Friday, April 21, 2006

Question For the Masses

Hey blogiverse people, it’s Me, Jesus. What’s up? It’s okay to answer that out loud. I can hear you. I had an interesting discussion question I’d love to hear your answer to via comments on this blog. I know I just got finished telling you that you can answer out loud, but I think this would be interesting for other people as well. That being said, here’s the question I’d like for you to discuss…

What is your stereotype of a current contemporary Christian?

Now, this question is tricky because the actual definition of a Christian is one who follows Christ, which a lot of people don’t quite get when they give themselves the Christian label. Some feel that if they ain’t Jewish, they must be Christian. If they don’t celebrate Hanukkah but do get gifts for from Santa, they must be Christian. This isn’t really the case. If you could really just focus on that above question though, your opinion means a lot to Me and I’d love to read your thoughts. People who answer well might find themselves a proud owner of one of My Decoder rings in their mailbox!


At 6:40 PM, Anonymous Andrew said...

I'll take a shot at this one...
although I think it's tricky because the question invites, almost insists on, using a broad stroke to "stereotype" the contemporary Christian (and I don't think that's possible when you're talking about what, like a billion people or more?).
That said, I think, thankfully most contemporary Christians have accepted that their faith is a personal decision. The "furor" caused by most "attacks" on the religion via pop culture always seems to amount to little more than the some of the lunatic fringe wanting to boycott the movie "Dogma" or "South Park" and what not... and essentially nobody cares.
Of course, there is that lunatic fringe who are self-righteous, homophobic, and blindly follow, um, "Your" book and/or earthly representatives, no matter how ridiculous or archaic the ideas (I am thinking of the 'no sex before marriage', 'no use of contraception', etc teachings here); and I think it is tempting to stereotype most Christians as nuts like Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson - but I don't think it is the case.

Andrew, who thinks Jesus is a swell guy - but prefers Dan Bern. Hey Jesus, have you heard the song "Jerusalem" by Dan Bern?? I'd love to hear your thoughts on that one...somebody get Jesus an mp3!

At 12:01 AM, Blogger aetg said...

Dear Jesus,

I think that "typical" Christians are a little bit bigoted, they think that their religion is under attack when it really isn't, have bad fashion taste and fit the general up-tight Puritanical mold. That being said I think they tend to follow the old Testament more than the New Testament. They are also "average" people b/c so many people are Christian.

However, my dad is a pastor and maybe I'm just bitter.

At 12:03 AM, Blogger aetg said...

P.s. Jesus I think you're a swell guy too and I looked everwhere for a "Jesus is my homeboy" shirt to wear for Easter even though my husband thinks I'm a pagan nut.

P.P.S. Jesus, you are my homebody with great taste in music.

At 12:15 AM, Blogger BEST Robotics Team of Lebanon, Missouri said...

I've become incredibly jaded with Christianity. This is mainly because I, *cough* we the robotics team, live in the Bible Belt where everyone believes that the Bible is indefinetly THE Word of God, who use it to justify all of their criticism (being gay is bad, saying "damn" is bad, being a Democrat is bad, having an abortion is bad, considering Buddhism is bad) and tactfully ignore the other things that would inconvenience them (like using contraceptives or drinking on the weekends or lying to teachers). To put it simply, everything is black and white to them. Good or evil (unless it's ignored).

Secondly, it's incredibly popular to be Christian, but still, they play the "you will be persecuted" card. Nobody speaks against Christians because a good 95 percent of them claim to be so. However, the less trendy people or the needy people never even get looked at. It sends an entirely wrong message about Your religion. I have a journal entry that I wrote recently concerning all of this that I believe I shall send to You soon...although I suppose you can read it anyway...hmm

(Tina from the BEST Team)

Hey, I think you're awesome and thanks for being my Savior. Is it okay if we hang out with Buddha too?

At 12:19 AM, Blogger Phantasmic_Expedition said...

Hmm, stereotype of the current contemporary Christian? Just look at Everybody else.

At 5:32 AM, Blogger Woodland Bear said...

I dunno what makes a stereotyped contemporary Christian these days. As a Christian myself (not that I need to tell you that, Jesus...), I think of the contemporary Christian as a free-thinking person who is incredibly loyal not just to Christ but to their friends. They also tend to have a great musical taste, but don't tend to worship musicians as much as your average non-Christian. I also tend to notice we tend to fall into the social groups classed as a bit 'weird' by the snooty yacht-club equivalents of our society.

