Oh Jake.....


by on May 18, 2008

I went running tonight. I strapped on the funny shoes, slid into the short shorts, and hid my thin pale upper torso under one of those light-weight shirts that keeps sweat off your body or something like that. It didn’t work by the way. I even grabbed the i-pod, put some inspirational worship music on repeat, and silently glided out the door and down the street. I run at night so that nobody will see me. We do a lot of things in the dark so that we’re not seen. Sex is one of them, and that’s just sad, but perhaps that’s why some people exercise or run at night. Maybe someday they’ll turn the lights on. I’m not much of a runner, but I genuinely desire to be healthy. I figure that I can eat whatever I want as long as I exercise, right? That makes life worth living.

At the end of my street I busted a left and instead of running down toward civilization, I ran up into the foothills. It was beautiful. A soft breeze made the trees shift in their places, causing little shapes of moonlight to wave up at me from the pavement. It also kept me cool, because when you’re out of shape and you run, you get hot fast. So on my run in the dark that hides people and objects, I must admit, I got a little freaked out. I kept hearing screams or something like them over the musical stylings of John Mark Mcmillan. then I saw objects up ahead that looked like people just standing there, waiting for me. (Note: I’m blind as a bat without my glasses, but I only wear them when I drive-people look better when you can’t see the details) Anyways, I came up to a place where the streetlights ended, and it was just me and the moon…and every scary object I could conjure up in my puny little head!

When you’re not a Christian, you’re afraid of lots of things like zombies, monsters, ghosts, mummies, and Rosie O’Donnell. Scary movies like The Leprechaun 1-27 freak you out. (HEY! He has a scary face- and he’ll stab you!) When you are a Christian though, you fear things like demons, demonized people, witnessing to strangers, Satan and Rosie O’Donnell. Why do we get scared? Is there anything out there to get us? We genuinely believe that there is less out there than many other types of people think, so again, I ask, WHY DO WE GET SCARED?!?
I don’t know.

A friend of mine was talking about some type of Christian horror movie coming out sometime soon. He compared it to Christian porn. It just shouldn’t happen. Leave the bad stuff to the people who are good at it (not that I support porn or horror-I’m just saying that I especially don’t support Christian horror flicks and porn). We just don’t get scared of the same things, and truthfully, we shouldn’t have any fear at all.

Oh Jake.....

The F-Word

by on May 18, 2008

I think that it’s about time we had a conversation about something particularly close to my heart, something that I’m encountering at a steadily growing rate. I need to tell you about the “F” word. I hear it in politics, talk shows, and even in conversation now. As much fun as it might be, I’m not going to swear at you, I’m talking about Fundamentalism.

When did it come onto the scene? (I truly don’t know. I’m not setting you up for a history lesson. Maybe someday I’ll look it up…if I can. Where to start?) I’m assuming that there have always been fundamentalists. F-Christians, F-Muslims, and F-Jews have probably been scampering about since the inception of any of those faiths, but I wonder when calling someone fundamentalist became what it is today. I remember after 9-11 hearing more and more about Islamic Fundamentalists, and stuff like that, but now I’m hearing about fundamentalist Protestants! (Jesus Camp? Looks scary to me.)

I think that what happened with that is the world had their eyes opened to people who had always been there, people who were completely sold-out to their religious indoctrination, who believed in a holy book who then went and committed a heinous act of violence. We knew there were individuals and groups like this before 9-11, but the damage had never been so close to home. It had never killed so many people before. That one event pushed the negative connotation of fundamentalism more than any other act in history (Bold statement man-I think it’s true).

America’s level of religiosity and faith level (perhaps more of a dependence on God level) went through the roof right after that. Church attendance skyrocketed, conversions happened, and we all were OK with it, even the people who don’t like religion; the ones who are about spirituality more than some archaic system. You all know who I’m talking about. Then it was not only acceptable to vote according to your faith, it was encouraged! Next thing you know, a very conservative GOP is in the system and people are making conservative choices that eventually make people mad. I can’t get into all of that, because I lack a lot of understanding in that area, but just follow me a bit longer. I’m working on something good for ya.

People are people and we screw up about every 358 seconds or so. Even if we’re pursuing that very thing that we believe God told us to, we still manage to jack things up. Even if we’re the GOP. Here and there mistakes were made or legislation was passed that people didn’t agree with. We were reminded what happens when a nation goes to war. People die, lives are permanently changed. The carnage that the media continually kept before us at this point was caused by both sides, but some decided that the religious convictions of American political leaders and voters were no different in degree than those belonging to the people who attacked the World Trade Center. Hence the term Christian Fundamentalist, or F-Protestant.

