Inappropriate

Some things are just inappropriate.

  • The use of John Lennon’s song “Imagine” in the closing ceremony of the supposedly unifying, unified Olympics

This song contains patently offensive lyrics — in the ears of attentive Christians, that is.   You may think, “Oh, it’s just a popular song” or “What’s wrong with it?  It’s got a message of hope.”  Among some nice or at least neutral thoughts, though, two lyric lines spur the hearer toward the blasphemous conception of an eternity in which there is no heaven — no eternal home.  I don’t think the use of this song was very unifying or even smart.  It was inappropriate at best.  But then again, most people — Christians included — aren’t that discerning, and probably neither noticed nor cared much.

  • The phrase “rock the vote”

This catch-phrase has been applied, for 20 years, to the effort to get young people (presumably rock music fans) to vote.  It seems to me that the event organizers must find the political process more deeply significant than the trivializing phrase “rock the vote” implies.  Phrases such as “rock-n-roll,” “we’re rockin’,” “you rock,” “rock the vote,” etc., are so deeply mired in pop culture as to render themselves unworthy of any meaningful process, event, or concept.

Said another way:  if I were sitting on the fence between political activity and inactivity, the phrase “rock the vote” certainly would not move me to get involved.  The ineffectiveness of the phrase (to my ears) has something to do with my age bracket, I’ll admit.  Just as much, though, I perceive an inherent incongruity between the purportedly deep, broadly applicable political enterprise on one hand, and the immaturity of so many rock-related concepts, practices, and celebrities on the other.  (Please know, if you’re inclined to write off this whole item, that I like some classic and progressive rock music, stylistically speaking — namely, KANSAS, Styx, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Boston, ELO, and a few more.)

  • The title “Reverend” (used to address, or to refer to, a human)

Taking a descriptive word applied only to Deity in scripture and then applying it to a supposed “vicar” — really?  One who actually thinks about the title “Reverend” will surely realize what an affront it is to God.  (And if one doesn’t think about it . . . well, why tie an epithet to someone if you’re not thinking about it?!)  Would that Christians would consider that, if they use the title “Reverend” to refer to a human, 1) they are not on solid ground, 2) they could be found to be blaspheming, and 3) they may simply be pandering to societal scenaria.  Calling a human “Reverend” pushes far beyond impropriety.

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3 things

Thinking out loud here . . . should I call a person by a title because religious protocol tells me I should?

“Reverend”?
“Pastor”?
“Father”?

Me genoito!  (Rom. 6:2–yeah, I’m ripping this Greek from its context to support my agenda, but it’s just an interjection, after all.)  Those 3 labels are among those that I have resolved never to call any other human.  If I did call someone by one of these titles, the reality wouldn’t change, of course: the person would still not be reverend, for example.  Yet the use of such titles does suggest subservience to a non-biblical system.

The problem is twofold.  Foremost, it’s God’s will that is conceptually over all; He, through the eternal Son, has ruled that no one of us is lord over another — and, specifically, that we should not call each other “Father.”  This much is clear:  there are no hierarchical rankings in the Kingdom.  Even Peter referred to himself as a “fellow elder,” not setting himself up over others in terms of spiritual influence, so why should anyone today think he is over anyone else?

Even if the Father, in the “vertical” sphere, had expressed nothing along these lines, the problem of religious titles would still exist in another sphere — the horizontal one.  Churches would still need to deal decisively with the ramifications of setting one person or a group of persons above others. 

Church is really not about the clergyfolk.  Those in paid ministry positions (where such positions seem necessary!) should stop calling attention to themselves by the use of titles, by hogging corporate time, and by generally thinking they have rank in the Kingdom of God.  Some of the problem is not the fault of the clergyfolk per se; it’s the fault of the system that insists, by its very existence, that we all perpetuate the problem.

Where do you stand?  Will you pander to the persistent problem, or be about the Father’s business, in and through a better body life?

It ain’t necessarily so

Just because he says it doesn’t mean it’s so. Just because someone with a human title and a pedigree says something doesn’t mean it’s so.  I do so tire of religious drivel that am nearly driven to retitle my blog with a moniker from someone else’s:  “Losing My Religion.”

Among the recent moments which seemed physically to force my head to commence shaking in disgust was the reading of a letter from missionaries in which the opening sentence was “Hi … I’m Reverend Thomas Smith.”  The uninhibited pretentiousness of labeling oneself with a descriptor reserved in scripture for God is superseded only by the unmitigated stupidity of starting a letter this way when it’s supposed to influence others to send him money.  He followed quickly with the line “My wife, Reverend Jane Smith, and I …”  Why not a simple “Jane and I”?  I suppose there are some who would say to themselves, subconsciously, “Oh, since he’s a ‘reverend,’ he is worthy of my writing out a check, so here I go.”  I, on the other hand, was driven deep–not into my pocket, but into despair for the condition of religion.

Later came this exhortation:  “We believe that God is calling our church to support a faith-pledge of $3,000”  Well, what if I believe that God “called” me to ignore such a faith-pledge?  Or what if He “told” me the faith-pledge was to be $2,842?  I wondered just how ignorant this church was of charlatans like Herbert W. Armstrong, Joseph Smith, present-day ones like Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, and many other televangelists who claim to receive such specific (self-serving) messages from on high.  Pardon me, but what horsehockey….

“Tithes and offerings” are Old Covenant things.  They were instituted to support the special-class priesthood, which is not in existence under the New Covenant (except in under-informed or deluded minds).  I would never argue with someone who gives 10% or 11% or 23% of his income to Christian charities.  I do resist anyone who claims that financial percentages are currently enjoined by scripture.  They are not.

Ubiquitous “God is teaching me” and “what God is doing in my life” phrases may stem from desperation or from a sincere desire to seem spiritual.  It’s one thing to presume some inclination or guilt-feeling or desire is the call of God for an individual.  But when such “calling” theology extends to a corporate body through its leadership, a relatively innocuous baselessness can become fraudulence that plays on the gullibility of the masses.

I’m glad I looked up the lyrics to the Gershwin song “It Ain’t Necessarily so” from Porgy and Bess before finishing this post.  I had no idea how irreverent the words are.  (The song seems to suggest that things in the Bible aren’t necessarily so.)  1.  Just because it’s a pastor or preacher sayin’ sumpin’ don’t mean it’s so, no matter whether he’s tellin’ ya to drop a nickel in the plate or to listen to him ‘cuz he has heard from God on high.  2.  On the other hand, if it’s the message of the Bible, it is necessarily so.

The conceptual problem comes in the tension between the two, and the practical problem comes in the repeated alignment of religious people with #1 over #2.