Something’s Amiss — CJ Quartlbaum

CJ Quartlbaum
3 min readJan 5, 2024

Something’s amiss.

Sit back and look at the landscape of the American Christian world. To be frank, it kind of sucks. We, the children of the light, are barely holding on. I know that may not mean you, an individual reader, but I’m speaking about the collective.

Before you say, it’s not my collective, it’s those Christians over there, we would do well to remember Scripture’s words that we are one Church. This one church has lost all cache and credibility.

The last 50ish years of American church history have been abysmal. I emphasize America for two reasons. One, it’s where I live and two, you can argue that the global church has been doing some amazing things.

We’ve spent far too much time declaring war on the culture. Too much time deeply entrenching ourselves on the tertiary, quandary, and quinary issues (that was unnecessary but I really like the word quinary). We’ve drawn hard lines around people and issues, declaring a stringent black-and-white ethic in areas that are a little more gray. Worst of all, we have pretended that we are the ones who own the block on right theology and everyone else is wrong.

This led to a place where the American church finds itself just as polarized as the world outside of it. We make enemies of each other and are unable to sit across the table from those we disagree with. We look at those we disagree with politically, theologically, and culturally as though they are the scum of the earth. Unworthy of our time, presence, and energy.

We somehow forget that Jesus of Nazareth sat with sinners and tax collectors. We somehow forget that the cross reconciled us not just vertically but horizontally as well. So even if our worst thoughts about our enemies were true, we are still called to exemplify a little more compassion and grace than we are currently showing.

You can argue that the Church has always been this way. There has always been some sort of division within her ranks. There have been splits and councils and schisms and great debates for as long as she has existed. After all of this time, why does it feel like things are only getting worse?

Relatable Content

If we’re just talking about the last century the American church’s plummet coincides with the rise of something else. It’s totally unrelated and yet they’ve grown like twin flames. It’s the rise in our consumption of highly processed foods. All of these packaged goods that dominate the middle of our grocery stores that didn’t even exist 100 years ago, now make up roughly 66% of American teens’ diets. Adults are not far behind on that metric.

There’s a weird similarity between the two; Highly processed foods and the American gospel. They’re both cheap, ubiquitous, generation-killing, brain-destroying, tasteless, odorless, cheap, and exported globally. They’re both killing us. We’ve been told our whole lives they’re good for us. They have the labels of heart-healthy, gospel-centered, and socially aware, and are generally recognized as safe (GRAS) but have proved to be anything but that.

I plan to spend the next few weeks exploring the relationship between these twin flames. Live & Labor presents: The Unprocessed Gospel.

Originally published at on January 5, 2024.



CJ Quartlbaum

Writer and Speaker from Brooklyn. Race, justice, theology, fitness,and a few random things are what I like to write about.