June 27, 2017

Prissy Protestants: Why We Need More Men Like Peggy Noonan

The topic of the week here at InternetMonk (and the tavern across the road) is bad language. It’s a strange theme for the fourth week in Advent, I admit, but it’s what’s got my brain in gear.

Even stranger is the fact that I am going to prominently use the word “prissy” in this post, which is odd because I have a strong adverse reaction to any kind of taunting that questions anyone’s manhood. Working around teenagers, the constant questioning and ridiculing of inadequate masculinity is a regular feature of daily life, especially with middle-school males. Why would I adopt anything resembling such a taunt for my purposes?

The answer is simple: there are times that the subject requires the right word, and “prissy” is simply the perfect word. You may judge if I have overstated the case when this post has run its course.

So here is my thesis: There is a virus of prissiness afoot in evangelicalism; a kind of prissiness that has a strange history indeed, but which being recently energized with the feminization of evangelicalism since the Victorian era, now threatens to transform the Christian faith from a hearty, incarnational faith into an airy, fragile, whining and shrill movement of pushing our “values” on an increasingly resistant mankind.

Case in point: One of my favorite Christian writers is the lovely and talented Peggy Noonan. She also happens to be an enthusiastic Roman Catholic. This morning, she is interviewed at National Review Online, on a new book about Pope John Paul II, or “the Great,” as she is lobbying he be called.

In the interview, Ms. Noonan speaks briefly about the need for the leadership of the RCC to be more aware of the potential contributions of women, and she says…

I believe the older cardinals and bishops and priests by and large have a somewhat ego-tethered understanding of women. I think they need some Teresa of Avila’s to… how to put it… kick their ass.

Hmmmm.

Later, in answer to a question about what JPII taught us about freedom, she answers, and I quote, “That it’s a damn good thing, missy.”

Hmmmm again.

Let us assume that this was pretty much any evangelical you can imagine being interviewed. What are the chances of these two phrases/words occurring in the interview?

I’ll pass on slim and go directly to none.

Follow me back in time, my friends, to the saw dust trailed tent revival of one Mr. Billy Sunday. Mr. Sunday is a man’s man. An ex-baseball player, he still has been known to throw a few punches to the noses of hecklers. He is not prissy. No, not at all.

What is it, however, that Mr. Sunday is preaching….mostly? Temperance, folks. Temperance. Prohibition. The evils of demon alcohol. A serious and legitimate concern, but not the main message of the Bible, to say the least. In the famous “booze sermon” linked above, there is no Gospel.

What there are, however, on the front ten rows, are a lot of crusading women wanting to keep their sons, husbands and loved ones from a life of drunkenness, abuse, unemployment and waste.

What does this have to do with Ms. Noonan? I am looking for that moment when it became virtually impossible to be a “good” evangelical Christian and still say two bad words in an interview.

Let’s be honest. What pastor do you know who could say the two phrases Ms. Noonan used and survive unscathed? Without meetings, explanations and apologies? I know that Ms. Noonan isn’t a pastor, but my point isn’t that evangelicalism wants prissy pastors. My point is that we are slowly being fed a kind of “values” oriented Christianity that is measured by adherence to minute outward matters; matters which, when violated, call into question a person’s entire Christian profession, at least in many quarters.

I suspect that it was about the time of Charles Finney, and later, Billy Sunday, that evangelicals, distracted into issues of moral reform and away from the gospel, began admiring the virtues of prissiness. It is a particularly feminine interest. It is not the interest of men. Men, largely, are not offended in the same way women are, because they are not sensitive in the way women are. This is not always a good thing, I’ll grant you that quickly. My wife picks up on all sorts of offensive things I do that I never notice and largely don’t care about (“Michael, use utensils when you eat.”) Still, the other side of this difference in the genders is that men are not as inclined to be in a state of offendedness or manifest the need to correct others.

While it’s good for Johnny to have a mom, and the world needs moms to do their job, the church isn’t called to be a mom to the culture.

Some time ago, evangelicals began demonstrating an interesting bifurcated behavior. Part one consisted of elevating women leaders, women teachers and women’s concerns to a much higher profile in evangelicalism than ever before. Women’s “ministry” and women’s “bible studies” became “must have” aspects of a successful church. Programs that centered on the moral life of children and teenagers became preeminent in church life. Entire segments of the church, even if staffed and led by men, came to reflect the priorities and values of Christian soccer moms. Ministries such as “Focus on the Family” and the homeschool movement were reaching far larger audiences of women than of men.

