Are You an Emogelical?

Here’s some Friday fun.  I think it’s time to coin a new term: Emogelical.  It’s a mash-up of Emo and Evangelical.

Among the Urban Dictionary definitions of Emo is,

A group of white, mostly middle-class well-off kids who find imperfections in there [sic] life and create a ridiculous, depressing melodrama around each one. They often take anti-depressants, even though the majority don’t need them. They need to wake up and deal with life like everyone else instead of wallowing in their imaginary quagmire of torment.
And among the Urban Dictionary definitions of Evangelical is this bitter rant,
A sect of christianity that is full of mindless, brainwashed followers who spend their entire life in misery when they aren’t spreading the gospel. The whole sect is full of middle class/rich white folks who want to go to church to be entertained by crying, hysterical preachers and find new prejudices to be in support of. They believe that their religion is the only way of life and refuse to accept any other ways. There is no ‘conversation’ with evangelicals…they only convert. BEWARE.
White evangelical Christian males, under the age of 40, who wear skinny jeans, attend Q Conferences, and think there’s a 72% chance that Jennifer Knapp is going to hell for being a lesbian.  They care a lot about poor people, from a distance. They get Seth Godin’s daily email and they think that Tim Keller is right about the atonement, even though they don’t quite understand him. Hair is very important. They are known to create drama in the College and Young Career groups at mega-churches for breaking up with their girlfriends because “the Lord just wants me to be single for a while, so that I can really give him all the glory,” and they say that they’ve “kissed dating goodbye.” When they start dating someone else in the College and Young Career group the next week, they say, “the Lord just really laid it on my heart that I need to start courting again.” Emogelicals often take online seminary classes and work as baristas.

Whaddya think, Zach?

If you think you’ve got a better definition of Emogelical, or an example, please post it in the comments.

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  • wow!! that’s awesome and unbelievably accurate….at least where I come from:)

  • Lol.. The bit about the dating scene.. Too true

  • Hilarious… Love the I Kissed Dating Stuff…

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  • Scott Erwin

    why you so mean tony jones. why so mean?

  • Scot McKnight

    Good one. I saw more Emogelicals at Catalyst than at Q.

  • so good 🙂
    “Emologicals are also known for raging about their hatred of the ending of LOST”

  • Yea I would imagine allot of them hanging out at Catalyst or Cornerstone.

    and they probably got really pissed when David Bazan left the beloved and burnt all their pedro the lion records.

    They practice there love me eye’s while strumming the latest Chris Tomlin number.

    Oh and Mark D say’s they all cry for an hour after masturbating.

  • You can’t forget the trendy glasses and occasional scarves on a warm summer’s day.

  • Most emogelicals wear that macs were created by God himself and enjoy sporting an american apparel v-neck every chance they get.

  • You can’t forget their array of TOMS shoes or rainbow brand flip flops. They go hand in hand.

  • It’s cool. I’ll admit it. I read “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” in 1998 after graduating from high school.

    My line that I told people when they asked why….? “I’m going to really focus on God my first year at college. Basically, I’m going to take all the time that I COULD be making out with girls – and make out with GOD INSTEAD.”


    I said that.

    • Whit Johnstone

      Did you end up realizing that you were gay or bi? That would be hilarious.

  • mary

    Nice one…

    Maybe the emogelical has a life transforming mission experience in Africa/South America/Asia, and comes back full of stories of how they made a difference, photos of themselves well groomed standing next to photogenic kids and an obsession for buying fair trade coffee sadly not supported by any more challenging behavioural changes.

  • huh.. i wrote emological instead of emogelical. the neologism train just keeps on rollin’.

  • I had an old girlfriend circa 1982 suggesting ‘this is the lord saying we should put him first in the relationship and not each other’ when I suggested we ‘take a break’ (I never could say the truth)

    I think this may have been me, if it wasn’t for the fact that I’m over 40 and lost my hair about the same time as I became post-emogelical 😉

    Great Friday fun… the best fun is always close to the truth (sorry to use the word truth)

  • I like to make fun of the “cool” Christian crowd, and I often have a healthy sense of cynicism, but this just sounds bitter. I know it’s meant to be fun/funny but the comedy didn’t work for me here.

  • Jo Jo

    “Maybe the emogelical has a life transforming mission experience in Africa/South America/Asia, and comes back full of stories of how they made a difference, photos of themselves well groomed standing next to photogenic kids and an obsession for buying fair trade coffee sadly not supported by any more challenging behavioural changes”.


    Pot, say hello to kettle. Sounds like sour grapes to me…

  • Tony,

    I have no comment. I have to ignore this stuff. You know that. 😉

  • Thank you – that made my day!

