Strike Two? (A Word from Your Sponsor)

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

This is a tough one. I’m already suspect in the words department—well, maybe suspect is too mild a term for it. Screwed may be more accurate. Why, just the other evening, while speaking at a college age church group, I dropped the F-bomb on them—twice. One guy privately pulled me aside afterward and gently urged me to cut out my tongue and gargle with lemon juice. However, one of the lead pastors of that church, a guy about my age but not as good looking, fired me an email high-five, saying something like “Way to shake things up.” Though I rarely use that word in religious discourse, I seem to employ an inordinate number of other words that rarely find a place in sermons, devotionals, and at Tupperware parties.

Oh, I have my rationale. I claim poetic license, prophetic sanction, and not a little gall. I count myself among a venerable parade of satirists and humorists who wielded the language with power and precision: Jonathan Swift, Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain, Lenny Bruce, and a guy named Harold Billet who lives under a bridge near downtown. These are my soul-mates, my artistic heroes. They’re most likely all in hell now too, including Harold for whom a downgrade in the afterlife would be an improvement in his housing situation at least. These inductees into my personal hall of defamation may be models of artistic nerve, but they may also be my tour guides in perdition.

My problem is that I can’t quite figure out if what I’m doing is bleeding edge God stuff or just well-wrought blasphemy. People I trust come down on both sides. Some tell me to cool my jets with the irreverent and coarse stuff; others tell me they appreciate the raw, honest, unchurchy approach to faith. Some are convinced that I’m crossing the line, and at least one person has concluded that I am not a Christian at all. Others have recommended this stuff to their friends—well, I think they were friends anyway. It’s a split decision—without a decision.

I try to clarify things by appealing to my intent. Recently I was asked to explain myself (through a third party) to an ODF detractor who happened upon this site via some published cartoons. As requested, I offered a short overview of my impeccable spiritual credentials, my unflagging Christian service, and my many professional accolades. I concluded with this: “Our Daily Fred, features religious satire that often pokes fun at questionable Christian attitudes and assumptions; however, it does not, in my opinion, make light of God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the Gospel.” Apparently I believe that no matter how freaking crass or profane I am, the sincerity of my heart before the Lord makes it all okay. Uh huh.

Listen. I have nothing against being pious and sober and all Jesussy. Some of the nicest people I know are sincere, painfully boring Christians. What worries me is that if my mouth gets religion the rest of me will shrivel up and blow away. I figure that the world has enough Max Lucados, Joel Osteens, Rick Warrens, James Dobsons, and Ned Cramers. (Ned came up to me in a park and asked me if I knew Jesus as my savior; he seemed quite disappointed when I told him yes.) I want to be a saved George Carlin, a lethal word-weapon in the hands of an insane deity. I’d kind of like to get into heaven too, to be honest. But no matter what, I do not want to be all that safe to have around.

So what’s a spiritually sensitive guy like me to do? Do I press on, take the heat, burn my bridges, and hope that I haven’t totally missed the boat? Or do I clean up my act and find a whole new gig? I’d pray about it, but I don’t trust God’s opinion either.


One Response

  1. why bother explaining yourself to detractors?

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