Donny's Ramblings

What I've Learned About God From Watching Christians – Part 1: Parroting

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Indulge me as I give a rebellious outsider’s view of one of the reasons why so many people are turned off to God due to his beloved Saints. I’ll call this “What I’ve Learned About God From Watching Christians.” You may find such ramblings to be petty, but judging from the title of this website it still appears to be mine. Neaner Neaner.

Since Brother and Sister Stick-Up-Their-Butt seem to lack a sense of humor, let me assure you I am writing tongue-in-cheek (kinda). I promise not to allow my views of God to be influenced by people. I’ve done that before, which is part of the reason I got to the place where producing porn seemed like a good idea.

After so many years of being away I guess I’d hoped God’s people would have evolved to some higher level of communication in their relationships with both Him and their fellow Christians. Alas, that does not seem to be the case. Please pardon the apparent attitude problem and read on. Perhaps I’m too easily bothered, but I know there are others like me who are bothered by the same seemingly small issues. There’s a point to be made at the end of this blog entry. Kinda like a monster waiting at the end of the book, but better.

From observing the Saints, it appears God made us all to be robots. He wants us to say the same things, and not only that, he wants all of his creation to repeat the same phrases throughout eternity. In every language.

It seems God doesn’t want a “personal relationship” with us after all. He wants a structured one. He has protocol for speaking with or about him, at least that’s how it appears. Brother Stick-Up-His-Butt seems to think we have to speak or pray in certain ways while communicating with God. Pardon me for assuming God hears everything we say and therefore is used to hearing us talk like, well, normal human beings. I’ll try to remember to put on my holiness cloak the next time I pray or speak with a fellow Christian.

It’s only been a month since the surrender and I’m already saying to myself, “I need to stop going to church so often!” I feel God’s presence all over me while praying alone, so perhaps with time I’ll get over my issues and begin to feel more from Him during services.

Don’t get me wrong: I’ve been loving the sermons. Bill Giovannetti from Neighborhood Church is a great speaker. He delves out information I can use in real life. Kris Vallotton from Bethel is likewise talented. I love listening to both of these men. I just have a problem speaking with some of the church parrots I meet each week. I’ve never been much of a parrot fan.

Donny’s definition of parroting would have to be something like: “when everyone in a particular group of people use the exact same terminology or use the same phrases, over and over and over again”. I get tired of people who think they impress me by speaking verbatim with phrases written a few thousand years ago.

If you walk into a protestant church in just about any country I bet you’d hear them saying the same things Christians say here, just translated into their local language. The same “power phrases” are repeated by everyone. Parrots, I tell ya! Parrots!

“Squawk! Glory to God! Squawk!”

Do people even have a clue what they’re saying? Do they comprehend the words that escape their own mouths? Seriously, now. How many of you, off the top of your head, know what “hallelujah” means? No! no! don’t go look it up. Just tell me what it means. What do you mean you don’t know? If you don’t understand why do you say that word so much?

This morning I drove by a church that had a sign out front advising that “Children’s Hallelujah Night” would be this coming Wednesday. For some reason I don’t feel motivated to take my son to Children’s Hallelujah Night.

“Squawk! Glory in the highest! Squawk!”

Somebody please tell me what that phrase means. Why do we teach each other to repeat it? Why do we teach it to our kids? It doesn’t really mean anything to everyday life.

“Squawk! God is Good! Squawk!”

Of course he’s good. He was good when you told me that last week while shaking my hand with your fake smile. He’ll still be good next week when you repeat that exact same phrase yet again. Sorry if you were expecting me to respond with “yes he is”. I’ll work on that.

“Squawk! God, you reign forever! Squawk!”

I guess God would forget he reigns forever if we didn’t tell him all the time in song.

“Squawk! How awesome is the Lord Most High! Squawk!”

Since Jesus is the “Lord Most High” that might explain why I never hear “Most High” referring to anything in normal conversation, unless I walk in on a group of stoners debating who’s hitting the bong most.

“Squawk! God bless you, brother! Squawk!”

I don’t remember sneezing, but thank you anyway.

