Argument

Follow Up: The Judas Argument

A few weeks back I wrote a blog called “Professional Christians (and Other Oxymorons).” In short, I shared my distaste of paid salaries and wasteful spending—in my opinion, one in the same—in the modern church.

I’ve also since written a response to the responses of that post called, “A Thick Skinned Grin: My Reply to Your Response.”

As promised, I wanted to write a follow-up to a specific comment that came in. Anna from http://cannopener.wordpress.com/ (an awesome blog) wrote a comment on “Professional Christians…”, regarding what I deemed unnecessary and poor spending, that has since stuck with me.

Just a little question. Wasn’t it Judas who said “this [expensive perfume poured out in worship of Jesus] should have been sold and the money given to the poor”?

JudASS

This isn’t the first time I’ve come across this argument. The church spends a $1000 on a new drum cage; I say the money should be spent on more substantial purposes like the poor or sex-trafficking awareness (or maybe even… I don’t know… drum lessons so the drummers can learn volume control, a basic skill most educated drummers have).

What happens? Someone always says, “What about Judas and the perfume?” And another, “Remember when Jesus said, ‘the poor will always be with you’?” For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, go read the Gospels. I believe this story is mentioned, oddly enough, in each Gospel account.

In the story, a woman, Mary, anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. As Jesus points out, she is preparing him for burial and doing “a beautiful thing,” despite the grumblings of Judas and maybe other disciples.

This act is definitely a beautiful thing, and one of the most sentimental in all of scripture.

But here’s the deal: we can’t excuse the church’s poor spending habits by taking Jesus stories out of context, the perfume story especially.

My Quick Three-Point Rebuttal

1. Not every Jesus story can, or should, be flipped and turned to fit our modern times to solve our modern problems. The perfume story, I believe, falls into this category (this statement, of course, is worth arguing in better detail). To me, the perfume story speaks of the disciples’ sadness and confusion, as well as the humanity of Jesus, NOT an open door to spend money as we please. Jesus was to soon be tortured, executed, and buried. At that moment in time there was no better use of that or any perfume.

2. The Gospel of John states that Judas desired the money for himself because he was a thief. This was hardly my intention.

3. Jesus is not here any more. Not in the flesh, at least. Spending money on giant buildings with top notch gear and a full salaried staff (flying to conferences) is NOT synonymous with pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet. Our consumerism driven church is often wasteful and greedy—in light of the troubles of the world—and represents Mammon more than Christ.

mary-and-jesus-feet

This is my rebuttal. It may need some tweaking. I’m leaving soon for a cross-country road trip to Upstate New York, and I thought it’d be best to respond before this issue got too far away from me.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter! What’s your take on the perfume story? Does it excuse all church spending?

A Thick-Skinned Grin: My Reply to Your Response

Blog comments are a lot like yard sales, everyone puts in their two pennies.

(no?)

Blog comments are like yoga classes. It’s easier when no one knows your name.

(how about…?)

Blog comments are like crack. Writers lick lips, cry, and/or squeal at the sight.

(I tried. I’d like to see you come up with a blog comment joke!)

Getting Freshly Pressed was a big deal, but that sense of accomplishment didn’t even come close to the affirmation I received from the commentators of my last post, Professional Christians (and Other Oxymorons).

In that post, I spoke of my (and many others) discomfort over the some of the Church’s spending habits. I also shared my distaste for full-time, salaried positions—taking a stance but also looking for feedback and alternate perspectives.

The post came out fine. Sometimes I can clearly articulate the feuding religious thoughts in my head, other times not so much. Truth be told, it was the response of my reader community that made the experience so rewarding; I was absolutely floored by the vibrancy and the willingness people had to speak on such a tough topic.

Hey everyone, thanks for sharing, relating, and arguing. It means a lot.

Most readers were nice and understood the idea of a friendly, academic argument. There’s always that one unnecessary, negative comment that sticks; with each post, I think, I’m growing a thicker skin.

Here’s some highlights: 

-Regarding comfortable, salaried positions, people on both sides of the argument used the Bible—and Paul—to authenticate their position.

-I heard from an Atheist, a Mormon, a Vicar, a pastor’s kid, retired/former ministers, to name a few.

