January 17, 2021

Open Thread: What are some Christians thinking when they justify rudeness with religion?

I’m not trying to promote a pile-on here, but this story effectively points out something I’ve experienced many times.

It’s a story about Christians justifying rudeness with religion. Here’s the short version, but you’ll want to read all of what the original poster had to say.

My daughter, taking a break from her pursuit of a graduate degree, is a server at the Chili’s a few miles down from our house. Like many others her age she is already pretty critical of the church and its obvious hypocrisies. Her cynicism, that to say, is neither atypcial nor incomprehensible. Nor does this kind of thing help–her or others.

A group of six church-goers came in last night after their evening services and sat down, not in her area but in another server’s. When the girl came to greet them and take their drink order, one of them said, “We want to tell you up front that we will not be tipping you tonight because…”

Are you ready?

“…we do not believe in people working on Sunday.”

The girl was taken full-aback, stammered out something that sounded like “I wouldn’t have to work on Sunday if so many church people didn’t come in,” or some such. She was furious. So was the manager of the restaurant whom she summoned to deal with them. I think he should have tossed the people out on their…uh…Bibles. To his credit, and demonstrating something like agape all around, he did say to them, “Well, we don’t believe in making our people work for nothing, so I will be serving you tonight.” And he did. God bless him.

This interests me for several reasons.

1) Many years ago, I took my youth group into a restaurant. A group of my students dumped a salt shaker on the table. I didn’t know about this until a waitress- an atheist- wrote me and unloaded on me for this kind of behavior from a church group. At the time, I was annoyed, but over time I’ve been a lot more sympathetic.

2) What are people thinking when they justify rudeness to an individual- and in these terrible financial times!- with a religious justification?

3) The “church crowd” is generally dreaded by all waiters and servers for reasons like this and worse. How do you take all the words people hear about being “a good witness” and translate it into not tipping, making messes, being rude and demanding?

4) Is this a window into the personalities of Christians to the extent that we can explain our tolerance of things like abuse, cruelty, dishonesty and lying with the same factors? Is it evidence that we aren’t transformed on even the most basic levels, but are using religion to cover up our sin, rudeness and cruelty?

Open thread. Keep it civil and stay on topic. If you find a way to argue denominations on this one, I’m closing the post 🙂


  1. octavato, I’m still trying to pick my jaw up from the floor after reading your story. I’m afraid I might have grabbed the original tip money back from that woman.

    c. The protestant work ethic that ties personal worth to attained economic status.

    Oh John, I wonder if you haven’t hit on something quite deep, here.

  2. “The protestant work ethic that ties personal worth to attained economic status.”

    Most of the Christians I know who have a real work ethic (by that I mean people who WANT to work, not just folks who need the money) understand that the folks working as servers DESERVE (usually) the money. I’ll offend some people here but..if all you’ve ever done in your life was push papers around a cubical and make Power Point presentations you don’t really know what work is. It’s easy for people who have never done it to look down on it or think it’s easy.

    It’s not work ethic, or the lack thereof, that makes people do this sort of thing. It’s the fact that money means more to them than they want to admit. It’s a means to manipulate God into giving you what you want. As one person implied in an earlier thread…the only way you can give to God is by dropping it in the offering plate. Giving it to the poor, even the working poor, gets you nothing. No Jesus Points. No choices off the Holy Rewards catalog. Nothing.


  3. As a server my favorite example of the Christian crowd is a group who is highly demanding, unforgiving of the smallest mistake, never speaks of their faith, and then leaves a tract with little or no tip. Because their behavior, lack of generosity, and unwillingness to even vocalize their faith makes me want to read a piece of literature they left on a table.
    I think if we all went to restaurants looking to love people we just might get some people to listen to the message we want to get across. If nothing else, stuff a hundred dollar bill in that tract. Someone just might listen after that.

  4. There are very few of us who are followers of Christ in the sense that the disciples were. We study the life of Christ in a purely academic sense which has no impact on the way we live our lives. The goal of the disciples, however, was to become just like their rabbi. They were with him 24/7 and whatever he did, they copied.
    They would have never acted like the “Christian” group in the restaurant because they would have known that such behavior was directly opposed to the way of the master. Jesus taught that he did not come to be served but to serve.

  5. Pretty hypocritical to go to a restaurant and make them serve you and then justify not paying by citing the “no work on Sunday” belief.

