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Heavyweight Criticism

Every one of us is prejudiced.

We form opinions about people, places, and things based upon prior experience, lack of experience, and information provided for us by others.  In turn these prejudices inform our preferences and speculations.

My childhood was spent in the northernmost tip of rural Los Angeles County. The people who lived there were mostly African-American, Latino, and Caucasian. What we didn’t share genetically, we made up for in poverty.

People of different colors weren’t considered strange, people with money were.

Acting like a high roller was actually a bigger faux pas than committing a crime.

We were getting along just fine…

…until the “Orientals” started showing up.

Nobody knew whether “those people” were Pakistani, Sri Lankan, Bengali, or Indian.  Nobody really cared if they were Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Nung or Hmong.  Most everybody “liked it better when you could understand what people were saying” because “this is America after all.”

The prejudices revealed by the arrival of our new community members didn’t actually have much to do with race or religion… or the fact that they were upwardly mobile.  They had to do with a shared belief that people must conform to our standards to be accepted by us.

This wasn’t only true in my high-desert hometown was it?


Murmurings and disputing.

Over the years I’ve found that “The World” and “Our Society” are easy targets for Christians who desire to create a false sense of unity by appealing to our innate sense of self-righteousness.

Our need to point out what is wrong with culture and condemn others betrays a belief that we don’t create culture, we are persecuted by it for our alleged righteousness.

This comes at the heavy cost of refusing to acknowledge the role we play in creating culture every time we tune in, purchase a product, or click on a link.

Because of this I try my best not to critique culture but to point out what our culture reveals about the human heart, and it’s need for the healing and wholeness found in Jesus Christ.

Because the only thing I can do about “culture” is to try to create better options for the broken hearted… Like Jesus did.

That said, a friend pointed me towards this and I don’t think I could’ve expressed my frustration more appropriately.

MTV’s next reality show promises to document newly minted adults as they set out to lose their virginity.

After you read it, I’d encourage you to consider not railing about how things were better“back in the day” (because the ancient world was significantly more perverse that modern America) or “where our society is headed next” (because the show about teen moms is already on MTV) since neither of those laments has ever changed anything.

I’d encourage you to simply ask God what you could personally do to reach out to a young person who is so lost that finding meaning and purpose in the degradation of sexual celebrity seems like a good next step in their human development.

And then go out and try it.

Until we accept that making pronouncements and generalizations about society keeps us from making personal interactions with humanity, we will fail to be anything but culture warriors, fighting against people instead of for them.

Pointing out that the house you live in is on fire doesn’t do much good unless you’re also offering your family the way out.

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.  
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