Friday, April 23, 2010

bad, bad Leroy Brown

He got a 32 gun in his pocket for fun,
He got a razor in his shoe.
- the incomparable Jim Croce

Normally, I review books on my other blog, but this one has a place in Ponder Anew.

Let me introduce myself to you. My name is jaigner. I am a man. Okay, check. I'm a Christian. An evangelical. I'm a teacher. A music teacher. An elementary music teacher. I have a wife. My wife and I own an apricot miniature poodle named Ellie. I don't call her my wife's dog. I call her my dog.

I like music, poetry, reading books. I enjoy strawberry margaritas. I have gotten a professional massage at a place where they give you a robe (which came to mid-thigh on me) and have water for you to drink in a big bowl with sliced cucumbers floating around in it.

I love the sport of baseball, but football annoys me a lot.

I'm an egalitarian and don't think it's necessary for men to dominate or have an uneasy dignity they have to defend.

And John Eldredge doesn't like me. I'm not the perfect man by a long shot. Not even normal, according to his point of view. Here's the thing: when Eldredge talks about how every man deep inside wants to be a Mel Gibson in "Braveheart" kind of guy, he's not talking about me.

I guess I resent the fact that he thinks all of us men are alike at our core, and, in the same way, women are the same at their core. It's just not true. Besides that, in his quest for the perfect proof text to prove his thesis, he virtually ignores everything in Scripture that talks about how men should be able to be something other than tough and rugged. In fact, he seems to greatly prefer Hollywood's vision of men over the Bible's.

There are other things wrong with this book. His theology lacks substance. His exegesis is bad and his hermeneutic is lazy. His writing style is flowery and romantic - now that you mention it, it's really way to flowery than a book about an "Eldredgeman" should be. But what really bothers me is what do you do with the rest of us, both men and women, who at their very core do not see themselves in his idea of gender.

Besides the fact a lot of us don't see ourselves in this uberdude, there's got to be some balance. I need to be tough sometimes, that's true. I may need to kill snakes or ride a horse or something. But I am not being a fully developed, fully alive man if everything I do looks like John Wayne or something. Can you imagine John Wayne teaching music to a room full of 5-year-old children? No, but Mr. Aigner can do it. I might be lost in the saddle, but I can do things a lot of those guys can't do.

I do, however, refuse to use body wash. I don't care what color it is or what the label says about it being for guys. It's not happening. I'll stick with my bar soap.

Monday, April 12, 2010

kentucky fried music

Lord, we are few, but thou art near;
Nor short thine arm, nor deaf thine ear;
Oh rend the heav'ns, come quickly down,
And make a thousand hearts thine own!
-William Cowper

So I sat down earlier today to read the online newspaper from my community. Now this wasn't the major Houston paper, but one from my little part of the greater metro, which means the headlines read something like these: "Vern Richard's cow escaped and was torn in half on the railroad tracks down by the Texaco" and "local man arrested for public urination...there were no witnesses." You know, the real good stuff. I really read these papers for the obituaries, if you must know.

Anyway, so I was reading about the prayer breakfast held earlier by the local Kiwanis club. It was all fine until I got to the part about the musical selections. Someone sang this song called "We've Got to Get America Back to God." Well, naturally, I was horrified by the title, so I checked into it further. Apparently, it's a cute little southern gospel number that has been recorded at least a couple of times and I finally came across the lyrics. It's a real gem. It goes like this:

What ever happened to “In God We Trust?”
Prayer has been banned and taken from us.
When will we say, “Enough is enough!”
And get our country back to God?

We’ve got to get America back to God
We’ve got to rule the world with the staff and rod.
We’ve got to fight the Devil everywhere we trod
We’ve got to get America back to God.

Millions of babies we’ve lost each year
What have we done to stop their tears
Christians rise up let America hear
we will take our country back to God.

The silence is broken
It’s time now to stand
Well take this world for Jesus
If we go hand in hand.

Not sure who the lyricist is, but I'm guessing it's someone named "Sonny," or, in the unlikely event that it's a woman, "Jean." Fortunately, I hadn't yet eaten lunch. Good thing.

Needless to say, this song is horrific. It is so far from the gospel that there’s nothing actually Christian about it. It’s pure nationalistic fervor and griping about the fact that Christianity is no longer the civil religion in our country.

Guess what. This was never a “Christian” nation. Oh, people tried to say it was, but there was never a time when we looked like Christ. In fact, we’ve done horrible, ungodly things in His name. It’s time we break away from that cycle of abuse and choose God’s Kingdom over this earthly kingdom. The U.S. may be one of the more successful earthly empires, but the Bible is clear that all of those are in Satan’s domain.

How silly is it to say prayer has been banned? Prayer can never be "banned and taken away." It is not our job to “rule the world with a staff and rod.” That will come later on the renewed earth when Christ sets up His reign. Political power isn't the answer. We do that by living and loving like Jesus. The U.S. will pass away. We serve a higher throne.

Instead of whining and complaining about how we’re uncomfortable with our society and how much our feelings get hurt all the time and showing everyone how touchy we are, maybe we should take some real steps to change it. We need to love other people - really love them as Jesus did instead of condemning them. We need to stop trying to legislate Biblical principles because that is not a way to effect actual, visible change in people. If we do these things, then we might see a real change.

So stop being so freakin' sensitive.