it so now I don’t automatically think Christian = fool. Far from it as evidenced by Stephanie, though I hate to say that you are kinda tipping the scale back in that direction.
Stephy’s blog only seems to have helped many people strengthen their faith by stripping away the crap and getting back to basics. That’s why I hate her blog (that was a joke. I needed to clarify that since you don’t seem very apt at getting them) On the contrary, she is fostering good will towards Christians and maybe eventually we’ll all be able to get along.
Looking through all your comments, it would appear that you have aided exactly no-one’s experience with Jesus. I’m sure if you do any Jesus writing of your own, the only people who would read it already agree with you. Pointless.



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TH

posted August 20, 2010 at 4:21 am


Ok I’m going to chime in on Jorge now.
I am a PK as well. I have been through the whole thing of dealing with all of the crap of what that means and have to say that on this side of all of that, I am thankful for my childhood. However I must admit I really don’t know of two people like my parents. While I still argue with them about things ranging from alcohol to gay rights to whether or not we are a “Christian nation,” they are both the most consistent Christians that I know. In my whole life I never saw them act differently in public than private. However, with all of that I am much like Stephanie in her blog here, she is just much more creative than me. My point is this: even though she mentions being a PK as a reason why she is an expert I don’t think that it has much to do with how she presents her posts here. (I could be wrong.)
Also Jorge, I don’t think that your thoughts are all bad, I just think that you have a misconception of this blog and what Stephanie does here. I think too that you just wanted to talk.
I must confess that I still haven’t read all the comments but have to say that there have been some great comments.
@Aaran “I think this post is spot on…” Thank you for those thoughts, the were very well stated!



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MsLily

posted August 20, 2010 at 4:23 am


After leaving the 2nd church I ever belonged to over board mismanagement, I suddenly went from only 2-3 churches in a lifetime to ‘searching’ for the “right” church every Sunday and sometimes Saturday too! After about 3 years of wandering around, I have discovered a few things about myself. I am not an “ist” “al” or an “an”, I really am a nondenominational. I prefer matzah and juice on plates rather than ‘rip and dip’ and I expect communion to be served every service (a rarity, unfortunately)! I actually do like a church building, a humble looking one with maybe a stained glass window here and there and a cross (probably at the front). I have seen these open modern ‘mega buildings’, and I know Jesus can be anywhere and a church is the people not a building, but I really really want a church to look like a church. And I feel shallow and guilty about it, but I guess how it looks really matters to me. Kind of the difference between a home and an model house. It might resemble one but the first is warm and welcoming, the second is supplosedly ideal but it feels empty and cold.



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Becky

posted August 20, 2010 at 6:37 am


“I want to visit it. I bet I’d feel like no terrorist could get me there.” – LOVE IT!
PS Anyone notice that Jorge doesn’t directly address any female other than Stephy? I smell a Southern Baptist :).



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mark

posted August 20, 2010 at 7:23 am


“wouldn’t jesus be happy if he could see that”



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Rodney

posted August 20, 2010 at 8:55 am


Saying something positive about the Evangelical movement is akin to making excuses for an abuser: “Sure, he degraded me publicly, destroyed my self esteem, and sometimes hit me…but, yeah, he had nice cologne and he helped an old lady across the street one time.” At the end of the day, you’re making excuses for a system that’s gotten so far up its own ass that it doesn’t blink twice at the mass of broken lives it leaves in its wake–gotta break a few eggs to make sure the pastor gets paid, I guess. That Jorge comes here expecting some pseudo-gracious gladhanding coupled with the vitriolic tone of his posts proves that abuse is generational and that, too often, the abused turn into abusers themselves.
I’m no PK…but I was the church organist’s kid, my dad ran the bus ministry, I dated a couple of PKs, and I did 13 years in a Baptist school. And, yeah, I’m bitter and will never apologize for my bitterness–if I can still remember the pain that the evangelical movement subjected me to, I’m a lot less likely to show up on a well-meaning blogger’s page subjecting him or her to the kind of judgemental bullsh*t that so created the need for this outlet in the first place.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 9:25 am


Hey, Jorge, come play on Facebook!
I love when people complain about Facebook posts on the blog. It’s gloriously cowardly. It makes your complaints about our immaturity look like what they are. Tee hee.
And I think narcissistic perfectly describes most of your comments. You set yourself up as someone who has gained a “seasoning” of wisdom that we lack. I’ve found that most of the people who claim to be wise are only wise in their own eyes. I think the Bible has a few things to say about that.
Making peace is one thing. Gaining superiority is another. The path to peace is messy. The path to superiority is well swept. Evidently you have trodden a clear path. I call bullshit.
Whining about being censored for people calling you on your crap is nicely martyrous, particularly when you’re not being censored. The answer is obvious. You’re being persecuted for your faith and your opinions. That’s exactly what’s going on here.
Or no — wait. You’re being called out on being a douchebag — or, in better words, for having “eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear, and a heart that does not understand.”
But hey, that’s not uncommon. Mourning with those who mourn is ugly and messy and inconvenient; Christian culture tends to love it some shiny countertops with all the mess locked away in cupboards. You might protest your disagreement with Christian culture, but from your comments I surmise you’re solidly in it.
______________________
Kevin, I love your comments. Insightful and gracious. I haven’t done extensive traveling, but what drew me to “high church” in part was the feeling of emotional safety pervading the little cathedrals and chapels I visited. I never encountered emotional safety in church before that.
There’s a megachurch in Louisville, KY, known as “Six Flags Over Jesus.” I read a review of it here: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2006/5/29/193711/698. I also read somewhere that someone told the head pastor of this megachurch, “You know, you could end poverty in this city” ($20 million a year goes a long way) and the pastor had nothing to say.



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t-man

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:05 am


One of my favorite things about this blog is that it pokes fun, in a light hearted way, at the foibles of popular Christian culture in America. It’s not heavy handed. It’s usually spot on. And it accomplishes a couple of great things: 1) Let’s Christian laugh at themselves – and maybe open a few eyes, and 2) Let’s anyone (Christian, former-Christian, Atheist, etc.) know they are not wrong and not alone in their own observations & experiences with Christian culture. One might even go so far as to say this blog does something akin to what Jesus was doing as he walked through the religious culture of his day – challenging the establishment, poking fun, ministering to the disenfranchised and outcast, and helping some of the religious establishment see with new eyes. However, I will not go so far as saying Stephy is like Jesus – wouldn’t want it to go to her head ;) Jesus could easily have been chastised for criticizing a culture that, though imperfect, might still bring one person to faith.
Any large group of people will create a culture of some kind. Given all our limitations and foibles we will build funky, funny, corrupt, imperfect, and sometime evil cultures. Christianity is no exception. There are many reasons to dislike modern American Christian culture, from both a Bible perspective and just a plain old human perspective. This blog highlights Christian culture from both perspectives. As a Christian I could feel the need to defend anything that is called “Christian” but I can’t. Precisely because I follow Jesus (which, by definition, makes me a Christian) I find so much of Christian culture nauseating. So much so, that I am disinclined to say “but let it alone because there are some who find real joy and peace in that culture.” I cannot stop critiquing merely because one person might be “saved.” I would rather laugh at what is laughable, criticize what needs to be criticized, cherish what needs to be cherished, and try to love my neighbor as myself – something I consistently fail at doing.
Observation/opinion: ‘Phariseeism’ is the number one religion in the world as far as I’m concerned. It is a religion of self-righteousness and blindness. It is a religion that runs through Christian culture, and many other religious and non-religious cultures. There are Christian Pharisees, but there are also political Pharisees, counter-culture Pharisees, environmentalist Pharisees, etc. We are everywhere. It is a common human state of being. One possible way to spot it on blogs is that the Christian Pharisee will call others Pharisees and claim to know what Jesus was really thinking when he did/said X. Then they will tend to be very judgmental in there comments, but fail to see that they are judgmental. This is do to the self-righteousness and blindness that allows them to be “merely observational” and “merely helpful” in their own eyes. Such individuals (and I cannot count myself out) often miss the point of the blog to begin with – like the person who buts into a conversation on making pesto and turns it into a shouting match about the environment because they overheard the word oil. They also often miss the point of the blog’s focus (like “Stuff Christian Culture Likes” is not “Fair and Balanced Observations on All that is Christian”) and chastise it for not being balanced enough to their liking. But just my own judgmental observations.



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t-man

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:08 am


One of my favorite things about this blog is that it pokes fun, in a light hearted way, at the foibles of popular Christian culture in America. It’s not heavy handed. It’s usually spot on. And it accomplishes a couple of great things: 1) Let’s Christian laugh at themselves – and maybe open a few eyes, and 2) Let’s anyone (Christian, former-Christian, Atheist, etc.) know they are not wrong and not alone in their own observations & experiences with Christian culture. One might even go so far as to say this blog does something akin to what Jesus was doing as he walked through the religious culture of his day – challenging the establishment, poking fun, ministering to the disenfranchised and outcast, and helping some of the religious establishment see with new eyes. However, I will not go so far as saying Stephy is like Jesus – wouldn’t want it to go to her head ;) Jesus could easily have been chastised for criticizing a culture that, though imperfect, might still bring one person to faith.
Any large group of people will create a culture of some kind. Given all our limitations and foibles we will build funky, funny, corrupt, imperfect, and sometime evil cultures. Christianity is no exception. There are many reasons to dislike modern American Christian culture, from both a Bible perspective and just a plain old human perspective. This blog highlights Christian culture from both perspectives. As a Christian I could feel the need to defend anything that is called “Christian” but I can’t. Precisely because I follow Jesus (which, by definition, makes me a Christian) I find so much of Christian culture nauseating. So much so, that I am disinclined to say “but let it alone because there are some who find real joy and peace in that culture.” I cannot stop critiquing merely because one person might be “saved.” I would rather laugh at what is laughable, criticize what needs to be criticized, cherish what needs to be cherished, and try to love my neighbor as myself – something I consistently fail at doing.
Observation/opinion: ‘Phariseeism’ is the number one religion in the world as far as I’m concerned. It is a religion of self-righteousness and blindness. It is a religion that runs through Christian culture, and many other religious and non-religious cultures. There are Christian Pharisees, but there are also political Pharisees, counter-culture Pharisees, environmentalist Pharisees, etc. We are everywhere. It is a common human state of being. One possible way to spot it on blogs is that the Christian Pharisee will call others Pharisees and claim to know what Jesus was really thinking when he did/said X. Then they will tend to be very judgmental in there comments, but fail to see that they are judgmental. This is do to the self-righteousness and blindness that allows them to be “merely observational” and “merely helpful” in their own eyes. Such individuals (and I cannot count myself out) often miss the point of the blog to begin with – like the person who buts into a conversation on making pesto and turns it into a shouting match about the environment because they overheard the word oil. They also often miss the point of the blog’s focus (like “Stuff Christian Culture Likes” is not “Fair and Balanced Observations on All that is Christian”) and chastise it for not being balanced enough to their liking. But just my own judgmental observations.



