May 11, 2018

Searching for Beefcake in the Nazarene Vatican City

I grew up in the Church of the Nazarene, a hardcore fundamentalist denomination: no movies, dancing, alcohol, eating in restaurants that served alcohol, eating out on Sunday, working on Sunday, reading newspapers on Sunday, rock music, secular literature, circuses, carnivals, theater, fraternities, sororities, or premarital kissing. 

This would have been forbidden: boys could only swim with boys.

But who had time for any of that, with two-hour long services three times a week, plus Sunday school, Young Peoples' Society, missionary society, Pioneers (like boy scouts), choir, Bible study, prayer meetings, calling (on people who had missed church last Sunday), canvassing (door-to-door evangelization),  witnessing (trying to convert your friends), and jump quiz?

Overland Park, Kansas was Nazarene Central, our Vatican City (though Nazarenes were intensely anti-Catholic, and would become irate if you called it that).  There, or in nearby suburbs, was our General Headquarters,  our Theological Seminary, and our Publishing House, plus a Nazarene college and about a hundred Nazarene churches.

Nazarenes were rare in Rock Island; I knew only three among the 2,000 students in my high school.  But in Overland Park, Kansas, we were told, they were everywhere.

Restaurants closed on Sundays due to lack of business.

The local newspaper didn't even print a Sunday edition.

The local radio station didn't play rock music.

There were no taverns or movie theaters.  It was the closest you could get to heaven on Earth!

That may have been hyperbolic.  There are theaters and taverns in Overland Park, Kansas, and Nazarenes are still in the minority.  But it's still Nazarene Central.

Did I mention that the Nazarenes hated "homa-sekshuls"?  Around the mid-1970s, preachers began yelling that they were the depth of absolute evil, responsible for every social ill, from drugs to rock music to unmarried mothers, who couldn't be saved even if they repented.  Plus God kept punishing us for being too tolerant of them, with earthquaks, floods, hurricanes, and airplane crashes.

So, in honor of the Nazarene horror of homa-sekshuls, here is some beefcake from Nazarene Central..

Overland Park has six high schools: Shawnee Mission Shawnee Mission North, South, East, Center, Northeast, and West.  Not a lot of originality there. There's also a Catholic school, Bishop Miege.

They all have active swim teams.

You're not supposed to go swimming when it's cloudy out.  You could get hit by lightning.

There's a lot of wrestling, too.

There are also five gyms in Overland Park that offer personal trainers.  This is Kevin Doss of the Hitch Fit Gym.

I might prefer Kurtis McLellan to show me the proper bench pressing procedure.

There are also lots of men who submit shirtless photos to dating sites.


  1. Yeah, but now they refer to fundamentalists as "Evangelicals". Theology professors everywhere are crying.

    Actually, I know a guy who is Evangelical (not Nazarene) and pretty liberal. (He spent much of 2016 trolling the Orange Devil: "Mexico is coming.") And he's pretty pro-gay. It's a generational and ethnic difference, though.

    The swimming thing might come from how swimming used to be nude and strictly segregated by sex (and in the South, by race). A lot of country boys still swim naked in all-male cliques, with inviting a girl to go swimming having definite sexual undertones.

    1. Christian Fundamentalists were originally named because they espoused 5 "fundamentals" of the Christian faith: Biblical inerrancy, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, and so on; now term usually just means "very strict in Biblical interpretation." Evangelicals are dedicated to proselytization, getting as many people "saved" as possible. Most fundamentalists are evangelical, and most evangelicals are fundamentalists, but there are exceptions on both sides.

    2. Blame Dubya. Of course, millennial (generation, not End Times) Evangelicals are politically more concerned with actual oppression of Christians than with "muh sanctity of murrige". (There's a reason so many refugees from Islamic countries settle on the Plains.)

      Dubya, of course, has led to my borderline-autistic obsession with making sure people get the Iraq war right: Everyone left, right, and center sends things down the memory hole. I'm going to be clearing my throat for the rest of my life.

      I still can't believe Cliff did that Game of Thrones parody.


No comments that use abusive or vulgar language or point out that a character is Not Wearing a Sign.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...