For 2006: The Church’s Brave New Brain—Part 2


In the previous segment of this mini-series, we left off with the Church grappling with the transition from the Information Age (and its emphasis on data and logic) to the Conceptual Age (with its emphasis on design and empathy.) The fundamental switch here aligns with the move from left-brained to right-brained thinking.

Where the Church gets steamrolled in this transition is that it's been stuck in the tar of left-brained mode for a couple hundred years. When the Enlightenment made it all about what we thought rather than did, the Western Church bought into living totally out of its left hemisphere. The result has been an entire group of people within society disenfranchised by the one group tasked with disenfranchising no one.

If we were honest with ourselves, we Christians of 2006 should question where all our creative types vanished to. How many Christians do we know who make their entire living as full-time artists, novelists, musicians, and actors? Compare that with how many Christians we know who are middle managers, accountants, engineers, or computer IT gurus.

Two hundred years ago, Christians not only created the art, they supported it. I would dare say that the vast majority of art in Christian households today is not only NOT created by Christians, it's barely passable as art. Our slide to the left brain over the right created a dearth of Christian artists and their lack left us stuck with whatever was most easily mass-marketed. The result? Today's Christians are too often the people responsible for much of the kitschy garbage passed off as "art" that we see today. A gut-check is needed here. Compare what hangs on the wall of your local museum with that of your local Christian bookstore. I don't think I'm stretching when I say the artistic output of today's Evangelicalism might represent the nadir of artistic expression in all of Christian history.

Kinkade keeps on truckin'!

{Click on image to appreciate the full-sized horror of it all (pops)}

If we don't like the art that artists make today, we have our lack of patronage to blame for this, in part. Christian artists found the rising anti-art backlash in the Church meant that they could no longer afford to make a living as artists creating art solely for Christian crowds. As a result, Christian artists were stuck between putting food on the table selling art that appealed to secular crowds or starving to death trying to sell to an increasingly fickle Christian audience. Yes, many of them gave in to the prevailing nonsense that passes itself off as contemporary art today, but in the end we didn't support them and they had to eat. (Not trying to make excuses, just trying to point out reality.)

You know why the artist is different? Simple: he sees the world through a different part of his brain. Where the Church in America absolutely fumbled the Gospel here is that we automatically equated his different way of thinking with error. Not only that, but we painted (ugh!) the artist and all his friends as the very thing that is wrong with the world today. Strangely enough, he was thinking the same thing about us.

Now, as we enter 2006, we have an impasse. We decided we liked our churches stripped of anything that resembles art, good or otherwise. (I don't mean to pick on the Baptists here, but could there be anything more soul-anesthetizing than the architecture and interior decoration of your typical Baptist church of the last thirty years? Honestly, why can't our congregations inspire artists in their midst to create beautiful church art to offer up to God the artistic gifts He bestowed on those folks? It seems every kind of service is appreciated in our churches except the artistic.) The message to the artist was clear: your paintbrush is the devil's instrument.

Think what our churches would be like if we thought that everyone involved in the computer industry was creating the Beast's pathway. What if the engineers were building the antichrist's throneroom? And the accountants were only presiding over the one world money system and that infamous mark? Do you think that any of those left-brainers would hang around our congregations? Yet, in many cases, this is what happened to the right-brainers.

But guess what, left-brained Christians? Artists are the new power class in the Conceptual Age. You know, the bohemian with the soul patch. And guess what again? We drove his kind out of our churches with our total emphasis on left-brained thinking and our complete inability to appreciate what his right hemisphere (and his musical, empathic, theatrical, artist's bent) brought to our congregations.

But now that empathic artist is the one in charge. Left-brained Christians are gnashing their teeth over this. I see it every day. And the gnashing is only going to increase unless left-brained and right-brained Christians bury the hatchet—and not in each other. God created both left-brained and right-brained thinkers; it's about time the Church honored both.

In the next installment of this mini-series, we'll see how the Church needs to adapt to this cultural change and what it means for how we do ministry in 2006 and beyond.

Stay tuned!

A Look Back at “Judgmental Christians…”


My final post of 2004 was “‘Judgmental Christians’ and The Way of Christ for 2005,” wherein I wondered if we Christians were more defined by our judging the lost than by our service of others in the name of the Lord. While I believe it is one thing to cling to Truth, it is quite another to cling to Truth AND serve others in love. A helping handWhen we only do the first part well, being labeled “judgmental” is rightly applied; we function as the holder of the lifebuoy, but refuse to throw it to the unworthy.

As they say at other blogs, read the whole thing.

