The Gospel in the Men’s Room

Written by Father Bill 3 Comments

NOTE CAREFULLY:  In the following conversation, the words attributed to “Christ’s Family Church” are Really and Truly the words on their website, as you can confirm by going there yourself (until they decide to take them down; and after that Mother Google will still remember them).  All these direct, complete, and unexpurgated statements from Christ’s Family Church’s website are speaking  about the matters discussed in the following conversation.  And the photos are real photos taken in a Real Men’s Room that really and truly looks like the photos.  If you think I can make this stuff up, I wish you’d put in a good word for me with the producer of Comedy Central. 

And now, on to our main attraction …

Christ’s Family Church in Hastings Minnesota wants you to do a bit of spiritual daydreaming.  Here’s how it worked for me.

Christ’s Family Church: Imagine… if you will, walking into a men’s room, where the first thing you see is a pair of chrome hubcaps on the wall. You look around and see a clock made of a rotor and brake pads. There is a huge 1989 Pennzoil sign mounted above a towel dispenser.

Moi: How about this? 

Oil changes in the men’s room?  Why not?

Am I imagining things correctly?  I hope you don’t mind my imagining the Penzoil sign as advertising oil changes.  I mean, like, oil changes in a men’s room.  Kinda funky, huh?  And for any kinky visitors (present company excepted, of course), it signals some double untundra stuff too.  But, hey – it’s a men’s room, right?  They’ve been known to host some pretty funky stuff. 

And, yes, I know how to spell “double entendre.”  It’s just that “double untundra” is what I thought people were saying all through my boyhood, and it’s stuck.  So don’t go writing me any snotty comments correcting my spelling.  I like my spelling better.  It doesn’t look so revoltingly French.

So, okay.  I’ve got this picture of a men’s room in my head, rotor and brake pad clock and Penzoil oil change  sign.  What next?

Christ’s Family Church: As you step into the room you can’t help but notice a framed painting of a Renault Racer, a parking meter mounted on the wall, and a “No Parking” sign above the toilet.

Moi:  Hmmmm.  I can imagine the Renault.  But “No Parking” above the toilet is … well, you see, every time I try, I get this picture of my father-in-law, of blessed memory, and “no parking” is not what comes to mind with him and a toilet.  It’s kind of dissonant, dontcha know? 

How about if I imagine a related receptacle.  You said it’s a men’s room, right?  Unlike my house, Real Men’s Rooms have these very manly wall whizzer thingys. Will this do?

The Essential Men’s Room Appliance

Christ’s Family Church:  The wall tile is done in a black and white checked flag motif.

Moi:  Uh oh.  I wasn’t thinking NASCAR.  Okay.  How about this?

Whizzing on the checkered flag?

‘Cept I can’t shake the idea that I’d be whizzing on the checkered flag.  There’s gotta be something deeply Freudian about that.  Do you think it’s safe for a guy to do on THAT wall what those guys in 1 Samuel 22:25  were doing?

Christ’s Family Church:  … centered on the back wall is a picture of a Ziegler Cat Motorcycle.

Moi:  Awwwwlll right!  Ya know, last week I went to this goody two-shoes luncheon with a gaggle of lavender scented, purple haired … well, they are supposed to be pastors, you see.  But they were so pink and poofed that at one point, I just had to escape to the men’s room for a breath of something other than Fruit-passion Potion, or whatever they’re slathering at the men’s hair salons these days.  I mean, these guys would make Metrosexuals look butch.  

And, wouldn’t you just know it!  The first thing  I see as I walk into that pansy-pants men’s room in that foo-foo-a-la-mode bistro was NOT a Penzoil oil change sign.  It was a vase of pink hibiscus and the odor of Sultry Nights blended with the raunchy aromas of various intestinally produced sulphur-oxide gases.  Blech. 

Give me the sight of Penzoil oil change signs and the sight of sweaty bikers with 55-gallon beer guts hanging over their black leather belts any time.  Okay, at your suggestion, I imagine this:

Chariot of Fire, no doubt.

Will this do?

Christ’s Family Church:  And the center piece of it all is a black, masterfully air brush painted partition wall, complete with flames that look so real you might get burned if you stand too close.

