How to Turn Everything into a Devotional or Sermon

There is nothing more satisfying for Christians, it seems, than linking everything with God. Hang out long enough with young, hip and educated Christians and you will see it done well, the older set who are trying to “reach out to” or connect with younger audiences do it much less well.

An example, many, many years ago when the Matrix first came out it was denounced by many in the churched community because it made violence sexy and fun. “But wait!” a young philosopher cried. “It is actually a complex metaphor for Christ!” After that, one couldn’t escape sermons on the Matrix, clips of it being shown in services or Bible studies, books on the relationship between Neo and Christ and all sorts of bizarre kitschy things which Christian bookstores specialize in linking the two.

To be certain, The Matrix was a bit of a challenge. Other movies are easier to subject to this. Any sports movie ever made is a ripe candidate for this process, as are Mel Gibson movies like Braveheart or The Patriot if you belong to a more militant sect of Protestantism.

And, like the Christian music industry, this process is always looking for new genres and styles to latch onto. Case in point: The Office. A funny and delightful show, yes, but lost much of it’s appeal for me when Ken Heffner “discerned” it properly for us during orientation.

And yes, Cultural Discernment plays a key part in this. I told you this phrase was overused!

But this practice has a much more odious application, it kills humor. It is a well-known fact that Christian “comedians” do humor very badly. While they try hard (a little too hard) their humor fails in the way that Jeff Foxworthy’s oftentimes succeeds. The “you might be a redneck…” punchline works because it unabashedly looks at and mocks mercilessly a group that the comedian belongs to. Christians take themselves much too seriously for this to ever happen. Take a look at the reaction movies or books which poke fun at the religion receive and how often Christian “comedy” publications must, it seems, offer a few cheesy melodramatic scenes or serious conversion scenes in order to be lauded.

In short, a sermon or devotion MUST follow the humor in order to make it acceptable in the Christian subculture. Enter the lifeless blog, Stuff Christians Like (have I mentioned yet that the Christian subculture has yet to come up with an idea completely it’s own?). I’d rather not link to it, as I’m sure you all can find it on your own.

While the theme of the blog is a worthy idea ripe with hilarity the author kills it. How? A sermon is wrapped up in each and every tasty morsel of supposedly self-deprecating humor. The author will often latch right onto a great nugget, such as “Making God Emo” or “The three types of Pastors’ wives” and throwing in a charming anecdote about this lovely missions trip he went on that “the eyes of his heart” or other such drivel or trying to explain that wife #2 came to be grumpy via a bad church.

…I could give more examples, but I’m off to a Bible Study where I’m sure we’ll discuss how Christ comes through in the new “Sex in the City” Movie or the latest Coldplay album!


2 responses to “How to Turn Everything into a Devotional or Sermon

  1. Oh my gosh Ken Heffner has ruined so many things for me too, like my fiscal stability. Who else can go on stage and say “parents you could by this every year your kid is at college…” Great job idiot for making my parents weary of even loaning me money for school! They actually set new limits to what they would pay for school the night after that speech and these were lower than the previous ones.

    Oh yeah and his attempt at ‘redeeming’ Sufan made me totally turned off. I fact the night after I was looking for an alternative school to go to, if I wasn’t distracted by my RA that night I would most likely have transferred to the U of MN.

  2. Perhaps Stuff Christians Like disappointed you because your expectations were not what Jon Acuff set out to deliver. Stuff White People Like has no higher purpose but to be entertaining. Stuff Christians Like has a purpose other than to be entertaining – to speak in common, often humorous language and make a point. Which is what all (good) sermons are. What makes it ‘lifeless’ to you is that he interrupts all the jokes with a bit of truth – which is what he wanted to get to all along. If he followed Stuff White People Like to a T, then it wouldn’t be Stuff Christians Like, it would just be Stuff White People Like.

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