Igitur non dormiamus sicut ceteri.

Welcome to Fight Club [Christian Edition]

“Welcome to Fight Club.  If this is your first night, you have to fight…with the devil.”

Proving, yet again, that my career as satirist is over even before it started, The New York Times reports on a rather unique church which  includes the ancient apostolic techniques of a cage match and checking out each others six-pack.  Xtreme Ministries, “Where Feat, Fist, and Faith Collide,” is a ministry led by Pastor John Renken that uses mixed martial arts and combat sports to reach a younger, unchurched population.  The Times reports:

"Bringing the Word of God written on my abs!"

Recruitment efforts at the churches, which are predominantly white, involve fight night television viewing parties and lecture series that use ultimate fighting to explain how Christ fought for what he believed in. Other ministers go further, hosting or participating in live events…

“Compassion and love — we agree with all that stuff, too,” said Brandon Beals, 37, the lead pastor at Canyon Creek Church outside of Seattle. “But what led me to find Christ was that Jesus was a fighter.”

It is unfortunate that this is oh so real for I cannot laugh as hard as if it was published on The Onion or if Der Wolf had given it to me as a joke.  Sadly, it is not a joke but something someone takes up with the utmost seriousness.  I have been an Evangelical before and I am aware of the “Rock/Paintball/Skateboard for Jesus” mentality that is seeking after every ephemeral desire to attract more people to their doors.  It is a truth which shall ring out until the end of time that some fallacies remain timeless though they cannot meet the test of time.  Marrying the spirit of the age, Christ is reduced to a philosopher, or a coach (see below), or even Hulk Hogan.

Strangest of all, with these trends to attract more people, is that the ministry can only last as long as the trend remains.  In the 1960’s there was the Folk Mass playing off of the success of Keith Green and Larry Norman, but now the only ones who attend the Folk Mass are the Boomers who refuse to believe the 60’s are over and have little consequences on the lives of everyone else.  To marry the spirit of the age is to be stuck in that age and sentenced to absurdity rather than to look for the timeless qualities which Christianity has given us.

That being said, I welcome you to Fight Club for Jesus!  We’ll be welcoming guest referee/preacher the Fight Pastor next week after a beat down of our sins.  Remember maggots, as der Wolff tells us, “You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. Until you have accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are made of the same decomposing matter as everything else!”

"Agnus dei, you teach us to bring the smack down, have mercy on them."

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8 responses

  1. You know, as I was thinking about this, for some reason the parody of the flagellants found in Monty Python and the Holy Grail kept popping into my head…except that instead of beating themselves with pieces of wood, the participants hear are clearly beating each other. Still, the requisite absurdity definitely exists.

    It strikes me that there is a sadly earnest imitation of Christ going on here. The Lord went to the houses of publicans and sinners and ate with them; He came to them, quite literally, where they lived. These pastors, similarly, seem to be trying to come to the lost sheep where they are at any given time, which in a way is admirable, I suppose. Of course, they part ways with the Lord’s example when they become participants. It would be like…well, Scorsese made that movie, and it sucked.

    See, Evangelicals, this is why you need a pope. A pope can glower at you disapprovingly when you do stupid things. Why do you think that Benedict XVI always photographs like Emperor Palpatine? Practice!

    Like

    3 February, 2010 at 1:23 am

  2. Pingback: Today’s Catholic must-reads « Editor's Briefing

  3. M. Jordan Lichens

    I probably should have made it clear that reaching people where they are is admirable and a good thing. If it was a point where pastors were going to a pub or a boxing match or even being chaplains at the Y and praying with fighters before a match, then I’m all for it (oddly enough, I know a Russian Catholic Priest who does these very things and is thus a father figure to dozens of men who had no such figure in their lives). What I just have find absurd, however, is bringing the actual ring into church. It is one thing to share with your parishioners a common passion, and it is another to make that passion an institutional religion. Especially strange as most Evangelicals hate institutions with regards to faith.

    Like

    3 February, 2010 at 11:35 am

  4. Maybe they look at it as a transitory form of an eternal principle? I may be ascribing an overabundance of cognition to the fundies, but they could theoretically try to chase their congregation throughout all the transitory fads of their lives and make a case for it. Not a very good case, granted, but a case nonetheless.

    The problem becomes when those fads wander into sketchy terrain. I’m pretty sure there’s a 5th Commandment case to be made for why mixed martial arts is morally problematic. Of course, if you can successfully argue against that, then I could see some plucky young, unmarried pastor setting off to minister to the brothel-going crowd.

    Like

    3 February, 2010 at 11:45 am

  5. Brian

    Something cannot be “rather” unique. It is either unique or it isn’t.

    Like

    3 February, 2010 at 12:57 pm

  6. M. Jordan Lichens

    Brian, thank you. I think you may be right, but I was of the understanding that one of unique’s definitions is “unusual or not typical” and thus we can say, “She has a very unique haircut.”

    In fact, doing a dictionary search I see that Merriam-Websters dictionary agrees with me. However, I prefer using the Oxford English dictionary which does not provide for my fourth definition. I won’t correct it this time, but will look out for it in the future. Many thanks!

    Sources:
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unique

    http://dictionary.oed.com.proxy.uchicago.edu/cgi/entry/50267757?single=1&query_type=word&queryword=unique&first=1&max_to_show=10

    And just because I find it amusing but I make am making no presuppositions about you: http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/05/12/99-grammar/

    Like

    3 February, 2010 at 1:10 pm

  7. “To marry the spirit of the age is to be stuck in that age and sentenced to absurdity rather than to look for the timeless qualities which Christianity has given us.”

    Funny, it seems that too often people confuse “timeless qualities” with “marrying the spirit of the age,” if by “age” we mean “liturgical forms of the 1500s.”

    Like

    20 June, 2010 at 11:30 pm