    If they really don’t believe in working on Sunday, then they shouldn’t be forcing others to work by going out to eat. If you aren’t going to practice what you preach in all aspects, then you shouldn’t be preaching it.

  6. A couple of days ago, I was listening to a message from Steve Brown of Key Life titled “The Death of Evangelism.” He tells a story in that message about when this group of ministers (who all were big dudes that looked like they should be WWE performers) took him out to lunch. They gave the waitress a pre-tip up front (but also tipped very generously afterword) just to show the waitress that they were happy to have her serving, etc. He goes on to say that they had spent the lunch laughing, talking about Jesus, and all-in-all having a great time. Steve told them afterword that they “smelled like Jesus.”

    I love that story. That’s the kind of Christian I wanna be. I’ve also seen a lot of that kinda thing in the owner of the business I work for. He ends up sharing Christ with a lot of people just because he’s friendly, respectful, likes to laugh, joke with people, and even be disarmingly irreverent in a way that’s so atypical of too many Christians.

    Me, I’ve got a problem with just being the quiet guy that doesn’t like to really engage anyone, but I’m getting better… with His help 🙂

  7. I wonder if dispensational eschatology could have anything to do with this behavior and view of entitlement. The idea that Christians will be whisked away and spared any persections,troubles or inconvieniences while the rest of humanity is left to suffer tribulation and hell on earth.It’s just a thought.

  8. My word, I need an editor. In my first comment, I dished up this word salad: “That pastor did taught we should patronize stores on Sundays…”

    It should read: “That pastor taught we should NOT patronize stores on Sundays…”

    Take my tip and give it to the poor, please.

  9. piratemonk says

    This is pretty simple, IMO so, I offer up the following:

    Top 10 Reasons Why Church Groups Act Rude to Food Servers:

    10. They have a feeling that they are special. In a Chosen kind of way. (pick your theological bent & version of chosen here)
    9. They are part of a group of special people, who are chosen.
    8. They were treated rudely the last time they were there. (wonder why?)
    7. Besides, the food server is probably living in sin anyway.
    6. They’re on a Christian high -the awesome Worshiptainment Sunday send off service has wound ’em up and sent ’em out!
    5. The gossip session about how ‘Johnny got caught …….” Kept them from noticing the waitress as she struggles to deal with 5 tables of people just like them ordering nothing but appetizers and 13 refills of soda or coffee.
    4. Their Christian T-Shirts will act as a tool of the Holy Sprit – quickening the food server’s sprit to thirst and seek out more rude Christians like them.
    3. They heard the food server is a “(insert denomination)” anyways, they are so not with it, so..who cares.
    2. Several of them used to be a food server, and know how it should be done correctly anyway.
    1. God will forgive them, so they can.

    Seriously – I believe two dynamics are involved

    Large groups, any kind, suck at tipping. Unless one person has responsibility upfront, everybody thinks the bill is less than it really is. Usually the bill is never covered.

    Church groups forget – that….“God doesn’t need our love, our neighbors do”

    Luther say’s in his small Catechism, (paraphrased) when talking about the positives of the 10 commandments – when it came to “Thou Shalt Not Steal”..

    “We should fear and love God so that we do not take our neighbor’s money or property, nor get them in any dishonest way, but help him to improve and protect his property and business” I think this applies. We show disrespect and we steal when we expect free service like the poor food server was asked to provide.

    By the way – I am still stupefied why the Starbuck’s counter person expects a tip when they hand me my coffee, for ?.. um – giving me my coffee?

  10. As Soren Kierkegaard put it, “it’s impossible to be a Christian in Christendom.” If you think you’re already a Christian, already saved, then you don’t have to worry about changing yourself, don’t have to think about what Jesus would do. Doesn’t matter, you’re going to heaven regardless ’cause you got the doctrinal question right, and that’s what matters. I think this incident and others like it demonstrate the real danger of a “justification by faith alone” theology. It’s an easy slide into “I’ve got faith so it doesn’t matter what I do.”

    Real faith should call us to try to perfect our lives and our actions, but it we’re saved only by faith (that is, by intellectual assent to whatever we’ve decided the correct doctrine is), then what impetus do we have to change, much less improve, our lives and behavior? And what reason do we have to not act in selfish, egotistical ways? We’re saved.

    Kierkegaard was right, it’s impossible to be a Christian if you’re already saved, impossible to be transformed if you’re already one of the elect. Better to say, like Kierkegaard, “I’m not a Christian but am trying to become one” than “I’m a Christian and so don’t have to worry about becoming one.”