Moi:  WHOAAAOOOooooooo!!!  Outa-freakin-sight, Dude!  I’ve wanted something like that in MY bathroom ever since I saw Mel Brook’s Blazing Saddles!  But, I couldn’t warm up to the Western Motif and a saddle just doesn’t work as a toilet seat. 

But, Chariots of Fire!  Or, better yet, Thrones of Fire.  Now we’re talking!  No wonder there’s a No Parking sign above the toilet.  It’s not for parking.  It’s for riding the flaming jets into the sky!  How about this?

Flames on the door to the flaming throne room.

Christ’s Family Church:  Where do you suppose you are? The Old Brickyard at the Indianapolis 500?

Moi:  Well, that’s a sorta tame possibility. 

Actually, I was thinking this might be the first bathroom make-over done by Thomas Kinkade after he’d been released from his slavery as the sex toy at the last National Joint Convention of the Neo-Nazi Bikers and the Diesel Dames Fuel-injected Tea Society. 

Christ’s Family Church:  Nope! You have just entered the men’s room at Christ’s Family Church!

Moi:  Well, I’ll be gobsmacked with an oily bicycle chain. This is a joke, right?

Christ’s Family Church: Does that come as a bit of a surprise? 

Moi:  A bit of a surprise? Like I said … gobsmacked am I.

Christ’s Family Church: We hope so, because part of the mission statement at CFC is to “proclaim God’s reconciling love through Jesus Christ to neighbors, co-workers and friends.”

Moi:  Let me get this straight (if that’s possible, given the images you’ve gotten  me to imagine) … You actually have a men’s room like this?  In your church?  And that’s how you accomplish your church’s mission? 

This is a joke, right?  I mean, I’ve heard of Christians in catacombs, but I don’t recall that they invited anyone down there, except other Christians.  But, you proclaim God’s reconciling love through Jesus Christ in your motor-oiled-thrones-of-fire men’s room?  You invite your neighbors, co-workers, and friends to your Men’s Room?  For evangelism

Christ’s Family Church: The men’s room is just one of the many ways this church is trying to accomplish this mission. As Pastor Paris likes to say: “We are willing to go to any lengths, use any means necessary, to bring people closer to Christ.”

Moi:  If this is an example,  … well, the mind boggles at what else you’re doing in order to go to any lengths. 

Just curious … are you members of the Metropolitan Community Churches?  I’ll bet some of them would think your Men’s Room is slicker than calf slobber.

Christ’s Family Church: Our men’s room gives members a reason to invite people to church. That is what CFC is all about; reaching those who have become disenchanted with religion but are searching for a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Moi:  I just have to ask.  Do they “find a relationship with Jesus” in the Men’s Room?  Do you, perhaps, hold church in that men’s room?  Leaving aside the spiritual implications of the setting, it’s kinda small, don’t you think? 

Or, is your ministry designed exclusively around small groups?  If so, does that mean you invite the female visitors to your church into your Men’s Room?

Christ’s Family Church: A visitor in attendance was so moved that she returned later in the week with a guest from Tulsa who took photographs and was very excited about a concept so outside the box.

Moi:  Yessiree Bob.  So at least one woman got in there and was “moved.”  This isn’t meant as a double untundra, right?  I thought not.  Still.

So, she took photos in the Men’s Room.  This will get you a citation for disorderly conduct in most locales, at a minimum.  No wonder she was so excited.  Cheap thrills.  How many of her woman-friends ever got to do a photo essay of the inside of a working Men’s Room?  I’ll bet she’s already contacted Oprah. 

Christ’s Family Church: When you come, you may want to stay for a cup of freshly brewed latte or espresso of your choice and experience God in a unique atmosphere.

Moi:  You guys have really thought this through, haven’t you?  Coffee (even when it’s called a latte or an espresso) is a powerful diuretic.  It makes you want to go … to the Men’s Room!  What a concept!!  And, even women can go there too, from what you’ve indicated already.

But why, then, do you call it a Men’s Room?  Why not “Family Room” like in the malls or airports, where either men or women, and children too, can use the facilities?  Or have you called it a Men’s Room because of the decor? 

If so, it’s a really affirming and nice thought in this day of feminized Christianity.  Everyone gets to use the Men’s Room!  How affirming for men. How egalitarian for women!

