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Preaching posterior enhancements.

We live in a world of broken relationships, sex-tape scandals, and posterior enhancement surgeries.  I know, of all the topics that I thought would never touch an Anglican Church blog, the crazy topic of injecting silicone into one’s backside probably would have been a safe bet.  And yet here we are!

If you haven’t gathered, I am speaking of uber celerity, Kim Kardashian.  Currently at the height of her celebrity status, she is held up as the current model of what it means to be alluring, attractive, and desirable.  She graces the cover of several magazines on a monthly basis.  She is worth an approximate 500 million dollars and is the key name behind a successful television series and a fashion line. She is the reigning queen of the contemporary branch of celebrity: those who are famous for being famous. Based on the world’s understanding of worth and accomplishment, Kardashian has it in spades.

Yet this isn’t the entire picture.  Her history in the public eye hasn’t been all roses and rainbows.  There has been a long line of broken romances; a sex-tape leaked to the public; a 72 day sham of a marriage; and a subsequent divorce that threatens to tarnish her carefully crafted image.

And then, of course, there is the constant talk of Kardashian of having silicone mounds implanted into her posterior.

Sounds laughable doesn’t it?  But just think about this:  Here you have someone who has both fame and fortune at her fingertips, who is the culture’s example of success and desire; and yet she feels the need to inject silicone filled masses into her tuckus because it is the size of her behind that will make her feel worthy and loved.  Does this not speak to a deep ache in her life, an ache that will only serve to haunt her as she tries to fill it with a thousand faulty schemes?  Does this not uncover a deep, deep brokenness?

This may very well be a humorous anecdote regarding the faulty security found in money and fame, but isn’t it true that we all echo this brokenness to some degree?  Do we not recognize our own need for love and self-worth?  The fact of the matter is, that deep soul-hurting brokenness so evident in Kim’s surgery of choice isn’t just something that inflicts the Hollywood stars and starlets.  It is alive in our very congregations.

Neither we nor our churches are immune from the struggles of life.  Sometimes there are deep and unimaginable pains that inflict us.  In our pews there people who suffer illnesses only defined as unbearable.  There are those walking through the painful process of relationship-breakdown.  There are those fighting the guilt over some action done or not done.  And while we stand in our pulpits preaching on a variety of theological topics, there are those who are considering going to extreme lengths in order to feel loved and accepted.

I believe the question for us, as preachers and holy people, is this: are we consistent in proclaiming the availably of God’s grace-filled kingdom in those hurtful and heart-wrenching places?  After all, Jesus’ message was radically one about the availability of the kingdom of God for all who were searching.  Jesus taught and modeled that his presence alone could provide one’s ultimate healing and liberation.

Do I preach that same message?  Do we?  Does the theological discussions and distinctions so prevalent in our ministries, give voice to the availability of God’s kingdom to those considering implanting a mass of love and self-worth into their lives?  How does the preaching of Christ and him crucified make its way to that situation – to a situation which at first glance would seem beyond the realms of theology and religion?

The fact of the matter is, this the world that we live in.  We live in a world where people inject silicone into their rears in order to feel loved.  We live in a world people often feel powerless against their hurts and pains.  We live in a world where people are crying out for something or someone that will give them healing and wholeness.  And in this screwed up, backward, often on-the-wrong-track world, we have been commissioned to speak of God’s kingdom of love and peace, and its availability of all who are searching.

We should not be interested in speaking to religious people about religious concepts – which may only serve to make us feel more comfortable in our religiosity.  We are called to speak the Kingdom of God into the lives of all the messed up, twisted around, confused, hurting, people who just want to be free from their demons of worthlessness and lovelessness.   Let’s tell them about the Kingdom of God and introduce them to Jesus.

 

I await your thoughts and responses.

Kyle Norman

About Kyle Norman

I am a Priest in the Diocese of Calgary, serving the wonderful people of Holy Cross, Calgary. I watch reality television, I drink Starbucks coffee, and I read celebrity gossip columns. I am also a magician and often use magic tricks to teach the children at church the lessons of the Bible. I believe that God is present in the intricacy of our lives, and thus I believe that Pop Culture can provide intriguing lessons, examples, and challenges for our lives of faith. Connect with Kyle on
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0 Responses to Preaching posterior enhancements.

