Tuesday, January 29, 2008

the church of stop shopping

i first read about the church of stop shopping on christianity today's out of ur blog. i love satire, so i couldn't help but love this church. but it's not a church at all. they have a "Reverend" and a "Choir" and they use the format of a "church meeting" to send a message: "Reverend Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir believe that Consumerism is overwhelming our lives." their website is complete with a place to confess your consumerists sins and receive "forgiveness." they recently released a film, What Would Jesus Buy?

dave swanson on the out of ur blog poses some serious questions for christians:
"How is it that the Reverend Billy, who places himself outside the Christian faith, is one of the most intriguing and possibly prophetic voices regarding the affects of rampant consumerism in our culture today? Shouldn’t the church in America be the one proclaiming this reality?"


but i think it's true. this past christmas season, i had strange images of pulling a "jesus in the temple thing" at target. and i felt like i was committing high treason when i suggested to my wife that we don't buy as many gifts for ourselves and our kids and instead buy some livestock for a family in an underprivileged country. i mean, we need to keep buying things or else our country is going to go into recession! that's message i hear all too often.

our congress is debating an economic stimulus package to put more money in american's wallets. if we put more money into american's wallet's, aren't we just continuing the consumerism that got us into our mess in the first place? i have a feeling that most folks will be more likely to buy that new HD TV that we "need to buy" to keep up with the standards than pay off a month of two of mortage payments.

a recent poll (albeit an unscientific one) found that american evangelical christians put the economy as more important than abortion, immigration, war, poverty, and traditional marriage in the upcoming presidential election. (See poll here). what does that say about our real values as christians in america?

now i'm as confused as anyone about what the alternative would be. i love my tech goodies, and admit i love them too much. and i bet that the people in the church of stop shopping still have cell phones and laptops and cable TV. maybe not.

maybe it's in the small steps. we did end up reducing our gifts and had a blast discussing as a family what animals would best serve people in another country. (we settled on buying a sheep and a flock of ducks in case you were wondering.) my wife and i are discussing what kind of housing would best steward our money and time. i'm beginning to feel that a single family house is fairly wasteful. (are there even other options?) a guy in my grad classes started a very useful website called twoshirts.org where you can list stuff that you want to give away to others and also get free stuff you need. very cool.

may those that call themselves jesus-followers lead the way not only in bringing attention to the things that destroy us, but also in pointing the way to a practical new road to live on.

Friday, January 11, 2008

shotgun jesus

a few months ago a neighbor invited me to go shooting with him out on one of his friends' farms. i've never shot a gun before and i have always wanted to try shooting a real gun. more than anything, i'm always looking for ways to connect with neighbors and build relationships with people outside of christian subculture, so i said yes.

it was fun. really, really fun. except for the huge bruise that developed on my arm the day after, it was a really great time. (i should have known to not try out that 3.5in shell in the shotgun!) shooting the clay pigeons with a shotgun was my favorite by far. i thought i had pretty good aim for a first-timer.

i was studying in romans 5-8 recently. i've been wrestling with how my understanding of the christian life is really framed differently than the jesus-life talked about in romans 5-8. i wonder if it's because i make jesus into a shotgun for sin. my life is like the trap that shoots the clay pigeons of sin and jesus is the shotgun that shoots them down. and no doubt, he's accurate...jesus hits them each time i confess sin. in my understanding, jesus takes care of past sin. accept jesus as your savior and all your past sins will be forgiven.

but romans seems to have a different concept...that jesus takes care of sin in a different way: he releases us from the power of sin itself. the focus isn't on all the bad things i've done in the past, but on the source of sin itself. jesus seems to want to shoot up the old box of clay pigeons by the trap and bring in new boxes of life-fruit.

so now i'm asking jesus to come and shoot up the boxes. i don't think i'm still getting all that paul wrote, but that will be a start.