Sarah R. Callender

Archive for January, 2011|Monthly archive page


In Faith on January 12, 2011 at 8:43 am

Some things have been bothering me lately. The fact that, all at once, my favorite socks have holes in them. And then there’s that red pimple on my 39-year-old forehead. There’s the reality that a 9-year-old girl was shot and killed in Arizona on Saturday because she happened to be interested in government and therefore happened to be in the very wrong place at the most possibly wrong time.

Holy jeez, how I hate Wrong Place, Wrong Time. It terrifies me. If I think too hard about it, I’d never leave the house.

NFL commentators bother me. Especially the dumb ones (which in my opinion includes just about everyone except Cris Collinsworth). Sarah Palin bothers me. So much. And mothers who, in public, talk to their young children in extra loud, extra-syrupy voices to prove to the world what good mothers they are. They show up a lot on airplanes, those syrupy loud-talkers, and in grocery lines. Always places you can’t escape or walk away from without some inconvenience.

But one thing that has been bothering me for quite some time is the term Jesus Freak. There are other Jesus-bashing things that bother me too, but for today, it’s just Jesus Freak. As in, “Yeah, she’s a total Jesus Freak.”

Because it’s never a good thing. It’s never a compliment, at least not how it’s used in 2011. Maybe, back in a far, far-away galaxy called the 60’s, being a Freak meant you were incredibly passionate, a wicked-huge fan of something. Like a Roller Derby Freak. Maybe back then, being a Jesus Freak just meant you were a huge fan of Jesus.

But this ain’t the 60’s, people. If you get called a Freak on the playground or on TV or on Facebook, it’s no compliment.

So am I a Jesus Freak?  I don’t have any Jesus posters up in my room. I don’t wear a cross on a pretty little gold chain around my neck.  I don’t have a Jesus Fish on my car. But holy mackerel, I really do think he was quite a remarkable fellow. This belief certainly makes me a fan, perhaps even a Freak, by some standards.

My non-churchy friends tell me that I’m OK, as far as Christians go. They insinuate that because I never act like Rush or Sarah P. or the crazies who murder the doctors who believe in the right to choose, I’m OK. That I’m not a Freak because I happen to believe the earth is much, much more than 6,000 years old, because I am Pro-Choice, and because I believe that it’s not the worst thing in the world to cuss a little. Not to mention, my friends see (at least three hundred times a week) me act snarky or impatient or not very love-thy-neighborish. I guess that makes me, in the eyes of my non-churchy friends, A-OK.

But especially in a place like Seattle, which is just a few miles (as the crow flies) from the Bible Belt, Christians aren’t really the cool kids. Christians are seen as dumb and/or creepy and/or intolerant.

Only, I don’t think Jesus has ever had anything to do with being dumb or creepy or intolerant.

It’s heartbreaking to me how effectively humans have mucked up religion. Many kinds of religion, but you just have to look at the past 1,000 years to see how humans, all in the name of their Christian faith, have really gotten it so very wrong. We humans have found many ways to take Jesus completely out of religion.

And it’s no different these days. Today, being a Christian means you are in the camp with politically conservative rabble-rousers, nutballs who murder doctors, and irritating, holier-than-thou judgers. It’s such a drag to be clumped with those types.

Which is why I love stumbling across smart, intellectual, real Christians (and by “real” I mean people who question faith, who are honest about the ups and downs in their faith) . . . people like my very smart, intellectual pastor at my Presbyterian church on the UW campus. I just think this pastor, George, is so brilliant and honest and humble and funny. Hearing him talk makes things make more sense. I leave church feeling about a thousand percent more hopeful and peaceful. George is about as un-Rush Limbaugh as a person can be.

I also love that one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, a smart, ultra-liberal, Bush-hating artist with a wicked-funny potty mouth, also happens to be a fellow Presbo. I heard her in an interview where she was asked why she is a Christian. She talked of many things, but in the end, her answer was simple. “Jesus,” she said. “I just can’t get enough of the guy.”

Gosh, I love that. She is getting it right. I wish there were more Good Christians in the world. Those who try to negate those who do the exact opposite of what Jesus wanted of us.

So here’s my beef: in the label “Jesus Freak,” Jesus gets a really bad rap. Yet, there is nowhere in the any recorded history that documents Jesus killing doctors or being hyper-judgmental or intolerant of The Naughty. Jesus is never shown holding a My Dad and I Hate Gay People sign. I will say that yes, sometimes Jesus might have been perceived as acting a bit Holy, but so do college football stars and politicians and Hollywood divas, and are they walking on water or raising the dead or feeding a bajillion people with four or five lake trout and a couple of multigrain loaves from Great Harvest? No. I didn’t think so.

So can we please just take Jesus out of it? Jesus isn’t the problem. He has never been the problem. He’s just a guy who wants us all to love each other, to show kindness and compassion to one another, to help each other when we’ve fallen flat on our keisters. Which is a comforting global mandate for someone like me who falls, figuratively and literally, quite regularly. If you’ve ever taken a class with me at ProRobics, you know I am not kidding about the literal falling.

It is people who have found many, many terrible and horrifyingly creative ways to fork up Jesus’ message.


So can we relegate the term Jesus Freak to the land of other things we no longer call each other? Thanks. I appreciate it.

Now, if you happen to be on the search for some Jesus decor, something that will really help you get your freak up on the wall, might I recommend the following option?

I think this would look really great in your living room.