Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Today's adventure in missing the point is an excerpt from John Fischer's brilliant book Real Christians
Don't Dance. (Bethany House Publishers, 1988) John is a favorite of mine, having written such great songs as The All Day Song and Have You Seen Jesus My Lord. I have always loved this story, but it has taken on added significance to me as I have grown older and realized far too clearly how often I have "bleeped Jesus." You may feel like you, too, are a ragamuffin who has stumbled more often than not. Don't miss the big finish, as John reminds us that God does loves us despite our bleeps; indeed, he uses us in a world that understands sinners much better than saints. Enjoy, and feel the freedom! (NOTE: For my younger readers, a typewriter was what we used as a keyboard until computers were invented. See, history can be fun!)
I've been trying to ignore this for some time now, but I can't any longer; it just keeps coming up. Every time I type a chapter on this Smith Corona XE 5100 Spell-Right typewriter, I am faced with a dilemma: my typewriter bleeps.I remember George Harrison's lament, "My guitar gently weeps," on the Beatles' famous white album. Well, my typewriter gently bleeps, or more accurately, "sickly" bleeps. It's a very pathetic, injured sound, like a little tone sort of bent over another. It reminds me of an ailing little lamb with half a vocal chord — not that I've ever been around an ailing little lamb with half a vocal chord, but I somehow think if I ever was it would sound like the bleep on my Smith Corona. The bleep comes from a 50,000 word dictionary that has been programmed into the brains of this machine. Whenever I type a word that isn't on the list — "Bleebleep!" — it bleeps at me. This is actually a very useful feature. More often than not, the bleep signals a typing error rather than a spelling mistake. But the spelling of particular words is an issue over which I and the typewriter fight an ongoing controversy. Fifty thousand words is a lot, but not enough to get all the derivations of all the words I use, not to mention some words that have simply been programmed incorrectly or missed altogether. So my typewriter has a bleep I cannot wholly trust, often sending me scurrying to my Webster's to defend myself. Imagine carrying on a running argument with your typewriter over the spelling of certain words.
But the real problem came when I began to suspect my typewriter was not a Christian. I first started to notice it on certain theological words like sanctification, glorification, Christology, and soteriology (which got bleeped twice). Soon I discovered a very interesting thing when I typed the word Christian. It gets by unscathed, but Christians gets bleeped. Apparently my typewriter can handle one Christian at a time, but the idea of two or more of these things at once sends it squealing off like a sick lamb. This I-can-handle-one-but-don't-give-me-two phenomenon also applies to Baptists, Presbyterians, and Fundamentalists. Unfortunately for Methodists, they get bleeped before I can get to the final "t". I'm not even sure I want to mention what happens to Pente(bleep)costal(bleep)s(bleep).
But by far the biggest problem is the fact that my typewriter bleeps Jesus. Now it's true that many other common names get bleeped as well, but it's hard to understand how a typewriter that knows John, Dick, Harry, and Sally would not even know a name as important as Jesus. The final proof came when I found out Buddha got by without a sound! I can't deny it any longer; I'm going to have to face the hard facts: I'm dealing with a pagan typewriter.What shall I do? I'm trying to type out sanctified stuff and I'm getting bleeped all over the place! Well, as you can imagine, I've given this much thought and I've come up with three possible solutions:
1. Smash it. The thought that anything sanctified could ever come through a typewriter that gives Jesus the bleep is unthinkable. This typewriter shouldn't be allowed to live! Even if I sold it, I would be sending another pagan influence out into the world to corrupt someone else's mind. A typewriter that accepts Buddha and bleeps Jesus is certainly going to lend support to an already acceptable secularized world view. (Would you believe I just got bleeped on secularized?)
2. Surely someone out there in Christian World USA, some Christian electronic whiz-kid, has come up with a new mind for this thing. Perhaps I don't have to get rid of the whole typewriter, after all; I can just get it saved, take it to an electronic revival meeting. Someone must have thought of this by now.
3. I suppose I could find a way to use it as it is. I could use it as a reminder that I live in a world that is constantly bleeping Jesus. Every time I type that final s in His name and hear that sick squeal, I could feel the pain and reality of rejection. After all, "He came to his own and his own did not receive Him" (John 1:11).
Ah, but I cannot let myself off that easily. I cannot think myself more noble than the rest of this world for enduring a pagan Smith Corona; I am part of this bleeping world, too. The real truth I must face about all this bleeping is that I too bleep Jesus. I bleep Him whenever I compromise my faith. I bleep Him when I'm lazy and refuse to do what He wants in a given situation, when I'm so caught up in myself I can't care for someone else, when I fail to see His hand moving in all that goes on around me, and when I go through life forgetting that He is the most important thing in my memory bank. But realizing this doesn't merely leave me lamenting my bleeping self; it fills me with wonder to realize that He still uses my life. He goes on typing His truth right through all my bleeps into the reality of my life and the people I touch. I have to believe this or I will close my lid and be silent forever because I know that I am not a perfect instrument.
I think I'm going to keep this typewriter just as it is. After all, God has not smashed me or traded me in for another model. The fact that I can sanctify this typewriter through the truth of the words that pass through it, in spite of its bleeps, reminds me that God can do the same thing through my bleeping life in this bleeping world. - John Fischer