At the same time, the Christian Men’s movement- from Promise Keepers to John Elderedge- began registering undeniable unrest among evangelical men. It became acceptable to start ministries for middle aged guys on motorcycles and men with guns. A certain amount of chest hair and growling reasserted itself, in, I believe, recognition that the church was becoming far more feminized than many men were comfortable with.

David Morrow even wrote a book about Men Hating Church. Morrow says good things, but it’s hard to go as far as we need to go. But why do you people read this blog? That’s right….you know me well.

Folks, why is Joel Osteen the most popular pastor in America? If you say “his sermons,” go smack yourself and come back.

It’s because he’s cute. It’s because women like him, and men who care about what sort of man women like, like him. He is, in a world, most acceptable to the “prissy evangelicals” among us.

Conduct an experiment with me. Find 100 evangelical men and 100 evangelical women who have never seen or heard Rev. Osteen. Sit them in a room where they will view 10 hours of his sermons.

Who will like him more? And why?

I predict that Less than 30% of the men will like Osteen, and if you can get them to say so, it will be because he reminds them of Martin Short’s portrayal of Franck Eggelhoffer in “Father of the Bride.”

But among the ladies, Rev. Osteen is going to do well. He is, for many evangelical women, well nigh perfect.

What are the chances of Rev. Osteen using Ms. Noonan’s two sentences?

Let’s add in one more element. A feminized evangelicalism has now become an offended evangelicalism. Now offended Christians have a long pedigree. The disciples were sometimes offended, as were the Pharisees and their Judaizing descendents. The Donatists were offended. Generations of nuns on television have been offended. The Puritans were offended (though not as much as we tend to think.) Pastor’s wives and Sunday School teachers have been offended enough that the “church lady” of SNL fame is really funny because so many of us have known her or her relatives.

Evangelicals became an offended group when they adopted ideas of “holiness” and “worldliness” that were an effort to preserve a particular kind of culture. When Christianity is identified with culture- anywhere- then deviation from the “good” values of that culture is considered “unChristian,” and Christians were then told by their leaders (and their mothers) that it was OK to get mad, to be offended, and to do whatever offended people have the right to do, which could be anything from turn around with your nose in the air to vote out the mayor or burn down the saloon.

This approach to holiness has a spotty record. For example, at one point, all good American evangelicals were supposed to be for prohibition. Today, even Southern Baptists would be divided on that one.

At another point, Christians were offended by bad language and by blacks and whites going to school together. We can’t overlook the fact that slaveholders and most of those who have opposed segregation believed they were acting on Christian values in doing so.

What about Christians who are offended by homosexuality? What should they do? Am I the only one who has noticed that you couldn’t get by with saying “kick their asses” at most Christian schools, but you sure could get by with saying something like “Let’s take all the fags out to an island and bomb them?”

When evangelicals decided that the best way to be a good Christian was to abstain from the proper things, oppose the proper things and be offended by everything that didn’t appear in a list you can receive free from Jerry Falwell, they got in a real mess.

Campolo is right. (I’ve heard him do this many times.) More evangelicals are offended by the word “sh-t” than are remotely offended by starvation, disease, poverty or racism. And they will explain it to you, if you stand still long enough.

This is prissy protestantism. Someone explain to me why the Roman Catholics, supposedly caught in a religion of works, know that it’s not a big deal to say “kick their asses,” while Protestants, who are supposed to be about “salvation by grace alone,” are keeping lists of various ways to be offended when someone says “friggin’?”

I do not believe Christianity to be prissy, or constantly offended, or trying to save the world by temperance. I believe it is robust, earthy, heartily masculine (as Jesus was) and clear that a witness for Christ is about Christ, not about the current listing of cultural crisis posted at the American Family Association web site.

The portrayal of the church lady, the portrayal of students in “Saved,” the strange feeling you get when your sister-in-law says she’s bought one of those boxes that removes bad words from television shows….you’ve said to yourself…”That’s not the Gospel.” You were right. It was prissy protestantism.