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Stephen Charles

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:16 am


Spinning said:
“Moreover, I can remember (all too well, I’m afraid) the way in which Christian Culture-type folks (of which I was one) just plain locked the door on any attempt to help people with AIDS (most of whom were dying of multiple opportunistic infections on top of HIV, many of whom were horribly disfigured by one of those infections – Kaposi’s Sarcoma)… and all of whom could certainly have some real, down-to-earth, loving acceptance and care (that last in multiple ways). But no, we either averted our gaze or ranted about how these folks were morally bankrupt homosexuals, or tried to convert them to heterosexuality instead of meeting them right where they were, as one human being to another.”
Isn’t “meeting people where they’re at” the mantra of all Christian Culture? And isn’t the implicit presupposition here the same that swank churches are built upon, namely to meet the felt temporal needs of the people? Sorry, Spinning, but it sure seems to me like this is wiping one’s greasy nose with a dirty rag, as in those guys meeting the felt needs of those people over there is bad, but our meeting the felt needs of these folks over here is good.
I can admit that making sure modern Yuppies have their snacks, dry wall and general swanki-o-sity is pretty damn lame compared to making sure others have health and human love. But I don’t think it’s wise to confuse any temporal need with eternal need, namely to be reconciled to a holy God. And if we don’t want the church to be the world’s moral police then on what grounds is the church to be the world’s hospital or therapist? This just seems like more—brace yourself, loaded word alert—hypocrisy to me. I loathe Christian Culture as much as the next person around here, but your suggestion (and others like it) just seems like taking away with one hand what the other previously gave, or serving up warmed over evangelicalism after having choked and barfed on the previous plate of cold crap.



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John R

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:21 am


stephy – Wow, those are impressive pics. I seem to be discovering all sorts of odd new things thanks to you. ;)



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t-man

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:22 am


sorry about the double post and the syntax/spelling errors. baby on lap and all that.



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L'naea

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:23 am


I’ll add my two cents on this: Jorge, comes across as an a** (maybe because I like the blog) but I have no reason to worry because I work Sunday and have to miss church.
On the “old world” churches, there is something amazing about them. I don’t know if it is the time they have lasted or the walking up to them on an empty square and seeing the heavens and church connect. The building in Olm, Germany is breath-taking.



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Christopher Orczy

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:25 am


@Aran: Thank you for those links. What a read!



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John R

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:30 am


btw I’m shamelessly reposting that photostream. Amazing.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:54 am


Stephen Charles:
Wow. I have never heard the physical needs of terminally ill human beings described in the same terms (“felt needs”) as the comfort-desires of yuppies and hipsters. That was unbelievably callous.
The Jesus of the Gospels did not differentiate between physical/psychological healing and spiritual reconciliation. The God of the major prophets, most particularly Isaiah, equated care for the poor, the oppressed and the suffering with closeness to him. He also basically said he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about acts of devotion and worship that do not include mercy and justice toward humankind.
I’ll take Spinning’s “hypocrisy” over your Calvinism any day. If that makes me a warped, Animal-Farm type evangelical, so be it.
Interestingly this might speak to the good intentions of evangelicalism that Jorge has been so oddly demanding about. Minister to people’s needs. Meet them where they are. Unfortunately the focus of evangelicals tends to be superbly off the mark. It’s entirely possible that concern for the physical needs of the sick and suffering and dying is another warped focus, but your severe emphasis on rectifying our separation from a holy God sounds just as bad.



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juls

posted August 20, 2010 at 11:28 am


Jorge,
Just for the record…I wanted to let you know that I thought your initial comment was interesting and thought provoking. It was your second comment that set off the firestorm as it was very set on attacking the author of this blog.
As you can tell we are all pretty loyal to the mission of this blog and it’s creator. I get pretty tired of the people that come on this blog NOT to converse about the topic or post on hand but just to complain and bitch about the blog in it’s entirety.
So sorry if those feelings came on harshly. I’d like you to provoke discussion on the topic at hand. I think you are capable of that after reading your many thoughts.
Anyway, God bless you.



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Amarantine

posted August 20, 2010 at 11:46 am


Stephy’s blog is important precisely because it highlights the differences between real Christianity and the awful, fake “Christian Culture” that sometimes seems to have a stranglehold on it. This posting happens to showcase the misuse of church funding and, like other posts focussing on particular CC manifestations, inherently criticises the pitiful bending of Christian Culture before the prevailing cultural winds. The blog’s tagline of Christian Culture being about Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship says it all really. Christians should do both Practical Good Things and Foster Relationship, but the problem with Christian Culture is that it turns the Doing Things into false gods.
When Stephy re-posted the (extremely funny and spot-on) piece on Purity Balls recently, someone objected to its content. They missed the point of the piece; it was not to criticize virginity or celibacy – it was to draw attention to the creepy way in which some Christian sub-cultures fetishize these things and use them to control or intimidate others.
What Stephy seems to be asking throughout this blog is, where is the love that is supposed to be at the heart of Christianity? Not the vague fuzzy feel-good kind, the tough, real sort. Often the traits shown by the sub-culture have everything to do with control or conservatism for its own sake, and not much to do with real, difficult loving or caring.
Spending unbelievable amounts of money on ugly mall-like megachurches, idolizing particular missionaries, or marketing silver rings to teenagers all smacks of the commercial world, of keeping the bucks rolling in, of manager-speak, safe jargon code-words and the cheap emotion of a guitar chord-change. It’s nothing like caring for the sick or poor, campaigning for social justice, or helping each other with the really difficult things in life like forgiveness, or the difficulties presented by unemployment or depression, for example, which are the sort of things Jesus seems to have been interested in.
Christian Culture – not ‘Christianity’, or ‘Christians’ or ‘the church’ which is basically all Christians, wherever they may be – is sick, and not very Christian at all, so criticising CC is not bashing the bride of Christ. A lot of Christian Culture is fake and false, and this needs to be pointed out, gently, with love and respect for the people inside it who are trying to fix it. This is what Stephy does so well.



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Stephen Charles

posted August 20, 2010 at 11:47 am


Sarah,
Have you considered that Jesus didn’t heal everyone during his ministry? That might mean either he failed to live up to certain expectations or certain expectations are “superbly off the mark.” It might also be that his temporal healings were meant to be types of eternal healings, the kind that will be completely obliterated in his second coming in ways they weren’t during his first.
But you fault evangies for focusing on the wrong application of “meeting people where they’re at” principle, focusing on snacks and entertainment instead of healing and provision. From what I can tell, loads of evangies are doing plenty of the latter. My Xian radio DJ BIL, who “laps up the latte” at church, is also going to Africa to help the disenfranchised. The sort of criticism you level seems a bit unfair and deliberately ignoring the fact that they do precisely what you seem to be demanding a better Christian expression should be about. What I am doing is seeing your criticism about meeting the felt needs of the consumers but raising the ante. Maybe high stakes Christianity isn’t your cup of meat, but it sure seems to me that Jesus didn’t die for saying his kingdom was of the more enduring aspects of the this world, he died for saying his kingdom was not at all of this world. Do people really murder men who say they are all about feeding the hungry and healing the sick? No, they die for saying things that confront even our best intentions (as opposed to our baser ones), and for putting “severe emphasis on rectifying our separation from a holy God.”



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Stephen Charles

posted August 20, 2010 at 11:50 am


(Sorry if this is a 2x post, my initial try didn’t seem to take.)
Sarah,
Have you considered that Jesus didn’t heal everyone during his ministry? That might mean either he failed to live up to certain expectations or certain expectations are “superbly off the mark.” It might also be that his temporal healings were meant to be types of eternal healings, the kind that will be completely obliterated in his second coming in ways they weren’t during his first.
But you fault evangies for focusing on the wrong application of “meeting people where they’re at” principle, focusing on snacks and entertainment instead of healing and provision. From what I can tell, loads of evangies are doing plenty of the latter. My Xian radio DJ BIL, who “laps up the latte” at church, is also going to Africa to help the disenfranchised. The sort of criticism you level seems a bit unfair and deliberately ignoring the fact that they do precisely what you seem to be demanding a better Christian expression should be about. What I am doing is seeing your criticism about meeting the felt needs of the consumers but raising the ante. Maybe high stakes Christianity isn’t your cup of meat, but it sure seems to me that Jesus didn’t die for saying his kingdom was of the more enduring aspects of the this world, he died for saying his kingdom was not at all of this world. Do people really murder men who say they are all about feeding the hungry and healing the sick? No, they die for saying things that confront even our best intentions (as opposed to our baser ones), and for putting “severe emphasis on rectifying our separation from a holy God.”



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Gaypet

posted August 20, 2010 at 11:57 am


I am truly sad to see that Christian Culture has produced yet another person with Narcissistic personality disorder. It seems really good at that.
I do understand the desire to jump in and stand up for Stephanie and this blog that has meant so much to so many. But the attention seeker can not be reasoned with. Although may of you have done some beautiful reasoning! And I have enjoyed reading this thread. It still makes me sad.



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Spinning

posted August 20, 2010 at 12:10 pm


@ Stephen Charles: I think you completely misread/misinterpreted my post about the church in the 80s and people with AIDS.
Sarah, OTOH, got what I was trying to say.
So – what she said!



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 12:18 pm


Well once person here, Sarah, had the cajones to use the same language on the blog that is being used on Facebook about me. The rest of y’all have edited your thoughts and comments.
T-Man’s observation that Pharisee-ism is the world’s number one religion is a very salient point. Indeed, Moralism in all of it’s forms is the religion of choice for most people. Jesus was quick to point out the folly of that by making fun of the Pharisees. And I love Him for that. I have no doubt, if he were here now, there would be much about ME, not to mention the Christian Church, that he could satirically pick apart. And he would, too! He made fun of His own disciples at times if I read him right.
However… I will come back to my initial point. Jesus not only knocked down the sacred cows that were wrong He also AFFIRMED what was right. Whether the Torah or the personalities of his own disciples or the immoral woman that washed his feet with her tears.
When we do listen to our critics there is tremendous opportunity for growth. I know I have already come across to you as a pompous ass and yet God can even speak through an ass (see: Balaam’s donkey, Numbers 22).
And what I am saying is you all, not just Stephanie, might be heard by more people if you didn’t adjust your message that there are stupid things in Christian Culture that pass as Christianity itself but rather you did adjust the way that you share that message.
You catch more flies with honey than vinegar.
What are you FOR? We all get what is wrong with Christian Culture. But what is right about Christianity? Mix a little of that in and I think it will only enhance your message.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:02 pm


Stephen,
I grant you that plenty of evangelicals are trying to meet actual needs. I think this is always a good thing. I also see very little of that in how the evangelicals I actually know live their lives or spend their money. You can accuse me of being sweeping or shortsighted or narrowly focused; to an extent that’s certainly true; it’s also not quite the point. I’m glad you know a different breed of evangelicals from the ones I know.
You’re not raising the ante. There’s nothing noble or praiseworthy or even defensible about your assigning caring for sick people and pandering to consumeristic desires to the same category. If the radical mission of Jesus was redemption for humankind (whatever that means), since we can’t be redeemers ourselves in the same way that Jesus was, we can be agents of that healing and redemption in whatever ways we can, which is almost always here and now at least to some degree. I don’t see Jesus neglecting one part of a person for another, or valuing their souls above anything else about them. If you’re arguing that Jesus didn’t heal the entire world physically while he was here, I can’t imagine what your point is, and I have no interest in going down a nitpicking path of Jesus’ divine nature and human nature and what the expansiveness or limitation of the duality might be.
The most horrible thing about Christian culture is its dehumanization of people, which is what happens in the Doing Things and Avoiding Relationship paradigm — and that paradigm is very much present in your comments. To the extent this culture’s constituents meet actual needs, bully for them. That’s great. I haven’t heard about much of that, however. I hear a lot more about denying equal marriage rights, gilding racism, oppressing women and avoiding the discomfort of partaking in real redemption, of which reconciliation to God in the way you mean it is only a part.
Brother, Jesus was killed for telling the Pharisees their rules and regs didn’t cut it. He was killed for saying that power and money hinder people’s entrance into the kingdom of heaven. He was killed for preaching a radical abandonment of self-advancement that basically meant the religious rulers of the day were doomed unless they gave up everything and spent their lives doing the distasteful and difficult, like associating with the poor and sick. I agree with you that Jesus declared that his kingdom wasn’t of this world. And if you look at man’s evolutionary hardwiring and social history, as well as what most of what the Bible calls “sin,” “of this world” means greed, power, oppression, aggression, consumerism and shoring up privilege. Healing a person’s body and mind and spirit isn’t merely a temporal act. You don’t save someone’s soul and leave his or her body, mind and spirit to die. That wasn’t the mission of Jesus, and that’s not love.
You’re trying to split something that can’t be split. And insinuating that “the high stakes of Christianity isn’t my cup of meat” (i.e. I’m not a “real” Christian because I don’t believe exactly the way you do — huh, never heard that one before) should be beneath you. I’m not sure what high stakes you’re talking about anyway. Please enlighten me — what high stakes are you qualifying for that I’m not? What makes you a more real Christian than I?
I’m pretty sure we’ll shake hands in heaven and maybe sip some good scotch. We may even tenuously come to an agreement “in this world” on a thing or two. I may hate your version of salvation, redemption and grace, but I don’t think you’re on the outs with Jesus. I’ll be honest, I’m not too fond of you at the moment though. You have no idea the spiritual rape I went through at the hands of your brand of Christianity.
_____________________________
Jorge: I’m affirming Stephy. A lot of us here affirm each other. What about the Pharisees did Jesus affirm, exactly? That’s where your latest analogy breaks down.



