Sunday, June 14, 2009

A thoughtless lyric

Today I ran across a very interesting juxtaposition while listening to my local Christian radio station. At one point there was a preacher (I didn't catch his name) who was born with a cleft palate but thanks to plastic surgery is a successful international speaker. In complete opposition to that, the same station later played the song "Our God reigns" by the band Delirious?

This song, after attacking abortion and either HIV or greed (or both) then tackles what the band believes is the third great evil threatening this broken world - plastic surgery:

The west has found a gun and it’s loaded with ‘unsure’
Nip and tuck if you have the bucks in a race to find a cure.
Psalm one hundred and thirty nine is the conscience to our selfish crime,
God didn’t screw up when he made you,
He’s a father who loves to parade you.

Now I like a lot of songs by Delirious? but this is arguably one of the dumbest, most thoughtless pieces of lyric writing out there. Sure, it may sound holy and deep if you are one of the fortunate ones who happened to be born healthy and with everything looking and working as it should. But what about all those who aren't? When you get right down to it, this lyric raises several very uncomfortable questions. If God doesn't "screw up" when he makes you then why are there so many babies born with various birth defects? Is it still a "selfish crime" to correct defects that would prevent a child from talking/walking/seeing/hearing? If God wants you to stay the way He made you (flaws and all) are we supposed to leave all defects untreated? If it's OK to use plastic surgery on some defects, why not on others? At what point does it become an insult to God to alter your appearance? Is it OK to get your crooked teeth fixed? Is it a selfish crime to colour your hair? How about shaving? Is it a sin for people who were born fat to diet? Do frail people who exercise insult God? Should we even be wearing glasses and contact lenses? After all if God (according to Delirious? at least) purposefully made you nearsighted, wouldn't it be a "selfish crime" to try and correct that? Is it OK to use moisturiser or would God prefer to parade my wrinkles and blemishes as soon as possible?

Seriously, if you want to tell a beautiful but insecure teenage girl that she doesn't need breast enlargement to be loved then tell her she is beautiful and doesn't need breast enlargement to be loved. Don't make incredibly dumb and thoughtless blanket statements about plastic surgery.

And since when is plastic surgery one of the biggest evils of our time anyway?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Rick Warren should grow a pair

I get now why Pastor Rick Warren feels so at home among politicians and why presidential candidates seemed so at home in his church . They are cut from the same cloth. Dishonest peas in a pod. Like a true politician he will have an opinion for exactly as long as it makes him look good and then do a complete 180 (and lie through his teeth about it) if that opinion starts making him look bad. Unfortunately for the good pastor this is the information age and if you love seeing yourself on TV its going to make it a little harder to pretend you never said the things you did:

At least he didn't go on to act all unfairly persecuted by people calling him on it! Oh wait, he did and ended up with even more egg on his face:

Look, I am all for freedom of speech. I also firmly believe that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Therefore my issue isn't really with what Rick Warren believes it's with him not having the balls to stick to his beliefs. I have an even bigger issue with the fact that he will look you straight in the eye, smile and lie about it later. If you have an opinion then have an opinion. You want to change your mind then by all means please do, but don't then go around pretending that is what you always believed to begin with (How is that for straight out of 1984?). Most of all don't lie about it, especially when you are trying to set yourself up as the smiling overweight face of protestant Christianity - because that way we all get painted with the dishonest hypocrite brush. Like we needed any more of that...

I may dislike Fred Phelps with every fiber of my being but I respect him a lot more than Rick Warren.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My mother the whore

“The Church is a whore but she is my mother”
St Augustine of Hippo (allegedly)*

Have you ever been to a party where you don’t know anyone but everyone seems to know everyone else there? That’s how I feel about church these days. For longer that I would like to admit, I have been struggling to feel any sense of belonging in the church. I have been to a couple, the people are nice, the music is good and so is the preaching and yet I usually end up feeling the way I do when I attend a funeral for someone I didn’t know (an activity I detest by the way), I feel like I am expected to feel something or experience something that I simply don’t.

What makes this worse is the feeling that I am the only one feeling this way. Everyone else seems to enjoy going to church just fine. Politicians seem right at home (during election time anyway) and yet heaven alone knows what they actually believe. Obviously the good Christian people of the world seem to get a lot out of it. In fact, it turns out even a large number of atheists and agnostics enjoy going to church! So if agnostics can think of ten good reasons to go to church, why is it so hard for me to think of even one?

I have every reason to feel at home in church. I grew up in church. From the time I was a baby I attended church every Sunday. I faithfully attended for most of my life. I wasn’t just attending it either, I was involved in it. I have been a deacon, a cell leader, an usher and a caretaker. Really I have dealt with every part of the church from the people to the toilets in my short life. I used to feel that connection, I used to feel like I belong. So why don’t I feel that way anymore? Sometimes I can’t help but wonder if Calvin was right with his gloomy doctrine. Maybe I am excluded due to predestination.

Maybe it’s because I have changed so much. These days I browse the various neighborhood church websites and look at the smiling pastoral faces promising aggressive Kingdom building and a strong commitment to defending Biblical inerrancy in these trying times and I see exactly the Christian I used to be which in turn makes me wonder how much acceptance the person I am now would have found with the person I once was. These days I have more doubts than certainties and more questions than axioms and I just can’t help but wonder if there would be any room for me among these good people.

Perhaps there will be room, but will there be understanding? Will there be acceptance? Could the smiling faithful really connect with someone who questions as much as I do, someone who doesn’t feel the same way they do, someone who may never see eye to eye with them on certain issues? I certainly don’t have the energy to fake it for the sake of belonging.

I guess there is only one way to find out. Time will tell.

* I say allegedly because while I can find hundreds of people attributing this quote to him I can’t actually find it in any of his works. Therefore there is a chance that he never actually said this.