Monday, July 11, 2011

#238-Describing Backsliding as "Taking the Easy Way Out"

Editor's Note: 
Also the picture above arrived in my inbox last night with the caption: "For those apostolic hipster men that want to stay modest." 

Which entirely deserves a good old Al Pacino "Whooo-Ah!"

Also Another blog from another anonymous blogger... I like it:  

Last night I indulged in some late night revelry with a friend of mutual appreciation for one another’s life paths. After a short while our conversation segued to the topic of how we are treated at church and major church functions. For the most part we’re kindly greeted, given a passive aggressive invitation to church “anytime” and casually dismissed.

What is most interesting, though, is when the preacher has direct knowledge or relationship to us. Often a message is given in which we are described (indirectly and/or ambiguously, so as not to directly call us out) as “knowing better”, “having been raised right”, and “just wanting to take the easy road.”

Now, all of these statements are insulting, and we’ll get to the first two statements, but the last is the most problematic. Growing up in Pentecost is easy. Sure, someone occasionally doesn’t understand why you look slightly different, but if you have a good personality and a sense of humor you can quickly circumvent the social ramifications of not conforming. Even recently, non-conformity, aka “hipster style”, has taken off, so there can even sometimes be a level of respect for your willingness to stand out. Over all, it really isn’t that bad. Oh I know, there’s exceptions to every rule, and I’m sure you all have stories you heard about someone getting gum in their hair or their skirt pulled up, but in reality those stories are by no means common, or the norm. In reality, if you’re like most of us, you went to school, kept to yourself, didn’t participate in extracurriculars because your youth pastor demanded you at church all the time, finished school, and that was that. Past high school there really is hardly no examples of why being Apo is hard. (Except being a guy in the summer when you’re sweating through your jeans and looking for a walk in freezer to stand in for about an hour)

But that’s why they think we walked away. Because it’s “easier”.

Yeah that’s it.

As if it's so difficult to have your religion laid out for you neat and tidy, never having to read, showing up three times a week, doing what you’re told, abiding by a dress code, never asking questions, and being told everything is black and white, cut and dry, finite and inarguable. That’s so hard.

As if it's so easy to study for yourself, admit everything isn’t black and white, have questions you don’t know the answer to, come to grips with the fact that you were (or may have been) spiritually and emotionally abused, not know what you believe about God, not know what to think about religion, and just not know and be able to admit “I don’t know.” Yeah that’s easy.

Wait. No it isn’t. As a matter of fact, those two should be reversed.

Pastors, please stop doing this. It’s insulting for you to make these claims, and this is why we don’t want to come to your church. When we do, you make your ENTIRE CONGREGATION sit through your brow beating session about us. There are broken people there who really need a word, and you spend the whole sermon condescending us.

And aside from that, it isn’t that simple. When you tell us “we know better” and “we were raised right”, all you’re doing is damaging your own credibility, and making us not want to come back. Editor's addition: Can we not say that if we were raised in your church and we backslide, that our "rebellion" is a symptom of your leadership?

You look at us and say “they were raised right.”

While we’re sitting there thinking “we weren’t raised right, we were instructed by people who don’t study to learn, but simply to back up their own existing points.” Some of us (albeit not all) resent the way we were raised, and the churches we were raised in. We feel robbed of our childhoods and teenage years. We feel cheated. 

So when you say “we were raised right” what you're really saying is “we know your questions and choose to ignore them.”

And “they know better.”

Better than what? We know better than to wear pants and cut our hair because you’ve taken some obscure passages, tweaked them, given them your ‘best guess’, passed it off as black and white biblical law? We ‘know better’ than to do our own reading and studying because everything that wasn’t written by a oneness Pentecostal author is heresy? 


I could go on but there’s one more subject I’d like to address on the issue of ‘backsliders’ (or refugees, depending how you look at it).

Those of us who grew up in church played the same games you all play now. When someone leaves we were encouraged to say, “I miss you” and invite them to church.

So when WE leave, and you start doing that to us, we see right through it, and it, again, insults us. We don’t need an invitation to church. We can go whenever we want. The passive aggressive, thinly veiled disappointment behind “We miss you, you should really come to church and see us” condescends us and makes us not want to come that much more.

