Tag Archives: christians

Christians Demand Retailer Lip Service

Happy Eid al-Adha from Best BuyJust what you always needed—a web site to show you which retailers will wish you a hearty “Merry Christmas” while taking your money and which ones are heathen bastards and say something sinful like “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Holidays”. It’s the lastest effort from Focus on the Family: Stand for Christmas. The site guages how “Christmas-friendly” retailers are with a user-generated rating and comment system.

For example, you know those heathens at Best Buy are hell-bound with their 9% friendly rating and devilish 77% offensive rating. That’s what they get for wishing Muslims a happy Eid al-Adha. And you can take comfort in WalMart’s 63% friendly rating and low 13% offensive rating (nevermind the continual questions about WalMart’s human rights abuses—another issue for another day).

I’m not even sure where to start. I think what disappoints me the most is that this is perhaps the least Christ-like way to celebrate Christmas. I don’t think brow-beating and threatening retailers with my dollars unless they pay lip service to my religion is a very Christ-like approach. It seems like Jesus would have intentionally shopped with the heathens.

Assuming Jesus would have shopped. The consumer-centric approach is even more baffling. One of their news reports even notes that promoting Christmas by name is good for business (PDF). Seems like we need an Advent Conspiracy. Instead of letting retailers feel our righteous wrath by spending our dollars elsewhere, maybe we should stop the spending entirely. Maybe we should focus on spreading the message that Christmas isn’t about shopping. Maybe we should find more productive ways to focus our energy at Christmas. After all, 76% of adults who rather receive a Christmas gift that helps someone else instead of another sweater or DVD player. Our culture doesn’t care so much about the lip service of saying “Merry Christmas”—instead they’re yearning for some actual meaning in Christmas.

God forbid a business seeks to acknowledge the many faiths and beliefs represented among its customers, whether we’re talking a specific “Happy Christmas/Hanukkah/Eid/what-have-you,” or a generic “Happy Holidays.” Is that really worth getting worked up about? Should I really be holding it against my Muslim/Jewish/atheist friends for not saying “Merry Christmas”? That seems kind of petty. Especially when they pitch it as being “more inclusive and respectful” (read the comments on Best Buy and tell me that’s an inclusive and respectful tone).

I’m not alone. One columnist said this kind of effort gives Christmas a bad name, and as if to prove it Wonkette weighs in with easy swipes at “wingnut” Christians. Then again, there’s also the folks putting words in Jesus’ mouth—and then putting them on a billboard. Ug. It doesn’t end.

Being obsessed with retailer lip service is not what Christmas is about. There are better ways to put the ‘Christ’ back in ‘Christmas,’ and they don’t start with shopping.

Update: Pocket Guider Jason Boyett writes a similar piece that says much the same thing in more detail and better. Plus he’s got 35 comments and counting.

Now That’s Funny: Christian Chirp

The Christian Alternative To TwitterIf you haven’t heard about it yet, Christian Chirp is a new Christian alternative to Twitter.

In and of itself, that’s funny. I’ll let you revel in it.

Now go look at the site. It’s down right now because of a massive attack (screenshot). Must be the persecution of the last days.

No seriously. That’s what founder James L. Paris blamed the attack on. That’s funny.

The mustachioed Paris has a Twitter account. And a financial advice site called Christian Money.

That’s funny, too.

Then there’s Christian author and humorist Matthew Paul Turner who discovered Christian Chirp and went from incredulous to curious to #1 chirper to deleted in less than 24 hours.

That’s funny. If you like Turner’s irreverent take on faith, you’ll love his skewering of Joel Osteen.

Then Michael Hyatt, CEO of the Christian publisher Thomas Nelson made a comment about Chirper being a Christian ghetto, prompting multiple responses from Paris.

Christian media “mogul” cat fight. That’s kind of funny.

Paris’ best insult? Pointing out Hyatt’s publishing history, which includes a trio of Y2K survival books (one is a novel!).

OK, no disrespect to Hyatt, but that’s hilarious.

