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Comments

Laura

I'm sorry, "christian porn"? Really? You're funny.

maryellen

I'm sorry that the word Christian is such an adversion to you. Where as some of us "christians" have a superior, holier than thou attitude, and I do understand why you would tack on some of those unpleasent adjectives, I really take offence to the term intellectually irresponsible.

Jason

hhhmmm...

I can honestly say that I agree. Much of the mainstream marketing driven "christian" material is a vacuous cesspool of pseudo-intellectual garbage. Truth be told there are some people doing good work; work that is helpful, practical, and intellectually coherent. The problem is you won't find them in most mainstream "christian" bookstores.

For me, it has gotten to the point where I only walk into a Lifeway or Family Bookstore to buy gag gifts for all of my minister friends. Much of the "christian" genre lacks originality, depth, and is merely re-packaged self-help books with the word "God" thrown around indescriminately.

With all of the press that ministers and "christian" churches have gotten nowadays, you would think it would be a good thing to be associated with what is going on in the news. Instead I find myself embarassed by what I see. So much so, that I prefer to introduce myself as a therapist rather than a minister...

I feel like a teenager all over again, embarassed by my family and all their eccentric wacky mannerisms and habits...

grace and peace

Angevoix

I understand what you are saying and have felt the same thing in varying degrees from time to time. But I'm really wondering where all the hostility is coming from. I keep hearing you vent and wondering what is really going on with you. You sound kind of stuck.You sound like someone who has really been hurt but is afraid to admit it. As Lady MacBeth would say, " Me thinks though dost protest too much."

Law Bob Esq.

As much as I hate to commiserate with the agnostics, your post is very much on point.

I’d like to share a related story with you all, and I invite your comments about what these facts can tell us regarding modern Christianity.

Yesterday, my wife and I went to the local Christian book store and began poking around. I was looking for a new copy of Martain Luther’s small catechism, as I’d given the last one I had to some Mormon missionaries. After wading through aisles of stuffed animals, picture frames, and CDs I was met by a nice little lady who appeared to run the place.

“Can I help you find something?” she asked me in voice that was entirely too sweet. “Sure,” I responded, “I’m looking for a new copy of Luther’s Small Catechism.” She looked puzzled for a moment, “Hmmm… I don’t know that one, is it something we could special order for you?” I shook my head, “No thanks, I’ll just look around a bit.”

They had about 11 different versions of “The Purpose-Driven Life;”
They had Chicken Soup for every soul on the planet;
They had the NIV translation of the bible with several pretty covers, but no others;
They did not have anything remotely related to theology, greek, or latin;
They had nothing on church history;
But they did have “GOD’S WORDS OF WISDOM FOR CAT LOVERS.”

I think the problem you're having is that most Christians don't have a clue what they believe, but are certain that you better believe it too.

Leighton

I won't link to it, but one of the ads in the #1 Google search for 'Christian porn' reads "Jesus Loves Porn Stores". It's not a parody, as far as I can tell.

Angevoix,

Not that it really matters, but "Methinks the lady doth protest too much" is actually from Hamlet; it's Hamlet's mother speaking concerning the player's reenactment of Hamlet's father's murder. (There's a searchable Macbeth available if you want to double-check.) Anyway, don't mind me. I just hit vacation and am returning to one of my favorite pasttimes of playing with search engines.

Angevoix

Thanks for correcting me, Leighton. I appreciate it.

The picture frames, stuffed animals, coffe mugs, paperweights, etc..., etc..., etc.... don't they make you want to break out the sledge hammer or start a bon fire?

maryellen

One time, shortly after I was saved, I walked into a store full of magic stuff. Swords, crystals, skulls...and I wished that I could call down the power of God to smash and burn all that garbage. Now a days I feel the same way when I walk into our local Christian book store. Visions of Jesus driving the merchants out of the temple...but honest, we are not all "shitty, half assed, and intellectually irresponsible.

Laura

Wouldn't it be funny to see the reaction on people's faces if we opened a Christian Bookstore in the mall and they walked in and it was actually filled with *gasp* books? And then, just to top it all off, we could sell books by real Christians...like Ghandi. The one item that we would sell that wouldn't be a book would be the stack of bumper stickers next to the cash register that read, "Intellect Responsibly." We can name our store, "If you Want Chicken Soup, Try the Foodcourt."

Angevoix

What a riot! I'm in.

Laura

So, I just got back from shopping for a new book to read and I saw a book by Oral Roberts called, "When you can see the invisible, you can do the impossible." I work at a mental hospital (it's sounds like a lie but it is actually true) and my immediate thought was, "When you see the invisible, you meet admissions criteria for inpatient psych care." Ah, the fine line between devotion and insanity.

Andy

I see what you are saying and cannot deny that the desparities exist. Just a brief point; the term "Christian", the few times it's used in the Bible, was actually derogatory and a put down. To me the term Christian is not a forum for superiority but identification, first with my relationship and love for Jesus, and then with those who have made the same decision I have to follow Him (hopefully not for exclusion). We all make these identificatons in daily life (lakers fan, rotarian, etc) although I'd like to believe any commitment to faith or belief is more involved than my examples.

