Olympic diving and obnoxious Christians
My friend Nicole posted about a week ago on Christian culture and speaking “Christianese.” As the slightly derogatory term “Christianese” infers, she’s not in favor of loudly exclaiming, “Hallelujah!! Praise Jesus!” in the produce department when you discover that, to your joy, peaches are less than a dollar a pound.
Similarly, a couple of months ago, my husband and I watched (in my case, re-watched) a DVD of the testimony* of the dear and departed John Wimber, entitled I’m a Fool for Christ. Whose Fool are You?. In it, he hilariously tells of early encounters with other Christians, who would speak to him in conversation peppered with stock Christian phrases like, “How are you brother? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?” and John’s confused reaction was something like, “What?? That’s gross! And YOU’RE NOT MY BROTHER!!”
I do totally understand what Nicole and Pastor Wimber were communicating. I think the speech of those immersed in the Christian culture can be confusing and off-putting to those who aren’t. And, it’s not like I disagree with their stances. Well, not totally.
I was reminded, though, of a revelation I had during the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, which were held in Athens. I was watching platform diving, and I don’t recall who the color-commentator was, but he was REALLY, REALLY into it. Invariably, his remarks were emotional, whether something favorable happened to a diver, or whether tragedy occurred: Every syllable was high-pitched, high-decibel, and of apparent great consequence. You could imagine every phrase transcribed in ALL CAPS with multiple exclamation points!!!!! He spoke — loudly squeaked, rather — with knowledge of each diver’s strengths, weaknesses, and habits, using terms I’d never heard before, drawing the watcher’s attention to minute happenings in each dive that were, to me, entirely indiscernible.
It dawned on me, as I listened and watched, that even though the summer Olympics high platform diving occurs only every four years, and to which I rarely — if ever — give thought to, outside of the Olympics, it had an ongoing culture that existed 24/7/365, and that the commentator obviously lived it. So immersed was he within diving culture, that he was oblivious to the reality that the TV viewers were highly unlikely to understand the significance, say, of the left foot of the third Chinese diver, which was angled just so, and that girl’s relationship to the second Chinese diver, and how the jump we just saw compared to last May’s event in Brussels, where she jumped thus.
I enjoy all Olympic events; I’m GLUED to the TV when they come on, and every Olympic event, no matter how obscure, takes precedence over all other programs (even sports) which I or my children may have otherwise watched during that time. However, I just had to shake my head and laugh at the diving commentator; he was SO over-the-top; it was comically too much.
AND… (hang with me, here!)
I’m attending a weekly women’s Bible study at my church. There are 50+ of us, going through Beth Moore’s study of the book (and person) of Esther. I am really gaining a great deal from the study. There are always a few things about Beth Moore’s approach, though, that I just have to… inhale deeply, and not let it stumble me, so I don’t miss the reality of what she’s teaching. For example, this past week, she mentioned 15-step** morning beauty regimens, stated with the assumption that everyone does similarly. Um, I don’t. My “regimen” is usually a quick swipe of a homemade cleansing solution on a cotton pad, and if I really have my act together, some powder, mascara, and lip gloss.
Also, she made reference to the reality show The Bachelor, making the astute comparison between it and the harem environment of Xerxes’ beauty-contest search for a new queen. She didn’t refer to the show by name, but the way she mentioned it made it clear that she assumed we women all watch it.
I think Beth primarily addresses the sort of girly-girl woman who oozes estrogen from her pores. Um, that’s not me. So, for parts of the study — both the video portion, and the homework — I have to just forgive her generalizations and oversight, and glean the truth of the true, deep insight that she brings to the Word of God, and have that be that, rather than get offended. Still, it’s a bit of a task, sometimes.
BUT, of significance to the whole “culture” thing, this week’s study also included this gem from Beth, which I found absolutely amazing:
I believe one of God’s purposes in this journey is to help us recapture both our identity and identification as His children — not so we can be obnoxious but so we can be influential. (emphasis mine)
I put a note in the margin:
I shy from being purposefully influential. It seems presumptive or arrogant. But, in many ways, I see that now as plan of the enemy to silence me, [meaning, His message THROUGH me] and I see the Father, in many ways, bringing me out of that.
Like the diving commentator illustrates, there are all sorts of different cultures into which one can, sometimes unwittingly, become immersed. Every culture has language that is unique to its experience and function. That’s not bad. However, I do agree that we do need to be careful not to assume too much when we’re speaking with the “uninitiated”, whether you’re discussing the finer points of Olympic events, or the “daily walk” of the Christian.
On the other hand, though, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater!! I don’t think that as Christians, we should be so reticent to say things that might
- “blow our cover”
- or be obnoxious
- or be presumptive
- or appear holier-than-thou
- or bring offense
that we allow the enemy to silence us altogether, or to have us believe that Christian culture is not only worthless, but detrimental. That’s a lie!!
Or, should I say (imagine my high-pitched, emotion-filled, insistent voice here), “THAT’S A LIE!!!”
* ~ahem~ should that be “story of how he became a Christian,” rather than “testimony“??
** I counted.
Posted on June 28, 2010, in Blogging, Books I'm Reading, Character Development, Christian Living, Christianity, God/Christianity/Church, Introspective Musings, Vineyard Phoenix. Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.