When it gets less funny is this blog post, the Truth about James L. Paris and Christian Chirp, alleging that he lied about being banned from Twitter (part of the ethos of Christian Chirp), that he censors Chirp content and that he was indicted for securities fraud. The comments get even uglier as Paris himself shows up to argue the charges.

Oh, Christians. And we wonder why people think we’re so weird (I mean persecuted). Musician and rabble-rouser Justin McRoberts has a good take on Christian Chirp. It’s not ha-ha funny, but it’s good.

Politics is Like Trying to Cure Cancer with Ointment

The last 24 hours have probably been some of the most historic 24 hours of politics in a long time. Barack Obama officially accepted the nomination of the Democratic Party with a stirring speech last night in Denver, making him the first African American presidential nominee in U.S. history. And today John McCain announced that Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin would be his running mate, making Palin only the second female vice presidential nominee from a major party in history. No matter who wins in November, history will be made.

I find myself caught up in the excitement—and rightly so; it is historic and ground-breaking and that has personal implications for me—but I’ve been reminded by several people that politics is not everything. As one friend said, “I freaking hate politics. It’s all trying to cure cancer with ointment.”

Even as politics enters uncharted, historic territory and is worth being excited about, I think it’s worth remembering that there are more important things.
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Rapture Notification System

I saw this mentioned earlier this week but didn’t pay any attention to it until I saw the url: http://www.youvebeenleftbehind.com.

For $40 per year you can join a rapture notification system that will notify your heathen friends and family that Jesus has returned and taken you back to heaven with him and those punk sinners have a second chance:

We have set up a system to send documents by the email, to the addresses you provide, 6 days after the “Rapture” of the Church. This occurs when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system.

Wow. I know Christians are wacky, but come on. All that’s missing is the Timothy LaHaye endorsement, maybe a free copy of Left Behind when you sign up.

My favorite part is that the whole thing is triggered when their team members fail to log in. I can just see the rapture false alarms that will cause untold panic (and laughter). Or perhaps “This is a test of the emergency rapture system…”

(link via wide_awake)

Christians Like to Whine

Sometimes I think Christians are all about whining. Look at me, I’m a Christian, and here I am whining. Christians seem to spend more time whining about the things they don’t like than actually doing something to remedy what it is they don’t like. The country is in terrible shape. But rather than run for president, we complain about it. Abortion is rampant, but rather than influencing young women who are most likely to turn to abortion, Christians picket and put bumper stickers on their cars.

It’s become most apparent to me in television. Christians are constantly bemoaning the lack of moral choices while channel surfing. There’s never anything decent on, so the whining starts up again (of course the other side of the coin is that although Christians complain, they go ahead and hypocritically watch the crap anyway). But what I find amazing is that when decent alternatives are offered, Christians hardly bat an eye.

Four times a year the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association buys primetime TV slots in virtually every market across the U.S. and Canada. Three of those times they air two, hour-long re-broadcasts of recent Billy Graham Crusades. They usually feature several songs by different artists and then a message by Billy Graham himself. They’re hyped up church services, piped into your living room on the major channels. We’re not talking about the crummy Christian cable or satellite networks here, we’re talking major network affiliates. And once a year the BGEA buys air time to show one of their World Wide Pictures movies, films that quality-wise are very decent made-for-TV movies. Not only does the Association purchase all this expensive air-time four times a year, but they also put in a response mechanism. 1-800 numbers flash on the screen and hundreds of phone counselors are available across the country to talk with people about the basics of Christianity that they just heard about on TV. As if four times wasn’t enough, last week the Association bought a half-hour of late-night TV time on WB stations across the U.S. to air a TV special geared for teens.

So what do all the whiny Christians who have been begging for quality TV do? Little or nothing. A Billy Graham TV special is no cause for commotion. You’d think pastors would be announcing it and every Christian media outlet would be hyping it. And some do. But most don’t. You hear very little about it, and it’s certainly not for lack of trying. The Association spends a hefty amount on advertising, buying television, print, and web ads.

