Christian No More

October 24, 2006

This is video #2 in the series from my church.

I’m learning some incredible life lessons through this Creative Arts team. I have to think more about how to discuss it, but suffice to say their work creates a strong reaction in me and then makes me think.

Kinda what this guy did.

The only comparison I can make about my response to their work is my reaction to movies I’ve watched and HATED the first time (What About Bob? Groundhog Day to name two–is there a Bill Murray theme here?) and now consider among my favorites.

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16 Responses to “Christian No More”

  1. Diane Says:

    I like this one. My Mom goes to church every week and always says, “I can’t believe what people are wearing to church these days.” I laugh at her saying God could care less what you wear as long as you show up.

    I remember when you had to wear a dress with that awful slippery as all hell dress leather shoes, and a hat or scarf on your head. And you did nothing but kneel praying the rosary while the priest did the mass with his back to you in Latin.

    Give me the new church any day.

  2. JT Says:

    This video makes me kind of sad.

    Why would the church see fit to take shots at people who are trying to do the right thing? (Since they are trying to get esoteric with the Saturday worship thing, I’ll play along – there are six things that God claims to “hate” and seven are an abomination – what is #7 – and what does this video do by poking fun at people who go to church in a suit and tie, or who may be a bit immature and need some help in determining how best to deal with a brother or sister in Christ with whom they disagree?)

    I also question whether the creators of this video see the irony in their attempts to poke fun at their stipulative definition of a Christian. They are harping on people for having a holier than though attitude, but miss the fact that their Mac guy comes across as having the very same attitude.

    Of course, there are a lot of people who pull the self-righteous “do you think Jesus …” routine that is acted out here. However, the majority of people who go to church in a suit and tie (myself included) are just trying to serve God in the best way that they know how. Having modest, circumspect dress is a method of showing respect for a holy God.

    I will not look down on someone who is wearing jeans and a t-shirt in church as I know that God is working in each one of our lives at his own speed.

    However, the makers of this video are poking fun at a sincere desire in many people to give reverence to an absolutely holy God. Not cool. Not cool at all.

    My previous pastor described the dress issue like this. If you would dress up to go to meet the President; if you would dress up to meet the Queen; if you would dress up to go for a job interview; if you would dress up to do anything that you consider “important,” you should probably do the same for church. After all, you are going to worship the very God in church and He should be important in the lives of Christians and/or “Christ Followers.”

    I understand where they are trying to go with this, but God should be something special to us. He’s not our pal. He’s not the guy that we go to play ball with on the weekend. While He is Christ – our friend and He loves/accepts us for who we are. He is also Jehovah God, the I am that I am, the same God who caused people to fall on their faces as if dead when they saw a portion of His glory. He is our Savior and He deserves some respect. Dressing up for church is just one way to show God that you recognize he is worthy of going that extra step.

    That your church sees fit to make fun of people who are trying to show that respect makes me sad.

    Not trying to flame. Not trying to be mean. Just letting you know how I feel.

    Like the new look of the blog btw.

  3. Kendra Says:

    I disagree with the initial comment, I don’t think that this video “polkes fun” at Christians, but it is designed to invoke thought. Is one a “Christian” following rules and image consious leaders or does one take the word of God and Jesus and ingrain it into everyday words and actions.

    Churches are not houses of God, we are. Churches were built by man so that like minded people could gather and worship, but each and everyone of us holds the spririt of our Diety within our beings. What we do or say shows far more respect or disrespect then what we wear when we present ourselves to others who we want to impress.

    To compare God to the President, the Queen or a job interview is, IMO bluring the line between secular and Holy. We dress for a job interview (I can’t say that I’d dress for the president or the Queen, I guess I just don’t care what they think of my image) because we understand that job interviews are based on human emotion and limited rationalization and therefore the outer appearance plays heavy on those human’s judgement of us. But does God really care if we are dressed in a suit or in nylons and heels and are far to perfect dirty ourselves with an act of servive or does he judge our hearts and intent?

    There is so much image and acting the part in so many churches that it is no wonder to me that there are many who can’t belive that any God would live in those religious houses.

  4. heatherly Says:

    thi svideo totally rocks. 1- i have a youth group who walks in the rain to get to church of their own volition…no prodding parents to get them out of bed. they have had people at church actually say ” Jesus would be happier if you dressed better”. fine pick me up at my house so by the time i walked 2 miles to church i am not sweaty, and i don’t have to wear sensible shoes.
    Do we want to be their excuse for not going to church? following G-d?