Christianity isn’t about writing letters to the editor, though Christians might choose to do so. It’s not about being offended at the dance routine the dance group at your public school did at halftime, though I agree with you that it’s pretty awful. It’s not about writing books where no one can saying “gosh darn it” without an editor’s approval. It’s not about being more offended than the next guy. It is certainly not about shaking your head at what a poor witness Peggy Noonan turned out to be.

Jesus called fisherman away from nets. He called thieves, politicians and publicans. He called political activists and other blue-collar types. He was admired by soldiers. He worked construction for more than twenty years. Yes, women liked him. We’ve made that point a little too well the last 40 years. How about remembering that men liked him because he was a guy, and not prissy?

His followers were the overturners of an empire. They died with their eyes open. They conquered Ireland and gave us the strength of Celtic Christianity. Martin Luther would have beat up your prissy pastor and poured beer on him. The Reformers weren’t whiners. They were builders. A man wasn’t ashamed to be around the Puritans. These people didn’t need a men’s group at church to make them feel included in what was a women’s movement. It was their church. Their pastors and bishops weren’t chronically complaining about the shocking nudity down at the brothel. They were preaching the Gospel in the face and to the heart of that culture.

What exactly has happened to us? That we represent this Jesus and his Gospel by our prissy, offended caricature of the robust faith that won millions of men to loyal, suffering faith is a matter that needs correction.

Comments

  1. I was teaching a young adult class at one time. We were looking at what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, according to the Gospel accounts. during one lesson, I asked this question: “Are we serious about our faith, or are we half assed Christians?”
    One of the people in the class leaned over to the person next to them and whispered in a shocked and offended tone, “Did he just say ass in church?” I replied, “Yes, I said ass in church. I said it because it is the only way I have to describe that attitude, half assed Christianity. Can you think of another way of describing it?”
    They couldn’t.

    Some times you gotta tell it just like it is.

    Good post Michael.

  2. I do find myself wondering if one reason men run from church is because it seems to them that castration is one of the requirements for church membership.

  3. Another great post, Michael. Keep up the good work. The mental image of Luther beating up Osteen and pouring beer on his head is just hilarious.

  4. iMonk,

    Okay, my ego in in high gear now! First I post a comment on your article “Tyranny of the Offended.” You then post “Judging Scripture” where the writer almost duplicates the very scriptural examples I gave in my comment. Cool..

    Now you take my word from my comment (“Prissy”) and expand on it here. Cooler..

    (The above was half in jest, fully in fun)

    On this post, my wife always wants me to explain why women were forbidden to be pastors or elders by Paul. I tell her it was because he knew the minute women got into leadership, the men would just sit in front of the TV, drink beer, and let the women do everything.

    Again, a comment half in jest, but fully in earnest. For all the complaints about the “feminization of the church” I really think most of it occured because the men abdicated. What we see as to “prissy” christianity is the result. And one of the milder ones.

  5. I don’t know exactly what to say other than “yes” and “thank you for the articulation.”

    As a believer working (and living) in a decidedly non-Christian environment, i’m more and more saddened by what I typically refer to as “the complete and total out-of-touch-ness” of the evangelical majority in America. And i’m PART of the evangelical majority.

    This post hit on one of the main points, but also the underlying tradgedy of most Christians who care more about cultural standards that were made two generations ago than Biblical mandates that were handed down two thousand years ago. And yet… i’m still hopeful we can get our collective heads out of the sand and wake up to reality.

  6. I don’t think there is an excuse for using bad (potty-mouth) language simply because you want to use it. But there is a time and a place.

    for more about “prissy”, if you have time, you might want to listen to some of Mark Driscoll at marshillchurch.

  7. Ellen…

    I almost mentioned Driscoll. He’s a welcome development in the evangelical scene precisely along these lines.

    What I hope we don’t see- but probably will- is seeing Mars Hill become a full service church with all the programs required by the Nannies. But I won’t complain. He’s great. I listen to him all the time.

    On “bad language…” As you know, my critics would say that Noonan’s Christianity is in question for her two statements.

    I just don’t see how- given the nature of language- we can be as rigid as my critics have been. There is a time to say certain things that one might not say at other times.

    For example, I recall a particularly bad episode with my son abusing the internet (many years ago.) I was disappointed and angry. He needed to hear different words from me. That was the RIGHT thing to do.

