Friday, November 6, 2009

Copying Christians - Firing Off About Christian Chirp

This my first post in several months because I have been really busy and unfortunately it is going to be a rant. If you have been reading this blog for some time, you have either inferred or know that I am a Christian who holds true to a fairly conservative theological perspective. In other words, my faith and devotion to Christ would be hard to be called into question. Please take that into context when I fire off about this absurd Christian practice.

I am an avid user of Twitter, a social networking platform called micro-blogging. Perhaps I could be accused of using it too much. The basic ebb and flow to it is that you write your thoughts down in 140 characters or less called "Tweets." Other people using the network can choose to follow you (key word "choose") and thus be updated each time you share your thought with cyberspace. By now, so many people are sharing their thoughts on such a diverse amount of topics that there is no feasible way to follow everyone. Heck, I can't even keep up with everyone in Charlotte.

Twitter has been plugging away for a few years but has only gotten serious consideration from the masses in the last year or two. Just like MySpace, FaceBook and even Gmail, it will go through its occasional bout of spam but they do work to control it.

So now for the rant. I recently caught wind of a "Christian Social Networking site" called Christian Chirp. Just think, tweet-chirp, chirp-tweet. This actually infuriates me as a Christian. Certain individuals, in this case James Paris, think that Christianity should be its own subculture (more examples towards the end). So in all his brilliance, Mr. Paris copied the idea AND format of Twitter (even the mascot is a bird just like Twitter's and the color scheme is the same) and got a couple thousand Christians to start using it as a "Christian alternative to Twitter." I am not going to sit here and judge each person using Christian Chirp but I will stereotype them based on my experience with the Christian subculture. Most of them probably do not read their Bible in any sort of context instead opting only for key verses they want to have pertain to their lives, believe everything written in the Old Testament about Israel was also written about their own lives, believe that all Christians should be Republican, and believe that their belief system is a popularity contest; the more people who believe the same thing, the more right they are.

Here are the things that really aggravate me about this. We, as Christians, were never called to be separate from non-Christians. Hear that? No subculture! We are called to be a part of the world but not of the world. This means live among and participate in life with non-believers but just behave in a way that is not contradictory to God's commands like the world often does. Have a beer but don't get drunk, get mad but not un-righteously or viciously, oppose abortion but still have love for those who have already made that choice, work in a secular job but do so with honest practice, humility and with good work ethic.

Second, if you are going to make a subculture and use our Savior as your backing, at least be innovative about it. Again, chirp-tweet? A Bread Crumb and Fish shirts that are patterned off of Abercrombie and Fitch, or Add Jesus instead of Adidas, oh my I could go on all day with the ridiculousness of it all. Christians seem to like to take something popular, copy it, put their Christian spin on it, and make it look cheesier or lamer than the original. However, Christians who use their faith as a popularity contest eat this garbage up.

My other problem, with Christian Chirp in particular is, what is so un-Christian about Twitter that a spin-off had to be branded? You choose who you want to follow. If someone that is a little seedy is following you on Twitter, you can block them. Or better yet, make your tweets represent the Gospel and perhaps serve as a witness in love as they read your written thoughts.
I will be the first to admit that as much as I love Jesus and am devoted to serving Him, I am not always his best witness. But if I let that push me into separating myself from the rest of the world to avoid having them be able to see my grime, no one would ever see the good about Christ through me either. I firmly believe that as I walk with God, he will use my blunders for His good to reach someone else. Likewise, He will pull examples from the world and teach me my follies and strengths so I can grow in deeper relationship with Him.

Through this, I am not saying that there is no value to Christian products, but if the secular world has done something well and it is not in direct opposition to God, use it and witness through it instead of simply repackaging it with a Christian label.

Editors note: Shameless plug, if you really liked this post or it pissed you off check out my past post, Who Cares if We Are a Christian Nation

21 comments:

Lyell E. Petersen [@93octane] said...

