One of the emails that prompted the apologetic was from someone who admitted he lived in the “far south” (down in Texas I believe...and he's now a part of the online community I am a part of through blogging, etc. and we're two pieces of iron sharpening iron I believe-my thanks for prompting this!). I don’t live in a Bible Belt, although I did grow up in one. I no longer work for a mainline evangelical church, and I attend an emergent church. I’m what might be called a post-evangelical.
There are a lot of evils in the world, and we usually tell youth to avoid the ones I do here at Gotthammer. Don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t swear…etc., etc.
One of my greatest heroes is C.S. Lewis. He smoked. He drank. He swore. He also wrote some of the most profound Christian literature of the 20th century.
I’m also a big fan of Jesus. Accused of being a party animal(read “drunkard and a glutton”) because he was in attendance at the parties.
I’ve been to parties; they’re an interesting place to be. To refuse a shooter can be an offense to your host. A few months ago I downed this blue Kool-aid shooter with a guy who saw sharing shooters as a ritual of friendship. I’d like to think I was doing what Jesus would do.
Jesus avoided every kind of evil, but not the appearance of. This is the approach I’ve tried to take since I was around twenty years old. I noticed that while my perfect Christian lifestyle made the people I went to church with very comfortable and pleased with me, I didn’t fit in with the rest of the world. I was told I wasn’t supposed to fit in with all those people, because Christians are supposed to be ‘set apart.’ But I was wrestling with how to be “in the world but not of it.”
My friend Gregg Evans sums it up like this; “We don’t have to fit in, but we should be able to enter in.”
While smoking a cigar isn’t necessary to enter in, neither does not smoking a cigar ensure I’m being “set apart.” Many Christians who are very concerned about my being of the world are devout commercial consumers, or hunters, two things I find pretty offensive for Christians to be part of. In fact, I have an extensive list of things that lots of ‘good Christians’ do that really piss me off. Golf, for example. It’s an elitist sport for rich people that takes up a lot of good real estate that was likely parkland before it got turned into 18 holes for a game that often involves heavy drinking or gambling. For all the times I’ve been told to stay away from bars because bad behaviour could rub off on me, I think of the few times I’ve been golfing and been exposed to the sort of dirty old men who find golf an acceptable place to get piss drunk, swear at other players and tell dirty jokes.
Hockey’s another one of my hobby horses. For every Christian who tells me Dungeons & Dragons is Satanic I rebut by asking if they’ll be launching a similar crusade against hockey, which, unlike the imaginary violence of roleplaying games and first person shooter video games, actually sees people physically injured, never mind the mental torture the average hockey parent inflicts on their children. You know it’s gone too far when they’re making television commercials to tell hockey parents to cool their jets. I remember being at a hockey game where my dad was refereeing and hearing one of the people from my church swear at him for a bad call(for the record, before I’m accused of having a double standard, it’s the attitude in which the language was used, not the language that bothered me).
And don’t get me started on fast food. Or just junk food. How many youth events have people attended where they bring in some ridiculous amount of trans fat food and encourage the attendees to pig out? Eat until you’re sick; it’s just as bad for you as smoking a cigar, but apparently Jesus isn’t quite so upset about killing yourself slowly by high blood pressure or high cholesterol as he is about the off chance you’ll get lip or tongue cancer from that cigar.
It’s all about image, bottom line. If I toe the line and maintain the image, all will be well.
Now, for anyone who’s thinking, “don’t you think you spent a little too much time on this article?” my reply is, it’s taken me less time to respond once and for all to these issues than to have to punch out a new email with the same information every time someone comes visiting Gotthammer and is uncomfortable with my use of substances and the seven words you can’t say on television.
If you’re still choked about these matters, get on a plane and come see me in
Mike Perschon...aka Gotthammer