    The prissy attitude that I should have not said anything strong, when something strong was required, just doesn’t impress me.

    (And PW’s post below makes it clear to me that the language of scripture is much the same. Strong when it needs to be.)

    peace…MS

  8. I just don’t see how- given the nature of language- we can be as rigid as my critics have been. There is a time to say certain things that one might not say at other times.

    Absolutely…I sort of (more or less) equated the “tattling” going on to 2nd grade autistic people.

    I’ve treated my own children to some of that “time and place.” Something about (yesterday) my son managing to fail 7 out of 12 college credits in his first semester. There is something very ironic about failing “Adjusting to College”

  9. What a load of nonsense. Do you think that using four-letter words makes you a tough guy? This reminds me of the grade-school playground mentality, where the kids tried to be tough by using foul language. If you think that being crude makes one non-prissy, you have a pretty warped sense of “toughness”.

    I could cite any number of verses to illustrate this, but I’ll just stick with two of the fruits of the spirit – gentleness and self-control. If you don’t have the self-control to express yourself without resorting to profanity, then I would call that weak.

    And regarding Luther, I seriously doubt that he would be beating on anyone. You can criticize Osteen all day for being un-Biblical in what he teaches, but criticizing the man for being gentle is just absurd. (Now maybe you should be criticizing his wife for NOT being gentle, but that’s another story…)

    So, if you think being “manly” means cursing and drinking (and I am not judging whether those are sinful – I have a 12-pack of beer in my fridge right now), then you are seriously missing what it means to be a man.

  10. MS wrote: but you sure could get by with saying something like “Let’s take all the fags out to an island and bomb them?”

    Oh, and let me add a response to this statement: another load of nonsense here. I’ve had my kids in 3 different Christian schools in the last 6 years, and they would have been severely punished for saying this in every single one that they’ve been in. You’ve been watching too many Fred Phelps news stories. In fact, I saw a kid on my son’s Christian school soccer team get kicked out of a game for calling another kid a “fag”.

    MS also wrote: More evangelicals are offended by the word “sh-t” than are remotely offended by starvation, disease, poverty or racism. And they will explain it to you, if you stand still long enough.

    Another sweeping generalization. How long is it going to take for you guys to get off this one? The same, tired accusation that evangelical churches don’t care about social concerns, but the wonders of the Emerging Church will save us from our sinful ways! Pure blather. Every single evangelical church I have attended (six, since I became a Christian in college) have actively participated in ministries to help in these matters. And yes, we are offended by profanity. But we also fight against other issues that are problematic in society, including (but not limited to) those you name.

    If you’re gonna generalize about the Evangelical community, you could at least be accurate.

  11. I do not attend an emerging church. This article doesn’t mention an emerging church. There is no advocacy of the emerging church on here. That’s not a sweeping generalization. That’s just an untruth. Where is this “imonk=emergent” stuff coming from? Someone is seriously mistaken.

    Campolo’s comment isn’t about what evangelicals do for the poor. I work at a ministry where half the students are poor and on full scholarship. Campolo’s point is about emotional reaction, and it is absolutely true in the vast majority of cases. Saying that I was denying evangelical social action is another untruth, as we have been supporting World Vision monthly for 28 years.

    I’m really glad the school you are in doesn’t put up with bigotry. I’m afraid that in my part of America, things aren’t quite there yet. You are fortunate.

    No one is criticizing Osteen for being “gentle.” That’s another untruth. I said that an unbiased survey would reveal, in my opinion, that men don’t react very positively to him.

    The Luther bit was a gag.

    No one is trying to be tough. That’s absurd.

    Say hello to all my old friends. They won’t be hearing from me again.

  12. MS wrote: I do not attend an emerging church. This article doesn’t mention an emerging church. There is no advocacy of the emerging church on here. That’s not a sweeping generalization. That’s just an untruth. Where is this “imonk=emergent” stuff coming from? Someone is seriously mistaken.

    Good for you. I’m happy to hear it! (really!!) However, the generalization you reused from Campolo is the same exact tripe that the Emergent-types feed up constantly. So, while you may not be of that ilk, your attitude on this topic mirrors theirs.

