Tuesday, April 15, 2008

St. Laurie West

I try not to listen to too much "Christian" radio.

For one, there is no such thing a Christian thing.
(And definitely no such thing as "Christian music.")

For two, Jesus seems to prefer to speak to me in a deeper way on "secular" stations.
(But there is no such thing as a "secular" thing.
It's all spiritual. Let's start dueling dualism..."Church buildings are sacred," Mark Driscoll suggests, "like everything else." Madeleine L’Engle knows that "there is nothing so secular that it cannot be sacred, and that is one of the deepest messages of the incarnation.")

How cool that in England, there is no Christian radio; so no Christian ghetto; no need to crossover. It's all mixed in together...Delirious next to Black Sabbath...kinda like life.
(see "Church Music at Liquor King").
Christian stations are too busy banning Delirious...not to mention the occassional Black Sabbath song that is church-ready.

For three, Christian radio can be predictable, formulaic. How many times can you predict the next rhyme? How many times do we have to include the "J-word" as a litmus test of making a song "Christian"?

And isn't the message often a lie, or worse..

How often is the message: God will be there for you.

Technically true; but even Jesus had a hard time believing that one.
(see "The Lord Be With You...Even When He’s Not").

And who ever said Christianity was all/just about being technically true?!

If we can't take the truth; we feed ourselves on facts.

How about just being honest.

How about the church repenting for banning the following Leslie Phillips lyric, and literally banishing it from hymnals:

I wish for ten more minutes left to sleep
And as I get into the shower the thoughts of facing one more day
Overwhelm me and I begin to weep
link:"CCM makes you lie"

Thank God I can still listen to her uncut (as "Sam Phillips" on "secular radio').

Thank God there is a safe place to say what everyone knows:

Some days believers feel like shit; or like God has bailed on them.

Sometimes we say/pray the J-word and the F-word.

Sometimes, like Johnny Cash, in this delighful story, we can pray AND miss the drugs.

This is simply the stuff of psalms and lament.
Sounds like basic Bible to me.

And I guess songs about " donkeys, sweat, entrails and menstruation" and "divorce, Prozac, entrails,and lacerating self-examination"

are out of the question:

Practical' Theology departments at seminaries do not make theology more practical. They ensure that theology, oustide the PT department, will remain practical--that it will remain theology..
..Theology is bad enough, but modern theology is theology cultivated into idolatry. Bowing before science, social science, or philosophy, modern theology has adjusted its distinctive language and insight to conform to the common sense of modernity. Metaphysics or evolutionary science or liberal political theory or whatever determines in advance what can be true of God and His ways. . .

Theology is a specialized, professional language, often employing obscure (Latin and Greek) terms that are never used by anyone but theologians, as if theologians live in and talk about a different world from the one mortals inhabit.

Theology functions sociologically like other professional languages - to keep people out and to help the members of the guild to identify with one another.

Whereas the Bible talks about trees and stars, about donkeys and barren women, about kings and queens and carpenters....

...Theology is a "Victorian" enterprise, neoclassically bright and neat and clean, nothing out of place.
Whereas the Bible talks about hair, blood, sweat, entrails, menstruation and genital emissions.

Here's an experiment you can do at any theological library. You even have my permission to try this at home..

Step 1: Check the indexes of any theologian you choose for any of the words mentioned above. (Augustine does not count. Augustines' theology is as big as reality. Or bigger.)

Step 2: Check the Bible concordance for the same words.

Step 2: Ponder these questions: Do theologians talk about the world the same way the Bibke does? Do theologians talk about the same world the Bible does?

Peter J. Leithart, Against Christianity, pp44ff

Some songs should be sung "in church" and on "Christian radio."
How else could we ever "Pray with Pink Floyd" or learn from Linkin Park?

How about the church repenting for forcing a dear ninety-year old saint to needlessly keep a "terrible" secret for nearly that many years until I finally heard her confession!

Gee, no wonder there are "Truths I Didn't Learn in Church."

No wonder there are cheap copies of bands trying to sound like U2 or Coldplay (come one, check out this one) all over Christian radio.

Listen to real thing.

The Christian station I am about to mention sells itself (literally) as "positive, encouraging." and "safe for little ears." Is the Bble always "positive, encouraging," let alone "safe for little ears." ??

It's rated R.

