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Why I hate writing, Part 11: Fighting the Blue Hair Mafia

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“I want to be a Puritan,” my son says.

These are the first words uttered to me when I pick him up from football practice. He’s never been one to ease into a conversation and has a tendency to make extreme, declarative statements as a reaction to something that has upset him or made him uncomfortable. My mind quickly reviews our previous conversations for the week and I remember him suggesting that I not attend his pep rally. “Mom, there is a whole lot of cussing at my school, and I know you don’t want to hear that.” I assured him at the time that none of those kids were going to say anything I haven’t already heard, but him wanting to shield me from it was still admirable.

But back to the Puritan statement.

Me: Why do you want to be a Puritan.

Son: Because they lived good lives. They didn’t cuss or do bad things.

Me: Okay, well you do realize that if you become a Puritan you will have to give up the use of your computer, television viewing, your video games, many of the songs on your iPod as well as many books you may want to read.

Son: I think that’s a small price to pay to live a sinless life.

Me: There’s no such thing as a sinless life. Everyone sins, either through action or thought. Jesus was the only human who lived a sinless life, and He’s God.

Son: Okay, well. Then a life with less sin. I think that would make me happy. Did you know that children who talked back to their parents were subjected to public beatings?

Me: Are you suggesting that I beat you publicly? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live a life free of sin, as long as you understand that you never really will. Besides, if you go around constantly trying to do right, think right and be right, how do you fit grace into that picture? Grace for yourself as well as grace for others?

He was relatively quiet for the rest of the ride home. I’ve considered sending my kids to private Christian schools in an attempt to shield them from the worldliness of public education, and the transition from elementary to junior high has exposed my son to many things I’d just as soon he not have to deal with. But you can’t live life in a Christian bubble. If you’re going to be salt and light, you have to understand that there is much darkness out there, even at the tender age of 14. I’m praying he makes the right choices because he knows better, but I’m relying on grace and mercy because I understand that knowing better does not always equate to being better. Besides, how can you ever truly understand the gift of grace if you’ve never fallen from it?

Which brings me to Reason 11 why I hate writing…

More specifically, the genre of Christian writing and who defines what that means. For me, any decent work of inspirational fiction will contain at least four key elements: Sacrifice, Trust, Hope and Redemption. But the characters and the narrative have to be real in order to be believable.

There is a large contingent represented in the world of Christian publishing who believe that any book which contains profanity, sexual immorality or perverse behavior of any kind is not worthy of the classification of Christian genre. I refer to them as the Blue Hair Mafia, and I’m not the first one to use this descriptive. They want assurances that anything they read will not offend their delicate Christian sensibilities. They want to live inside their safe, Christian bubble and not have to confront the harsh realities of a fallen world when they open up a book. No, they want to escape to a white-washed fantasy world where people say “shoot” instead of “shit”, where unbelieving husbands become believers because their loving wives prayed them back from the pits of hell, where children are tempted by drugs and alcohol but their faith protects them from ever indulging in such sinful behavior and where Jesus snatches them up before any real damage can be done. Who am I to say whether or not they should read nice, safe, Christian stories if that’s what they want to do?

I only wish they would afford others the luxury of writing books which might actually plant a seed of belief in a person who is either without faith or clinging to their faith by a thread. Someone who, by Blue Hair Mafia standards, is living a life of debauchery, a life so far away from Jesus they feel like He could never take them back. How is a book full of white-washed reality going to relate to them?

I’ll tell you how.

It’s not.

What it will do if they manage to get through the book in the first place is convince them they could never be worthy of grace because they are so much worse than any of the characters in the book. Which is pretty much the opposite of what an author who calls herself a Christian should be writing if she claims she want to draw others to Christ through her writing.

In a now somewhat famous sermon from a few years ago, American Christian preacher Tony Campolo summed up my frustration with the mentality which permeates our churches and all forms of “Christian” entertainment when he addressed a congregation with the following introduction:

“I have three things I’d like to say today.
First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition.
Second, most of you don’t give a shit.
What’s worse is that you’re more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”

So what do you think? Am I completely off base with this? Do you think profanity should never be used in Christian books?

Effective parody: How to make fun of people and get away with it

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My first blog post was posted on April 30, 2008. I’ve learned quite a bit since that first, horrible post–about writing and blogging–what works for me and what doesn’t. I think everyone has to decide their own formula based on trial and error.

