Church Shopping


If one uniform message came through during my liberal arts days in college, it was this: there are many ways to lead a good life: universal truths are outmoded and that Right is relative. It was no wonder that my campus bookstore could not keep Anthony Appiah’s works in stock. So when I hear of people church shopping, I feel I should be supportive, but it doesn’t feel right. These people are not seeking a truth larger than themselves, but rather a sanctuary for their self-derived beliefs.

Modern man has succeeded in throwing off the chains of inherited dogmas—the American church has shrunk, and congressional enthusiasm diminished—but in its place did not find higher callings or moral instruction. Instead religion was thrust into the marketplace, the masses falling away from moral authority and prone to worshiping themselves: the seemingly logical progression of materialism and liberalism.

Now there are a thousand sects, and no one has a disagreement with his lord God. Where once the church imbued modesty and moderation, modern churches now praise the individual and tell him: “I agree. You are right!” This is the problem. There is no thought, but merely people’s prejudices projected into the God construct. If you’re gay, you can have a God which embraces his queer sons and daughters. If you cannot stand the homosexuals, then there is a God who condemns them to hell. Like your wealth? There is a god for that as well. Want to forget the world and live alone in a cave? God allows that too. There is a God for anyone who wants one.

Christianity may have won out over paganism in the West, but monotheism is now dead. There are now as many gods as there are points of view, with each incarnation of the God of Abraham competing against the other for your soul. America is no longer one nation under God, but rather a nation of people living under their own, unique, all approving self-lords. Have it your way McLords.



20 responses to “Church Shopping

  1. what are you even talking about.

  2. Stalker, The main thrust of my complaint is that as the general societal proclivity towards inherited values (i.e. following the creed of one’s family) has weakened, no greater morality as taken its place. Instead of the progression of liberalism resulting in self-examination (and some form of reasoned humanity), the end result seems to be a tendency towards dogmatic church/ faith shopping, a process which results in the sanctifying of one’s own solipsist prejudices. On top of this, I feel that one of the overarching theme’s of the current liberal art’s system is to teach the value of moral relativism. The combination of these forces scares me. That is what I was trying to argue. Sorry for any confusion. Jeff.

  3. dear jeff,
    oh, no, i got it. what i don’t get is why you’ve made up a term, “church shopping,” (never heard before in my life until today – boy i feel enlightened) and then argued a point that has nothing to do with why you should but don’t like it. Maybe the overarching THEMES of the current liberal ARTS system should be sense of humor and grammar.

    I should but don’t like your posts.

    love, stalker.

    ps: do you talk like this in real life?

  4. I’ve heard the term “church shopping.” — Andrea

  5. Dear stalker,

    1. Term has been used for quite some time. Granted, I suppose it is rather obscure. (For clarity, I did coin “McLords”)
    2. Hm. I argue that despite an education system (why I should) that teaches moral relativism, I cannot support a mechanism such as church shopping for the above state reasons (the but don’t). I suppose that could have been clearer.
    3. Thank you for couching your retort in a SBD. (I’m not trying for sarcasm here. This really does make me happy)
    4. I write like this in real life. I speak in shorter sentences.

    PS: Is is it safe to assume that you are stalking the other half of SBD? This isn’t some sort of hate stalking?

    Anyhow, in all honesty, thanks for the comments. I know this post, more so than my others, was rather a stretch for the format.

  6. SBD,

    thanks for your responses. really, i truly enjoy this blog. i tune in every mon, wed and fri and send the links to my coworkers.

    lots of love,

  7. ShouldButDont

    Aw, that’s so sweet, Stalker (which sounds like an odd sentence). — Andrea

  8. yeah.. it seems that give the form of this blog, and especially given its mirror.. the expectation is that the content argues mainly for the former conjunct “should/shouldn’t”, but then ends with a somewhat brief, ‘but alas “i do/don’t”‘

    (just to bring out the point: here you briefly mention that you were in a lib arts place (the should)… and then you go on for most of the entry crapping on the idea they tried to push (the but don’t).. which is a post that would more comfortably fit in the shouldn’t but do.. i.e. shouldn’t tolerate this bs (then give argument as you did).. but alas i do (damn you lib arts ed!))

