Wednesday, May 30, 2012

I think I smell something...

"Regardless of the decision you make, for you it will be the right one." If you're choosing between ice cream flavors or DVD rentals, maybe. But that was a comment made to someone who is thinking of leaving his family. Really?

"If it's hard, then it probably isn't the one." This would be excellent advice for me in selecting a toothbrush, considering that my dentist only wants me to use super soft bristles. However, it was also advice given about a relationship, in this case a long-distance one. Who said that relationships were supposed to be easy, especially long-distance?

"You should do whatever makes you happy." "As long as you try, that's enough." "You can do anything you want to do, or be anything you want to be!" All of those statements, in one way or another, are either products of or contributors to the overwhelming culture of narcissism. It's like "I'm ok, you're ok." Self-confidence and self-esteem are important, but I am not always ok and you are not always ok, and to continue to spout these platitudes perpetuates the idea that life is all about how we experience it, and the ultimate goals are to do what you like and avoid what you don't. I call BS.

Then, there are the theological platitudes...
"I can be a Christian without being involved in church." Actually, you can't. If you believe we're created in the image of a Triune God, then it kind of follows that we were created to be in relationship. If you believe that we are called to be the body of Christ on earth, that requires lots of different members. And if you think that you don't need the support or challenge of being in community with others who are struggling to discern what God is calling us to do, that's kind of like elevating your wisdom and discernment to God's level. It's asserting an independence that just isn't theologically tenable. Once you've decided that you don't need the body of Christ, how much longer before you don't really need God?

"The Bible says..." The Bible says a lot of stuff. It also doesn't say a lot of stuff. And some of what it says contradicts other things that it says, so it's really never as simple as saying, "The Bible says..." Scripture is authoritative because it reveals to us the living God, and that act of revelation is an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit. When I hear the preface, "The Bible says," my BS radar goes on high alert, not because I don't "believe the Bible," but because so often what follows is simplistic proof-texting that really just reflects what "I" believe, now elevated beyond reproach because it is found in the Bible.

"God only gives us what we're able to handle." I've heard this a lot. I've heard it in pastoral care situations, when someone going through a very difficult time is trying to look on the bright side, or worse, when a well-meaning friend or relative is trying to provide encouragement. Does that mean that survivals of the horrible atrocities of war, rape victims in refugee camps, children exposed to constant physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, are all just that much stronger? Because God knows they can handle more than we can?

I'm calling BS. What other phrases would you include on the list?

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