I’ve made a couple mentions of the past of the tendency of some evangelicals to make their Christianity “a spectator sport.” This parody video encapsulates that perfectly:

I actually hadn’t particularly seen it as a southern thing, but the longer and further I’ve been from the south, the more it does appear to be. #NotAllSoutherners of course, but even controlling for degree-of-evangelicalism, it seems to be the case.

LiveWay bookstore is apparently keeping a sense of humor about the video:


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9 Responses to Religion as a Spectator Sport

  1. Burt Likko says:

    The throwaway joke at the end was worth watching the video all the way through.

    Am I very, very wrong for thinking that Christian Girl is kinda hot, in a conventional-beauty sort of way? Or is that the point?

  2. SFG says:

    You know, I’m not a Christian, but I’m not anti-Christian, and I’d say that a little humility is a good thing…and a Christian virtue, if I recall correctly. 😉

  3. Φ says:

    Um . . .

    Two thoughts:

    1. Social media is a haven for all manner of, for want of a better word, self-publication of some kind. Nobody is required to have any interest in, say, my political screeds, or pictures of my children, or my links to articles in the Daily Mail with my snarky comments. Feel free to ignore them, or un-friend me, or whatever. But while anyone’s viewpoint is fair game for criticism, there is no small amount of irony in a blogger throwing stones at other people’s choices in subject matter for self-publication. If you don’t like it, skip over it.

    2. But that said, after watching the video, I downloaded instagram and searched through the #devotional hashtag. In several minutes of searching, I was unable to find an example of anything quite like the behavior parodied in the video. Yes, there were examples of pictures of Bible verses, usually drawn from screen captures or app-generated images of Bible verses rather than pictures of actual Bibles. But they were offered in the spirit of inspiration, not “look what I underlined today.” So while Evangelicals are fair game for parody, I’m not sure this particular thing is actually a thing.

    • trumwill says:

      I didn’t really flag it because I recognized the phenomenon on Instagram as being familiar. I flagged it because I recognized her as being familiar. I don’t believe in a don’t ask don’t tell approach to religion, but I do remember quite a bit of competitive Christianity growing up. (I saw some, though not as much, of its Mormon variant in Deseret.)

      Hard to describe what exactly it is. It’s not the existence of faith or belief, or the strong belief*, but a certain combination of what comes across to me as shallowness and volume. They choose Christianity, but could just as easily have chosen something else. It’s most prominent where whatever it is contains the most currency.

      So she doesn’t seem at all familiar to you?

      * – I’ve mentioned before that it was my job at one point to edit my former boss’s religious tract. I still have it somewhere in my hard drives. He may even be further off to the side than you are (he was Church of Christ, not the UCC sort). To s see you that I didn’t see eye to eye with him would be an understatement. But whatever I might say about him, and however high his volume might have been turned up, dude was the opposite of shallow in his beliefs.

      • Φ says:

        Shallowness and volume. I think I understand.

        Put ths way, yes. In fact, one student at my Christian high school overseas stands out in this regard. She grew up to be a pastor’s wife (he may be an instructor at a Christian college), which strikes me as walking the walk, but at the time, she struck me as prone to loud, dogmatic opinions that were poorly supported. And yes, there was the oversized Bible. Naturally, we delighted in antagonizing each other.

        Social media, of course, multiplies the opportunity for young people (and not-so-young) to look foolish. Mercifully perhaps, my own online social network is free from people showing this particular kind of foolishness, though I suppose they could be out there somewhere. But the woman in the video was too old to trigger memories from high school.

        How much of this is just young people struggling to craft an identity for themselves that works for them? My impression is that we all eventually outgrow it.

      • Φ says:

        On reflection, I may have read too much into the Instagram angle. I now think that was just a conceit to poke fun at Evangelical enthusiasms for, say, Tim Tebow, Joel Osteen, and multicolored highlighters. I saw on his website that Crist has an endorsement from Tim Hawkins, so I don’t think that his humor is intended to be quite as caustic as you and I first thought.

        But I would still argue that what you call “spectator sport” is just a particular manifestation of the obsession with fashion accessories that young people of any subculture are given over to, and is generally outgrown. I don’t really see it among adult Christians I know, though perhaps as a now former Southerner, and in practice a former Evangelical, my experience is limited.

        • trumwill says:

          I’m not hugely surprised that it’s more of an internal or friendly joke. Especially given that the bookstore played along.

          I think you’re on to something with the age thing. I thing of similar ticks I’ve seen (spectator wicca/paganism for one) and the people I know that were a certain way about it either chilled out or turned in the label outright for agnosticism.

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