13 July 2006

Archive: Weak Stomach Reaction

Recently, a number of people have posted a bulletin with the headline "Don't look if you've got a weak stomach" (or some variation thereof). The bulletin asks a number of questions which I will now endeavor to answer.

1. Why do we sleep in church but...when when the sermon is over we suddenly wake up?

In my experience, born and raised in the Christian Reformed Church, very few people slept through the sermons . . . which is not because it was a raucous good time or anything like that. There was no "Amen"ing or hand clapping, just good ol' three point sermons. My father, however, was a strong exception to this rule. I can't recall a single church service where my father remained awake. As for why he slept, I have only these conjectures to offer: a. He was tired from working long hours at his bakery and committing acts of fraud and adultery all week; b. he believed his presence in church was more important than his attention, after all, his god really only cared about the headcount, or; c. it was important that he be seen at church so that all of the other people coming to church to be seen would know him to be a good, pious man. It's likely a combination of all of these things and, to some extent these (at least the latter two) are the reasons why many people attend church and either sleep or simply tune out. If you really believe god is everywhere, what the hell does church attendance matter? Sure, catholics aren't really allowed to read the bible themselves, but protestants are, so what's to stop them from worshipping at home and occasionally picking up a Philip Yancy to help clarify things? How does that parable about the two men praying in the temple go? The one man shouts out his prayers so that he'll be heard and people will know he's a true believer -- there's a lot of that, I think in church attendance today, as well as people with jesus fish on their cars and whatnot-- "Look at me! I'm a christian! jesus loves me and I love him back, but in a totally not gay way, of course!"

2. Why is it so hard to talk about God but so easy to talk about sex?

Well, first off, I think if it really were easy to talk about sex in this country we'd be better off. Instead we stigmatize it and make it something dirty, something not proper in certain company. Thanks for that, Puritans.

Secondly, I don't think people find it hard to talk about god at all. Listen to talk radio sometime. Look at bumper stickers. Everyone's talking about their relationship with god. Except, of course, with those who disagree with them. Believers have a very hard time, I've found, talking about god with skeptics, because (and feel free to challenge me on this) they hate to be challenged on their beliefs. It's really what separates the skeptics from those who believe blindly. Skeptics love to be challenged, it's what we do, we constantly re-examine and re-evaluate things -- that's why science is so much fun. Whereas believers avoid that sort of thing, hence their belief in things that don't stand up to evaluation (again, talk to me about this if you disagree).

3. Why are we so bored to look at a Christian magazine..but so easy to read a playboy magazine?

As a Playboy subscriber, I have to say, it actually is worth reading for the articles. Let's face it, 'steamy pictorials' all pretty much look the same, but the articles and interviews in each are new and interesting. Again, if we didn't have such an unhealthy view of sex in this country, Playboy would not be something people hide under their mattresses.

I can't speak to christian magazines but my guess would be that if, in fact, people are bored by them, they are probably boring. Just a guess.

4. Why is it so easy to ignore a Godly myspace messages...yet we repost the nasty ones?

This is just an offensive question, because it assumes that things that are not "godly" (which, one can probably safely assume means "overtly christian in nature") are "nasty." There's a heck of a lot of gray area, friends, between "godly" and "nasty" (and, I would suggest that a great deal of "godly" messages, this original post included, are rather "nasty").

5. Why are churches getting smaller...but bars and clubs are growing??

Oh yes, churches are in such danger in this country. *rolls eyes* C'mon people, that's a stupid, stupid thing to say.

First off, there is a movement (and has been for some time now) to make churches larger and larger. Mega-churches that seat thousands are all over the place so churches have quite literally gotten bigger. And, take it from someone that knows, if you need to find an open bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan on a Sunday, good luck! but if you want a church we have hundreds upon hundreds to choose from.

And do not give me that Bill O'Reilly 'secularists are taking over our country,' bunk. If that were true (and oh, that it were true) we wouldn't have an evangelical president, science would not be on the defensive in classrooms around the country, gay marriage would not have been amended against in every state where it was put to a vote and churches would not have the tax free status they have abused for so long. Hell, you can't spend a dollar in this country without inadvertently acknowledging a god.

6. Think about it...are you going to repost this or ignore it because you think you'll get laughed at?

I did think about it. No, I will not repost it (at least not in its original form). But I will also not ignore it. And really, do christians fear getting laughed at (or worse) for admitting their beliefs? Because if they do, that's just crazy paranoia. They are the majority in this country! Understand that. This persecution complex must be some kind of crazy wish for martyrdom.
christians are running this country. All three branches of government (both state and federal) belong overwhelmingly to christians. Get over this notion that you are the underdog, bravely touting your beliefs to a world that hates and fears you, because it's simply not so. You are in charge. It is people of opposing faiths and those of us without religious belief that are the outcasts. It's tragic that atheists so often have to keep their lack of belief to themselves in order to keep their jobs, friends and family while christians accuse them of being the persecutors.

The post ends with this:

Just remember God is always watching you.
repost this "dont look if you've got a weak stomach"if you truly love God and you know he's always there.The Lord said " deny me in front of your friends and i will deny you in front of my father".

Lovely. Scare tactics. Trying to guilt people into reposting because 'god already knows you've read this, and if you don't repost it he will be very angry with you, and you wouldn't like him when he's angry.' It's an appeal to irrational fear (or simply guilt) and I hate it.

Now, I have not posted this to be anti-christian and I certainly hope I didn't offend those of you who originally posted this message. I am posting this to engage in a dialogue. According to the post, we have a hard time talking about god. Well, I don't and I invite any of you to talk about it with me. Those of you who agree with me, I'd like to hear from you, but mostly I'd like to hear from those of you who don't. Let's talk about this without making it personal or getting angry at each other. I won't try to convert you if you don't try to convert me, instead let's just talk.

I've said my piece.