One of the things I’ve really tried to avoid are posts that have the potential for intense debate or that may otherwise cause people to get stabby–with me or with other commenters. I’ve either accomplished this goal, or y’all are just too polite to tell me if I’ve offended you.

When my pastor forwarded me the following video, I immediately wanted to tweet the link. I think it’s absolutely hilarious. But then I got to thinking about it, and thought it might be better to present it here with a little disclaimer. By posting this video, I am not doing so as a way to bash big churches or how they present the gospel on Sunday morning. I’ve been to a few big church Sunday “productions” and while they’re not for everyone, if the church is teaching the Word of God, helping those in need and making disciples, it’s not for me to judge their tactics. I suppose we could debate that, but I’d rather not. Besides, as someone who has been involved in planning worship, I can tell you that when I laughed at this video, I did so while identifying with most of what I saw–the worship leader in particular.

Okay…Just so you know where I’m coming from. Without further ado, I present to you, Contemporvent!:

You may find that video less amusing than I did. I think the old saying “It’s funny because it’s true” applies mostly because I’ve seen (and been involved in) so many worship services EXACTLY LIKE THAT. But like I said, this was mostly just for fun.

For a most excellent description of how someone can feel lost within a big body of believers, I would highly recommend stopping by my friend Jake’s blog and reading Huge Church: Lost(ish) souls. He pretty much nails it.

Pardon me while I rant incessantly – Christian Retail Edition

I love Jesus. I love the church (imperfect as it is). I’m also a big fan of books about faith, theology and Christianity. If I know what I want, I can simply order a book online. But sometimes I don’t know what I’m looking for exactly. Sometimes I just have to wander around a Christian bookstore until I find a book that draws me in. And sometimes I just like to go in Christian bookstores and look at all the ridiculous things they sell besides books. Like yesterday, for example…

I realize this is a familiar rant, but seriously people – we’re all loud and proud about being in the world but not of the world, but the stuff Christian retailers sell just makes me cringe. Some of the most original, brilliant, creative people I know are Christians. None of these people are retail buyers for Christian bookstores. Don’t get me wrong, there are a few things that I wouldn’t mind having, but the vast majority of items found in the gift section are just, well, crap.

Rather than coming up with anything original, they blatantly and proudly rip off secular products as if to say, “Your products are evil and worldly. We are just like you, only better! Take THAT, Satan!”

“What do you mean katdish?”… I’m glad you asked. I have pictures!

This sign encourages girls to be violent towards boys:

This sign is humorous, holy and righteous:

This shirt is suggestive and encourages girls to date the undead:

This sign says…wait – I HEART BOYS? Oh, silly me! I didn’t see the “who love Jesus” part! This sign is awesome and not at all misleading:

This ad features a angry dancing girl who is probably a hoochie mama listening to devil music:

This sign features a prayerful woman who needs only to listen to the Holy Spirit. She doesn’t need music to distract her:

More devil music, no doubt:

Who needs Guitar Hero? God is my Hero (and He hates screaming guitar music):

Trading Cards featuring scary, evil monsters:

Kid: “Mom, all my friends have YuGi-oh cards. Can I get some?”
Mom: “No, but you can have these Redemption trading cards!”
Kid: “But none of my friends have those. Who can I trade with?”
Mom: “I bought some for your sister, too!”
Kid: “Awesome! Thanks, Mom. You’re the best!”

This is just a flat out rip off of Fancy Nancy. And that’s all I have to say about that:

And here’s a couple of other products that I just found annoying:

I appreciate your prayers. I appreciate chocolate chip cookies. So, if you really love me, pray for me and send me cookies. Just don’t spend twenty dollars on a jar of cookies, because once the jar is empty, that’s how my soul will feel:

Don’t get me started…

Ahhh…I feel much better now.

So what’s your favorite Christian rip-off product? Or do you think I’m being harsh and unfair to Christian retailers?

Come on. I can take it.

Bring it, Foo.

UPDATE: Thanks for all the great links to annoying Christian knock off products! A special thanks to Michelle, who gets the “Sweet Fancy Moses!” prize of the week with this entry, the Jesus Chair:


Today is Jason’s Birthday!
Y’all go wish him a Happy 50th!

