1 Jan 1999

Don't make us think too much, keep it simple stupid

Submitted by theshovel
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Don’t make us think too much, keep it simple (KISS)

…my simple Alabama (retired rocket scientist) mind had trouble with all the fancy words and phrases…It was just too complex. KISS, keep it simple stupid. was a term used while I was in the Army. Don’t make us think too much, just tell us about the Jesus story and what he and the Father did for us.

Yes, I’m very familiar with that KISS concept as I first heard it in sermons from those who still stumble over the simplicity of Christ. It’s a pretty universal concept used as you said in the Army, motivational speakers, religious organizations, etc. But the simplicity of man does not equate to the simplicity of Christ, and the fact that so much of evangelical Christianity uses the Keep-It-Simple-Stupid approach should raise a red flag.

To tell you the truth, I have often found it difficult to communicate the real life of Christ to those who have been heavily influenced by the KISS technique because it doesn’t fit nicely within those easily categorized explanations. Too many are telling the Jesus story so that it remains outside the complexities of the very perceptions from which they long to be freed. This is what keeps that imaginary wall between secular and sacred established in our religious perceptions as being real and uncrossable.

Are you sure what I wrote might not be something that touches a nerve within you so that you insist it is complex? After all, if you have read even a portion of my previous Shoveletters or other writings on the site you should be aware that most of them contain subject matter that has appeared or even been objected to as complex — but these same writings are claimed to be so simple by others.

I have never pretended that my letters were not written to make people think beyond the limitations of their religious perceptions. It is, after all, the whole significance of the shovel trademark/logo I’ve used to describe my approach. The truth is that we have worn ourselves out with non-stop mental exercises behind the scenes just to keep ourselves afloat in the midst of the chaos and confusion of all those contradictions we keep trying to balance. If only we could realize that they have all been laid to rest in Christ!

There is no doubt that I often use some big words in my writing, but they are not foreign words or foreign concepts but are still common words used in everyday communication. Believe me, I resist using many good words to keep it as simple as possible. I’m suggesting that the complexity one will find in what I write will be more in direct proportion to the complexity of their own mental processes than by the language I use.



Regarding the Q&A post entitled KISS, what did you mean when you said, “So many are telling the Jesus story so that it remains outside the complexities of the very perceptions from which they long to be freed.”?

Many have learned how to tell the story of Jesus in the traditional sacred vs. secular approach. In other words, it remains in the realm of religion so that one must keep it separated from the part of our real life we would like to avoid. And so we work hard to create a Biblically-simplistic environment to do the Christian thing. Many go to church (or even create a church environment at home or on the job, etc) for exactly this reason. I know, because I’ve done that very thing.

This so-called simplicity is established by ignoring our real confusion and real-life bondage, and is replaced by creating a religiously separate world in which to operate. But the truth is that all that confusion and bondage follows us everywhere we go so that we keep having to displace it with a constant reinforcement of ones particular simple gospel.

Paul had described this religious mindset as recognizing Christ after the flesh. The truth is that most who preach the gospel are preaching a Jesus after the flesh. Into this mindset comes the demand of the REAL freedom in Christ. But because his freedom - through our union in his death and resurrection - removes that religiously constructed simplicity it can only viewed as confusing or immaterial.

I have seen this happen all the time, for many occasions when I’ve gotten too close to disturbing a person’s protected religious zone there is always a hefty religious reaction.

We’ve created all these little alerts by which we think we can determine if a teaching is false or in error. They are usually very creative, but mostly fleshly. In the KISS approach any confusion is deemed as being obviously either a false or irrelevant teaching when the truth of the matter is that ones own confusion is probably coming to the surface. And this confusion is often a bondage from which they desperately need to see that Christ has already freed them!! But in retreating to their simple gospel they are able to once again avoid touching the real stuff from which they need to recognize their freedom.

Does this help?

Jim Minker :)

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