Grey Haired Philosophers, Young Idealists, and Real Christians.

Ninkasi 24 ounce Believer Double Red Ale beer Eugene Oregon brewery
Dirty, local, tasty
Demographically speaking, we are an odd group.  Hollywood, CNN, FoxNews, the Gallop Co., marketers, and anyone from the Census Bureau would have a hard time pin-pointing how we all became friends.  This diverse group meets at local brewpubs and shares drinks, appetizers, discourse on any topic broached, and our souls.  And while we are all men, the only other common denominator to our relationships is our faith in God.

I probably lost some of you there.  I'm sorry.  You're missing out on some real characters.  It's too bad that many readers today instantly lose interest when the idea of religion or faith comes up. I'm sorry your pain from the church, or from religious friends, or from certain aspects of the Bible you find offensive have closed you off from ever giving God-based topics a second thought.  Most of that is because man has done a miserable job marketing God.

Which is obvious when you walk into a local Christian bookstore.  Does this look like the reality around you?  I was told by a Christian publisher that Amish literature is incredibly popular in Christian bookstores right now, and I was flabbergasted.  I mean, the Amish are interesting...  I could maybe read a 150 page non-fiction investigative study of the Amish; as they are a happy lot, supposedly... but scanning the isles you will see titles like: Abram's Folly, or Jacob Have I Loved, or Barn Raisings and Buggy Rides.
Opal Movano van late 2000s body style red european german vehicle
Who hasn't almost died in an Opal Movano Rally Car race?
I was told if I wrote an Amish novel, there was a good chance I could get published.  Really?  REEEAAALLLYYY???  Just to be facetious, I brainstormed an idea:  It's called My Rumspringa of Rammstein.  It's about a boy who uses his year of "rebellion" to become a roadie for the German metal band Rammstein, gets beat up by a skinhead group, and nearly dies in an Opel Movano rally car race.  Remember, this is just a loose idea, I haven't hammered out all the details, because I'd never waste my time actually writing it.

If it was just the books at the bookstore, I could survive.  But Christian radio is about as watered down and vanilla as it gets.  Current worship songs, sung in a very sweet, elegant, and passionless manner are always popular.  As are white-washed versions of mainstream music.  It's always interesting when the "tame" Evanescence sounding songs come on.  The radio personalities are as exciting as the Westminster Dog Show announcers.

Wow Christian Hits 2012 CD album cover
I often feel like these "collected hits
CDs" should be called "Meh" instead
The overwhelming feeling I get from Christian marketers, is that as a demographic, my people are tame, boring, passionless, in-adventurous, plain, clean, self-righteous people.  That's too bad, because they are missing where Jesus really is at in most of our lives.  I think many producers of Christian wares have taken the idea of wanting "clean, wholesome, entertainment" to believing that the only goods Christians intake are "clean, wholesome goods."

And I can tell you, that the majority of Christians I know, do not fit that bill.  This group I meet for lunches does not fit this mold.  While I will say they are good people, it's not because of how many "hi- diddly-ho, neighbors" they spout out in a day, but because of their works.  And most of them work in dirty industries.  One friend is a mostly retired electrician.  His co-workers are some of the most crass, crude, and ungodly men on the West Coast.  He is their only source of non-worldy inspiration.  He cannot be influential by talking about the latest Pilgrim-style Romance novel on the Christian bookshelves.  No, this electrician friend brews his own beer (a tasty beer too, and I'm not a big beer fan), and plays dirty blues rifts, and talks about physics and nano-particles.  He's incredibly intelligent, but better yet, he can listen.

They all can listen, even though they all could talk for hours, and we often do talk for hours.  The collective intelligence at the large table is substantial.  I've learned more (although I sometimes go home and fact check their wild factoids) at these lunch-ins than in whole semesters at college.  There are at least two non-practicing pastors in the group.  They talk about how the church is failing to meet people where they are right now.  How "big-box mentality and business marketing practices" have turned the church into a phony corporate system.  More interested in growing in attendance, then growing individual spiritualism in each believer's life.

They're a loud, boisterous, and filter-less group.  Sometimes people move away from our table, but on more than a few occasions, random strangers have joined in.  Some saying, "I didn't know Christians were allowed to drink beer?"

Apparently, the Christian marketers forgot that Jesus made wine out of water.  We, as a group, though, are careful not to get inebriated.  Our wild gesticulating, raucous laughter, and taboo subject discussions would probably get us 86-ed from the establishments if we let a few of the guys have a third pint.  And that's just the way I like it.  We are happy, intense souls, with wild opinions on anything from Israeli politics to how bitter an IPA should taste.

