Tuesday, July 22, 2008

When Bathroom Stalls and Churches Collide

I've always found the toilet to be an inspirational place, and I know I'm not alone in saying that. So not too long ago I was in Avon, CO sitting on the hot seat in the public bathroom of a Wal-Mart, admiring the surroundings: the graffiti, the writing, the drawings that I'm sure we're all (at least the guys) familiar seeing on stall walls. Maybe admiring isn't the right word. My first impression is, "ugh, how stupid," but after my disgust wears off, I start thinking about how prevalent these thoughts, images, stereotypes, and mindsets are in our culture, and it's really sad. I think it reveals a lot of insight into the disrespect, depravity, and neediness of humanity. The graffiti is evidence of a disregard, or at least an ignorance, of true Eros, Phila, and Agape love as well as real community. The historic and natural response of the church has been to shun these stall-graffitiers (metaphorically speaking) in reaction to that initial disgust. But instead of turning our heads in disgust, I think the church needs to take a good look at those stalls and soak it in until the disgust wears off and we can respond with compassion.

I'm imagining what it would look like for a church to be made up of those stall graffitiers. Don't get me wrong here, I am not saying that current church goers are even close to perfection; I bet churchies (church goers) even graffiti on stalls. What I'm getting at is not so much about behavior but more about the current attitude that outsiders have toward the church as well as the disposition of the church toward outsiders. Much of the world stereotypes churchies as goody-two-shoes, placing an unfit and weighty expectation for churchies to be perfect. This stereotype does two things: it sets up the church for failure, resulting in reproaches of hypocrisy, and it distances outsiders from the church. Furthermore, to an extent, I think the church has taken on this burden, and in expecting itself to be perfect, fronts a mask of "having it all together" in fear that otherwise, they would be considered a fraud. Ironically, this furthers separation between the world and the church and undermines community. In other words, right now, those graffitiers don't feel welcomed into the church, and if they were, the world would scream hypocrisy.

But what if it was the other way around?

What if it was normal for the vulgar, the imperfect, the rich, the poor, the perverts, the successful, the drop-outs to attend a church in which, because of a real interdependent vulnerable community, they realize that they don't need to have it all together, and that this is the very reason for grace!? What if the world saw the church as a place to meet their needs for love and community instead of how their sins fail to compare to the piety of today's masquerading church goers? What if church was a place of unconditional love: for people of every race, class, background, and clique, worshiping an amazing God who calls us into a relationship with Him and with each other?

Envision this. Is it biblical? What would it look like? How do we do it? I don't have all the answers to these three questions, so I wanna hear thoughts! I know there may be some objections. I understand that the church should be an example... a pure bride to Christ, working to reflect the beauty of the kingdom of God. So, the church should not accept sin, but at the same time should not be unapproachable and unwelcoming. I realize Paul talks about removing someone who is sinning from the community (1 Corinthians 5:5) and not to associate with purposeful sinners who claim to be Christians (1 Corinthians 5:11), but what’s the context and can these verses be reconciled with the type of church described here? I look forward to your thoughts!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Good Ole Country Music!!!

My good friend Catie Smith spent some time in good ole Missouri, and didn't have much of a choice but to listen to some good ole country music (which she abhors). So Catie wrote the lyrics to a song that makes fun of country music, and when she shared them with me, I figured I should put the song to some music... some country music. So to the right, under "The Sweet Spot" section, check out those good ole "nose congested vocals" with three repeating chords of guitar and harmonica!

p.s. Thanks to Audacity, a free download that's like having an awesome home recording studio!