Notes and Questions to the Christian Church:
1. Why is it so hard for you to accept that the Bible DOES have some metaphorical imagery in it? Some things are not meant to be taken literally, and it baffles me that you want all of it to be real…especially the stuff that isn’t. Now, I’m not saying miracles didn’t happen, and I’m not saying the advent of Christ is a hoax…I’m just saying that your interpretation of the book of Revelation may not be accurate…and that Song of Songs is just a step away from being porn.
2. You know that really popular Christian band? The one everyone’s nuts about? The one you’ve got every record for, and who you’d crap your pants if the singer said hello to you? Yeah…that really popular Christian band? No one in the real world has ever heard of them. (I first figured this out in about 1997/98 when I went to a teen conference and the Newsboys played. The conference leaders came out onto the stage the next day and they were talking about how they thought the Newsboys were going to generate a lot of ticket sales from within the community and play a sold out show. Because that didn’t happen–the place was probably only 1/4 to 1/3 full–they were severely over budget. They’d thought the concert was going to pay for the conference. So they asked for a “special collection” so the “work of God” could continue the next year and they wouldn’t have to shut down. Know what? I didn’t give. I’m not going to pay for someone else’s mismanagement when it hinges solely on the popularity of a would-be-big band. And I even LIKED the Newsboys!)
3. It’s great that you pray for people…but have you considered helping them?
4. Most people don’t know or care what a textual variant is…and no one cares about ancient Greek.
5. You opening up the church for a football night doesn’t make you “cool.” Go ahead and do it…but don’t think you’re doing anything radical and ground-breaking…the people who’re going to come to it are probably already Christians…and if they’re not, they’re not likely to find Jesus by watching the Rams lose.
6. Homosexuality is the last Civil Rights issue. You’re going to have to live with that. I realize that I’m speaking to people who are still unsure if the Bible justifies women voting…but seriously… You’re going to have to catch up here. There ARE women, blacks, and gays in your church. You need to minister to them, not shun them.
7. It’s okay to be a Democrat. We’re awesome.
8. It’s okay to love Jesus but still say words that would get censored on TV. By your own standard of Bible translation, you admit that words are open to subjectivity and can be stretched to mean different things… Why can “agape” mean “love,” but words like the “s” or “f” word just HAVE to be offensive? To some people they aren’t. To others…you probably shouldn’t read my blog. (I reign it in most of the time…but sometimes a guy’s just gotta curse. Sometimes, there’s just a poetic effect you can’t get by being “polite.”)
9. The system of having “elders” seems a little bit outdated and broken. It could be saved…but it needs to be revamped. Just doesn’t make sense for volunteers who don’t spend more than a couple of hours a week thinking about the church to be the guys running it. Isn’t that why you have paid staff? Maybe THEY should serve as your elders? Hmm?
10. That “water canopy” theory you have to explain away things like the extended age of those in the Bible, evolution, the separation of the land masses, and so forth? Sounds absolutely ridiculous. Sorry…but you have absolutely no good evidence for that one…which leads to #11.
11. Evolution IS possible. It’s not a flawless theory, and it IS just a theory…parts of it are probably wrong and some of it sounds at least as insane as that “canopy” thing I was just talking about. But it’s at LEAST as probable as the earth being formed out of nothing based on the whim of an invisible man in the sky, y’know? Just saying…
12. Billy Graham must be stopped.
13. Max Lucado’s okay…but he’s not as good as Nick Hornby.
You do some good as well, don’t misread me. Here are some compliments for you, too.
1. I like a lot of your hymns. Some of the praise-choruses get on my nerves, but I dig the old, well-constructed hymns. There’s some real musicianship in those.
2. It’s nice that most of you seem to be supportive of your youth-groups.
3. You were in Africa long before Bono, Madonna, Oprah, or Angelina thought of it. Good job trend-setting. (Well…unless you’re somehow responsible for Oprah…then I declare a pox upon you.)
4. I really liked Rich Mullins. This is contrary to my earlier thoughts about “popular” Christian acts…but at least I know most people have never heard of him. He was good. I miss him.
5. I love the crackers and juice time you have midway through the service. Wish the portions were a little bigger, but still…pretty tasty! That take-a-penny-leave-a-penny plate you pass around is pretty nice, too.
6. Some of you do work with other churches in your neighborhoods and serve as sister-sites. That’s pretty cool. It’s nice to see churches supporting one another and not acting like their own building is somehow “better” than another. I’m hoping that catches on.
7. The Bible’s a pretty good read. Gets a little preachy…but Lamentations is pretty nuts. Well
8. At least your existence has made for some pretty interesting National Geographic specials. That’s alright.
9. Thought it was awesome when the Pope apologized for the Holocaust that one time. Then he died…that wasn’t as awesome…but at least he seemed like a nice enough guy. (I realize that’s the Catholics…but as a true reformer, I make no distinction between branches of Christianity and accept all believers. So there.)
10. Good job dealing with 9/11 a few years ago…most of you…
11. Prayer is freeing…even if it doesn’t always seem directly helpful, at least it’s nice to be able to say what’s on your mind and know someone’s listening. (I know you’re not the only ones who do that…but I do happen to think you’re praying to the right person…so…)
12. I know this is going to sound like a criticism, but it’s not… From being on the inside, I learned what NOT to do in business dealings. That’s been valuable.
13. I deal with your young-people who want to go into ministry every day. Let’s face it, there are a few real duds out there… But when I see one who actually cares and really has a GOOD heart, it’s uplifting. There are apparently at least a few churches out there producing good people who want to minister–REALLY minister–to others. That does me well to see. I only hope the weight of the world doesn’t take that from them…and I hope they find themselves in GOOD churches that don’t suck the passion for the job out of them. In other words, I hope they don’t make some of the same mistakes that many of my friends, and I myself, have made. Good on ya’ for raising up those kids…do your best to keep fostering that in them now that they’re in Bible College…don’t just abandon them to the colleges and hope for the best.
That’s it for now…just kinda been kicking around some of that lately.
Elvis and the Stones. (Y’know…each on their own…not like TOGETHER.)