I’m back with another exciting interview! This time I’m with a retired blogger who, for some of you, needs no introduction. For others of you, I guess some introduction is an order.
Back when the blogosphere was young, and ‘snarky Christian’ seemed to be an oxy-moron, “Crummy Church Signs”paved the way for so many others as one of the premier Christian sarcasm blogs. Although “Crummy Church Signs” saw its amazing final post in July, its five year run leaves a legacy of excellence in crumminess.
Here’s “Crummy” Joel Bezaire, author of Crummy Church Signs.
First off, tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a 33-year old math teacher and baseball coach. I’m a Canadian who moved to Mississippi in high school and now lives in Nashville, TN. I moved here because of music. I’m a bass player and I moved here to try to make a career of it; I was so successful that I was full-time teaching within 18 months.
I have a beautiful wife Jennifer and we’re going to celebrate our 10th anniversary on the 18th of December.
I guess the reason I’m here for this interview is that I’m a Christian who has struggled with an identity crisis. I’ve never, ever been ashamed of the gospel of Christ, but I confess my biggest struggle is being embarrassed, frustrated, and ashamed by “the church.” Some of those frustrations have played out before a pretty large audience out in the blogosphere.
Crummy Church Signs was for many people one of the first and most well liked Christian satire blogs they read. What church sign first lit a fire in your heart of holy indignation that inspired the blog?
My buddy Kevin had a very short-lived Christian humor website. There were crazy little animated stories from the Old Testament. Anyhow, my contributions to the site were church sign reviews…and they became a pretty popular part of the site. When that website closed up shop, we had a few requests to keep the church sign reviews coming. So I started a dedicated blog on my own.
The first sign that really, honestly ticked me off said, “For All You Do, His Blood’s For You.” My snarky review wasn’t very funny at the time, (I got much better at those as time progressed), but the message infuriated me. Not only was it a stupid play on words, not only did it receive inspiration from an insipid beer commercial, but it was TERRIBLE theology. Thinking about it now, six years later, it still makes me want to punch somebody in the face.
It’s…so…crummy! Please make it stop!
Have church signs become any better since you exposed so many to the harsh light of internet scrutiny?
Not really, no. And that’s one reason I closed up shop at CCS. I was glad to be entertainment for like-minded people, but I figured if 5 years later I was still receiving submissions like “Exposure to the Son may prevent burning”, then my blog really wasn’t accomplishing anything meaningful.
Yeah, church people aren’t really known for their ability to change their ways. Other than signs, what’s the crummiest thing about church, in your opinion?
I’ll be honest: This is one of my biggest sins, and one of the reasons I had to wrap up CCS. I just had to stop thinking of my brothers and sisters in God’s family so critically. The church frustrates me no end, and in dozens and dozens of ways.
But in recent months I’ve come to realize and accept that the church is made up of sinners just like me (and that’s being selfishly generous…most are likely better than I am); while the church’s sins of cultural irrelevance and isolationism and Biblical illiteracy and politicizing the gospel drive me up a wall, I’m certain that my pride, my judgmental attitude, and my general tendency to be a smart-ass drive other Christians nuts.
So, to answer your question: The crummiest thing about the church is that we’re all still in the process of sanctification, and not yet glorified. We still sin, and we sometimes really suck at being Christ-like.
Couldn’t have said it better. With your pedigree of expertise on church signs, have you received offers from churches looking for a “Minister of the Church Sign?”
Nope. My job would last a single day anyway. I’d immediately take the sign down.
If I was feeling generous, I wouldn’t use gasoline-soaked rags and a Zippo.
Stupid quips have no place on signs, Bible verses are too often taken out of context to be really useful, especially since only like five to eight words fit on the sign.
Your facebook photo shows you rocking the shaved head look. Do people find you intimidating? For example, are you able to strike fear in the hearts of cashiers at fast food joints, causing them to give you more than the three ketchup packets the rest of us are forced to endure, to avoid invoking your wrath?
Ha! Did you know? I’m also 6’4”. I’m one scary dude. Just ask any of my 7th graders. And the fast foodies just keep putting ketchup packets on my tray until I grunt my approval…
Lucky. I assume that your hulk-like size makes you a formidable arm-wrestling opponent. What preacher, living or dead, would you most like to arm-wrestle?
Benny Hinn…I’m pretty sure that at some point in the match, he’d try to smack me in the forehead at which point I’d gain the advantage and slam his arm through the table.
Creflo Dollar is a close second, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t arm-wrestle…it might wrinkle his suit.
Although many people were sad to see Crummy Church Signs go, your final post was quite a moving witness. What’s life like six months after Crummy Church Signs?
First of all, thanks for the comment about the final post. I wrestled with that final blog post longer than any other post in the previous five years of the blog. I think I spent more time on that post than on the foreword to my book!
Life is grand…I do miss having an outlet for my humor. Otherwise, though, things are awesome. My wife and I have some big plans for the next 10 years of our marriage, and I’m more involved in my church than I ever have before (and in a positive, non-nitpicking manner!)
What big projects are you spending your time on these days?
I’m back to the music thing – life has a funny way of coming full-circle, I’ve found. This summer I recorded an album of hymns done in hard/modern-rock style.
I’ve actually had a lot of positive feedback – turns out a lot of people like old hymns, and I think that even though I recorded them very differently than anybody’s ever heard them before, the fact that I really respect the originals really shines through. These don’t make the hymns into parodies, rather respectful re-interpretations.
I released the album under the name “The Sinai Alliance”, and the album is called “Though The Darkness Hide Thee…” – you can find it on Amazon or Itunes.
Joel sent me a copy of the CD, and I can attest, it’s awesome.
For a trip down memory late, check out Crummy Church Signs. Then go buy some of Joel’s music on iTunes, or follow Joel on Twitter to see what he’s up to today.