  1. They that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh and its desires. I guess silicone counts as flesh in this case.  I am reminded also of God’s response to David in 2 Samuel 12:8b. ‘If that had been too little, I would have increased for you whatever you desired’ (interpreting kahenah vekahenah lit ‘as them or as them’ – JB 1962 has ‘as much again’).

    In other words – not only are we to consecrate through the death of Jesus our desires, but also to then ask God when we find ourselves ‘dissatisfied’. Psalm 73:25b also applies – with you have I no delight on earth? Ps 73 is the opening lament of Book 3. Israel is in exile – who will help?  Are we not in exile from our selves – who will rescue us?  (I am sure you can find that message in Paul as well – somewhere in Romans 7).  Job and his ultimate satisfaction (ch42) applies as well – and he was circumspect – see his confession in chapter 31.

  2. Kyle Norman

    Thanks stenagmois

    Part of the question is how do we preach this? What does it mean to ‘crucify our desires’ ? Where does the cross speak into the extensive brokenness that we see around us? Or maybe the point is that we don’t always see the brokenness up front. It lies behind the  many facades we sometimes erect for ourselves.  While we look put together, while we smile and say everything is grand , sometimes there is a deep hurt or scar that is left unaddressed.

  3. Well, I’m not a preacher, but I know what it means to try and stop doing something. And you need some power that you may not have. The early church preached the resurrection and the power of the new life in Christ. They had a good sense of their need as well I suppose.  I have written a book on the psalms – now with the publisher. I think preachers should teach more of what is there in the struggle with sin, enemies, etc.  But ultimately it is not us but the Spirit who leads us into maturity.

    Sorry I can’t be more help – maybe silicone is a big temptation for some – not for me :)

  4. Avatar of nunrs2005

    I know what I am certain of with regards to my Christianity is the free nature of God’s love and grace and acceptance of me.  I only have to accept it.  I don’t have to alter myself.  Grace Like Rain Falls Down on Me.  The challenge is convincing everyone that this is true, especially if they’re in the midst of difficult emptiness. On a funny note, I would have been happy to give Kim a bit of my behind!

    Blessings!

  5. Avatar of Phil Snider

    I’ve hesitated all day giving an answer, largely because I’m not sure that we have a clear answer in most cases. Truly, talking about ‘crucifying one’s desires’ makes no sense to anyone outside of Christian world and, quite probably, very little sense to many in Christian world. Nor does the compassion even when we may genuinely feel in cases of tragically misguided people, whose self-destructive tendencies may be more obvious to those mesmerized by their antics thant to themselves. Where there is not comprehension of something wrong, it is really hard to get through to someone that God may be part of the solution. 12-step programs have been telling us this for years, of course, but it really is only in hitting the bottom, when one’s self-reliance and will are proved to fail, that we have any chance to do anything about the compulsions which drive us.

    So, what can the church do in this? Keep engaging with the culture compassionately, but, also, firmly about what the Christian faith might bring to the problems that people face today. And be there when the broken and the wounded in whatever guise they appear (the homeless and the rich; the illiterate and educated, the ugly and the beautiful) drop their wall for a moment to admit their problems.

    Still, not sure if I’ve answered any questions, but is it really about answering quetsions or being open to doing wherever we finds ourselves?

    Peace,
    Phil

  6. Kyle Norman

    Thanks Phil. I think you are right in the fact that there are no easy answers. In fact, one of the things that intrigues me about this situation is that it really isn’t about the”posterior enhancement” at all; That is merely a sign to a deeper issue.

    For me, I think the lesson learned was that I should be diligent in going past mere surface illusions. Kim K isn’t just a silicone enhanced celebrity – she is someone who (I believe) harbors deep hurts and insecurities.  When I was writing this it dawned in me that someone I know has a grandmother in the Hospital; another is facing the end of a marriage; yet another is considering terminating a pregancy.

    Maybe it was just me and my own naïveté, but it dawned on me that we live in a time of deep deep hurts, and there are people we all know who are suffering through unimaginable pain.  Somehow, the message of ‘well, God loves you.’ just doesn’t cut it.

    If the scars are deeper than that, then the churches witness to the healing and redemption of Christ must be deeper as well.