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Spinning

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:16 pm


Just going to add something a bit personal here: I think that losing someone you love deeply (parent, spouse, child, sibling, friend) to a horrible illness that ravages body and mind (like cancer) is a complete game-changer in most everyone’s life.
Having been there myself, all I can say is that placing caring for the sick and dying and “consumerism” in the same sentence/paragraph just does not compute.
I think I’m probably a bit older than a lot of commenters here, which might (or might not) have something to do with my perspective on this, but that’s a moot point (imo) in the overall scheme of things.



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Kevin

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:17 pm


This is the last time I will feed our troll, promise.
Lay off the sanctimony Jorge, it makes it look like you are confusing yourself with Jesus.
“I know I have already come across to you as a pompous ass and yet God can even speak through an ass.”
God does not speak through you, Jorge. You are simply an ass.
“Jorge: I’m affirming Stephy. A lot of us here affirm each other. What about the Pharisees did Jesus affirm, exactly? That’s where your latest analogy breaks down.”-Perfect.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:17 pm


Oh, on re-read I see that you were using “high stakes” as an adjective and not a noun. Disregard my last couple of questions, then. You’re only insinuating that I’m a lesser Christian, it seems. One who isn’t up for your grand gamble. I can’t decide if that’s more or less insulting.



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Eli

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:22 pm


The point of this blog is not to “catch” people like flies. It’s a blog. Which is really more like a public journal. Not something where we are trying to be heard. This place is more like a community, less like a televangelism.
Also, God speaking through a donkey is an entirely different matter than you being self-righteous & rude & expecting to have people say “oh yes, you are right, I think I will do things your way now.”
And just because you are happening to see the part that is pointing out the ridiculousity that we have dared call “Christianity” does not mean that many of us do not live rather positively most of the time. We are to work out our OWN salvation with fear & trembling, after all.
We are FOR relationship versus doing things. But a blog about how to build relationships with each other doesn’t really mess with the HUMOR aspect of this one.
Get off of the self-righteous soapbox & move on.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:35 pm


Sarah,
No, my analogy doesn’t break down. Unless you are willing to put all Evangelicals and even their culture into the Pharisee category.
Before you do that, consider, do Evangelicals desire to silence Christ? If he were here now, would they have utter contempt, jealousy, and sheer hatred for the man? To the point of nailing him to a tree and selling out to Rome (read: Washington) to do so?
I will grant that there are elements of that in some, to equate Evangelicals to Pharisees is a false comparison.
To make my point again, go ahead and make fun of Christian culture where you think it necessary. But don’t be a one trick pony.
What’s good in the Church? Whether EO, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Anglican, or any other?
How about talking about adoption, the Gospel, or maybe what the world would look like if there was no Church in the past 2000 years.
As bad as the Church looks to some of us from our Postmodern and highly Westernized point of view; creating us to to be a product of our times, just imagine what the world would be like without it.
It was the Church that brought about orphanages when kids were kicked to the curb. It was the Church that fought for the rights of the elderly at a time they were thought to be a burden to society. These kinds of things are important to talk about.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:40 pm


Eli,
“And just because you are happening to see the part that is pointing out the ridiculousity that we have dared call “Christianity” does not mean that many of us do not live rather positively most of the time.”
Which is why I initially addressed Stephanie. It was not intended for everyone else. But they responded, which is fine.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:46 pm


You want to know what I think the world would be like without American evangelicalism? Not the church as a whole, not Christianity, but evangelicals?
Are you familiar with the song “Big Rock Candy Mountain”?
hahaha.



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Eli

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:52 pm


If you wish to address only one person, there is this thing called email.
And just because the church these days professes to be following Jesus, doesn’t mean it is. Even when they do lots of things (like going to Africa or having a big event to feed the hungry) it doesn’t mean the heart is to help people rather than look really good.
And once again, a blog is just that. Misunderstand, fine, stay, fine. But stop trying to preach. Not worth it.
Kind of like the people who stand on street corners preaching. It doesn’t help anyone. Just makes people mad.



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Spinning

posted August 20, 2010 at 1:54 pm


@ Sarah: Score!!! (heehee)



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Butterhorn

posted August 20, 2010 at 2:02 pm


To quote you Jorge,
“Couple that with inconsistencies at home, to various degrees depending on how large a hyporcrite Pops was, and you have a perfect storm with all the elements needed to form deep seated cynicism in the heart of a son or a daughter.”
you concisely aim to predict and wrap up the complexities of deceipt. No one with this background would approach their history so casually and read it off like a quick synopsis with “Pops” as the leading character. Don’t consolidate someone’s lifelong experience and spit it back to expediate your final punch line.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 2:07 pm


Stephen Charles:
On second thought, I’ll let my questions stand. I anticipated that you would make a distinguishment between “the high stakes of Christianity” and “high-stakes Christianity” but in essence they’re the same thing.
So please, tell me what high stakes you’re up to the challenge of meeting that I’m not. I’m very curious. And angry.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 2:11 pm


I’m not sure what my age is in proximity to that of everyone else here, but I’d venture to guess that I’m probably a bit older (let’s say, 10 years) than the average poster.
I kinda feel like an older brother that’s trying to put my arm around your shoulder and help you.
Yes, I know, by saying that I just set myself up for some witty reponses and rebukes.
I will say, I speak not from theory but experience. Deep (at least to me) experience.
When I talk about “Pops” in the ministry, I am not talking theoretically here. Just for the record.



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Bill

posted August 20, 2010 at 2:20 pm


Jorge, maybe you could just talk about your experiences, instead of worrying so much about what Stephy’s is or isn’t. She’s a smart person and can apply them to her own life as she sees fit.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 2:24 pm


LOL, Jorge, now you’re just being an ass for the sake of being an ass.
It’s getting funnier and funnier. Keep going, please, “brother.” It’s hugely entertaining when people talk just to have the last word.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 2:26 pm


Talking about my personal expereinces would seem to me to be counterproductive to the greater point I’ve been trying to make.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 2:29 pm


Okay, Sarah, I’ll take the bait. :)
What’s funny? Seriously.
What’s funny about the content of what I’ve said here?



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Stephen Charles

posted August 20, 2010 at 2:37 pm


Sarah, you said:
“I’m not sure what high stakes you’re talking about anyway. Please enlighten me — what high stakes are you qualifying for that I’m not? What makes you a more real Christian than I? Oh, on re-read I see that you were using “high stakes” as an adjective and not a noun. Disregard my last couple of questions, then. You’re only insinuating that I’m a lesser Christian, it seems. One who isn’t up for your grand gamble. I can’t decide if that’s more or less insulting.”
You say I’m missing your point. I may be, but I’m not sure mine is landing with you either. And I’m not sure resorting to huffing and puffing helps much. And if I may be so bold, and with all due respect for it, neither does claiming any personal tragedy you may have experienced that I haven’t. If you’re not more careful it begins to look like the tyranny of the injured have some sort of leg up on those not as personally vexed. I’m not suggesting a class system, but am I less a Christian because I haven’t been “spiritually raped”?
But, more to the point about the distinction between the temporal and eternal, consider when Jesus said in Luke 14:26, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.” Those are pretty high stakes. The idea seems to be that the highest temporal goods, the most precious human relationships we have in this life and even life itself, are to be hated for the sake of Jesus and the eternal life he offers (even our marriages will be dissolved in the hereafter, so take that, “family values” bullies). You suggest that Jesus was about the “radical abandonment of self-advancement.” Can you get anymore radical about abandoning self than to tell folks to hate their own very good lives? I mean, I agree with you that Jesus was telling people that certain temporal trappings were keeping them from heaven, but your fingering of the usual suspects like power, money and greed is a bit like saying the devil comes with cloven feet and a pitchfork. Sometimes he’s your loving, enduring and highly functional spouse.
You said: “There’s nothing noble or praiseworthy or even defensible about your assigning caring for sick people and pandering to consumeristic desires to the same category.”
So, what do you make of the Benny Hinn’s of the world who seem to care so much for the sick that they actually heal them? Are you going to pass him off as not only a piece of the CC pie but also a little too concerned for the sick? If so, I guess I’m a bit puzzled as to just how caring we are supposed to be for the health of people: I care too little, Benny too much? But recall that the people thronged Jesus because they, too, wanted to be healed of their physical (read: worldly) cares, and once they got what they wanted they left only to come back to hang him high. So, before you easily assign my points to the dustbin of “my brand of religion,” consider that I love my temporal life and I think our physical world matters quite a bit. But Christianity is about paradox, other wise I don’t know how the fifth commandment to love my parents and Luke 14:26’s command to hate them co-exist. Maybe my loving my life is the precise problem Jesus means to confront?



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Kevin

posted August 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm


What’s funny? Your claim to be an older brother. Your claim to be the voice of god. Your claim to be the victim of “mass censorship.” Your hilarious shifting analogies. Your utter contempt for anyone who actually answers your baseless accusations. Your sanctimonious tone. Your moralizing. And your total inability to read (or comprehend) the point of the blog which is “a preacher’s kid’s humorous take on what American evangelicals like.” (It’s right there at the top of the page)
You just don’t get that this blog isn’t about glorifying the faith, it is about the hypocritical b.s. that passes for Christianity. You know, like some blowhard telling people, in their best older brother/voice of god routine, how they should run their blog.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:00 pm


Stephen Charles: not less of a Christian; a more obtuse Christian, maybe, as your response demonstrates. I wasn’t the party declaring that one of us isn’t up to high stakes/is a lesser Christian, but I’m not surprised you tried to turn that around the way you did. It’s the defensive reaction of the privileged. In other areas I’ve had that defensive reaction myself.
Yeah, Reformed peeps love that “hate your family” verse. I have no answer except that I am leery of your interpretation. I never trust a person who pulls a St. John Rivers as opposed to a Jane Eyre/Rochester.
Benny Hinn vs. you — balance is tough to strike, isn’t it? I don’t care for either style, myself. I think Benny Hinn is way more interested in the money than the healing. I think that at the moment you’re way more interested in correctness than in loving. Maybe that will change; it did for me, and I’m hopeful.
I’m not prioritizing my experience over yours. I’m saying that your perspective is callous and your presupposition that your viewpoint is the cure to mine has little to do with Jesus and much to do with insecurity.
Jorge: People who aren’t self-aware in discussion almost always reach a point where they’re no longer infuriating; they’re farcical. Your comments have reached that Rabadash-like zenith of ridiculousness. That you had to ask what was funny rather proves my point.



