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April 01, 2005

"God isn't a fashion accessory and he's not pro Lap Dance."

Brace yourselves for a rant.

There has been a lot of talk about religion in the news of late. I'm not going near any of that. I'm just going to keep this simple.

On Sunday we were at a Wendy's when about 20 teenagers, well dressed from the church services they had just come from, sat down next to us. They ignored the three of us and chatted amongst themselves about the service, some plans for a religious retreat they were going on and how the girls could give the boys lap dances.

*raised eyebrow*

Excuse me?

Yes the conversation turned into a discussion about lap dances and who gave better dances and who was deserving of them and who wasn't. Granted the brighter kids told the others to stop it because they were being so loud but it was clear that the majority of the group were all onboard with the discussion. (I particularly liked the boy who was thrusting a Bible for emphasis.)

Truth be told I expect most teenagers to make mistakes. I expect them to say things that they shouldn't and to do dumb things from time to time. (Same rules apply to adults but with less slack for repeat offenders.) I even expect them to act hypocritical from time to time.

It may also be that I am simply unaware of a new version of the Ten Commandments that has substituted one of the old favorites with "Thou shall go forth and lap dance" but I doubt it.

Fabulous Babe and I have both noticed how pop culture seems to have decided that religious faith is the new trendy thing. Crosses and bibles are the lastest fashion trend. (I half expect to walk past a girls accessory store and spy pastel crosses with rhinestones.) To be cool you have to be down with the "J" man and his 12 man crew or you just aren't "hip" or, as we say here in the Willinium, "getting jiggy with it."


It may be people being more obvious than they were previously about their faith. (Pride in that isn't a bad thing.) I might be more sensitive after a few bad examples. It may just be that I've become an old man and these things get under my skin more. Hmmmm.

I really don't care who or what you believe in. (Honest.) I think sincere faith is to be applauded and recognized as that. If your faith tells you to knock on my door on a Saturday morning I'm ok with that as long as you're ok with my politely declining to invite you in. Witness all you want but understand that if it's not my cup of tea I'm going to pass. The equation is about respect. Forcing people to follow a religion against their will doesn't strike me as a way to gain lifelong converts.

This change we've seen recently isn't one sponsored by government, despite what the crackpots may think, and certainly isn't something that the Media Elite have had a meeting about and created after passing it past some focus groups. It's a social trend driven by forces that can at best be steered, not created. It's momentary and will pass soon enough.

I was raised in a house where gambling was heavily discouraged. It was drilled into me as a boy that gambling was morally wrong and had a high cost both ethically and financially. The result is that I've always been slow to sit down at a poker table. Alcohol was also on the "nay" list but moderate drinking was tolerated at the occasional family gathering. I can say that 90% of this sentiment was religious based and 10% of my grandmother being cantankerous.

If you declare your religious faith I expect you to live to it. I'm willing to cut some slack but the more you represent yourself as a person of faith the more I expect you to act like it. If you're supposed to treat your body like a temple don't treat it like an amusement park. If you tell me with one breath about your good deeds for the temple and then turn around and complain about how much you tithe expect me to tune you out. Ugh.

I'm no angel and have never claimed to be. I'll try to raise Jack to recognize that gambling and alcohol can be addicting and should be handled carefully. I'll raise him with as strong a moral compass as I can to steer him through bad situations. Ideally at the center of all of this will be the understanding that he's responsible for his own actions and his reputation rides on every one.

Want to wear a cross? Feel the need to hang an Icon in your cube? Need to wear a turban? I'm fine with all of these things. Just don't expect me to take you seriously if your newfound faith's foundation is as substantial and sturdy as a trailer park in the path of a tornado.

What's next? "Honor thy Mother and Father by breaking their rules, crashing their car and vomiting upon their living room carpet after drinking too much." "Thou shalt covet your neighbors wife AND power tools."


Posted by Jim at April 1, 2005 01:01 AM


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