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The Real Problem Is Me

Today’s Furmanifesto update is a guest piece from Aaron Sternke.  Aaron is an artist, producer, studio engineer and performer.  He pastors people through worship and is the Creative Principal at Willamette Christian Church in West Linn, Oregon.  Beyond this he is the singer/songwriter for Rend The Heavens, and a friend whom I deeply admire and respect.

This past week I began seeing statuses on Facebook singing the praises of American Idol contestant Colton Dixon for singing his “favorite worship song”, “Everything” by Lifehouse, on the show.  Most all the information I could read (from my army of mostly-Christian Facebook friends) was that people really liked the performance and that he “had their vote”.  

Instantly I thought to myself, “Ooh, here’s an opportunity to write something stingingly ironic”, and was excited at the prospect of discussing the idea of “using God to become popular”.  Sermon illustrations flashed through my mind.  I didn’t particularly like Colton.  I didn’t like that his sister tried out for the show and he got through instead.  I didn’t think he was that great a singer, yet the judges heaped compliments on him.  Worst of all, he was from Nashville, and his look and image reminded me of everything I wanted to forget about that town (I lived there for 3 years).

So imagine my surprise when I actually looked up and watched the performance online, and was struck by how authentic and honest he seemed doing it.  More than that, I was struck by my own quickness to judge someone, and my almost giddy relishing in pointing out someone else’s “hypocrisy”.  If you saw the performance, you may or may not have liked it, but that’s not really the point.  

For me, it was convicting.  

Feeding Time!

By now you’ve probably heard the big news.

Alicia Silverstone chews up food and then feeds it to her baby.

and America is outraged!

Of course once I heard about this I needed to find out just what in the name of Spring’s first robin was going on with one of our nation’s finest bungie jumpers. I hopped on the google machine and pulled up an article about how Ms. Silverstone, “posted a video of herself feeding food she’d already chewed to her 10 month-old son Bear Blu.”

The food: miso soup, collards and radish steamed, then drizzled with flax oil, cast iron mochi with nori wrapped outside, and some grated daikon, was given to the child “bird style”, via the mouth. Alicia detailed this on her website “The Kind Life“.

The Kind Life offers suggestions and ideas to readers about lifestyle choices ranging from interior design to composting… for the environment.

“I fed Bear the mochi and a tiny bit of veggies from the soup…from my mouth to his.”

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Hungering for Games

Isolationist nations manipulate their people, presenting them with only one perspective.  While common, it’s important to remember that not all cloistering is politically motivated.

Even though I grew up in America, I grew up in an isolationist subculture:  I belonged to a God-fearing family who presented secular things as bad, and sacred things as good.  Our family activities tended to be sacred in orientation.

While it wasn’t necessarily bad,  it wasn’t necessarily fun either.

Some difficulties arose from this way of living, Movies and FM Rock were forbidden, but they were eventually overcome by the “Jesus Movement” of the 70’s.  As a result of a man in California leading hippies to Jesus, American Christianity experienced a cultural renaissance.  As people began writing rock songs and movies about Jesus, the lines between secular and sacred became blurred.

It wasn’t necessarily bad, it just wasn’t very safe for isolationists.

This blending made determining secular and sacred products difficult.  Graciously the Christian Bookstores stepped in, stocking their shelves with only Christian products.  At some point in the process, the word Christian stopped being used to represent whether someone was a disciple of Christ, and became an adjective meaning “safe for consumption”; like a seal of approval.  People could attempt to live a well-accessorized Christian lifestyle, free of the sinful temptations of “the world”.

It wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, it just wasn’t reality.

Growing up I noticed that secular art tended to be depictions of life “as it is”, while secular commerce presented life as we “desired it to be.”  Christian products, in contrast, produced as either art or commerce tended to present life “as it should be.”  In musical terms, Patti Smith sang about her life as it was, Kiss sang about desired fantasies, and Petra sang about… well… you get the picture.

I’m talking about how life was, not how it should have been.

Because of these divisions, I’ve noticed that many Christians fail to interact with secular art, or worse, assume that these works are depictions of “how life should be”.  For this reason Christians are often found at the forefront of movements to ban, or censure, product or presentations they feel are destructive to society.

I’m talking about how life can be, not how it is supposed to be.

These divisions lead to questions like, “Should my kids listen to secular music” or “Should a Christian read Harry Potter”?  I’m afraid to say that these questions miss an important point about the person and work of Jesus Christ, because they come from the belief that isolating ourselves from the world has a moral value.

Which brings me to The Hunger Games, a literary depiction of “how life is”.

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