Saturday, November 28, 2009

#54 Theater Seating

White Christians have said "PU" to the pew.
Pews are out. Seats are in.

megachurches , wanna-be megachurches, or even just your run of the mill warehouse style rent-a-church, there's just no better way to seat white Christians.

The great theater seating initiative has been on the white Christian agenda for some time. For decades now, white Christians have been moving down the spectrum from group mentality toward an emphasis on individuals. This lead to the need for individual seating. White Christians logically determined that since they treat each service like entertainment, they might as well arrange church seating as if they're running a movie theater.

The transition to individualized comfortable chairs is only the first step in the white Christian church furniture revamp. They're likely just a few years away from big-gulp 
cup holders and a computerized magnetic strip that allows participants to scan their credit card during the offering.

With so many white Christian churches eliminating their pews, and with the white Christian community's love of stewardship and antiques, the discarded pews frequently live on- as decorative furniture in the basements, garages, and summer cottages.

For white Christians, the only conceivable negative of theater seating (other than making the worship experience SO comfortable that attendees fall asleep) is that in non-capacity crowds, individual seats require all church goers to maintain a regulated, standardized distance away from each other. This means that when the offering plates are passed, there's no more of that good old fashioned "pew-slide" to get the plate from one end of the half-empty row to the other. White Christians are now forced to stand up and implement the awkward offertory two-step: the side-shuffle to to pass the plate across 10 empty chairs to the closest fellow-congregant.

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

#53 Forgetting to Silence Cell Phones in Church

Showing up late to church used to be the ultimate embarrassment to white Christians, but the distractingly loud praise team diverts attention to the late-comers in the "come as you are/whenever you want**" mode of worship, there is very little that actually embarrasses today's white Christians... other than forgetting to silence cell phones in church.

Let's be honest, white Christians lag a little bit in the technology department. But that doesn't prevent them from exploring the wonders of technology... without really knowing how to use it.

Just like all other human beings, white Christians love their cell phones... but an inordinate percentage of the white Christian population unfortunately doesn't know how to silence them. At a crucial point in every church service, a cell phone WILL ring. Unfortunately for all involved, not only will the cell phone ring, but it will do so at a rapidly increasing volume to the annoyance of all in the sanctuary other than (apparently) the owner of said cellular telephone.

While the expert level white Christians may have ring tones from popular songs currently playing on Christian Radio stations, more than likely, something like the "Mexican Hat Dance" will interrupt the most spiritually charged moment of the worship service.

**white christian fun fact: "Come / whenever you want / to worship" is a little-known, infrequently used verse in the popular white Christian power ballad "Come, Now is the Time to Worship." Try these alternate lyrics the next time this song is rocked at your church!

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New Facebook Fan Page & Photo Contest

You are cordially invited to join the brand new SWCL Fan Page on Facebook. Yes, we have a thriving Facebook group, but a fan page has many advantages to a group - primarily that it allows for better interaction with you. Lame old groups can't compare to the fun that can be had with a fan page - it will be a barrel full of monkeys, I promise you.

We're kicking off the fan page with a Faith-Themed Tattoos photo contest, so join and post a photo of your tattoo or an even better one you found on the internets. Check out the original Faith-Themed Tattoos post for inspiration. We'll all vote for the winner, who will then be acknowledged on the blog.

Oh, we're now on Twitter as well - @SWCL.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

#52 Nursery Pager Systems

Back in the olden days of Psalter Hymnals, Sunday evening services, and wearing nice clothes to church, white Christian parents looked forward to church as an hour-long break from their pain in the neck kids. Once admitted to the nursery, a kid could be screaming at the top of his lungs while bludgeoning other children with a horse head on a stick, and his parents would be blissfully unaware, as the nursery workers would have no way of contacting them.

Nursery workers are no different from other white Christians, they love babies, but only when they are cooing and smiling in a Christ-like manner. Once a baby's sinful nature surfaces in the form of crying and general unpleasantness, these volunteers become desperate to bring in the child's parents for backup. It was only a matter of time before electronic systems for locating parents were invented and marketed to church nursery directors.

The first such invention involved an electronic board mounted in the sanctuary that would flash a number corresponding to a misbehaving child. While effective, this caused every parent to go into a full panic as they searched their pockets for the slip of paper with their child's number. Upon finding a matching number, hundreds of judging eyes would follow the unfit parent as she endured the walk of shame out of the sanctuary.

The electronic board has largely been replaced by a restaurant style system with individual pagers, so parents can slip out unnoticed when their pager vibrates. However, nursery workers have taken full advantage of the new technologies - they have even been known to page the parents of a perfectly well behaved child in order to get out of changing a particularly stinky diaper: "She was bawling just a second ago. Hmmm. Well, while you're here..."

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

#51 The Thou/You Transition Project

As much as white Christian churches have embraced the knowledge that new = good (see "New Testament"), the thrifty white Christian hates the idea of losing centuries of traditional hymns. But the language of many hymns prevents these classics of the Christian faith from being played in most of today's praise-team driven worship experiences.  "Thou Art Worthy" just doesn't sound right being rocked to the rafters by electric guitar.

Currently, teams of white Christian contemporary and historical lyricists are painstakingly combing through the millions of hymn lyrics to remedy this problem.  With all of the detailed dedication and
fervor of the Human Genome Project, each hymn is painstakingly documented, analyzed, and- where necessary- altered to ensure contemporary worship compliance. This is the lyrical equivalent of the Y2K switch.

Interestingly enough, in the 1980's (the early stages of praise music), lyricists were still comfortable using the older terminology. Maranatha! Music cornered this market with powerhouse ballads like "As the deer,":
 "As the deer panteth for the water/
So my soul longeth after Thee."
Had this song been written just 10 years later, it would have read:

    "Just like deer really need their water/
    So I really really love you, Lord 
    (female back-up singers chime in: "God I feel you")"

There are some exceptions to this rule, particularly if the songs are known by their old english title.  Be Thou My Vision and How Great Thou Art just simply wouldn't work with "Be You My Vision" or "How Great You Are." In this case, most of these hymns are either force-fed with guitar back-up, or they are simply put into the queued list until a funeral rolls around.

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