Top 10 List: Things I Don’t Think are Cool

In no particular order:

1.    Cursing — I curse at times when I’m mad or perhaps when remembering a song lyric, but I don’t think it’s cool and I would never curse in front of anybody.  I’m baffled by Christians who think it’s cool to curse.  Like throwing out an F-bomb here and there somehow makes them ‘real’ or ‘hip’ or whatever. 

2.    Lost — I’ve seen the show and I don’t see the fascination.  Do people love it so much because it doesn’t make sense?  If so then is Lost the TV equivalent to Karl Barth?

3.    Being Liberal — I just don’t think it’s cool to be liberal, either theologically or politically.  But since I abhor politics in general I’ll leave that alone.  But when I see people downing conservatives for what seems to be the fact that they don’t see it as the cooler of the two options (as if there were only two) then I just shudder.

4.    Being Mean — Even when I was a punk kid who was for all intents and purposes a real jerk, I always felt bad if I crossed the line into being mean.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love to crack jokes, but every once in a while something mean will slip through and I can tell that I really hurt someone’s feelings.  That’s a terrible feeling and I always apologize. 

5.     Wannabe Young Youth Pastors — I’m all for having youth pastors, but I just wish that they could all be genuine.  There’s nothing worse than seeing some old guy who thinks that he has to act like a teenager (or what he thinks a teenager acts like) in order to relate to kids.  Tattoos, soul patches, and beanies don’t mean that you’re going to relate to kids.  Being real with them and showing them genuine love is the way to go. 

6.    Really Exspensive Books — I can’t stand that there are books out there that cost hundreds of dollars.  Is it not possible to make affordable paperback versions of all those great monograph series in addition to the more expensive library hardcovers?  How about making PDF versions available at a low cost?  What good is information if it can’t be disseminated?

7.    The Emergent Church — I don’t have any real reason other than I read a Rob Bell book and was thoroughly annoyed. ;-)

8.    Being Sick — I have the weirdest sore  throat and cough right now and it’s not cool!  The back of my throat is always dry no matter how much I drink.  It makes it uncomfortable to swallow and it’s causing me to cough.  Not cool!

9.    Churching Longer than God — I understand that God is always present, and he lives within us, but there are times during church services where God is there in an extra-special way.  When this is the case then service is great.  But when it dwindles and the natural thing to do is dismiss yet people want to keep going it’s not cool.  I suspect that only the Charismatic readers will know what I’m talking about.

10.  The Barefoot Contessa — Ina Garten never makes anything that I would eat! It’s always seafood or undercooked beef.  Or something with mustard or mayonaise.  No matter what she makes it’s always gross!  Not cool!


58 thoughts on “Top 10 List: Things I Don’t Think are Cool

  1. Is it not possible to make affordable paperback versions of all those great monograph series in addition to the more expensive library hardcovers?

    Would you believe that those library hardcovers really aren’t as expensive as they would prefer you to think?

  2. 1.) It’s only the enlightened theological types that seem to get such a big kick out of it. I have my suspicions that they grew up in pretty conservative homes and they’re finally getting it out of their system. What’s funny is when they curse and they get other Christians excited and they start cursing too like they find it liberating, and they get a little curse fest going. I can practically hear them giggling after they drop an f bomb *tee hee hee*

    2.) It makes sense if you watch it from the beginning. I wouldn’t jump into a random show though. I’m into the 3rd season right now and I have to say it’s probably the best show I’ve ever watched. I’m addicted!

    3.) Whether I’m considered liberal by others or not (I like to think of myself as middle of the road) liberals actually make me want to be more conservative (and conservatives make me want to be more liberal).

    4.) I would have thought you didn’t mind this. No offense. : )

    5.) Never seen that but I agree about what it takes: being real and genuine.

    6.) Not really a problem for me since my interests don’t lead to to a bunch of books published by T&T Clark and those other expensive short run publishers. Learn to get a cheaper interest : )

    9.) Yeah that sucks. Why not just leave when you feel like it though? You want to make sure you talk to your friends since obviously you didn’t show up early enough to do so? ; )

    How many winks and happy faces can you get away with in a comment before it’s too much?

