Just woke up and had the best dream ever. I owned a “cheap” hotel in the tropics. The ocean was right there; you could hear the surf. I was in a perpetual swimsuit and doing work on the property. My gay handyman was gazing at people and not getting any work done. So I was cutting down a wildly-berried tree from a staggered rooftop with gardening shears (not quite working.) I had shears and my giant gold scissors (from real life), one in each hand. I twirled them around like guns. Going downstairs I saw two older guys approaching the pool. One frankly looked me up and down and appreciated the merchandise. The other was wearing white tube sock and plastic, multi-colored Birkenstocks (ghastly). The first man was your classic man, an older Bond, a real man. I liked what I saw too. I was so tempted to jump in the inviting blue pool, scissors and all, but decided to keep at the tree. It was the old-school 50’s – 70’s style hotel with the pool in the middle and rooms opening up to the pool/courtyard. I went upstairs and dream began to unravel, plane went overhead, no tree up there. Oh, Charlie Sheen was there and had started partying already. I was like an older Bo Derek. A retro dream that could…happen! It was set at my age and not idealized. Possible! Never ever considered a cheap hotel. There was a definite Bond-esque quality to the dream. Somehow, the sun, the ocean, liquor, hot older gentlemen, and the best me in my 50’s or 60…delicious.
6th Grade – Joy
6th grade. We used to pledge allegiance to the flag, sing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”, and then say a short prayer for the day. Teachers wore ties and dress shirts or dresses/dress slacks. We looked like little ladies and gentleman in our polyester “good” clothes. This was in regular, public elementary school. Girls had a “hush, hush” film we watched – boys were ushered out! – about menstruation. We felt scared and excited for it it to happen. Sex Ed? That was it! Guess what, no girl got pregnant at 13. No one knew how to get on drugs if they wanted to. We were hooked on Jolly Ranchers and Pac-Man. We played outside until dark and then you heard moms around the neighborhood calling kids. “Coming mom!” at the top of our lungs. (Back then, we had a healthy respect (okay FEAR) of our moms. Moms ruled the roost and you knew your place, along with “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.”) We were usually called in about dinner time (in winter.) We seemed to eat early in warm months and then were allowed to run outside and play for hours! The entire family ate together, 4 of us, every single night. If not, it was because a neighborhood friend invited us over. Phone calls ensued between the moms (“Are you SURE it is no trouble?) which sealed the deal. My best friend’s mom was a divine cook. She had tea glasses with Japanese ladies in kimonos on them. They fascinated me. More than anything, she made a Cherry Cheese Cake that was simply Mine. It existed for me alone, I knew it. It was the culinary highlight of my young life. I would give any sum for all the old dishware and serving ware, including the kimono glasses. Maybe another reason I collect vintage tableware now; never thought of it. Well, this was in a small city in Texas. Maybe it was just our halcyon bubble, but everything turned out alright for everyone, whether they left town after graduation or stayed. I’d love another day like 6th grade, just one day, now. I would love that feeling of wholesomness, innocence, unselfconsciousness, of joy, no reason, just laughing and running wild down the street…with pure kid Joy.
I am talking about the condition of the modern, sort of “concept” church. A Church modeled after our culture rather than invading and inviting our culture, passionately, to come here the Gospel – the message that the Son of God, Jesus, died for them on the Dross and they can be saved, redeemed, forgiven and made new, radically, this very day. So, here is my wise old critique of Starbuck’s (chain-concept) churches. It is what I have observed. I say this as an admonition, yes, but also as a positive challenge. Here it is:
Glib – Always wearing a face or “mask” that is not authentic; one that MIMICS the culture of the world. (This benefits whom? One should ask.)
Avoidance of Offending Anyone – Similar and insidious as Glib. The preaching/teaching/message overall a “Clanging Cymbal.” Where is the love? One must teach the Truth, in Love, and let the Holy Spirit move properly in people’s hearts. Why would the Leader be so preoccupied with NOT offending people? People inwardly are demanding answers: the Truth! People WANT to be saved and may not know how, every Sunday.
