Ned Flanders Killed Jesus

flanders.pngWhy is it that so many Christian leaders seem like caricatures? They (and when I say they, I have to confess that I’ve been there before thinking I was doing the right thing) stand in front of a crowd with their face all scrunched up looking like they are in pain for Jesus. They read the Holy Scripture with a soft, sweet voice pausing on every third or fourth word. They sing songs that speak of Jesus as if He were some kind of cosmic boyfriend that is “lovely” “beautiful” and “like a rose.” But when it’s a faster song they have to add hand motions for audience participation! Then the message comes and Jesus is reduced to the great “Get Out of Hell Free Card” that comes at the low, low price of just being a nice person and doing the “right” thing. And we wonder why people are leaving the church…

Not only do we wonder…we get down right irritated. I remember back when I was first learning about this whole Jesus-thing. I remember that someone, somewhere found out that I watched The Simpsons. I was branded a reprobate and told that no “good Christian” could watch THAT kind of show. “It’s anti-Christian!” I was led to believe that little Bart Simpson was some kind of Antichrist and that this family of yellow-people was created just to lead us off the “straight and narrow.” Today I realized exactly why that took place. It’s all because of Ned Flanders!

Hear me out on this one. Those “inside” the church are so afraid that the way that those “outside” the church see those “inside” the church is the way that we actually are, that we don’t ever get “outside” to look “inside” on ourselves. I’ve been on the inside and on the outside and I’ll have to admit that from the outside, those of us on the inside come across not as children of Abraham but as children of Ned. The character bio for Ned Flanders starts like this, “Ned Flanders is irritatingly optimistic and cheerful. Religion has removed all of the gray areas from him, so he and his family live secure, knowing that the ultimate safety net that is Heaven awaits them.”

I KNOW THAT GUY! I’ve seen him before! He’s led singing in church. He’s served communion. He’s taught my kids’ Sunday School class. And he may have even shown up in chapel at school a time or two! He’s the prototype of the modern, American, middle-class, Christian. And as of today, I’m convinced that he’s the one that killed Jesus — or at least he’s attempting to kill the church that Jesus started.

I spend a lot of time trying to get people to understand that faith/Christianity/spirituality/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is “worth the effort.” They are convinced that in order to be a good Jesus-follower you have to look and act something like Ned Flanders (right down to the “Hi-dilly, ho-dilly, neighboreenos!” and the green pull-over). And they are convinced of it not because of some animated sit-com (only the funniest show EVER), but because WE act like THAT!

I want so bad to stand up and say, “Get over yourself!” And that’s not to sound judgmental because it has taken me a while to even start to get over myself — I’m not sure if you ever really get there. But once you realize that you’re full of crap and Jesus loves you anyway, you can start to become what you were meant to be in the first place. There has to be some kind of wake-up call or we’ll all be sitting around in our green pull overs listening to each other’s whining — “I wish we lived in a place more like the America of yesteryear that only exists in the brains of us Republicans.” (Ned Flanders quote!)

Maybe that day has already come…

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~ by Chris Green on December 4, 2007.

4 Responses to “Ned Flanders Killed Jesus”

  1. hidilly ho Chris Green-ereeno 🙂

  2. what youve described in this blog, is about 40% of the reason i left church

    ever since i can remember i thought that the pastors were the ones that had it together, the ones that were happy. and no matter how hard i tried i could never just be happy in the church like they were

    so i left for that and other reasons, and i figured out that the particular pastors i admired were nothing more than ignorant no talent ass-clowns who were as interesting as mayonnaise and just about as intellectual as well.

    another reason i left is because i genuinely dislike “worship”…i mean singing about morals which i find flawed, and to or about someone i will never be sure exists. this led to my discovery of philosophy which hasnt helped discover what i think about god at all. its like i would decide something about existence then pick up a book and completely change my mind. a year of this has led me to be a hardcore skeptic.

    there are more and i think i will actually make a blog post about it

  3. Berkles…
    My response to this will be the next post here, but I do want to say a few things before I go to bed tonight. First, I see you as a seeker of truth. You’re looking for a story that makes sense to you…enough sense that you can live inside of it. When my own world started to unravel was when I truly started to find that same kind of story. I pushed against the edges — sometimes to the point of kicking the crap out of them. Finally I found a soft place to land and realized that the story that I was looking for was there all along. I’ve been down a lot of the road that you’re on now. Continue to seek truth — don’t let anyone BS you into believing something that isn’t big enough to live in! My guess is that there are themes running through all of those books that you’re reading that you’ll start to tie together one day. That’s when you’ve discovered Your Story.

    Second…remember my encouragement to you last year. Do your best not to get the “church” mixed up with Jesus! It’s tough when the representatives are what they are, but there needs to be someone in the room willing to stand up and shout “the Emperor’s not wearing ANY clothes!” As for the “no talent ass-clowns” that you mentioned…it wasn’t until I stepped out of that role that I realized how much I was required to keep up the show. The guys up front, whether they’ll ever admit it or not, struggle just as much as the jerk in the back row that showed up with a hang-over just to check “worship” off of his to-do list. It’s just that when you’re paid to toe the party line and keep everyone in the pews happy and conforming you don’t have a whole lot of room to breathe. The best you can do is smile and sing the next “Jesus is my boyfriend” song.

    Finally, and maybe the most important thing that I could say to you is this — Jesus doesn’t care if you go to church or not! Once you can accept him for who he is and not the dogmatic dictator or cosmic Care Bear that some churches make him out to be, then you’ll understand that. You’ve got a personality the size of Nebraska, friend. Your intellectual capacity and ability to reason will take you a long way as well. But you’ve got to find the deeper places in life in order to truly live. That’s not about morals or church or dogma or listening to some no talent hack every Sunday morning for the rest of your life. It’s about hearing the voice of Creator God and allowing him to breath real life into you. Then the rest of the stuff takes care of itself eventually. That doesn’t make life all marshmallows and butterflies because crap still happens…but it does provide some overarching story that helps with this existence. And this is the only one that we can deal with right now!

    For now, know that I continue to pray for you (whether you like it or not). And it’s not a prayer that you’ll get your butt to church! I’m asking God to help you find and drink from the deep water. And I’m praying that the journey to get there is worth all of the pain that you’re going through to find it. I KNOW MINE HAS BEEN! More later…

    Pace e Bene!
    (Peace and all good!)

    Chris

  4. But… but I love Ned Flanders.

    ::cry::

    But in all seriousness, you are right. These Christian stereotypes are annoying and need to stop. We need to get real with ourselves, or all the Neds need to at least meet the rest of the world halfway.

    I can understand how Berkles feels in regards to the public masks and blatant fraud of many spoken leaders, but I tend to not listen to them anyways. (Chris Green would NEVER fit this criteria!)

    Also grats to Berkles for using clown and mayonnaise in the same sentene. And… it’s 4.30am so my eyes hurt so I wasn’t able to read much else.

    I’m going to mayonnaise my clown pillow and hop the next choo choo to sleepy von heights silkville in thunder red cherry jam valley… drainage.

    (This is my first comment to you, Chris, and you can expect more. Most won’t make sense beacuse I probably won’t grasp the meaning to your message but will feel compelled to comment anyways. It’s up to you to decide whether or not I did.)

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