Here is where to find some very cool stuff, including Action Figure Jesus, Jesus Bobblehead, Mullet heads, Rub my Tummy Buddha t-shirts...yes. everything. hehe!
Praise music. I think I have come to part of the root of the problem. Perhaps one of the biggest issues is the shady, exclusive theology (when there's theology at all...). But a close second is: exclusivity in singing. If you don't know the tune, too bad--no singing for you! The tunes are supposedly easy to pick up--unless you are in a congregation where half the people don't know what's going on. There's no teaching of the tune, no playing through of the melody, no "soloist will sing first verse, you join in later"...just chords and singing. And sometimes the words aren't printed! What is that? We're singing a setting of the 23rd psalm..which was already kind of hard because the worship band is singing in harmony and you don't know which one is what you're supposed to sing...and then suddenly there's a chorus. with no warning. no printed words--just follow the leader! uh huh. easier said than done.
so maybe praise music works for you. good for you! however, for me, and i think (to a certain extent, though my thinking on this is not completely clarified yet) for what the church is supposed to be trying to accomplish, praise music does not further the cause. Instead it gets people caught up in what THEY feel instead of what God does and what an appropriate response to that is--out in the world. I know music is an important part of the church--a VERY important part--but when it is all warm fuzzies about how much I love Jesus, it doesn't really get much done, does it? It doesn't nourish in such a way that I am strengthened to go out into the world and be a servant leader. It's just about me loving someone who's good--and worse, it's about me being the one doing the loving...as though that love were not in the first place a gift of grace. Can the church be engaged in proclaiming the Word in song while some of them (not everyone, because several people will be lost, not understanding the tune, or discovering that the words aren't printed on the bulletin because you should just "know" it...) are singing (perhaps mindlessly, perhaps earnestly) about how much I love Jesus? What does that love enable you to do?
Anyway. enough of the praise music for now. it's bedtime. Hebrew class in 8.5 hours. goodnight.