A famous preacher said recently that “If you are saved, you are going to Heaven. So, it doesn’t matter if you’re Muslim, it doesn’t matter (oblique reference to being homosexual), you are going to Heaven.” I think he may have misspoken. Surely he meant that anyone – Muslim, gay, anyone – who accepts Christ as Lord is saved. Also, that sinner repents of his sins, is baptized, and begins to live a new life in Christ according to the Bible. The fruit of the spirit should begin to sprout from them! (I am sure he misspoke; though I never heard a retraction.) What this preacher did say would fit into the growing Universalism and Lifestylism (my word!) that is sprouting madly throughout Christendom. Life hurts. We all want to feel good, numb out, and seek pleasure (not sacrifice!)
Immature – The spiritual and natural attitudes of the Leadership rule the church. Outside their Leadership and their Circle, input is seen as intrusive. At the far end of input is “prophetic input.” The prophetic, outside any prophecies revealed within the leadership circle, is seen as something to be put up with; weird, suspect and unwelcome. After all, who is someone else to tell the Leaders what to do, how to change, what is coming, or simply, what is? This is quite dangerous. It quenches the Holy Spirit. It also prohibits important information from being reviewed, prayed about and used appropriately, perhaps even urgently. It is because people – though we are all equal to God – want power, prestigious and to be seen at the Top. It is such an old story that it is trite. Sad.
Shallow – Appearances are almost paramount, in every sense. Don’t mess with those appearances unless you want to kick over an ant’s nest! Looks are carefully crafted that much is invested in them, whether or not they work. This dynamic combines Glib, Avoidance and Immature. In some instances, the Pastor and perhaps his wife/family are considered Royalty, literally given royal titles or super-prominent titles. This confounds me. We are rags and Christ is the King of Kings. Stemming from such an imperious stature, the First Family is entitled to the best in material things (cars, homes, clothes, you name it), and the congregation is expected to uphold this theory. The theory obviously involves the allocation of funds. Therefore, considering the need in the world and Jesus’ admonition to help the poor first and foremost, this seems bizarre at best.
Hey, I love a good espresso drinks and I go to Starbuck’s (hypocrite, I know, and I LOL at myself.) I love wearing jeans, respecting authority, a beautiful environment, a coffee shop, all of that at church. I am not coming down on that. What preoccupies me, though, are chain-concept style churches and the caffeine rather than Water of Life that flows through them. I love you, Kris
Re: “My freedom to Choose”
“Every generation of Americans needs to know that freedom exists NOT to do as you like, but, having the right to do as you ought.”
“You don’t have to do a song and dance for the Seculars. Pray for them.”
“The Devil IS going to sift you out.”
Strong medicine but good to know.
This was part of Jim Cavaziel’s testimony at a mega-church in California. (It is a must see; it is on YouTube.)
Riding home in the car and I’m (of course) in control of the radio. BLASTING “Intergalactic” by Beastie Boys and JAMMING OUT. I am poppin’ and lockin’, doing the robot, grinding my dirty disco moves, the like. My computer scientist husband stoically driving us down the highway. It was so fun! What makes me laugh is what passing motorists must think, ha! I am still not sure how my husband perceives me. I am a sometimes buttoned-up, structured and otherwise large personality, liberation-loving free spirited artist. Thank God for balance. As for today, I GOT CAR DOWN!
Never become entangled with another person’s desperation. It is a thicket you will enter. The desperate one, who is in pain, will eventually turn ’round and rip you to shreds for relief. Or, the thicket might pull you in, and you might be devoured. AVOID!
The modern church should screen the film “The Apocalype Now.” Response should be measured and published for all to ponder. A good church would say, in effect, “If you are a Believer who can handle those kind of conditions, and still love, serve, and witness anyway…then, Go! Get out there and do battle to save souls, bind up wounds, and help amidst hell.’ That hell includes some gnarly ghettos, the inner-city, and other 3rd world scenarios existing right here in the U.S. Do you have any of those in your town? Sometimes it is called “urban blight.” Does your church reach out to those streets, neighborhoods, housing projects, to fellow churches in those areas? Would you, yourself, head up an outreach to your brothers and sisters there? Do you see the human beings there as equals?
What is the actual “modern”, sometimes mega-church, Church like? I would not typify them as “The Apocalypse Now” (referring to the classic film with Marlon Brando) churches. What are they like? I have seen some commonalities. In fact, their similarity is dull but loud to me. They are something like this:
I think of Starbuck’s. In fact, the modern churches even have coffee shops! Perhaps serving Starbucks? Sounds good, right? They deliver a good product. A place to get out and see people and be seen. A place for the Wall Street Journal reader. A place for the chit-chatter. A place for seniors to millenials (all of whom love coffee.) A place for someone passing by, to get a hit of caffeine and stretch his legs, perhaps stay for the Service. (That would be a great result!)