  7. Preaching and pastoral advice might I suppose involve speaking about obedience. It’s one thing to say God loves you as you are and quite another to hear and follow that One who loves you. Such following does not leave you as you are but changes you by the same power that created the world.

    Such a creator died for us to pay our ransom that we might live in him and for him – that’s an obedience thing. A hear, O Israel thing.  The means of living in him is to die in him, to cease being as we are and to begin the discovery of who he is in us. That makes us what we are meant to be – but this is a surprise not a synthetic padding of the rear as if we knew in advance what it means to be whole.

    I was raised in the 50s by a tortured priest – deeply hurt himself – but who did not know how to destroy his desire and as a result hurt a great many children deeply. It is a mystery to me that he chose offense and death rather than the life he was charged to preach. So many were offended because of him, another generation of tortured people.

    I suppose no one will explain what it means to crucify one’s desires – there is a particular heresy in explanation. Explanation is not necessarily obedience.

    If you have forgotten your Greek, stenagmois is from Romans 8 – groanings unutterable. We are not subject to an explanation (even a nice one).

  8. Avatar of The Rev. Jesse Dymond

    @Kyle_Norman, perhaps it’s because our last discussion regarding branding was so drawn out, but I couldn’t help but carry that theme into this post. Do you think our attempts at branding are sometimes eerily close to cosmetic surgery? Perhaps there is something to be said for presenting ourselves exactly as we are (despite our fears that we won’t be loved), rather than pumping up the areas we think people want to see?

  9. Dawn Leger

    Hmmm. I’m pushing back against this post a bit. With the exception perhaps of @nunrs2005, whose sex I couldn’t find, it strikes me that the authors and commenters are all men.

    Why do we assume because Kardashian has had plastic surgery that she is seeking love and attention? We all make choices about our appearance all the time, some permanent, some temporary. Women are under far more scrutiny about our choices than men and that is a problem. I was part of a two day online conversation this summer about whether or not female clerics should paint their toenails and wear open toed shoes in the summer. And if we choose to paint and display our nails, which colours are appropriate. I am serious. Two days!

    Can we please stop making wide sweeping psychological assessments (which we are not qualified to make, by the way) on the basis of someone’s butt implants, or that cleavage that might slip, or why he shaved his beard or why she is wearing brighter lipstick?

  10. Avatar of The Rev. Jesse Dymond

    I was actually expecting that kind response to my proposal that church branding may be linked to insecurity. :)

  11. Dawn Leger

    @Jesse Dymond, I liked your post. I didn’t get in on the original branding discussion, but I think you are right. If we can’t reflect our true faith as a Church, we need to take a serious look at our faith, not our marketing.

  12. Kyle Norman

    Jesse – thanks for the post regarding branding. Absoulely you couls see that our attempts at branding can be described as plastic surgery.  I think I said in my post that eventually the sense of self is abdicated to the Brand, just like PS (at its worst) eventually takes away a person’s self identity – i.e., how many actors and actresses can’t move their face anymore?

    This is part of my discomfort of ‘branding’ language in the church, and  the abdication of the self to the brand is no more true than celebrities – who exist as popular commodities to be bought and sold.  Kardashian is the queen of self-branding through her television shows, public appearances, and social media presence.

    Dawn, I that we should not make brash assumptions about people – and yet I do think we can mostly agree that celebrity culture is not the prime  model of health and self-esteem.  Also, with people in such the public eye – who strip themselves down to the ‘brand’ they represent, I think we can make certain statements.  Despite the fame, fortune, and glamour, there seems to be a sense of personal restlessness (and yes – whether I am qualified or not,) and brokenness to her life.  I think this because it seems like everything about her; her family, her love, her time; her appearance; her relationships; are all marketed and commodified.  It was Paris Hilton before her, and it will be someone else afterwards.  It’s a trend that culture perpetuates.  I think implanting mass into her behind to increase the attention she gets for her ‘curves’ is a prime example of this.

    If you are interested, there is a fabulous book called ‘Cinderella ate my Daughter” – which details how the culture pushes women to value physical looks and adoration beyond anything else.  It goes as far back to the Disney Princesses who continaully give up their worlds, their voices, their own internal fortitudes for the sake of male adoration.  Very fascinating book.

    (and I happen to know nurse2005, she is a she).

     

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