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Stephen Charles

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:41 pm


Sarah, if love is your highest priority I can’t say I feel much. I make a point, you easily dismiss it as “a brand of Christianity that is obviously from the devil.” How does one actually, seriously respond when the assumption is so judgmental: “callous, unloving, insecure, nothing to do with Jesus”: yeow, maybe you haven’t shaken off all the fundamentalism yet? Are you at all familar with the history of the revivalists telling the confessionalists that the latter’s criticisms of the former were test positive of their being unregenerate demon spawn?
But I’ll try. If my points about Luke 14/hating your parents (and life) are wrong or at least worthy of leeriness, what does it mean? It must mean something. Was it a figure of speech? If so, what does that make the fifth commandment?
Benny may be more interested in money than healing, but so what? He’s actually healing people. Do you think they care what his motives are? I wouldn’t if I were that sick (but, heaven, help me). You have made it clear that the job of Xianity, or at least a large chunck of it, is to care for the sick. Why impugn someone’s motives if they are getting the job done, espcially when he’s getting it done in spades?
And have you considered that correctness and loving can go together, or is it a rigid, categorical choice between the two, as in the choice between fundamentalism and liberalism?
But, look, SSCL is a top shelf site and Drury is one smart and spot-on cookie. I’m just not sure all her bloggers have thought through some aspects of all the fun. You’re one of the more serious and stimulating bloggers here, and all I am trying to suggest is that save-the-world Xianity isn’t a great answer to dip-shit Xianity. They are two sides of the same skewed coin. I understand you disagree, but it really doesn’t help a good discussion to be as dismissive and abusive as you have been. And your own abuse, as serious as it is, just isn’t an acceptable jutsification for it.



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Duh

posted August 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm


In other news, white people who benefit from the collective secular progress of science living longer than ever before and still arguing about what some illiterate herders/carpenters/fishermans probably didn’t even do or say some 2000 years ago. Brillz!



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Kimmisue

posted August 20, 2010 at 4:00 pm


Hey Jorge so how does Crucifixion feel? lol
Anyway…I was reading this post amused. I grew up in a very, very small church. People were praising the Lord for 50 in the morning service. I married the pastor’s son and two babies and a divorce later I felt weird about going back to church there. I grew up with this disdain for “mega” churches. Mostly because my parents and the pastor of my little church made it seems as though people who go to them, go there to hide. “You should never have to hide from Jesus.” Well I was broken and hurt and felt like so weird that I did not have a real church home for the first time in my life. I found the biggest church that was local to me and I put my kids in the “kids planet” and I hid. God found me anyway and he took that opportunity to minister to me in spite of myself. In that “seeker friendly” environment I understood a freedom in Christ that I so needed.
It is weird for me sometimes to see the big gulp holders and to see people coming to Sunday morning service in shorts and flip flops, but it is what it is. I have a feeling Jesus doesn’t care.
Sorry to be so serious everyone, I’m sure if I thought about it for a while I could come up with something smart ass to say. I just wanted to say that while the extravagance of the American mega church can be totally out of control, I do get it. But it was on the floor of a little Assembly of God church, in front of a little wooden altar that I asked Jesus into my heart. My daughter asked Jesus into her heart at an out of control over the top youth camp that cost me $400 to send her to. He’s the same Jesus and his grace is still amazing. :)



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Eli

posted August 20, 2010 at 4:01 pm


Stephen Charles: I am NOT trying to take sides in this arguement. Just thought I’d try to help a mite. If it doesn’t help, leave it be. :)
Just thought I’d note that probably she doesn’t mean correctness can’t go with loving. As a rule, though, the desire to have the last word, to be right all the time, is not loving. And in the world in which we live, I’d strive for loving and learning to know Christ in the face of the forgotten above knowing all the right theological answers.
But that’s just me and where I’m trying to head.



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Chrissy

posted August 20, 2010 at 4:15 pm


Stephen Charles, At one point, upon reading that verse I became angry. Angry because it is not possible for me to hate my mother and father. I love them. I always will. I cannot be rid of that. In that moment it seemed to mean that I cannot be worthy of Christ. It is impossible for me to ever be worthy of Christ. Perhaps hating one’s mother and father comes more naturally to others, but for me, I needed to read that verse for exactly what it said. I had heard too many interpretations that I could not tangibly relate to. Reading it literally was much different. Realizing I will never hate my parents, therefore, I will never be worthy of Christ, was an enlightening grace-filled moment. It was a reminder that I cannot attain Godliness. Christ already did it for me. Ever since, that verse has spoken nothing but the Good News of Jesus Christ to me. That I am saved by grace, through faith. I love my parents. I’m screwed. “But grace…”
That interpretation may not stand up against scrutiny. I’ve never heard it preached from the pulpit, but I believe it was what I needed to understand at the time. It was simple. It was so refreshing. As grace always is. Sometimes the Good News really is that good. If freedom in Christ meant that I “MUST hate my mother and father,” then it is bad news to me. Because I can’t do it. Which is the whole point of the law, and Christ’s fulfillment of it. Grace.
Ya know?



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stephanie drury

posted August 20, 2010 at 4:16 pm


Kimmisue – that was so beautiful I got choked up. I’m sad about what you went through and so glad about what ended up happening!
Jorge, you say “Talking about my personal expereinces would seem to me to be counterproductive to the greater point I’ve been trying to make.” But talking about your own experiences will actually help to get us all on the same page and able to understand where we’re each coming from. Everyone views the world from the lens of their own experience. I can understand that to people heavily invested in Christian culture and to people who have PKs of their own, this site must be terrifying to them.



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Still Breathing

posted August 20, 2010 at 5:16 pm


Kimmisue, Thank you for reminding us that Jesus can meet us in any type of church no matter what we may think of it. That in itself should teach us not to get proud about our way of doing things and introduce a bit of humility into the proceedings.



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Stephen Charles

posted August 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm


Eli, agreed, the self-important concern for “being right” is what some have called the quest for illegitimate religious certainty. But I do consider that different from having a concern for truth.
Chrissy, I hear you and great point. We don’t live up to any command, whether to love or hate, and it is by grace alone that we live (phew). At the same time, that doesn’t relieve from pursuing any command, even when one seems to be at a paradox with another one. Contrary to popular belief, Christianity is hard.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm


Stephen Charles:
I’m looking back through my comments. I know of one most definite instance where I was intentionally nasty, and for that I am truly sorry. I’m also sorry that I basically said that it’s hard for me to like you. That wasn’t fair or kind — or accurate, given that I don’t actually know you. I believe you mostly mean well, and I could have answered you in better faith.
I see a lot of places, rereading our exchanges, where you got hurt by my directness and avoided my questions. It’s not your fault that you’re triggering a bunch of gods-awful PTSD moments with your judgment and your Calvinism. On a better day I’d have gritted my teeth and tried to ignore your remarks; on a good day it wouldn’t have ruffled my serenity at all. This day has not been one of my shining ones in terms of how well I live up to my ideals.
And now I would really, really appreciate it if you would answer my questions. No more avoiding it by deflecting the argument to my behavior — and no more turning the question back around at me and not answering what I asked. How is your understanding of Christianity superior? How do you justify telling people who don’t believe as you do that they’re wrong? What makes Reformed theology “correct”? How am I a lesser Christian for not being Reformed? I know these aren’t the easiest questions to answer; I also know, given your comments, that you don’t mind wielding loaded words and don’t worry too much about the offense you give people. I am very and honestly interested in your response. I’ve asked you about it in a previous comment thread, and to my knowledge you never answered.
I don’t think, and did not say, that your perspective is of the devil. I pretty clearly said that I believe we’ll end up in the same good place, and I did not mean that conditionally.
I also stand by the validity of my points — that they were in more than one place unkindly spoken does not negate them. It would be really great if you would eat a piece of humble pie with me and honestly evaluate how you treat people. You dismiss and invalidate others’ experiences (it sounds like you dismiss experience generally, although you’re also pretty defensive about the experiences you didn’t have, namely, spiritual abuse, so I’m sensing some dissonance there). You tend to eliminate, or at least reduce, the humanity from the equation of what constitutes Christlike focus. It sounded to me like you were saying at one point that you weren’t abused, so what I went through doesn’t have anything to bear on the discussion. And you have a lot to say about how I wrongly fault Christian culture and participate in it myself, while consistently refusing to own up to your own participation in the awfulness.
In all of this I haven’t seen you make any concessions to your own failings at all. In fact, you have done a great job — and I mean this sincerely — sussing out all the places where I’m inconsistent. Which is fine — some of your arguments make good sense. I get the feeling, though, that it’s at least in part a decoy so that you don’t have to address the faults of your own perspective or engage in anything requiring vulnerability — that you’re adhering to that old adage, “The best defense is a good offense.” You’re skilled at it, and you make some valid points; and simultaneously you’re not fooling anyone. I’d take it as a courtesy if you’d answer my questions.
And it’s still deplorable to say that caring for AIDS patients is in the same vein as liking a coffee bar at church. Good God, man. I’m astonished that you would hold, let alone defend, that position.



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Chrissy

posted August 20, 2010 at 6:17 pm


It’s not hard. It’s impossible. But Christ’s yolk is easy. His burden is light.



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TH

posted August 20, 2010 at 6:30 pm


Sarah, I don’t think that I have said this here before but I like you! Your comments here (and on FB or I am guessing you are the same Sarah) are always so good.
Stephanie, I know that we’ve had this conversation before but I have to say this: PLEASE keep doing what you are doing, just like you are doing it. PLEASE DON’T LISTEN TO JORGE! He may have a hard time seeing the positive in what you do here but to most of us it is clear.
Jorge, just the other night I happened upon that other blog with a similar name. I always knew it was out there but purposefully stayed away. I discovered that it really wasn’t much of anything. It hardly even nauseated me. There may be a little milk there, here at SCCL I believe that we have meat, thanks to Shephanie and many of the regular folks that comment…what a blessing. I will say that because you are likely my brother I love you as my brother, however I will also say that you have said some pretty dumb things here, and that you tend to continually say nothing new yet you digging a deeper and deeper hole for yourself. I am thinking that maybe you should take your older brother wisdom and hang out at that other place. Oh, I think you are welcome here but maybe just for your sake you may want to think about that.
Kimmisue, thank you for sharing. Your story above is truly a highlight in this whole conversation. I know that so much of the time I fail to see how God is working so incredibly in spite of His people.



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TH

posted August 20, 2010 at 6:40 pm


Clarification: I expected it (that other place,) to nauseate me.
Correction (or confession:) it is not nice to ask Jorge to stay away, and should/would never be my place. I should not have said that.



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Rachel

posted August 20, 2010 at 7:09 pm


@Kevin
I have a new author to read, thanks to you! I’d never heard of Paul Tillich before.



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Spinning

posted August 20, 2010 at 7:57 pm


@ Sarah and Stephen Charles: just to clarify, when I mentioned “caring for the sick,” I was thinking about practical stuff like helping people get dressed, changing bandages, supplying practical help for folks who can’t get to the grocery store or pharmacy themselves.
Not “healing ministries,” or (imo) charlatans like Benny Hinn.
fwiw, anyhow…



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 8:30 pm


Stephanie,
With all due respect, you weren’t suggesting that this site “terrifies” me (or anyone else, for that matter)? Were you? Because to do so would take a certain degree of hubris that maybe not even Breitbart would possess.
But in the remote chance you were, I would say that the emotion this site evokes in me would not be terror so much as fascination. And sympathy. Because those two things are the products of me having been there and done that.
Maybe I am missing something. Ironically, it seems like you have every freedom on this blog to poke fun, however gently or not, at other people; whether those that wear purity rings or Carrie Prejean yet if someone jabs you back then that is unacceptable. No?
And really it carries over into all that have addressed me here. It’s fine to jab, some might even say mock in certain instances, those Ned Flanders types yet if someone dares come on here with an opposing view then sharpen the knives.
At least that is the perception I’m getting. Where am I wrong?



