ChristianChirp: Why I’m Not A Christian.. if that’s what it means (part 3)

It happened.

Perhaps it was inevitable despite its being entirely unnecessary.. .but it did happen..

the “Christian alternative to Twitter.” It’s called ChristianChirp.

Within minutes of its launch, ChristianChirp featured profiles by both @Jesus and @Satan as well as the likes of @ImholierthanU and @WTF.  It wasn’t long before monitors began deleting posts by certain users and then blocking those users altogether…

I echo the sentiment of many who collectively wondered aloud what the point was of creating such a thing in the first place.  Most of the answers to this line of questioning generally ran along the lines of “it’s good to have a place where our values are accepted and celebrated instead of rejected” (as opposed to Twitter, where christian values are very clearly monitored and excluded) Or “thanks for making a social network for christians” (as opposed to the way Facebook is targeted at Janists and Sufis).

The misled and misleading idea underlying all of this is that God is present to and in only the places His people have prepared for Him. Places christians feel safe gathering and talking about Him.  Of course, in light of the smallness of the ‘christian marketplace’ this paints a picture of a god who is not in or present to very much of the world in which we live or at least finds most of our environments too unsavory to dwell in; in case you haven’t noticed, Christ has not been active on his Friendster profile for about 2 years.

“It’s not that big a deal; Just let it go, man.”

I disagree (with the imaginary detractor.. funny how quickly straw horses fall over).  I believe that this is another symptom of the very sickness that is rotting christianity from the inside.

The desire among the christian faithful for products and services like ChristianChip stands in direct opposition to the Incarnation (a relatively important concept in christian thought) and the life of Jesus in general; both of which propose that God is pleased to dwell among His people and that “His people” are seldom those whom religious power-centers identify as His people.  But maybe there is something about the lack of such a belief that is revealed in the creation of these controlled environments…

It seems to me that it ends up being about control: so long as our environment is safe, we don’t have to risk finding out if all this stuff about the power of God and the resurrection is real… Nothing of what we believe about life has to come into contact with or be tested by the larger culture.  The belief (or the hope) that Jesus can change/transform the world around me comes at the risk of being exposed to that larger culture; the avoidance of agendas or values contrary or other than those representative of Christ and His Kingdom belies a fear that Christ and His Kingdom can’t handle the pressure.

This is not a matter of simply disassociating myself from a distasteful or embarrassing part of my family.. This is saying that what I know of Jesus is not represented (much less encapsulated) by what the christian marketplace finds sellable.  And before someone else says it.. I know these aren’t new thoughts or novel; they are, as I see them, important enough to repeat ad nauseum until the din of chaos produced by the multitude of false gods the christian market produces has some counterbalance… because the bottom line for me is this:

-I believe “the heavens proclaim the Glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His Hands” (psalm 19)
-I believe “the earth is the LORD’s and everything in it” (psalm 24)
-I believe in the power of God to change lives and I believe that power extends far beyond the confines of christianity
-I believe the beauty of God is revealed in the larger culture (see: The Beatles, Radiohead, Bob Dylan, Rothko, Picasso, Dostoevsky)  which is why culture is not optional and must be engaged by those who seek the face of God rather than avoided.
-I believe these things because my life has been changed by the power of God through Jesus when He connected with me outside the boundary lines drawn by religious culture which is where He continues to meet me.

19 Comments

  1. AJ

    repeat ad nauseum please! I just had my teenage son read it. He’s a big Dylan fan. We both appreciated this!

  2. The best argument against these things, is not an argument at all, but rather and endorsement of what we are for (via word and deed.) There is a tendency in all of us to define ourselves by what we are against rather than what we are for. We have to fight that.

  3. Amen.

    If we refuse to engage culture, we’re essentially refusing to form relationships with those who don’t already agree with us– not exactly being “all things to all men.”

  4. Mark,

    Agreed on the whole. This series of blogs is the “you have heard it said” part which I hope works well to set up the “but I tell you..” part.

  5. andie

    i agree with everything you’ve said about this website, but here’s the sad thing for me; the title of this blog. because if sites like this is making people feel that all christians are total crackpots like this bunch running this place, thats a very poor state of affairs.

    I myself am a christian ( the liberal thinking kind, not the type who seems to have a problem with integrating with other people), and my first impression of this site was ‘WHY?!’. i dont understand why there needs to be a christian version of anything!

    i joined out of pure nosiness. what i saw was, lots of bickering, childishness, power mad people who thought they were better than others, running it like a dictatorship.
    also the whole site seems to focus on money, finance and how to get rich quick.

    Id like to know exactly what it is that makes this ‘the christian alternative to twitter’!

  6. I wrote about this in my blog (after reading your Facebook status about it). Honestly, stuff like this is pure cult-like behavior. No, I don’t think that all (or most, for that matter) Christians are cult-like, but one of the things that a cult does is try and separate its members from the rest of society and give them a feeling of being better or more enlightened than the masses. That’s exactly what this sort of a thing is, and it represents a mentality that’s all too common with a lot of religious people.

