Saturday, August 16, 2008

Rick Warren vs The Christofascists: A Purpose Driven Hoax?

Saddleback Church: Religion Meets Las Vegas...And Then Some!

I'm not really a conspiracy buff, I just talk like one when it comes to organized religion: I don't trust it. Religious leaders are too much like politicians. Do you trust them? Hence, it may sound a bit arrogant, but a religious leader has to EARN my trust. Titles and (mostly honorary) doctorates mean very little to me. The title of "Reverend" could have come from a box of Crackerjack for all I know. Even the title "New York Times Bestselling Author" means little to me, and I was in the book publishing business for 25 years.
(Left: St. Vitus Cathedral - Built for Awe and Inspiration)

The Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren, has been one of the bestselling books of all time - the sale of 20 million books confirms it. The book has been translated into dozens of different languages. Warren's "method" has been taught in thousands of churches across the country. So why don't I trust this guy?

I can honestly say I don't know. There are some things I can cite, like his biblical literacy, but that's not enough to label him a Christofascist. It may be his passion for evangelizing "the whole world":
"Jesus said, 'This Gospel shall be preached into all the world to every nation and then the end shall come.' He's not coming back until that happens...The question is will we get to be the ones who get to be in on it or not. Will we be the generation who says, "Let's make this happen!'"
Warren's PEACE Plan - to put together a network of "10 million" churches to end poverty and disease (primarily AIDS) is bold and passionate. Notice I didn't write "compassionate." I succumb to people passionate about causes or careers as easily as the next person. Warren's passion, however, goes beyond religious belief: it hints at a lust for power. I'd research his PEACE Plan a lot more and see how he envisions himself within it. Warren's theology also rests on Original Sin and man's responsibility for all the evils in the world, including natural disasters:

"The Bible teaches that since sin entered the world, way back with the first human beings, we have lived in an imperfect, broken planet, and that causes hurricanes and tornadoes."

(Right: Saddleback Church on the inside.
Unfortunately.Do you feel inspired yet?)
I'm not big on Original Sin. Just because good 'ole Saint Augustine had a massive amount of guilt doesn't mean people are born sinful. Original Sin brings humanity down a notch and practically equates man with sin: born guilty until proven innocent. I don't buy that either.

Warren is also a master of "The Seeker-Sensitive Movement" - paying attention to most of the "unchurched" souls and giving them a non-traditional, laid-back form of religious expression. Hawaiian shirts and sandals are O.K., and desire of material things is O.K. too - the movement encourages the marketing of churches to attract people. Some churches give away U2 tickets and church-logo frisbees while others have free ice cream trucks and martial arts classes (Christian warriors ala Rod Parsley).

So, is The Movement really bait and switch? Is Warren merely trying to attract new souls in order to build a theocratic empire? Having Barack Obama and John McCain come together for an informal debate may look like bipartisanship (and Warren himself refuses to endorse a candidate), but is it a move toward much greater things?
No matter which way you look at it, "evangelizing the entire world" will have serious casualties. People of other we-are-the-only-way religions will fight - to the death.

Just a thought.

Spirituality... with a latte! Or...

...wait til they get the skateboard park finished!

Rick Warren Redux

And Redux...And Redux...And Redux -
Until We find Out What's Going On!

O.K., I'm beating something to death (maybe myself), but notice that I placed it after the initial post so you don't have to read this if you don't want to.

A skateboard park?!! How much money was needed to build the 120-acre-rich-as Creosus-Riverside-California "campus"? A lot of ink was spent on how Saddleback was made up of tents for such a long time. So who (or what) gave Saddleback all the money? Joel Osteen? Nah, his church only rakes in $79 million a year; certainly not enough to help out Rick Warren in a pinch. I'm going to MinistryWatch right now. Wait...

Couldn't come up with anything, but I'll give Warren and his flock a chance and continue to see how much accountability and transparency there is to the ministry. Warren's ministry gives other pastors seminars and how-to books on how to enrich their ministries and truly become "fishers of men." (Maybe the books come with cost estimates on the skateboard park?)

Meanwhile, I noticed a lot of criticism and a whole world of nit-picking coming from grumbling and possibly jealous preachers: Warren doesn't fit this or that doctrine, he's so very "untraditional" and even (gasp!) secular in some sort of way. To his credit, Warren has proven that the unorthodox works just as well. But let's look at the BIG picture: 2,000 years after the birth of a religion, 30,000 denominations later, enough ideologies (and bombastic pharisees) to sink a battleship even if they were written on thin parchment - and "Christians" still can't seem to get it right. "We're the way to do it!" "No! We're the way!" "Wait! We have the truth! Don't believe those other fakes!" It's true: the United States of America leads the world in the number of Elmer Gantrys it houses.

And is all that back-biting and bickering for the "Love of God?" Would Rick Warren welcome another 120-acre "Purpose Driven" church next door? Not unless it was built according to his rules, I'll bet. From the looks of it (and I'm being judgmental here), Warren wants it all: money, fame, glory and, most of all - POWER!

HE's the one giving a party/forum for McCain and Obama, not anyone else. Rick Warren wants to hurry the coming of Christ by evangelizing the entire world. His forum today is just the beginning.

Just a thought.

OMG! She's 50!!!

Madonna's big pole
Originally uploaded by TabascoKid
Yes, Madonna was born on August 16, 1958. For someone who's reinvented herself a dozen times, she looks pretty good. I wanted to post her famous kiss with Britney, but I realized how demeaning that would Madonna. Alas, Britney and brains don't quite fit together, whereas Madonna and brains...let's just say that she was able to pull off most of those reinventions. Happy 50th, Madonna!!

In honor of Saddleback Church