  11. I’ve been reading through all these comments, and one thing seems missing. What would Christ, our Savior, have done at a restaurant, on Sunday? Well, he would have tried to help the Waitress, and the cook, he wouldn’t have complained, even if the order was wrong, except to ask if he could be billed for what he got instead of what he ordered. He would have cleaned up after himself, and left no mess, of any kind. He would have shared his food, even to the point of giving it to someone who couldn’t afford to eat, if that person was around. He might have praised the waitress for her service, he thought well of service, I seem to recall. He would certainly have been friendly and loving to everyone in the place, because that’s just the kind of person he was. If we believe in Christ, and him crucified and resurrected, then we have to believe he is still like that, and we should try to be like that too. If you believe that people shouldn’t work on Sunday, then offer to take the place of the waitress, so she (or he) doesn’t have to work and can still afford to live. If you aren’t willing to replace the person who is SERVING you, then you need to realize that Christ is working in him/her to provide you your daily bread and that you owe your server in His name. Christians tip, not out of gratitude to the server, but because Christ always did. Christ even gave his life, so that we could live. Can we do less? Anyone who calls himself a Christian and has condemnation or harsh words for a person who is serving him is a “liar, and the Truth is not in him”.

  12. piratemonk says


    can you clairify a couple points in your post for me?

    You cited, what we all missed, WWJD? I think that’s great, but really you seem to get to the better point in your closing statement, WHJD? or Instead of What would Jesus do, What Has Jesus Done?

    Are you contending that “the truth” and “Liar” means that there is a good chance that these people were unregenerated? “You shall know them by their fruit”?

    God is beyond us even more so when we think through the law like that..


    ~ blessings

  13. That Other Jean says

    Um, Victor?

    I grant you, Christians should tip their servers because that’s what Jesus would have done. Still, why should Christians not tip for service “out of gratitude to the server”? If someone has done a service for you, you SHOULD show gratitude, just because it’s right–whether you (or the server) are Christian, stheist, Moslem, Hindu, or a follower of Odin. It’s particularly important when the server is being paid less than minimum wage–as in a restaurant–and depends on tips for income.

  14. Fr. Ernesto and others,
    Don’t you think that in Acts and in the Epistles, the emphasis is not on all the poor, but rather the poor within the Church? When Paul or James speaks of the poor and widowed, they speak of people already within the Church. The Us vs. Them mentality is present in the NT Church too. Certainly the Gospels give a broader picture of whom we should help, but my point is that part of the NT , especially the nuts and bolts parts, seem to emphasize taking care of your own first and foremost. Thus I can see, but not sympathize with, how Bible-believing Christians can look at outsiders and treat them differently.

  15. Joe M.,

    I agree. We only have finite resources to spread around. Obviously, taking care of those in the Body comes first. If you are eating out, however, you are not lacking in resources as evidenced by the fact that you are spending on one meal what could feed a person for days. Also, does that mean you don’t have to pay for the meal either because others need the money?

    If you can’t afford to eat out and live a tip, you can’t afford to eat out or it’s Mickey D’s for you. If you have the money but are too cheap to tip… I hope you reap what you sow.


  16. Black Angus says

    Some have hinted at it so far, but I think the main issue for these people was a love of money. ‘I don’t want to part with it so I’ll think up a religious justification to keep it.’

    I know of Christian tradesmen who hate working for Christians who always seem to want things done cheap and shoddy, and then don’t pay their invoices on time.

    Jesus talks about this love of money in Matthew 15:1 – 9:
    “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honour your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.’ But you say that if a man says to his father or mother, ‘Whatever help you might otherwise have received from me is a gift devoted to God,’ he is not to ‘honour his father’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites!”

    I get the feeling these verses were been acted out in that restaurant.

    How sad that the church is so full of sinners…

  17. The whole point of the Parable of the Good Samaritan was to point out that our neighbor includes those who are completely outside the community of faith, as the Samaritans were. And, that those neighbors are to be helped. In the light of this discussion, I would like to point out that the Levite and the priest behaved exactly like the people in the story told by iMonk. It was the non-Jew who behaved like the Levite and the priest ought to have behaved.

