Santa in March?

28 03 2007

‘Tis the Season for flowers, spring allergies and seasonally ineffective street evangelists.  

I was plodding along, completely engrossed in my own thoughts, when a little, gray haired lady — her arms filled with grocery bags — flagged me down.   In a quite voice, she leaned in closer to me, and with big eyes and a somewhat crazed smile plastered on her face, she informed me there was something she needed to give me. 

As she rummaged around in her brown, winter coat, I half expected her to pull out a plastic fork, or an old gumball wrapper, or even, something to help me contact the aliens with.  But instead of ET’s home number, her hand emerged with two small cards – each about the size of a business card.  She handed them proudly over to me.  Cutesy Christian poems were printed on them in flowery fonts; nope, I wouldn’t be helping ET phone home today.     

“Santa Claus,” she said his name with all the inflections a good storyteller would use when the zombies had emerged and were now wreaking havoc on society, “leads straight to the mall which leads to bankruptcy and depression.”  She looked up so she could stare right into my eyes.  It reminded me of the way a door to door salesman would stare at you while he was trying to convince you of your overwhelming need for the latest and greatest vacuum cleaner.  I smiled back uncomfortably.  

After an awkward silence, she apparently decided I was now ripe for the gospel, and added triumphantly, “But Jesus leads to peace.  Santa has deceived us all, we’ve all ended up at the mall, but you don’t have to stay there, because you can choose to either follow Santa or Jesus.” 

Santa or Jesus? Okay, so I’ve had a couple bad experiences with street evangelists in the past, but this “gospel message” takes the cake.  Not only did it not make any sense, but it wasn’t even seasonally appropriate!     

It was ironic she thought “following Santa” would lead straight to the mall, because I was on my way to stop by a friends house – who’s actually a friend from church — and then we were going to spend the afternoon at the local mall.              

She looked satisfied, and abruptly walked away without another word.  And I continued on to the mall thinking how her “gospel” was enough to make me feel turned off from Christianity. 

I didn’t tell the lady I she was preaching to the choir, because the “Christianity” she was selling was nothing I was willing to defend or own. 

It seems like we’re in need of a new term, because somewhere along the way the term “Christianity” lost its meaning.  It became about televangelists, concerts, cheesy bumper stickers, judgemental and stupid people, and somewhere in all the hubbub, true Christianity was misplaced; it stopped being simply about “Yes, Jesus loves me.”     


Perplexing Pleasantries

24 01 2007

Of all the many problematic questions we’re posed with on a daily basis, I’ve concluded “How are you?” is, by far, the most perplexing.  If it didn’t appear to mean “Are you happy?” as often, it might not be as challenging to sort through the files in my brain until I’ve located a both creative and honest reply. 

Part of the problem, is most of the time I feel numb; it’s as if I’m on autopilot.  At times, I can deal with life very factually, rather than being overwhelmed by the magnitude of the reality and the emotions, but I do have my moments.   

The reality is, most of the time I don’t know the answer to the simple question “How are you, Kelsey?”  Is the question how I’m choosing to deal with life, or how it’s affecting me simply by osmosis?  It seems to depend on who’s asking.    

Life has dealt my family and I — along with many other people living on this planet we call home — what can feel like an overwhelming, unfair and very crummy hand.  At times, I’d like to slam my cards down in frustration and defiance on the table and demand a redue.  Someone’s stacked the deck; I’m sure of it.  Circumstances can seem overwhelming, unfair, and nothing more than a great cosmic joke, but I’m playing my hand to the best of my abilities, and I’m surviving, learning and growing inspight of it.    

The notice sign on a tiny church I drove by read, “Happiness is based on circumstances.  Joy is based on Jesus.” 

Am I happy?  Sure, I can smile and laugh with the best of them, but happiness is not my state of being.  Of course, it’s something I enjoy while it lasts, but it comes and goes like any other emotion.  It can be based on something as trivial as what I had for breakfast and the weather forecast, and it fades just as easily from sight.  (Please see “Happiness vs. Joy.”)  

Happiness shouldn’t be a euphemism for joy, not when you’re talking about true biblical joy.  It seems like peace, hope and faith would be better linked with joy than happiness.  To equate joy with happiness is to say this joy — that’s supposed to be our strength — is nothing more than an emotional high.      

I don’t know that I’m happy at this very moment, but I have peace, because I have hope for a future, even if that isn’t in this lifetime, and I have faith that God is good, even when life seems to be screaming something completely contrary.  I have joy, but I don’t always feel happy.   

The asnwer to this perplexing pleasantiry of how I am, is that God is good, and because of this, as the old hymn says, it is well with my soul.  

A Wave of Culture

18 10 2006

I’ve never been up on what’s going on in the teenybopper culture, and I don’t care to be, but for the sake of research regarding something I’m currently writing, I ended up getting a teen magazine at the grocery store. There was an article that fit in with my project, and it provided an interesting take on the subject.

I was shocked and appalled by the trash that was in that magazine. If you evaluated it with Philippians 4:8, there’d be nothing left but the paper it’s printed on. There was nothing even remotely edifying or even educational about it. All it does is feed into discontentment, materialism, eating disorders, depression and lust, to name just a few.

It’s horrible when people have such a large audience — they speak into so many young people’s lives — and they use it to fill their minds with junk and lies. It’s heartbreaking.

While reading it, I think I could feel my brain cells die, and then I wanted to wash my brains out with disinfectant, which probably wouldn’t help the first problem. It was interesting, though, in a sad sort of way to get a small glimpse into a younger culture.

Recently, I heard a pastor compare standing for righteousness to being in a small rowboat trying to row against a huge wave of culture; the odds seem very discouraging sometimes. I wish the tides would change, I pray the tides will change, especially in the churches.