Johnny Cash had a big hit with his song about a “Boy Named Sue”. Unfortunately it seems like our society has adopted “Sue” as it’s collective middle name. Regular readers of these humble ramblings know my disdain for ridiculous lawsuits. I chronicled the case of the judge who sued for $54 million dollars when a dry-cleaner misplaced his pants. Apparently his pants and mind were both lost in the transaction but sanity finally prevailed and the case was dismissed. Of course, the grieving victim of trouser trauma (can I say that?) is appealing.
Then I find a story about a woman in Illinois who is suing a Joliet, Illinois bar. The Chicago Tribune filed this report:
A woman who tried to dance atop the bar at a Joliet tavern is suing the establishment after she fell and shattered her ankle. Amy Mueller — a Joliet-area resident in her early 20s, according to her attorney — is seeking more than $50,000 in damages in Will County Circuit Court for her injuries at Samy’s Bar and Grill, 3131 Voyager Lane, on May 19, 2006.
She fell while trying to climb up onto the bar and is suing Samy’s for “allowing [her] to climb upon the bar without a step-stool, ladder or other device used for safety.”
Let this be a lesson to all taverns. Be sure to install ladders, railing, non-slip bar surfaces, safety rigging (a bar bungee), and padded landing areas in case your patrons decide to try out for So You Think You Can Dance at your establishment. The attorney, Frank Cservenyak, assures us that his motives are pure. And I can assure you that my ten cup a day coffee habit is not caffeine related.
“I wouldn’t take a case I believe is frivolous. She completely shattered her right ankle. This isn’t, ‘I fell and bruised my back.’”
Right. In my experience…uhhhh…I mean from what I have heard it is never a good idea to mix alcohol and climbing. The attorney claims that the bar encourages patrons to climb on the bar so her bad judgment is really the fault of the tavern. Apparently the thinking is that as long as someone encourages you to be stupid it is not your fault. My parents covered that objection with the “if they jumped off a cliff” line of parental reasoning. So my word of advice to my tens of readers is simple. Avoiding alcohol will prevent most bar top dancing mishaps and will stop ninety percent of tragic karaoke embarrassments.
The final lawsuit involves a young man who started his own religion. So far the church has doubled in size to include his mom. After that initial explosive growth the church has leveled off and the current membership is still two. His lawsuit involves his religious right to wear clothing appropriate to his new religion. The San Antonio Express picks up the story that began in 2004:
Daniel A. Lorenz regularly wore a collared shirt to work, but it clearly wasn’t the type expected in the Wal-Mart Supercenter’s dress code. He says he was fired after reporting for duty in his priest’s shirt with Roman collar, an Arab headdress and six crosses. Supervisors had warned Lorenz that his job was at risk over his appearance, which they said violated dress codes and upset customers and fellow workers, particularly Catholics.
But Lorenz, 20, ignored requests to shed the shirt and collar — the main bones of contention — claiming they reflect his unique spiritual beliefs. In a year at the store, Lorenz said no one complained to him about his Muslim-Christian hybrid image, which he says reflects his nondiscriminatory philosophy about world religions. “I don’t believe in any one religion,” Lorenz said in his EEOC complaint. “I do believe in God, but I don’t attend any one church. There is no title to my religion other than a universal belief system.” Lorenz’s ponytail and fuzzy chin reflect his belief that hair should not be cut because he is only “borrowing” his body. He won’t date or marry, because all humans are family, he said, and that would make it incest.
This looks like a one-generation movement based on those beliefs.
Lorenz’s mother, who works at Wal-Mart, said she’s the only other adherent to her son’s spiritual doctrine, which is now being put to paper. “We haven’t found anybody who believes as strongly as we do,” said Catherine Lorenz, 44.
As hard as that may be to believe I noted with interest that a few weeks ago the case finally came to court. Again, the San Antonio Express has the story:
A U.S. District Court judge granted Wal-Mart a summary judgment motion to dismiss the federal case in August, but Lorenz is appealing. Wal-Mart argued his desire to wear a Muslim headdress, a Catholic priest’s shirt and large crucifix necklace to work as a night stocker reflected his personal preference, not a religion. Lorenz was seen outside work in secular clothing, Wal-Mart’s pleadings said. Lorenz said work is “ongoing” on scripture explaining the faith he formulated after visiting the Middle East in 2001. “Our belief is ever-evolving.” Lorenz said.
It would be so easy for me to dismiss Lorenz and his unusual potpourri of beliefs. But the sad truth is that millions of American Christians have a confused blend of beliefs as well. I wrote a tongue-in-cheek ode to our Christian ignorance in When Bad Christians Happen to Good People. I did a little rewrite of the lyrics of Sam Cooke’s classic song “Wonderful World” and came up with this.
Don’t know much about theology,
Don’t know much Christology.
Don’t know much about Leviticus,
Don’t know why they had the Exodus.
But I do know that God loves you,
And I know that if I’m real good too
What a wonderful faith this would be.
You have to buy the book to get the rest of my lyrical genius. But buried in the light hearted poke at our lack of knowledge is a very serious problem. A blending of faiths also infiltrates the church. And I would suggest that a part of the struggle of the church in America is that we don’t really have a clear understanding of what we believe. George Barna has done considerable research on this topic and the results are appalling. For example, here are some examples of widely held beliefs among Christians that are clearly in opposition to the Biblical view. Barna found that 74 per cent of respondents (apparently no one with a two year old in the house) thought that when people are born, they are neither good nor evil; they make a choice between the two as they mature. Forty two percent believe that when Jesus lived on earth, He sinned like other people. Fifty nine percent thought that Satan was just a symbol of evil. The list goes on and on but it identifies a major problem. When Christians don’t have a fundamental and basic understanding of Biblical theology we go through the buffet line of beliefs and select what looks or smells good. Not much different from the “ever-evolving” comment from above.
Barna writes that “because we remain a largely Bible-illiterate society, few are alarmed or even aware of the slide toward syncretism – a belief system that blindly combines beliefs from many different faith perspectives.” In other words we are becoming a society of blended faith. How about three-quarters of Americans believing that God helps them that help themselves is a Biblical teaching? (instead of a quote from Ben Franklin)
I first became convicted of my need to solidify my Biblical and theological knowledge when I realized that I could name the starting lineup for the 1961 National League Champion Cincinnati Reds but I could only name slightly more than half of the Apostles. We must know what and why we believe. The resources are out there. Most of us have Bibles laying all around. And the sad and very convicting truth is that we make time for what is important to us. I spent twenty minutes with the sports page today and yet I am prone to say I don’t have time for Bible study.
I am not able to take the “fifth” in my journey with Jesus. A lack of theological and biblical knowledge is an incriminating fact that can be changed. I have been guilty of not having a real knowledge of what and why I believe. I am on a determined course to correct that. I want my faith to be ever evolving but always and completely based on the truth of God’s Word.