Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Monday, October 02, 2006

Seriously Sober Spirituality

One of Phil's blogspots for this week is a link to a young fellow who takes issue with the Team Pyro crew and their use of their Pyromaniac graphic photoshoped and incorporated onto nearly every image in each of their posts. He also doesn't care a bit for the fact a person can buy that glorious Team Pyro logo emblazoned across a T-shirt or coffee mug. And oh man, he severely dislikes Frank Turk's pawn shop, where a person can pick up a "Reformation Police" apron or a "Southern Baptist Torch and Pitchfork Society" (one of my personal favs) T-shirt.

This blogger believes these types of frat boy shenanigans are lowbrow and detract from the "serious thinking theology" that otherwise marks the Team Pyro blog as being an excellent read. He also suggests such marketing of the logo is hypocritical, because the Pyro guys would be quick to criticize the "Jesus" trinkets and dewdads that fill the typical Christian bookstores across our fair land.

I was reading Phil's comments about this blog entry to my wife as she ironed our kids clothes and she quipped, "Is that guy like a fundamentalist Baptist?" I said that I wasn't entirely sure, but I thought he maybe graduated from Bob Jones University. She then replied, "Well, I just know the fundamental church I attended for awhile as a brand new Christian thought a lot like that guy. They really had a difficult time laughing about anything." My wife then added, "Reformed Calvinists don't seem to have a problem with humor, they laugh the loudest of all the Christians I have met."

Putting aside Pentecostal and Vineyard Charismatics, that is generally true; though I have to say I have met many humorless Reformed Baptist Calvinists in my day. They are either entirely devoid of any humor as if they had been baptized in vinegar, or their humor is so unsophisticated they think Marmaduke and Heathcliff are two of the funniest comic strips ever drawn.

My point here is not to pit Independent Fundy Baptists against Reformed Calvinists, but merely to wonder out loud why so many Christians from all theological persuasions equate "serious minded theology" with having no fun. I see this all the time. Christians have the mistaken notion that in order to be a really sober minded spiritual believer, they can't poke fun at themselves or enjoy a hearty laugh at the expense of their "traditions." To do so is considered to be mocking or trivializing the faith. Really?

I am completely mystified as to why this blogger thinks it is dumbing down theology or trivializing serious Christian thought if Team Pyro expresses some personality with a logo or offers it for sale on a T-shirt and mug to adoring fans. For some reason a logo on a shirt makes Phil and his boys a roll your eyes laughing stock. I just don't see it. I have never thought less of Phil's opinions about the Emergent Church movement after the great comic book cover battle from last year. In fact, a lampooning image can nail home a doctrinal truth in an already thoughtful post.

As for the product line of Team Pyro merchandise, the very fact the Team Pyro guys ARE serious theologians makes their T-shirts and mugs all the more enjoyable. The logos and slogans are anchored to a group of men who are both deep lovers of God and doctrine and thrill at having fun. Why does serious theology require that we all be morose? The typical "Jesus junk" we find littering Christian bookstores is junk exactly because it is all connected to junky theology. A "This Bloods for You" T-shirt is sacrilegious because of what it imitates, not because it is a Christian T-shirt.

I do not wish to belabor my point too much here, but I do think folks need to lighten up a bit. I believe we can utilize logos on shirts as long as there's a solid theological context in which it exists. Team Pyro, in my curiously strong opinion, provides that context.


Blogger pilgrim said...

I remember attending a Trans World Radio Banquet--and it was the obvious the table having the most fun, and laughing the loudest was the one I was at--and it was full of Presbyterians.

SO I heartily agree with "Reformed Calvinists don't seem to have a problem with humor, they laugh the loudest of all the Christians I have met."

8:19 PM, October 02, 2006  
Blogger Hiraeth said...

I'd certainly agree that Reformed folks in my experience have no problem with humour. Take my church in Cardiff. While we are deadly serious about the need to repent, informal gatherings see a lot of relaxed humour, while our pastor uses appropriate humour in the pulpit, as well as sounding forth serious messages.

While it is possible to use humour wrongly, this does not mean that we cannot have fun in the right way, at the right time. And this is true of all ages, it would seem.

1:12 AM, October 03, 2006  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

I'm a bit reluctant to joke around with people sometimes since it can be easy to say something mean. Especially on the internet it can be easy to be haughty. I think that's why a lot of christians can be afraid to have fun. Its ok to be zealous when its for a good thing. So I don't see anything wrong with the pyromanica site.

4:34 PM, October 03, 2006  
Blogger Erem Gumas said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

11:13 PM, October 03, 2006  
Blogger thomas4881 said...

This brings up the bigger issue of Idolotry. It seems that many fundamental baptist are ready to proclaim every graven immage, pictures, christmas trees as Idolotry. It doesen't seem to me that anyones committing Idolotry by having a graven immage. If a person isn't believing that a graven immage is a God then it can't be Idolotry. I've read many articles when fundamentalist are ready to pronounce every picture, statue, christmas trees and other things as Idolotry. That doesen't seem to hold weight. Seems that they are using Exodus 20 lightly to apply it so liberally to everything.

11:37 AM, October 04, 2006  
Blogger Erem Gumas said...

I don't think that there is anything necessarily wrong with adding a little personality to a page; however I assert that "personality" can often displace sound reasoning and neutral dialogue. Also, if the personality that is presented isn't to your taste, then it makes it much more difficult to sort through the logic of the text.

6:51 PM, October 04, 2006  

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