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I recently asked this question concerning a Christian practice in the USA associated with July 4th. This is certainly a Christian worship practice - an event within the calendar for certain churches in the USA and I was able to find an article relating to it that was not comical (which seems from Flimzy's comment to have been a bone of contention).

This question has now been described as off-topic. I would like to operate within the rules of the site however, this leaves me not understanding what they are. At the current rate, I will be able to vote to close and reopen some time next year and would like to be able to use that ability responsibly. Other questions I've asked concerning worship and practices have not been closed and there seem to be quite a number of questions even asked by the people who voted to close that I find indistinguishable in form from this one. I have read all the usual posts on what is and is not on-topic - I still do not get it. A lot of questions I'm likely to ask in the future are related to the worship/practices topics and I don't want to waste everyone's time in the future.

This is my understanding at present: it seems to me that either all Christian practice questions are off-topic (which seems to oddly limit the site and calls into question the religious-practices and practices tags - certainly this question and additionally this question, this question and many others should be deleted) or this Christian practice is off-topic (not sure why) or this question should not have been closed (in which case reopen it) or perhaps it is regarded as a slippery slope towards answering cultural questions (even though it is definitely not intended to be one and if there is a way to make this more abundantly clear I'd happily edit it to get it reopened)?

It would be fair to say I'm a bit annoyed that this question (which I regard as factually answerable and of genuine interest) is closed and I apologise if this is coming across. I'm aiming to open up a space to discuss this question and more widely worship and practices questions and how they are to be treated.

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    Related: How should we handle questions about Christian culture? It seems the community want to make a distinction between a Christian practice and a thing that some Christians practice coincidentally. As you can see from my post, I find it frustrating that one of the most exciting topics about Christianity, the people who do it, is kind of avoided as a topic on this site. – 3961 Nov 4 '14 at 10:10
  • Although I can see that this question does have a bearing on Christian culture, it's not the primary point of this question. It's about worship and Christian worship services. (I must admit that I would be in favour of answering cultural questions, I just don't think this is one and I do know that if it was one then that would be the reason it was regarded as off-topic). – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 4 '14 at 10:21
  • That's a good point. I meant to note another thing: The community seems to be particularly squeamish about anything close to politics. That may be why your question was closed. – 3961 Nov 4 '14 at 10:30
  • @fredsbend If it is a political problem then fair enough but then there are a lot of questions on this site which have at least as strong a political link as this one which are open: e.g. this or this. – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 4 '14 at 10:41
  • I thought @Flimzy left some extra comments on the question which explained the problem quite well, but they're gone now. – curiousdannii Nov 4 '14 at 12:41
  • Yes, a number of my comments are also missing including answering your final comment on the OP. I assume that this was considered too lengthy thus I'm trying to reboot the conversation here. – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 4 '14 at 12:48
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    @Reluctant_Linux_User Those topics, abortion and homosexuality, are certainly politicized, but they are not inherently political. I would say that patriotism is inherently political. – 3961 Nov 4 '14 at 16:56
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    btw, make inline links thusly: [link text](http://site.com) becomes link text – 3961 Nov 4 '14 at 16:57
  • @curiousdannii Of Flimzy's comments I saw, they did not adequately justify any close reasons in my opinion. But some comments have been deleted and I think some of Flimzy's were among them. – 3961 Nov 4 '14 at 16:59
  • @fredsbend Very helpful info on embedding links in comments. I have not had that down! However, I do think that we could find open questions that deal even more fully and overtly with politics rather than politicised issues e.g. capitalism and socialism. – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 4 '14 at 17:05
  • @Reluctant_Linux_User I just voted to close the second one on socialism. It has obvious issues, but apparently fell through the cracks. The question on Capitalism is very specifically asking about the Pope's words and in comparison to the previous Pope, though the question was spawned from a political commentator and the topic of their words is political. I agree with you, but those are not good examples. – 3961 Nov 4 '14 at 17:27
  • How about voting? I'd argue that is a pretty political. It is dealing with Christian responses to democratic participiation. Yes this question is asking for Biblical support similarly my question is asking about a Christian practice. This question is positively rated and open. It has been seen by at least two highly rated users. There are a lot of examples of open political questions. Questions that are far more political than this one. Politics is at most tangential to a question about worship. – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 4 '14 at 17:38
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    @Reluctant_Linux_User Yes, the voting question is a good example to make your case. Comparing the two, that one is asking for how the Bible is used to support either position. Yours however is a definitional question. You could shift yours in that direction, asking how the Bible is used to support or reject this behavior. Actually, I recommend doing just that. But this was closed, so idk. The community can't seem to decide exactly what they want on this topic. – 3961 Nov 4 '14 at 17:58
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    If it's any consolations, this is a confusing point on which there is not clear guidelines. I've actually been somewhere between baffled and frustrated with community close vote action lately. I've watched a few things (like this one) get closed that I think should be open and a few get re-opened that I thought should stay closed. – Caleb Nov 5 '14 at 6:24
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    I'm putting this here as well to try to draw more attention to it: The blog mentions quite a lot of patriotic pieces of music being used "God Bless America" "America the beautiful" etc. I could ask about the prevalance of their usage in American churches and if it spikes in and around patriotic festival days like July 4th and Thanksgiving. I could do the same concerning use of the pledge of allegiance in church. Would this be on topic or too cultural? – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 6 '14 at 2:39
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Part of the problem is that for this site the word "Christian" is not an adequate label. Just as Christendom is too broad to talk about "Christian belief", so it is too broad to talk about "Christian practice". We have scoping rules to help with this: most questions need a denominational or doctrinal restriction. It doesn't always have to be a denomination, but it does have to be a recognisable and identifiable group.

