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September 19, 2005

Comments

Scott in Houston

I almost shot my coffee across the room through my nose when I saw "themed origes"! Your humor is getting better and better with age my friend. I couldn't agree more with your take and on that analogy...priceless!

I'm more disappointed in the system than the man (Warren); it's marketing and the need for success that is the blame for the plight of the mega's today.

I'd agree that you're a cracker, by definition laid down by those in the black and/or hispanic hood. I'm a cracker...wouldn't you like to be a cracker too? It's spoken at times almost with a cute descriptive quality that doesn't normally offend anyone but the most sensetive of people.

I'd also interject, and I'm by no means trying to open a race issue for argument but merely making a point, that black/hispanics are out of touch with us as well...not that either of us could just STROLL up into each other's territory and say..."hey, can we reconnect?" That would be an ugly scene. I don't think any division of race wants to "reconnect" with the other in the least (over all, not grouping every human into a group unwillingly). I think we all want what we want and we've all reaped the harvest the crop we've been sowing.

Scott in Houston

BTW, today's my birthday and no one here knows...hehehe! If people don't know...do you still get older?

greg

Happy Birthday, pecker-head.

Monk-In-Training

Well, the only addendum I would like to say, is that Cracker has always, to my mind, had a Southern component to it's definition. So what do you call white DamnYankees?

ambrose

Dear Monk-in-Training:
Honky works.

jvpastor

This is why we need our own mag Greg!

Bruce Prescott

Greg,

For what it's worth, I agree with you.

bsmietana@covchurch.org

Greg,

I love your blog and respect your thinking, but don't b.s. me. Calling someone a cracker is an insult and you meant it as one. Come on, let's be honest about that. You called them crackers because by putting them down you could show yourself as a more sophisticated, authentic Christian who goes to a phony carnival, themed orgies, worship service. That's my concern about the postmodern, emergent Christian conversation--it's all about a "real Christian" as opposed to all those phony, suburban megachurch crackers. And what skin is it off of your nose if they want to do a "damn luau" service, a hootenany or any other kind of service. You're not going there and you don't know those folks, and you don't know what's going on there, so why get all bent out of shape over it? Save the sackcloth and ashes for something that matters.

Unless we all go back and become Catholics and to a parish church--we are all guilty of being what CS Lewis called tasters or connoisseurs of churches--finding the one that meets our "needs" or our tastes. I don't see us going back to one Catholic and apostolic church anytime soon, so we've got to make the best of what we got. That includes megachurches. I do go to one, and I'm critical of them, but am no ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

On a lighter note, my three year old just pooped on the floor. Got to go clean it up.

bsmietana@covchurch.org

Greg,

The Bible may be "filled with "hyperbole" but you're not in the Bible, are you? Unless you're claiming that your blogging is from God's mouth to your fingers, and I know you're not doing that.

greg

Bob,

I can't be more explicit that cracker is not an insult. I refer to myself as one. As usual, you choose to believe what you choose to believe about me--isn't that what you're accusing me of doing to the Saddleback folk?

Again, if you've read much around here you'll note that I don't consider myself a "real" Christian and everyone else some sort of faint reflection. I have great respect for most of the traditions of the Church and vocalize that on a regular basis. So, you'll need to ease up on the blanket condemnation of my motives. My antipathy is generally saved for megachurches. I think they hurt the Church.

If you read the article in the New Yorker about Saddleback, you might be surprised at some of the vocabulary Warren and his lackeys use. I'll be posting on the newly schizophrenic Saddleback soon though, so you'll be able to read some of what they said. And this: "And what skin is it off of your nose if they want to do a 'damn luau' service, a hootenany or any other kind of service?" Is that the criteria for assesssing ecclesiology now? Skin off an individual's nose? Hell, no wonder no real critical analysis gets done; we've got journalists and editors who think theology is a laissez faire issue and individualism is the rubric through which worship should be viewed.

And no, we don't all have to go back. And the Catholics are just as guilty of the same picking and choosing as we Protestants. Since Vatican II they've been allowed to pick a parish, and here in America they've done so with gusto. And the term cafeteria Catholic has nothing to do with lunch.