    I would also tend to add that, as far as the Orthodox are concerned, when one has to use a phrase like, “Certainly the Gospels give a broader picture of whom you should help …,” then one has already lost the argument. Among us, the Roman Catholics, and the Anglicans, the Gospel book is ceremonially processed through the congregation and its reading, during the Liturgy, is only permitted to a deacon or a priest. [I promise, all other times anyone can read the Gospels. GRIN.] To put it in more common terminology, for us, DA GOSPELS RULE!

    In fact, a couple of quotes from the Early Church Fathers are apropo here. Speaking of this parable they say:

    St. Bede — The Samaritan, whose name means “Defender,” stands for the Lord.

    St. Ambrose — The whole human race would have fallen if that Samaritan, on His journey, had not tended its grievous injuries. . . . Who is the Guard if not He? . . . The Shepherd laid the weary sheep on His shoulders. . . . He sets us on His own beast, . . . so that through the taking on of flesh, He may abolish the weakness of our flesh. Then He led us who used to be beasts to the stable.

    And finally, from the Epistles:

    St. Paul — . . . while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. . . . when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son. . . .

    Hebrews — Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek the one to come.

    Let us therefore go outside the camp also. And there let us meet the enemies, the Samaritans, the adulterous women. The Pharisees can take care of themselves.

  18. Since these folks have “hijacked” the term Christian, I’m using something else.

    Perhaps these stories are “anecdotal”, but I have no reason to disbelieve them. I had a catering business. Occasionally my customers were “Christians”. I also cooked hundreds of dinners for the “church” folks, for which I received no pay.

    Most groups have a mix of people – some nice and some not. Overall, however, the “church” and “Christian” groups almost always have the most rude, cheap, demanding, complaining people. I don’t know why. However, I have noticed they tend to proportionately have more people who love to get a bargain and find others who will cater to their whims. Those kind of people seem to be attracted to religious organizations. Apparently they think they can find what thy are looking for in such organizations.

    This is also a problem for many retail sales people. When I go to a store, I often try to find the unhappiest sales person or cashier and deal with them. I make it my personal challenge to make them smile. At Christmas a cashier in the grocery store cried after we had talked for a minute or so. She said “You are the first nice customer I have had all day. You don’t know how much that means to me.”

    I rarely get poor service. Stores I patronize regularly may have no employees in sight when I enter, even though several customers are looking for an employee. An employee suddenly appears. They walk directly to me and ask how they may help me. (If someone is ahead of me, I ask the employee to help that person first.) I am always very nice, sometimes tip people who do not usually receive tips, and give commendations. Sometimes I even appear with a box of homemade cookies in hand for a sales person who was especially helpful.

    My wife asked me the other day why I got a discount on some of my items when I paid for my purchases at a particular store. This happens to me often. Many stores have coupons available for certain items. Even though I don’t have one, one suddenly appears from under the counter when I pay.

    The point is not that I am getting special treatment. The point is that I treat these people well, and they appreciate it, which is reflected in how they treat me. Note to most people who receive poor service: “You are probably correct. You probably do receive poor service. This frequently happens when you treat people poorly.”

    I never tell clerks, sales people, auto mechanics and so on that I am a “Christian” or mention “church”. I am surprised, however, how many times I’ve been asked about these things. I’ve even been asked by people I’ve just met if I’m a pastor. I suppose my board shorts and sandals are a dead giveaway.

    Treating people right is a much, much, much better witness than ANYTHING I know of.

  19. Fr. Ernesto,
    You da man. And why many traditions stand when hearing the Gospels.

  20. That Other Jean says

    Thank you, Sam.

  21. As an aside to your comment on worship time…three AMiA churches in DC all meet at 5pm. This is mainly due to meeting in rented buildings, but it is has also become a cultural thing that feels very different. I like it a lot more than scrambling to get up and going in the AM.

  22. We had a group of sixteen people yesterday at a pizza shop in North Carolina. They asked us how many, we jokingly said a million. We made those people laugh, even my one year old nephew hammed it up for the employees. We didn’t ask for anything out of the way, we didn’t make ourselves known to be “CHRISTIANS”…and we didn’t leave a mess behind. I always pick up napkins, stack plates, clean up our table, and LEAVE A DECENT TIP. Yesterday our waitress was exceptional. I told her I was not used to having that kind of service, and I was glad. As we had all split the cost of pizzas…the one who spoke up for the tip left her $20. The word of God does not say do unto others as they DO TO YOU, it says; DO unto others as you would HAVE them do unto you… I don’t want people being idiots toward me. I want them to feel loved and respected; appreciated. Make them feel like a human being instead of a slave. Help them enjoy their job. Because I know how it feels to be unappreciated. It stinks.