I believe that 2005 saw no improvement to what I blogged about in the post above. We are still highly judgmental. We continue to judge the lost, people who lack the moral compass Christ provides. Frankly, that’s a waste. It’s like working at an orange grove in Florida and wondering why the trees there don’t yield cherries.

Because of this, I believe that the Godblogosphere recognized that judging the lost was a waste of online time. I don’t know if we bloggers took our judging the lost completely offline or not, but I noticed that online the rants diminished. I still see plenty of non-blogged Christian handwringing over what the heathens are doing. Lots of press releases from Christian organizations talking about the next new perversity to rise in the ranks of the perverted, but still no real service in love to those same people—at least none of the kind that Jesus exhibited in His earthly ministry to prostitutes, cheats, liars, crooks, and sinners of all flavors. We talk about Jesus Our Model, but we still don’t really serve or love like He did.

What happened in the Godblogosphere this year, however, was a reconcentrating of our judgmental ire on each other, not only on other Christians in general, but other Christian bloggers specifically. While I’m amused at the timing of many of the wars that broke out after I stepped out of my blogging shoes for a few days (only to return to chaos in the Godblogosphere), I was consistently disheartened by the level of attacks and the sheer unwillingness of opponents to listen and seriously ponder what each side was saying. Sometimes, we don’t even hear the acid in our own words even as we’re running a litmus test on what the other side just uttered.

More than anything else, it seems that 2005 was characterized by witch hunts and finger pointing. I can’t believe how many times I blogged on this issue, but a few posts come to mind:

I hate to sound like a Christian version of Rodney King, but “can’t we all just get along?” And if the rift is so wide that getting along isn’t possible, can’t we at least treat each other humanely? Let the secular bloggers resort to vitriol. Our default mode is supposed to be love, not acid-throwing. It is possible to disagree without beating each other over the heads with a baseball bat. The teams in an NHL battle may check someone into the boards with enough fury to crack Plexiglases, but the two teams still shake hands at the end.

For 2006, it is my wish that all of us Godbloggers consent to the following when dealing with those whose views differ from ours: Love, lisitle=

The Best of Cerulean Sanctum 2005


Cerulean Sanctum logo2005 has been a year of tremendous growth at Cerulean Sanctum. Hundreds of readers left comments and blessed me by what they wrote. Most of the posts linked here were cited as being particularly helpful (or contentious) by the folks who stop by here on a regular basis, so I hope this collection of the best of this blog will provide plenty of reading material for anyone looking for challenging ideas that seek to reflect the heart of the Lord.

God bless you all in 2006 and beyond!

General Church Issues

I ended 2005 with a series covering damaging messages that worm their way into the Gospel presentation in American Christianity.

The Little Things series looked at issues within the Church that often go ignored, but which can contribute to hurting others, failing in our ministry, and sabotaging the mission of the Church.

On the Brink of a Quantum Singularity with Calvin and Arminius asks if the Church is better served by staying at the feet of Christ rather than exploring the fringes of what it means to be in Him.

That Nutty Small Group Dialectic discusses Hegel’s “thesis + antithesis = synthesis” ideal and how it can wreck small group Bible studies.

The Reason the Church Exists explores the mission of the Church.

Ford, GM, and the Church and More Signs We Are Not Ready ask whether the Church in America is ready to go through difficult times, and if not, why not?

Is Christianity Broken? and its follow-up, Recovering Christianity’s Balance, look at the plethora of beliefs within Christian thought today, searching for a holy middle ground that best fits the narrow way.

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction seeks to restore a rational view of long-term Christian discipleship when we confront folks who are making mistakes in their walk with Christ.

Lifestyle Issues and Christian Living

The Christian & the Business World series garnered much attention throughout the blogosphere, providing an in-depth analysis of how the Church in America underestimated the power of the Industrial Revolution to profoundly change not only our society, but the Church itself—neither for the better. In the end, I called for a radical rethinking of how we live as countercultural Christians in a world altered by business practices rooted in Darwinian survival of the fittest morality.

Are You a Hamster? Sometimes it feels like we’re on a spinning wheel with no way to get off. But a countercultural Christian solution exists.

The American Church’s Five Most Pressing Needs—the title says it all.

Love Sin / Hate Sin
—What do we do when we say we hate sin—but not really?

What the Church Is Not Learning explores the lessons the Church in America resists.

The Humble Warrior
demolishes the faux-manliness trumpeted in bestselling men’s books.

The To-Do List Christian is a peculiar creature that is half human, half PDA, and not entirely alive.

Stay-at-Home Dads (or “Guys the Church Would Like to Forget Exist”)
As one of those men, I ask why so many Christians are willing to point fingers at us, but offer no solutions to the broken system that made us.

