Friday, June 26, 2009

Worship Music Gone Bad

Music in the church has always been the subject of debate among Christians. Should you use guitars? Should you sing modern hymns or only traditional hymns? Should you even use instruments? I think all that depends on your denomination, but may I suggest one thing?


Ever go to a church where the worship leader will stretch out a short hymn for over ten minutes? The usually the less lyrics the song has, the more the worship leader will stretch it out. For example, "This is the Air I Breathe." Often the worship leader will make the congregation repeat the chorus ("And I'm lost without you/ and I'm desperate for you") for three solid minutes, with their hands in the air. It's supposed to make you feel humble, and realize how lost you are without God (hence the lyrics). Instead, I often want to scream, "Okay, we get it! We're lost without Him! Can we get to the sermon now? I've got crap to do!"

This is why I like going to a Lutheran Church. We stick to how the music's written out in the hymnal. If the hymnal doesn't tell us to repeat a single sentence over and over again, we won't do it. Sometimes the pastor will even tell us to skip the last couple of verses, depending on how long the hymn is. Lutherans don't mess around!

Now if you're attending a Christian music concert, that's different. At a concert, you're supposed to have a transcendental experience with the music, so it makes sense to extend a song for over five minutes. But at church, people are a bit more anxious on time. We want to get to Panera Bread early before the place gets too crowded.

So if you are a worship leader, and the congregations is getting a little antsy during the 8th minute of "Shout to the Lord," maybe it's time to rap it up.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Have a Good Summer

I'm taking the better part of the summer to work on a new book. I'll do my best to update this blog periodically with at least mildly funny photos (such as the one below, which I would credit if I knew where it came from).

Enjoy the summer!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Sad But True

I don't know about you, but many times in my life I tried to be the puppetmaster. Didn't really work out though.

You can see more at The Ongoing Adventures of ASBO Jesus.

[Hat tip: Margaret Feinberg]

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bikers Still Riding Hard with Jesus

One of my last post on Christian Humorist was about a group of Christian bikers who liked to "ride hard." Their hard riding got them in trouble last year, when they went to a bar and got into a fight with a member of the Hell's Angels--the ultimate battle of good and evil ensued, I suppose.

I pass by the house where the group lives nearly every day, and have been wondering what ever happened to them. The Register ran a story about the trial, and one, it seems, will be riding hard in prison.

As I mentioned on the Christian Humorist post, my Grandparents actually used to attend this church, which makes the story even more bizarre for me personally.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bring Your Gun to Church!

First, I apologize for getting to this late. I was sick this morning, and then I had to work on an article for Relevant.

In case you haven't heard, a pastor in Kentucky is inviting his congregation to bring their guns to church a few weeks from now to celebrate the Second Amendment. No one can bring ammo, but the event will include "a handgun raffle, patriotic music, and information on gun safety."

Now don't get me wrong; I support the Second Amendment, even though I don't own a gun (and don't plan to anytime soon). However, is the Church the right place to throw a gun show? Isn't the Church supposed to preach the Word of God before anything else, even the Constitution? Also, with the recent murder of George Tiller, isn't the gun the last thing you'd want to see at a church?

Like I said, I have no problem with either gun ownership or gun shows. I'm just not sure what they have to do with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Monday, June 8, 2009

What Would Jesus Tweet?

Last week I wrote about how Christians have a tendency to take something popular in the secular world and make it Christian; not long after I wrote this, I read this on MSN; it's a story about ministers who encourage people to send Twitter updates while in church. There was even a Twitter Passion Play!

I think what's happened is Christians are afraid of not looking cool, so they do something stupid to look hip. It's like Christan's who drink beer just because they're trying to impress their non-Christian friends with what they consider rebellious nature.

And in case you are wondering what Jesus would Tweet....I don't think he would; I think he'd be of the nature of getting away from his computer screen and actually doing something with his life. Me? I'll stick with being lazy, and you can catch my Twitter feed here: @scott_douglas.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What's in Your Bible?

The big thing nowadays is specialized Bibles. Depending on your area of expertise, there is a Bible tailored just for that.

For example, many churches are now interested in environmental issues, so there is a Green Bible. According to their website, the Green Bible includes verses that speak about taking care of creation highlighted in green; essays by Brian McLaren, N. T. Wright, and Bishop Desmund Tutu; and recycled paper and soy-based ink.

When Wendell Berry wrote about conservationism as a sacred duty, I don't think he was referring to a "green Bible."