Now of course I work for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. Perhaps I’m a jaded, cynical cubical jockey who likes to shake his fist at the masses. And perhaps I do enjoy a good fist-shaking, but this doesn’t just happen with Billy Graham. Big Idea scored a major first by getting local public broadcasting stations to carry their latest Veggie Tales Christmas special. PBS stations all across the country aired a wholly religious holiday special that explained the meaning of Christmas in language a child can understand. In many areas “The Star of Christmas” aired multiple times during the holiday season.

Yet this was hardly a blip on most Christians’ radar. I didn’t see single mention in any Christian media outlets (and I read most of them). Christians didn’t seem to care. No one was writing columns about how Christians are finally getting what we deserve, finally getting the credit from society, finally earning the respect we have whined for for so long.

And if it’s not straight-out ignoring the TV shows we whined so hard for, we decry any advances Christians make. P.O.D. is constantly questioned for selling out their message and for not feigning excitement at a few Dove nominations. They’ve been on TRL, who cares about GMA? Apparently it’s not good enough to take the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the MTV crowd.

And when Mandy Moore starred as a Christian lead character in a major motion picture, Christians complained that the sinners in the movie were portrayed too realistically. They actually said “shit” and “god damn” a couple times, something you’ll hear in any church parking lot when a parishioner locks their keys in the car.

No, I don’t think Christians actually want to be a well-heard and respected voice of moral clarity in society. We just want to hear ourselves complain.

Now if you’ll excuse me, there’s probably something good on FOX right now.

What Would Jesus Drive?

Why are people so dumb? It’s a question I have to ask myself a lot. Almost as much as another question I ask a lot, why are Christians so dumb? Some Christians get so worked up over the evil in the world. They see bad things happening and they go through the roof. They want this movie canceled, that commentator fired, this book burned–when all those things are really just mirrors reflecting the evil in society. That’s not a justification, it’s a simple fact. Rather than run around trying to break mirrors, why don’t we do something about the reality?

It seems to me that’s what Jesus did. He didn’t go for the smoke and mirrors of pop culture, entertainment, or politics. He didn’t go for the cover of Time magazine or a spot on prime time. He didn’t try to get elected to a political office. He just went to where he was needed the most–the people.

He didn’t picket, riot or complain. He didn’t wring his hands, join a commune, or pull out of public school. He didn’t write a letter to the editor or have a discussion over coffee or write a book about how things should be done. He just did what should be done.

The world is sinful. We know. So are you. Knowing how bad we are isn’t the solution. And telling someone that Jesus is the solution doesn’t cut it. It’s what writing teachers always say: show, don’t tell. You have the solution, just live it. Stop your pissing and moaning, because that’s not the message you’re preaching.

So I’m pondering about the stupidity of Christians, and just when I think I’m done, I decide to go off on another tangent and check out the What Would Jesus Drive campaign. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a pretty interesting approach to promoting efficient vehicles. It’s something the church should be promoting. It’s obviously not as important as spreading the Gospel, but it’s better than picketing homosexuals. Lots better.

So anyway, I went to check out the What Would Jesus Drive site, and I typed in whatwouldjesusdrive.com instead. It’s a rather whacked site, but the guy does make one point that I thought was priceless: “So remember, when you’re driving around in your SUV… I don’t care if you have a Jesus-fish on it… [you’ll] still be flipping each other off…” Which really sums up my point nicely. It doesn’t matter what pseudo-Jesus bandwagon you’re jumping on, it’s a wash if you’re just like a Pharisee. The guy may have some strange pictures on his website, but he makes a good point.

And now, thanks to the whatwouldjesusdrive.com guy, I have seen the most sacrilegious website ever: jesusdressup.com. And you thought jesusoftheweek.com was bad.