Andy

One more point (sorry). It cost the early disciples everything to be called Christian, for most their lives.
The problem today in the US, it cost virtually nothing.
I don't think one needs to be martyred to see how valuable their conviction is, but perhaps the realistic observations you've made about "Jesus Junk" ( a term Keith Green used for it years ago), has to do not with the cost of the junk but the cost of the commitment.

maryellen

Dear Heretic,
see what a great discussion your post started...
i want one of those Intellect Responsibility bumper stickers...

cheek

Marryellen, Adam never said anything like "all Christians are intellectually irresponsible." I think that his statements were aimed at the proliferation of 'Christian' merchandise that is most often inferior to other merchandise. He even admitted that his aversion can at times be problematic. If your suggesting that mainstream Christianity is not intellectually irresponsible, then I suggest you walk into First Baptist Church Anywhere and try to get the pastor to talk seriously about theodicy. Your chances of getting more than platitudes and prooftexts is pretty much nill.

Adam

Mary Ellen,
I definately didn't mean to imply that all Christians are this way. Just a whole lot of them. If you don't feel you fit into that category then all the better for me since you visit my site.

Laura and I were talking the other night and were thinking that if you see the invisible then its not invisible anymore and there you don't see the invisible which means you can never to the impossible. Which is implied by the definition of impossible.

Why is it always "Chicken soup for the SOUL"? Why not "Chicken soup for my Prostate." or "Chicken soup for the clitoris". At least we can be sure those exist. Although I think in this case, given that chicken soup for the soul is supposed to make you feel good, that the "Chicken Soup" in "Chicken Soup for the clitoris" would be something made of gelatin and battery powered.

Laura

Chicken Soup for the clitoris? Really? You're funny.

P.S. When did you get to be such the expert?

greg

Laura,

Adam is quite the male whore these days.

Jason

Turn or Burn Tracts for your friends... $0.99

Pesky Plastic Jesus Fish for your Hummer... $3.99

Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Drivel... $14.95

Bookstore full of theologically diverse and responsible books... priceless

There are some things money can't buy (except a healing from Benny Hinn, a prayer from TBN, and a bunch of Jesus mints in a little tin)

For everything else there's MasterCard (or for the theology of prosperity believer "Master's Card)

grace and peace (that'll be $3.95 for the blessing)

who says it doesn't cost anything to be a Christian today???

Andy

I wonder if the issue with "chicken soup", "purpose driven life" and other resouces isn't "intellectual responsibility" but "intellectual re-introduction (a sort of class 101)" to a culture that is either ignorant or illiterate in regards to the values, direction, and faith (according to gallup and barna research). I know there is something deeper than what these popular resources offer, but maybe they reaching those who know little or nothing in the hopes that they will reach out for more (taste and see that the Lord is good).

Laura

Could be Andy. I agree that they are "reaching those who know little or nothing" but I would be less critical if the purpose driven life was step one in a twelve step program to theological understanding. The problem is that it is being used as an ends unto itself instead of a means to a further, deeper end. It is indicative of a growing epidemic of churches that can attract members by the thousands to their respective santuaries but could not equip quality leaders to save their lives. It is not okay to complete second grade and announce that, with your cursive writing and multiplication tables, you are now educated. In the same way, it isn't okay to treat these hardback bound pamphlets as though, just because they talk about God, they are to be respected as serious theological inquiry.

Andy

Laura,

I couldn't agree with you more. After posting (you know how that is) I was thinking of the importance of continuous growth, discipleship, and theology. Anyone who uses these resources as an end in themselves needs the challenge that you and the other's above are placing.
Things I wonder:
1) Are these resources reaching those who otherwise might not be reached (fishing in a little different way)
2) Is the lack of "serious theological inquiry" the fault of these resources or those who fail to go further.

Andy

An example is Billy Graham. His simple message has touched multitudes. His follow-up materials are basic. The testimony of many is that they have gone on to deeper studies after.

Leighton

1) Based on my experience, Purpose-Driven Life tends to "reach" business executives and people who wish they were business executives more often than laypeople, so I'm not sure how relevant the Billy Graham analogy is. There's not exactly a shortage of Christian business how-to literature on the market.

2) Both, but I would tend to place the responsibility not on individual people so much as individual groups of reference. If the leadership of your megachurch is selling Purpose-Driven Life as the key to the Meaning of Everything, you're less likely to dig beyond it as you would be in a group that says "Yeah, it's good, but also look at the books on this list." It's also my experience that groups who have such a list don't put Purpose-Driven Life on it, but my experience may not be representative.

Laura

I'm not sure what people are hoping to find from the purpose driven life. I have articulated what my purpose in life is and I live everyday of my life with that goal in mind. My purpose has to do with things like saving lives (not souls mind you), speaking for those without a voice, living at peace with all men, etc. When I finished college, my church back home bought me The Purpose Driven Life for Graduates. Turns out those things have little or nothing to do with my purpose in life, according to Rick Warren. My actual purpose is going to involve things like excessive begging through prayer and constantly looking for divine arrows on the map of life. I guess the next time I see a man who is hungry, I should ask my church to join with me in praying about whether or not I should give him food.

A book entitled The Purpose Driven Life should be one page long and say, "Stop looking for excuses to not do the things that you are clearly supposed to be about. The Sermon on the Mount isn't optional. Jesus really wants you to care for orphans and widows and the poor and the sick and the prisoner and the homosexual and the Iraqi and pretty much everybody else. If you can't hack it, get out of the way so that someone else can care for those that you ignore." Of course there would be four dozen of these books, each targeted at a different audience (graduates, teens, fathers, grandfathers, kindergarten teachers, people whose first digit of their social security number is 4, etc.) but each book would have only one page and say the exact same thing. Of course that's just me and I could be wrong.

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