    MS wrote: No one is criticizing Osteen for being “gentle.” That’s another untruth. I said that an unbiased survey would reveal, in my opinion, that men don’t react very positively to him.

    Perhaps…I won’t argue the point on the survey postulation. However, the tenor of your entire posting relates to “prissy-ness”. What do you believe the opposite of “prissy” would be? So change my words from “tough” to “non-prissy”. My comments still stand. There’s nothing “non-prissy” or “tough” or “cool” about using profanity. And let’s not get into the linguistic gymnastics about profanity. It’s been exhausted ad nauseum here and in other venues. You call Osteen “prissy”. I call him “gentle”. I vehemently disagree with his pseudo-theology, but I cannot criticize his demeanor.

    MS wrote Say hello to all my old friends. They won’t be hearing from me again.

    Huh?

    By the way, I read your stuff pretty regularly, and despite my Calvinistic, reformed theology, PCA-attending persona, I probably agree with you a wee bit more than I disagree. This ain’t one of those times, however.

  13. >There’s nothing “non-prissy” or “tough” or “cool” about using profanity.

    First of all, if I mistook you for someone else, I beg your pardon.

    Now…I admitted at the start of this essay that I don’t believe it is kosher to question someone’s manhood. I don’t shoot animals or split rails myself. But this idea that I’ve dealt with this past week that Noonan would not be a Christian for saying “ass” is just bizarre. It is…..a kind of “prissiness.” It is the hyper-feminization of evangelicalism combined with a kind of legalism/culture obsession.

    I’m not arguing for “toughness” or even “masculinity,” as much as I am arguing against a kind of feminized, overly offended, sensitive to every little tweak, airy, weak, etheral kind of gnostic junk that is being cranked out in evangelicalism.

    The Reformers weren’t obsessing on whether someone said “ass.” I mean, good gried. That a man can’t say “he did a damn good job” without being brought up on a morals charge is some sort of weird.

    Thanks for the comments. I don’t expect everyone to agree, but I am not making an apologia for needless profanity. I am simply saying that an adult vocabulary is more Luther than Osteen.

    He’s gentle, btw, because he is playing to the women of America, who buy his books and argue the case that even though he doesn’t ever mention the Gospel, he’s still so nice. IOWs, it’s part of his falsity.

  14. Luther said that the pope “vomited cardinals” and the monks’ are the lice placed by the devil on God Almighty’s fur coat.

    His language was “rough”, to say the least.

  15. what did C.S. Lewis say, “men without chest.” or something about, “we castrate the gelding and say reproduce”? my own tribe (united methodist) has a long history of elevating women, which i think is a good thing. the problem is that we have made men feel unwanted and marginalized. you cannot lift one up and tear one down. Micheal you are correct, we have feminized the church and then wonder where all the men have gone.

    blessings..

    mason

  16. As I recall, Luther also drew cartoons of the Pope farting out various of his proclamations.

    I’d agree that saying “bad words” doesn’t make you more manly. But I don’t think that’s what iM is arguing for. Refusal to say “bad words”, not because the letters or sounds or meanings are bad in themselves but just because of some arbitrary criteria, is Pharisaical legalism, pure and simple.

    The arbitrariness of the criteria is highlighted by transAtlantic differences. I’m a teacher in the UK, and while “ass” would sound too American, no-one would think it offensive. Were I to use the word “fanny” in class though, there would probably be a shocked silence, because one just doesn’t talk about those things in that context. It’s not the words we use, it’s what we mean by them that matters.

  17. One of the fascinating observations I have been making
    lately, not just in the blogosphere, but also in “real life”,
    is that we are increasingly unable to listen to what someone
    says and actually hear that, and only that.

    The iMonk talks about Evangelicals being overly sensitive
    and offended by “questionable” words, and what people seem
    to hear is the iMonk encouraging the use of profanity.

    I tell my son that we won’t even discuss buying a new computer
    while his room is a pig sty, and what he seems to hear is that
    as soon as he makes a half-hearted attempt at tidying it up
    I will buy him the ultimate game machine.

    Campolo points out that many Evangelicals are emotionally more
    affected by profanity than by the suffering of millions of
    people, and people hear some post-modern, “emergent” criticism
    of Evangelical social action.

