Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Cruising with the Righteous

I was lying in bed this morning and the radio woke me up. Unfortunately, we have our alarm clock set for one of the national Christian radio stations. This is unfortunate, because I almost always wake up annoyed. I don't do this because I like to punish myself, but because if I put on public radio and something like Maurice Ravel's Reverie is played at alarm time, then I don't hear it and wake up. However, if I crank the volume on it, then I get shocked out of bed by pieces like the "1812 Overture". I get enough Warm 98 when I'm at the Y, and any other secular station risks me having to listen to something gross. Yes, even grosser than someone saying ,"Glory Bump". If I'm lucky I might actually hit the jackpot with Christian radio and wake up to some nice thoughtful worship music.

Not today!

Today I woke up to constant drivel about the "Cruise" -- the one where all the cool Christian's go. Of course, the first thing I wonder is: how many families go on this cruise that don't really have the money to pay for it? I dug around online and couldn't even get a price for renting a cabin on the ship! You can't actually price anything unless you register and want to book. I'm sure there's a good reason for that, a reason far beyond the gluttonous nature of the cruise line industry.

Is this good stewardship? I mean, I know we don't live in poverty, but is a follower of a HOMELESS man really going to even be able to take a "christian" cruise???

Can the people who organize this really see Jesus attending? Paying lots of money in order to go on a ship and eat too much food, mingle with the elites and then go home, having totally pulled himself from the real world?

Maybe a cruise is a way to reward the humble servants who have sacrificed for the cross -- oh wait, they can't afford to go!

Nothing like an elitist church. I guess Jesus welcomes everyone, but only some get to vacation with him. Makes me so proud to be an American Christian.


Amy said...

You don't necessarily have to be rich to take cruises. If you want to go badly enough, you can save for it. I realize I live a sheltered life in a suburb full of upper-class people but I do know plenty of people who struggle financially and who save for things. It seems to me like you're implying that all Christians are (or should be) poor. There are plenty of Christians who have money and can afford to take cruises. Personally I think taking a cruise sounds like fun; the whole point is to escape reality for awhile. There's nothing wrong with wanting to escape your life temporarily is there?

And BTW, we love listening to K-LOVE. They play music that we hear at church. I love that the kids recognize the songs they hear and beg to listen to Christian music.

But wouldn't it be a boring world if we all agreed with each other about everything?!

Deb said...

Hi Amy,

Actually...if you can save to go on a cruise then you must be rich. Considering that the vast majority of people in the world are barely scraping by to just survive, only the rich could possibly save to go on a cruise.

I'm not trying to imply that all Christians are or should be poor. However, I doubt that anyone could really consider spending the thousands of dollars necessary to go on a cruise good stewardship... there are thousands of ways to relax and "escape" that don't involve such large sums of money. Is it really right to spend thousands on entertainment etc. when there are over 143 million orphans in the world? Missionaries that are coming home from the field because churches are able to send them the support they promised? How many billion people starving? While I don't think that the call to the Christian is a life of poverty, I also think that "Christian Cruise" is an oxymoron.

Do you really think Jesus would spend his money on a cruise?

I like some of the music on K-LOVE. The DJs drive me nuts because there is much shallow talk and an obvious lack of thought in their lives. The buy-in to pop culture makes me sick sometimes. I do like that my kids love the music, but I do make sure that they understand that the pledge drives are flesh driven, the conference announcements are unscriptual (I really don't think that there's a who's who in the church -- I actually heard a conference announced that way one time: Who's Who of the Christian World with all the "top" speakers.) , and that many of the "christian artists" are... well, not necessarily sold out Christians.

Also, I think it is wrong they act like it is not sponsored when in reality it is sponsored by the Christian Music Industry and also Parable Christian Stores. They just find round about ways to sponsor it. How about how business can make larger contributions and have their business mentioned on the air? Or how they are constantly trying build a "community" on the radio waves, when people should be building community within their home church? No real relationships are going to happen there... no real growth, however, they love (especially during pledge drives) to make it sound like it will.

I would like it a lot more if they just didn't buy into the pop culture mentality, were more thoughtful with their approach and just made it commercial radio outright, or truly took away the sponsorship. I would also like it more if they didn't do pledge drives that were laden with guilt and pressure.

Amy said...

1. My in-laws have been on several cruises and their most recent one cost them $500 each plus driving down to Fla. to catch the boat. That is a lot of money, but for a cruise that's pretty cheap. It just gets expensive when you have a bigger family.

2. Jesus might take a cruise-he came to seek and save the lost. There are plenty of lost people on those cruises, even the Christian cruises I bet.

3. Jesus got lots of flack in his day from the PHARISEES for eating with tax collectors. And that wasn't a poor simple meal. That was fancy and expensive and involved lots of food.

