Serious

How many times have you heard the admonition to “get serious about the things of the Lord?”

Some years ago I knew a pastor who was a VERY SERIOUS man, rife with the kind of grim determination usually reserved for the resident’s of Helm’s Deep when there’s about to be huge surplus in the Random Bits of Orc market. He was no fun at all. His wife was even worse. The story goes that he proposed to her with the words “I think we could have a good ministry together.”

He demanded that no fictional books be read in his home. When his wife received a gift of a set of books by Janette Oke (the most bland of the most bland Christians romance authors) he let her keep them so as not to offend the giver on the condition that she promised to never read them. As far as I knew she never did.

When my father (a fellow minister) once casually called him by his first name the man insisted that he be called “pastor” instead. My father was taken aback but complied. It’s very hard to reason with an always serious man.

Such a serious man was he that he once declared at a church picnic that he had begun running because he felt that he had not enough affliction in his life and by voluntarily giving himself pain he felt that his spiritual life would be more fruitful. And then he ate a cheeseburger. Seriousness has its limits one supposes.

Unfortunately, seriousness is catching. After one of his sermons against the terrible threat of the New Age in which he decried the symbol of the unicorn, one of his congregants went to her mother’s apartment and opened the cabinet that houses her mother’s china horse collection. She then proceeded to break the horns off all her unicorns. Why so serious?

That pastor eventually left that church with its attendance in free fall and moved to the next where he engineered the same kind of decline. The joy of the Lord may be the strength of some but JOY only means Jesus and Others and Yourself a distant third, don’t you know? It’s not about happiness. Please be serious.

139 thoughts on “Serious”

  1. Fourth? If not, I promise not to take it seriously.

    I had a friend in my Fundy church who could barely get dressed in the morning because she had to make sure that she wore an outfit in line with God’s will. I have had other friends who could never make a decision because they were afraid of “missing” God’s will. So, most of the their decisions were made for them by the circumstances they fell into–but it was God’s will! And, then there was my friend who was very creeped out by a guy who knew it was God’s will for them to be married. That necessitated some pastoral intervention.

    I read a book a long time ago called “Decision Making and the Will of God.” I believe the author is Gary Friasier. Basic premise, if we are obeying God and abiding in Christ, He gives us the privilege of making many decisions because we will understand His Word, I found that approach very freeing. I obviously do pray that I will do His will, but I am also alert to the many opportunities He brings my way. I don’t have to pray about whether I should be kind to my neighbor, or go to work everyday, or buy something I can’t afford. Pretty obvious if I am understanding His Word correctly.

    1. Well said, Linn. I find it weird that these extreme fundies, who teach/learn nothing about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, think they can hear from God. When I was in college I went to an Intervarsity Christian Fellowship missions conference with a classmate. This organization was considered apostate by my fundie church. Paul E. Little, the president of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, gave a talk entitled “Affirming the Will of God”. His premise was that God’s will for us is already written down and as we follow the teachings of Jesus, our individual destines will fall into place. As an insecure 19 year old, that gave me much relief after all the nonsense I had heard during my sojourn in Fundieville. Fearful people tend to gravitate toward legalism because it is tangible and easy at first, only to become a harsh unforgiving taskmaster.

    2. I’m starting to think what God really wants us to do is to lighten up and have some fun.

      (By “us,” I meand those of us who were raised in straightlaced Protestant environments.)

        1. I feel that this serious man would put the song”Sing Your Praise to the Lord” by Rich Mullins in the same eternally danged basket as mainstream rock (as well as references to “the resident’s of Helm’s Deep when there’s about to be huge surplus in the Random Bits of Orc market”).

      1. Perhaps finding God’s will is as “simple” as trying to put Micah 6:8 into practice.

        Question: Is all this rhetoric about “finding God’s will” in the Bible? Are there verses about this? Or are we told to find His heart and follow? I find it so very weird that people ask God what they should wear today or what to eat for lunch. Am I off base?

    3. Boy, do I remember the ruckus at BJU around that book! The “Center of God’s Will” camp was furious that someone would dare suggest that there was not one and only one “will of God” for you, much less publish it!

      It is so much easier to make the case that you are living a life of sin, even unconscious rebellion, when things go wrong if there is only one singular point where you are in the will of God.

