My Pet Peeves about Christianity

Written: 28 August, 2000

I've only been a Christian for a year. I wasn't raised a Christian, and for many years I thought I couldn't be a Christian partly because it seemed "foreign" to me, with its own jargon and stuff that I didn't know much about.

I thought maybe some of things that bugged me about Christians would go away when I became a Christian, but I'm finding that with some of these things I feel the same way about them as I did before I became a Christian. And yet they seem commonplace on, say, Christian TV and stuff.

For example, here's what I said about G-Rock back BEFORE I became a Christian:

"I stumbed upon G-Rock and Real Videoes on TBN, and was blown away by the Christian rock I was seeing on there. This was great stuff. The only bad part was between songs when glassy-eyed Christians would look into the screen and repeat a bunch of phrases they heard in church about how wonderful Jesus is, and how you ought to accept Him in your heart, blah blah blah. Turn the channel. Those people don't give me any reason to join their religion, unless I had the wish to come across as brainwashed as them."

I was watching TBN's "MX [Mission X]-TV" last Saturday night, and the host of the show gives off that same kind of weird vibe a lot of the time, like he's staring off into space, in a trance. I've also seen a guy on Eastman Curtis' TBN show that has this dumb grin on his face and a glazed-over look to him -- that if he was a character in a sci-fi movie, he'd be the one that was taken over by the mind-controlling alien.

Audio Adrenaline's song "Some Kind of Zombie" seems to want to make it "cool" to be a "zombie." It's a cool rocking song, to be sure, but the message that I get from it is that God wants us to be zombies.

I was watching dc Talk's "Supernatural Experience" and during the performance of "Into Jesus," Toby tells the crowd, "Sing it, 'I'm a believer'..." and the crowd sings that and Toby says "Sing 'I'm a believer in God'..." and the crowd sings that.

For some reason, that scene made me a bit uncomfortable. Sure, it's a familiar rock-show thing where the lead singer turns the microphone to the crowd and they sing some of the lines. And I never felt a twinge of discomfort when someone like Paul Stanley would want the crowd to sing "I wanna rock and roll all night and party every day" or Freddie Mercury invited us to sing along to "We Will Rock You" on the recording of that song. Because the lyrics didn't really say anything. But asking someone to say "I'm a believer in God" is a little more substantial than asking them to say "I wanna rock..." etc.

Why does it bug me? I don't know, that's the weird thing. Part of me feels that it might be tied to this fear I have of the mob mentality. I dislike the idea of being compelled to express deep emotions at the drop of a hat. Also, I'd feel bad for the people who might be at such a concert who don't believe in God, or are not sure they do. They might feel like they don't belong or are not wanted there, and are being compelled to say things which they don't want to say. Seeing everyone around them raising their hands (why do Christians do that anyway? They want to receive the spirit...well, they don't need to raise their hands to receive it, methinks. To me, it looks like a pose to make one seem more religious.) -- raising their hands and chanting "I believe in God" -- if I was an agnostic, I'd feel like I was a Jew at a Nazi rally. On the screen behind dc Talk, during another song, it showed B&W footage of bare-chested troops raising their rifles over their heads, and again I got the uncomfortable feeling that the scene was comparable to fascist propaganda.

I don't like how Christians seem to have to act like other Christians sometimes, even though we ARE different people and have different ways of expressing our faith. I notice on "Real Videos" that they usually end the show with a prayer. T-Bone will be talking with some band, and then he'll tell the guy, could we pray right now for the viewers at home, and then they'll start praying for the camera, with the guitarist reciting some prayer which presumably he's making up on the spot. Well, I don't know what I'D ever say if T-Bone put me in that situation. I'm not good reciting communal prayers off the top of my head. I know what I want to pray, but I wouldn't presume to know what words to say for somebody else to pray. Maybe if I knew more Christians and they were right in front of me, it'd be easier, I dunno. But for some reason impromptu communal prayers are something I'm not good at. Anyway, has any viewer actually prayed along to what they said and became a Christian that way?

Let me put down another band I like. All Star United's "Worldwide Socialites Unite" mocks the idea of people not discussing anything that matters because it's "impolite," such as one's religious convictions. The song says, "And as for God's existence, well that's your private business." Part of me agrees with mocking that idea, but on the other hand part of me knows that I have to be sensitive to the feelings of others when discussing heavy subjects such as religion. Some people don't want to hear about religion, and I wouldn't feel right being "preachy" about it if they don't want to hear it. Ultimately, it is someone's "private business" what religion they are, I think. I wouldn't want a Muslim trying to convert me to his faith, so I would try to respect his decision to be who he is.

That gets me to another thing that bugs me about Christianity, which is this current fad of teen mission trips, as popularized by Ron Luce, "Acquire the Fire," and Teen Mania. Let me see if I got this straight: Teens in the U.S. go to another country (sometimes where they don't even speak the language) and try to convert people who live there into being Christians. And then these teens go back home where they usually don't try to convert total strangers to their faith. I'm sorry, but I'd NEVER walk up to a stranger and tell them that they ought to convert to Christianity. That shows no respect for those people's beliefs in my opinion. It doesn't show an interest in those people as individuals, but as points in a game, to see who can rack up the most commitments.

Final pet peeve (for now): Rebecca St. James. It seems like every time I see something related to her, it comes with her speaking out in some way about the Christian faith. Don't get me wrong, I like her music, and in fact I'm a subscriber to her email mailing list. But it seems like everyone wants to know what Rebecca thinks about such-and-such, and we are thus treated to her wise words of wisdom on such-and-such. How old is this girl -- 23 or something?

Is her advice helpful or enlightening? The "Rebecca Talks" bit in the "Pray" CD booklet, shares Rebecca's opinion on the death of Kurt Cobain. She writes that Cobain "was an example of someone who absolutely lived for self. His death was the ultimate end to his own selfishness." While I agree with her to an extent, I think that this kind of response shows a lack of empathy for the person who would want to take their own life, in this case Cobain.

First of all, I wouldn't presume to know what Cobain was an "example" of. But I would recognize that the person who wants to commit suicide is not necessarily doing it because they are "selfish." In fact, they probably have a very low sense of self-worth. I've heard of a case where a parent had killed themselves and their thinking had been that their children would be better off without them. Of course, that sounds ludicrous to us, but that was the state of mind of the person committing suicide. They had such low self-esteem, and thought their problems were so big, that there was no longer any hope for them.

I think a better response would have been to recognize that, and admit that the person who wants to kill themselves has the right idea, but they are going about it the wrong way. They SHOULD "put to death" that which is causing them pain, but it should be "put to death" in a symbolic sense, not literally killing themselves. They should see their lack of strength as an opportunity to be "broken" (which Rebecca does refer to in her song "Pray") and have to rely on God's strength.

Anyway, these were some of the things that bug me about Christianity. Whaddya think?