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 8:48 pm


Everywhere possible, sweetie.



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stephanie drury

posted August 20, 2010 at 8:56 pm


Yikes. I guess Jorge doesn’t want to share any personal experiences, then.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 8:59 pm


Sarah,
With answers like that, perhaps it would be better for me in the future not to make statements that end in question marks which only serve as silver platters for easy condescension rather than real conversation. Okay? Er, I mean, got it? Wait a minute… Period.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 9:03 pm


Stephanie,
In the myriad of posts I have given, I have indeed shared insight to the journey that has taken me to this point of view. But due to the sheer number, I understand why those either got buried or overlooked.
Well, I’ll reset it a bit, then. I have been to hell and back when it comes to the craziness that passes for what some view as Christianity.
Wait, interrupted, I’ll be back later…



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm


That was so easy it almost wasn’t fun. Oh…wait…nope. It was fun.



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Kevin

posted August 20, 2010 at 9:08 pm


Jorge, are you suggesting that only you are allowed an opinion, and that we must all agree because God speaks through your mouth? Or do I get to express my opinion that you do not speak for god, and not everything you say is correct?



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Dave H.

posted August 20, 2010 at 9:17 pm


Hey Stephanie. This blog is an important part of my deeply held Christian faith. I treasure it, and I treasure you. Thank you for it all. Srsly.



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Lee

posted August 20, 2010 at 9:21 pm


Hey Bill,
I had to stop at your comment and I will read the rest later when I have time (I think it’s a record Stephanie!)
I guess it doesn’t really matter overall but I guess it kind of matters to me as my relationship with Jesus is in my heart and I therefore take “my church”, as it were, everywhere I go. For the record, I’m not really necessarily in support of “build big”, but as I was making the post and was about to drop a nasty missive about wasteful spending, it dawned on me that people may have other reasons than power and showing off to build the way the do. An act of mercy on my part :) I guess I was just making an observation is all.
With that said, I think Ancient Greek temples are amazing!
Hope that makes some sort of sense.
reCaptcha: excellee brilliant (If I don’t say so myself – ha ha).



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Kevin

posted August 20, 2010 at 9:24 pm


@Rachel, I’d recommend The Courage to Be. It got me to a place of understanding the desire for faith as a way to handle what Tillich calls “dread”.



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Hollan

posted August 20, 2010 at 9:28 pm


Yeah, yeah-we GET it. Jorge doesn’t think this blog is funny.
Oh well. I guess not everyone has a sense of humor. Maybe their big giant ego gets in the way? Ya’ think?



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Simone

posted August 20, 2010 at 9:52 pm


Jorge – “Maybe I am missing something. Ironically, it seems like you have every freedom on this blog to poke fun, however gently or not, at other people; whether those that wear purity rings or Carrie Prejean yet if someone jabs you back then that is unacceptable. No?”
No-one said it was unacceptable, it’s just that no-one agrees with you. NO-ONE. You’ve come here trying to teach Stephanie something, yet you yourself seem to have learned nothing. You want Stephanie to see your point but you wont see anyone else’s. No-one said the jab was unacceptable.
Jorge – “What are you FOR? We all get what is wrong with Christian Culture. But what is right about Christianity? Mix a little of that in and I think it will only enhance your message.”
So it’s okay to express views in a satirical fashion as long as you come in with a specific message at the end? You say this as though there’s a formula that MUST be adhered to. You also said something about catching more flies with honey than vinegar. Unless I have missed it, I really don’t think you have given any credit to all the flies Stephy has caught doing it this way. Her blog is honey to many people. If she added a preachy message based on her own beliefs, that would be part of the very thing many people are running away from. Are you essentially saying she needs to dumb everything down and make your desired message glaringly obvious? It appears to have done so already.
You appear to be an incredibly narrow minded person. I think this is a waste of your time. Your time would be better spent on your own blog that Stephy’s readers will be bored by in seconds. Your style and your angle just doesn’t work for everyone. Nobody’s does. I don’t know why you don’t understand that. Has anyone said that the style of Steph’s blog is the only way to win people over? No. It just reaches certain people that cannot be reached by your methods.



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Aaran

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:21 pm


Sarah and Spinning
I can see how “meeting people where they’re at” can be the same implicit presupposition the same that swank churches are built upon.
The key is what is driving the church, not whether the needs are ligitamite or whether christians shoud be meeting them.
Ministry is not determined (in the first place) by reading the culture but by reading the Word of God.
The critique of church marketing I linked earlier http://www.darrelldumas.com/selling%20Jesus.htm
Has a section on this, “Strategy # 8: Lots of Love, Little Holiness”
“Holiness fundamentally defines the character of God and love is not an alternative to it but, rather, an expression of it…Holiness is what defines God’s character most fundamentally, and a vision of this holiness should inspire his people and evoke their worship”
“Why has the Church lost sight of God’s holiness and focused almost solely on His love? Most likely it is because the Church realizes that this is what people want to hear.”
As a guess I think that is what Stephen Charles is getting at. It should not downplay ‘loving people where they are at’, but rather inspire it.



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Sarah

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:33 pm


Aaran,
A lot of people get really hung up on holiness. It mystifies me, because what I usually see coming out of that is legalism and gracelessness — a worship of law. I think that’s what’s driving a lot of people to focus more on love. I’m really happy that there’s something going on in our culture that calls more for love, understanding and peace.
God is holy. Okay, great. How is that inspirational when holiness is used to make people feel guilty, ashamed and afraid?



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm


Stephanie,
Okay back to my experience.
Hell and back.
However, I have found peace.
Where there are Christians, even those amped on when the Rapture is going to take them away, Jesus is there, too.
I have found Him in the incense of the Eastern Orthodox Church, the icons of the Russian one, the cathedrals of the Catholic Church, the organ music of the Presbyterian, and here’s the shocker…
I have found Him in the foyer of the FIrst Family Mega Church in suburbia.



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Kevin

posted August 20, 2010 at 10:56 pm


@Simone, beautiful and elegant. I cannot even try to top you.



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Jorge

posted August 20, 2010 at 11:41 pm


Hey Stephanie,
Not that I’m a fascinating figure or anything, but from your analysis of me on Facebook…
You are wrong.
I’ve come out of the establishment and paid a deeper price then I care to tell right now.
Boy, do I have some stories to tell.
But better than that, I personally believe I have some little (maybe even insignificant to others here, probably) gems that have been mined out the depths of pain and refined in the fires of adversity.
I have been in the deepest valley of rejection and on the highest peak of acclaim in Christian circles…sometimes, ironically at the same time.
I know headlines…some singing praise and others that make one want to disappear.
I made a decision. First, to come out of that. And then later, not to be bitter about it.
From my perspective, it seems like you have also chosen the first. But maybe not yet the second.
Don’t let the past be your calling card. Don’t let it define you.
Continue to employ cutting wit. But use the other edge of the sword, called grace, as well.
That’s simply a long winded response to your wrong analysis of who you are sure I am.



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juls

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:01 am


Jorge!
You are so holier than thou! Please stop it’s embarrassing!
thank you



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Sarah

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:09 am


Nice resume, Jorge. Some of those sounded lifted right out of the curriculum vitae of the Apostle Paul.
You sure seem to have some kind of personal thing against Stephy, and she’s been nothing but mild to you. The existence of her blog, and her honest, humble and unapologetic nature, definitely seem to tweak your gourd.
I’m still puzzled as to why you won’t critique Facebook comments…on Facebook. But then you didn’t mention “courageous” among your list of attributes and accomplishments.
If you were really at peace, you wouldn’t give a damn about what Stephy is doing here; you might even make yourself busy fighting battles that actually matter, like, oh, I don’t know, trying to make sure that no one else is hurt the way you say you were hurt, instead of perpetrating the cycle spewing guilt trips and vaguery and pride and superiority over honest people. It’s not all that uncommon for a person to go full circle and become what hurt them, though.
Stephy’s not wrong. You’re the institution. I’d wager you don’t have peace either; you have something more like smugness, and maybe even a tiny bit of defeat trying to dress itself up as triumph. It puts me in mind a little of a beaten woman without any network of healthy support who stays and stays and stays with her abuser and says, and believes, she does it from love and is happy with her decision. It makes me a little sad, especially with how heavy-handed and I-know-better you’ve been with someone who is deeply compassionate and cares very much about “the least of these,” and the little ones that have been hindered from coming to Jesus.
You’re a hinderer right now. And there’s something off about your obsession. It’s that edge of mania to your declarations, I think. Something’s out of balance.



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juls

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:21 am


@Sarah
Yeah I’m thinking JORGE:
a) has been deeply hurt by the Church and deeply represses it
or
b) is a Pastor
or most likely
c) knows Stephanie personally and has a vendetta against her
I’m really betting on “C” after reading all the comments.



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t-man

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:24 am


Jorge,
You wrote: “…and here’s the shocker… I have found Him in the foyer of the FIrst Family Mega Church in suburbia.”
Honestly, I don’t think anyone reading this blog would find that a shocker, either from all that you have posted thus far, or if it came from anyone else who might post such a statement. You should have just said that at the beginning, in your first comment, and left it at that. We all would have got your critique of the blog post and understood that you, like everyone else commenting, is entitled to their opinions – and some people disagree with this blog. It’s really easy to say something like, “I think your blog is funny, but I find it a little too one sided for my taste. I think God can use any kind of church, even the swank mega churches. Personally I have found Him in the foyer of the First Family Mega Church in suburbia. etc. etc.” What a difference such a comment would have made.
The issue is not with your opinion on whether Christian culture has any redeeming elements. Some here think so, others do not. I think the issue is that you are telling the creator of this blog – it is her own blog btw and no one else’s – that she is blogging incorrectly and that you can see right through her PK-ness (as well as you lumping those who disagree with you in with the Pharisees – which, to a well trained Christian’s ears is like saying they’re going to hell unless they repent. Often that approach doesn’t go over well).
There are so many blogs – I think the number is reaching infinity now – that support the popular American Christian subculture – that it’s nice to find one devoted (and I do mean devoted) to having some fun at poking fun at that culture. If this blog has faults, they are rather tame compared to the fun and value of the blog – and I say that from as biblical a viewpoint as I can muster.
The fact is your opinion is okay, its your opinion after all. You can have it. But you must understand that, as far as I can tell, everyone here understood it about a hundred and fifty posts ago. It’s okay if people disagree with you, even vehemently. That’s not a form of censorship btw. But you don’t have to keep hammering it home. It sounds like you believe that no one here gets where you are coming from unless they finally relent and agree with you. And I fear that whatever good intentions you may have had with your first comments has horribly backfired. I don’t sense people here (in all their natural sinfulness of course, myself included) are reacting to your opinions as much as to a deeply felt (probably correctly) oozing of self-righteousness on your part. I say that because your comments seem to increasingly be about you defending you and not the gospel. (And really, it’s better to live the gospel than charge about “defending” it anyway.) Honestly, and not meaning to be snarky, but if you were a missionary and the natives killed you I am not sure God would judge them any harsher than you, but I can’t speak for God. He does work in mysterious ways.
And, from one old guy to another, you should know better than to believe you can come along side someone and put your arm around their shoulders on the Internet, especially in the blog comments forum of a blog like this. People didn’t come here looking for an older brother figure to give them “wise” opinions on Christian culture. Sometimes it’s best to just call it quits, ask for some grace, apologize to anyone who might be offended, and let it be. Heck, even shake off the dust from your sandals and walk away if you feel so justified. Or, better yet, hang around, but maybe hold yourself back from commenting for a while, and just read the blog. If you don’t like it then that’s okay too. There are lots of other blogs.