    Ok I’m really headed to bed now.

    Bryan L

  3. Bryan: I don’t mind people being mean to me, I can take it, but I don’t like being mean to others or seeing other people being mean to others.

    And you’re exactly right about #9. When would I talk to my friends if not after church? ;-)

  4. 1. Bryan, are you referring to anyone in particular? For instance, a recent blog post that made some rounds due to its “shock value?” I’m with Nick…cursing is pointless.

    2. I’ve watched Lost with my wife and every third week or so, we both are like “This show is so stupid…why do we watch this.” Yet we keep watching.

    3. I’ve done both theologically. I grew up conservative. In my school of religion days I went very liberal. In seminary I moved back toward the right side of things. I think I’m pretty conservative on the whole, but many I know would call me liberal. As for politics, I’m very conservative.

    4. I hate when I am mean to others, and when others are mean to me.

    5. In high school, I moved around a lot, but one of the churches that I went to had a youth pastor that was in his sixties. The youth group had a few hundred students, but he never tried to act hip or cool or young. He knew his stuff, and he know how to be there for people and that’s what mattered in the end.

    6. Yeah…I wish books were cheaper too. I think I probably spend more money on books than anything else, and my wife knows that too…I want the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, but it’s like $200. IOW, I ain’t gonna get it.

    7. Meh. Sometimes they bother me, others I like what’s being said (particularly in regards to missional theology).

    8. I HATE being sick.

    9. No idea what you’re talking about.

    10. Totally agree.

  5. Ranger: I know what post you’re talking about. I haven’t read it because I find its author to be thoroughly annoying and not quite as deep as some might like to think he is.

    And $200 for a book, any book, is ridiculous!

  6. Bryan: I thought you were supposed to be sleeping?!! I’d say that 99% of the Christians I interact with in person don’t curse. The majority of them think it’s a sin. I wouldn’t go that far, and I’m not really bothered by cursing, unless it’s gratuitous, but I don’t think it’s cool. And I think it’s especially uncool when done in the contexts you described in your first comment.

  7. 5. I’m with you here. Although I’m a young 27, so pretty soon I’ll be a hypocrite i guess

    7. I’m almost positive Rob Bell and Mars Hill aren’t emergent

  8. Some people swear because it has the sharper edge that more accurately communicates what they’re trying to say. So because I don’t think swearing is a sin anymore, I swear when I want to not to be cool, but to say what I mean to say.

    I’m totally there on the books though. The new book coming out on an Apocalyptic reading of Paul and justification is 1300 pages out on Eerdmans’: it’s only gonna be like $45

    Levi is right as well. Bell never claims the label “Emergent”

    Is one allowed to be a post-liberal and be cool?

    Finally – Alton Brown is the bomb on the Food Network.

  9. NOBody in the world should ever EVER curse … except Billy Connolly. He’s allowed – he couldn’t not curse. But he’s not cool because he curses (I get kinda immuned to it) – he’s just the funniest, sexiest person on the planet. :-)

    It’s not cool to dislike cats so intensely and blog about it. ;-)

  10. Not counting Billy Connolly, who has a doctorate from Glasgow (in honour) and is a highly intelligent wit, cursing is generally an indication of not only a limited vocabulary, but a limited intellect…

  11. 1. Totally unimaginative

    2. Saw it once

    3. Old Hippies are really cool

    4. You are really the White Knight…*: )

    5. There’s just something creepy about that…

    6. Those are for reading in the Border’s Coffee Shop (Aren’t they the ones that have the coffee?)

    7. But…when they get us all mobilized…the world will be sooo much better…

    8. Man…I passed this flu to you? Sorry…*: (

    9. Amen…already!

    10. I’m still waiting to see her feet…

  12. Great list, and Alton Brown is the bomb. You should probably qualify “liberal” with something like “activist” or “in-your-face” because I’m “liberal” (as defined by conservatives anyway), but I’m still totally cool.

