Tuesday, May 02, 2006

A Letter...

Dear Nice Looking College Aged Couple I Was Eavesdropping on in the Religion Section Last Night as I was Shelving Books,

As far as population goes, Waco is by no means a small town. However it feels like a small town in that it operates by many of the same rules. I know a thing or two about the rules of small towns and I have the urge right now to take you to school on one of them.

Rule: Never speak negative words about a local church unless you know for certain there is no one within earshot who is a part of that church.

Your conversation went something like this:

Boy: Oh, look, they have Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell.
Girl: Who is Rob Bell?
Boy: He's this guy who preached at UBC a few weeks ago. I went and thought it was good.
Girl: I'm not quite sure what to think about UBC.
Boy: I guess it's okay. It's a good place to go if you want to be entertained, but you don't really get fed there.
Girl: Yeah, that's what I was thinking.

I'm not quite sure which church you visited, but you must not have stuck around very long, because I get fed there all the time. Before church there is ALWAYS doughnuts from Shipley's in the foyer. Regular AND Chocolate Glazed, along with free coffee from Common Grounds. Our Lovefeasts are LEGENDARY! Sometimes at our less formal gatherings Amanda has made this stuff that is a mixture of Cocoa Krispies, Marshmallows, M&M's, and peanuts. I like to call it Manna From Heaven. Katie makes some of the best cookies I've ever put in my mouth and Robert cooks up a taco that is second to none. If none of this is enough to convince you, I suggest you take a visit to the blog of one of UBC's most prominent faces, Matt Singleton, and count the staggering amount of times the word "food" is mentioned.

Don't get fed my ass.

I suspect, however, the possibility that you are not using the word "fed" in the same way I've been supposing. I am aware of this metaphor, as I was once one who used it often. Many put it this way: "I just want to be fed the Word."

I know churches who speak a lot of being "fed the Word," and trust me, most of them you don't want to get mixed up in. Many of the people who speak of being "fed the Word" do nothing with their lives but shit sentences that make no sense to the rest of the world and goes absolutely nowhere in changing lives or humanity. If you want that, have at it. I can even make a couple of recommendations.

But if you want a place to gather and pray, study the Bible, be profoundly affected by God, to make friends and do a LOT of eating, give us another try.

If you want, I'll even hold the spoon for you and play choo-choo train with the food.


Candace Shaw said...

I love eavesdropping. People say it's bad manners, but I think if you are in a public place then what you say is, therefore, public. I agree about UBC having both good food and spiritual depth. Scott said he saw you at Barnes and Noble the other day. Of course when he first told me that he said "I saw Craig at Hastings today." I looked at him blankly. How someone confuses B&N and Hastings I shall never know.

Michael said...

Dear Eavesdropping Couple,
Should we blend some steak and fries into a shake and set up an IV? What else can WE do for YOU other than guide you to the table to let YOU figure out how YOU want to feed YOURSELF? I get so tired of people talking about church like it's something they consume. DO SOMETHING!!! Get off your ass and serve/feed somebody else for a change.
Thanks Craig......I love our Church too!

Carissa said...

i LOVE your blog!!! can't say that enough :) now, can you just blog double-time during finals...so i can have something productive to do during the "study breaks" ?? that'd be just dandy

Janalee said...

Amen Brother! I get tired of people saying they enjoyed the DC*B concert they went to on Sunday morning. I never once felt like that at UBC. I guess there are still lots of young people who haven't learned to see church differently. I feel like I would have been one of those eavesdroppers in my college years, but knowing what I know about our church now, I have a hard time remembering why.

Janalee said...

sorry, you were the eavesdropper. i would have been the sheltered college student.

Aaron said...

"I know churches who speak a lot of being 'fed the Word,' and trust me, most of them you don't want to get mixed up in. Many of the people who speak of being "fed the Word" do nothing with their lives but shit sentences that make no sense to the rest of the world and goes absolutely nowhere in changing lives or humanity. If you want that, have at it. I can even make a couple of recommendations."

Craig, what in the world are you talking about? Again, why take these kinds of shots in an otherwise good post?

Craig said...

Aaron, you know, I really don't know. It was what I was feeling and it's pretty much in line with my experience of people who use that line, so it was what I wrote. The second I wrote it I looked at the screen and thought what I usually think when I write something like it-- a.) That it was an accurate representation of what I was feeling at the time and b.) Aaron O'Kelley will not like it one bit.

But in my mind, you are not included in my rant, so it really shouldn't bother you that much.

greenISgood said...

Why can't the "Godfather of UBC" rant when and how he chooses. Like you never rant.....ahem..."why take these kinds of shots in an otherwise good post?"

What's up with that shot? An "otherwise good post"? Craig's ingenious knack for distilling and articulating honestly and brilliantly from the heart is part of his charm (other parts are those awesome calves, his yo mamma jokes, and the 4th beer), and I love how (now I'm talking to Craig) you express so succinctly, a seasoned writerly trait. (I need lessons.)

Craig, baby, I, for one, LOVVVVVED your post. How funny is this post anyway! I would have paid money to be there overhearing silly people talk.

Now, I going to "feed" myself, while I sing Holy Holy Holy.......


Singleton said...

