If you've been reading this blog for more than a minute then you know my wife and I, in an effort to keep from becoming full-fledged heathens, have been hunting for a church to attend - basically since we moved to South Florida last fall.
The fact that we haven't found a church to attend permanently might suggest that we're either too picky or not exactly sure what we're looking for. Maybe it's a combination of both. Maybe neither.
You may recall from past blog postings that we visited a church, where the pastor gave a chat that I swear I heard in a hippie pot circle once in college (I wasn't in the circle - I hate hippies; I was just passing through). That was the same church where a dog was strollin' up and down a pew (church bench for you civilians). There were others, like the place where people attended the service in wife beaters and flip-flops and beach gear.
For the record, this isn't one of those deals where we're looking for the church where everything's pristine and the minister tells us everyone's perfect and makes everyone sing Kumbaya. On the contrary, we're just looking for a little practical guidance.
That being said, there are some old school traditions that just can't be replaced. And one of my favorite old school church traditions is singing the old-fashioned hymns, the ones our grandparents and great grandparents knew by heart. In my case, my pops was a preacher, so I heard these hymns at home and every weekend in church. What can I say? I love 'em.
It is ironic, 'cause there's no way I live up to the standards set in some of those old gospel hymns. Nevertheless I find them inspirational and soothing.
So knowing a little of my pet peeves, you may find some cruel humor in the fact that the church we visited yesterday was full of hippies. That should have been my first red flag. I've never seen so many hippies in one place in my entire life - except for maybe that pot circle I observed in college or my old neighborhood back in Milwaukee.
The second red flag was the music. They didn't sing any of the old hymns. It was pretty much all new stuff. In fact, during a 40 minute singing session before they even got to the sermon, virtually every song they sang had an 1980s soft rock vibe.
I'm not hatin'. If soft Christian rock is how you get down, knock yourself out. It just doesn't move me like the old stuff.
Anyway, I didn't know these tunes and couldn't relate. But the singing portion of the service was long and there was no end in sight. So - God forgive me if this sounds sacrilegious - I started daydreaming. And one of the first thoughts to enter my mind was that this reminded me of the Faith Plus 1 episode of South Park, in which evil (but often funny) Eric Cartman schemes to get rich and famous by founding a Christian rock band named Faith Plus 1
. When his band members Token and Butters express skepticism, Eric explains to them that all they have to do is take '80s romance/rock tunes and replace "baby" with "Jesus" in the lyrics. And voila! You now have a Christian rock song.
I'm ashamed to admit that as I shifted to keep my feet from falling asleep I tried the Eric Cartman create-a-church-tune theory in reverse. I substituted "Jesus" with "baby" in virtually every song during yesterday's service. And you know what? It worked!
Consider these snippets: "I need you in my life (baby)..." "I feel you all around me (baby)..."
Seriously, by inserting "baby" into each song in multiple places I had just made an album's worth of '80s-esque romance/rock tunes.
I am not recommending this as a habit, especially if you are trying to stave off heathenry, as am I.
But give me some old gospel tunes. I don't know who's writing this new stuff. But I'll take Fanny Crosby