  23. How much did lunch cost? If every one’s meal cost $10 a piece, $20 isn’t even 15%.


  24. Just as a contrast with other Sabbath-keepers, an Orthodox Jewish friend of mine has explained to me the principle of not burdening gentiles with one’s obligations (so, for instance, you can’t just hire gentile servants to do your housework for you on Shabbat anymore–but I have learned that if I’m visiting her on Saturday and she says “Is it warm in here?”, I should go turn up the air conditioner….)

    Anyway, she told me about a serviceman who could only make his call on a Monday that happened to fall during Rosh Hashanah, when Shabbat rules are observed. Rather than explain to him about why she couldn’t handle money then, but why it was okay with her for him to work, she just said “I can’t write a check Monday because I’m celebrating a holiday, but I’m sure the work will be satisfactory and I’ll just write you the check right now.” He was surprised but didn’t object.

    Monday, as he left, she thanked him and he said, still a little bewiledered, “You’re welcome, and you have yourself a … um … great Columbus Day!”

  25. It always bugs me that Christians are horrible tippers!

  26. “3) … How do you take all the words people hear about being “a good witness” and translate it into not tipping, making messes, being rude and demanding?”

    Love is the best witness, but
    many people have selective hearing or don’t read The Gospel, and so they do not know what Christ says about LOVE.


    Us Evangelicals are rarely ever taught HOW to be good witnesses (via Salt Shaker Ministry etc). We are however,taught how to vote, volunteer, tithe… and fix our personal problems etc.

    PLUS many restaurant abusers don’t know what sabotage is done to their food… !

  27. Memphis Aggie says

    Wow quite a thread – good post. I’ve heard stories like this one, although I’ve not seen it personally. Waitresses are obviously our neighbors and you learn a whole lot about a person by the way they treat someone in a “lesser” station. I always heard tipping is a good barometer for dating. Does that person across the table treat the waitress well or not? If not they may treat you that way sometime. Something to think about before you get serious.

    Interesting some have pointed out how it undermines evangelism, doubtless very true. Successful evangelism is really a challenge, any pretense poisons it. It’s example that really works. I try to keep that in mind, especially now that I have kids I’m struggling to be more polite.

    “I would make a point here about American Christians and their selective compassion towards children, but that would get me hounded. Figure it out yourself.”

    I think I know where you’re going with this and that would be brave, fascinating and difficult. I think just like the weak example we may give in a restaurant the weak example we give on one of the most important causes there is also undermines us, if I understand you rightly.

  28. With this article in my mind, I can tell you that I bent over backwards to be kind to the waiter who served us our pancakes at the diner we visited after church!

  29. Tim VanHaitsma says

    Someone mentioned only ancedotal evidence that post church christians are cheap. Here is a recent study that has some real data to back it up. The summary is on a site some(many) of you may have problems with but there is a link in it to orginal. His write up seems fair to me.


  30. AT Chaffee says

    I am reminded of a Christian book I read for some reason called “Save Money any Way you Can” or something like that. It’s been awhile so the details are fuzzy but one of the stories involved a coach or some such intimidating the non-English-speaking owner of a buffet with a fake legal-looking document and getting some kind of deal for his hulking entourage who proceeded to clean out most of the food. This was commended as clever and funny. The rest of the book was mostly justifications for why you don’t have to feel guilty for taking advantage of technicalities and special offers.

    The end had a virtuous bit about how the author needed to save money to be able to sponser a child through Compassion International. Let alone that this cost at the time $24/month and wasn’t exactly a bank-breaker for someone who apparently was able to eat out and regularly buy new clothes for his wife. . .Making other people sacrifice so you can donate the money saved to charity just doesn’t seem meritorious somehow. “Shall I give to the Lord that which cost me nothing?”

  31. This thread is refreshing. I’ve read too many blogs where the assumption is that Christians are inherently more moral and ethical than non-Christians.

    My point has always been that atheists can treat their neighbor every bit as nicely as a Christian — and that if we see no difference when we look at the fruits, what is Christianity but a mere get-out-of-jail-free card?

  32. As a very small counter to all of the previous horror stories:

    A prof at my alma mater, Wheaton, by the name of Dr. Jerry Root has always claimed he doesn’t have the gift of evangelism, even though anyone who spends five minutes with him can clearly see that he does. One day, he was having lunch with another faculty member at a local restaurant. Just the two of them, and the bill was probably $20 total.

