The word implies aristocracy, wealth, romance, opulence, and a continuous social scene of balls and parties and comings-out. The legacy of ten thousand Jane Austen imitators has made a million prides and prejudices into a story form called simply “a Regency.” And the frothy effortless wealth implied in that word has glued it to every kind of product: cars, air fresheners, pet foods, mobile home parks, bathroom tile, insurance plans. For a whole generation it was the noise that meant luxury and sophistication in a perfectly generic context.

The other night I was taking the long way home down Pickering in Whittier and saw this place:

It is a religious organization that started as a church and is now an entire complex, what we call a “mega-church.” As usual it is a charismatic Protestant Christian organization. The church inhabits a working-class town with a broadly diverse population.

My guess is that “Regency” got put on their name in the beginning because it just sounded good. The name suggests success and respect. I doubt anyone meant to suggest that the church would consist of a series of fancy balls in which young ladies and young gentlemen would waltz and exchange witticisms over ices and champagne. I don’t think they use Regencies as texts in Bible study, either. It’s probably just a bit of American class-conscious marketing languages seeping in.

But what would it be like if the church was based on an actual theological regency? God is somehow incapacitated, and Jesus is too young to run the Universe. So we’ll just help out, here, and run things on behalf of the kid until he’s ready. It may take a while! Lord knows it’s complicated running everything and he’s barely sitting up in his crib.

This is going well. Let’s throw some parties! Lots of them! Bring out the champagne and ices!

Being God’s regent in Whittier, California might not be such a bad gig. But I don’t think I’ll suggest it to the pastor. He and his wife seem settled enough with their current theology.

Thou shalt not blog


Blogs – And God’s Youth.

Just don’t, kids. It’s not good to “want a voice,” and you shouldn’t be tempted by quizzes about flirtation. Plus, idle words are evil. Fortunately I am a professional and a specialist so I get to have one if I want.

About a third of what this guy says is dead on, of course. Blogs are blather, the “current mood” is ridiculous, and posting quizzes and babbling about nothing is in fact a huge waste of time. Point taken. He allows email and instant messaging, though. You’d think that recent events would have given him pause especially about IMing. My favorite paragraph:

Then there is the language itself. Here is a mild example: “If your a hater then whateva i dont have time 4 your negativity in my positive world.” Phrases such as “screwed up,” “I dunno,” and every type of swear word are commonly used. One blog by a young twentysomething in a splinter used the acronym “OMG,” which is a shorthand way to take God’s name in vain.

Wasn’t Tyre incinerated because they kept saying “I dunno”?

What Would Amos Say?

Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. […] The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap? — Diedrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship

apostle to the dudes

From the Register article I cited yesterday about the “SWAT Team” kids preaching on the beach. Photo credit to Andy Templeton for this excellent piece of photojournalism. The other pics with the article are good also.

The perfectly scrubbed whiteness of these people — even when they’re not white — is alarming. They exist in a perfect bubble of privilege and cultural isolation. Their friends and family are all like them. Their ideal world is a kind of 1903 Tennesse where everyone is inexplicably 2006 “cool”: chastity, whiteness, conservative politics, extreme sports, rock ‘n’ roll music, TV, great new snacks, and women in their place, obediently following behind their husbands even while surfing some massive waves.

The place where dogmatic evangelical religion and cluelessly neotenized teenage privilege meet is the best-gilded turd you’ll ever see. But you’ll smell it, too. Smell is pretty strong around these parts.

OC Craigslist W4M post du jour

I don’t know where to start with this one, really. You guys go ahead.

wanted: Christian Surgeon – 37
Reply to:
Date: 2006-01-26, 7:25AM PST

I want to meet a surgeon, preferably plastic surgeon in the NewPort beach area. Make me perfect so you will be proud. I love to go to the movies, dinning out, DVDs in, rainy nights, sunsets, dancing, my 2 wonderful kids (14 and 11), God, travel, sight seeing, shopping, horseback riding, SCUBA diving, skiing, going to the gym, relaxing at home, redecorating my humble apartment, good food, good wine and good movies. I enjoy the finer things in life.

Me: I am sweet, 5’8″, blond (gold) and blue, family oriented, also like to be alone, romance, roses and candles, aromatherapy and music.
I currently work in billing for a large clinic.

* this is in or around OC
* no — it’s NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

I departed from you; I never knew you.

If you want to know why I turned my back on “the Church” forever, look no further than this video.

Dawkins is usually annoying, although he’s quiet in this clip. Haggard is the sneering, hateful, ignorant, hypocritical face of American Evangelical Christianity unveiled.

Eleven years of trying to break bread with people like that was enough. How many times did I literally sit at a table with people and listen to them express their hate for everyone like me? Churches were behind enemy lines. If discovered, I would be shot.

Of course I never believed that Christianity itself demanded that I love money, hate gay people, and support bombing babies while I opposed abortions, or any of it. The trouble is, that’s where it led. The strain of belief that moved my heart moved the people around me to nauseating moral, political, and scientific conclusions about the world. And if they wavered an inch, it seemed, they’d lose eternal life. I looked around me at my fellow American evangelicals and saw the Inquisition and the Crusades, not Christ.

Since then, believers and others have often said “Those people and their views should not have killed your faith; they’re not what it’s about. Why can’t you still believe?”

I’ll leave my answer to the man in red type:

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. — Matthew 7:15-17

The fruits of Christianity — and other religions that promise salvation from death — are bitter. I couldn’t practice a faith that was attracting, encouraging, creating murderous chauvinism and warmongering and a hatred of knowledge. Evangelicals supported wars and executions, preferred disease and death to sexual immorality, rejected science, and expressed open hatred for people like me and my family and friends. I could smell brimstone at church. If the New Testament is at all accurate, Jesus was a great guy. But he’s been a terrible influence despite his best efforts.

To the tiny number of people who share my concerns and stay, and try to “light their corner”, I offer this: I respect your courage tremendously. You’re far stronger than I ever was. Every time I was among the faithful I had at least one moment where I had to think: Speak up? Leave? Or just do nothing? I did all three att different times, without changing anyone else’s opinion or doing much for my own conscience.

The rest of you, goodbye and good riddance. I don’t break bread with people like Pastor Haggard.