Sunday, January 30, 2011

Singled Out, Part I

So I'm reading Singled Out, and it's kind of blowing my mind.  I am loving this book.  (Disclaimer: This doesn't mean I agree with everything it says.)

You know how sometimes you read something, and it just articulates perfectly something that's been stewing around sloppily in your backbrain for months or years?  This book is full of such articulate moments.

It starts out by talking about the positive and negative views of celibacy within the US/American church and outside of it, and this discussion is fascinating and quite frequently horrifying.  The areas of overlap are quite sobering, and I think they're important for singles, marrieds, and others to seriously consider. 

The US church in particular needs to carefully consider who we're marginalizing.  I know my church does because they've told me quite plainly that all their focus is on married couples with children (families, as they refer to them), and there is nothing (time, energy, money, advertisements) left over for anyone else. 

As a member of "anyone else," this is somewhat problematic to me.  Is that really the kingdom of God as represented on Earth?  Seriously?  I tried to lead some things and organize some things and stir up discussion, but it didn't really work.  I don't have the energy to fight it anymore.  Perhaps this is connected to why so few singles post-college are involved in churches.  Well, I guess that doesn't matter if the churches don't care about us anyway . . .

But then people get all judgmental about people who call themselves Christians but don't want to have anything to do with churches.  I dunno, but I think there's a broken link in here somewhere.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Is the easy road the low road?

On the radio, they are advertising opportunities for believers to get involved in the community.  They've created a website where people can list needs and sign up to meet them.  I think it's a great idea.  If other people's churches are like mine, they're more likely to find something they can do to help on this website than they are to find opportunities in their churches.

The emphasis in the radio ads is on the words easy and convenient.  During one such ad, I heard in my mind the voice of David vowing, "I refuse to make a sacrifice to the Lord my God that costs me nothing."

Setting aside context for now, shouldn't believers be doing things to help even though/because they aren't easy?  As believers, we aren't called to do the easy helpful things but the hard ones, right?


Just because it's easy to help, does that mean it's wrong?  Or that it doesn't count?  Count for (or against) what?  More than/less than what?

And what about people like me who are physically and mentally limited in what we can actually do?  Should we avoid the easy things and save up ourselves for the hard things that are not good for our health and are difficult?  But what if nothing sufficiently hard yet doable ever comes along?  Will we have wasted something?  Is it better to spend whatever that something is as we go, even on easy things, even if we may not have enough when something hard we want to tackle arises?  Is there some kind of scorecard here?  A scoring system?

Back to context.
  I think that particular David line came after he decided to do a census (even though God had warned there would be consequences for such a thing and even though Joab reminded him of that and told him not to) and after God gave David three calamities to choose from as his punishment (I want to say a certain amount of time of plague, a certain number of people dying, or a certain something being attacked by enemies or something) and after the calamity of choice had begun when David was doing his darnedest to appease the wrath of God in order to end with a lower body count. 

David found the right place to build an altar, and the owner tried to just give him the land.  David was adamant about paying an extravagant price for it.  I've heard opinions that it was just a cultural bargaining thing, and maybe it was because David's sin had already cost him plenty, but I guess I also feel like that was David's philosophy.  Sometimes he did things the hard way because it was the right way (even if there were other choices).  He only took shortcuts when he sinned, I guess . . .

Any thoughts about the easy road and guilt and pointless, self-generated confusion?

Hulk Smashing, rage, and radio DJs

"You are more than the choices that you've made;
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes;
You are more than the problems you create . . ."

The lyrics come from a powerful, new Tenth Avenue North song.  "Remade" is thought-provoking and gentle and tough at the same time.  It's about and for believers who've screwed up and destroyed their lives and feel worthless and hopeless because of their sins and consequences.

On New Year's Day, my least favorite DJ at the local Christian radio station dedicated a song to "All those lonely single people out there since the holidays can be tough on people who don't have family around them and who are wondering if they will ever find a loving person to share their lives with."  It was "Remade." 

I got mad.  Like the Hulk gets mad.  I think I actually saw black for a second there.  I was seriously enraged on behalf of those who shouldn't be tarred with that particular brush simply for not dating or being married to anyone at the moment.

I could not believe anyone could possibly be so callous as to imply what she was implying.  I just couldn't.  I know that DJ is shallow and thoughtless and ditzy, and that's her DJ shtick, but is it really possible to be so insensitive as to not realize what you're telling people when you connect their singleness with a song about the consequences of terrible, sinful choices destroying lives such that believers can't get all those mistakes out of their minds to the point where their focus on their sinful, bad choices is destroying their relationship with God?  Seriously?

That's it.  I'm reading Singled Out: Why Celibacy Needs to be Reinvented in the Modern Church post haste.  Maybe I'll send the DJ a copy of it with a nice note thanking her for making whoever listened to that either livid, miserable, or more misinformed. 

Happy New Year to you, too, Ms. DJ.  If I never listen to you again, that would make my new year much happier.  On the positive side, thanks for giving me that extra push to read a book that will be sure to make me think.

So, do you think I'm overreacting?  Am I overlooking something here?  Do you agree that singleness (with celibacy) is a sinful choice?