The Adventures of Captain Buzzkill

Want to hear something cool?  I have a secret identity.

I’ve developed a persona since I’ve gotten married, a role that I probably could have anticipated but didn’t realize would come into play so heavily in the first year of marriage.

I don’t have a cape or cowl, but I prowl around on rooftops and pounce on unsuspecting Bible teachers.

 I am Captain Buzzkill.

What are my powers and abilities? I ruin worship music by pointing out that it’s unscriptural. I steal away excitement for conferences by pointing out that the speakers are involved in Christian mysticism and have moved away from sola scriptura. I tip sacred Baptist cows by learning and sharing that even the most beloved of female Bible teachers** is starting to go off the rails both in her teaching and her associations.

But only one person has really known the full extent of this super-heroic (anti-heroic?) persona: my poor wife.

Over the last few years, I’ve become more and more aware of how really theologically wonky things are in the American evangelical church, and even in my beloved Southern Baptist Convention. And while I’m not actively trying to become a curmudgeon, I take seriously my responsibilities to my church and my Sunday School class to teach truth, discern error, and warn them about wolves—especially those whose products are bought and sold in Christian bookstores and carried on the shelves of our own church library.

However, this has carried over into my marriage. There have been several times when I have pointed out where popular teachers have (in my mind) taken a hard left-turn, and my loving, patient wife groans, “Seriously? Them too? Argh, you’re killing me.” More than once, she’s turned to me during worship at church and said, “I can’t sing this. This is your fault.” It’s now getting to the point where she’s noticing more and more when things aren’t quite right, and asking me about it.

I want to stop and make something clear here: what I’m not describing here is some kind of totalitarian spiritual mandate in my household. My wife is intelligent, wise, discerning, and very grounded in her faith. She’s read more of the Bible more often than I have, I think. She is most certainly a woman of the Word. So when these sorts of things happen, it’s not an issue of me saying “You can’t read X” and her saying, “But I wanna!”

Neither is this one of those sorry situations where the wife has no thoughts of her own and just waits for her husband to tell her what to think and believe. My wife loves the Lord her God with her mind. She seeks to know Him and His word every day. It’s one of the things I absolutely love about her.

She also trusts me and my judgment, so when I bring up these issues, she hears and considers what I’m saying. But if I were to go off on some fundamentalist tangent, I don’t doubt that she would lovingly question me about it. (This, consequently, puts the onus on me to be very sure about the facts before talking about it, because I don’t want to give her misinformation and misuse her trust in my discernment.)

Recently, she mentioned wanting to download more music from Bethel Music; she likes their instrumental album and was curious about their other stuff. I “hmm”-ed, and she replied, “What? Them too?” I did a quick google search, and told her that Bethel Music is based out of Bethel Church in Redding, CA, an extremely charismatic church with crazy theology—the home church of the Jesus Culture music movement that has crept into the broader evangelical church and become a ubiquitous part of weekly worship everywhere.  She groaned, and I immediately apologized. “I swear, I’m not trying to be Captain Buzzkill. I don’t want to be hypercritical and shoot down everything you want to check out.”

Then, this sweet, godly woman took my hand in hers and said (something to the effect of), “Sweetheart, do not apologize. You are trying to make sure that what your family takes in is based on good theology. Yes, it’s frustrating that so much out there is bad, but I’m so thankful that you are taking your job as spiritual leader seriously. Don’t hear me say that I’m frustrated with you. I’m thankful for you.”

…And so, day after day, Captain Buzzkill continues his crusade against bad theology and pop-Christian nonsense. Not because he loves being a naysayer and criticizing others—not at all. He does it because he loves his wife, he loves his friends and family, and he loves the truth of the Scriptures.

**To be clear, I didn’t write the Pulpit and Pen post, but it was too compelling not to share.

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5 thoughts on “The Adventures of Captain Buzzkill

  1. Ha! I thought this was going to end in you easing up not going forth stronger. Fooled me! This whole thing reminds me of a critique of literature. I believe it’s Lev Grossman (and countless others of course) who is pretty insistent on the fact that whatever the reader thinks is true of the story is what is true of the story for the reader. Once it’s published, he has no further say on how anything should be interpreted. I thought you also had this view of literature, this view that the end-user has the final say in whether the author accomplished or did not accomplish his purpose.

    But it seems you don’t have that view when applied to art created in Christian circles? To the pure all things are pure, Dave.

    ^^ named for annoying emphasis

    • Quick reply: When it comes to Christian art (broad term for created works in this case), I generally distinguish in my mind between works that are primarily artistic and those that are primarily didactic in nature. The type of stuff I’m talking about today is the second category–words and works that teach. Those are held up to the standard of Scripture, and stand or fall by that measure.

      Art that primarily entertains or engages the emotions is also held up to the measure of Truth, but is graded as well on if it’s any good.

      I’m still developing this second rubric. Right now, I’m planning a 5 or 6 part series for late February and early March, focusing on art. That will help me develop this more, i think.

      • That makes sense, but then you have to consider whether people are going to certain forms of media for teaching or meaning/art. For instance, worship music usually stirs up meaning in people; they don’t use it to learn. I understand the concern that people learn without realizing they’re learning, but that’s a holdover from a lot of media theories about children when TV first came about. It hasn’t been proven. None of us teenagers took off our clothes from watching Aladdin too much.

        A part of the buzzkill (I say this as a person with buzzkill instinct, as you know, as I’m technically doing it right now) is the pretentiousness that comes with implying someone should be constantly looking for knowledge not meaning. There’s a thrill that comes with enlightening someone, even if it’s a selfless thrill, and sometimes I’ve valued the enlightenment thrill more highly than the person’s journey. I think this is what all those fables and stories mean with their moral that knowledge is deadly. As a Ravenclaw, I don’t really believe that knowledge is deadly, just, you know, for Hufflepuffs, Slytherins and Gryffindors…

        Lately I’ve been dwelling on the proverb “When the student is ready the teacher will appear” in order to honor people’s journey.

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