By Paul Proctor
March 30, 2004
I think if I hear that word exit one more contemporary Christian mouth, I'm going to scream.
I'm dating myself here, but I remember about twenty five years ago, a young singer/celebrity by the name of John Denver, taking a lot of heat from his critics for incessantly using the term "far out" as a summation for everything. Hearing a lot of his music on the radio at the time, I remember wondering why that particular phrase upset so many people. It eventually dawned on me that it wasn�t so much the term that offended them, as it was his goody two shoes image. Because he wore out that saying, year after year, TV show after TV show and concert after concert, its use by anyone anywhere instantly brought on an impromptu and rather unflattering impersonation. Intentional or not, it became his trademark.
It seems today's young Christians have the same problem. Many have been infected with acute awesome-itis, rendering them unable to speak to each other without blurting out that irritating word like a tic. If it was a filthy or nonsensical expression, one might assume they were witnessing a sudden outbreak of tourette syndrome. But, I really believe most Christian teens say it over and over because they�re not thinking at all, but only reacting emotionally for lack of anything scripturally substantive or insightful to fill the space between their sentences. The word "like" is just as, if not more overused than the word "awesome." But, frankly it doesn't annoy me near as much.
I think the reason "awesome" gets under my skin is because those who use it without restraint are, more often than not, cotton candy Christians who know little or nothing about God's Word and everything about their feelings. And, as you might guess, their feelings are just awesome! So, when they speak or give testimony, they're testifying to emotional issues, quoting churchy quips, clich�s and slogans rather than testifying to spiritual issues citing knowledgably, the Word of God. Consequently, they use "awesome" to describe whatever they happen to be particularly fond of at the time as a Christian; a new job, a popular band, a youth director, a great song, a favorite food, Jesus, church camp, video games, special effects or anything in general that�s currently fun, exciting or fashionable for Christians. There's seems to be no discretion as to its appropriate application. It�s all just "awesome!" So, the Ancient of Days is rendered no more sacred than an after school snack.
There does however, seem to be a degree of intensity that can be measured by how it is pronounced, ranging from "US-mm" to "awesome" to "AAAW-some" to "AAAAAWWW-SOOOOMMMM." Unfortunately, these four variables seldom have any relevance to the eternal value of anything but merely express the amount of excitement and momentary gratification its user experiences.
I think the next time I hear some young Awesomite describe God in that manner, I'm going to interrupt them while their mouth is still in the AWE position and ask them to please be more specific. I'd wager to say that most would not be able to expound beyond that two-syllable word � that they�ll probably just say, "You know, awesome! � He's just awesome!"
If I'm right about this, and I believe I am, most will not know WHY God is "awesome" � only that they think He IS � and nothing more � which will tell me that they really only say it because all of their friends at church say it and that repeating it makes them feel like a Christian and an integral part of the Shepherd's flock � like a secret hand shake. I suppose if they were ever to organize and show colors on the street, it might involve a T-shirt bearing a face whose eyes and mouth are all wide open as if to be in shock.
I do hope, after reading this, you�ll join me in my little crusade. Make it a point to challenge every young Christian who perpetually repeats that word, when referring to God, to elaborate further on why they think He�s awesome. Hopefully, it will motivate them to turn off their iPods long enough to search the scriptures for a deeper understanding of just Who God is and What He has done and maybe � just maybe � even learn some of the more edifying names and descriptions of God besides "awesome."
"When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." � 1 Corinthians 13:11
� 2004 Paul Proctor - All Rights Reserved
Paul Proctor, a rural resident of the Volunteer state and seasoned veteran of the country music industry, retired from showbiz in the late 1990's to dedicate himself to addressing important social issues from a distinctly biblical perspective. As a freelance writer and regular columnist for NewsWithViews.com, he extols the wisdom and truths of scripture through commentary and insight on cultural trends and current events. His articles appear regularly on a variety of news and opinion sites across the internet and in print. Paul may be reached at [email protected]�
"I think the reason "awesome" gets under my skin is because those who use it without restraint are, more often than not, cotton candy Christians who know little or nothing about God's Word and everything about their feelings."