Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Want Christian Fries with That?

John W. Loftus wrote an article on being a preacher that got me thinking. While I was never a pastor, I certainly was a member of many a church, and can well-recall the infighting that took place.

Both of my parents were always either a Deacon or a Deaconess. The only time they weren’t was in the required sabbatical after serving two terms, and even then they were on the missions committee, the Sunday School committee, etc. They were Sunday School teachers, VBS teachers, Awana Teachers. We seemed to attend every service there was. Sometimes it seemed they made up services, just to have something to do!

And just like every other kid, when they talked in hushed tones, and whispers on the way home from church, I listened as hard as I could, without appearing to be listening. And I was observant enough to figure out some, just by watching.

I remember one lady that everyone knew was fighting with another family and made it a point to always sit as far from them as possible at every function. God could not mark her tardy, because she was certainly THERE, but we all knew she had reserved enough of her humanity to demonstrate she was not happy about the other family being there. If I was in that family, I would not have wanted to be in her headlights in a dark alley!

I remember one Sunday the adults had to have a “joint” Sunday School, because most of the teachers called in sick in protest of the new Sunday School Teacher Superintendent’s policy change.

I knew of a church in our area that split, and my parents happened to support the “wrong” side of the split. I knew this because the pastor that stayed became the Principal at our Christian school and made our lives hell. (Funny bit. This Pastor/Principal once called in the youth pastor of our church and started to describe this “horrid” family that was in his church, and after a few moments, our youth pastor realized he was talking about us. The youth pastor was my brother-in-law! Because of the difference in name, the Pastor did not realize it!)

In my adult life, I know of a Christian college student taking classes towards becoming an accountant. So a church made him their treasurer. After he embezzled $90,000, they re-thought this position.

I know pastor’s wives that had drug habits, pastor’s that had affairs, and deacons with habits that would curl your toes.

I have sat in many a church discussion, and watched how people were unwilling to share with other Christians their REAL problems. They knew that it would go from “prayer request” to local gossip in less time than it takes to sneeze. I watched business meetings where a group of people walked out because some pictures were taken off the wall.

I have seen meanness, pettiness, craziness, and downright viciousness in churches that would make schoolyard bullies blush with shame. Christians are well-aware of it, and play their cards close to their chest, always afraid of what the next clash, or next fight or next issue will rear up. I have seen this since I was a very small child.

Yet knowing this, Christians actively seek out “Christian” things. If two business advertise, “Decks built by Christians” and “Decks built by atheists” guess which one the Christian will go to? Add a fish symbol in the corner of your yellow pages advertisement. That is enough to bring in Christians.

On Sunday, Christians would not trust another Christian with one dollar. On Monday, they will not go anywhere else! It is amusing to watch the distrust flow between various Christian groups, yet if one is going to buy a wrench, a Christian hardware store is the preferred place to do one’s shopping.

Why? We can see Christians cheat, steal, lie, divorce and embezzle just like everyone else. We can equally see Christians that work hard, are honest, and a hand shake is a promise. But simply putting “Christian” over the door does not guarantee which one we will get! Yet time and time again, we can see that having a “Christian owned and operated business” (like a local shop I know) telling Christians to come on in, everything is fine.

If Christian churches were not so filled with as many problems, fighting, and issues as any other human institution it would be one thing. But it IS filled with these problems. If you don’t trust them on Sunday, why would you trust them the other six days of the week?

I knew of a Deacon I would never, EVER let my daughter be alone with. ‘Nuff said. Yet people flock to “Christian” day-cares. Why? Because there is a reassurance in that name, “Christian.” It means that a person is safe. That only good, upstanding moral people would ever DARE operate a business with “Christian” in its name. The same people that the same Christians don’t trust on Sunday.

Do you really think that a Christian mechanic will tighten your nuts and bolts in a more Christ-like manner than a Pagan mechanic? If your child was being rushed into the hospital for an emergency, would you call ahead to make sure there is a Christian doctor with Christian nurses available? Using medicine that has solely been developed by Christians, of course.

Ulp—forgot. Medical research is partially dependant on the evolutionary theory. Perhaps the medicine is not so Christian after all.

We have Christian Songs, Christian Bands, Christian Books, Christian Movies, Christian Nations, Christian holidays, and now we are entering into Christian Businesses. Do people really believe that Jesus would have only gone to a Christian donkey-owner to ride the Triumphal Entry? Rented the Upper Room from a Christian Landlord? Bought his sandals from a Christian sandal-maker?

Look, go where you want. Listen and do what you desire. From what I observe, “God is my co-Pilot” on your car means I am just as likely to get the finger from you as anyone else.

4 comments:

  1. It would seem that one of the major problems of the church is that of "taking the Lords name in vain." The word 'Christian' has become yet another Madison Avenue tool to sell not only immage, but services and merchandise too.

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  2. It has been my observation that the more ingrained and focused one becomes in any field of study or profession, one becomes somewhat jaded and callous in his/her approach to their field of expertise. The police officer, dealing with constant exposure to the negative elements of society, the doctor or psychiatrist, dealing, on a daily basis, with physical and mental maladies, must over time, create a kind of protective shell to preserve his/her own sanity and well-being. If this ability for positive actuation is weak or absent, the result can be somewhere between unprofessional all the way up to disastrous. This phenomena must also apply to preachers. It matters not which faith. After a time of ministering to people in distress and listening to a never ending list of demands for spiritual and moral guidance, there must be some kind of mental attitude which, if unchecked, may evolve into condescention, conceit or jus plain bigheadedness unless one has the ability to keep a level and balanced disposition. It does'nt surprise me at all that sometimes the most learned, wisest and holiest among us can also posses the ability to be small, petty and vindictive.
    Excellent post, DagoodS, as usual.

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  3. So sad that Christians are usually the ones that do the most damage to themselves (ourselves). If Christians followed what Christ taught, they wouldn't be oppressed or have to defend their stance. Yet we continually contradict what we supposedly stand for because we act like idiots (like the guy with the Jesus fish on his car that's yelling obscenities). That's one reason I don't put Jesus stuff on my car. If I screw up, I don't want to be a bad witness to my God.
    Plus, if I'm going to be a Christian, putting a Jesus fish on my car is not going to make anyone else become a Christian. All it does is make me look like I think I'm better than everyone else cuz I have a Jesus fish.
    The Bible didn't say being a Christian was about how many bumper stickers you have or how "rightous" you can act in front of everyone. It's about a relationship with Jesus Christ - it's about you & God and no one else. The Bible says to do your real praying in secret, not on the streets where it looks like you're trying to impress people. Jesus was wise - too bad Christians don't try harder to act like Him.

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  4. You forgot one. Don't walk past the choir loft on a Sunday morning or you're liable to be knocked over by the smell of Xerox toner.

    Yup, the worst violators of copyright laws are Christian church choirs.

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