Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Why I'll Never Be A Good Christian Girl, And It's Prolly Not Why You Think.

So, if you’ve been keeping up here lately, you’ll know that I’m on this Joy kick. It all started a few weeks ago, on the Bike 2 Camp trip, when a good friend (ok, R for Roommate) was struggling with some interpersonal conflict with another person/group of people, and I was processing with him about not letting turd-like-people rob you of the chance to experience joy in your surroundings or your service. The whole “robbed of joy” cliché has been so overused in the Christian community, and yet as I said it to him, I realized I hardly had an idea of what it meant. I felt bad for even using it, at the time.

So, I started processing a lot about joy, and a few posts and weeks later there you have it.
In all this processing, one of the things that happened was that an insatiable urge to read and devour books about this Christian walk surfaced in a way that was unexpected and unprecedented for me. Usually I try to avoid a lot of the “Christian literature” out there, for the fact that I just get frustrated by all the ignorant hype, the fact that marketing to a solely Christian audience feels more like selling crappy animals in the temple, and how eager the Christian community is to pass off anything Jesus-related as a life-altering necessity, when in fact a lot of it is just repetitive, small-scope, Americanized bunko. Three books you definintely will not find on my bookshelf are The Purpose Driven Life, The Prayer of Jabez, and The Shack. Urgh.

And while I may be throwing out the baby with the bathwater, my temper boils whenever I walk into a Northwestern Bookstore and see aisles of cheesy sloganed tee shirts, clichéd fridge magnets and even Christian breathmints (because you know, they must use Holy Water in making them or something, as if Orbitz is just too risqué with their lewd and provactive commercials). To even mention the fact that most of the women in there look like they just stepped out of a circa 1974 Sears catalog & should be driving a 15 passenger van full of their Quiver-full homeschooled brood, instead of normal, respectable, moderately fashionable people, would be besides the point, and only make me look like a GAP (*gasp of shock*) snob. Does that make me, somehow, not a Good Christian Girl? Oh well.

But despite my personal opinions (and that’s all they are) about modern Christian lit and culture, and “exclusive to the saved” bookstores, I picked up a few books from the library before my recent trip, and within days had polished them both off. The first one, “Save Me From Myself: How I Found God, Quit Korn, Kicked Drugs & Lived To Tell My Story”, by Brian “Head” Welch was a pretty easy read, as ¾ of it was the author telling of the depravity of his life in the rock & roll scene, before he started following Jesus. The last ¼ of the book was filled with a sweetness that one senses in a child, starting wide eyed in wonder at a field of flowers all around him. That’s the sense I got as Head talked about the love he has for his Savior and Friend, Jesus, and the appreciation in his heart as someone who truly has been “saved”. It was not the intellectual think tank proposal of the year, but a good read nonetheless.

The next book I read was “The Myth of Christian Religion” by Greg Boyd. This was a great glimpse into the work of Boyd, who I’ve been curious about for quite a while. And while there were parts of this call to rebellion against anything incompatable with the way of following Jesus that felt more liberal than what I expected, it wasn’t anything that played out for it’s own sake. Rather, it was a completely valid argument to embrace a practical view on practicing the presence of God, which sounds more cliché than it was in the book. Anyway, more on that to come, and not because there wasn’t much to discuss in this passionate plea to the church but because the one book out of the four I’ve finished in the last fortnight that I really wanted to get into and yet was most skeptical about was Velvet Elvis, by Rob Bell.

And though I’d love to begin a review of Velvet Elvis right here and now, I found that I had so much to say about it, and went off on so many bunny trails because of all the subjects that it brought to the forefront of my mind, that I had to split my review of it into two additional blog posts. They follow ….. wait for it …. NOW!

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