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Andrew

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:38 am


Well said T-Man!



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Jorge

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:38 am


T-Man,
I hear what you’re saying. Ever since the second post or so, I have simply responded to what people are saying to me. Including the blog owner. The first or second post, sure, if no one responds then it would be senseless to post over and over. People responded, I have done the same, and on and on it has gone. It’s bound to end soon but then again I thought it would have ended long ago. Maybe when the dust settles, both sides might be a little richer from our exchange and dialogue.
Juls and Sarah,
I have to say that you are inferring wayyyy too much into my posts. Sorry. ;)



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Jorge

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:41 am


And tman,
To equate this blog-a-thon gone wild to a missionary being martyred by natives is apples and oranges. You did a some good thoughts in there, though, thanks. I dunno, you do sound a bit older than me, but who knows? :)



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t-man

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:43 am


Jorge,
It might be best if you take a stand and be the one to stop responding first. Just a thought. I’ve heard even saints sometimes just walk away. (Not making any implications, mind you.)



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Jorge

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:49 am


…BTW, a blog is a public forum. Much like a sermon preached from the pulpit is open for critique so is every blog post that is distributed to the public via the internet.
Have you ever heard a sermon you don’t agree with? What if it sucked? Even more, what if it was wrong? Would we all say, “Well, don’t come into this church and critique the pastor’s sermon because it’s HIS pulpit”? Nope. We’d give feedback to our friends at lunch afterwards. Maybe even the more brazen of us might take it to the leadership. How about if you heard a heinous sermon from someone sitting in a gold chair in some studio somewhere? Is it wrong to write and correct? Or is that their TV program and so we have no right to voice our opinion whether we choose that option or not? I think we know the answer.
In other words, public opinions (via blogs, pulpits, radio, tv, whatever) are inherently open to public critique. Even if you don’t agree with mine on it’s merits, I don’t cede that I can’t critique publicly because it is “Stephanie’s blog”.



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Sarah

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:50 am


Re: Jorge: Methinks the [person] doth protest too much. Smiley face seals it.
_____________________
Oh, also, TH, from awhile back, I tried posting a comment to you and it didn’t take (beliefnet is having issues, it seems) — I wanted to say thank you! Your comment was very timely and kind. And yes, I’m the Sarah who comments most frequently on the Facebook page. :) I’ve been enjoying your comments too.



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Jorge

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:51 am


tman,
…and with that, I walk away.



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juls

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:51 am


Hey Jorge,
Did I touch a nerve? So you do know Stephanie don’t you? I knew it!
It all makes sense.
And the dust will never settle with you and I guarantee no one will be the richer.
Have fun talking to yourself.



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Sarah

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:54 am


“it’s” vs. “its”: a handy little guide from a really funny dude.
http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling



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t-man

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:56 am


I’ll admit, the missionary line was a bit over the top.
As for disagreeing with the pastor… they pass a microphone around the congregation after the teaching at the church I (all too infrequently) attend and you can critique the teaching right then and there. I think that’s a great idea, and a blessing. But, of course, we tend to be well behaved. ;)



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Sarah

posted August 21, 2010 at 12:56 am


juls:
((high five!))



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Stephen Charles

posted August 21, 2010 at 1:12 am


Sarah,
Thanks for your apology, and for pushing through. As for humble pie, I can’t say that I see any place where I have need to apologize per se, if that’s what you mean. I like to think I choose my words very carefully, enough that I keep apologies to a bare minimum. I know, that sounds really arrogant. But I don’t think I ever insulted you or implied anything nasty. If you want to point anything out specifically, I’d be glad to re-evaluate.
You asked, with earnest: “How is your understanding of Christianity superior? How do you justify telling people who don’t believe as you do that they’re wrong? What makes Reformed theology ‘correct’? How am I a lesser Christian for not being Reformed?”
You’re right that these can be hard questions to answer, but I will try. I think the first three are pretty similar, while the last one is different. So, as to the first three: I believe that Reformed Christianity is the most biblically and historically faithful expression of the Christian faith. That necessarily means I think it is superior to all other forms. The problem in our modern era is that we are automatically disinclined to any notion that one religious expression is better or superior to another, partly because we have concluded that religious devotion is purely subjective and a matter of personal judgment or taste, tantamount to, say, picking a favorite sports team. Thus, it sounds like the height of arrogance to say that one form of religious expression is superior. As to your third question, I simply don’t recognize my view in the assumption of your question. I make a distinction between formal religious expressions and actual human beings, so while I think other religious expressions are inferior to the Reformed tradition, I do not think other Christians of another tradition are lesser Christians than others. I have close relatives who are of other persuasions (lots of CCers), and I work very hard not to let my baser impulses lead me to unduly impugn their personal piety. My line is that i believe that, in glory, i will be amazed at who I would’ve sworm would be present but who are absent, and at who I would’ve sworn would be absent who are present. For what it’s worth, I really hate it when those within my own tradition think that they can overturn inward stones or play God and speak as if they know who is a member and who is not of the invisible church; I think there are plenty of goats within and sheep without the Reformed church.
You also said: “And it’s still deplorable to say that caring for AIDS patients is in the same vein as liking a coffee bar at church. Good God, man. I’m astonished that you would hold, let alone defend, that position.”
I understand, I used to have the same visceral response to such suggestions. But I really think my point isn’t landing here. I think it may take a lot more dialogue than can be afforded in this space. But let me try this: the church is not called to be the world’s hospital. If she doesn’t treat AIDS patients someone else will. But if she doesn’t hold out the unfettered gospel of God’s reconciliation of himself to sinners nobody else will. The world has many, many legitimate physical needs, from health to statecraft, but the church is not called to meet those. She is only called in the Great Commission to make disciples, to meet their spiritual needs. But also consider this: it cuts both ways. If we disallow for the church to aid and comfort certain sufferers, we also disallow for her to judge and condemn them. So, those who want to tell, for example, AIDS patients that their ailment is God’s judgment on them are just as misguided as those who want the church to help them. Moreover, this isn’t at all to suggest that individual Christians are somehow disallowed to help the suffering. And in fact, there is a lot more of a case to be made for those individuals who want to help to do so than for those who want to judge. In fact, the judgers have absolutely no case for their actions, etc.



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Stephen Charles

posted August 21, 2010 at 1:30 am


Sarah and Spinning, one more important distinction that might help here: the church is indeed called to take care of her own who are suffering. So, Spinning, if you are downgrading what the church is to do from helping the world’s AIDS population to fetching groceries, it really doesn’t change my general point. The church is no more called to help fetch the neighbor’s meat than alleviate the world’s AIDS sufferers. Now, if those folks are family, then, yeah, we are called to help our own in every way. If that sounds cold, think of it this way: do you help your neighbors first, or your own children? And before anybody says “both,” maybe I’m odd but I have my hands full enough taking care of my own family and very little time or resources to help my neighbors kids go to college.
Chrissy, I get it when you say “the Christian life isn’t hard but impossible and his yoke is easy.” But bear with me when I say that that strikes me as overstated and sort of an idealistic piety. There is a Christian life to be lived, and we can’t hide behind platitudes that can tend to give excuse to sober living. Yes, his yoke is easy, but at the same time I don’t think that spirits away the call to obedience.



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stephanie drury

posted August 21, 2010 at 1:30 am


I’m interested in Jorge’s thoughts on what he’ll do when his children are grown and don’t want to attend church. It’s inevitable, and this scares the bejeepers out of Jorge.
Jorge, you’re welcome to link your blog here to foster some discussion on it. Or keep it up here, I appreciate the traffic. We’ve got a $900 electric bill that isn’t gonna suck itself.



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t-man

posted August 21, 2010 at 1:33 am


Okay, the more I think about it I feel I should apologize to Jorge and everyone for the missionary comment I made a few comments ago. I found it humorous at the time, and I believe my meaning underneath its ugly surface is still is valid, but it was inappropriate. And anyway, I had in mind a reference to a vintage and funny Daniel Amos song, which is extremely obscure to say the least. The humor was just way too dark and could be read all wrong by any reasonable person. Sorry.



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Sarah

posted August 21, 2010 at 1:34 am


And your comment that high stakes Christianity isn’t my cup of meat? That wasn’t condescending, unkind and worthy of apology?
I will say to you that it is definitely worthy of apology, and was extremely hurtful.
I’m not surprised by any of your answers, I guess. I’d ask where you get your basis for judging the accuracy of any perspective, particularly interpretation of the Bible, but it would essentially be an argument between modernism and postmodernism, which in a lot of ways are irreconcilable.
I’d rather stick to seeing to the physical and emotional and psychological needs of others and trust the spiritual matters will come up organically. Jesus said to make disciples, yes; he also sent his disciples out to heal the sick and the demon-possessed; he was not commissioning preachers only, but healers. Look at, for example, the Sacrament of the Sick; tradition has long recognize the mandate of the church to heal and care for the suffering in very material ways, as well as mystical.
You’re having some trouble with your argument. In past comments you said that Benny Hinn can be a money-grubbing fiend and that shouldn’t bother me as long as he’s healing people; and now you’re saying I should be glad the church shouldn’t focus on healing people because it makes it harder for them to be fiends to the suffering.



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Sarah

posted August 21, 2010 at 1:38 am


Stephen, Jesus was very clear about loving your neighbor.



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Rachel

posted August 21, 2010 at 1:43 am


@Kevin: (totally disregarding this Jorge craziness)
That’s actually the first book I ordered on my library pull list. After that was Arts and Architecture.



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Kevin

posted August 21, 2010 at 2:55 am


@Rachel. I hope you like it and that you find a way to tell me what you think. It did a lot for me. He has another book (which is only good if you like formal logic or algebra) about his take on a “proper” theological method called “Systematic Theology.”
But be careful, there is a strain of Christian folk who will be livid when you drop Tillich’s name. He was far too accommodating to people like me.
Fair warning.
@everyone-I love this blog because everyone here is gracious and tolerant when there is a disagreeable wanker around. I’ve been that wanker a few times. I feel like all of the best parts of church are right here.



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Spinning

posted August 21, 2010 at 3:01 am


@ Stephen Charles: What Sarah said – no, wait! What Jesus said! (“Love your neighbor as yourself.”)
That includes helping people with groceries and car rides and sitting with them when they’re waiting for biopsy results and helping clean their hosue when they’re too weak and sick from chemo to be able to do it themselves.
As for “who is my neighbor?,” I think Jesus already answered that one, too. Hint: it wasn’t the folks everyone who viewed themselves as holy and righteous. IIRC, they passed by a dying man, even walking on the other side of the road so as to dissociate themselves from him.
As for people with AIDS in the US – back in the 80s, that is – we (the church) shunned them because we were afraid of the disease AND because the vast majority of them were gay men. We even claimed that they were the recipients of God’s judgement for their “immoral lifestyle.” As if we, with our whitewashed sepulchres, were any better!
Talk about hypocrisy, eh?



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Spinning

posted August 21, 2010 at 3:20 am


@ Stephen Charles: What Sarah said – or no, wait, what Jesus said! (“Love your neighbor as yourself.”)
As for “who is my neighbor?,” it seems that Jesus pretty much covered that one, too.
Love is practical. it includes sitting with that neighbor when they’re in fear and trembling re. biopsy results, cleaning up their house when they’re too weak and sick from chemo to be able to do it themselves… and much, much more.
During the 80s, we (the American church) slammed the door on those of our neighbors who were dying of AIDS? Why? Because we were afraid, and because they were mostly gay men. (Who, we said in justification of our inaction, were under God’s judgement for their “immoral lifestyle.”) The problem is: they were our neighbors, and we didn’t do much of anything to help them.
Other example from Jesus’ own word: the separation of the sheep and the goats. “Whatever you did unto the least of these, you did unto me.”
As simple – and as profound – as a cup of cold water, clothing the naked, giving food to the hungry, binding the wounds of a man left for dead by the side of the road.



