Undercover

An upcoming book due to hit book stands the first week of May is sure to ruffle the conservative, evangelical feathers of the “christian right.”  Rolling Stones journalist Matt Taibbi writes in “The Great Derangement” about “A Terrifying True Story of War, Politics, and Religion at the Twilight of the American Empire,” according to the book’s publishing house

Rolling Stone Magazine gives us a small taste of whats to come in Derangement touted by the publisher as “A REVELATORY AND DARKLY COMIC ADVENTURE THROUGH A NATION ON THE VERGE OF A NERVOUS BREAKDOWN—FROM THE HALLS OF CONGRESS TO THE BASES OF BAGHDAD TO THE APOCALYPTIC CHURCHES OF THE HEARTLAND”

All my people will now join me in a unanimous shudder as I inform you that this journo went “undercover” in Cornerstone Church of Texas, pastored by John Hagee.  Why do they always pick the ones LEAST like the churches you and I attend? 

I read the excerpt  which ended up being quite lengthy and focused solely on Taibbi’s experience on a weekend “retreat” with Cornerstone.  While most of what I read depresses me, as the “christian church” is so effectively stereotyped and grossly misrepresented in this story,  there are two sections that grab my attention, and cause me to contemplate the truth this writer stumbled upon, although obviously unbeknown to him.

Here is the passage:

Here I have a confession to make. It’s not something that’s easy to explain, but here goes. After two days of nearly constant religious instruction, songs, worship and praise – two days that for me meant an unending regimen of forced and fake responses – a funny thing started to happen to my head. There is a transformational quality in these external demonstrations of faith and belief. The more you shout out praising the Lord, singing along to those awful acoustic tunes, telling people how blessed you feel and so on, the more a sort of mechanical Christian skin starts to grow all over your real self. Even if you’re a degenerate Rolling Stone reporter inwardly chuckling and busting on the whole scene – even if you’re intellectually enraged by the ignorance and arrogant prejudice flowing from the mouth of a terminal-ambition case like Phil Fortenberry – outwardly you’re swaying to the gospel and singing and praising and acting the part, and those outward ministrations assume a kind of sincerity in themselves. And at the same time, that “inner you” begins to get tired of the whole spectacle and sometimes forgets to protest – in my case checking out into baseball reveries and other daydreams while the outer me did the “work” of singing and praising. At any given moment, which one is the real you?

You may think you know the answer, but by my third day I began to notice how effortlessly my soft-spoken Matt-mannequin was going through his robotic motions of praise, and I was shocked. For a brief, fleeting moment I could see how under different circumstances it would be easy enough to bury your “sinful” self far under the skin of your outer Christian and to just travel through life this way. So long as you go through all the motions, no one will care who you really are underneath. And besides, so long as you are going through all the motions, never breaking the facade, who are you really? It was an incomplete thought, but it was a scary one; it was the very first time I worried that the experience of entering this world might prove to be anything more than an unusually tiring assignment. I feared for my normal.

 

Wow….  are yall tracking with this? Have any of you ever come face to face with this same reality or experienced the “motions” or the “fakeness” that can be found in FBC Anytown USA?

For a brief, fleeting moment I could see how under different circumstances it would be easy enough to bury your “sinful” self far under the skin of your outer Christian and to just travel through life this way. So long as you go through all the motions, no one will care who you really are underneath. And besides, so long as you are going through all the motions, never breaking the facade, who are you really?

 Maybe its time we break our cover, and let the Matt Taibbi’s of the world know that the only thing different between Christians and “his kind” is that we have the saving grace of Christ through faith and belief.  Thats it.  We are trusting Christ to save us from the punishment we deserve because of our sin while those who don’t believe will face judgement without the saving grace of Christ.  Maybe if we broke our cover, and admitted that we sin just as much as the next guy (or gal), we would do a better job of being the body of Christ to a lost generation.  Sin is the separation.  Grace is what makes us different.

What do yall think?  Let me have some responses on this one! 

 

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About AnnieLaurie

Wife | Mom | Paleoish ... Playlists are my love language
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2 Responses to Undercover

  1. Matt says:

    Well I guess someone has to get the ball rolling :-p

    Agree with your main points

    I think the quote was also a warning about the Christian Bubble Culture (focus on social external instead of spiritual internal) and the trap of becoming lukewarm (it becomes a routine) or content (stagnation, never addressing the real tough deeper issues)

    Back to faith and belief

    This quote from the book review

    “Together these four interwoven adventures paint a portrait of a nation dangerously out of touch with reality and desperately searching for answers in all the wrong places.”

    Sounds like your typical intellectual seeker… Some might think when you become a “Christian” all the answers are revealed and everything finally makes sense. This doesn’t occur… if it did there would be no more need for faith and belief.

  2. Julie says:

    Great insight, Annie Laurie. And you are dead on point. Every day is not a walk on a passionate high but as Christians, what are we doing to be authentic inside AND out and be relevant in our culture to capture the hearts and minds of the lost around us and helping reveal to them the Truth of Jesus Christ. Our faith isn’t based on circumstances or experience, it’s based on Christ and what he did 2000 years ago through his death and resurrection.
    What is the American church doing to convey that point in relevant terms to this culture around us?

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