-I was praised, insulted, exhorted, and challenged.

-Anna from http://cannopener.wordpress.com/ gave an interesting comment about the connection between the apostle’s reaction to the pouring perfume on Jesus’ feet and my reaction to the church’s spending problem. I’m glad she brought it up; I think I might write a post about this in the near future.

A few stand-out quotes:

“I have to say that spending time on a Sunday with a cup of coffee, my kids safe in a bright, clean nursery, in a comfy chair really is something I crave, it has filled my tanks and made me excited to go to a church.” From http://thesisterslice.com/

“Go out and build yourself a great church. Then when people start complaining at you, you’ll have some context for what you wrote here.” Brian from http://www.fromnoahtohercules.com/

“Your post is part of the reason that I am Atheist. “Give us money so we can pray for the poor!”. Umm, what? Never makes sense…” Chuck from http://crowrath.wordpress.com/

“I’m tired of the “presentation.” Tired of the “show.”…  I simply want a church that provides a place for community and truly helps believers.” http://cognicide.wordpress.com/

“I come from a family of “professional” ministers. I’ve seen first hand just how taxing a job the pastorate can be, mentally, emotionally, even physically. I can tell you, it’s worth a salary…” Ian from http://churchified.wordpress.com/

“The full-time salaried, sit at Starbucks, read books and be on social media promoting yourself,/your service/your church./your good deeds pastor is nowhere to be found in Scripture.” BL from http://brianlen.wordpress.com/

“I was already fully committed to following God and trying to make a difference in the world in my previous job, but now I’m able to give all of my time and energy to facilitating that happening at the church I lead… ” Andy from http://baldvicar.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bernadettes-Art-Photography/196062867074019

Today’s featured image is a drawing by my friend, Bernadette. Click the link to see her other great work! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bernadettes-Art-Photography/196062867074019

The conversation is still going on. What are your thoughts?

Stop Blogging! Before You Get Hurt!

Joining the blogosphere is an interesting business. Sooner or later, you’re going to get hurt. Sometimes people write blogs that makes you feel sick. Other times, you may get personally attacked. It happens.

Here, anyone can say anything. There’s no filter, no editor in chief.

origin_2879955156Sometimes popular blogs say weird things. Writers earn their soapbox but forget to stay grounded. They say things that make the reader go… I’m sorry, what? 

I read a blog yesterday like this. I loved the writer’s topic: being authentic and genuine with your readers. I can roll with that. To give a context, it’s a spiritual blog.

Then it got weird. The writer claimed that if bloggers craft “exciting titles” and cover popular topics that they are improperly manipulating their readers, and that by using writing formulas and word intentionality, bloggers are being in-authentic.

My favorite part was this:

My blogs and books will probably be riddled with improper grammar and syntax – but really, they’re just riddled with me. They’re honest.

Now I don’t want to pick apart this person’s blog, nor do I wish to unfairly scrutinize this person who had a bad blog in a bunch of good ones.

This blogger doesn’t appreciate good writing, and that’s fine. What upset me was his claim about those who DO practice good writing techniques. His claim that people like me, and many of my good friends here on WordPress, foster improper manipulation towards our readers.

In the past, I’ve claimed expertise in topics I wasn’t accomplished in; I’ve painted others I disagree with in bad lights. I’ve made these mistakes.

Here’s what I’ve learned: Write what you know, and explore what you don’t. Never assume you’re a whiz just because you have a keyboard.

Catchy Mid-Title

This topic did make me think about the future of writing. Digital platforms are taking us to a place where thoughts like these are championed, a place where everyone has a publisher and the need for polished craft is a distant second.

I wonder if we’re seeing the beginning of the end to accomplished technique.

Maybe we should all come to terms. After all, we live in a new world now. Does grammar, syntax, and stylistic intentionality really matter these days?

Let me know your thoughts!

Photo Credit: [http://www.flickr.com/photos/kwerfeldein/2879955156/]

Post Script

I didn’t want to post a link to this person’s blog. But without doing that, I fear I’m not allowing YOU to come to your own decision. Also, I don’t want to present an argument without giving my sources. So HERE. I’ve framed the blog in a pretty negative light. Read it for yourself, you may find it’s alright.