Lastly, I have a friend who stopped going to church. He is gay. Frequently church people will see him in public or post on his facebook wall and give the “We miss you, come to church” rhetoric, and he has come up with the best response, which usually knocks the people for a loop. He says “I probably won’t come to church, but we can get coffee or dinner whenever you want.” There have been a few people (wonderful wonderful, good hearted, gracious people) who have taken him up on this, and they are really just being a friend, not trying to ‘win’ him back, and have dinner with him frequently. But there have been many more who dismiss the invitation. Because they don’t care. They aren’t interested in being his friend. They just want to be the one who gets the five bonus points with Jesus for converting him back.

If you REALLY want to prove your worth, and be an exemplary Christian to people who stop going to church, stop inviting them to church, talking to them about church, cramming church down their throat and just have a casual coffee or dinner. They might take you up on it, but they’ll probably dismiss your church invitation, because they can see right through it.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

#237-Charting Apostolic Fashion

Editor's Note: A friend asked me if he could post on youth congress' predictions. I said yes. He asked to be anonymous. I consented.

The above is a picture of Columbus and crew doing what the White man does best.... Command and Conquer. Imperialism. Etc...

Except now we do it through material elitism and an Apostolic Identity that seeks to obfuscate any identity that does not find one going to church in a suit and a tie, with a clean shaven face.

And you think it's a coincidence that Congress will be happening at COLUMBUS, OHIO this year? Pssssst.

The Fashion Predictions of North American Youth Congress.

With North American Youth Congress just a hop, skip and a jump away I thought I’d take it upon myself to do something a little different this year. In years past I’ve waited until after Congress to write about and discuss the years fashion choices. But this year I thought I’d try to make a few predictions, and we’ll see which ones pan out. (Please excuse that these predictions apply only to the men. I know nothing of women’s fashion, and the ladies always look the same to me. Crazy, but the same none the less)

It seems that among certain sects of the fabulous UPCI that there is a constant struggle to distance ones self from looking too bougie. This often means adopting extremely campy articles and accessories to set ones self apart from the majority. In years past this has been lapel flowers, flooded pants, vintage waistcoats, combat boots and the male equivalent of jeggings. This year promises to be no different. A quick look at the J&HP Lookbook can provide some insight as to what we might see.

First prediction: The Ascot.

Ah yes, the ascot. The rich mans popped collar. Because nothing quite says “I think very highly of myself” like 1920s fashion, that no one else, including the fashion savvy of New York, London, Milan and Madrid, is wearing. Be forewarned at youth congress this year; you didn’t accidentally get transported back in time by a magic blow dryer. That guy really is wearing something that people haven’t worn since the collapse of The Ottoman Empire.

Second prediction: An Assortment of Silly Hats

Expect to see not only the newsboy caps, but fedora’s


Pork Pie Hats,

and bowlers.

I won’t even be surprised if one or two gentlemen rocking a top hat. (That’s not a joke, we’ll see it eventually) I expect the super secret, invite only VIP room to resemble the first class lounge of the Titanic, including a string quartet and an old guy with a monocle.

Third prediction: Men’s Spats

Since most people have no clue what that is I’ve included a picture. Spats are the white things covering this gentleman’s shoes. (This picture was taken in the VIP room of 2009 youth congress) Now I know what some of you are thinking. That’s a stretch. No one would really wear those. I thought the same thing the first time I saw a daisy on a lapel, but I was unfortunately mistaken. Spat’s and top hats – mark my words – they’re on their way.

Fourth prediction: Knickerbockers / Plus-Fours / Parachute Pants

If you were like me, you watched the halftime show of the Superbowl this year and thought “What is Usher wearing? He looks like he just escaped that hospital from It’s Kind Of A Funny Story.” But if you were really saved, you thought “Youth Congress outfit idea!!” I don’t really know what to say about this one other than to encourage anyone who sees it to point and laugh.

Now, there will probably be much more outlandish fashions than I could ever predict, but the general theme is still there. A small, very small, percentage of young men at Youth Congress this year will be dressed like they just played 9 holes with William Howard Taft.

I often enjoy it when I spot one of our prized young men and their ridiculous attire. Part of me laughs, part of me throws up in my mouth, but part of me just wants to know why? Are they trying to get attention? Reactions? Do they really think they look good? Low self-esteem? Too high of self-esteem? That’s what I can’t figure out. Any normal, sane, logical person with even a sub par knowledge of current fashion looks at the predictions I made and thinks “Yeah right, no one would wear that”, but there are a few people in our movement who see those things and think “My swag would be at five million! You’re not ready for the swaggy swag I’m about to bring in my spats and pork pie hat!”

I just don’t get it.