In most scenarios, I would be VERY concerend if a church never "fed" me. But I'd be talking about the literal lack of pot-luck type events. My first reaction is to furrow my brow, squint, and tag the couple with a few choice descriptors from my well-developed locker-room vocabulary. Then, I realize that they don't get it, and they can't get it.
I think if I heard that, I would have said something and dropped some knowledge on them. I would also probably be promptly fired from my job, so...

Mike Pond said...

This post made me smile from ear to ear.

ruth said...

this was hilarious...almost as hilarious as the penis story

Myles said...

true as it may be about the shit sentences, nobody's immune from them. As much as I love Calvary and have great affinity for UBC, if I hear someone say "authenticity" once more...postal.

love who you're with, and hope that others might love them too.

Adam Phelan said...

Great post Craig. I've almost finished reading Kyle's book on prayer, and I love his emphasis that God's will for our lives is that we grow up and learn to "feed" ourselves, and then even feed others.

Katy said...

Craig, I loved this post. You spelled my name wrong, though. Katy with a Y! Geez. Thanks for the shout out, though! Must make you some cookies just for the props.

I must admit, I was very skeptical when I first visited UBC soon after I moved to Waco. I went to at JenA's invitation since we worked together and I thought she was a fairly intelligent individual. However, I still went cautiously, fearing my suspicions would be confirmed and that I would find a church that felt like chapel at JBU. Don't get me wrong, I loved chapel at JBU, but by the end of four years, I didn't believe anyone when they encouraged me to "be real". I gotta say, Craig, I think what sealed the deal for me and UBC was going to that end of summer/start of school thing at your house last year and drinking margaritas and beer with church people. I realized that I felt like a better version of myself with UBC in the picture. It just seemed like a really natural place to be. Not like church at all, but more like a group of people helping each other live life without expressing some authority (which I didn't have) of understanding of God or the church.

jenA said...

omg raise your hands, people if you wanted to be within earshot of that conversation. katy will attest, had I been there, I would have inserted myself in the conversation. my first reaction to an "anti" UBC comment is to raise my quills and point the direction of the offender. But I always wonder next, "what brings you to say that?" And I SO wish I could have swooped in, Katy's cookies and my lasagna in hand, and set them straight! But even if I did, would it result in someone being brought into the UBC fold, or would it bring about a cataclysmic chain of events in which more and more people rant about the craziness that is UBC? So, perhaps, to the people who REALLY need to hear words of Christ and his purpose for our capable hands in the language that UBC speaks, the church community will communicate that effortlessly and perfectly, without our help.
Still, if I were you, I'd have "accidentally" dropped a pile of Kyle's books on their heads. Stupidheads.
And since when did you become the "godfather" of UBC? Who said you could inherit that title from BigPhil? I vote for "Uncle Craig" instead.

Singleton said...

"Uncle Craig" is frighteningly close to "Uncle Tom" and comfortably near to "Uncle Cracker." Nicely done. My mouth waters with the mention of KatyCookies and Jen-Grade-A-Lasagna!

Oh yah, and maybe several of BOTH of Kyle's books, AND the McLaren trilogy, AND Donald Miller, AND Velvet Elvis, along with two or three Strong's Concordances on their heads. That would have humbled them...

Looks like the Religion section at B&N is a little shaky today... haters beware!

Melissa Pond said...

Entertain - to hold the attention of with something amusing or diverting

Why is being entertained at church have to be followed by a but... the word entertain is not mutually exclusive, you can be entertained while being engaged, participatory, and most importantly, ALIVE in what is happening around you.

Using the crazy, "need some meat" talk, UBC is the place where I learned to "feed myself," and I have never felt more free or responsible.

amy said...

Dear B & N employee eavesdropping on your customers,

I think the more Christian way to have dealt with this was to invite nice looking college couple back to your church, engage them, show them how exactly it is your church feeds its members, both physically and spiritually. Instead, you have chosen to belittle their opinions and open the door further to the idea that maybe you're getting fed, but not the right stuff.

And, who are you reliant on...yourself, or Christ?

harris said...

melissa, i really liked your comment. that is great. you hit it big with this one, uncle craig. hehe

Singleton said...

OH SNAP! Burn! You just got GOT Craig! Too much self-reliance, sucka! You need get up on some of that CHRISTLIANCE!

The "more Christian way to have dealt with it" is amazing in that it remains the most popular retrospective criticism of all time.

I think the point is that you DIDN'T say anything.

Last time I checked, your blog was not intended on being an official representative of the politically correct thougts of all Christendom. I think instead, it is the electronic version of sharing narrative and life with the people you know and love. Well shared Craig. While I know you're not Jesus, I think you do a fine job for a human being.

I think what I hate about the blog world is that it is dehumanizing. All of the sudden, you are no longer a person sharing your thoughts with friends, but a highly objectionable, controversial, and insensitive "it" far away where faces don't look at each other.

Finally, in the words of the poet Paul Wall, "Why ya'll hataz so mad? I don't know why, baby!"

And may the blogging world start remembering that human beings who AREN'T Jesus Christ write blogs about being human beings and the things that bother us or make us happy. No crime is committed.

"Maybe you're getting fed, but not the right stuff!"
-Two parts cliche. one part not getting the whole "buffet versus pot luck" conversation, and one part New Kids On the Block.