"That's my concern about the postmodern, emergent Christian conversation--it's all about a 'real Christian' as opposed to all those phony, suburban megachurch crackers." You're close. It's all about what a genuine expression of Christianity looks like when separated as much as possible from the individualism and consumerism that drives the megachurch phenomenon. We're all slaves to our context to some degree so we'll never extricate ouselves completely, but rather than roll over like a $2 whore for Americana, at least Emergent is questioning the principalities and powers that megachurchdom is busy worshiping.

I would like to read where you've been critical of megachurches in print, if you don't mind.

On a lighter note, sorry about the poop.

greg

And no, I'm not in the Bible. You said there was no room for that kind of talk in the kingdom. My point was that the writers of the Bible, and Jesus himself used hyperbole on a regular basis, so I guess they thought there was room for it in the kingdom.

Your knee-jerk reaction to criticism of evangelical sacred cows is what I've become accustomed to from the evangelical right (and my point in haranguing the Christian media for not engaging in substantive criticism). It's the kind of manipulation of language that Derrida was talking about when he talked about language as a tool of power. The evangelical right wants to frame the discussion and the parameters of argumentation so that they are above reproach. Filter every criticism through some sort of appeal to non-judgmentalism or individual preference or "success," and voila, you have a corrupt system that manipulates language to maintain the status quo. Not only that, anyone that engages in criticism automatically becomes a bad guy, hypocrite, embittered, judgmental, or God forbid, allegedly borders on breaking one of the ten commandments...what did you call it...ah yes...bordering on bearing false witness. Indeed.

bsmietana@covchurch.org

Greg,

What I choose to believe about you is that you are a fervant intelligent theologically reflective writer who you hates megachurches. And that hatred is distorting your vision.

Criticism is good and needed. I'm questioning whether your assessment of megachurches as really two dollar whores is an accurate one, or a fair one. That's what journalist do--we examine the facts, meet with people, and report on what we find. And what I have found is a mixed bag when it comes to megachurches. Some good, some bad, some ugly, some redemptive.

Megachurches are not beyond reproach, far from it. They aren't sacred cows. But criticism has got to be fair and accurate. It's alot more fun to piss on megachurches or whatever target you want to criticize. Substantive investigation and criticism often reveals what we don't want to see--that things are more complicated than they seem on the surface.

So far, with the emergent church, I see alot of people talking about being authentic--for the most part it means that they aren't megachurches. Big deal.

We need to talk about this over a few beer the next time I'm in OKC or if you come to Chicago.

bsmietana@covchurch.org

Greg,

BTW, it's not the criticism that I'm objectng too--it's the contempt that's seeping into your posts and your comments. Evaluating and critiquing megachurches is one thing. Demonizing them is something else. Contempt is poison to the soul.

greg

Bob,

If it's a mixed bag, show me the bag. I've seen no critique from the evangelical center. None. And you can't seem to offer to point me to any. The critiques I've read from the wacky right and the academicians say it isn't such a mixed bag; unless you count 90/10 as a mixed bag.

Yes, I engage in hypebole, sneering, satire, mockery and a bunch of other things around here. It's a blog. It's not meant to be a journalistic endeavor. I do that for my day job. And in those pieces, I'm not allowed to sneer or editorialize, so you'll forgive me if I do here.

I'm sure things are more complicated than they seem on the surface. I also know that a person can get "saved" (by the evangelical definition) in a whore house. That doesn't make a whore house a good model for church. LC, for example, deflects a good portion of their criticism by saying, "Well, people are getting saved." Two problems: one I've already pointed out, and two, they are defining saved in very reductionistic terms.

I'd be happy to discuss this with you over a beer or anything else. You chose to reprove me publicly, so I'm responding publicly. Your reproof sounded, on both occasions, very much like the typical responses I get from the evangelical right when I start talking about megas. You accuse me of pissing on the megas, yet you offer no examples of solid research from the evangelical center that justifies the ecclesiology of the megas. Let's start there. Find me an article or book from the evangelical center (Baker, IVP, Zondervan, Word, Thomas Nelson, CT, Leadership, Charisma, etc.) that critiques megas. Better yet, print one in your magazine.

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