4. If K-LOVE didn't have a pledge drive,they'd have to accept money from the government or somewhere right? Wouldn't that mean they would be censored or regulated or something? (I'm honestly asking here b/c I don't know how radio works) Plus I personally am glad they're on the air. I know you can't seriously build community over the radio. But I am impressed with the staff there. They have actually called me in the past to ask if I have any prayer requests.

Deb said...

1) So that would be $1000 plus the gas and wear and tear on the car. Moderately cheap vacation -- although you'd have to add in the enviornmental costs as well, as my understanding is that cruises are very eco-unfriendly. And, it is cheap for a cruise. I'm not opposed to cruises, just ones that claim to be "christian"

2)Jesus might or might not take a cruise -- but I doubt that he would spend his money to hang out with the "christian elite" he tended to align himself, actually seek out, the needy.

3)Yes, Jesus DID get flak for hanging out with the tax collectors which is exactly what a "christian cruise" is designed to do -- remove people from needing to "cruise" with the non-Christians. That's exactly why I don't think Jesus would take a "christian" cruise.

4) If K-love didn't have pledge drives, they'd have to do what other radio stations do. They'd have to have commercials (which they do now, they are just sneaky about it so they can be classified as "non-profit" or whatever). If they were honestly spirit led I really don't think that they would have to beg/manipulate and guilt people into donating. I also think that they would be more above board about sponsors. Do I think that God can work through KLOVE? Yes, but God also spoke though a donkey. I think God works through KLOVE DESPITE the screwed up premises they are often functioning from and compromises they have made to make themselves the vanilla substitute for cheesy pop culture.

Amy said...

"there are thousands of ways to relax and "escape" that don't involve such large sums of money. Is it really right to spend thousands on entertainment etc. when there are over 143 million orphans in the world? . . . How many billion people starving?"

So are you saying that instead of taking vacations and doing fun things, we should all take free or cheap vacations and give our extra money to the poor or missionaries or something? I'm not trying to criticize-I'm just trying to understand. It just seems unreasonable to tell people how to spend their money. There are those who will give to charity/missions/etc/ no matter how much money they have or don't have. And there are those who won't. So should I take the money I've been saving for the past couple years for our trip to Disney World in 2 years and give it to Bill & Lena Shrader (or some other missionary) rather than spending so much on mere entertainment when so many are starving? Should we really deny ourselves every little luxury and send all our money to the poor? I'm sure if I added how much we spend on McDs and pizza in a year for 7 of us it would add up to a couple hundred dollars at least. Should I give that to the poor? I do give to my church missionaries as well as a couple other Christian organizations. I'm trying to help! But I do think Christians should be able to have fun and spend their money if they so choose. If they want to take a cruise I don't see anything wrong with that. And I bet Jesus could find needy people to help even on a Christian cruise. Just because a Christian spends money on a cruise doesn't mean they don't need Jesus. You can't generalize-there is no way to know the heart condition of everyone on that cruise.

Deb said...

How in the world would a needy person make it on a cruise??? How would they get there? Certainly a non-christian wouldn't want to take a "christian cruise", so I doubt you would find anyone there that actually realized that they were spiritually needy. In addition to that, how would Jesus have taken a cruise when he had no income? He would have been cast out from that by his very status in society, which is why I find the concept of a "christian" cruise so incredibly off base.

I never said that a Christian couldn't have fun or spend money to have fun. It's interesting that the conclusions have jumped to that. I, personally, have no interest in a cruise (or Disney World) because I've experienced the excitement of spending money to follow God on an adventure, so made up adventures just sound really lame.

I don't mean that in a condescending way, but just that so much of what KLOVE and pop culture offer is just cheap entertainment that has no lasting impact and it truly grieves me that so many people just buy into it.

I do think there's a line that gets crossed, though, because Jesus did say that we are to deny himself and follow him. I personally think that as a christian I am very careful as to how I spend my money and invest very little of it in entertainment not out of obligation but because I know the joy of using it sacrificially rather than for entertainment. We do chose to bypass pizza and MCd's for that very reason, except for very special occasions or to celebrate. We choose to live differently. We do have things we indulge in, but I can hardly find taking an expensive cruise or something on that level a "little luxury". Where that line get's drawn is personal. I believe that as a Christian, I do have a Biblical obligation to care for the poor and needy and because of that there are restraints on how I spend my money.

However, when people start trying to tie the gospel into something commercial or material, then I get very very offended as in the case of KLOVE's "Christian" cruise. Is it Christian because they are ministering to the needy? Is it Christian because they are fasting and denying themselves? Is it Christian because they're taking vast amounts of time to pray and listen for God? Is it Christian because they take the entire time to meditate on Christ's teachings? Or is it Christian because they have "christian bands" and "christian books" and "famous Christians" speaking, and KLOVE kitsch for people to buy buy buy? From listening to the commercials, I would say that it's the latter.