One of the questions you linked to is a history question. Those don't need scoping like this, although if the question is based on an false premise then you may need to give an overview based on different denominations. The other question had a denominational scoping.

Your recent question wasn't scoped like that. It had two references. One was to a satirical blog which was so short it really didn't give any indication what it was talking about. The second was better with a lot more details but it used different terms than what the question was talking about, and it was still highly anecdotal. Neither of those two references could be used to identify a Christian group, and that's why the question was put on hold.

And just a further note: the groups we want to be able to identify have to be more than coincidental. It would obviously be pretty dumb to ask for a comparison of the doctrine of churches which have average sermon lengths of 20 minutes compared to 25 minutes - there's no reason to think there's any point of commonality other than that. So similarly asking about all the churches in the US with services on July 4 or which are somewhat patriotic is too broad. Just because patriotic Americans have services on the same day doesn't mean that they do so with the same purpose, that their liturgies will be similar, that the topics of their sermons will be related, or anything else which could be the basis of a good question. There's definitely no way to know that they are what that blog was talking about!

But if, for example, there was an organisation called the Christian Patriots Fellowship which encouraged its member churches to hold annual services on July 4, was founded by three well known ministers, and published books promoting their beliefs, then that would be something you could ask a good question about.

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    I find this to be an unsatisfactory answer: 1. This question cannot necessarily be scoped by denomination but has been defined and limited geographically and by calendar. It doesn't ask about patriotic worship in general but confines it to a specific area and occasion in the calendar. It is quite specific. The group in question is confined by the specificity of the question. This renders the points made invalid. Are you suggesting that the only way this site finds acceptable to narrow the scope of a question is through denominational/theological school? If so the answer should state that. – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 4 '14 at 13:12
  • 2. It does not address the wider concerns about how to treat worship and practices questions. 3. This answer suggests that there is a problem with the term patriotic worship. So if I instead called it 4th-of-july worship practices in the USA and used quotes from the same blog and used the same post - would this suddenly be acceptable? This seems unlikely and would have been an easy edit for any responsible high rated user to make rather than closing a question. – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 4 '14 at 13:12
  • 4. It uses historicity to explain why one of the example questions was left open - if I'd added "between 1880 and 1980" to my question I doubt it would have remained open. If this kind of framing would reopen the question I would be happy to do it. – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 4 '14 at 13:13
  • It seems as if Reluctant_Linux_User is asking about something a bit more specific than "services on July 4 or which are somewhat patriotic". From my understanding, it seems that the second article linked to in the question is calling those practices worship of one other than God, namely America, in a time separated for the worship of God. It does seem as if it's "a recognisable and identifiable group", namely that of the people who have worship services for America rather than God. As for the first link, I think including the context of the question is important, as it can give potential – Zenon Nov 4 '14 at 14:32
  • answerers a better understanding of what is being asked. – Zenon Nov 4 '14 at 14:36
  • @Reluctant_Linux_User You have to be able to show that what you're asking about is more than coincidental. Lots of Americans are Christian and lots of Americans are patriotic. To ask about their July 4 services you have to show that there's a movement of Christian Patriotic Americans which those people would recognise being part of. – curiousdannii Nov 5 '14 at 0:38
  • @curiousdannii I do not understand this comment. To my mind, there is no question of this being a coincidence. There are worship services being held on the 4th of July in the USA - they do have a patriotic theme and they are being held by Christians. What is the question? – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 5 '14 at 15:57
  • Just because patriotic Americans have services on the same day doesn't mean that they do so with the same purpose, that their liturgies will be similar, that the topics of their sermons will be related, or anything else which could be the basis of a good question. There's definitely no way to know that they are what that blog was talking about! A better question would focus on an identifiable movement. If there was an organisation called the Christian Patriots Fellowship which held annual meetings on July 4, founded by three famous ministers, then that would be something you could ask about. – curiousdannii Nov 6 '14 at 0:24
  • How about the music would that be a good point to start from? – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 6 '14 at 0:57
  • Which music do you mean? – curiousdannii Nov 6 '14 at 1:23
  • The blog mentions quite a lot of patriotic pieces of music being used "God Bless America" "America the beautiful" etc. I could ask about the prevalance of their usage in American churches and if it spikes in and around patriotic festival days like July 4th and Thanksgiving. I could do the same concerning use of the pledge of allegiance in church. Would this be on topic or too cultural? – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 6 '14 at 2:29
  • That would probably be okay, but it would be good to have concrete examples, preferably from more than one source if possible. – curiousdannii Nov 6 '14 at 2:43
  • That sounds a lot more doable than other options for trying to get this on topic. I will look into it. – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 6 '14 at 2:48
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The problem I see with the "Patriotic Worship" question is not that it's about Christian practices, but that it's about satirical, probably largely fictional practices of some unnamed group which may or may not be Christian.