  13. 1) Agreed, although (disclosure) I’ve done this before.

    2) I know nothing about Lost except that one of the characters is a hobbit.

    4) Agreed, although (disclosure) I’ve done this before.

    7) I like Bell. Maybe I’m showing my bourgeois taste. ;)

    9) Wesleyans know about this one too.

  14. 6. Those are for reading in the Border’s Coffee Shop (Aren’t they the ones that have the coffee?)

    I don’t think Borders sells the books Nick is talking about…

  15. I can’t believe you left rap music out of this list – unless it’s covered by the uncoolness of swearing

  16. Levi: I’d describe myself as a fun 27. I can have a good time with younger folks or older folks. And I guess that means I’ll have to call whatever Rob Bell is ‘not cool’ along with the Emergent Church. ;-)

    Esteban: She’s annoying. Everything she uses is the ‘best’ whatever. She always makes the ‘most delicious’ or ‘yummiest’ whatever (to hear her tell it). Dude, she measures out salt and pepper for crying out loud!!! Who does that?!! And like I said, I’d never eat anything she cooks.

    Adhunt: I get that, but that’s not really what I’m talking about. At the same time, there are other ways to express what you really feel without the cursing.

    I’ll reserve judgment on the coolness of post-liberalism until I know more about it. And Alton Brown is cool, not as cool as Mario Batali, but still cool.

    Steph: I’m afraid I’m not familiar with Billy Connolloy. But I don’t see how someone could be the funniest, sexiest person on the planet while not being me. ;-) And anti-cat blogging is incredibly cool, and Godlike!

    Nancy: So it was you that got me sick! Shame on you! Oh, and I don’t know about Borders. Is that a book store? Around here we have the devil’s sanctuary, i.e., Barnes & Noble.

    Peter: How exactly do conservatives define liberal? I’ve never seen anything from you that would lead me to believe you’re a liberal (at least theologically). The whole defense attorney thing screams political liberal! ;-)

    Kevin: You like Bell?!! You mean Taco Bell, right? That must be what you mean. I can’t interpret your words in any other way. And I’m glad to see that us Pentecostals aren’t alone in #9.

    Mike: What kind of books do they sell?

    Nancy: Coffee stains?!! Oh no, you MUST read the post I linked to in my first comment to you.

    Douglas: You are wise beyond your years. Now if only I could make an Arminian of you! :-P

    Doug: Oh no, rap music is VERY cool. Certain rappers and their songs are not cool, but I couldn’t indict the whole genre based on that. Now if we’re talking music then country and bluegrass is not cool, not even a little bit, and I don’t care how un-profane it is.

  17. Nick,

    Mario and Alton can tie. They are incredibly different. For learning food theory, you can’t beat “Good Eats,” but no Iron Chef even comes close to Batali.

    You probably wouldn’t like post-liberals. It sort of “started” with the “Yale School” – Hans Frei and George Lindbeck especially. Today’s adherents are quite varied. Hauerwas (I know how much you like him), Alistair McGrath, in a loose way both Wright and Williams, Brueggemann, the “Radical Orthodox” crowd – John Milbank, Catherine Pickstock, Graham Ward, James K A Smith, David Bentely Hart. I like ’em though

  18. Billy Connolly is a Scottish comedian who does everything from stand-up solo shows to feature films such as ‘The Man who sued God’, to ‘Mrs Brown’ (about Queen Victoria with (Dame) Judi Dench as Victoria) and he’s married to Pamela Stephenson.
    I had the thrill of working at the theatre when he came here during his world tour – and had the even greatest thrill of crashing into him backstage when I was sprinting down the passage after the show as he exited the greenroom. I was so embarrassed I carried on sprinting and he laughed to his gopher, “after those legs!” in his gloriously sexy Scottish accent…

    As for cats, they’ll get you back :-)

  19. Just how many scholars on that list would claim to adhere to ‘post liberalism’. I think labels are incredibly superficial. ;-)

  20. The vast majority actually Steph. Labels can be useful when it describes an ethos rather than a specific dogmatic position.

