The Art of Fromming

For many, fromming is the reason why we have Christian schools, Christian movies, Christian nightclubs, Christian music, Christian aerobics, Christian TV. In fact, seemingly every aspect of popular culture and contemporary life sooner or later sprouts a Christian counterpart. Fromming has become the major justification for the Christian subculture now firmly rooted in contemporary society. It is also a convenient excuse for any shortcomings the "Christian" version displays when compared to its "secular" counterpart and when such a venture comes up short of funds.

   From. It has become an all-important word in the apologetic rhetoric of popular Christianity. We are constantly being bombarded with fromism — From this, that, and the other thing, From all of the things we are being saved from. We are frommed in books, music, and from the pulpit.

   For example, Christian television protects concerned viewers from the evils of sex and violence on network television and a host of movie channels. Christian nightclubs provide teenagers and singles with a healthy atmosphere in which to pursue relationships

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safely away from the sexual safaris of teen clubs and singles' bars. Christian aerobics allow a Christian weightwatcher to fight flab without have to fight off Tina Turner's sensual rasp at the same time. Christian schools enable parents to send their children into a classroom free from the godless monster of secular humanism and the jaws of Darwinian evolution. Contemporary Christian music allows hip Christians to roll without straying from the Rock. Christian videos provide wholesome entertainment safe from vulgar language, from vulgar living, and from a vulgar world.

   It's not hard to see why fromming has become so popular. There's an awful lot of downright evil, horrible, dirty, and unsafe things in the world. The art of fromming develops the basic justification to from into reactionary thinking, negative fixation, fear motivation, and the avoidance of a higher calling.

   Fromming has been one of the least desirable marks of Christianity for as long as I can remember; Christians are identified not so much for what they do but for what they don't do. When our only distinctiveness in society comes from avoiding certain things, we can easily fix our gaze on the evil and view the rest of the world judgmentally. But this earns us a negative identity.

   Let's face it, there's power in fromming. Have you ever noticed that it's easier to get people to march against something than to get them out for something? It's easier to point out a problem than it is to provide a solution. It's much simpler to condemn a pornographic magazine than it is to convey a positive, healthy attitude toward sex. It takes less effort to run away from the world than to be a positive answer in the middle of the world.

   This is why fromming is so successful. Human nature feeds on it — as do a host of "Christian" ministries that owe their pump, power, and purse to the cash benefits of fromming.

   But what a boring way to live! All these froms are so depressing. Just say "from" and think about the shape of your face. Say it several times — from, from, from, from, from. You can't even smile when you say it because from and frown are cut from the same mold. With all of the things we are being saved from, all the frowning is getting us nowhere.

   Fromming is simply not enough. We can't stop at telling people what they are being saved from. They need a good dose of to — to excellence, to learning, to creativity, to exploration, to experimentation,

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to God, to risk, to love, to life! We are called to do all this in the world.

   The world doesn't need Christian movies; it needs Christians making movies. The world doesn't need Christian music, it needs Christians making music. The purpose of Christians in the world is not to provide an alternative but to infuse it with the light and flavor of life in Christ. You just can't do that and from at the same time!

   To be sure, there is a biblical from. The most well-known from is found in the Lord's Prayer: "... and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" (Matt. 6:13). We also find one in Jesus Christ's prayer for all believers: "My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one" (John 17:15). In both cases the deliverance is not a deliverance from the world but a protection from evil and the evil one — preservation made necessary by our continued presence and involvement in the world.

   Christ has not saved us from the world; He has saved us to the world. His prayer for all believers continues: "As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world" (John 17:18).

   If we could just stop all this fromming, imagine what we could get down to!

Chapter 40  ||  Table of Contents