      Gary Friesen has a summary of his ideas here: http://www.gfriesen.net/sections/willofgod_principles.php

      The ideas about the “Will of God” can be really tough, especially if you think in real life terms. Is it the will of God that I pay my bills? Duh… obviously! What if I have lost my job? The situation makes things harder.

      I am not going to say I completely agree with Friesen, but I think he is a lot closer to being right than the legalistic model.

      1. At my old fundie church they taught that there were only two possibilities in terms of God’s will: his “perfect” will and his “permissive” will. If you did everything right and dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s just right and at the right time in the right way with just the right attitude you were in God’s “perfect” will. Otherwise the rest of us losers had to settle for his “permissive” will. I never quite understood what that was but it was made clear it wasn’t good enough, but you could still get into heaven “with the smell of smoke on your coattail (or skirt-tail as in the case for wimmin).

      2. Just Do Something: A liberating approach to finding Gods will by Kevin DeYohng is a fantastic read. It takes the crystal ball and magic 8-ball approach to Gods will and throws it away for an approach that is based on just living your life so you end up more Christlike.

      3. You know what’s fun? Not giving a crap about God’s will. Just living your life.

        And what do you know, you start hitting those fruit of the spirit and doing all the things Jesus said we should do in the meantime.

  2. Darrell,
    Your post describes my late father to a T. He was a BJU alumnus who was serious. I know this is hard to believe, but I’ve always dealt with life’s issues with humor. Even as a boy. So my serious dad forbade me from joking. At all.

    So on the way to church one fine Sunday morning (when I was in 6th grade) I made a joke. In the back seat of the 1958 Buick (which was old, even then). Dad, who of course was driving, turned around and slapped the living hell out of me.

    He was a serious man.

    1. Slapped you while he was driving? JEEZ! No wonder you’re bald. He scared all the follicles right of your head. I feel your pain. 🙁

      1. I was raised around full-blooded fundies. I don’t have to believe it, as I’ve been there. And in some ways it’s getting worse as we approach the 2016 election cycle. The fundies/dominionists/theocratics are hustling for a fight.

        Case in point, check out the kind, thoughtful, and insightful input from Christians in the comments section on this article: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/godlessindixie/2015/07/10/the-sequel-in-my-classroom

        (italics indicate sarcasm)

        1. > …I don’t have to believe it…

          As in, I don’t have to believe it, because I saw it, experienced it, and it was reality for me, etc, etc, etc. damn grammar. Darrell, is there an edit button on this blog?

        2. “Christian movies like this exist because real life doesn’t sufficiently validate people’s persecution complexes. Something more dramatic is needed to justify their fears. ” How true

      2. “Christian movies like this exist because real life doesn’t sufficiently validate people’s persecution complexes. Something more dramatic is needed to justify their fears. ”

        Like God’s Not Dead, which is, IMO, one of the absolute worst films I’ve ever seen (albeit I don’t know how to explain why).

        1. I tried to watch “The Son of God” when it came out on Netflix. Worst piece of fluff I had ever seen. It almost screamed “Christians are stupid for believing in Me!”

          That’s why I have not been to see “God’s Not Dead” or “The Boy Who Went to Heaven”–I’d rather read a well-thought out and articulate Christian apologist. Augustine, Lewis, Bonhoeffer–let the party begin!

    1. I actually heard a Fundy-type Preache say from the pulpit “Jesus wept. The is no record on the Bible that Jesus ever laughed” I have been through a four Gospels and there is no record of Him ever going to the toilet either

      1. Paul, was that comment made by a Peeb? I ask because I heard it often when I was there. Another one that we often heard, my father repeated it to us on a regular basis was, “The thought of foolishness is sin.” Let me tell you, that’s a line that will take the joy out of any situation pretty quickly.

        1. Boy, do I remember the ruckus at BJU around that book! The “Center of God’s Will” camp was furious that someone would dare suggest that there was not one and only one “will of God” for you, much less publish it!

          It is so much easier to make the case that you are living a life of sin, even unconscious rebellion, when things go wrong if there is only one singular point where you are in the will of God.