The question is about a joke. There's no indication that the joke is even talking about Christians. And even if it is talking about Christians, there's no indication that it's talking about real Christians.

If the joke had been talking about "Jedi Worship" I'm sure you wouldn't be asking about it here, even if there are some Christians who practice something which might be considered worship in some sort of Jedi fashion.

It's a satirical comment, clearly not meant to be taken literally. Without much more context to clearly tie it to something specific and specifically Christian, I see it as off-topic.


UPDATE

Since the edit to the question, it's not asking about a specific, defined practice: How are a certain type of song used in churches in the USA. It's still not a (in my experience) common practice, but it's well enough defined now that no guesswork is necessary.

At first blush I thought the question was still too broad, as there are thousands of churches in the USA, and the answer will vary greatly by congregation, denomination, and even who the worship leader/pastor is at any given time. But the last sentence saved it, making it, IMO, a suitably scoped "overview question":

... which denominations are the most likely to use them and does their usage peak around patriotic festivals such as Independence Day and Memorial Day?

  • If I entirely removed the comic element to this question the question would have stood just fine. If I did that would that have removed your objections? There were sources on it before this question was closed which have nothing to do with everydayimpastoring. Why did you ignoring them? (That said look at that site - the whole purpose of the site is to do takes on church life and life as a member of the clergy. It's funny because it the situations it discusses, if not the responses, are true. I encourage you to take another look at everydayimpastoring. You clearly are not getting it.) – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 6 '14 at 8:52
  • Regardless of that have you checked out the question in its current form? Would you now regard it as on topic or do I still need to delete the everydayimpastoring link? – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 6 '14 at 8:55
  • If you had only removed the comic, the question would not have been any better. However in its current form I have voted to re-open. – Flimzy Nov 6 '14 at 12:44
  • Could you clarify how you think your concerns have been addressed? I was pleasantly but really very surprised you're in favour of reopening this question. – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 6 '14 at 13:04
  • @Reluctant_Linux_User: Answer updated. – Flimzy Nov 6 '14 at 13:09
  • If I am understanding you correctly then, the problem really isn't the satirical nature of the source but the lack of detail it provides - a critique that I do understand. Let's consider a hypothetical: if I were to ask a question about clerical structures within the Church of England and cited a transcript of the TV comedy "Rev" where the main protagonist Rev. Adam Smallbone starts rattling off (very accurate) information about it to an increasingly bewildered imam would that be considered an acceptable even if non-ideal source of information in your opinion? – Reluctant_Linux_User Nov 6 '14 at 13:39
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    @Reluctant_Linux_User: That's probably a fair assessment, yes. Satire or other humor based clearly and specifically on reality would be a reasonable basis for a question. – Flimzy Nov 6 '14 at 14:49

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