Everyone in jeans. No pretense here. Come as you are! Come get fed. Come get equipped. Come meet Jesus! (And I love wearing jeans to church too.)
However, here are flaws in the Starbuck’s “chain-store” style churches:
(Please see “Features of Starbuck’s Churches” post, thanks.)
I am watching an CBS interview with a girl, perhaps 14?, who is describing what is was like when her street was hit by a Sarin gas attack. She was lucky, of sorts, because the wind blew the gas mostly the other way. She ran to a hospital to help. Inside, she saw people running back in forth in agony, and the rest…well, there was video and neither she nor I want to get into it. You have probably seen it on your own TV or other news source.
So, we find out that Syria is supposed to cut its stockpiles of gases that – let’s face it – are only there to be used on human beings in their homes or on the street. It did NOT reduce its stockpile, missing the deadline today. What will the UN do to Syria because of this? Really……NOTHING. You and I both know that they will not act against the monstrous Syrian regime.
More people will likely be gassed. Usually I try to look away when they show the dead; I am too sensitive to take it. Today I didn’t. I watched the footage of dead person after dead person, rows and rows of them, laid out by their family and strangers. I always just melt into tears and think, “Those are PEOPLE! They are people!”
What excuse can America or any “civilized” nation give for not helping people who are, surely, in harm’s way by an evil regime who will probably gas them – again.
GOD HELP US ALL.
NOTE: This is not a piece which disparages specific countries (or people). We are all complicit at one time or another. It attacks the evil practices of individuals who set up shop with horrific things to sell (i.e. people and drugs.) A gargantuan amount of drugs are coming straight from China. It is a well-reported fact. I wish it were not so. I wrote this piece to let women in America know that the cute, fake Chanel shades they bought at the beach…harmed people. Or, when we see the lady at the State Fair selling “Dolce and Gabbana” and “Dior” bags – at the price “2 for $70” – that we all should truly walk on by. I am standing up for oppressed and abused Asian people, and those of every race/ethnicity who have been captured and enslaved (which is huge right here in the US btw.) I am passionate about this and I tell everyone, anywhere, all the time, and admonish them to not buy fake goods. God help us all. Buy real or blood, human blood, is truly on your hands…read on.
Knock-off, or fake, handbags and other apparel. How I could go on about this! I will say this. Knock-offs are counterfeits. You are actually receiving fraudulent/counterfeit merchandise – a crime – when you buy it (on Amazon, Ebay, other online stores, in retail stores, anywhere.)
But, it is worse than that. Did you know that Louis Vuitton supported, actually assisted, the Nazis in France? LV did not want to be shut down/threatened so they were complicit with Hitler. They were rather cozy. True story. Louis Vuitton has acknowledged it. Think of the horrors that Louis Vuitton helped happen.
Here is an interesting, brief article from BlogSpot:
YOU support HUMAN TRAFFICKING (slavery), FORCED PROSTITUTION (women being raped all day so their captors’ make money), CHILD PROSTITUTION (The same! From infants to teens, no exaggeration…all the pedophiles show up for this one), and the massive global Asian Drug Trade which our own American teens are discovering in epidemic numbers. The Chinese make drugs that are beyond what we have seen thus far. They are powerful hybrids, they are highly addictive, and they are very lethal. They are found at high numbers of teen parties now.
Think of this when you buy a fake Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Michael Kors, or any (insert designer name here.) Not just handbags, but perfume, scarves, shoes, coats, and anything you can think of that carries a prestigious “Name.” You know that a normally $400 to $12,000 handbag simply is not marked down to $30. C’mon. Stay away. No good can come to you from that. Jesus said to take care of orphans and widows (which many of the current victims are) and to help the “least of these.” Can you imagine the despair the victims of slavery, forced sex, and pedophilia experience? No Christian, knowing the truth, can purchase fake merchandise surely. TO DO SO IS TO fund/enrich people who are willfully killing innocent people’s souls, spirits and bodies, and letting them die slowly.
We do it every time we buy ANY fake designer merchandise. Really……is it that important to impress people? Louis Vuitton thought so. Do you?? If you can buy fake goods knowing what you now know…I can only say: Now it’s between you and God, sister. Consider the blood on your hands…or hand-bag. I don’t judge you.
All the best.