          Gary Friesen has a summary of his ideas here: http://www.gfriesen.net/sections/willofgod_principles.php

          The ideas about the “Will of God” can be really tough, especially if you think in real life terms. Is it the will of God that I pay my bills? Duh… obviously! What if I have lost my job? The situation makes things harder.

          I am not going to say I completely agree with Friesen, but I think he is a lot closer to being right than the legalistic model.

        2. Now how in the Name of George did that comment get put there?

          Well, ….

          In any case, I heard that Scripture Snippet quoted a lot, too, MiriamD. Completely out of context and complete mistaking what it is really talking about, but that was common. What was important was being serious!

          Seriously!

  3. “grim determination usually reserved for the resident’s of Helm’s Deep when there’s about to be huge surplus in the Random Bits of Orc market. ”
    This

  4. My (then) teenage son about ten years ago had this thing where, in any conversation he was engaged in, he would intentionally append anything he was saying, no matter how silly, with the word, “seriously”. This post reminds me of that. Seriously.

    I took my car in to a new auto maintenance facility recently, and am now receiving unsolicited email offers for a free 2-month trial subscription to “Sirius” radio. No, I don’t want to get “Sirius”.

    1. > Janette Oke is a friend of my dad.

      Were you going somewhere with that thought? Because it’s kind of just hanging out there, waiting for someone to take advantage of it.

      1. There’s only one of me, and that’s because I’m Inimitable.

        I’m also “innately ignorant” according to a New Hampshirian resident of Fundystan, but that’s another story. 😀

        1. Nah, I was (rather obliquely) trying to reference Headless Unicorn Guy. I failed.

  5. How could anyone believe that God has no sense of humor or that Jesus was serious all the time? Or that fiction is evil? Look at all he created. Kittens. Puppies. Giraffes – I mean, come on! How odd looking is a giraffe, anyway? Many other animals I could name. No sense of the ridiculous in our Creator?

    There is no sound more beautiful than a baby’s delightful laughter. And Jesus loved children. If you love a child you play with him and laugh with him.

    Jesus taught His listeners by telling parables – stories. And fiction is wrong?

    What a sad, boring life these people lead (and inflict on others) when they create a god in their own sad, serious image. They have my pity.

    1. Oh dear, your Fundy training failed miserably! If you TRULY love little children, you use the rod of correction to drive all thought of foolishness far from them. That breaks my heart.

      1. “Withhold not correction from the child: for if thou beatest him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shalt deliver his soul from hell.” Proverbs 23:13-14.

        My backside aches at the memory of these verses quoted at me during my frequent correction sessions as a child.

        1. Corporal punishment was issued generously by parents fearful that if they didn’t do it their kids would go to hell and it would be the parents’ fault. More fear based fundie crap.

  6. “So on the way to church one fine Sunday morning (when I was in 6th grade) I made a joke. In the back seat of the 1958 Buick (which was old, even then). Dad, who of course was driving, turned around and slapped the living hell out of me. ”

    Hmmm. No seat belts in those days. Usually bench seats. Buicks were, and are, rather roomy cars.

    Somehow, while driving (presumably the car was moving) Dad could turn around, reach into the back seat and slap a kid? All the while keeping on the roadway?

    Methinks Dad was a contortionist.

    1. My dad used to just swing his arm without prejudice, across the back seat of the car. He didn’t need to take his eyes off the road or his left hand off the wheel. He might hit the offender or he might just have hit several of the offenders sisters. It really didn’t matter to him. He vented his spleen. That seemed to be the point.

  7. I was asked for some career advice by a friend of my daughter a few years back. She had grown up in a pretty Fundy church before they moved here, and we were in a pretty Fundy church. Decision making and God’s will were, and are, taught as some great mystery to be pondered and prayed over until all the ramifications of evil side affects/effects are figured out. Any choice could be the one between God’s”perfect will” and His “permissive” will.
    I asked her a few questions about each opportunity, we discussed pros and cons of both, and then I asked her which one she wanted to do. She looked at me in surprise, which is no surprise, since decisions in Fundystan aren’t based on good feelings or personal desires. She chose the one that involved pursuit of a masters degree from a state school, and is on staff there as a researcher, with PhD study offers from other major institutes of higher learning.
    She is also involved in teaching middle school girls in a very non-fundy church, and enjoying herself in both areas. (Her family has also emigrated from Fundystan)

    I don’t necessarily follow “if it feels good, do it”, but sometimes……………..