    I doubt Hart would as he is an Eastern Orthodox guy, but almost all the others are semi-conscious “adherents” to “post-liberalism.”

  21. Hmm. Things not cool:

    1. The 26 inch tv I’m sitting in front of now.
    2. The Gulf Coast in summer.
    3. The desert.
    4. Coffee
    5. Men who comb over
    6. Rap music
    7. Contemporary Christian music
    8. Ergo, Christian rap music
    9. TV Networks always cancelling the shows I like.
    10. Scottish food (ask Billy Connolly)
    11. What passes for comic books these days
    12. Not being born independently wealthy
    13. I gotta work tomorrow
    14. BBC wiping two thirds of Pat Troughton’s Doctor Who run
    15. Zondervan’s “support” for the TNIV
    16. Hurricane season
    17. Man cannot live by Chinese take out alone
    18. Bills every month
    19. Only 24 hours in a day
    20. Chuck Grantham, the old stodgy WASP

  22. almost all the others are semi-conscious “adherents”

    that’s hysterical!! :-) I can ask John Milbank next time I bump into him in the coffee room – ‘are you a semi conscious adherent to post liberalism?’

  23. adhunt,
    That’s an interesting list, but I think I’d disagree with most of the people on it. Maybe you define post-liberal in broader terms than I would. I think of it more in terms of a post-foundational, narrative theology. I would add Miroslav Volf and possibly LeRon Shults (although he’s postfoundationalist, he still is much more late modern than postmodern like the RO guys).

    But I’m fairly confident that McGrath and Wright (standard evangelicals) wouldn’t count themselves as post-liberal…I’d be interested to hear why you think this.

    Milbank, Hart and the rest of the Radical Orthodox crowd wouldn’t claim to be post-liberal (I don’t think)…I’m interested though and hope Steph can ask Milbank, Goodchild, Cunningham, Kilby or one of the other leaders of the RO movement who are at Nottingham.

  24. Yes I will Ranger – and I doubt Wright would consider himself post liberal as well. Geez if anything he’d not only consider himself ‘right’ and therefore orthodox but probably also consider himself religiously orthodox, if not enlightened as well … ;-)

  25. Steph,

    If you get to “run into” freakin’ John Milbank I worship the ground you walk on. Are you out at Nottingham? Tell His Lordship Milbank to get his ass (oh no, gratuitious swearing) over to the States again. The Episcopal Church needs RO so bad right now. He can leave his posse’ over there.

    Anyway, I’m tryin to keep it lighthearted here. I am very open to being wrong.


    On Alister McGrath – In the early 80’s McGrath wrote a little book “The Renewal of Anglicanism” in which he advocates for post-liberal theology

    On N.T. Wright – 1) If any modern NT exegete is resoundingly attatched to narrative it is the good Bishop. In NTPG he lays out his understanding of “story” and this 1st Century jewish story is what he bases his entire Christian Origins project on. 2) He has also been included in a critical book “Paul among the post-liberals” by Harink

    Obviously it goes w/out saying that the Frei and Lindbeck belong here. As does Hauerwas as he is a narrative/tribal ethicist who studied under them at Yale. Brueggemann, besides being influenced heavily by von Rad, also has had a lot of interaction (not all of it uncritical) with Brevard Childs – canonical and narrative theology belong together – and I have read more than one describe him as a “post-liberal”

    James K A Smith in his great introduction to Radical Orthodoxy relates the two via the Wittgensteinian language turn, of which PL and RO participate. RO is not completely anti-barthinian as Ward is quite the Barth guy, though Milbank and the RO “Theses” emphasize that they are NOT neo-orthodox. RO obviously is obsessed w/ (meta)narrative as well, tracing the narratives of nihlism and Scotus’s ontological secularism.

    All that to say, even if RO is not “post-liberal” I like both “post-liberals” and RO in a big way.

