The "have it your way" ad campaign for Burger King was long-running and quite successful. And I still hold them to it, asking them to "hold the pickle" on my Whopper whenever I'm lucky enough to be in a town with a Burger King
"Have it your way" seems to be the new mantra of this post-modern age. We do it with our designer jeans, designer purses and our designer ring tones. In the newsroom alone, we have a variety of ring tones, from the sounds of crickets chirping to the old-fashioned ring reminiscent of Ma Bell's oversized black desktop model.
We do it with our television programming, some content with what the antennae will pick up, others needing at least the basics from either the cable company or satellite services. Still others routinely ignore the household budget by indulging in pay per view programming available at the touch of the remote control.
Designer Bibles may be the next big thing.
Apparently, "have it your way" is the only acceptable way to deal with Scripture intelligently -- at least according to Roy Speckhardt, the head of the American Humanist Association.
Speckhardt, explaining the "godless" ad campaign launched by the AHA Tuesday, said, "We're targeting for criticism those who read the Bible literally, not those who pick and choose what they like," he said. "We're telling (people who pick and choose), 'You're more like us.'"
The AHA is putting up billboards and purchasing ad space in newspapers across the country with messages such as, "Some people believe ... Humanists think..." in an effort to free those who are unaffiliated with any faith group to admit that they just don't believe in God.
Also found in the "have it your way" category is the story of a young homosexual man who purged any mention of homosexuality from the pages of the bedside Bible he found in every hotel or motel room he occupied.
Then there's the "red letter" group, who only heed the actual spoken words of Jesus as provided in red letter editions of the Holy Bible.
Sorry folks, this is an all or nothing proposition. The New Testament doesn't make much sense without the Old Testament and, let's face it, the Old is bereft of any measure of hope without the story continued and completed in the New.
Designer faith is also gaining traction. Actually, it seems a new ensemble is released every year, right alongside the new Parisian gowns. The latest trends include a little Yoga, a little new age meditation, and very little in the way of traditional teachings.
Seeking to be relevant to today's culture, the picture of organized religion is as changeable as any weather map. Gone are the fire and brimstone preachers of old, who grabbed sin by the throat and squeezed revival out of their parishioners. Today, not only is sin the invisible elephant in every sanctuary that no one mentions, there also are no "bad" religions. Islam is equal to Buddism, is equal to Hinduism, is equal to Judaism, is equal to new-paganism, is equal to Christianity.
I'll grant you this. All religions may be wrong, but without a doubt, all religions cannot be right. But in our new designer age, it's as if all of humanity has entered the land of "God as we understood him," rather than God as he has revealed himself to be.
Our new designer world is a fascinating place. We can connect with anyone, anywhere, anytime and always know who's on the phone just by assigning unique ring tones. We can have our Whoppers with or without pickles and we can pick and choose what part of Scripture we like, today. Tomorrow, we may choose differently, who knows. Who cares? It really doesn't matter. And as for God, well, we're still working on that, it's hard to create a deity in our own image, but I'm sure we'll get there, someday.
Uh oh. This is starting to sound familiar. Where have I heard these things before? Oh, I remember. It's one of those pesky passages from the New Testament. "But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power." (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
When I was a young girl, reading my Mom's family Bible, I glossed over the warnings and the admonitions about the last days, believing in my naivete that men would recognize the slippery slope that leads to God's final judgement long before we started to slide. They would see the peril and turn away from their wickedness, and teach others to do the same, fearing God and his judgement. I was wrong. "But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." (2 Timothy 3:13)
The hand of restraint has been lifted. The darkness that men do grows darker by the day. For those who would follow the Lord, the path just got a lot steeper. But as my favorite character in Swan's Song said, "First one step, then another, gets you where you're going." So, we walk, and as we walk, we live in hope. And believers would do well to remember Robert Fulghum's essay, "All I really need to know I learned in kindergarten," especially the admonition, "When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together."
"But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness." Hebrews 3:13 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.