    While the Christians I know don’t quite put it in the same terms that I do, they essentially are bemoaning the exact same sad state of affairs.

  7. Randy

    bravo, Mister McRoberts…well put. Also, I don’t “tweet” and I am certainly not gonna “chortle”. (That’s what they need to call it on ChristianChirp)

  8. Steve in Berkeley

    Justin: As a gay man and crystal meth user who is in the throws of a torrid, revived love affair with Jesus, i must say that your words flood my eyes with tears and make my heart soar. Truth can do that. In addition, my soul aches for these that love to call themselves christians and yet seal themselves so tightly into safety that it’s virtually suffocating them and paints a horribly distorted picture of Who Our Creator actually is to those around us. Continue to be bold, my brother. And continue to be compassionate. It’s a deadly combination when aimed at an audience who has ears to hear. Steve

  9. Tess Mallory

    This was a wonderful blog and sooooo true. Thanks for standing up for the true heart of Christianity.

  10. Good stuff, Justin.

    Though in thinking about Christians that purposefully exclude themselves from culture, I wonder how the monastic movement and early Christian hermits would fit with this type of exclusion. Very different contexts, of course, but it’s an interesting comparison. Christians have been excluding themselves from culture since the early church.

    • Kev,

      I am actually re-reading a collection of the sayings of the Desert Fathers (as opposed to the Dessert Fathers… whole other thing) and thinking about that topic as well. The monks practice disciplines that necessitated absence from mainstream culture BUT their practice of those disciplines benefits the mainstream culture as they learn things about humanity and our relationship to God that are otherwise unknowable; all of this is why they write down these things.

      While I can’t speak for the creators or users at ChristianChirp, I’ll go out on a limb and postulate their motives aren’t quite as altruistic nor as well thought out as those of St. Anthony, Poemen or even Thomas Merton.

  11. Steve in Berkeley

    Hell….or Justin McRoberts for that matter ;-)

  12. Tony from Pandora

    What’s ‘Twitter’?

  13. Steve in Berkeley

    J: Running smack into this issue, using Jesus’ own words but in a bolder manner than i’ve heard recently…check out Tim Keller’s new book “Prodigal God”. He goes as far to say that it’s the christian separtists and rule keepers that have the most difficult time having an authentic relationship with God because they work so hard to become their own Saviours. Most interesting stuff. s

  14. Andy

    Justin: This post resonates with me for the same reason that your song “Safe” does – the rejection of idea that we should cloister ourselves in our safe, warm, family-approved churches/schools/websites, alienating ourselves from the culture we are supposed to be engaged with.

    For me the question is about how big we are inviting God to be in our reality. He is a big God – big enough to be present in our sanctuaries as well as our bars. The more we invite him into those places and seek him out in the art, music, film and other culture of our day, the bigger he will become in our lives.

    By the way, this tribute to Radiohead’s “OK Computer” is excellent: http://stereogum.com/okx

  15. Justin,

    Awesome series of blogs. This has been a fixation of mine for some time… the way Christians do this sort of thing. Honestly, so many Christians these days are simply Pharisees. And I’ve actually said in the past that I wished there were something else to call myself because I do not want to be associated with some of the people that are calling themselves Christians. This isn’t to say that they dont’ mean well… but it just seems like so many people are sheep… following whatever they are told that Christians should follow… never considering what Jesus says about it.

  16. Tony from Pandora

    This was an email I got today…

    Want to have some fun this CHRISTMAS? Send the ACLU a CHRISTMAS CARD this year.
    As they are working so very hard to get rid of the CHRISTMAS part of this holiday,
    we should all send them a nice, CHRISTIAN card to brighten up their dark, sad, little world…
    For those of you who aren’t aware of them, the ACLU, (the American Civil Liberties Union) is the one suing the U.S. Government to take God, Christmas or anything
    Christian away from us. Help put Christ back in Christmas!
    Make sure the card you send says “Merry Christmas” on it. And get a religious stamp to put on it also.
    Here’s the address, just don’t be rude or crude. (It’s not the Christian way, you know.)

    ACLU
    125 Broad Street
    18th Floor
    New York , NY 10004

    Now how will this really help anything concerning the ACLU’s perceived attitude toward Christianity?

    Two tons of Christmas cards would freeze their operations because they wouldn’t know
    if any were regular mail containing contributions. So spend 44 cents and tell the
    ACLU to leave Christmas alone. Also tell them that there is no such thing as a
    “Holiday Tree”. . . It’s always been called a CHRISTMAS TREE!

    And pass this on to your email lists. We really want to communicate with the ACLU!
    They really DESERVE us!!

  17. Tony from Pandora

    We need a ‘preview’ button. The comment “now how will this really help anything concerning the ACLU’s perceived attitude toward Christianity” was mine the rest was the email. Sorry for the confusion!!

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