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Spinning

posted August 21, 2010 at 3:24 am


sorry for the (almost) duplicate comments; the Beliefnet server timed out on me.



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Aaran

posted August 21, 2010 at 3:52 am


Sarah, you said “How is that inspirational when holiness is used to make people feel guilty, ashamed and afraid?” – It shouldn’t. It should help us undersand the love of God and his awsomness. (should and awsome in one sentence) There needs to be the right balance.
to quote some more:
“It is this holiness of God, without which the Cross of Christ is incomprehensible, that provides the light that exposes modernity’s darkness for what it is…God’s holiness is fundamental to who he is and what he has done. And the key to it all has been the loss of God’s otherness, not least in his holiness, beneath the forms of modern piety. Evangelicals turned from focusing on God’s transcendence to focusing on his immanence—and then they took the further step of interpreting his immanence as friendliness with modernity…The loss of the traditional vision of God as holy is now manifested everywhere in the evangelical world. It is the key to understanding why sin and grace have become such empty terms…Divorced from the holiness of God, our worship becomes mere entertainment…It is this God, majestic and holy in his being, this God whose love knows no bounds because his holiness knows no limits, who has disappeared from the modern evangelical world. He has been replaced in many quarters by a God who is slick and slack…whose Church is a mall in which the religious, their pockets filled with the coin of need, do their business. We seek happiness, not righteousness. We want to be fulfilled, not filled. We are interested in satisfaction, not a holy dissatisfaction with all that is wrong.”
It is a holy dissatisfaction with all that is wrong tha inspires christians to genuinely want to fight injustice.
Is it just me or is the captcha getting harder: claurece 60(5):



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Stephen Charles

posted August 21, 2010 at 10:15 am


Sarah,
Re the high stakes remark, it was a way of playing hardball, not lowball, which admittedly can be a fine line. I’m sorry for playing hard with you. I’ll try to play softer, but I thought you were up for a harder conversation.
You said: “You’re having some trouble with your argument. In past comments you said that Benny Hinn can be a money-grubbing fiend and that shouldn’t bother me as long as he’s healing people; and now you’re saying I should be glad the church shouldn’t focus on healing people because it makes it harder for them to be fiends to the suffering.”
What I said was that you seem to make the argument that the church’s role is to care for the world’s sick. Benny does that pretty well by healing folks. You then begrudge him for being out for cash. This isn’t a defense of Benny Hinn (I’m old school Reformed remember), but it is a way of giving your claim about the church’s calling a test case. If healing the sick is what the church is all about then who cares if Benny likes nice suits and his own jet?
But I’ve also pointed to Scripture to make my argument for just what the church is supposed to do (i.e. the Great Commission: make disciples, baptize and teach to obey everything Jesus commanded). What Scripture do you have for the notion that the church is tasked with healing the world? Yes, it’s true that he sent his disciples out to heal the sick and demon-possessed, but the Reformed tradition teaches something called cessationism, meaning these extraordinary gifts died out with the disciples. We now are tasked with the ordinary things.



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Meghan

posted August 21, 2010 at 1:18 pm


So, swanky church buildings. I grew up in a church that always had one of those giant industrial coffee dispensers, the kind where you dump in like 4 cups of grounds (or those Folgers flavor crystal things) and it brews while everyone’s enjoying the service and then afterward you come out and eat store-brand sandwich cookies (I’d say Oreos, but come on, Oreos were not in the church budget) and everyone could drink their free, crap coffee with powdered creamer and fellowship.
Coming from that perspective, where the point was not glamour or quality coffee, but providing a free, potable service around which people could gather and talk about the sermon and get to know one another, it’s hard for me to understand the churches who put up their ‘Godbucks’ stands and still charge folks $4 for a latte, and who consistently promote an image of wealth and prosperity as their church’s ideal. It’s alienating to “the least of these,” financially speaking, and it pulls from a very secular concept of marketing, which INTENDS to create an aura of exclusivity around a product. I just worry that these churches gear themselves toward a high-income congregant (“seeker friendly” as long as the seeker is in a certain tax bracket) and can be prohibitive to those who don’t HAVE wealth. It’s kind of not seeker-friendly if it’s prohibitive to seekers who aren’t high income, is it?
I guess that’s the problem I have with these ultra-swank churches. They think the message they’re sending is one of quality and stability, but the message they’re often really sending is one of superiority and unattainable (worldly) goals. Once in Bible college, I had a similar discussion with a friend who said, “Well, don’t the wealthy people need to be reached, too? Maybe they won’t feel comfortable going into a church that looks POOR.” What do you say to something like that? Somehow, reading the Gospels, I didn’t see Jesus too concerned about preserving the comfort level of anybody, and certainly not on the basis of their wealth. I see him tell the rich man to give up his possessions if he wishes to follow Jesus, and I see him repeatedly admonish us to help and welcome the poor.
There just seems to be a big inconsistency here.



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Billy

posted August 21, 2010 at 2:34 pm


Holy crap, 185 comments!! As one whose comments are generally not liked by some of this blogs subscribers, I would have to say that Jorge is way ahead of the curve at holding his own here. Not bad considering it’s like 57 verses Jorge.



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Sarah

posted August 21, 2010 at 3:35 pm


Okay, Stephen, clearly you need someone to interpret you back to yourself, because you’re having trouble grasping a few things. So let me translate one or two of your statements.
1. “Maybe high stakes Christianity isn’t your cup of meat.”
Translation: My Christianity is high stakes Christianity. You don’t belong to it, and you’re not up to it. You’re a lesser Christian. I’m a better Christian than you, and I’m judging you for disagreeing with my principles.
2. “Re the high stakes remark, it was a way of playing hardball, not lowball, which admittedly can be a fine line. I’m sorry for playing hard with you. I’ll try to play softer, but I thought you were up for a harder conversation.”
Translation: I don’t think I said or did anything wrong, so I’ll apologize for your hyper-sensitivity. I’ll try to take your handicap into account in the future, but I’m disappointed in you.
That was a highly inappropriate apology. I will forgive you, but I do not accept your apology. You very neatly turned your error into my problem. Clearly you have a pretty brittle ego, and I’m fairly certain that a good part of your “I rarely do anything to apologize for” mentality is born of the severity you attribute to God, who is harsh and unyielding when it comes to sin; so you justify mistakes, errors, omissions, commissions and sins that can be argued into not being sins so that you have nothing to be forgiven for and nothing to confess. And when you apologize, you do so in such a way as to lead the trespassed-upon party to feel ashamed of themselves for being hurt by you. I’ve had a lot of those kinds of apologies in the past, and I’ve made a lot of those kinds of apologies, and I can categorically say that there is nothing humble, contrite or loving in such a manner of conduct; it’s all about making yourself appear to have no blame.
Your style isn’t “hardball.” It is judgmental, underhanded and rude, and lacks love. I can understand where you’re coming from – I’ve been there, and I’ve done that, for a long, long time. Coming away from self-justification and a need to be right – coming away from fear and insecurity and a need for answers, and moving into love and assurance and the openness of questions – is a long and scary road. I’m a long ways away from arriving. And I understand where you’re coming from.
That doesn’t make you any less impossible to talk to.



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Stephen Charles

posted August 21, 2010 at 4:31 pm


Ok, Sarah, it seems to me that you’ve decided a priori that whatever I say is just never quite good enough. You’ll understand how I think that makes for a fairly impossible conversation. And, since your last comment has nothing to do with the point on the table and everything to do with my apparent inadequencies, it seems to me that you also have decided that you are much more interested in making this some sort of personal exchange. Sorry, but I guess I’m just not interested in that sort of thing. Maybe it’s my own fault for pointing out what I considered some of your abrasiveness and implicit judgmentalism when I should’ve just let it go.
Anyway, thanks for this much. It was enjoyable as far as it went. Maybe we can gang up on purity balls and stuff again sometime. Feel free to have the last word, something else I’m not very interested in.



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stephanie drury

posted August 21, 2010 at 4:38 pm


Except that whenever a Christian is discussing something with someone, it is first and foremost a personal exchange. And especially when they’re discussing theology, of all things.



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Chrissy

posted August 21, 2010 at 6:26 pm


Jorge? Are you still here? You said you’re old. How old are you? I’m just curious. I’m 28.



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Eli

posted August 21, 2010 at 8:05 pm


Meghan, I agree with the thoughts you’ve brought up. It is frustrating. Not to mention unbiblical.
James 2:2 – “For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention ot the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?”
Also, Stephen, take note of this one: James 2:15 – “if a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.”
Just a thought. But honestly, how about we give up the fighting? It seems to have reached a point where no one will concede or get to a point of agreeing with one another. Unfortunately.



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stephanie drury

posted August 21, 2010 at 9:15 pm


Chrissy, he might be languishing in the deepest valley of rejection or on the highest peak of acclaim in Christian circles. Perhaps, ironically, at the same time.



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Sarah

posted August 21, 2010 at 9:47 pm


I’m cool with putting up the swords with you, Stephen.



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Sarah

posted August 21, 2010 at 9:56 pm


(By which I mean laying down arms.)



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Lee

posted August 21, 2010 at 11:02 pm


Lol, Sarah. Glad you clarified. For a second there, I thought you were asking Stephen to step outside :)



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Cherí

posted August 22, 2010 at 1:34 am


Well, I got about halfway through the comment thread (very interesting and thought provoking…humbling as well) and decided I wanted to add just a couple of things on the original post.
First, I hate jumbotrons. I hate “dynamic backgrounds” for the words on the screen (wheat blowing in the wind, ocean waves on a loop, etc.). I hate all the fancy lighting, the pretty posters, the weekly “worship folder” (or whatever they’re calling it these days) printed in expensive color ink. Maybe I’m just a prideful elitist, but all that shit is EMPTY. Meaningless. Fluff. Etc.
The church in which I’ve felt most at home had threadbare, fold-down theater-type seats and worn orange carpet that was repaired in spots with orange duct tape. I love the orange carpet. I loved that the Eucharist was served every Sunday, not just a couple of times a year so that people could be reminded of how reverent they’re supposed to be now and then. And the people. Kids who could not sit still, yet were not a distraction. An old man who muttered in the back while the pastor (and congregation) prayed. Hymns sung in French drifting in from another sanctuary under the same roof where people worshipped in their own language (this church has seven different language congregations, which all meet together periodically).
Okay, now I’m gushing. But that’s what one does about someone one loves…and I do love this community. The things I’ve highlighted are what it was about for me…the run-down appearance of this church show that its mission is not a five-star rating in a tourist’s handbook, but relationships with people in need first of all. The big expensive churches have hollow halls they fill with hollow people. But maybe that is just a bit harsh.
Okay, okay, really I’m done.



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Rachel

posted August 22, 2010 at 1:37 am


@ Kevin
“But be careful, there is a strain of Christian folk who will be livid when you drop Tillich’s name. He was far too accommodating to people like me.”
Oh, good, then he’ll be accommodating to people like me too. :D
@Meghan
Great observations, I hadn’t quite thought of it that way. I love my crappy coffee.