  26. I really like John – as a person that is. And his wife. They both teach in the department. I’m in Paradise (home) at the moment but I’m flying back up to the North Pole at the end of May so I’ll inform him that Anthony Dale Hunt requires his presence then. ;-) But I betcha he’ll laugh when I ask him if he’s “post liberal”. :-)

  27. Anthony,
    It is because of NTPG that I wouldn’t consider Wright as part of the post-liberal crowd. His critical realism doesn’t seem in line with Milbank who is much more grounded (and moving moreso) in Catholic thought. He follows Plantinga in his critique of foundationalism, but he’s not really an anti-foundationalist. He’s big on narrative though, so if that’s the defining factor, then I see what you are saying.

    That’s surprising about McGrath. Then again, he always emphasizes narrative, but with his recent movement away from Barth’s thought and more toward Bruner in regards to natural theology, I’d be interested to have him give a personal assessment now.

    Hauerwas is an obvious one, as is von Rad. I guess if you trace the movement back then you could even include von Balthasar in terms of his thought, couldn’t you?

    Now that you mention it, I do remember reading Jamie Smith talking about a kinship between RO and the post-liberals. I guess it’s just hard for me to picture what I’ve read by Hart alongside what I’ve read by Frei…ya know? Maybe I should split the middle with Milbank…

    Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing them.

  28. WE have both Barnes & Noble and Borders…I’m not sure which or if both have the coffee shop feature…I’m putting that at the top of my list of THE SUPER UNKOOL! But, yes that was exactly what I meant…What a great post. At least Amazon books limit the finger prints to those of the order picker…

    And while I’m thinking about the Super Unkool…maybe it was that lady that had to SMELL all the cosmetics at the counter that gave me the flu…I think I’ll get ALL my stuff from Amazon in the future!

  29. Nick:

    I’m listening to Gregorian chant these days. Perhaps it would be wise not to take my opinion of contemporary music too much to heart. ;-)

  30. Nancy: Well, when you are getting your stuff from Amazon you might consider searching for it through my Amazon widget (here). I get a small percentage of anything someone buys through there. :-)

    Chuck: I haven’t heard a Gregorian chant since my early days of rapping. We used to scour those CDs looking for just the right thing to sample.

  31. Ranger,

    Can you imagine if RO folk started swimming the Tiber? It would be the Oxford movement all over again.

  32. I’d be happy to use your widget shopper!

    Gregorian chant is great…”the Gregorians” the group…use spooky pictorials…

  33. Nancy,

    “The Gregorians”: do they feature prominently in “Angels and Demons”. I can just see Tom Hanks doing “It’s Gregorian!” in hushed tones.

  34. anthony dale hunt:

    My friend has reminded me that John’s own banner is radical orthodoxy so post liberal really doesn’t fit his self identification, and as a friend of Tom’s he assures me that he does indeed consider himself orthodox in the normal sense, (and of course right and never wrong!)

  35. Steph,

    It is most likely that I used loose language. I never meant to imply that +Wright thinks of himself as RO. I think that he fits into the “post-liberal” movement inasmuch as he is a post-foundationalist who interprets biblical theology via narrative.

    As to whether or not Dr. Milbank is PL or whatever, I renounce any hard claim that he is! :)

  36. eh?! I don’t understand … the point I am making is that neither of them would identify themselves as “post liberal”. You can label them as you like – that is what I am implying is superficial ;-) Some people call Wright liberal, others evangelical fundamentalist depending on who is doing the labelling … but the point is he considers himself orthodox.

  37. and Milbank does actually call himself radical orthodox NOT PL – that’s your label.

  38. …well I did say I didn’t understand you, sheesh – do people actually say that over there? Sounds like cursing … :-)

    BTW Nick, what do you think of those corruptions of swear words like ‘freaking’ and ‘frigging’ – and even ‘sheesh’ – all slight diversions from their obvious roots. I sometimes wonder why we use those freely ignoring any possible offence. They aren’t offensive but perhaps they should be if you see what I mean… :-) My most common curse is ‘froggles’. Which isn’t very nice to frogs.