You know, I didn't expect this post to be what it actually is. Well-written, AND I agree with you, Kevin. Be "in" the world, not "of" the world. You really struck a chord with me here. Thanks for taking the time to turn over the money-changers' tables. ;)

Jim Van Fleet said...

I add my kudos as well! Kevin, this piece has a great voice-- one that I want to hear more of.

JMS said...

"I am not going to sit here and judge each person using Christian Chirp but I will stereotype them based on my experience with the Christian subculture. Most of them probably do not read their Bible in any sort of context instead opting only for key verses they want to have pertain to their lives, believe everything written in the Old Testament about Israel was also written about their own lives, believe that all Christians should be Republican, and believe that their belief system is a popularity contest; the more people who believe the same thing, the more right they are."

Haha...awesome!

JMS said...

But shouldn't it be "Firing OFF about Christian Chirp"? ;)

UTKevDawg said...

Thanks JM. It's been updated.

Bob Diamond said...

Your suppositions/observations are wrong on so many levels; but, you are entitled to your opinion.

Kim said...

Excellent!

UTKevDawg said...

@Bob Diamond
Perhaps. Would you like to clarify?

Karen said...

"I am not going to sit here and judge each person using Christian Chirp but I will stereotype them based on my experience with the Christian subculture. Most of them probably do not read their Bible in any sort of context instead opting only for key verses they want to have pertain to their lives, believe everything written in the Old Testament about Israel was also written about their own lives, believe that all Christians should be Republican, and believe that their belief system is a popularity contest; the more people who believe the same thing, the more right they are."

But you just did. Why do so many have such a problem with this??? So, if we don't want to use "Twitter" we can't use anything?

UTKevDawg said...

@Karen
There is a stark difference between judging someone and stereotyping them. People may have their own motivations for joining the site but observing the chatter on Christian Chirp, I think I have succinctly and somewhat accurately stereotyped the majority of the people conversing on there (not everyone).
Implied in my post is my problem that Christians constantly try to separate themselves out with cheap knockoffs and it dilutes our witness because the world makes much harsher stereotypes when this is done. It creates this "secret organization" mentality and is not inviting to current non-believers.
In this specific instance, look at the reason Christian Chirp was created. Jim Paris was suspended from twitter for abusing its policies and spamming everyone in support for Rush Limbaugh. Twitter does all the same things Christian Chirp does and does it better. You can even create Christian groups of people to follow for the community aspect. So I would ask, why join Christian Chirp? Hopefully, after careful evaluation, it is not simply because it had Christian in the title because unfortunately not everything that bears the title of Christian is of Christ.

Kim said...

Karen - why not blog about the virtues of Christian Chirp instead of anonymously trolling around other people's blogs? People are entitled to their opinions, they're neither right nor wrong, so why not simply publish yours?

Oh - by the way, thanks to your comment on my blog, you know - the one about how can I call myself a Christian and have my astrological sign displayed on my profile - I found out how to uncheck the box that displays it. It was an added feature since I started my blog that I never noticed. Can I call myself a Christian now? ;)

UTKevDawg said...

I have recently been made aware that on Christian Chirp someone has linked my blog and written, "Someone is very mad at me, look at this."
Let me make something very clear, I am not mad at individuals I do not know. I think like some of my other examples in the post, it is a terrible idea and my reasons have been stated.
As someone who is the only Christian in my family and around non-Christians everyday, I can tell you this is the type of stuff that prevents them from looking past our garbage and seeing who Christ really is. It is my belief that when someone has the opportunity look past this and see Christ for who He is and why He is, they will have no other response than to call him Savior.

Anthony Proctor [@Raindawg] said...

Meant to comment on this very well-written post when you first put it up, Kevin. As a born-and-raised Baptist turned Agnostic who began the process of converting to Catholicism and then eased back to Agnosticism, I can honestly say I've always had more of a problem with religion than God.

G.K. Chesterton said it best: "The only unanswerable argument against Christianity is Christians". Amen, brother. That said, it's refreshing to hear a Christian who understands that the more Christians create (or call attention to) the subculture the more they will alienate the very people they're supposed to "save".