    He left a $20 bill as a tip for the waitress. When asked why by the other faculty member, he said, “because she’ll remember me the next time I come in and ask me why, and it will be an opportunity to share the gospel”. He was spending his money generously on opportunities to explain Christ’s generosity to him. I heard this firsthand over 10 years ago and have never forgotten it.

  33. Christopher Lake says

    Ky boy but not now,

    In answer to your questions: I don’t drive anywhere at any time, as I have a physical disability which prevents me from driving a car. Regarding the “water” and “traffic light” examples, would those not be works of necessity? Most people can and do *have* to drive to go anywhere in today’s Western world, including to church on Sunday, and traffic lights are necessary for people to be able to safely drive. Therefore, the people who operate traffic lights are performing a work of both necessity and mercy. The same principle would seem to apply regarding water.

    I never said that *no one* should work on Sunday. Some people must, in order for our world to keep running. Works of necessity.

    About buying bread on Monday, I’ll have to give more thought to that one. The making of bread on Sunday for grocery stores might well be a work of necessity and mercy too, in today’s world, where one thing is so dependent on another, as part of a huge, inter-connected process.

    As I said in my earlier post, in any event, Sabbatarian or not, I would not go out to eat on Sunday and then *condemn* the very people who were serving me.

    As far as your doing home improvements on Sunday, if you’re not a Sabbatarian, why are you asking me? Why does it matter what I think?

  34. Christopher Lake says

    About the last question in my comment, it’s asked with a matter-of-fact tone, not an irritated one. 🙂

  35. 4)


    The conviction grows stronger and stronger and stronger that we are, like that Laodicean church, unable to see. For a whole stack of reasons, not least of which is our prosperity. How insufferably arrogant – and yet, how undeniably human. It is what we all do, isn’t it? Lower others to raise ourselves? “We are in the elect. If you were, you wouldn’t be here working today and serving us, who are in the elect, forcing you to work today” 🙂 It’s like people having right assumptions about the welfare mentality of some homeless people, and then feeling justified in sneering in contempt at them. It makes me wonder how little we understand the cross, in terms of dismantling the scapegoat sentiments we subscribe to every day of our lives to drag ourselves above each other to get some air.

  36. @ bruised reed. I love your honesty 🙂 I think sometimes maybe this is part of the problem, this insistence that the Christian life is all about being shiny all the time, instead of acknowledging and accepting the more “negative” of our emotions?

    Because I grew up in a repressive family where nothing was spoken of and everything was swept under the carpet, and there was great judgment and criticism from my emotionally distant father. And many church services remind me of that same dynamic. I could feel it whenever I attended them, the hypocrisy that comes naturally from knowing you are not really in a safe environment in which to utter the things that occur to your heart and mind.

    And I think that that environment breeds exactly the sorts of people who then get about living this dualistic sort of experience where they have to pretend they are a whole lot of things they’re not, and pretend they’re not a whole lot of things they are. And the effort required in maintaining that sort of a balancing act produces people who are strained to the ends of their leashes.

    Sorry for vomiting on your comments again, imonk 🙂

  37. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    I could feel it whenever I attended them, the hypocrisy that comes naturally from knowing you are not really in a safe environment in which to utter the things that occur to your heart and mind. — Sue

    “Swear alliegance to the Flag,
    Whatever Flag they offer;
    Never let on what you really feel…”
    — Mike and the Mechanics, “Silent Running”, 1986

    And the effort required in maintaining that sort of a balancing act produces people who are strained to the ends of their leashes. — Sue

    Until the strain of that balancing act eventually drives them crazy in one of two ways:

    1) They bail if at all possible and go as far as they can in the other direction. (In abusive Christian contexts, this usually results in total atheism and/or hedonism in a violent “Take Your God And Shove It!” reaction.)

    2) They become Good Little Party Members, surviving by being more Dogmatic than everybody else. (In abusive Christian contexts, this produces a Fred Phelps — or even a Beyond Fred Phelps.)

    Again, frequent commenter J Michael Jones over at Christian Monist has written extensively on this Dualism.

  38. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Missed this opening statement of Sue’s first time around:

    think sometimes maybe this is part of the problem, this insistence that the Christian life is all about being shiny all the time, instead of acknowledging and accepting the more “negative” of our emotions? — Sue

    Shiny Happy-clappy Christians are just as far out of balance as the Dystopian Crapsack World types, just in the opposite direction. And their Sweet Shininess is surface-shallow, with no strength behind it — what happens when Tash kicks in the door of their Thomas Kincade cottage?