I may have a temple tantrum.

Here's what I heard in the car, on said Christian station this morning:

"We pray a lot here at the station when we are doing our pledge drive. As we were praying, here's what I felt like the Lord was saying...and I said 'Oh, no, I don't want to go there,'..but as you kow, God often asks us to do things we don't want to do...we need to be bold and ask for twenty people to call in and pledge a hundred dolalrsover the next twenty minutes...Only God can do that."

Fine, it may well be that this brother heard perfectly from God.

But I changed the channel, and that's when I heard from God.
Now I admit that "even christian muzak is sakred...sometimes."

But when I changed the channel to my new favorite station,
the contrast was striking.

There was no cheesy music on the station. It was the morning talk show. Laurie West, the host, was live on the phone with a woman who was confessing affairs, and admitting that her husband was abusive.

Laurie listened with love; tough love; and gave great and godly advice ("Cheating is stupid" and "You need to see a counselor." ). She even asked this woman to please email her, and get the name of a good counselor.

That wisdom was free; the woman wasn't asked to donate $100, or sold cheap cliches like "God will be with you." Laurie pastored her well. She even quoted the Bible after she got off the phone "Wow, 'ask and you shall receive,'...we asked to hear from people having affairs, and we did."

Even though I knew I would be instantly sorry; I switched back to the Christian station.
I was actually hoping they hadn't met their quota! They had. But, although he was well-meaning, the DJ lied.

He promised about twenty people calling to donate $100 in twenty minutes, that
"Only God can do that."

As my friend Russell Willingham says, there's a word in the biblical Greek for that.

It happens all the time without God. It's called sales pitch; throwing down a challenge.

It's not always evil; PBS does it as well.
And doesn't thank or blame God for the money.

I am going to email Laurie West and thank her. I am guessing she will email me back within 24 hours.

I once emailed a nice note to a prominent christian radio personality, I think I emailed directly from the station website, and via email, and maybe even via her myspace.

I never heard back.

It could be that she never got the message.

My worse fear is that she did.

Maybe she thought i had someting to sell.

The problem is I do.

I am just as guilty as the televangelists.

I may not sell prayer hankies, but I am a recovering seducer and whore.
( see "The Reduction of Seduction: Part 2: Gleaning from Family Systems Theory" )

I still cave in to selling and sexualizing mission and ministry.
(see "Pepsi, Sex, Elevation...& Mission Trips That Are Actually Missional")

But I still want to know why it takes the New York Times to address honest questions that church is afraid to touch:

The Ten Commandments are among the oldest codes established to regulate ethical behavior. They deal with the fundamental quandaries of human life. The three great monotheist faiths latched onto them for moral guideposts, and they resonate in a season when many take time to carve out sacred space in their lives.

While the commandments appear straightforward, their demands are often hard to fulfill. What does it mean, for example, for a professional soldier not to kill? What is idolatry in the 21st century? And how, as one rabbi asked, can the parents of a child who died accept the First Commandment, which is interpreted to mean that all is fated by God?
New York Times

I still need to know why does it take South Park to address:
"Do The Handicapped Go to Hell?"

Why did 60 Minutes, and not the church take Joel Osteen to task for barely mentioning Jesus or the Bible?

We the church are not doing our job.
That's why he is using Laurie.

I don't know her faith background, if any. That that is precisely not the point is precisely the point.

The point being all truth is God's truth.
And God often uses "secular" sources to shake up/wake up the church.

So thank God that this pastor (me) was pastored by Laurie West today; let alone that the woman with eight affairs and an abusive husband who called Laurie was.

I shudder to think what would have happened if she had called a Christian station.

Oh, thank God there is no such thing.

Support Laurie. Bless her. Plug her myspace.

Even buy candles from her (She may have something to sell..literally...but I'd buy anything from her anyday over what's shamelessly for sale on Christian TV/radio/megachurches/my church).


"I will build my church.."

Those are the words of Jesus. I don’t doubt them in the least.
In spite of the mess and chaos.
In spite of the commercialism and hucksters.
In spite of the flag waving, shouting, and spiritual hype.
In spite of the gnosticism…
In spite of .. me.

1 comment:

  1. Laurie even linked to this post on her website..see "your emails"
    for 04-16-2008 here


Hey, thanks for engaging the conversation!