On the other hand, even though I'm only 18, I find people finding out that I'm a Christian immediately think I have no fun, and love hymns and communion. There's also the few who think I won't drink alcohol. Now why, why would someone think that when you, my lord and Saviour, went to a wedding and turned a huge amount of water into wine? It makes no sense! "Here, I've taken everything you have to drink, and turned into wine. Catch is, you can't drink it. Ha." Nope. That's not you. So therefore, I continue to drink socially, despite common stereotyping. Woop Jesus!

PS - Thanks for Leviticus. It's a real hoot! The rules for what to do if you get mildew rock!

At 7:25 PM, Blogger Space Cadet 'R' said...

The stereotype of the contemporary Christian is what I stopped trying to be. After all the praying and posturing and debating and trying to fit in with a range of religious groups, I realized that I wasn't any happier for choosing to be a Christian. The culture seemed geared to turning me into something I was not -- that or marginalizing the type of person I was. I realize it's about Christ and now his fanclub, but their behavior in *your* name turned me off.

At 7:32 PM, Blogger Laura said...

I really don't think there is a stereotype of a contemporary Christian anymore. Everyone's a Christian, everyone's no longer carries meaning. There are people who take it to the extreme (no pop culture, bad music, conservative values, blah blah blah), but many just live regular lives without much religious thought except maybe a prayer when they need it.

But I guess you can argue about what a "true" Christian is, and that just brings it back to the original point. How can there be a stereotype if the subject itself can't be determined?

At 9:05 PM, Anonymous mjrc said...

unfortunately, i think the socially conservative christians are what most folks think about when they think "stereotypical" christian. you know, pro-life, anti-gay, intolerant of other religions and beliefs, creationist, our-way-or-the-highway types.

in my mind, being a christian really boils down to being the face and hands of god to everyone you meet, treating everyone with the same respect and love that you would if you knew you were meeting jesus in the flesh. after all, we're all children of god.

At 11:28 PM, Blogger Hector Rashbaum said...

I'd like to use this to soapbox about the lunatics who give all Christianity a bad name, but that wouldn't really be answering your question.

My stereotype might be a little colored by my history in the church. I'm from a small town and the church I go to is lucky to have a congregation full of the kind of sweet lovely people who legitimately try to live their life as best as possible.

I think a lot of contemporary Christians aren't so much concerned with the specific rules of the Bible as the "why"s. God doesn't want us to cause harm to other people, and beyond that he wants us to actively do good. Thus, it's a bit easier to follow "hate the sin, love the sinner" because there's less focus on "abomination" and such. Obviously, this doesn't go for everyone. But I think the most broad group of Christians are more like this than the "go to church on Easter and Christmas and crowd up the pews so the truly devoted have to stand" people or the "THE BIBLE SAID THIS WAS BAD AND THUS YOU ARE AN EVIL PERSON" people.

Those are the Christians I've been exposed to, there's my stereotype. A bit "rose-colored glasses"-y, but I consider that a good thing because it means the people I've been exposed to are on the good end of things.

At 1:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hypocritical. I agree with the BEST team. Although if the whole God/Jesus situation is as factual as you let on, then everything should be black and white. I don't know, i think it'll just be easier if you told us what to tell you.

At 5:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christianity is a joke. It's like saying you believe in paul bunyan or santa clause. christ was some guy who didnt come back from the dead because people dont come back from the dead. sure some believed it and died for it, but they died for a lie because people do not come back from the dead. nobody really believes this. if people tell you they believe this, its kind of like when people say they believe in ghosts... its just kind of a fun thing to believe. my stereotype of a christian is a person that likes to feel good about themselves and likes to trick themselves into thinking there is life after death and therefore they have a point of living, which is getting yourself and friends to heaven... which would be nice if such a place existed, but the reality of that i would argue is pretty slim to no way. if people really believed it, they would have told the world about jesus by now, but christians are happy living in their little bubble, hoping that the paid christians spread the word for them, not because they have little faith, but because they really dont have any faith at all. this site is cool though. i like this jesus better than the real jesus.

At 9:59 PM, Blogger Casey Dorrell said...

My stereotypical view of Christian, or is that view of stereotypical Christian? No, I think the first is more accurate.

Anyhow, it's the above. Not what anonymous said, but what he embodies. Smug, superior, and alarmingly simple. He may not be Christian, but he's got the mentality down.

That said, I realize millions don't adhere to my stereotype.

At 12:09 AM, Blogger Casey Dorrell said...

Oops, Casey type good. Use Plural Wells.

At 5:42 PM, Blogger Jonathan Migneault said...