And I’m pretty sure he appreciates prayers and cookies, too!

Confessions of a Christian Mother

I have a confession to make.

Despite advice to the contrary from well meaning friends, I am a Christian mom who allowed her daughter to play with Barbies and (GASP!) Bratz Dolls.

But thanks to generous giveaways here at HLAC, the Bratz dolls that formerly resided here now have new homes with Erin, Tony C and Jake. After all, my daughter’s body image is important to me, and I didn’t want her thinking she wasn’t pretty because she didn’t have a giant melon head, botox enhanced fish lips and detachable feet. Some lessons come slower than others, and parenthood is a series of difficult choices.

It’s such a shame I was not aware of these wholesome Christian alternatives:

God’s Girlz Dolls
Tired of toys with a worldly appearance? You’ll welcome these dolls with a perfect fit of faith and fashion! Whether your girls play with child of God Imani, nature-loving Hannah, worshipful Sarah, or musical Abigail, they’ll love the stylish outfits featuring faith-affirming T-shirts. And you’ll rejoice in the biblical message each poseable doll communicates.

Which is awesome and all, but seriously none of them look particularly wholesome when they’re lying nekkid in a clear rubbermaid container under the bed. Just saying…

I have put my foot down about certain clothes. My daughter will not be a devil fairy for Halloween despite an Academy Award worthy performance of flailing, crying and slammed bedroom doors. Nor will I allow her to wear “attitude tees” like this one:

Because if I’m being honest, there’s plenty of attitude around here without it being reaffirmed by wardrobe selections. But if you want to take it a step further, why not get a Godly attitude t-shirt?

At first glance, you think it’s snarky, but upon further inspection you realize that it is actually a bible verse!

How very clever! Take THAT satan!!!

Be in the world only a little different…

(Above picture is one of the buttons Jon Acuff gave away at Catalyst this year.)

Some may read this post and say themselves (or to me directly if they’re Nick), “Hey! She’s totally ripping off friend and spiritual sarcasm guru Jon Acuff of Stuff Christians Like!” (Whose book is now available for pre-order on, btw.)

Okay, maybe…but not really. I like to think of this post as more of “Sky Mall – The Spiritual Edition.” Sorry/You’re welcome.

If we are to be in the world but not of the world, would someone please tell me why Christian marketers try so hard to imitate every popular secular trend? Case in point:

Guitar Praise:
From the creators of the hit game Dance Praise comes Guitar Praise! You can grab the guitar and play along with some of Christian music’s top bands. Pretend you’re right there on stage with your favorite bands as you handle the guitar controller and play the notes they’re playing.

Who needs that rock and roll devil music when you can rock out with G-O-D? (Yeah, you know me.) Also: The hit game Dance Praise? I must have missed that one.

Sunday School Musical:
This school has all the right moves! Two competing groups of high school students must rally together and enter a song and dance competition in order to save their youth center from closing. Featuring a hot 21 songs, Sunday School Musical is wholesome family entertainment with an inspirational message!

If your tween daughter keeps nagging you to see High School Musical but you just don’t want to go there, give her this instead. Her friends will understand.

“But katdish, we have little ones! Do you have any wholesome movies that sort of look like a Disney production without all the vile language?” Why yes. Yes I do:

The Kingdom Under the Sea:

Who needs Finding Nemo when you can have this wholesome edition? Okay, so maybe don’t take this reviewer’s word for it:

Much more frightening than “Nemo”. Purchased it as I thought it would not frighten my grandchildren. Barely into it and we had to turn it off all three stories. The scenes were even frightening for me! Visuals that I am still trying to forget! The Humpty Dumpty was demonic, maybe realistic to Satan but children below ages 11 to 12 shouldn’t view it if they want to sleep at night. I was extremely disappointed in this product and would like to return it, otherwise it will end up in the dumpster.

Okay, so there’s other movies….

They don’t even apologize for such a blatent rip off of someone else’s idea! (BTW – Sorry, Jon.) I understand that imitation is supposed to be the highest form of flattery, but COME ON! This is more like, “This is like the secular version, but much better for you.” Gaa! Stop it, already!

There’s so much more folks. But since I’ll be pretty busy over the next few weeks, I thought I would make this a short post and drag this on for at least two more blog posts.

Again, sorry/you’re welcome…