Thursday, October 29, 2009

From the theological closet: Good Christian = Happy Christian

Reading these books made me think of an unexpressed but strongly implied belief from my childhood--namely, that if you are unhappy, there is something wrong with your Walk With The Lord.

Sunday School in junior high and high school always started with a few songs. Here's one of the ones we sang practically every week throughout junior high school.

It's a happy day
and I just love the weather!
It's a happy day
and I'm livin' it for my Lord.
It's a happy day
and things are gonna get better
livin' each day by the promises in God's Word.
It's a happy day, oh yeah!

verse two went like this:

It's a grumpy day
and I can't stand the weather.
It's a grumpy day
and I'm living it for myself
It's a grumpy day
and things aren't gonna get better
livin' each day with the Bible on my shelf.
It's a grumpy day, oh yeah.

OK, so how bad is this theology? Pretty darn bad. But, boy, this song has stuck with me now for over 30 years. And it came roaring back with the desperate up-beatness of the people Kevin Roose encountered at Liberty University.

When I was looking at colleges, I looked for about 20 seconds at Wheaton College, a Christian college in Illinois. I couldn't do it for two reasons: one was the intellectual dishonesty I heard in the tour when our tour guide told us that there were rules against drinking, smoking, and dancing, "not that we think dancing is wrong, but it's tradition;" and the other was seeing the encounters between people on campus, over-exuberant to the point of being unnerving. "Hyper-happy Christians," I labeled it to my parents afterwards.

I mean, I'm a person who reads obituaries for fun. Can you imagine how much it would annoy me to have people constantly telling me to cheer up? Smile, God loves you? I hate that. And the implication that if you're unhappy or don't like the weather it's because you're living for yourself--boy, is that pernicious. This has got to go. Out. Not even to Goodwill with you. In the trash.

I'm going to go be grumpy now. And I'm going to enjoy it. Phhlllbbbt.


Jennifer said...

Amen. Grr....

mom said...

ouch. sorry sorry.

Anonymous said...

This my be an odd comment, but I was wondering if I could talk to you over email about something?

See, I was raised Catholic, and decided years ago that I wanted to become Episcopalian, for a variety of reasons. I went to see the priest at the local Episcopalian church. Thing is, I'm seriously ill, and she said the first thing I have to do is go to church regularly.

I'd love to do that, but I can't, and I don't feel comfortable, for some reason, continuing with him. (Er, him being the priest I've spoke with previously.)

I honestly don't know what to do, but, well--I found your blog for the post about Julian of Norwich (she and Therese of Liseux, my patron at my Confirmation, are two of my favorite saints, and I enjoy reading about them). I began reading the rest of the blog, and found it quite interesting and enjoyable, and realized that I felt reasonably comfortable with the idea of trying to talk to you about this. I didn't see an email address listed anywhere--maybe you don't want to talk to people over email at all, in which case, feel free to ignore this utterly--so I thought I'd leave this comment.

If you mind emailing me, I totally understand--after all, it's your blog, your personal space--but if you wouldn't mind, my email is

Thank you for providing me the pleasure of reading your blog, if nothing else.