To put a finer point on it: You think Jesus would create his own social network? According to what I know about his M.O., it seems to me that he would work *within* the existing networks (MySpace, Twitter, et al) to spread The Word. Indeed, he didn't create a mountain to deliver his famous sermon; rather, he used a mount that was readily available.

No, I think he'd be hanging out where the heathens congregate, not passing the plate in his Sunday best.

JMS said...

Bob, I'd like to hear why you think Kevin is wrong on this and what some of his presuppositions are. As a fellow Examiner, I'm genuinely curious to hear your take on it.

Blessings,
JMS

JMS said...

Anthony,
You seem to have a good understanding of the person of Jesus...so why the agnosticism? I can see why you'd reject various institutional religious groups, but as both Chesterton and Lewis would be quick to point out, rejecting Christians is not the same as rejecting Christ. In fact, most Emergent Christians do precisely that. Why not look into that stream of Christian faith?

Anthony Proctor [@Raindawg] said...

@JMS:

Yeah, I've heard that before. I have a Christian friend who tells me, "dude, you're a Christian, you just won't admit it". I'm familiar with the work of Jesus if only because I've spent a great deal of time exploring the Christian faith.

Without completely jacking this blog/thread, I would simply say it comes down to inability to give myself over to the worship of one particular God. My logical breakdown of ALL religions puts them somewhere in the arena of mythology, and while I think there are a lot of good life lessons to be learned in man's quest for spiritual truth (be it Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, etc), I know that they all boil down to true faith, something of which I'm apparently lacking.

Believe me, I've been a seeker, and I've found nothing. I consider myself a spiritual person of sorts, but I'm more-or-less a free agent, for want of a better term.

To quote Hansel Schmidt (Hedwig), I've not accepted Jesus as my personal savior, "but I love his work". Please note, I don't mean that as a slight on Christianity at all. Rather, I'm a big believer in (and in many cases a champion of) some of the *messages* of Christianity (e.g., Tobit 4:15, Luke 6:31, Matthew 7:1, etc), but I just can't get on board with the fact that the Christian God is the absolute answer to all creation and existence. There are simply too many other options (systems of belief) out there...and to me, they all seem equally as man-made, or if made by a Higher Power, then they are all part of something that's way beyond my understanding. Either way, I have no idea *what* to believe. Hence the Agnosticism.

Just my $0.02 (and sorry for the long-winded threadjack, Kevin).

AK Blogs said...

Let's be innovators you all! Why copy for the sake of creating a sub-culture? Nuff said!

Sherry/@itybtyctykty said...

Well stated, Kevin. I have to say, when I first became aware of what Chirp was all about, my stomach turned a little. Thanks for the thoughtful writing.

Mikey said...

ah my young grasshopper...the road to postmodernism is dangerous...you will piss off many along the way...yet i am quite proud of you...

and though my life motto is "better honest than good", we must be gentle with our stereotyping...the woman always reminds me of my hypocritical double standardness when i judge the judger...so i cannot throw any stones...but your rant is quite strong...

BUT, i agree completely with you...and i shall take this one step farther...

YES, our christian subculture disgusts me...I, many years ago, threw away many of my "secular" cds, and pledged to listen to only "christian" music...what a dumbass...i later found out that God not could, but does, speak to me more in "secular" music then "christian"...ummm...U2 anyone? jack johnson? i can go on and on...

And SO, let me say, I think beyond getting rid of "secular" and "christian" and the whole subculture...can we just discard the term "nonchristian" alltogether?...

FOR, does not Christ already live in us all?...did He not die for all mankind?...the kingdom of heaven is within you?....perhaps it is just acknowledging Him who is ALREADY in us...

I think we are all christian and nonchristians alike...I find Jesus again everyday...I experience salvation daily...I am no different than anyone...for we are all God's children, and He sees all our sins the same...

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