    BTW, I would love to know what Joel Osteen had to say when
    he thought no-one would hear after he and his family got
    kicked off their flight to Vail for not complying with
    cabin personnel orders. Do you think it was up to the standards
    of his TV programs?

  18. OK, I must really be missing something here. Why is it that when Luther does/says something, or is even theorized to have done/said something, or something is put forth as something that would be likely for Luther to have done/have said, it is put forth as the supreme example of acceptability? Yet when Scriptural principles such as the fruit of the Spirit, or Paul’s admonition to the Ephesians (to not let unwholesome talk come out of their mouths but only what is useful for edification) are mentioned, they are either overlooked/ignored, or just brushed aside?

    Now, don’t jump to conclusions here. I’m not trying to put forth in this relatively short comment what exactly “unwholesome talk” is, and I’m not giving a list of what items you need in your life to be considered a Christian. But what does continue to confuse me is that we seem much more interested here in defending our views based on other people and not on Scriptural principles or even the example of Jesus Himself.

    If there is a “right time/right place” to use certain types of language, then fine. Let’s discuss Scriptural principles that would help us make better determinations of what those right times and right places are. Not just say, “If Luther did it, then that’s good enough for me.” But just because you WANT to use foul language, or just because you’re angry enough to use foul language does not, in and of itself, answer the more appropriate question of “should I use foul language?”

    You’ve done a fine job, Michael, of painting a picture of two extremes. Either someone is prissy, or they are a “real” man. And putting forth a proposed research study and then basing your comments on the presupposed result of that fictitious study is rather weak. I actually have the same feelings about Osteen that you do, but there are many other ways to make the point without having to make up research.

    steve 🙂

  19. I think you identify the sickness, but your diagnosis of the cause seems a bit off to me.

    Too many contrdictions: the problem is the ‘feminization’ of the church because women are the ones offended by rough language? um…isn’t Peggy Noonan a woman? And the women of the Temperance movement were hardly ‘prissy’ – I don’t recall any quotes of Carrie Nation actually cussing, but she didn’t shrink from strong language and she’s famous for swinging an axe around in taverns! (And let me say also that, as a woman, I find Osteen really obnoxious and unappealing.)

    Lastly, aren’t the churches most likely to produce ‘prissy’ protestants those *most* opposed to having women in the ministry or other leadership positions? The evidence seems to run against ‘feminization’ of the church as a culprit.

    Unless by ‘feminization’ you mean ‘stereotyping’. Because it seems to me that it is in those churches that are most invested in ‘traditional’ (quotes around that because a review of Christian history will find that our current idea of traditional womanhood/manhood is, well, pretty modern) roles and definitions for men and women are those most likely to produce ‘prissyness’. Try to force 20th-21st century women into the mold of Victorian womanhood and I’m afraid you’re going to have to exert a lot of energy to do it. And there’s going to be the additional consequence of defining masculinity negatively, i.e., as whatever is ‘not feminine’. And since the Victorian idea is that women are all gentleness, sweetness, and moral purity (excuse me while I gag), maleness becomes defined as roughness, nastiness and being dirty or naughty – all things that should not be the dominant traits in a Christian. Thus being a good Christian becomes defined as being more woman-like.

    For all of their other faults, this is a trap that more socially liberal churches easily avoid simply by recognizing that those stereotypes are largely false and stupid. In the mainline and somewhat progressive churches I’ve mostly attended, where female ministers are common, no one would get their knickers in a twist over a pastor (of either gender) using the phrases Noonan did. Not because cussing is common or accepted, but because in the right context we know it is simply not that big a deal.

  20. The Luther reference is a joke. It’s not an endorsement of everything Luther said and did. If you know of any other theologians who hung out in bars, cussed and made crude jokes about the pope, just let me know and they will get equal time.

    This is not about some “extreme manhood.” It is about an approach to Christianity that I think is best described as prissy, and best contrasted with the behavior of regular guys.

    What concerns me is not a lack of cussing and spitting, but intelligent adults who conceive of the Christianity of the New Testament as a movement of stamping out uses of the word “ass” wherever it might be found, and being really upset in the process.

    I don’t care if Carrie Nation had hair on her chest. If she would have denounced Noonan or Luther, she’s prissy. Ax and all.