Just yesterday, while the election news was filtering in across America, we discussed the realities of sex and pornography in Christian lives.  What church has the balls to bring this up?  My parents now admit that their "hush hush" approach to sex was probably counter-productive, but isn't that what our older generations are for?  Realizing the mistakes  and successes they made so that we younger generations can learn from their experiences?  Anyways, we talked about how David talked about sex in the Bible, and how it was never looked on as a sick act, and how we as a nation, and especially Christians, are too preoccupied with who's having sex and who shouldn't be.
Amish, mennonite, romance love story with sexual tension book novel
How the Christian market would likely deal
with sex and pornography.  
We talked about how new studies are showing that young men can no longer get aroused by their wives and girlfriends because their women can't perform the sexual acrobatics of the women they watch in dirty films.  We sat and realized that this was a new reality that not just the church but every marriage and every relationship will have to deal with.  And we won't find the solution by turning on the radio to our favorite Christian radio station: "Hello, and good morning friends, and thank you for tuning in to KGOD.  You may want to cover your children's ears, because today I want to talk to you about something a little more in adult videos..."  Yeah right.

Which makes me wonder.  There is a market out there.  A market of Real Christians.  People who go out and deal with S#!+ everyday of their lives, and often track part of it home with them.  Not all of us are pure-breed righteous, and many of us like our steak rare.  The Jesus of the New Testament was a raw revolutionary.  He touched lepers, hung out with prostitutes, tax collectors, fishermen, and exonerated career criminals.  He challenged the status quo of his day so badly, that they HAD to kill him.  THEY HAD TO.  He was such a rebel.  Go back and look at Romeo/Judeo norms of that time, and tell me that Jesus was not one of the most dangerous men of his time because of how he challenged religious minds and cultural norms.  This Jesus, was not a safe, gentle, passive man, and yet at the same time he wasn't political at all.  He met people where they were on that day, and spoke life into their dead lives.

Peter Washing Jesus' feet statue at Dallas Theological Seminary
This may look tame, but the "Messiah" washing the feet of
Peter would've been so socially unacceptable to people of
Jesus' time, that He should've been outcaste.
Statue is at Dallas Theological Seminary. 
I think it's time people who believe in Jesus in this time, to stand up to the Pharisees of Christian marketing and say, "This Mug that says WWJD no longer represents me as a believer."  I yearn for the spiritual experiences that formulated the basis of my faith.  Real, indescribable acts that said, "CHRIS YOU RATIONAL IDIOT, I AM REAL AND I'M TRYING TO SAY SOMETHING REALLY IMPORTANT TO YOU."  Those handful of moments that were so baffling and other-worldly, that I questioned them from the moment they happened until the moment they happened again.  God works in mysterious ways, but we, his followers, have tried to package Him into an Amish romance novel.  And that makes me angry.  And I think it makes God a little angry, and sad as well.

Thank God I have real Christian friends that I can shoot the breeze and vent with.  I hope you have a few in your life as well.  And if you are a non-believer and actually finished this article, I applaud you on your "open-mindedness."  I hope someday that Christians will be as open minded with love, understanding, and forgiveness as Jesus was/is.


  1. Yes! Jesus was not meek and mild; Jesus was a mover and shaker and doer of deeds and an agitator. Love is a verb! Thanks, Chris.

  2. I'll confess I usually tune out to any religious posts. I'm not an atheist, I just keep my beliefs mostly to myself. This was a refreshing read. It's as if "religion" was put through a prism of common sense and your blog is what the result is. Kudos my man.

    1. Usually my faith is very private as well. But these guys are too interesting to keep locked to myself.

      It's sad that faith has lost its common sense aspects, often fissuring at tiny dogmas or church politics. The basics have 90% of the meat.

      To my other readers, check out RC's blog, he's got an interesting, fun, and funny style:

  3. I'm not an expert at males and pornography, but I don't think it's the acrobatic sex moves that create more arousal in men as much as it is the "newness" and the rush of the dark and secret passions that that have since been "lost" in their own relationship. If my husband watched pornographic videos and then made love like normal and his libido was the same either way, I'd be more concerned than if the pornography created a rift in our intimacy. Brutal honesty, transparency, openness, confession, forgiveness, counseling, and spiritual growth is essential to retain intimacy. There's a lame-duck Christian book called Crazy Good Sex, which, essentially is trying to break the norm of what's found on Christian Bookstore shelves, but its content is something that Doc James Dobson's Grandmother could've written (assuming she wasn't a spicy dame). There's a fine line though, between a "hush hush" mentality, and a respectful nondisclosure about sexuality.

    1. I agree with most of what you're saying, but my point about pornography was that according to some new studies some YOUNG men can NOT get aroused without pornography. As in impotence. I guess this is a real problem, as they are no longer turned on without explicit content; and their wives/girlfriends aren't able to replicate and/or agree to the actions in those films.

      And, yes, respectful nondisclosure is the preferred choice when it comes to blabbing about sexual practices. Not talking about sexual disfunction, though, is incredibly real for many men/women and marriages; especially those who won't because of feared embarrassment by leaders/councilors of the church.

  4. This was a good read Chris.