    2 and since i am ALSO jewish, i love the Shabbat thrown in at the end. we are asked all the time why we believe in Jesus but still keep kosher,etc.. this is viewed as legalism, but the snatching a hat off a kids head as they enter church is not legalistic? well at least keeping kosher is mentioned in the bible! (along with covering your head, not uncovering it for worship)
    i am tired of the building being worsipped or the carpetting! chuck smith once told his deacons/elders if they didnt start treating the hippies “who were dirtying their carpet” with more respect, he would rip the carpet out with their bare hands.

    and i agree, not only do many jews find church offensive, so do many christians. i know so many kids i went to youth group with, that have grown up and won’t go to a church. including my brother.

    i like it! awesome video!!!
    i do like what appeasr to be “esoteric” worship that is being brought in by the “postmodern christian cultue though,too. 🙂

  5. Jason Says:

    Kendra,

    It appears that we actually agree on the basics. When you break both comments down to their basic themes, my comment said essentially the same thing that you did.

    We both agree that God takes us where we are, then expects growth through the application of His word in our daily lives. Furthermore, we both agree that those who follow rules/images (whether of the stereotyped straw man of a “Christian” shown in the video, or the conception of a “true” – stipulative definitions again – Christ Follower), instead of God and the Scriptures are missing the point. Being a Christian, or “Christ Follower” is about the attitude of the person doing the following. Are you willing to give your life over to God and follow Him, even if it hurts, causes you to lose your job/friends/family/life?

    Do you value people’s opinions more than God? Do you resist doing what God requires of you, claiming that your individual preferences are more important? Or, are you willing to put God first and love people as He did and does? If you are, the things like wearing a suit vs. jeans will lose their significance.

    I believe that we agree on those themes. I would, however, respectfully disagree with you on a couple of issues.

    First, the notion that the video did not poke fun at people. The whole theme of the video was poking fun at “Christians” that the producers presented as living the Pharisaical attitude of ‘I have ticked off all the boxes on the list, therefore, I’m a good servant of God.’ Truthfully, didn’t you grin/chuckle/find some humor in the representation of “Christians” as rule-bound, uptight, nerdy, and quick to judge.

    As an aside, it is quite possible for the video to 1) poke fun at the stipulatively defined “Christian,” and 2) invoke thought. Many comedians and producers have made very good livings, using humor as a means to encourage thought.

    Second, the thought that “What we do or say shows far more respect or disrespect then what we wear when we present ourselves to others who we want to impress.” In this sentence, you’re continuing the stipulative definition (and straw man) of Christians as necessarily wanting to impress people first. (You did the same thing by asserting that if you wear a suit and tie, you will see yourself as “far too perfect to dirty yourself with an act of service.”) I wear a suit and tie to church because I want to show respect to God and I do not want to do anything that will cause another brother to stumble. I believe that if I treat my worship (at church and elsewhere) as something worthy of reverence, I might be able to demonstrate to others that I respect God and help to inculcate a similar desire for reverence in them.

    Additionally, what you wear is just one of the many things that “you do” to show respect or disrespect. Think about that for a second. If I was invited to your wedding, your graduation dinner, or something else you thought was important, and I showed up in cut-off shorts/flip flops/bare chested, would you think I was showing respect to you and the occasion? Probably not. Like it or not, the way you dress for an event is one measure of the reverence you hold for it.

    At the end of the discussion, however, I cannot demand that you wear a suit and tie/dress/etc. That isn’t my place. It is an issue that is between you and God. What I hope that we would agree on is that different churches and areas will have different ideas about what is appropriate and that it is more important that people are there and taking part than it is that they have on some approved uniform. As I noted above I believe that we both agree on the idea that it is the attitude going with the dress. Am I wearing the suit and tie to please people? Are you wearing jeans and a T-shirt to rebel against some church’s rules? (in the end, both are equally as flawed reasons) Or are we both dressing in a manner that willingly submits to God?

    Third, the notion of blurring the line between secular and holy. I would suggest that most Christians would not necessarily see any issue with that line being blurred as “whatsoever (we) do, (we) do all to the glory of God.” Additionally, I was not attempting to compare God to the President or the Queen. I was trying to “invoke thought.” I was asking, what is important to you? I then moved on to ask if you are willing to make God just as important? In my experience, those who put God first are not going to get uptight about a suit and tie, or jeans and a T-shirt. They will also be willing to love/help/educate/mentor those who are immature enough to get uptight over things like that.

    Lastly, I would wholeheartedly agree that there is image and acting in most churches (fundamental and evangelical alike). There are people in every church who fail, sin, and make mistakes because they are people, not because they choose to be called “Christians” instead of “Christ Followers.”