Do not tell me we are a Christian Nation

Is your God big enough to face difficult questions? He doesn’t even after to answer them, but does your God even face them? I question some Christians whose God doesn’t seem to be up to the challenge of hard, life shattering questions. That book says something negative about Christians? Well, I better stay away. These song lyrics aren’t Christian, I better switch radio stations. What kind of a faith do you have if it’s always tucking its tail and running? It’s often the same kind of faith that’s so sure of itself it’s got its head up its ass. Am I being too harsh? I don’t think so. The Bible warns against pride, and Christians proudly nod their heads in agreement. We’re so sure of our particular brand of Christianity we don’t even realize there are other people out there who believe in the same God, the same crucified and risen Son, and the same convicting Holy Spirit—but in every other matter believe something contrary to what we believe.

It boggles my mind how Christians rejoice over the election of George W. Bush, claiming that finally a man of God holds the office of President of the United States. They fail to remember that the last man to hold the position also claimed to be a man of God—admittedly a stumbling man of God, but Bill Clinton professed to be a Christian. He may have had different opinions about various issues, but he counted himself among the Christians. Perhaps that’s just a political move. Perhaps the same is true of Al Gore. But perhaps the same is true of Bush. Who are we to judge? I’m amazed at the way Christians interpret the faith of the man in office based on his political party or his decisions on abortion. I’m also amazed at the way Christians interpret the faith of a man based on his sins. We are all sinners, but it seems to disqualify some of us from Christ’s forgiveness.

There are Christians who are continually claiming that America is a Christian nation, and long to return to the days of our forefathers when blah, blah, blah. Spare me your patriotism. Today the United States of America is the sole superpower, and the absolute worst example for the rest of the world in just about every area imaginable. We’re materialistic, greedy, self-centered and rude. And perhaps you’d like to tell me that our nation has fallen and the true remaining Christians are not any of those things that America is hated for around the world. If that were really true then Christians would actually stand out from the rest of society. If Christians actually said ‘no’ to materialism and chose to help out their brothers and sisters around the world, the results would be amazing. Churches would no longer need parking lots as Christians discovered the economics of car pooling and public transportation, did away with their second and third vehicles, and donated the profits to the less fortunate around the world who’ve never owned more than one t-shirt or known a single person who was obese.

We are a country of excess, greed and fat. Do not tell me we are a Christian nation. Jesus fasted—and that doesn’t mean he ate fast food.

It is the sin of pride that Christians in America love so much, and by that one downfall hopes of brotherly love and unity throughout the world are shattered. I seem to remember someone else who had a problem with pride, and he was quite an angel.

They ask for prayer.

Prayer. That’s what they ask for. They’re being beaten, intimidated, starved, tortured. And they ask for prayer. Not for food. Not for clothing. And not even for an end to the persecution. They’re in countries like Egypt, Sudan, and China. Christians being persecuted for their faith. They value Bibles over bread and are willing to risk their well being just to read one. Mine sits on the shelf by my bed. I glanced through it the other day while I ate my breakfast. I wasn’t in danger of the police busting down my door.

It boggles my mind what different worlds we live in. They would spend every last cent on a Bible. I spend hundreds to ensure I’ll have matching dishes for every occasion. Sometimes I just don’t understand. Christianity makes so little sense in the twenty-first century. I wonder if people felt the same way in the first century.

Inviting Marilyn Manson Over for Dinner

Today at the beginning of chapel the campus pastors took a moment to share about some new prayer thing that was happening, and they shared a quick story about praying against the Marilyn Manson concert that was in town this week. Sherry made a slip of the tongue and said something about, “When Marilyn Manson comes to Bethel.” Everyone laughed and thought it was funny, and Sherry’s face turned red and she laughed for a minute before continuing.

But I wasn’t laughing. I obviously didn’t listen to much they were saying about the prayer meetings. I was thinking about Marilyn Manson. He’s taken a lot of flack lately. A lot of people have been picketing his shows because of whatever connection there may be between the “goth” followers of his music and the Columbine shootings. As rumor has it, at the Minneapolis show somebody put a big yellow smiley face somewhere on the stage, and when Manson saw it, he stopped the concert mid-song, and stormed off the stage. Sherry related this story as a victory story for the group that was praying for the presence of God to be in that concert hall.

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