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Stephen Charles

posted August 22, 2010 at 12:34 pm


Eli, you said:
“Also, Stephen, take note of this one: James 2:15 – ‘if a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,’ and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.’”
I’ve tried to make the point that showing charity is indeed a Christian virtue. But the question on the table has to do with the principle mission of the church: is it to broker temporal salve or eternal life? My answer is the latter. But that doesn’t mean charity is in any way out the window. I’ll see James and raise you Galatians:
“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”
Emphasis on that last part, about charity being shown all but especially to the household of faith, which coincides nicely with your James quote which seems to have “brothers and sisters” in mind, not those outside the church. My point here is that before we go off half-cocked in response to CC meeting the trivial felt needs of people and declare that the church’s mission is actually to meet the more significant felt needs, the are some important questions to consider.
Stephy, yes, discussing with others can be said to be “personal” (Christian or not), but by “personal” I simply mean that some here seem to want to get bogged down in the relative particularities of discourse, as in “Hey, you just rolled your eyes at me. That’s mean, say you’re sorry or I’ll roll mine back and blame you.” Oy. If arrogant American notions of saving the world are translated into what ecclesiastical ethics should be, American sensibilities that give us the culture of the offended plague our discourse. It’s this same touchiness that lays behind all the whining I hear from my evangie family when I enthusiastically post stuff on FB from SCCL: “Hey, you’re being sarcastic about us. That makes my tummy hurt, you jerk.” Can everyone please just grow a pair?



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Sarah

posted August 22, 2010 at 1:44 pm


@Stephen: That sounded kind of like a last word to me. Also a tad touchy.
Humanity, which includes emotions and emotional responsiveness, is always part of any discourse. This does actually make the delivery important. If you’re consistently pissing people off, it’s probably not the fault of everyone else. The Reformed tradition is contemplative and soberly self-examining, right? That requires some self-honesty.
Also, when something spoken is offensive, people will get offended. There is legitimate offensiveness/offendedness and illegitimate offensiveness/offendedness. Demeaning people is legitimately offensive. It’s hard to blame people for getting upset when someone says something along those lines — yourself included, of course; you display your own share of offendedness when people, such as myself, are legitimately offensive to you. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It calls for the other party to examine him/herself and apologize, even when the offense was unintentional. It’s not ball-less to call someone out on being legitimately offensive, as you yourself have done. It could, however, be considered ball-less not to admit to being wrong.
That being said, perhaps we can agree that there are (at least) two camps to the primary subject being discussed in response to this blog post. To one camp, saving souls is what matters most, and other forms of love, including meeting physical, emotional and psychological needs, are secondary. To another camp, the other forms of love are manifestations of concern for a person’s soul, and cannot be divided from or subordinated to that concern.
I prefer the second camp, not least because it’s inconvenient, unappealing and difficult, and I find that most of what Jesus and Paul commanded goes against the ease of self-interest. Also, it’s open-ended and undefined, which allows for a more organic realization of what is true. (That last might be one of the very things you strongly object to, and that’s fine. The body of Christ is only supposed to be uniform in the mutual love between its members and its commitment to Jesus and truth, which can take many forms.)
And in the show business of the megachurch environment, I find that they pretend to place themselves in the second camp, but are secret members of the first. I’m not saying the first camp is bad, either. But the double-agent aura of the megachurch culture is repulsive.
@Cheri: That was beautiful, and strikes a really deep chord. I’m glad you’ve found a place where people are attuned to what matters, and where you feel safe and at home. Your comment gives me hope.



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Eli

posted August 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm


Stepehn,
I see what you’re saying (I think). But to say that those in the body of believers are most important seems to go against who Jesus is. He talked about not showing partiality. He used a parable to demonstrate who one’s neigbor was & what loving them looked like. That parable being The Good Samaritan. Those men were not part of the same body. The point was not to look at the person dying on the side of the road and say: hm. are they part of the church? No? Well, then I’m too busy to help them.
I realize that you probably do not go to that extreme. Not attempting offense. However, to say that we only care for other believers is a bit ludicris.
And I suppose I read the James passage a bit differently, in that I see it saying: If we give people good news or good words, they aren’t going to listen, it isn’t going to help them if we leave their physical needs unmet.
For one, helping with the physical aspects shows them they are loved & have value. The hope, of course is that it would lead them to want to know who this Jesus is. But whether or not it does, it IS following to love the least of these.
Granted, I don’t think everyone in every season of their lives must do this in the same way. That is also silly. But sometimes, it is just noticing the people around you as you go about your day, and showing compassion in how you interact. Doing what is in your power to show love tangibly to the people around you. Yes, sometimes more sacrifice is asked of us. But, say, for a mom who stays home with her kids all day, that limits the things she can drop (her kids do need her for that time period, after all).
I suppose my point is that I don’t think it should be us who determines what our neighbor should be called to do or not. I don’t think I should point fingers if my neighbor needs to care for others in a different way than me at this time in their life. But I WILL get frustrated when I see people preaching on corners. NO one will hear them, their assumptions (that everyone there doesn’t know Jesus & that them telling them how they are going to hell is going to make them want to) are just making asses of them, and people (including me) are just going to get irritated. Getting to know people, loving them where they are at, letting Jesus be Jesus to them, is more important.
I can’t tell from your response if your thought is one of “the believers are more important to care for than the unbelievers.” If it is, I disagree. But, you know what? That is okay. I don’t think that by a discussion on here that either of us will change one another’s minds. It IS interesting to discuss thoughts & see where one another is coming from, however.



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Eli

posted August 22, 2010 at 5:03 pm


Oops! Sorry Stephen, I accidentally typed faster than I thought when typing out your name, it appears! It was quite unintentional.



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Bill

posted August 22, 2010 at 10:26 pm


Lee: I seem to be coming late to the party, but as a quick note: I didn’t mean to imply that you were in support of “building big”, and certainly did not mean to put words in your mouth, so if I did, I apologize.
I just felt that your statement “Or maybe people feel the need to “build big” to make an outward show of their love for what they consider the devine” to be, in the context of this post and discussion, to be an excellent restatement of “where your treasure is, there your heart is also”. Kevin’s followup pointing out the WAY it’s spent also matters only adds to it. Since they are buildings bound in the temporal, both might be misspends from one perspective or other; but hundreds of years later, the building that’s meant to point to God will almost certainly remain more poignant than the one built to increase attendance. Neither may ultimately be of the kingdom of heaven so much as Cheri’s orange carpet, but there it is: the problem of a divided soul who must act in this world.
Kimmisue: thanks for keeping us on track. “God found me anyway and he took that opportunity to minister to me in spite of myself.” We all would each be better off the more often we remember it; thank you for saying it so directly.



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Lee

posted August 22, 2010 at 11:04 pm


Hey ya Bill,
Oh no, I didn’t feel like you put words in my mouth, so no need to apologize :)
I like your comment, in particular, “the building that’s meant to point to God will almost certainly remain more poignant than one built to increase attendance”. Indeed.



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stephanie drury

posted August 23, 2010 at 1:56 pm


I wonder if Jorge was actually Rep. Louis Gohmert. Jorge’s discussion style is eerily similar to Gohmert’s in this clip.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQVfQCpYocQ&feature=player_embedded



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Still Breathing

posted August 23, 2010 at 2:47 pm


Meanwhile back at the swank churches theme I came across this in the Baptist Times (a UK weekly paper) this morning:-
When you are in a church you don’t know observe what’s going on and ask the following 3 questions:
What matters here?
Does God matter here?
Does what matters to God matter her?



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Sarah J

posted August 23, 2010 at 3:02 pm


Having read this string of comments with much interest, I am led to confession. I have a judgmental spirit, especially when it comes to judging those I deem “intolerant,” “misguided,” or “hypocritical.” I am easily offended and easily provoked by what I see as ignorance coupled with arrogance. I am also enamored of my own voice, particularly when wrestling with some age-old problem with which others, many of whom are/were wiser and more gracious than I, have already wrestled. My inherent and self-posed limitations prevent me from seeing clearly; the biggest obstacle to clarity of vision is pride. BUT, “the soul’s progress it toward God” (paraphrasing St. John of the Cross), so thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift, thanks be to God for each soul who engages in these conversations and wrestles with the great mystery.



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Andrea

posted August 24, 2010 at 1:14 pm


I understand some of the reasons for megachurches. I mean, if you have a larger facility, you can serve more people, right? And people need to feel like their children are safe and well cared for when they attend a service.
What I don’t understand is the focus on serving the middle to upper class in society that necessitates the huge buildings, super-hip furniture and artwork, without an accompanying focus on serving the poor and needy.
It’s a tenuous line to walk, trying to facilitate a welcoming environment for new members and simultaneously serving those who the middle to upper class like to ignore. It kind of makes me wonder who Jesus would have focused on “more,” or whether he would have assigned different disciples to work with different groups.
Does anyone have any more insight on this?



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justanatheist

posted August 25, 2010 at 3:49 pm


This thread has been most interesting. I usually never leave comments but I just want to say that I ended my Christian faith at a mega-evangelical church. They spent way too much time and money on their own. The youth pastor wanted to be the next Rick Warren which was appalling to say the least. The youth wanted to make a difference (I was a youth group leader) but it just never happened. They grew so weary of hearing “it” but never practicing “it”. I am glad that it did make a difference to the person above who tried to hide so perhaps it has its positives but to non-Christians it just perpetuates the myth(?) that churches are in it for the money.
Stephen, All I can say is wow! There just aren’t enough words……



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Sensible Joe

posted August 25, 2010 at 7:28 pm


Jorge: I don’t think Stephanie is negative about Christianity at all. And I do think she is positive about it and quite a few other things, too. What she is negative about is something that poses as Christianity, but is really just religious self-validation of contemporary affluent, suburban, middle-class American politics, economics and culture, which are more often than not at odds with the actual values of Jesus Christ’s gospel. And that’s something that deserve to have a spotlight shone on it.



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David

posted August 30, 2010 at 12:55 pm


This entire discussion — the bickering, the accusations, the claims of moral superiority — has been a perfect illustration of why I left the church.



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Sarah

posted August 31, 2010 at 9:31 am


I can only speak for myself, and it certainly wasn’t my finest hour.
Stephen, I want to apologize. You’re welcome to think whatever you like about me and my Christianity. Howevermuch I disagree with your theology and your methods, I don’t need to take anything you say personally, even if what you say is personally meant. My response to you is all on me. If you believe that this is the kind of Christian God means you to be, how I can expect you to be any different from the way you are? You’re doing the best you know how. So am I. So are we all.
And who knows – maybe in time you’ll see things differently. I’m sure in time I will, since life is all about growth and change, and that process never stops. What matters is peace, internal and interrelational. I wasn’t an agent of that peace, and I certainly wasn’t an agent of love, and for that I’m sorry.



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Lorelei

posted September 5, 2010 at 1:25 am


glad i got here after the shitstorm. stephanie, i love you and this blog. i come here on bad days to cheer me up.
i love how when you point out an actual, very HUGE AND BIG PROBLEM with many sects of the church, which is the the disdain for poor people and the desire for them to disappear, it turns into STEPHANIE YOU’RE A BIG MEANIE.
no-one wants to confront this issue, do they?
it’s what i could never stand about churches. your food drives are very symbolic and all, but maybe you shouldn’t contribute to the system of greed by making an idol of a structure for fuck’s sake.
anyway, just wanted to say you’re awesome for bringing this up and i’m sorry people are so busy not confronting these issues that they think it’d be better to just yell at you! *hug if you want one*



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Sideshow Bill

posted September 15, 2010 at 6:03 pm


I used to live next to the original location of the new spring church, and boy am I glad they moved into the old Publix grocery store. Of course I hated to see the Publix move, but I really enjoyed sleeping in.



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Skitzo Leezra

posted September 19, 2010 at 4:40 pm


Jorge is a boor and a bore.
He is the black hole of attention.
The very hubris of a commenter to demand the blog creator to write something just for their own personal validation! The entire thread was too blathersome for me to tolerate. Another’s comment may have made my very point but I just couldn’t take any more of Jorge’s pathetically needy cry for notice.
Thanking GOD I am not at a party with him
and can simply sign off to cease the Jorge garbage,
I am,
SkitzoLeezra



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