More Cowbell Award IV


Yet More Cowbell!Sometimes it’s just silly, and sometimes it’s on a scale of utter mental vacuity that deserves its own prize. That’s why I must hand out another More Cowbell Award. Yes, “The Award That No One Wants to Win” is back with a vengeance. Perhaps it’s been holed up in a cubbyhole plotting its return in a blaze of black helicopter glory that will bring down democratic nations and establish a one world….

Hey, wait a second!

I hereby bestow the fourth More Cowbell Award on a group of folks who can’t disengage from the latest Jack Van Impe scarefest. Lately, their ilk has dominated so many discussions that even I’m growing paranoid listening to them.

Here’s a sampling of their wares:

    “Don’t ever buy anything from a Christian bookstore with a credit card. Those transactions are routed to a data vault in Antwerp and correlated. That’s how they know whom to round up for extermination.””The Roman Catholic Church has infiltrated the National Association of Evangelicals. Ted Haggard is nothing more than a papist stooge installed by Opus Dei.””Did you know that the U.S. Government has a warehouse in upstate New York filled with guillotines to use on Christians during the Great Tribulation?”

    “Zionist bankers in Switzerland are even now funding a phony vaccine that will actually be targeted for use on believers. We’ll be told its an avian flu vaccine, but its most devastating component won’t actually kick in until a year after UN workers administer the shot. Think Ebola here, except a thousand times more powerful. Ever seen an eyeball melt?”

    “Rick Warren’s PEACE initiative is an attempt by Illuminati groups to undermine the true Church and diminish its power so the antichrist can be more easily installed after the Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem. This is all Bill Hybels’s fault.”

    “Whenever a church that uses electronic tithing methods receives your monthly tithe out of your bank account, one percent of your tithe is routed to the estate of Aleister Crowley in order to print more copies of The Necronomicon.”

    “Today, a red heifer was born in Bethlehem…”

Frank Black (guess the reference) couldn’t make this stuff up. Nor could he track it all down to a shadowy group portrayed in an eponymous TV show. Nothing about these crackpot ideas is shadowy.

Anyway, the fourth More Cowbell Award goes to

Christian Conspiracy Theorists

Honestly, I’ve had to unsubscribe from a number of formerly rational blogs of formerly respectable Christian organizations. They once legitimately pursued heretical thinking in the Church, but now resemble little more than conspiracy sites run by folks who find nefarious global plots against Christians under every rock. There’s healthy discernment and then there’s just fearmongering.

Part of the problem is a lack of love. If perfect love drives out all fear, then we have to ask if folks are being loving (and loved) when the conspiracies start flying. Bad eschatology comes into play, too. Hyperkinetic dispensationalism run amok is threatening to drive hardcore orthodox amil- and premillennialists to drink. Maybe now’s a good time to be a Preterist!

Christians everywhere are up in arms about the pending DaVinci Code movie, yet we’re totally unwilling to silence our own who simply cannot shut up about harebrained conspiracies against Christians. By comparison, some of the cranium-busting hysteria trotted out as normal Christian thought today makes The DaVinci Code read like The Pokey Little Puppy.

Honestly, if someone can track down the company making all those guillotines being supplied to the U.S. Government, I want to buy their stock because they’re going to make a killing.


More Cowbell Award III


A reader wondered a couple weeks ago why I had not posted a “More Cowbell Award” in recent days. More Cowbell!The fact is that there are entire sites that have sprung up in the last few months that do nothing but assault harebrained practices in the Church, so I felt like all the good commentary was already being rendered up for bloggers. Why add more?

But in the last couple weeks I’ve noticed a theme coming to the fore. So the award no one wants to win is back with a vengeance. Though the winner of this week’s More Cowbell Award is widespread and well-known, it has nearly vanished from our perception because we now take it for granted. Having had some awful encounters with this recently, I hereby bestow the uncoveted More Cowbell Award III on

Christian “Adware”

I would guess that just about everyone recognizes the Ichthus symbol, be they Christian or not. It has a long history dating back to the earliest days of the Church. Ichthus symbolA story broke recently that archaeologists unearthed a third or fourth century church and found the symbol on everything. The Ichthus fish has even been co-opted by Darwinists by adding legs to it, and of course the Christians countered by having an Ichthus fish swallowing a Darwin “pseudo-fish.” Can’t miss the obvious point there, can we now, folks.

I’m venturing a guess that at least a third of the people who read this post will, in reality, have an Ichthus or some other Jesus ID on their vehicle. I think about three-quarters of the folks at my church self-identify that way, but I’m sure that’s countered by all the Presbyterians out there who would rather die than affix anything so kitschy to the Lexus. (Ha, ha! That’s a joke. Don’t flame me.) So, I’ll stick with the one-third guesstimate.

If you’re one of those in that singular third, you may hate me for what I have to say, but here goes:

Scrape the fish off your car. Please! I’m begging.

Why? Here’s a sampling of what I’ve seen in the last four days:

  • A guy with an Ichthus fish on his car goes hurtling past me doing over eighty in a sixty zone.
  • A car with a prominent Ichthus fish on it, filled with revelers, dumps all manner of trash out the window after passing me on the highway. (I witness this about once a week anymore.)
  • A couple whose car not only has an Ichthus fish but about ten other Jesus-related stickers on its back end also sports a large “High on the Hill” logo in the rear window. High on the Hill is a notorious head shop in my area.
  • A car sitting in the nearby grocery store parking lot not only has an Ichthus on its rear, but also a “Does not play well with others” bumper sticker and another with a stylized grimacing face whose meaning is lost on me. (Hey, it took me about a year to realize that the large italicized number on some people’s cars and trucks corresponded to their favorite NASCAR driver’s car number, so what does that tell ya?)