Hi Jesus. Here's an iteresting satirical letter I found on the subject of far right Christians. Mind you, many Christians (like any large group of people) are swell. Nevertheless there are always those fringe groups that give the rest a bad rap.

Anyways, here's the letter:

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is a radio personality who dispenses advice to people who call in to her radio show. Recently, she said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22 and cannot be condoned under any circumstance. The following is an open letter to Dr. Laura penned by a east coast resident, which was posted on the Internet. It's funny, as well as informative:

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination. End of debate. I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some of the other specific laws and how to follow them:

When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15:19- 24. The problem is, how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

Lev. 25:44 states that I may indeed possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are purchased from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself?

A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination - Lev. 11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this?

Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle room here?

Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev. 19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? - Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14)

I know you have studied these things extensively, so I am confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your devoted fan,

At 6:16 PM, Blogger Jonathan Migneault said...

Upon rereading the letter I realized that Dr. Laura is not Christian but an Orthodox Jew. Nevertheless, the points rased in the letter also apply to (dangerously) devout Christians.

At 7:37 PM, Blogger cookies from elastic said...

Thanks, Jesus! This was a great exercise to get us all thinking!

It seems clear from these comments that any individual's view of Christians and Christianity (regardless of whether that individual is a Christian) is inevitably defined by that individual's contact and experiences with Christians and Christianity. Some of that comes firsthand, but a large percentage is secondhand, from social interaction (family/friends/classmates/coworkers), cultural tradition (Christmas? Easter? familiar with those?), or even from mass media (print, radio, television, whathaveyou).

I see the stereotype (and I take that word to be a pejorative) of a contemporary Christian (in the US, at least) as the conservative Christian more interested in politics than in people. These are the Christians with the most exposure in the public arena.

As has been pointed out, stereotypes are limited and limiting; they more often than not have basis in truth, but it would be foolish to base your truth on them.

I want to take a moment to thank the anonymous person whose comments begin "Christianity is a joke." I appreciate your candor, and your thoughts were incredibly enlightening for me, but not as you may have intended them to be. The tone of your response seemed to contain a strong element of hostility, which I would guess has a lot to do with your experiences with Christians. For that, I am sorry. Please understand that Christians are only human, subject to the same caprices and foibles as everyone else, and sadly, the "human" often overshadows the "Christian" in our conduct.

I think you are mistaken when you say that no one actually believes in Christ. Yes, for many people, it is likely just something they do, a mechanical ritual: going to church, mouthing the words, ignoring the meaning. There have always been people who acted that way, and there always will be. And truth be told, many people who are sincere fall easily into that autopilot mode--I know I have many times, to my shame. But do you actually think you are in a better position to know whether someone's faith is sincere than any of the rest of us are? Faith is such a personal experience; it's between God and the individual. Yes, it does manifest itself in outward behavior, but behavior is not an absolute indicator of faith, and thank God for that. We're all imperfect; we all screw up at times.

I want to touch on one of the objections you raise. You write, "if people really believed it, they would have told the world about jesus by now, but christians are happy living in their little bubble, hoping that the paid christians spread the word for them, not because they have little faith, but because they really dont have any faith at all." Wow, this really made an impression on me. I think you're absolutely right that we Christians get comfortable in our bubbles. That's one of the most serious problems with Christianity today. We should be telling the world about Jesus. It's sad that the word "Christian" brings to mind some guy on the radio or tv--or someone who throws the word around for their own purposes--sooner than it brings to mind the person who lives next door. That's a failing of Christians. The person next door should be the primary example of Christ, or at least the most immediate. But please remember that "bubble Christian" is also a stereotype. There are many Christians who actively "tell the world about Jesus," and not just the ones who get paid to. And it's not limited to verbal communication, either.

Anonymous, I hope that someday you encounter someone who demonstrates God's love to you. I hope that someday, some Christian will show a genuine interest in you and your life, not in the sense of making you a "project" or trying to "fix" you, but sincerely embracing you and sharing in your hardships and your joys, making you a part of their life. And when that happens, I hope you are open to receiving and reciprocating that kind of love.

I also hope that everyone who took the time to comment here comes back to read the comments of others. They are all insightful. And it is most important to remember that the comments left here were not generated at random in a vacuum. They represent the thoughts and experiences and hopes and faith and struggles and denials and self-delusions of real people. If this website serves no other purpose than to encourage people to seek out God in their own lives, then it is well worth it. The fact that J is such a cool cat is just a big bonus.

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