  39. I like to say freakin’ or frickin’ (I got “frick” from Scrubs).

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with them at all. I don’t see any big deal in using words to communicate exasperation or surprise which is how if I were to use a sear word I would use it.

    The problem I have with traditional swear words is that they double as vulgar ways to say less than polite things. Substitutes for swear words don’t really do this and when people try it just sounds stupid and silly.

    You would sound stupid if you seriously said “Go frick yourself” or “I feel like shoot”.

    Bryan L

  40. Bryan – what about freaking heck or even freaking hell? Has that crossed the line? I don’t see any big deal either but I’m just wondering.

  41. I use “freakin” a lot. I also use “oh my goodness” a lot as a substitute.

    I try to avoid even the substitutes around my son though.

  42. Swearing is like an R-rated movie for me. I don’t have a problem with them, but I’m not going to show Saving Private Ryan to a five year old.

    And in general, any language can be obscene. Its all dependent upon when and how you use it.

  43. Mike, I’m still waiting for you to do a linguistic analysis of cursing. : ) Seriously though I would find that really interesting. Please??? BTW thanks for the annotated linguistic bibliography.

    freaking heck or even freaking hell?

    Well freaking heck I don’t see any problem with but the way people use hell is sometimes considered profanity. I use it more often than I used to but I still recognize that it’s not appropriate in some settings. So if you throw freaking before it the freaking isn’t what makes it questionable, the hell is.

    But with freaking and heck they’re not referencing what the words they’re substituting for are referencing. They’re just picking up on the way the words they’re substituting for are used to express exasperation. That’s my opinion anyway.

    Bryan L

  44. Mike, I’m still waiting for you to do a linguistic analysis of cursing. : ) Seriously though I would find that really interesting. Please???

    Well, I’d be willing to bet that its been done before. Maybe search proquest – you might find a dissertation or two.

    My view is that any word or phrase can potentially be viewed as obscene if its used in the wrong context. And when I say context, I mean more than just literary context, but the whole scene, who is conversing? what is their relationship? how well do they know each other?

    Its possible that in the wrong context/situation, “Please” could be used obscenely – particularly depending on the tone of voice and attitudes and intent of the speaker with relation to the hearer.

    What we call profanity is generally just words that have a habit of ending up in such poor contexts more often than not, but that doesn’t mean that they’re always bad. There are places in literature where the well places profanity has the perfect effect on the reader of the book that no other word would do.

    “Normal” words and “profanity” are like flowers and weeds. I spent three summers doing landscaping back when I was in college. My boss would often say that a weed was simply a flower in the wrong place.

    BTW thanks for the annotated linguistic bibliography.

    You’re welcome.

  45. Steph: I don’t think the corruptions as you call them are as bad but only because I use them in regular day-to-day conversations. I’m a bit of a hypocrite like that. ;-) For me it’s the intentional cursing to be edgy or cool that I find annoying. And I think that any language that is used to intentionally offend someone is wrong.

    Bryan: You already know this, but my problem isn’t so much with the words themselves. More with the spirit or attitude behind the words.

    Ranger: I use ‘heck’ around my daughter a lot which she doesn’t bat an eyelask at, but if I say ‘shut up’ she always informs me that that’s a bad word. Her mother’s been filling her head with such nonsense. ;-)

    Mike: Yeah, I’m pretty much the same way.

  46. I read an article a while back about the history of cursing and how its evolved with western culture. Pre-enlightenment, curse words were those that referred to the spiritual realm: eternity and damnation.

    After the enlightenment and into modernity & colonialism, there was a shift to words that related to gender and sexuality. These words then because the most offensive words possible.

    And that lasted for sometime up until relatively recently. But since the end of colonialism and the equal rights movement, today the most offensive words in our culture are those that draw boundaries – include and exclude. Word related to race, gender, and sexual orientation.

    With that said, its interesting that in much of Christian culture (conservative?), all three groups have been more lumped together rather than one group replacing the other.

    Anyway – just some thoughts.

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