To be perfectly blunt (and when am I not perfectly blunt?), I can’t see what having any kind of Jesus fish or bumper stickers gets us except another reason for unbelievers to be hacked off at our lousy driving habits or the sheer hypocrisy of the plethora of other stickers we might have on our cars that cancels out that Ichthus. If a nut goes screaming past me doing twenty miles over the speed limit, he’s just a menace. But if he’s sportin’ the old Ichthus and doing it, well then he’s now a Christian menace.

    “Will ya take a gander at that car with the Jesus bumper stickers weaving all over the road right in front of us? Better get around this fine driving example and—oh, she’s not only talking on her cellphone, but she’s putting on the face paint at the same time. Martha, is my bazooka still in the glove compartment?”

    “Yes, dear.”

    “Well, lock and load, woman, and hand that thing over here….”

It’s hard to demonstrate Christian charity to someone else while driving. Other than signaling to another person that it’s okay to merge in front of you—in which case they never see your Ichthus on the rear of your car anyway—or perhaps letting an elderly person take the parking spot closest to the store while you park farther away, the only thing that can be accomplished by having Christian adware stuff on your car is negative. (I take that back. There is one “positive” thing. Back in the days before Internet porn, I think a few guys with Jesus fish and stickers on their cars may actually have thought twice about driving into the “adult” bookstore parking lot with a car advertising the fact they were about to do something really stupid. You think I’m kidding, but I’m not.) Otherwise, like the four cases I cited above, what we get through Christian adware instead of a life-chaging profession of Christ is a soul-killing anti-witness. By advertising the fact that we’re Christians and we can’t obey the law, can’t drive rationally, or can’t figure out that Jesus and the great prices on bongs at the head shop don’t mix—well, you don’t have to be R.C. Sproul to see that it’s just not worth demeaning the Lord via a plastic fish slapped on our cars.

With just three chords—Em, Am, C— it was the first song I learned on the guitar. “They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love” says it all. That great chapter of the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13, says that only one thing speaks the true language of the Kingdom of God. Not fish. Not bumper stickers. L-O-V-E. And it doesn’t come through pithy sayings above the exhaust system on our cars, nor through “This Blood’s for You!” T-shirts, or any of that other “here today, burn tomorrow” kind of junk that’s already passing away even as it’s rolling off a Chinese conveyor belt in Shanghai.

We need to ask ourselves what does more for our neighbor, showing her the love of Christ by being there for her in her time of need -OR- showing her the Ichthus symbol on the back of our Chevy when we pass her on the road?

That ancient church they just dug up had it right. If we want that Ichthus symbol in our churches, let’s go for it. But when we go out those doors into the world, we’re ambassadors for Christ. We should never give anyone a reason to think less of the Lord because we’re having a bad day; when we put big old Ichthus fish on our cars, we’re just asking for someone to find fault with us—and too often our fish-labeled stupidity gives people the ammo they need to not take Christ or His Church seriously.

Why do we have all the Ichthus fish, the “You sinned, but Jesus got nailed for it” bumper stickers, and the “His Pain, Your Gain” T-shirts? Do they advance the cause of Christ or merely give others a reason to find fault with it? Doesn’t Christian adware do little more than trick us into thinking we’re somehow evangelizing other people when we’re really not—or worse, driving them away from Christ instead?

Isn’t it time to scrape the fish off the car?

The More Cowbell Award II


More Cowbell AwardYes, it’s another installment of Cerulean Sanctum’s “award that no one wants to win”—the More Cowbell Award!

This one deals with contemporary Christian music, so you know it’s going to be a doozy. I’m sure just about everyone reading this blog will agree that most modern Christian radio stations are deep wells filled with the music of mediocrity, but it was hard for me to believe what I was hearing on two of the stations in my local area (I listen for the one or two decent preachers they have on from time to time. None of the Christian music I like is ever played.) In the span of no more than fifteen minutes, I heard three instances of what wins my second award. Even I was caught off guard by this new CCM trend because I didn’t think it was possible to surpass a nadir.

And I still can’t scrub it out of my ears, so—

Our second More Cowbell Award goes to

Children’s Choirs in Adult Contemporary Christian Music

I don’t get it. What is the lure for adults singers to have children’s choirs backing them on what are essentially pop and rock tunes? One of the songs that sent me screaming into the night had the most inane backing, with little kids repeating ad nauseum, “I fall down and get back up.” If I were a kid singing that three hundred times over through the course of the song, I’d think I’d take a swing at the producer, or at least bite his ankle. Guessing the ages of the singers, it sounded to me that on that song not a single kid was past the concrete reasoning stage, leading me to believe that all of them were thinking, Grownups must be really clumsy.

Back in the Eighties and Nineties we had what I called “Sandi Patty (or is that “Sandi Patti” or “Sandy Patti” or…oh, never mind) Syndrome” where producers, especially on her albums, had to have four thousand cymbal crashes, a white pop choir, a black gospel choir, and a London Symphony Orchestra swell at song’s end, culminating in a sonic denouement I can best describe as “cataclysmic.” I developed a permanent tic after the Christian bookstore I worked for several years ago insisted on playing a loop of Patty/Patti’s album Morning Like This all day, every day for weeks. Now, some musical genius from the realms of 2005’s CCM is forcing real live human beings to endure the voices of cherubic children mouthing the words some Nashville-crossover songwriter thought would sound cute and/or serious coming out of the mouths of babes.

Give me a man or woman with a decent singing voice and a mastery of a guitar or piano, and just let them sing, fer cryin’ out loud! After all, it’s Christ-ianity, not Kitsch-ianity.

*For an in-depth explanation of the More Cowbell Award, please click here.