    A writer contact in Louisville told me once of hearing Mike Yaconelli (or someone associated with him) pose the question “Have you considered depression to be your spiritual gift?” He spoke of the strong “negative” emotions often being what powered art and writing, giving depth and counterpoint, and how the Shiny Happy-clappy 24/7 image had probably driven the real artists and writers (such as the next C.S.Lewis) away from the church.

  39. Well, I’m a bit late to this thread, but I would view such behaviours as inherently uncivilised, in addition to the more obvious hypocracy etc. I recently wrote a little series on “Being civilised” at my blog – it does seem that Christians often do not understand this concept. The motivation for such boorishness is difficult to gauge, but as some mentioned here, it could spring from some feeling of entitlement. But in The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis has a wonderful section on a person who behvaes in such a way – on the one hand proclaiming how little they demand, but on the other being a real pain about it (I only want tea and toast, but the tea must be just right, and the toast just so, otherwise please take it back…). False humilty is horrid pride. It also occurs to me that these people, irrespective of their beliefs, forgot that The Greatest of these is Love.

    Side issue: Tipping etiquette differs from place to place – outside N America, it is often only 10%, and varies with quality. The variance I learnt (in Africa) was to tip the ordinary percentage for adequate service, greater than that for good service, smaller than that for lesser service. But always with kindness and understanding. It is possible to voice your displeasure (about reasonable objections, mind you), in a kind way. Don’t be a boor, or a cad, ever.

  40. Here’s a question. How does Christ unite His church when there is such a broad stroke of thoughts and viewpoints on this simple issue?

  41. Not really on the topic of why people get all self-righteous (like the Jews in the early part of Romans–do you who judge others not rob temples, commit adultery etc.), but it seems to me that tipping extra on Sunday would be a good practice. I mean if you found out your waitress was working on her birthday, wouldn’t you tip extra? So why shouldn’t we say “sorry for making you work on Sunday. Here’s a little extra tip.”

  42. And I think if I’d overheard people attacking the waitress like that, I’d have chewed them out, and offered to tip her for them. ‘Least I hope I would have.

  43. Ky boy but not now says

    Christopher Lake

    “As far as your doing home improvements on Sunday, if you’re not a Sabbatarian, why are you asking me? Why does it matter what I think?”

    “About the last question in my comment, it’s asked with a matter-of-fact tone, not an irritated one.”

    It was a question asking an opinion of the group, not for you specifically.

    Although you did skip over my comments on how using the products of our industrial age is asking someone to work on Sundays. Almost anything made of chemicals, metals, etc… is made of a continuous process these days. 😉

  44. I’ve gotten into the habit of tipping 25% or more (unless the service is truly horrific), just as an attempt to make up for the “modern Pharisees” who under-tip or don’t tip at all. Also, I remember working as a busboy before going off to college, back when the minimum wage (which I was making) was $3.50 an hour — I probably made a third of my money from tips. Do unto others …

  45. I am glad that most Christians I know do not behave this way. Most I know are quite generous and go above and beyond the average when it comes to tipping. I realize that there are “religious” folks who get catagorized as Christians but I think it was Jesus that said you would know if they are Christians by the way they act. You can be the judge—-after all, Jesus said we could judge actions, right?

  46. Shogun of the South says

    No more can you judge a table of church goers as representing all Christians, than believing that all Muslims are in a jihad…unfortunately the world judges any large group by the 1% that make the headlines.

  47. Good Grief!…I was just about to make the mistake of trying out waitressing. Thank you all for the warning.
    Yeah, group dynamics are tricky aren’t they? Generally, people seem to act badly more so in groups as opposed to individually.
    It seems to me that good manners and consideration of others is a result of good up-bringing. I’ve been in the church most of my life and I really haven’t seen a person’s basic tendencies change much after they become a christian. (Oh dear, did I just open that can of worms?)

    It’s true that to become a servant of The Most High is the highest position …but also the lowest. Sometimes we forget that we are to become servants to servants also.

    Fr Ernesto, I appreciated all your comments.

    And I thank everyone for provoking me to get on my knees and thank God for identifying with us in the person of Jesus. Spurring each other on to do better is a good thing and I pray that we can forgive each other as well.

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