Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Itchy Itchy Ya Ya Na Na

Pardon me for a moment if you will to digress briefly from the topic of knitting with a change to "theology" as the topic of the moment. (If you aren't interested in theological constructs, now would be the time to go check out Grumperina's new hat).

The number one "heckle" shows in America are the three or four American Idol auditions shows that run before every season. (I suspect "Skating with Celebrities will surpass it due to the pure masochism of the stars willing to subject themselves to such humiliation.) Crazy people of all stripes come out, and the one thing they all have in common is that they are firmly convinced they can sing. They deeply, truly, and completely believe it — and they couldn't be more wrong.

To wit: last night, the Chicago auditions featured people who were off-key, trampy, slutty, overly tanned, untalented, whiny, selfish, amateur, and generally living in dreamland. They want nothing more than to be famous. The sort of grand finale on the show was a medley of different people singing the song "Lady Marmalade," which has rather a naughty chorus and they apparently thought their daring would impress the judges enough to ignore their terrible voices. One guy sang the lyric "Gitchi gitchi ya ya da da" as "Itchy itchy ya ya na na" — and I've been thinking about that ever since.

Recently two experiences happened that seem (however unlikely) to be tied together with these American Idol auditions. One, I witnessed a truly bitter and angry person venting frustrations with Christians. (I must take a moment to say she did not speak badly of Christianity, but only Christians.) Two, a friend told me of some of her experiences with a group of people I can best describe as being cultish.

In one case, the person speaking had no experience with Christianity and believed that the Christians talking to her did not preach a message of grace, but rather a lie. In the other, the "Christians" (I must use the quotes) talking to her presumed to preach a message of grace, but instead preached lies.

Action, and perception. Hang with me - it's going somewhere.

Theologically speaking, both groups thought they were singing the "right" song. One was off-key, and the other was singing the wrong lyrics. It may even be that both people were singing the right melody. And to take the metaphor to punishing levels, we Christians have a songbook. Measuring everything against the Bible is how we are supposed to stay in key and sing the right lyrics to the song.

The answer to both people is to read the songbook to figure out how the song is supposed to go. I think my friend has been doing that - because God helped her finally realize that she thought she was hearing one hymn from these people but was actually hearing a very poor substitute.

I wish that we—Christians collectively—could get away from the idea that we can hum along to the song that is playing and fake people into thinking we are singing it right. I wish more of us read the songbook so that we would know if we were hearing (and repeating) the words accurately. I wish more of us would realize that being salt and light does not give excuse to abusing our neighbors.

The message of the Cross is simple, but not easy. We are sinners. We owe a debt to God we cannot pay because of our sin. God paid that debt for us by sacrificing Christ. Because He paid that debt for us, we owe Him our lives, allegiance and hearts. When we say the word "grace", we mean that we did nothing to deserve His favor. Neither Jew nor Gentile could earn it by keeping the Law; all the Law can do is show you that you're a sinner. Let's say the Law says that your hair has to be combed. It is like a mirror that shows you your hair isn't combed, but it can't comb it for you. Even if you aren't part of Israel, you can see plainly that your hair is messy. God sent a Messiah who would comb your hair for you. And now your hair is combed, but it's not because of anything you did. It's because God did it for you. There is no room for arrogance or pride in Christianity. And you owe it to God because of these things to tell the truth about Him to other people.

That is it. No "itchy itchy ya ya na na." There is only grace.

If you've stuck with me this long, I hope my weird little post blessed you. Happy Wednesday.


Blogger Misty said...

Good post, Jen. I have a couple of comments:

1. I have some friends who have tried out for American Idol, and apparently the reason they find all these horrible people to sing is because they handpick them during group auditions. Additionally, they handpick the "good" auditions that we see in the auditions shows. Whoever runs the real auditions just has everyone sing the same song (Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star or Happy Birthday or something like that) and they find the most ridiculous people possible in order to make a funny/"good" show.

2. Have you read anything by Donald Miller? His popular book is called Blue Like Jazz, but he also has another book called Searching for God Knows What that I think you might like. I just finished reading both.

OK, that's all. :) By the way, I'm super jealous of you and your iMac. I am determined that I will buy one before I graduate (while I can still get a student discount).

12:47 PM  
Blogger Penny Karma said...

Itchy Itchy Ya Ya Na Na sounds like a perfect name for a bikini knitted out of mohair. Gih!!

And as for American Idol, maybe they show us all he sucky people so that when a good one squeaks through, we think they sound better than they actually do.

Keep on knittin in the free world, sistah.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Lynne said...

Oh, it blessed me alright! very well written. Was it Ghandi who said that he would have tried Christianity, but didn't because of the way the Christians acted? If we each individually seek God's truth and compare our actions to what He desires (according to His Word), Jesus might make a little more sense to a lost world.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Very well put, Jen.

I just have to add that "Lady Marmalade" is what my best friend calls my 'multiple personality disorder' karaoke number. It was the source of much raucous laughter.

8:22 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Well said, my unmet friend.

Might I add -- not only should we spend more time reading the songbook, we need to spend more time with the Songwriter.

8:11 PM  

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