Tales of a Midwest Lutheran on the East Coast

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

WARNING: Pissed-off theological rant

Now, I don't usually rant angrily (well, more like really really irked) but here goes. Please don't read if you are pregnant or possibly if you are related to me.

I was idling around facebook yesterday when I came across this lovely sentiment:

I'll copy the text here in case for some reason you can't read it:

"From one pumpkin to another - A woman was asked by her co-worker, 'What's it like to be a Christian?' The coworker replied, 'It's like being a pumpkin.' God picks you from the patch, brings you in, and washes all the dirt off of you. Then He cuts off the top and scoops out all the yucky stuff. He removes the seeds of doubt, hate, and greed. Then He carves you a new smiling face and puts His light inside of you to shine for all the world to see."

How nice. At first glance this seems like a really neat way for Christians to re-cast the pagan holiday of Halloween (Actually Halloween is from All Hallow's Eve, which began as a celebration the evening before All Saints Day, which is a very Christian holiday, but I digress). But, just for fun, let's go through this together and examine the theological implications of this piece, meaning - what is this saying about God?

1. What's it like to be a Christian? God picks you out of a pumpkin patch, brings you in, and washes the dirt off of you. I really like this part. It's like God is welcoming us into God's love, and there is definitely some baptism language going on. And, after all, God CREATED you, the pumpkin. But then something happens..

2. GOD CUTS THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD OFF!!!!! Well, not really, but something has to go so that...

3. God can scoop out all the yucky pumpkin goop. Let's think about this for a minute. God created the pumpkin, and the pumpkin needs the "yucky" stuff to live and grow. It's like the pumpkin's internal organs. Does that mean that God does not like our internal organs and would like to remove our liver? Perhaps not. But I AM troubled by the implications behind how God is treating the pumpkin that God created - by removing things that the pumpkin needed to live that we, non-pumpkins have deemed to be gross. Livers are gross, but we need them to live. Does this mean that God does not like bodies (physical beings)???

4. I'm all about God taking away the seeds of hate and greed. Maybe you could add fear and selfishness. But doubt? Why doesn't God just remove our brains (see above)? By doubt I am assuming that the writer means asking questions - once we believe in God, all our questions will be answered. And if we still have questions, we don't have enough faith/trust. Let me just remind you about Job, who complained to God for just about an entire book of the Bible, and then God told him he had it right.

5. Christians still feel hate, greed, and doubts. At least I do.

6. "Then He carves you a NEW SMILING FACE"?!?!?! Not only does this make me think of the joker from the latest Batman movie ("wanna know how I got these scars?"), but this seems to imply, at least to me, that once we believe in God, we will be so happy all the time, our smiles will practically be carved on our faces. So God is going to carve up your insides and you are going to be happy about it. Bad things will never ever happen to you, but if they do, you will be happy about it. Or it's your own fault. (See again the Book of Job)

I think this is a point I make in nearly every one of my sermons: Jesus never promised us an easy or happy life, but Jesus did promise to be with us and in us.

The God I worship created us GOOD. The God I worship is not a spiritual/emotional/psychological/physical mutilator. The God I worship did not promise me a happy life.

The God I worship IS about the business of death and resurrection, helping me to daily die to my old self and rise up into new life, over an over again, as many times as it takes until I die for real. I have not "arrived;" no one has. This crazy Christian life that we're called to is not a passive pumpkin surgery, but instead it is a journey of discipleship, through good times and bad.

What I am trying to get at is that things we say about God actually SAY things about God. 

That's my take. Take it or leave it. Now I kind of feel better.

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