[Rough Draft]

A weblog about god, doubt, insomnia, culture, baseball

7.23.2004

ir-relevant, the magazine

when i got my first issue of relevant magazine, i was delighted. here was a publication that appeared to be committed to addressing spiritual issues from a pomo perspective, plus it recognized that some xtians care about art and music created by artists that don't fit the typical ccm mold. it even promotes itself as presenting content about "god, life and progressive culture." now, however, i'm afraid i've had a change of heart about the mag.

i'm not advocating a boycott or anything. if you want to read it, by all means do so. and if you haven't read it yet, you should definitely find some back issues somewhere b/c there is much that is good in it. that being said, however, i'm not renewing my subscription. it's just tired. someone i read recently wrote, in effect, "if i have to hear about christians and coffee beans again, i'll go nuts," and i'm beginning to agree. being a "relevant" xtian in the face of culture is more than having a latte during worship or carrying a backpack that contains both a bible and an i-pod w/ death cab for cutie songs on it (as much as i like death cab). i suppose i just expected more from relevant than it's turning out to be.

moreover, some of the articles border on the inane. i'm not one to poo-poo entertainment b/c it portrays sex or is laden w/ violence and profanity (the 10s in my imdb voting cache include apocalypse now, braveheart, glengarry glen ross, the insider, pulp fiction and reservoir dogs). and renee' and i did watch the first couple of seasons of six feet under. i thought it was a great show -- edgy, willing to engage life and death and sexuality and betrayal and general dysfunction. ultimately, however, we quit watching b/c it was just too freakin' sad. there was very little redeeming about the show @ all. comments on the relevant site's post "digging down deep: truths of six feet under argue about whether recommending the show is causing one's brother/sister to sin, or whether the show lays sin bare and can be a didactic tool about wrong choices. it may portray sin, but as for its having some sort of spiritual component (aside from the theologically fallacious suggestion that dead family members linger about to smoke cigs and dispense advice when we need it), that's just wrong. i'm tired of advertisements relevant includes to shill their books and t-shirts. i really couldn't care less about bono's spiritual journey, and i find it surreal that the feature piece in the most recent 850 words email is about mike howerton's midnight journey to stonehenge. an excerpt:
Fascinated and terrified, I made my way toward the Stones. It took me more than an hour to make sure there were no police patrols. At last, in the dead of night, I stood 200 feet from Stonehenge looking at the silhouette of the stones against the night. Here I mustered my courage. An eternity later, I was ready. A small fence was my only barrier, and I had grabbed hold of it and prepared to vault myself into the mystic when I thought I heard a noise. I crouched down. The blood throbbed in my ears. My imagination had been raging all night, but as I strained to listen, I became sure. I could hear voices mumbling a low chant. I was frozen. And then, accompanying the chant, a small red light was produced in the center of the circle of Stonehenge. There was some dark ceremony being performed within the ancient ring of stone . . . .

This went on for five minutes, a minute, an hour; it's hard to say. Then the chanting stopped, and the light was extinguished. I can only guess that the ritual was over and the worshipers were leaving, because someone pulled out a flashlight and left the circle by the darkest path-which meant they were advancing straight toward me. I was slightly alarmed (I felt my hair literally stand on end), and, in a move I am not ashamed of, turned and made a silent but hasty retreat . . . .

I reached the road in safety and walked a few miles to relax and find a place to sleep. It had started to rain softly. I crawled into a thick grove of trees, spread out my bag, made a peanut butter sandwich, and had a big swig of water. Then I realized I was on the gentle slope of a burial mound. But the night was uneventful, even if I was more skittish than I ever thought it possible for me to be. The wind rustled the trees, and the rain was gentle, and my bag was warm.

I'm still jittering.
(sorry, but i couldn't find a permalink to this so i can't attribute it) needless to say, this trite is just one more way in which the "emerging church" phenomenon is rubbing me the wrong way. i'm engaged in a fairly intense email exchange w/ a friend who is fully committed to planting what i would consider to be post-evangelical or emergent-type churches, and maybe i'll post some of what we've been bantering about. what that guy has to say, i'm interested in; but some goofball's trespass upon stonehenge? please. for now, i'll close by assuring you that i'm not the flushest guy in the world, and snatching up books (xtian and non) from ebay or amazon auctions just seems to be a more efficient use of my limited funds. farewell, relevant; i hardly knew ye.

3 Comments:

  • At 1:44 PM, Blogger Caleb said…

    Sam,
    You know, one of the problems (maybe I should say questions) is that the whole "emerging" church thing is looking more and more and more like the world. From Tom Beaudoin's "irreverant spirituality" to drinking lattes while listening to a sermon that is mostly powerpoint to partaking of the Lord's Supper with candy bars and Coke....it seems as though the world and it's condescension toward faith has infected the Church. It almost feels that the "emerging" church is play-acting, with a wink and a nod towards Christ, His Gospel, and the Word of God, all the while wondering what outlandish thing they will be able to say in their next "community group" meeting..........I don't know, it just seems as though we are continuing the trend begun by our grandparents and parents....continued fragmentation of the Body of Christ and the relegation of the Gospel to an irrelevant piece of trivia.

     
  • At 4:57 PM, Blogger Daniel said…

    I got Relevant becasue of some awesome deal and I have to say I like it. I don't like everything about it but I also don't like every thing about SPIN and I still subscribe to it.
    Relevant is a little heavy on being, well, relevant. (In its own mind I guess). That being said, I think there is much more in each issue to digest than there is in the average culture magazine.
    Like I said, it's not perfect but it's still a good read in my eyes.

     
  • At 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    For your info, this is a new service for sellers to find buyers on eBay: http://www.tobayornottobay.com Please feel free to delete this comment if you wish. Thanks!

     

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