What KLOVE does, with this cruise and with their conferences and all the other pop stuff they push is they make it like that is Christianity -- going on cruises with Christians, going to all the "right" concerts and conferences. They are selling the gospel and turning into part of our consumer culture, and I just happen to find that very off base and very offensive.

I don't think there's an issue of whether or not it's right to save up for Disney world. I think the issue is whether or not you would be willing, if God so called, to use that money for something else. I'm not saying He is, but I'm just saying I think that's where the obedience issue lies.

Maybe I'm jaded. But I've seen enough suffering with my 6+ visits to third world countries, that I just get really tired of how selfish the church in America is. And, when I hear them talking about cruises it breaks my heart because I can just image a boatful of people surrounded by self compared with a building full of children suffering. I can't get their faces out of my mind. I could never enjoy a vacation like that when I know what's going on in other places and my money could have helped solved some of those problems. I can cruise when I'm in heaven.

Amy said...

Ok I give up. I realize that you have a different perspective than others because of your experiences in the Ukraine and Kazakhstan (and wherever else you've gone), but you are making me feel guilty for letting my kids eat McDs and going on occasional vacations. Maybe I'm not as good a Christian as you are. I try to do my part to help the poor-I evidently don't do as much as you do though. I've always been really good at feeling guilty about things and now I have something else to feel guilty about. I am not doing enough for the poor in other countries. Yes I am willing to spend my money however God directs me. But He hasn't called me to help the poor in 3rd World countries. And yet your comments are making me feel badly because I don't. Yes we as Christians are called to help the poor and needy, but that can take many different forms. There are plenty of poor and needy people in our country. And helping doesn't always mean spending money. There are other ways to help meet people's needs besides just giving them money. I am trying to give not just my money, but also my time to help others.

I just wish I were as good at debating as you are :) I somehow feel like I'm not as good as you are and am on the losing end of this debate.

Deb said...

This really isn't about you -- not the comments or the posts. It was about the shallowness of KLOVE (which I wasn't even mentioning by name!) and the concept of a Christian cruise. You have to live out your convictions how God leads. There is no such thing as a "better" Christian. We're all just messed up in different ways. I do think, though, that there are mislead Christians, and KLOVE, despite good intentions, does, indeed, mislead people into thinking that being a Christian is about comfort and entertainment. It really makes me sad, because there is so much more to a fulfilling Christian life than what is put forth in the consumer mindset.

I mean, at least if someone goes on a secular cruise, there's the hope that they can be a light while there. A "christian" one just seems to be about self and that is just so contrary to our calling as Christians.

We've made some pretty significant sacrifices for the gospel and we're feeling the brunt of that right now. To wake up and listen to two obviously wealthy Christians go on and on about an elite cruise that I know the likes of Mother Theresa, my self or even most pastors or missionaries would never make the cut for was a bit more than I can handle. And, again, it wouldn't bother me except that they want to bring Christ into it, and I just know that he would never choose to be a part of something that is elite in nature. At least, I've lived my life based on the belief that Jesus wouldn't be a part of something that was elitist in nature. I'm in deep enough now, that it would really stink to find out I'm wrong!

When I hear them manipulating people into giving with their pledge drives, I can't help but think that my ability to give is very limited and my money is simply not going to go to paying John and Sherry River's salaries. The money I'm giving is going to go to feeding the hungry, buying Bibles for people and the direct spreading of the gospel. I always wonder how much money could be going to ministry that ends up going there... and it frustrates me no end.

I've decided I just am not going to listen anymore. I miss the days when Christian radio was local. And maybe when the DJs didn't talk so much. It just all sits so much on the line -- not of it is ever contemplative and when I hear so many of the "artists" interviewed, I really have to wonder how much it is about worship and how much of it is about making it big in show business. My kids do like the music, although we have cds around here they listen to also, and Lawyer/Social Advocate Boy has inherited our disdain for Pop (he likes Rock and heavier stuff....sigh). I do appreciate some of the stuff the kids pick up, but I feel like I am so often unteaching what was just said.

"I know that they just said they switched churches because they wanted a livelier worship band, dear, but you don't break a commitment to a church because they don't create enough excitement for you."


"I know they think the itty bitty bible is a great idea, but, really, it's stupid, and God doesn't want soldiers using Bibles like they are good luck charms. You have to be able to read them."

"Really guys, there's no "who's who in the Christian world" -- Jesus said whoever is last will be first."

I just get really tired of it, and I realize that most people don't listen so critically, so those little lessons are just planted. It frustrates me too much.

Oh well, lesson learned on my part.

And, don't guilt about Disney. Just seek God. If he calls you else where, you'll know and if not just look at it as a gift. We are blessed. You don't need to feel guilty about. I just wouldn't try to defend the excesses of the American church, as I really think that's a losing battle no matter who you debate.

Love you sister!