    We’re simply too “uptight” as we used to say, and I am sick of being told that it’s just like Jesus to gasp everytime someone says “arse-kickery.” That’s BS 🙂

  21. Actually, I doubt very much that Carrie Nation would have denounced Noonan or Luther. She was shocked by the physical abusiveness of drunken husbands. The level of society she came from would not in general have been too prissy about salty language.

  22. I relate this anecdote not to affirm obscenity, but rather to add to the conversation that iMonk has started.

    Last night a good friend of mine, an ordained Baptist minister, told me of his evangelism efforts from late afternoon to early evening. For the most part, he talked with a guy who is Bahai. The 2+ hour conversation took place in a bar, my minister friend joined the Bahai for a couple of drinks. My friend gave me a summary of the conversation, which centered on Jesus, His uniqueness, His gift of grace. According to my friend he freely used the f-bomb to punctuate his articulation of the Gospel to the Bahai guy.

    Friends who know me know that I’m a bit fundie on the obscenity issue, so I’m not affirming the minister’s use of the f-bomb. But it is interesting, given fundie and evangelical cultural assumptions in the US, that an evangelical Southern Baptist would be in the bar, strenuously loving Jesus and God’s images, contending for the absolute truth of Jesus as the hope for this Bahai man. Perhaps many will judge the minister or claim he’s compromised or something. I like the fact he was fishing in places where the sort of people are unlikely to darken the door of a church’s building.

  23. Great article, but I was surprised to see “generations of nuns have been offended.” You must surely be thinking of TV and movie nuns, those unearthly creatures so very different from the real women who for centuries have lived lives of voluntary hardship and poverty, laboring among the poor, the sick and dying, and the imprisoned. The vowed women I’ve known, whether actives or contemplatives, would laugh at the idea that they might be offended by cussing.

  24. You are quite right about nuns. I have edited to conform to your point. Thanks.

  25. I am new to this site & perhaps a little late for comments on this post, but I must! For the most part, I relate to MS’s comments on Prissy Protestants & understand (I think) his use of humor & a pinch of sarcasm. This subject reminded me immediately of Nehemiah, who upon returning to Jerusalem to assume his second term as Governor, found that the people had gone back to their “old ways.” Suprising, eh? Chapter 13 relates the story …. it says he “contended” with them, “commanded” them to change, and “warned” them repeatedly. Anything but prissy, huh? Check out verse 25 for some “non-prissy” acts…. he MUST have been Luther’s hero! That being said, let’s remember what Micah records as what God requires of us (not meant to be an exhaustive list) – Chap 6:8 – 1. do justly (what is right) 2. love mercy 3. walk humbly with our God.

    Tim

  26. About going into bars as a ministry…

    …I am an occassional visitor to my local town’s bars (though a very temperate drinker), and I have had conversations about the Scriptures with unbelievers in said locations (once or twice.) I also either have used profanity in those conversations, or will. Not often, but if I talk enough, a situation will probably come up.

    HOWEVER, I do NOT go into bars as a ministry. It’s an icky point, because Jesus spent a lot of time with drunks and tax-collectors, but I really do believe that there is something inherently dishonest in viewing spending time drinking as a “ministry.” Certainly all my life should be a witness for God, and I should be prepared to share the gospel, but I think there’s something far more honest about a Christian going to a bar to have a couple of drinks with friends than to minister to those giving into the evils of drink.

  27. chaidrinkingfool says:

    This is an old post and so views to which (I think I am) responding may have changed…

    I’m female and I don’t care for Osteen. I have the feeling that most of the women I know wouldn’t trust him/what he preaches, and so wouldn’t “like”(as you put it) him, either.

    Yeah, women’s ministries are somewhat a result of the sex segregation of the church–men lead the *whole* church, so what are women supposed to do/where and how are women supposed to express their gifts? And if they seem a little focused on little stuff that doesn’t really matter, could it have anything to do with the fact that that behavior has been encouraged in the evangelical world (e.g., stereotypically feminine behavior and concerns, as you describe here) while a woman who asks questions about an accepted understanding of scripture is blown off, rather than thoughtfully responded to?

    I know of a church where, once women could become deacons, the “women’s ministry” became a lot smaller, and less active….hmmmm…..

    Maybe I’m just not one of those prissy women you were talking about: After all, I have used the term “screwed up” — or was it “screwed over” — while giving testimony in church.