“Squawk! Praise the Lord! Squawk!”

Right now? I haven’t even had coffee yet. Maybe later, k?

“Squawk! Squawk!”

I spoke with one Christian girl just a few days ago about some ideas I’ve been having. Because of the words I used, she questioned whether or not my ideas came from some sort of cult. I re-worded my thoughts using terms she’d hear in church and all of a sudden she exclaimed that she totally agreed with what I was saying.

Not everyone is like this, of course. There are Christians who understand a real relationship with God doesn’t require a totally new vocabulary. I am hopeful that number increases as more people experience the freedom of being able to just be themselves… as more people realize they are loved “as-is”.

Wouldn’t it be nice to bring non-Christian friends to church and have them meet real humans instead of robots or parrots?

25 thoughts on “What I've Learned About God From Watching Christians – Part 1: Parroting

  1. Two words that will blow over you like a breath of fresh air – Rob Bellhttp://www.mhbcmi.org/listen/index.phpHis teachings are worth the regular download to your podcast folder in iTunes.

  2. Dean,I’ve added the podcast to iTunes and am downloading the last 10 episodes now.Thanks for the recommendation.- Donny –

  3. at the risk of sounding like dean’s parot squawk! i agree with him. like a breath of fresh air…squawk!seriously, this is one of the reasons i can get into the psalms so easily. it appears that david had no problem cursing at God when he was mad, or telling God how he honestly felt…’are you hiding from me God?’ it’s not just the ‘paroting’ that happens. i think christians are afraid to use the brain God gave them, afraid to be honest with themselves and others, and most of all, afraid that if they are ‘real’ that they will get booted from ‘heaven’. when in reality, i believe the kingdom of heaven is made up of honest and genuine people (regardless of if they say @#%! or @*$@&#%%! in their prayers or sermons). and i’ll shut up now because this is donny’s blog, not brad’s.brad

  4. Very good points, Brad. Blog on!

  5. Donny,There is an old song by Steve Taylor called, “I Want to Be a Clone” and it goes perfectly with what youa re saying. Here is the chorus.Be a clone and kiss conviction goodnightcloneliness is next to Godliness, right?I’m grateful that they show the way’cause I could never know the wayto serve him on my ownI want to be a cloneThey told me that I’d fall awayunless I followed what they saywho needs the Bible anyway?I want to be a cloneTheir language it was new to mebut Christianese got through to menow I can speak it fluentlyI want to be a cloneBTW, I totally agree with you! I am sick of the way the Church has been and become. Thank you for trying to be a breath of fresh air!-Todd

  6. Todd… I must have that song… NOW! :)Donny, I’m right there with you.About a 18 months ago I was going through the exact same thing. I had been going to a bible college south of Dallas, I was a Junior there. I had friends, I had a band, I had a church plant. One particular time I had an explosive disagreement with my best friend/band member/worship leader. And it lead me into a spiral that I’m only now recovering from. One of the main points was this church jargon. I despised it then hated it, then hated anyone who was so crass as to even think of it. I began to think about the other things in the “church world” that were simply made up. Ones that had little to no biblical backing. Drinking was first on the list.And I went to the bottom of the barrel so to speak. To quote a more poetic person on my previous matter:”but a few leagues off the shore, I bit a flashing lureand I assure you, it was not what it expected it to be!I still taste its kiss, that dull hook in my lipits a memory as useless as a rod without a reel.To an anchor-ever-dropped-seasick-yet-still-dockedcaptain spotted napping with his first mate at the wheel.Floating forgetfully along, with no need to be strong.We keep our confessions long and when we pray we keep it short.I drank a thimble full of fire and I’m not ever going back.”… and then the follow-up””I do not exist,” we faithfully insistwhile watching sink the heavy ship of everything we knew.If ever you come near I’ll hold up high a mirror.Lord, I could never show you anything as beautiful as you”- mewithoutYou Be careful your very valid dislike of Jargon and fake-ness in church people, least it lead you down a path like mine. Tread compassionately and lovingly. I didn’t.Your Pal,-Ron

  7. I agree with you Donny…or should I say “amen?”

  8. Right on! This is an issue that’s really big in the more fundamental circles, I think. And even with kids who are raised in that kind of environment…I have to wonder, how much of what they say is just parroting and how much is what they really know and feel?