Singleness: Radical Answers for a Harsh Reality goes deep into the abandonment of many singles by their churches and the Christian culture we’ve erected in the early 21st century.

The Problem of Porn
examines the underlying causes and issues that afflict those trapped in pornography.

Another Look at the Church’s Missing Men is a follow-up to a post last year, with an explanation as to why men are dropping out of our churches.

Trying to Get By
sees the lost as sheep without a shepherd.

Isolationism, Materialism, and the Evils of Our Age blasts the accommodations we have made to our culture, but which the Church may unwittingly support because it has sought no better way.

Tougher People looks at the wimpiness of the West.

A Hodgepodge of Thoughts on This July Fourth offers some thoughts on cultural accommodation.

Controversial Subjects

The Myths of Homeschooling Series examined the hype that often surrounds the homeschooling movement, seeking common sense and true Christian charity from all sides of the discussion.

Creating a Theology from Unbelief was perhaps the most contentious post this year as I asked if we truly believe the Bible the way we claim to.

The Truth About Women (and Men)
posits that we Christians have done a terrible job raising young women (and men) for the Lord.

Christian Blogging: A Waste of Time?
Well, ask a bunch of bloggers if they’re wasting their time blogging and you’re sure to stir up a hornet’s nest.

Psychology a Pseudo-Science?
asks the hard question of psychology as it further penetrates Christian thought.

Not So Wild About Harry
—bring up Harry Potter and not get varying opinions? Hah!

Charismatic Issues

The last quarter of 2005 found the Godblogosphere choosing sides over cessationist and charismatic (or as it has been called recently, “continualist”) positions. As a non-charismaniac charismatic, I took up the cause that God still works supernaturally, not only by His own action, but through us, His human agents. In addition, a couple posts addressed the low position afforded the Holy Spirit in many of our churches.

Advertising Ashes and Overflowing both ask if the Church is honoring the third Person of the Trinity in faith and practice.

The Least-Believed Verse in the Bible
wonders why so few believe that the mountain can be cast into the sea if we only have faith.

God Is Still Speaking
counters a post by Steve Camp claiming that He is not.

Response to “Some Say It Blundered” reverses the burden of proof on charismatics to prove that the gifts still exist today.

How Not to Be a Charismatic Headcase is a companion post to 2003’s Charismatic Churches and the Cult of New asking charismatics to ditch the charismania.

Heretic Hunting and Judgment

Each of the posts listed here sought some sanity in the ongoing battle of who’s right and who’s wrong in American Christianity. So many times we try to justify our own positions while ignoring our own foibles. There have been several pitched battles between bloggers and church movements that amounted to nothing more than namecalling and ugliness. Let’s hope 2006 is a finer year for all of us.

Let’s Play “Spot the Heretic!” Soon everyone will be a heretic.

Witch Hunt
questions our willingness to so easily find fault in other Christians.

Arrogance, Ignorance, and “I Don’t Know” wonders why so few are willing to say “I don’t know.”

Nyah, Nyah, Nyah, We’re Not Listening!
asks why the traditional church and emerging church are so unwilling to listen to each other’s criticisms while also examining their own faults.

On Consigning Enemies of Christ to Hell asks why it is so easy to condemn others, but so hard to help them grow in Christ.

Tearing Down the Gallows calls for a greater willingness to correct others in true Christian love.

Has the Christian Blogosphere Lost Its Collective Mind? questions the Christian blogosphere’s cannibalistic practice of consuming its own in a fit of pique.

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction is a cautionary tale of judging God’s timetable in working out His perfect will in other believers’ lives.


Curses are real and can hamstring Christians if we fail to understand them.

The Chthonic Unmentionable delves into the world of the demonic and asks why so many Evangelicals start whistling in the air when confronted with the work of fallen angels.

Writing and Publishing

I work as a freelance writer, plus I’m finishing up my first novel. These two posts received plenty of commentary from other Christian writers.

Rock { Christian Author } Hard Place discusses the fine line a Christian novelist must walk in order to be all things to all Christians.

The Desperate Need for Heroes examines the trend in Christian fiction toward fitting heroes with progressively larger feet of clay.

More Cowbell Awards

The More Cowbell Award—the award no one wants to win—is a tongue-in-cheek look at the lunatic fringe of American Christianity.

Announcing the “More Cowbell Award” at Cerulean Sanctum explains the whole silly concept.

The More Cowbell Award I wonders how the Church Growth Movement managed to lose the Gospel along with all that church growth stuff.

The More Cowbell Award II has the courage to ask why producers of Christian music feel the need to back up adult singers with kiddie choirs.

The More Cowbell Award III delves into the seamy underbelly of Christian adware. Say no to fish stickers!