    1. I grew up believing that the Christian Life was a tightrope walk. I kept falling off. But I felt that it was my Christian Duty to climb back on. It was tiring and dispiriting. It was also complete shit which held me in bondage for too many years.

      1. I like the metaphor we use in the ECUSA much better: We go through life sinning now and then, because we’re human. We face the consequences (judgment), generally even before we admit to ourselves that we screwed up (repentance). Then we ask God to help us do better (redemption) and go on with our lives. If this keeps happening, that’s all right; it’s just human nature. However, if we keep doing the same thing over and over and never grow into better people (who still sin now and then), that’s a problem.

        Of course, the definition of “better people” has more to do with the definition of love and with Jesus’ commands to service than with “soul-winning” or clothes.

        1. Your comment reminds me of a quote I like to use. I heard it when my wife and I were attempting to become missionaries. During one of our training sessions, the instructor said “always make new mistakes”.

          I wish I was better at that.

    2. My Fundy church insisted that God’s will would probably make you miserable. I loved teaching anything as a teen (Sunday School, tutoring, mentoring), and was certainly not miserable. I kept talking to God about it, and I certainly wasn’t getting a no.

      I’m so glad that I’m a teacher, both in a school and in my church. And, I was a missionary, too, for 15 years. So, I have long dropped the belief that God’s will is out to make us miserable.

      1. TRUE Fundy indoctrination teaches young’uns that the 3 most important decisions in life will be:
        1. Where you go to college (Fundy schools only – no secular humanism brainwashing allowed!)
        2. What you choose as your life’s profession (If you REALLY want God’s blessing, go into a ministry role)
        3. Who you marry.
        After being told what/how/why/who/where/when all your life, making these decisions was torture. Seriously.

      2. I’m really glad I learned that God isn’t the evil tyrant He was made out to be during Fundy High chapel messages. The take-away from a lot of these guys was that anything you didn’t like was what God would have you do. Scared of bugs and animals? Your going to the Amazon u
        jungle! Hate hot dry weather? Welcome to the Sahara!

        I was quite happy when I realized there is no narrow path that must be walked like a tightrope for happiness. I realized God gave us a quite succinct view of his will in Micah 6:8–He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?

      3. That was another one of those contradictions that we were taught. Somedays it was “Follow God and find joy” and sometimes it was “Follow God despite being miserable.” I definitely picked up on the teaching that if you WANTED to do something, you probably SHOULDN’T because that was your sinful flesh wanting something and you know that in your flesh is no good thing. But then again, what if it was the Holy Spirit’s guidance?

        It was SO confusing; it caused so much fear and despair.

    3. I remember some leader in the Bill Gothard program saying that when he was faced with a decision, if both sides seemed equal as far as Scripture and Truth and all that, he would figure out what he most wanted to do and then do the opposite, because “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.” So anything that makes you happy is probably wrong.

      1. But what if this rule-of-thumb is simply the heart doing its desperately wicked thing? Maybe we should do what we would rather do because our evil heart expects our spirit to take the Godly self-punishment route (if we are in accord with God’s will, that is). But then what if our conniving ticker already knows that we know that it knows that we will choose the pricklier path? I’m not over-thinking this, am I?

      2. Unless you’re some kind of Manichean, it seems to me pretty obvious that God made some things pleasant and others unpleasant for good reasons.
        What does it say about your faith if you don’t believe that?

  8. This. Sigh. My dad is the same way. Refuses to laugh at any joke, no matter how benign. With him, it is all classified as “foolishness.” Never mind that Job declares God will “fill” the mouth of the righteous man with laughter. I guess God got it all wrong when He said there is a time to laugh, huh? What a strained, joyless, un-heavenly experience we can choose to make of our own lives! Listen people, God even put smiley faces in the Bible! If He took the time to send us emoticons in His great Text to mankind, can we not reciprocate some of that joy? Ever?

  9. From what I’ve seen the whole “get serious about God” sermon is an opportunity for the MoG to beat the sheep into a bloody pulp for not working hard enough to build the MoGs empire.