  9. Amanda,I love your blog title!- Donny -PS: Have you read any Donald Miller books? I’m “jazzed” after reading “Blue Like Jazz”. I think all Christians should read it.

  10. Amanda,Oops… guess I should have scrolled down a little past the blog title before responding. 🙂 I would have answered my own “PS”.- Donny –

  11. No worries, Donny. 🙂 Donald Miller changed my life! Okay, that’s a little melodramatic, but he certainly did revolutionize the way I think about Christianity. As did Rob Bell (I’m currently rereading Velvet Elvis.)

  12. I’m not usually the type to respond but I’ve been reading and, first props to you. Second, I think you would like “The Christian Culture Survival Guide” by Matthew Paul Turner or “A Field Guide to Evangelicals and Their Habitat” by Joel Kilpatrick (of larknews.com) They are both hilarious and completely true accounts of the weird and crazy and stereotypical of Christianity. Have a good one.

  13. One more time I have to recommend »The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass Aged 37 3/4«… 😉

  14. First, Todd and anonymous…http://www.onfritz.com/Taylor.htmlThat'll get you any Steve Taylor info.Donny, Yeah, I get what you’re saying. One thing I have to say, though: get over it. Yes, I know that it’s off-putting. Yes, it feels fake and shallow. But, sarcasm aside, not many people are as enlightened as you are. These people are probably very sincere in their faith, but it’s one where they grew up with it. These phrases are commonplace to them because it’s generational and therefore natural to them. I would contend that if you hadn’t rejected God that you may very well be saying the same things, not because your faith wasn’t real but because you would’ve learned from your father and certain catchphrases he used mean more to you than simple catchphrases. One of our pastors had to be let go about a month ago because of expenses. We as a congregation talked about it and I got on the mic I said, “The situation sucks, but I know God will be honored through it somehow.” A bit later, the head pastor did a sermon about not allowing personal differences to kill the fellowship within a body of believers. Later that day, someone came up to me and said that I should say stink instead of suck because she doesn’t let her kids say “that sucks.” I just said, “Isn’t this the very thing that he just talked about?” Now, I don’t think she’s any less a believer because she chooses to use different words than I do. Truthfully, I don’t even think about it because it’s not for me to determine her faithfulness. I agree with you in that what you heard doesn’t exactly reach people who aren’t already in the church. Perhaps this is something you can communicate to them? One more thing: if that’s ALL you see in those churches, the facade, you need to find another church. I live in Memphis and could’ve gone to Adrian Rogers’ church before he died. Great pastor, but I didn’t get along with the church because of the exact same things you describe: it felt fake. I chose to not go there and found a church where everything feels right. And there are my three cents.

  15. I’m jumping in (Donny posted on my blog, so I linked over here) to say that I, one, have felt very similarly to you, and two, think Jeff is right. Just as I’ve felt “judged” by those who look so polished (even if they’re not judging me), for me to judge their form of worship as being too “polished” is just as bad as what I condemn these people in my heart for. I hate corniness in church more than anything else, but I’ve come to accept that every church will have that (or some other small issue I don’t like) to some extent, and that it is better to be part of a church than not. There’s a difference between theological errors (don’t go to that church) and style disagreements (a problem I have to get over).Anyway, that’s something I’ve been learning since I’ve been in junior high and these things started bugging me. Everyone worships differently, and it’s not for me to judge things that God does not speak to (i.e., church and worship styles, etc.). The best thing is to find a church that has the least amount of corniness, but having a home church is far better than going from one to another or not going to church at all.