    If I have learned anything in my short life, I have learned that the easiest thing to do is to latch on to some preferred “sin” in another person – whether it is pride, immorality, Pharisaical attitudes, sham piety, denial of key Scriptural teachings, anger, lust, etc. – and wallow in a self-righteous judgment of that person. While there is a clear Scriptural precedent to take a firm stand against sin and error, if we do that only as a means of avoiding or covering over our own sin, or as a means of beating up on another Christian, we are missing the point.

    That some churches have people who are willing to take part in the wallowing and avoidance is sadly true. While some fundamentalists foment division by nitpicking over issues of dress and deportment, some evangelical churches miss the irony inherent in, and the divisive nature of, their attacks on fundamental churches. When people sneer at fundamental churches as being too “judgmental,” “hate-filled,” “rule-bound,” etc. they can easily fall prey to the exact same sin that they are highlighting in others.

    What I saw in that video appeared to fiddle on the edge of that attitude and that is what saddened me. (To be fair, I may have totally missed the producer’s intent. To be equally fair, they may not be willing to admit that they hold divisive attitudes toward other Christians.) Either way I was hoping that my initial comment would be taken as a caution, not an indictment.

    We all need to remember that, there, but for the grace of God go I. None of us are above reproach, correction, or being admonished. We are all just sinners, saved by grace and acting high and mighty or self-righteous about how good we are flies in the face of the fact that God is not a respecter of persons.

    At any rate, I would rather end on a positive note by remembering the fact that we appeared to agree on the core themes. God takes us where we are because he loves us. We should have the same love for other people and other Christians.

  6. Jason Says:

    eeeep! I just reread one sentence in my post and wanted to note that I am not stating as fact that the producers of the video definitely hold divisive attitudes toward other Christians. I was only trying to say that it is a slight possibility that they might (unconsciously?) hold those attitudes.

    Again, not flaming. Not picking fights. Just chatting. Feel free to chat back at me.

  7. Rev. Josh Says:

    First of all, I love the video and I love the discussion around it. I want to applaud you all for your lack of “flaming.”

    Having said that, I can’t resist the urge to throw my hat in.

    I see two purposes of this film. One is to identify what differentiates this church from other churches. I’m guessing from the video that it represents a movement toward simplicity reminiscent of the Christian movement. (Look at the history of modern day churches the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Congregational Christian branch of the United Church of Christ) I think there’s something to be said for that.

    The second purpose, I think, is to serve as a cautionary tale. And a quite Biblically based one at that. The “Christian” character is consitantly concerned with visible signs of “faith.” The nice suit, the WWJD bracelet, the offering envelope “right where you can see it…” these all sound like some things Jesus railed about, right? And I know that I’m preaching to the choir here about some of this. I _did_ notice that the only thing anyone had any issue with was the suit vs the jeans & T-shirt issue.

    So one more word on that.

    Yes, a suit is one way of showing one’s respect. Formal dress is one way of showing the formality of the situation. However, a suit is also an outward sign of your wealth. In order to wear a nice suit, one must be able to afford a nice suit. In the same way that others might take offense at informal dress, still others may be made to feel unwelcome if they do not have the resources to dress “appropriately.”

    Incidentally, I wear a suit to work (my parents had to buy it for me) but I wear it because clothes are not important enough for me to fight over. There are more important things to rile the congregation over!

    Be good to each other,
    Rev. Josh

  8. Kendra Says:

    Rev. Josh

    I thought about the cost of the suit and the message it sends out many hours after I wrote the initial post, and you are correct.

    I believe that I may live in a different world then Jason. My sister is Wicca and is heavily tattoed and pierced, she and her husband often appear in public in clothing that others would consider “inappropriate”, it doesn’t change who they are on the deeper level. Yes, she has frustrated me in the past because she hasn’t played the image game with her clothes in order to get a job, the family struggles financially, but they are at peace that they have not compromised their own ideals in order to conform with societial perceptions of proper dress and appearance. It’s a choice they had to make that most people don’t as most people don’t have such extreme views of personal appearance.

    I realize that it would take volumes to express my thoughts on theology, needless to say, this isn’t the forum to continue this discussion. Let’s just say that I didn’t grow up in a typical house, nor has my path been that which most are familiar with. I’m usually the odd man out when the group is primarily theists as following rules tends to be far easier then following Jesus and my expereince makes me believe that humans will take the easy path when given a choice.

    I like the notion of the Chirst follower and am optomistic that this person would “Love one another” with far less reservation then the conventional Christian that has traditionally followed the culture of his faith.

  9. lorinda Says:

    Thanks guys for the thoughtful, respectful dialogue we’re having here. You are giving me much food for thought. I appreciate you (even you baby brudder).

