Kinda Christianity: The Interview!!!!!!

                                   "Are we cool yet Ted?" "Just keep starring Zach"

It's been a few weeks since I posted my review of the book Kinda Christianity from the good people at Gut Check Press. I not only got a copy of the book to read, but I got access to these two highly sought after author's. I do apologize for not getting this interview up in time for Zach's birthday. So for your entertainment, here's my chat with Ted Kluck and  Zach Bartels.  Enjoy!

Frankfusion: Where did the idea for the book come from?

Ted Kluck: Primarily from the two of us sitting in Zach's basement laughing at stuff...we both ended up reading Brian McLaren's "A New Kind of Christianity" for another project, and it just sort of grew from there.

Zach Bartelis: Yeah, we looked at the volume and quality of books being squirted out by emergent pioneers and thought, "ya know, if they learned the formula, anyone could produce this schlock." So we reverse engineered the formula and put it down in this wonderful volume called "Kinda Christianity."

It's good to see you two applying humor to the Emerging church, but at this point aren't you kicking a dead horse?
TK: Yes, but it's still a funny dead horse. As an example I would offer this website, which is completely serious: 

ZB: And let's be specific here: we're beating the dead horse with segments of rubber garden house, filled with sand.

FF: Do you really think the Emergent Movement is dead? 
TK: As a marketing item, or brand name, yes, it's pretty much dead. But as a way of thinking- that is, liberal theologically, and semi-obsessed with appeasing the culture- unfortunately no.  

FF: But seriously, do you hope more Christians use humor as a means of dealing with different theological issues? And, should theology be funny?

TK: To the first question, I certainly hope not...my plan is to become rich beyond my wildest dreams, piloting the only mega Media Empire on the planet producing 62 page Christian satire booklets. To the second question...definitely not, though theology always seemed like sort of an afterthought to the EC. What we believe is of the utmost importance. But the emergent church reached sort of a "you laugh or you cry" critical mass a long time ago. We're laughing.

ZB: What Ted said. Right Said Ted.

FF: What do you think the limits should be when lampooning another view? 

TK: Hmmm, that's a tough one. I take comfort in the fact that we see it (humor) in scripture. But it's possible that one could take it too far... so I suppose we should be mindful of that and pray for a sensitive conscience. I also take comfort in the fact that there's nothing, specifically, in scripture prohibiting the lampooning of others  by turning their likenesses into Peanut's characters. (FF note: you have to read the book to get that last part

F: Is that D.A Carson who looks like the Joker?
TK: Yes. 

FF: For Ted: With a last name like Kluck, I'm guessing you had to learn to have a sense of humor early on in life, did that help you in writing the book??

TK: Really? What's funny about it? (cue: crickets chirping...)

FF:  For Zach,  your bio states you collect Vintage Evangelica, what's the rarest piece of your collection? (Not about the book, but I just had to know).

ZB: It's called a "cuddle cross." I can't say anymore without spoiling the first webisode of "Pastor Zach's Basement," a web series coming this summer to an Interwebs near you!

FF: In light of the recent "South Park"/Muhammad fiasco, how many death threats do you expect after writing this?

TK: Zero. Emergent guys are pacifists.

FF: Where did you two get the name "Gut Check Press?"

TK: When starting a company, I recommend spending the majority of your time deciding critical things like what sort of a logo would look good on a t-shirt. We were going to go with the name Bethany House, and do a lot of Amish Girl Fiction, but then we realized there was already a company like that...so we went with Gut Check.

ZB: The name was handed down from the very top of the KD Empire. They weren't asking. They were telling.

FF: Since everything gets a sequel these days, will we see "Kinda Christianity 2: The Sequel"?

TK: We're trying to sign Kirk Cameron to do Kinda Christianity: The Movie. Keep checking the website for updates. Also, keep an eye out for our publishing conference, called T4GC (Together 4 Gut Check).

ZB: The Kindle version is out this week; that could be considered a sequel. Also, as we say in the book, we're thining about lampooning Young, Restless, Reformed types (read: us) next, but I have to admit that I'm less than motivated about that project. We've got more exciting, non-emergent-related stuff in the chamber for Gut Check Press.

Are you two planning any other books after this?

ZB: Totally. We have grandiose plans...

TK: Our company is working on a cookbook with a talented young author, a book on arena football, and hopefully a book on hip hop. Lots of irons in the proverbial fire. Though I would anticipate that between going to conferences and having dozens of feasibility committee meetings on those and other ideas...it could take decades.

TK: As a marketing item or brand name, yes, it's pretty much dead.  But as a way of thinking - that is, liberal theologically, and semi-obsessed with appeasing the culture - unfortunately no.

FF: If Ted could go into the ring with one theologian (living or dead) who would it be? Who would win?
TK: Zach will answer this question much better than I can.  Though I would specify that I would like to fight these theologians in the ring in my basement. 

FF: Finally, according to your bio pages, you two seem to like cigars, what brands do you prefer?

TK: Whatever Zach is buying.

ZB: I go for the maduros, for the most part. I prefer Monte Cristos and Ashtons. Although, being a minister who has to buy lots of diapers, I often settle for Romeo y Julietas, Hoyos, or Arturo Fuentes. I think one of my spiritual gifts is to punch people in the head if I see them smoking anything with a plastic or wood tip. That makes Baby Jesus cry. (And it makes Mormon Jesus angry).


Well a special thanks to the two guys for their time. I hope to see a lot of good things to come out from their media empire: Gut Check Press


Kinda Christianity

What would Christianity look like if we were all college sophomores? That is the question Ted Cluck and Zach Bartels try to answer. Their answer? Kinda Christianity. The first book published from Ted and Zack's newly formed Gut Check Press, it it setting the pace for the kinds of books they will be publishing (many of them being aimed at men). This first book get's the laughs at every page. With so many people declaring the death of the Emerging church movement, it had to happen that someone would take a funny look back at the movement that gave us such phrases and ideas as:
-Chastised Epistemology
-Greco-Roman Bound Set Theory
-Village_____ Church

I read through the book today and it is FUNNY! Read it with this warning in mind:
“We know that the late emergent church movement® is pretty much dead. But if emergent taught us anything, it’s that nostalgia sells. Hence this book, which is a guide to emerging, but is also a nostalgic look at a movement that shaped at least six years worth of evangelical history. Let’s remember it together. This is a humble, generous, incarnational, missional, community-based, grassroots guide to becoming emergent. So roll up the sleeves of your intentionally distressed Dickies work shirt, made entirely out of recycled cardboard, and enjoy!”
As you can tell, this isn't a book to seriously discuss at your weekly group at Starbucks or in your incarnational community. It's just a good chuckle. It even comes with a free and equally hilarious study guide.

To be honest, I think we need this kind of book. Some subjects deserve mockery, and ECM is not immune. More so, part of the reason we don't see more books liek this is because people are afraid to poke fun at what clearly deserves to be made fun of. No subject is spared. Starbucks, Post-Modern feminist Theory, and Warehouse churches get taken to the woodchipper. It also includes such subjects as:
  • Fashion
  • Personal Grooming
  • Finding the Right Workspace
  • Choosing an Emergent Vehicle
  • Naming Your Church
  • Acheiving the Right Atmosphere

Everyone from Brian Mclaren to Che Guevarra and even D.A. Carson (who is strangely made to look like the Joker) show up and get a little pounced on. Though some get more pounced than other's. If you're in the mood to laugh, I can't recommend this book enough.

Hopefully I'll be putting up an interview with the author's soon.