  16. Great stuff Donny. Keep it up. You’re a gifted writer and I appreciate the way you make me think.Bill Giovannetti

  17. Hey, just passing through and I found your words to be honest and true. The funny thing is that most of those “parrots” are feeling the same thing but feel if they expressed themselves honestly they would be shunned. Fortunately, I think there is a movement in the Church, in general, back towards Jesus’s intended message. Oh, and for sure look at Rob Bell (previously mentioned, check out Velvet Elvis), Bruxy Cavey (he’s Canadian) and Mark Driscoll. These are all guys pushing the envelope. Thanks again for your unique perspective on stuff, much appreciated.

  18. “Squawk! Biblical Squawk!”

  19. Tough issue, Donny. I feel you, though. I have been in and around church my whole life and still don’t understand half the stuff we say.It’s a cultural thing. Every sub-culture has its’ own jargon, and Christianity is no exception. I don’t know that a sub-culture having its’ own language is a bad thing on its’ own. Seems like it becomes an issue when we become parrots… like you said… not really understanding why we say what we say… or when our sub-culture bumps up against another, and we don’t speak each other’s language, and can’t communicate.Now you’ve got me thinking… blog, I must!

  20. I love Donny! His “new guy” outlook on this “church culture” makes me wonder why I ever got disenchanted with church. Dealing with all the hypocrits (just like me, but older) that wanted to flex their religious muscle, then after I came back to church the guy that didn’t want to talk to me because I lived with my fiance, it’s great that we put our hope in God to stay Christian instead of people.Thanks, Donny!

  21. Could he have been thinking of 1st Corinthians 5:11?As everone knows, the whole point of church discipline is so that the one in error will recognise his sin and make the correction.Also, if churches were run right, we would’nt have all the hypocrites in the church, causing so many problems.

  22. WOW how true is this in today’s world. I’ll tell you what, when I finally started to get really involved in my church it down right scared me. I’m not the brightest bulb in the bunch but, I do have a brain. God does not love you more for how you speak with others. Christ died for our sins and I don’t think the way we dialect is one of them. Keep up the work Donny you keep me straight every day.

  23. I came to the same conclusion about 3 months ago and have let go of church for good. The bottom line: I was not growing as a spiritual being. My journey has led me to some wonderful resources where I’ve developed a whole new concept of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit. I now feel closer to God than ever with absolutely no guilt for not doing it through my local church. Here’s a link for you.
    http://www.csa-davis.org/
    Also recommend viewing The Secret for some more inspiration. Peace.
    -Lisa

  24. I was searching the net about being respectful when we get really made at God and so happen to find this site. 🙂

    I do not believe that we can start cursing God with the D, F or any profane words just because we are over heated and that God will understand. If we did that back in the old Testament boy oh boy we would really be in hot soup!

    We need to cry out to God and ask Him to refine and create in us a pure heart so when we do get angry we don’t utter those careless words to Him..because if you keep on doing it you need to wonder if your at all truly sorry?? Perhaps there is no fear of the Lord in you? You need to pray seriously about this..

    WARNING ABOUT ROB BELL
    To those we listen to this person I urge you to read the PDF file and check this guy doctrine out, it sure is heretic..

    http://www.onceuponacross.com/area51.html
    http://www.sohmer.net/Velvet_Elvis.pdf
    http://www.apprising.org/archives/rob_bell/index.html

    Good testimony books
    The Heavenly man – Brother Yun exceptionally man!
    Rachel’s Tears – Wonderful sister in Christ devoted to the Lord.
    Stick A Geranium In Your Hat And Be Happy Barbara Johnson.
    One Step Beyond – stabbings, beatings, alcoholism, drug addiction, etc…
    A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss – Jerry Sittser
    When God Doesn’t Answer Prayer – 2 editions get both
    God on mute – 24/7 – WOnderful book

    Biblical near death exp – Boxer jellyfish – Rare
    aglimpseofeternity.org/ (Most death exp is very far fetch but this isn’t.)

    Don piper – Pastor Crush by a track in a car
    90 Minutes In Heaven

    http://www.desiringgod.org/

    Enjoy the links! 🙂 Godbless!!

    Elisha…

  25. Pingback: Progress Report: I Still Let Christians Bother Me « Donny’s Ramblings: Diary of a Former Porn Producer

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