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Jesus Died for This

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The Advocate

Jesus Died for This? by Becky Garrison

Reviewed by Dale Lewis

"This is not sanitized copy, but neither is it downright harsh. I don’t agree with everything she said, but I certainly needed to reflect upon, wrestle with and heed her words."

If you are anything like me, you have absolutely no clue what a religious satirist does. Well, in her own words, Becky Garrison defines them as ”the mavericks, the visionaries who buck hierarchy and prefer to work solo. We’re also the ones who say what has to be said without giving a rip who[m] we offend. Hence, we often find ourselves standing alone in a field because no one wants to be near us for fear we might shoot their sacred cow.”

Be forewarned: Garrison’s personality is prickly and her words are meant to cause discomfort and ruffle feathers. She’s not mean-spirited when describing the dilemmas she sees in the way we have lived out our Christianity. This is not sanitized copy, but neither is it downright harsh. I don’t agree with everything she said, but I certainly needed to reflect upon, wrestle with and heed her words.

In communicating her search for Christ, she intimately shares her God-smacked moments where she sees the errors of her ways, her disrespect and disappointment clouding her vision. Garrison’s stories are sprinkled with humor and tongue-in-cheek commentary. And while some of the jokes miss the mark or are over my head, sharing a good laugh helps relieve the stress that has built up over the years.

This collection of journal entries and essays isn't for the average church attendee or the diligent Pat Robertson fan club member. In mentioning monied megachurch ministers Fred Price and Creflo Dollar and the glitz of Las Vegas, she doesn’t hold back, commenting “The sickly sweet scent of cheap salvation lingered in the air. Move beyond the all-you-can-eat buffets, the free watered down drinks, and the throngs of illegal aliens hawking flyers promising the ultimate sexual partner --- this desert oasis is but a mirage.”

She does boldly call out both the conservatives and progressives about misrepresenting the faith by asking the question did Jesus die for what . . . all of our causes, for the emergent church, for American consumerism? Nobody is safe in her line of fire including Joel Osteen and Robert Schuller.
Being a fan of The Wittenburg Door magazine back in my college days, I visited the Door’s website in the middle of reading Jesus Died for This? A Satirist’s Search for the Risen Christ. The author's irreverent and witty style is alive and well within this resource.

There are nuggets of truth when she states “I learned in my travels that creating genuine Christian community takes more than degrees, conferences and theological smackdowns” and “Just as I can’t see the natural Nevada beauty because my eyes are focused on the action taking place on the Strip, perhaps there’s been so much ‘talk’ about ‘doing’ church that the still, quiet voice of God has been temporarily silenced.”

All I can say is “Preach it, Sister!" Thanks for writing in an effort to keep Christ-followers accountable! Challenge the comfortability of your Christianity today by reading Garrison’s Jesus Died for This?

Dale Lewis now mans the front desk at the EFCA (The Evangelical Free Church of America) National Office in Minneapolis, MN. He was the graphic designer/pre-press production artist for over twelve years before being asked to step into this new role. Prior to that, he was the publications manager at his alma mater, Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in the public relations office as well as the adviser to the college’s yearbook. He's a director/actor/writer for the Hope Church (Oakdale, MN) adult drama worship team and was the senior editor of the church newsletter. He's also written two collections of poetry, “Whispers of Assurance” and “On Life: Constant Communion Without Ceasing” as well as a devotional entitled “Eternal Education.” He and his family live in Oakdale, Minnesota.