The other day, I got this book from the library, and read it on a lark. It actually is a good way to observe how mainstream evangelicals think, it was written by a man who admits he is in a mega-church. He does seem to love the evangelical world, but some of the parts of the book are ironic and disturbing , one example is where he has a humor quiz, on how "metrosexual" is your youth pastor? It seems he is reasonably wondering why the youth pastors are so busy trying to be "cool" and "hip" instead of teaching the Bible and leaning towards effeminacy? What could this kind of youth pastor have to teach the kids but more error?
The book is odd, in that he does seem to stumble multiple times upon the troubling nature of the sub-culture he is within. You'll see even in his list here, he has the "Believing America is a Christian nation" which has been dealt with on this blog before and others. One I erased to keep this blog at least below PG-13. Here are some examples, you can see this all on his blog.
He has a website, which the book is basically a repeat of, and I guess new things are added all the time.In the book, he points out some of the discrepancies, he sees in "modern Christian culture", and the troubles with being an evangelical Christian. Over all, it really outlines how evangelical "Christianity" has become another mass-marketed consumerist based subculture! Too many have embrace this sub-culture as automatically "Christian" when it is not, it really is just another mass marketed demographic. Why has the evangelical sub-culture become a pale imitation of the conventional mainstream entertainment world? Ever wonder about that? It's like inevitably everything is absorbed by the Borg and corporate sales marketers and then it's all over. It's sold back back to you at twice the price: let's not forget it's not the poor hanging out in these churches, it's the people who can pay $4 dollars a latte and feel comforted by their churches matching their corporate offices and seminars often even in appearance.
Sometimes reading evangelical websites, you wonder where is all the normal individuality of human beings, as the goatees, khaki pants, "what would Jesus do" bracelets or whatever the latest fad is, sullen looking Christian rock bands that all dress alike, "Church should be fun"-ads, wing-covered T-shirts with spidery writing, and rest proliferate? And do not think the fundamentalist world is free of this stuff: even they have their "Martha Stewart on Christian steroids" idealistic marketed "Above Rubies" world of the 1850s married to modern suburbia-gentlemen farmer thing going on.
Along with the marketing, we got the usual sales phrases. Hey marketeers know sloganeering sells and we know in the evangelical sub-culture the phrases are legion, missional, DNA, post-whatever, Emergent, and RELEVANT!
Actually Acuff even covers that word "Relevant" and it's abuses.
If you ever want to really insult a Christian, say the following:
“I don’t think you’re relevant.”
That is our kryptonite. The idea of irrelevance keeps us up at night. Seriously, if someone doesn’t find us to be relevant than we’re probably going to need to fire the worship leader or at the bare minimum get him a pair of white Pumas. Irrelevance is simply unacceptable.
The weird thing though is that in some ways, Jesus was the perfect example of what it means to be “irrelevant.”
I'd like to sit Acuff down, and say you know, these words were invented to SELL to people, sell them a deficient product now called evangelical "Christianity". Be wary of any who 'invent" a new language to reach you, in the UU, I got familiar with the over abuses of words like "post modern", "wholeness", "transcendence", by the late 80s. Maybe this is why I was not so easily suckered having already experienced the abuses of the English language to fool. It's good Acuff at least sees some of the silliness even if he misses the forest for some of those "ironic" trees.
Some things he does hit nuggets of truth on: "why is it ok for Christians to watch violent movies compared to ones with sexual content?" "The hypocrisy of judging fundamentalists for being so judgemental" among evangelicals. Some of his humor does hit on some truths but I found myself feeling sorry for it's author, that he was stuck in the vapid world of modern evangelicalism, where fads ruled and where "Christianity" had become a mass-marketed product in this case for middle class and above suburbanites with a huge prevailing focus on "youth". Perhaps inside, he is getting some inkling it's all so much nonsense.
What is really being a Christian about? Is it looking and acting a certain way? Well we know about what the Bible states that the fruits of a Christian should be, but is it about being "in" or "hip" or "acting happy" number 9 on the list above? No way, those people who strive after those things even if some just do not know and are well meaning, are striving to match a system of man, based on fads, and man's "rules" and what is acceptable.
Jam 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, [and] easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
All we have to do is look at these evangelical churches to see that they make a big thing of what most of us thought we left behind in high school, the desire to be "popular", "shiny" and "exciting". Dumbed down lowest common denominator "culture" has already decimated many aspects of American life, why put up with it in the churches too?
Well it's happened. This doesn't mean being 'culture' snobs, I am not putting forth the idea to replace low culture with high brow culture. Even if a church replaced the bright neon lights and lava lamps with Tiffany lamps and the pews with carved chairs, it's still a misdirection, the liturgicals are already guilty of but this is why we see the Vision Forum and Quiverful love for Victoriana and 1850. The fads and way of doing things in these churches has far more to do with the world and being what the world desires of a "Christian" rather then what God desires. I never understood the human propensity to conform to the point that one became merely a copy of those around them. It's a trap to even want to be in the "in" group. Hate to break it to people but there's many Christians out there who do not fit in the cubbyholes being hewed for them. I like to think of these verses:
1Pe 2:9 But ye [are] a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
ts 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.
I realized with the book "Stuff Christians Like", I didn't like a lot of what the "Christians" out there do supposedly do, homeschooling and being modest, sure, but the rest forget it! A lot seemed vacuous, and about impressing people as to one's own holiness rather then being REAL. Don't feel bad if you do not fit in that world, you are better off, being your own individual as long as you are staying within God's will, and being one of His PECULIAR people. So if someone calls you *weird* for not going to church or standing up against the tide, keep those verses in mind, and stick to what GOD LIKES....