  • Rob L

    It’s interesting to make explicit the emo feature that marks out emogelicals, which is that of melodrama – melodrama, or the verbal rehashing of internal psychological conflict, becomes the mode in which one’s “spiritual warfare” is worked out. This is why you get the turn to psycho-pragmatic preaching – you forgive other people, not because you’re commanded to forgive or because you’ve been forgiven more already – but because to not forgive would leave you bitter, and you would not be ‘free’. Forgiving is good for your psychological well-being, and the devil will try to stir you to anger etc, rather than forgiving. This can usually be boxed as a feature of the general “self-help” trend, but I actually think it’s a symptom of a mild accomodation to what Charles Taylor calls the ‘buffered self’ of modernity. Evangelicals/emogelicals might be inerrantists, but they probably don’t actually think that the devil and demons can affect them physically by piercing the material/spiritual divide. However since the mind is immaterial it resides in the non-physical domain subject to spiritual influence, and so the site of malign spiritual action shifts from the physical (things like skin diseases or blindness as in the NT) to the mental (anger, bitterness, lust, pride). This is why there is such a high degree of introspection and concern with one’s emotions – the mental, and therefore the psychological, is the site where one’s spirituality is played out, where sinful temptations are resisted, where faith is enacted, etc. Emogelicals are a symptom of the perfect storm of buffered selves, the shift of the demonic site of influence from the physical to the mental finding a perfect coincidence with the US post-ideological age in which there is no external battle left to fight, no cause to pursue except for one’s one internal mental well-being – exhibit A: Dawson’s Creek and the ‘adultification’ of teen relationship language, and even more so, of the provision by media of an extensive sophisticated language and thereby the supply of a mode of experience. Here ends my rant. I like to laugh at the jokes too, and I did giggle at the all-too-true caricature, but I was also aware that even humorous phenomena like this have a cultural/political cause that it can’t hurt to try to identify.

  • What’s also interesting is that Emo music is known for having cheerful sounding music but with morose lyrics. Could Emogelicalism also be defined as having an emphasis on a cheery exterior appearance but with a depressing narrative?

  • ariel

    Lord, you all are mean. Speaking as an oldster (45), I hope you develop some tender mercy toward other Christians as you get older. The whole thread just sounds “cooler-than-thou”, rather than funny.

    • Ariel, I am 42.

      • And, Ariel, I see your point. But I guess I figured there were plenty of caricatures of emergents online for you to choose from. Try for an insider who regularly spoofs us.

  • Kimberly

    Speaking as an oldster Christian, nearly 42, I have to say I find more truth than humor in Tony’s post. My heart is tender to all but has not enjoyed being tenderized by self righteous folks who T so wittily describes here. Humor can she’s light on truth in a gentler way than vitriolic spew of the many harmful ways we Christians behave.

  • ariel

    I appreciate your response, but here’s the thing, and I say this knowing that my chances of being understand on this site are slim: Self-righteousness runs both ways. I first read a couple of Tony’s books, then heard him speak & was impressed both by the direction of his thought and by his demeanor in person. But reading this blog has been frustrating more often than not. The mockery directed at other Christians (for instance the implication that it’s only the “ick factor” that prevents all Christians from embracing same-sex marriage) is so unhelpful. Can we get real? Christians who “care about poor people from a distance”? More fun to throw stereotypes than to acknowledge that genine compassion is not confined to folks whose theology exactly matches yours. And the thread comment just went downhill from there, for the most part.
    When I first started reading the post I thought perhaps Tony was going to take a self-deprecating poke at Emergent types (a group I strongly identify with) – like:
    A group of white, mostly middle-class well-off young adults who find imperfections in their churches and create a ridiculous, depressing melodrama around each one. They have contempt for “Jesus is my boyfriend” expression of worship unless they come from ancient mystics. They are mortified that anyone still believes in penal substitutionary atonement, flatly reject the label “evangelical” and are sure they understand God’s politics (progressive, liberal, maybe radical). They’re secretly thrilled that Jennifer Knapp has come out because they enjoy the discomfort this causes her intolerant former fans.

  • You people are a bunch of hypocrites. It’s a flippin’ stereotype. Get over it! You categorize people in to stereotypes daily whether you judge by race, ethnicity, or socio-economical class.

  • ariel

    I know that you’re almost as much an oldster as I am. It would be interesting to know the average age of your readers here. Perhaps the cynicism and snark that I worry about is actually more in evidence among the middle-aged than among young adults. All I know is, I blog on religion for a newspaper and after dealing with snotty atheists (not that they ALL are, mind you) I’m inclined to be gentle with fellow Christians.
    And thanks for the link.

  • Liz

    I didn’t think the post sounded mean and I thought it exaggerated things just enough that it was really funny. I don’t really understand the backlash.

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  • alishamaile

    Emogelicals often take online seminary classes and work as baristas.

    🙂 ha. love it.

  • Keep the rare gem titles coming, olks. im going to rent all the ones I somehow missed!

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