Back in the day, there wasn’t such a thing as a fundamentalist protestant. At least the phrase wasn’t around. I think that there were enough people that were fully sold out to the Bible, who believed in Jesus Christ and the God who made them whole-heartedly that really, nobody thought it was weird or bad. If they weren’t, then they more than likely weren’t involved in the church very much. (There have always been nominal Christians, but I think that they weren’t necessarily in opposition to people who were in full pursuit of Christianity and what it entails. Maybe they just got annoyed by the church lady-every church has one)

Such is not the case anymore. Syncretism snuck in, the nominal Christian has become more so, and our nation isn’t as faith-filled as it once was. A fundamentalist emerges out of that context because it’s strange and different to have someone who completely believes in something, even to the point of basing their lifestyle off that belief system. I think that fundamentalism has been coined within the context of Christianity because in general, we have allowed our convictions to slip, our standards and ideals to be impacted in weird ways, and something has happened to our faith. Maybe it isn’t our fault. Maybe it was the generation prior to ours, or even the one before that. Perhaps it’s just a product of the secularization of or nation. Either way, fundamentalists didn’t used to exist under that title because there were more of them and it was acceptable to sell yourself out to your God.

In a world lacking absolute truths, perhaps it isn’t tolerable to be all or nothing, for anything! I said earlier that the F-word is close to my heart. I’ve had two professors now who referred to me as “FP” (Fundamentalist Protestant” in their classes and our conversations. It made me proud. I’m not a hater, I just love Jesus and His Word with my whole heart. I live my life based off that, and it obviously shows in my conduct and homework. I hope that more people want to adopt this label (we label each other to make things easier…I’m not against that… it just isn’t the best!) because they’re entirely sold out to Jesus Christ!

Eventually I’m going to write a book entitled, “The F-Word”. Assuming I can even get Christian book stores to carry it, I’m hoping to make most of my sales off the younger crowd. Not that they care, but they’d probably buy it based on the title, thinking that they’re being a little rebellious (Christian acts of rebellion…make me laugh sometimes). Then maybe their parents will pick it up later while snooping around their kid’s room and perhaps it’ll catch THEIR attention.

Oh Jake.....

The church lady… Or guy

by on May 13, 2008

Every church has one. You can’t not notice them, even though you try with all your might. They bring banners, tambourines, bells and whistles to service and make a glorious ruckus. In spite of best intentions to glorify God, they mostly manage to distract everyone else around them. The conservative eyes roll while the teens and their younger siblings point and giggle. I’m talking about THAT person. Yes, I’m talking about the individual(s) who like to truly worship God by bringing their own instruments, objects to wave in the air, and occasionally dance.

I mention this individual because of an experience I recently had at a Sunday service. There I was, singing, probably off key, but quiet enough that nobody else would be able to tell, enjoying my time rocking out to Jesus when I looked up and saw her. Now, I must admit that this particular escapade is a little different, because somehow this one managed to get into the choir where everyone could see her dance, so she wasn’t out in the crowd like usual. Anyways, I look up and see a woman whose dance featured arms clasped at her sides, feet together and a most distinct rocking back and forth from the waist up. The look on her face was reminiscent of Christina Aguilera’s when she’s doing one of those roller coaster notes. The kind that starts low, goes really high, bounces around like a dropped ball for a second or two and ends with a wave of the index finger. Add to this my immaturity, and worship has officially been interrupted.
Of course I laughed, then I hit my neighbor in the shoulder to point her out to him. He thought that I was just raising my hand, so I had to hit him several times to get his attention. He laughed too, poked his wife in the shoulder, and it continued on from there. I can imagine that if any of the singers were to look at my row directly in front of them, they would see something similar to the wave, but instead of hands shooting up and promptly falling again, this wave included more pointing and giggling, followed by genuine attempts to get back into worship.

Nine out of ten times, when I have experienced this type of distraction, the only way to get back into worship is to close my eyes and imagine Jesus standing there two feet in front of me. I close my eyes really tight, and sing louder because the pressure’s on. The Big Guy is right in front of me! More than likely, this is to the disdain of those around me because as I mentioned earlier, I was probably singing off key to begin with!

To justify my making fun of other peoples’ worshiping, I will say this: I imagine that God allows these amazing opportunities for laughter out of His generosity and love for us. He sees all of our ridiculous faces while we worship and perhaps I notice because HE “tapped” me on the shoulder and told me to look because He saw something funny. Just imagine the Almighty saying, “Hey! Look at her!” Not only that, but I know that their hearts are with God at this point. Who cares what we look like when we worship? I don’t. I just don’t express myself as freely as other people do!

I only hope that someday I can be that person for a weekend or two. Perhaps it’s time to bust out that little drum that I’ve had sitting on the shelf for a while. It’s got a neck strap, so why not?

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