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?

Oh Jake.....

The New Fire and Brimstone?

by on May 12, 2008

This morning, I was considering how sensitive we have become and how we are so easily offended . At times I include myself in that statement. I wonder if the ministerial approaches of the past are no longer as effective as they used to be because people don’t want to feel bad about themselves. We all desire acceptance, we all want to feel like we’re doing well, and we hate being told that we screwed up. When another person’s words convict us, the natural inclination is to want to kick them in the face, or something like that.

Sin is part of the gospel. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23) so we’re obviously working toward dropping dead at any given moment, and waking up in a place that smells like burnt hair, among other things. That is, until we pull our heads out and realize that we’ve been offered something to get us out of it, with no cost to us.

How do we get people to that point of understanding that they are sinners in need of a merciful God though, without making them hate Christians and our God because apparently, we judge? Did it ever occur to people that we don’t judge, that perhaps we just notice sin because we’re good at it too? (I’m amazing in this area) What do we say? I genuinely don’t have a clue! I think that they (we) should feel bad about themselves, even just a little so that they (we) can gain that understanding that Jesus died for that particular reason, that we are all sinners! But if you take that approach in conversation, you’ve got another thing coming!

I guess I say all this because I go to a state university with a lot of people who aren’t Christian. I love it, they’re all amazing. In my attempts to witness to my peers, I have seen some success, but I have also seen doors slam shut in my face! I can speak of eternal life and pearly gates, and love and I’ve got their attention, but when I throw that three letter word in, and it makes a mess of things! Oh sin, why do you mock me? I’ll get you someday, or something like that. I suppose that I want my friends to know that I screw up, and if you’d admit that some aspects to your life that you claim as lifestyle, aren’t necessarily just that, but something against the nature of God, that you have wholly given yourself to, then things might change. I know it sucks giving certain things up. Addiction is powerful, independence is more so, so why would we want to cause ourselves suffering of any sort and give by trying to get something out of our lives that we have grown so fond of?

Instead of talking to people, I would rather beat the hell out of them ( I mean that in a Biblical sense). I think that it would be easier.

There is power in offending people. I’m not talking about that sick sadistic power exercised over another person, but in making them cringe a little, momentarily taking their comfort away.

Making them think.

Any kinda sorta smart-ish person will wonder why they’re angry after something made them so, won’t they? I’m not sure. I wish. I think that if people looked at the motivation behind their emotions (especially in this area) we’d get a lot further. Then again, a world of retrospective people does seem a little on the emotional side. Perhaps I wouldn’t like that so much either. Not sure, but making people mad can be fun.

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