  10. “God’s Will”. My big ole butt. Speaking of being serious, I seriously doubt God gives people specific answers to specific questions. I firmly believe God started our world and then has stood back and watched things happen.
    Having barely survived my son taking his life, I see absolutely no other possibility.

    1. I have no idea how deeply you and your family must have suffered in that experience, having only distantly experienced a suicide by someone I knew. Cheers to you for making it out in one piece. But it makes me seriously angry when the fundies tell those who have experienced it in their family that the one who committed suicide went to hell. How did Samson make it into the hall of faith? Are we to believe Jonathan and Saul went to hell with Samuel? Samuel told him, “today you AND your sons will be WITH me.” Hope you never experienced any of that heartless, nonsensical crap.

      1. Joe Cool, I recently re-read a book by a guy called Ronald Dunn, called “when Heaven is silent”. He lost a son to suicide. The book was written a number of years after the tragedy, partly, as he said himself, as a way of dealing with his loss. It is vey poignant and thought provoking. I don’t know if it will help, or just reopen old wounds. If you do read it, I hope it will help you,

        1. I appreciate that, Paul. We were given quite a few books back then and never opened the cover of any of them. We were also told that going to a support group may help. We didn’t go to any of those, either. I could barely handle my own grief, and sometimes I couldn’t. There is no way I could go hear other people’s stories.
          I appreciate your encouragement.

      2. Thank you Dance. I’ve heard almost everything as far as stupid things people say, except the hell part, which I do not believe.
        My own mom, who is a fundy down to her bone marrow, kept saying ‘god has a plan’ and ‘everything happens for a reason’…. in an airy, dreamy voice. I finally snapped and yelled ‘what reason could there possibly be for Philip to die like that?’ She didn’t have an answer and stopping saying that stuff. My feeling is that if this is God’s plan, then his plan SUCKS.
        I had family members who were not supportive at all and total strangers who would do anything they could to help us in whatever way they could think of. We had awesome friends who did things for us that I’ll never know because I was pretty drugged for about a week.
        That is where my attitude comes from about God and his damn will.

        1. My heart aches for you, Joe Cool. We came so close to this tragedy with both my children, thanks to abuse received in Fundy circles. It was averted only because we had prior clear warning of it. Without that I would be where you are and I do not know how I could go on. There is nothing anyone can say or do and to put it down to God’s will is a horrible abuse in itself. I call bullshit on all that. Your precious son’s loss was a tragedy, not a willed event.

        2. I’m glad you were able to help your children. I had no clue at all that Philip would have ever done that. He just made a bad decision, got into a little trouble, and made one more bad decision. I never should have left him alone. I had no idea how scared he was. None at all. I was so mad I couldn’t see past my own anger at what he had done.
          I’ll never let that one go. I can not forgive myself for that, and I’ve been told one million times I should.

          ‘Bullshit’ is right.

        3. I can only imagine the tiniest bit of how little you cannot forgive yourself. I cannot forgive myself for my ignorance of what was going on. The sad, sad truth is there will always be people who are too good at hiding their pain and fear, too good for their own good. It seems to me that the god that is portrayed as willing this, or deeming the lost one to be evil, is no god at all but a demon. The Fundies have made a god in their own image.

        4. Fundys have made their God out of the Old Testament, and then gave him an evil side.
          Whenever a friend says anything to me about their child being sad or being ‘down’ or any other word like that, I unload on them about how they need to Stay. On. Top. of that. I unload in a nice way, but I am very clear. They know where I’m coming from, too, so I know I am heard.
          Anything I can do for anyone who may be in that situation I do it.
          A few months ago, an old college friend posted something about ‘having had enough’ and ‘being done with it’ on facebook. I sent him a LONG message. He actually called me later that day to tell me he wasn’t even thinking about that and what the actual problem was. He was drunk as a skunk, too, so it was kind of funny. I hadn’t talked to him in 30 years, and when I do he’s hammered.

        5. My own parents nearly lost me, as well. Even after we split and split (not primarily because of trauma/abuse, but mainly for other reasons), our multiple personalites could not handle the pain of growing up the way we had. If you’ve seen the semicolon tattoo phenomenon going around – we had several of those.

          Survived by the grace of having amazing, truly amazing loving and giving friends come into our life at just the right times – and many of them didn’t believe in God at all. Yet they had more joy, more peace, more grace, more LOVE than anything we had ever experienced before.