    it is your blog of course, so do as you will (and you can tell me to go f#ck myself), but without sticking to something like this form, i fear you lose the contrast between the two blogs (which would be a shame, as it is a cool idea..and i do like the blogs)

  9. I think stalker was trying to say that this post was extremely fucking pretentious in the context of this blog. Save if for your book

  10. @vacant — Thanks for the feedback. The issue of whether a post is should… or a shouldn’t… has been debated many times between us here. As for the current post, yeah, it doesn’t really work here, though the intent was to occasionally sprinkle more “heady” topics in amongst the more banal ones, as to create a sort of humor through juxtaposition. Maybe its just me, but I find it funny (in an absurd sort of way) when a blog can critique Shots and Religion with equal contempt.

  11. I think that what I’m trying to say is that this is *our* blog, so watch your fucking language, Mr. Guyface. — Andrea

  12. The first thing I thought of when I read the title (though I have heard this term before) was those mega-churches that have stores in them. Not sure how that would be a “should” unless its related to the “calling myself a hipster” post.

    I liked this post but I think it only alludes to what I think is the biggest problem with church shopping which is that while relativism assumes that one’s own view points are not any more universally valid than anyone else’s, codifying those beliefs through a church puts them into a right/wrong system, the absence of which is the only reason relativism might work.

    And @mr guyface, this blog has only been around a month. You can judge the context of it how?

    P.S. The real reason i was going to comment was that I love the “possibly related posts (automatically generated)” for this one. Then I read the other comments.

  13. ShouldButDont

    Aw, Catharine, I like you. Though I’m not so sure how you feel about me (re: Being Called a Hipster comment you made—the intent was unclear…or I’ve been drinking). — Andrea

  14. i think you’re right that many of the topics could go either way on the should/shouldn’t (with minor tweaks)..and good to hear that you’re making an effort to discuss on which side of this things should ultimately fall… (though i do think it is for precisely this reason that it is important to enforce a strict structure on your posts to distinguish the two blogs)

    and i have nothing against ‘heady’ topics.. though these will no doubt by their very nature place one in a position of greater criticism…and in this spirit… i do have to question your appeal to your lac’s teaching of relativism.. i have no idea what courses you took, or what lac you went to, but i find it hard to believe that any half decent lac would push the kind of relativism that your ‘should’ requires to get of the ground… i’m not disagreeing with relativism in general (nor agreeing with it).. but i think you are putting up a straw man here

  15. sorry for the language. I was trying to put a negative spin on pretension. Some people think that its cool.

    let me rephrase: this post was pretentious in the context of A BLOG. I don’t see how such a subject could be adequately treated in this format.

    This was just an ostentatious display of your verbal aptitude.

    Even so, i liked it, that’s why i recommended that you put your “Chicago” education to good use and write a compelling book (article?), instead of wanking off on the internet. (sorry again)

    seriously though, if your life’s aspiration is to be a popular blogger by all means, keep going! I’m curious to see how long you can sustain it.

  16. @ Mr. Guyface, fair points, I think. Of course, the entire blog is rather pretentious, no? We write posts about things that most people like, and then explain why we are ostensibly better for not liking them.

    Also, in the spirit of full disclosure, this post was distilled from a much longer essay. I suppose it shows. Anyhow, thanks for the feedback.

    ps. We have a list of about 100 or so of these, so you can put up with my occasional pretensions for sometime more if you are so inclined.

  17. how subversive!

  18. ShouldButDont

    @Catharine. I think you hit the nail on the head. What bothers me most is that once right/ wrong is codified into a religion, the main onus to examine those beliefs is removed, i.e. if God condones my behavior, then no other explanation is required.

    Also, the “possibly related posts (automatically generated)” are ridiculous. I secretly hope that this post shows up on some Evangelical blog post in as a “related post.”

  19. I hate and love this post. I hate it for being a reflection of myself and the society we live in. I love it for its honesty. I was raised Catholic, and am still a firm believer in my faith. Although, I suppose I am what other Catholics would call a “cafeteria catholic”; picking and choosing the parts I agree with and leaving the ones I don’t. Is it selfish? Absolutely. I am flawed.

  20. I thought we had moved on from the “blogs are pretentious” and put it back on that old slippery slope of “writing is pretentious.”

    Damn, no? OK then…

    I was gratified by this post.

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