All this, and Jesus too!  I didn’t notice him anywhere in the photos, but maybe I just don’t know what to look for.  Is he, perhaps, that rather imposing figure on the bike?  I notice that this picture is inside the flaming throne room.  Or is he somewhere in the various dispensers on the walls? 

Jesus in convenient metered doses.  There’s a thought!  The sinks have loads of possibilities:  “Wash your sins away here!” and you could have the Sinner’s Prayer written on the mirror with industrial-strength crayon.  Over the towel dispenser: “Wipe your sins away here!”  The sinks could also serve as baptismal fonts, unless you guys are the dunking kind.  How about “Let the Holy Ghost breath new life into you here!” over the electronically-timed hot-air hand-drying appliance?

 The possibilities are almost limitless!
 

UPDATE ON NOV 1, 2007:  Checking back at the church website, I find that the amazingly outrageous pages are now gone.  Past their shelf-life, I suppose.  I also notice that you cannot retrieve them via Mother Google, so someone at the church may have had some misgivings when it was posted in the first place, and set the robots.txt file so that search-engine spiders wouldn’t archive these particular pages.  I notice further that the domain names are different for most pages now.

Anyhow, if anyone questions that the idiocy reported above never actually happened, I did find one other blogger who preserved the text of those pages in his blog.  You may verify that Christ Family Church did indeed tout their gospel-men’s room by checking it out here.


3 Comments

  1. Michael   |  Tuesday, 20 March 2007 at 3:58 pm

    The CFC website sidebar has a link to “Women’s Ministries,” but not “Men’s Ministries.” I guess the restroom *IS* the Men’s ministry…? I clicked on “Women’s Ministry,”and ended up at “Dress on a Dime Fashion Show and Luncheon.” Lots and lots of pants, including ratty jeans — ugh.

    “That is what CFC is all about; reaching those who have become disenchanted with religion but are searching for a relationship with Jesus Christ.”

    Yeah, so give searchers more of the glitzy, vain world, as if that were much less disenchanting.

    “This violates all church rules.” [Caption to “VIOLATION” parking meter in the Men’s Room.]
    Duh — so? And this is supposed to impress men, and make them more spiritual?

    “Meters enforced daily 6AM – Midnight”
    You have to pay to go?

    I noticed the “Men of Iron” sign above the mirror, with a reflection of one of those cute plastic “Koala Bear” fold-down diaper-changing tables showing in the background… hmmm.

    “Our men’s room gives members a reason to invite people to church.”

    Who’d invite someone to church based upon the toilets? Are they as proud of this as it sounds like?

    “Our hope is that when a person may not necessarily feel welcome, he can walk into the bathroom and say ‘cool.’”

    How lame is that?

    “The finished product was celebrated with a full-blown ribbon cutting ceremony and the efforts are already paying spiritual dividends. A visitor in attendance was so moved that she returned later in the week with a guest from Tulsa who took photographs and was very excited about a concept so outside the box.”

    How is this remotely a *spiritual* dividend?

    And aren’t the women jealous? Churches have split over such things. Why, even in biblical times the Hellenistic widows were feeling slighted at the church pot lucks and a major crisis came about.

    Aren’t the women wanting flames on their stalls? Where are the pictures of the women’s room? If the Men’s Room is so “masculine,” I’d like to see how “feminine” the women’s is. Isn’t an evangelistic opportunity being missed to reach women here, if all they have is a boring bunch of regular stalls? Maybe the “Burning Bush Coffee” cafe is the women’s equivalent of the flaming Men’s Room.

    > [Fr. Bill:] “Jesus in convenient metered doses. There’s a thought! The sinks have loads of possibilities…”

    Those possibilities you gave sounded way too spiritual, “uncool,” and would only scare away “those who have become disenchanted with religion.”

    –Michael

  2. Gender Wars and Worship Wars: a connection « Faith and Gender   |  Wednesday, 24 October 2007 at 9:51 am

    […] at this as far as marketing Christianity to men are concerned.  There is, for example, The Gospel in the Men’s Room, a deliberate attempt to make a church appealing to men by making a men’s toilet within it […]

  3. Jesus and other Heros on the Bathroom Wall « Faith and Gender   |  Tuesday, 06 November 2007 at 9:25 am

    […] I’ve found another advocate of Christianity in the men’s room! I had thought that the previous example of this was so freaky that readers would think I made it up.  Now, I’m fearful that this may […]

Leave a Reply