  10. Shelley Says:

    Apparantly I would fall asleep in Jason’s church. He rambles on and doesn’t really say much of anything. The point is not to be concerned with “looking Christian” but actually following Christ. How hard was that?

  11. Jason Says:

    How ironic that Shelley’s personal attack comes right after Lorinda thanked people for carrying on a “thoughtful, respectful dialogue.” There’s always one troll who can come in and try to stir things up.

    I trust that was sufficiently succinct for you Shelley.

  12. Shelley Says:

    Jason, if you are truly a Christian or a Christ follower, you would not call me a troll for merely stating my opinion. I am sorry that you feel that you can judge me based on one short post on a website. I happen to attend Lorinda’s church. What makes me a troll?

    This will be my last comment on this, as I refuse to argue over this issue. Which, I believe is Eric’s point in the whole video itself.

  13. Jason Says:

    Two very quick points and then I will let this go as well.

    1) I said you were a troll (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_troll) because we were having a civil conversation until you appeared out of nowhere, belittled my church and attacked me personally.

    2) When I pointed out that your comment was inappropriate, you judged me as being neither a Christian nor a Christ Follower and then somehow move on to say that I have judged you (recognize please that there is a BIG difference between questioning the appropriateness and content of a comment and judging someone’s heart and releationship with Christ).

    Wow!

    It’s been a slice folks. I think I’ll stick to e-mailing you from now on Lorinda.

  14. Rachel Says:

    I’m glad this video has created such a lively discussion. It makes me sad that it has created some anger from both sides. It’s hard, I think, for people to see these kinds of videos out of context. I happen to love these MAC/PC videos that we’ve had the last few weeks at church but they are a teaser into a 20 minute message. Standing alone, to someone that hasn’t experienced our church’s culture, it might be hard to understand. No one’s intent was to question a person’s relationship with Christ but to cause people to think about why they do what they do. So much of what happens in a church is done because that’s how it’s always been done. This video brings our stuff into light by humor. I think the reason we laugh is because we have seen that “man” before- in an old church, in our current church, on the street. It’s not to say that he doesn’t believe but it’s asking us “Are we keeping the main thing the main thing?”
    I’m glad this has become such an interesting topic of conversation.

  15. Tricia Says:

    I agree with Rachel. I attend the church and you are missing the heart that is truly put behind the message. I have never been to a church that challenges people to step out of their comfort zone and look around at those that are really in need … If you could be with the people and feel their genuine heart (as a body) that they have at helping people find there way back to God then you might see the video differently. I love this place and the people have a real heart to serve and they have made a huge difference in my family and many others.
    I went to a church were your salvation depended on how you dressed and the outward appearance and not a whole lot eles. I think we as Christ follows need to focus on what Jesus is expecting us to do …
    We need to be working His fields because they are so ripe and we need to do it together.

  16. KAD Says:

    I saw about four of these videos yesterday on one of my friend’s blogs. Well…he’s more like just some person I know from a common group activity– dancing. He and his friends all attend the same church in our town, and participate in this dancing group. Each week, I see his friends guarding the stereo system, waiting to dance with just him, and one or two other guys. The majority of that group does not really talk to anyone or dance with anyone on the “outside”. For whatever reason, they are quite introverted. They will not approach anyone on the outside. My friends and I have found that we must approach them to break the ice. The outsiders seem to have no problem mixing with others. The people on the outside are a varied bunch from people who attend other churches to Jewish people to Pagans to Athiests.

    So I suppose I am shocked to learn that this person I know is a “Christ follower” when he and his friends keep such a tight clique. It hurts me because I know that it’s not supposed to be this way–Jesus spent time with all kinds of people, right? I hope this “change” in my friend leads to more unity and mixing with other people in our social group.

    Yeah. I dress up when I go to church. There are so many other occaisions where it’s appropriate, even required, out of respect. When I think about it, God is bigger than all of those special occaisions combined. I’m not so sure about dressing to the nines, or just coming as you are, but I do think we should show our appreciation for the bodies and the lives that God gave to us by taking care of ourselves in a reasonable manner. If we have the ways and means to take care of ourselves by bathing, fixing our hair, and wearing relatively clean, untattered clothing, then we should should do that, notwithstanding any activity where it’s garranteed to get messy. I trust we’re all adult enough to use good common sense there.

    The thing that bothers me about the videos–even though I find them amusing–is this new division amongst Christians. Everytime we realize we’ve strayed from the original meaning of Christ’s message, it seems like there is a reformation movement along with a division within some of the denominations. This is troubling in that I thought we were all one body through Jesus. If we are to reach out and love one another, we need to show that we are united in that cause. It doesn’t matter what methods we use–we all have our own unique talents. Let’s use these talents for unity, not division.

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