          I don’t know what kind of environment your son grew up in. But what everyone has been saying about how fundamentalism is primarily about never doing anything you enjoy, never having fun, always making yourself miserable – we grew up that way too, and found it intolerable. Especially since anger about the injustice of punishing children for their very nature was not allowed either. Being LGBT didn’t help either. The primary personality from those years still has very deep wounds; not just from parents, although my dad was a major factor, but from the community and environment. Which is why they aren’t fronting anymore. Too fragile. We’re in therapy now, which we should have been many years ago, but of course mental health issues aren’t a thing, you just have the pray the devil away.

          At any rate, we are very, very sorry that your son did not survive, and the pain you have gone through, and wish you all the grace in moving on with your life.

        6. Thank you, Kagi. I am so very glad you are still here. Although I can’t know what you went through with your parents, I know one friend of mine from a fundy church that was disowned by her parents because she married a Southern Baptist preacher. Another friend who is estranged from his Southern Baptist preacher father because he is gay. I’ll never understand how parents can’t love their kids no matter what.
          My mom loves me, but I’m sure she loves the picture perfect me she has in her head. Also, I’ve been delivered from fundyland.
          I said all of that to say this: You are not alone. I am glad you are getting help. Keep getting help. Never quit. If you need anyone to talk to, or just blabber at, email me at mail4bh@Yahoo.com. We can chat there or we can have a phone conversation.

          What happened to my son had nothing to do with fundyland. I had left my fundy church before he was born.

  11. Such a serious man was he that he once declared at a church picnic that he had begun running because he felt that he had not enough affliction in his life and by voluntarily giving himself pain he felt that his spiritual life would be more fruitful

    That’s some pious bullshit right there. Nobody grabs a mundane item like exercise and makes it into this righteous intention unless they’re trying to show off. I can’t really differentiate between this and the Pharisees.

    1. “Truly I tell you, they have their reward.”

      Or maybe:

      Holler louder! Gash yourselves a little bit! Maybe your altar hasn’t caught on fire yet because your god had to go take a leak!

  12. I’ve read several books by survivors of the FLDS cult. Their leader eventually cancelled all social occasions, including weddings, baptisms, and the like because they needed to put away light hearted things. It’s amazing the parallels I see when reading about the FLDS.

  13. I had the joy of seeing “My Cousin Vinny” last week for the first time. Such a hilarious movie. The thing that stuck out the most was the judge (Fred Gwynne). He reminded me so much of my old fundy pastor. His face, his voice, his furrowed brow, and his stick-up-the-butt seriousness.
    It was therapeutic to see Pacino telling that guy off.
    Check it out
    fundy pastor: http://www.shepherdsbethel.org/uploads/6/7/9/7/6797925/8037157_orig.jpg
    Judge (Fred Gwynne): http://images2.villagevoice.com/imager/u/original/6682086/fredgwynnejudge.jpg

  14. Oke books should be banned, but not because they are fiction stories. They should be banned for their utter lack of imagination and absence of literary value.

    It always bothered me that HAC had Oke books in the infirmary. Not that they were works of fiction, but because they were an xianized version of the bodice-rippers featuring Fabio and distressed damsels. I read some Oke books when I was in the infirmary a few times but they were absolute drivel and painful to read.

    I couldn’t understand then why xianized trash was somehow better because someone stuck the xian label on it. Come to think of it, I still can’t understand how the xian label sanctifies trash.

      1. One of the things that bothered me about the Oke novels when I read them at BJU was how the heroine described in detail all her thoughts and feelings about all sorts of trivial things — first time lighting a fire in the stove in the prairie schoolhouse where she was teaching, for example — but never described her thoughts and feelings about spending her first night with her husband.

        I understood why they didn’t want to go into detail, but still, it was so unrealistic, that a character would be so expressive and open about everything else but that, something which is kind of a big deal.

        1. Someone at my church was concerned about my reading habits (I was really into big historical novels by Michner and Uris, as well as big history books). She encouraged me to read “Not My Will.” I did, to be polite (read the thing in one sitting, if I remember correctly), and swore to never, ever, even if Hell itself froze over, to read another Grace Livingston Hill book!

