Bags of Bran

March 18, 2010, 5:28 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, and even Valentine’s day have Christian roots (believe it or not) that, with a little research, a clever Christian could unearth to the edification of his friends and neighbors. Such occasions are worthy of Christian remembrance, and ought to be de-cluttered of cultural detritus and meaningfully celebrated for the benefit of children and child-like alike.

Then I consider days like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Independence Day, Veteran’s Day, and Presidents’ Day. I stand up to ask, “what hath Jerusalem to do with…” and then I stop for fear of being slapped. Mothers, fathers, independence, veterans, and presidents are all great and necessary things in our society, but “to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” What kinds of sermons do you hear on the Second Sunday of May, churchgoer? Or on the Third Sunday of June? Or, if you’d like, at or around November 11, or July 4, or (in some churches) the Sunday before the third Monday of February? Dandies, I’m sure. The Spirit moves, etc. Yet let the pastor forge ahead in his exposition of Ephesians, James, 1 John, Titus, or Philemon across one of these sacred dates, and just watch the reaction it produces. Churchgoers have expectations that their category be honored alongside the gospel: what’s wrong with that? We should be glad that they come at all on their special day!

In early November, I happened to be looking at my Farcebook account and saw scores of pictures of pew-sitting and even some pulpit-occupying Fundamentalists and evangelicals–or more specifically, of their children–costumed, an orange pail with a pumpkin face slung from one arm, a feral gleam of avarice in their eyes, ready to go house to house and curse to damnation those inside unless the missus of the house sprint to the pantry to fetch forth a soul cake with all speed. This is what many Fundamentalists and evangelicals, some among them drawing paychecks from churches, do with their children on Reformation day.

To add to the rich blessing I was receiving at the sight of an entire generation of children being led by the hand through the fires, I happened across about eighty-six photos depicting members of the graduate studies department at the college where I did my undergrad work. One of them was decked out as a certain vampire by the name of Edward, another as a green-faced witch from a certain play called “Wicked,” a pair of Obamas, a pair of mobsters, a pair of Zorro-type swashbucklers, and others I’m not clever enough to identify. Seems like the party was a great success: the pictures were fragrant of  joie de vivre, with pumpkin-carving, Wii stomping, mugging for the photographers, and food consumption. Nothing too scandalous to note! This is what graduate students and front office staff at a Bible college do on Reformation day.

Can pew-sitters and Christians by Baptist infant baptism participate in secular holidays? Sure, go ahead: participate, do whatever you want. This is America, you are American, you have rights, you’re your person, it’s all about you. Don’t forget to worship you on Sundays either: I can think of several songs appropriate for the task.

If you happen to think that Christian is more than a brand-name, however, you would do well to begin understanding what “wise as serpents” could possibly mean, and what it would look like if you were so.

I passed by the field of the sluggard
And by the vineyard of the man lacking sense,
And behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles;
Its surface was covered with nettles,
And its stone wall was broken down.
When I saw, I reflected upon it;
I looked, and received instruction.

And no, I do not display my diploma from the college (oops! International University) whence I graduated.


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