This is about as rebellious as I get.


(Note: I originally intended this post to be a brief paragraph, and then some videos. It turned into a bit of a ramble. Good luck.)

For my Christmas housewarming open house party last December I made mix CDs of holiday favorites as party favors for my guests. On every one I made a very conscious decision: I would include Tim Minchin's "White Wine in the Sun" but the next track then had to be a religious Christmas song, like "Of the Father's Love Begotten" or "Sing We Now of Christmas" because I felt the need to assure people that I hadn't become an atheist. Heaven--literally--forbid.

I even considered writing on the envelopes: "Maryann Does Not Necessarily Endorse or Agree With All the Opinions In These Songs." Why I was so concerned that people would assume I'd lost all faith in God simply because I put a song by an atheist on the CD, I'm not sure. (Well, probably because there was a time in my life when I would have made that assumption, and I like to think my own problems are other people's problems too.) But I really wanted people to hear it, because it meant so much to me, and on the off chance it would speak to other people who heard it too.

It's no secret to anyone that I regularly enjoy dark and off-color humor, but when it comes to making fun of American Christians (or wheezing right past 'making fun of' to 'severe criticism') it feels much more dangerous and, as I stated in the post title, rebellious. Is it bigotry? Is it blasphemy? Or is the specific kind of American Christianity (or religion in general) that Tim mocks/criticizes a small portion of the whole, and that portion is actually worth calling out? I let myself think of it that way.

Making fun of people for what they believe isn't one of my values, but then when those beliefs are the majority, and/or start negatively affecting the lives of people who DON'T believe those things, is it alright to call them into question? As I said in a previous post, listening to Tim's songs ended up prompting me to go back to church, strangely enough. I think it was because even in his mockery or criticism, it helped remind me that while I could come up with many reasons to NOT still be a 'practicing'* Christian, there were many reasons why I did want to be one. (Example: for every person who told me things like, "People who don't know Jesus are incapable of giving unconditional love" there was a church I had only attended ONCE who made a prayer quilt for me when I was in the hospital. Or for every Bible verse/story that hugely disturbs me, there's a verse that comforts or convicts me.)

But when I burnt a CD for myself of Tim's songs and put it in my car CD player, I became very conscious of people hearing it when they rode with me. What would they think?! A) That I'm a horrible person, B) I'm a godless person, C) I hate Christians, or D) all of the above. That is not a response I received from anyone (well, anyone who I let listen to him...)--nor from the people who got the Christmas CD (though I expect that's because I put too much John Denver/Muppets on there and they never made it to Tim's track anyway. Thank you, John Denver).

Even writing this blog post I feel worried that people will be offended or judge me for liking Tim's songs. When I told my therapist (back when I was still seeing her) that I had conflicted feelings about God she told me she didn't think I did, that in fact, my feelings about God seemed pretty clear and concise. I disagreed with her, but maybe what I should have said was "I'm conflicted about how other people view or perceive my relationship with God. I can't pretend their opinions don't matter to me, and I'm not sure I'd want them not to matter even if I could." Most of the people in my life--95%--are believing Christians (a large, but not complete, majority of those have a faith that inspires/challenges/blesses me, even if we don't always agree on everything).

If I go too far off the beaten path of--pick your favorite term--righteousness/holiness/my walk with the Lord/true Christianity, I wonder about how my community would respond. Probably not with my worst fears: complete ostracism, abandonment, and belief that I am 'flirting with hellfire.' More likely just disappointment. Or patience. Or reassurance that God can handle doubt, questioning, and anger. And that eventually, something like Luke 15:3-5 would happen. This actually came up for me last night watching the movie Higher Ground, which explores faith and being a part of (or leaving) an American Christian community.

But back to my original reason for this post, if any one of us can still recall: Tim Minchin's music. As an example I thought about how my community would respond if instead of Tim Minchin I had--and this is PURELY hypothetical-- John Lennon songs on my iPod. I'm pretty sure they would think, "Hey--that's music Maryann likes to listen to. Sure, it's not hymns or Steven Curtis Chapman or even John Denver, but I respect her as a free-thinking individual who can be exposed to non-Christian ideas and it's not going to make her a satanist. Or an atheist. Or quit her job and have a bed-in with Yoko Ono." Or if I told them I love movies like Jesus Christ Superstar, Godspell, and Life of Brian. Again, purely hypothetical.

So without further ado (and there was much), here are some of my favorite Tim Minchin songs. (Yes, some of his theology/Biblical interpretations aren't what all, or sometimes even most Christians believe. So instead I think of it as how some non-Christians perceive what American Christians believe.)

Also, all of these are NSFW and contain foul/sexual language and slang. You were warned. As if there anyone is still reading this and going to watch these! Ha!

Also "Storm" (which branches beyond criticism of religion to criticism of all non-scientifically proven beliefs and things like psychics, homeopathy, etc.) and "Song for Wossy" (which is just plain funny).

Even so, feel free to add my soul and my iPod to any prayer lists you may have.

*this is in quotes because I have hang-ups, or maybe just questions, about what it actually means to be a Christian. Do you merely believe the Apostle's/Nicene Creed? Do you pray? Do you go to church regularly? Do you do daily devotionals? Are you in a Bible study? Do you listen to Christian music? Do you refrain from swearing, drinking, pre-marital sex? Etc, etc.


loverstreet said...

thanks, thanks, thanks for sharing maryann. i wish we could sip tea on a cozy couch and discuss these matters. maybe w/ dr koenig?

thank you also for reminding me of the term "walk with the Lord" which is one i have not heard in a few years. ah, western christianity, i'm not sure what to do with you or if we will meet again.

Maryann said...

Lindsey, thank YOU for your comment! I really wish we could sit down and talk about these things in person. And with Dr. Koenig! Also I'm glad you've freed of some Christianese. :)

Whenever I talk about said 'walk' your name inevitably comes up, and your loving patience with me and how your friendship helped see me through a hard, but necessary transition in my faith and life.

Chelsea Lee said...

the problem with me continuing to read this blog is that every, single time you write a post it makes my heart yearn to talk with you in person! i miss you much too much! i love you and your ability to express yourself. now CALL ME!

loverstreet said...

maryann, while i am flattered to think i had an impact on you, you must know that no amount of patience was ever required. you are a treasured friend and while love abounds between us, patience is utterly unnecessary in my interactions with you.
do you not remember how you took care of me while on my birthday i was a blubbering crying mess over the loss of my friend and how you and your lovely sister drove me to salem so i could meet up with brandon? you want to talk about loving patience, you embody that my friend. i am so grateful for you.