John and the Religious Posers

Jun 27, 2023

When I was in Middle School, it was the early nineties, and not only was Seattle grunge rock a cool thing to be into, but because of the influences of many of the Seattle grunge bands, it became cool to be into late sixties and early seventies rock music.

It became popular to buy and wear Grateful Dead t-shirts, especially the tie-dyed ones with dancing bears on them. I knew nothing about the Grateful Dead, except maybe hearing the songs “Casey Jones” and “Truckin’” a few times. But in 1993, at the age of twelve, I bought a tie-dyed Grateful Dead shirt with dancing bears on it. It looked something like this:

One day, while walking around with some friends in the little suburban town of Hudson Ohio, I was wearing the shirt, and I ran into another kid I knew, Dave. Dave was also wearing a Grateful Dead t-shirt. Dave was a year younger than me. Dave’s parents were legit Dead-Heads and Dave, even at the age of eleven, had been listening to the Grateful Dead for awhile and had been to see them in concert.

Dave came up to me and said, “Hey, nice shirt. So what’s your favorite Grateful Dead song?” 

I answered, trying to sound sincere, “Uhhhhh… I don’t know, probably Truckin’?” 

“What other songs do you like?”

“I like Casey Jones.”

“Do you know any other songs besides ‘Truckin’’ and ‘Casey Jones’?”

I started to panic. This felt like an authenticity interrogation.

“Yea, I know lots of songs, just can’t remember the names. I like em’ all.” I replied. “Dude, you’re not a fan of the Grateful Dead, you’re a poser.” Dave replied.

Being called a “poser” in 1993 was one of the most ultimate insults one could receive amongst their peers. I somehow found a way to blow Dave off and get away from him, as well as cover the embarrassment that he made me feel in front of my friends. But Dave was right. I bought the shirt to make people think I was into the Grateful Dead, but didn’t know anything about them.

John the Baptist was to following God what Dave was to being a Grateful Dead fan. John the Baptist’s ministry was all about getting people to get real and become real disciples of the living God, and this included calling people out for being “posers”.