        2. Not My Will, while a very awful book, isn’t by Grace Livingston Hill. Francena Arnold wrote that and several other equally awful novels. Grace L. Hill is in a different category, think eating a tub of bubblegum ice cream and then washing it down with a case of cream soda. Her heroines are so sickeningly sweet and courageous and, did I mention, sweet? I double dare you to try reading one of them.

        3. Thanks for the correction… But I did stop reading any recommended novels by youth group leaders, and I took theology books to camp!

      1. I might have, but I don’t recall anything unless she was the one who wrote about a revival sparked by the original, albeit fictitious, WWJD movement.

        1. Very early writer of mushy “Christian” romance pulp fiction. My mom collected her books. I may have some of them somewhere.

          Rags to riches stories common. The impoverished and/or persecuted young girl is rescued by the dashing, rich man. Sometimes salvation of one of the pair has to occur to make the relationship “right.”

        1. I wanted to be fragile, sweet, and dainty so I didn’t mind that. What I despaired of in the Grace Livingston Hill books was the heroines’ amazing housekeeping ability. They were always able to clean, cook, sew, dress themselves, and decorate their home (or tiny attic room in the boarding house) with beautiful taste and incredible ability. How I wished I was half so handy!

        2. If they’re set in the 19th Century, I’d like to drop the “sweet, fragile, dainty little woman” into the REAL frontier and see how long she lasts.

          “WELCOME TO FUCKIN’ DEADWOOD!”

        3. As I remember, they were set in big, wicked cities in the 1920s. Those little ladies were just so perfect and tidy and…..bloody perfect.

  15. Dear SFL Reader:

    That short, fat, sulky kid with the round head and a sadistic streak who made mean faces and pouted furiously whenever he didn’t get his way? I always wondered what happened to him…

    The one who sits in the heavens will laugh! Yahweh will have him in derision.

    Does that suck or what!

    Christian Socialist

  16. On a serious note:

    I truly do believe that God wants us to experience joy. However, I have struggled with the meaning of certain verses as the following: “Likewise must the deacons be grave” (1 Tim. 3:8), “even so must their wives be grave” (1 Tim. 3:11), and other verses about being “grave.” I always think of a grim Puritan when I read passages like that, and though I don’t think that is what God wants from us (from Scripture like the Psalms speaking of rejoicing and singing and being glad), I still worry about not having the appropriate “gravitas.”

    1. The RSV translates this word as “serious.” I note that right after this word in both verses, the writer specifies things that the people in these jobs are not to say or do. Male deacons are supposed to be “not double-tongued, not addicted to too much wine, not greedy for gain; they must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience,” while deaconesses are “no slanderers, but temperate, faithful in all things.” These appear to be parallel. Being serious seems to mean first, not being apt to go overboard or off track in speech or action (temperance in word and deed); second, not apt to go messing around with other people’s money (an example of treating the office of deacon as means to an end, perhaps); third, faithful.

      Steady, dependable, trustworthy people, in other words. Not so much with the Eeyore-ing.

  17. Back in the early ’80s at TTU, I worked in the dining hall with a strange kid who would reprimand us with Proverbs 26:18&19 if he heard us joking around. He was against all forms of mirth and merriment.
    He was also one of the weirdest people I have ever met. He would zone out and just start yelling hellfire and brimstone sermons, seemingly aimed at the dish-washing machine.

    1. …But the verses he cited are about people who lie and try to pass it off as a joke when discovered. Such people, the proverb says, are like–well–“a madman who throws firebrands, arrows, and death,” according to the text. It isn’t about class clowns; it’s about the danger to community spirit posed by meatspace trolling!

  18. I know this is an old thread, but I will throw this in…

    My wife and I attend an IFB church where the pastor is fine. He’s made plenty of funnies in sermons and stories that there’s no worry there. But one of the deacons is a joyless, austere guy in his 60s who just puts a black cloud over everything. His wife and daughter, who is disabled, are very friendly, nice folks. But to me, there’s always just a hint of gloom and sadness to them. My guess is that their home is a puritanical, depressing place where the only sound–when low-quality hymns aren’t blaring from the CD player–is a clock ticking. It makes me shudder, to think about how some of these households might be. More like prisons, than homes.

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