For the hardcore nationalist in your family, there's The American Patriot's Bible. According to the product description, "This extremely unique Bible shows how the history of the United States connects the people and events of the Bible to our lives in a modern world. The story of the United States is wonderfully woven into the teachings of the Bible and includes a beautiful full-color family record section, memorable images from our nation's history and hundreds of enlightening articles which complement the New King James Version Bible text."

Which is interesting, because many of America's founding fathers--Thomas Paine, James Madison, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson--were Deists.

And then there are Biblezines, which are Bibles designed the look like magazines. These are for teenagers who hate books but love Cosmopolitan and Seventeen.

So you see, the Bible can be presented in ways that anyone can read it, so there is no excuse. But why stop there? Here are some other ways you can specialize the Bible:

-The Stoner Bible. Made entirely out of hemp, and all the verses that mention the world "herb" are highlighted in green. Also includes psychedelic illustrations from the Book of Revelation ('cause we all know John had to be on something!).

-The Feminist Bible. Not only is God a woman, but so are Moses, Jesus, Abraham, and all the other major characters. Satan is still a guy, though.

-The Lolcat Bible. The entire Bible told through pictures of cute cats with bad grammar. "Let thur be lite, and it wuz gud."

-The Samuel L. Jackson Audio Bible. Narrated by Jackson. Frequent use of the word "motherf***er," though.

Any other suggestions?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

White Man

Some truth for your Wednesday today. and good music that won't make you cringe (but sadly doesn't involve a keytar)

God is not a man
God is not a white man
God is not a man sitting on a cloud

God cannot be bought
God will not be boxed in
God will not be owned by religion

But God is love, God is love, and He loves everyone
God is love, God is love, and He loves everyone

God is not a man
God is not an old man
God does not belong to Republicans
God is not a flag
Not even American
And God does not depend on a government

But God is good, God is good, and He loves everyone
God is good, God is good, and He loves everyone

Atheists and Charlatans and Communists and Lesbians
And even old Pat Robertson, oh God He loves us all
Catholic or Protestant, Terrorist or President
Everybody, everybody, love....

Monday, June 1, 2009

What Do You Give a Christian for His/Her Birthday?

One of the biggest things about Christianity that truly makes me disturbed is Christians are just like everyone else—except they deny it. Obviously the human side of us is bound to fall, and that’s not what I mean by “just like everyone else.” What I mean is Christians have a tendency to capitalize on everything that they can.

If there’s a new hot up and coming music act, there’s bound to be a Christian group that copies them and slaps the name Jesus into the lyrics—because Christians need to be able to listen to that music too, but it’s not safe to listen to it if it doesn’t have lyrics that imply some sort of Christian worship. There’s even websites devoted to helping you find the Christian alternative to whatever secular music you like.

At the height of Harry Potter, there were several bad attempts to market that niche to. The list goes on and on:

Are your kids excited about “Guitar Hero,” but you’re nervous about those questionable lyrics? Don’t fret! There’s “Guitar Praise.” I am not kidding you—there is actually a Christian version of Guitar Hero!

Does “Dance Dance Revolution” have just a little bit too much dirty foot work for your beloved child’s feet? It’s okay! There’s “Dance Praise.” A Christian game apparently so popular the publisher issued a sequel!

How about Monopoly? You don’t want your kids to learn about corporate creed do you? Why would you when there’s a game like BibleOpoly.

Do you like to be reminded of the world even when you’re reading your Bible? Maybe you should try the handy dandy cell phone Bible magnet bookmark!

What if you want to evangelize to the birds? You’re in luck with this swell looking St Francis bird bath—a lovely edition to any garden.

But more than anything else, Christians exploit clothing. Do you want the world to know that you like to crucify non-believers? There’s a shirt for that. The message of this one seems to be Christians don’t lose car races? If you want to make sure all your liberal friends know that you care about the environment, then apparently you wear this one? And if you want to pretend you are a rebel, then strap on your “This Shirt is Illegal” tee--why is it illegal? Perhaps because it’s so ridiculous?

Above all else, here’s my biggest problem with Christians exploiting the world with consumer products—if you remove all these so-called Christian goods from your body, will people still know you are a Christian? Are your actions strong enough for people to know who you are and what you believe because of how you act, and not because of the shirts message or the video game that you play?

A few years back, Christian’s biggest marketing ploy was the WWJD bracelets and shirts—so let me steal a phrase of theirs: What Would Jesus Do? Would Jesus endorse any of these products?