Sunday, January 11, 2009

That's Entertainment III: Do We Really NEED All This Stuff?

Or Do You Want To See The Choir Go Naked?

The French Cathars of the 13th Century considered themselves Christians. They believed in doing good deeds. They met in houses or open fields. However, they did not eat meat, they did not have priests, they did not have graven images of God or Christ. They did not believe in churches. Nor the pope. It's quite understandable why they became the first case of genocide in Western Civilization (the Crusades don't count simply because some people actually survived the Crusades). Mennonites and Amish seem to get by with all the "worldly" goods in and around our churches today. But look at who's PRODUCING some of those worldly goods!

There are: 300,000 churches in U.S. with 118 million church goers in 227 denominations

Spiritual Inspiration Costs:
Average Worship Center (New Church Building): $2.5 million Pastor salary: $85,000 "Parsonage": $225,000 Choir Robes: $65 each Vestments: $2000 Average yearly donation (per capita): $1800
Again, ask yourself: what do you NEED to help you attain spirituality? Even REDEMPTION doesn't cost this much! So why do we lavish money on churches? Rick Warren emphasizes a "social theology" as opposed to a "prosperity theology." But if you look at both their ledgers, they spend about the same. And as for selfishness: do the churches with priceless artifacts make more money by tourism than the artifact is worth? Whatever happened to "sell what you have, give to the poor and follow me"? Just a thought.

That's Entertainment II: Ted Haggard Is Out Of The Wilderness!

He's Hedging For A Place
In Rick Warren's World!
(Well, he does have experience going door-to-door!)

Ted Haggard is back in the news - sort of. He's promoting a documentary about him called "The Trials of Ted Haggard". He seems to be backpedaling as fast as Rick Warren:

Asked to expand on his attitude toward homosexuality, Haggard said, "I believe all human beings fall short of the standards they believe in."

Backpedaling in a vague sort of way

He added, "I would say the biggest change is I now know about hatred than I ever dreamed, and I know it doesn't help. And I know more about judgment and I know it doesn't help. Since my experience, I know more about the power of love and forgiveness. I know a lot more about the necessity of people not judging one another."

Haggard said he isn't qualified to judge what factors into one's sexuality, but still believes it's "God's perfect plan" for marriage to be between a man and woman.

During a guest sermon last November at a friend's church in Illinois, Haggard said a co-worker of his father molested him when he was 7, an experience that "started to produce fruit" later. Evidently Haggard is also trying for stand-up comedy. Clarifying that Friday, Haggard said: "I'm certainly not saying that because of that, I did this. I did what I did by my choice, and I'm responsible for it."

So now we know: he has seen "discrimination" and "hate", he is true-blue traditional marriage and he considers being homosexual a choice. His next sermon will be at Saddleback Church with a cast of thou...well, some other people.

That's Entertainment I: Howdy Jesus!

Texas. O.K., It Figures

Cowboy Churches

It's all about entertainment, isn't it? The Medieval churches banned public entertainment, but approved of "morality plays." Churches were designed to inspire awe and teach morality to the illiterate masses. The ceremonies were as dazzling as the churches could make them. The Renaisance was funded chiefly by the church.

All of that was to change with the Reformation. Pomp and ritual were frowned upon. The preacher became the embodiment of entertainment. Itinerant preachers were popular because they were known for their powerful rhetoric (and advance PR).

Hellfire and damnation was, if not a deterrent to sin, a sanctioned entertainment. Tent revivals were popular with singing and clapping.

Then came Aimee Semple McPherson and her showmanship.

WAXAHACHIE, Texas - Moments after flying headfirst onto the arena floor dirt, the man gets up and brushes off his protective vest as rodeo clowns rush in to distract the still-bucking bull.

The crowd cheers as the announcer reveals he's fine, just before the chute opens with another cowboy atop a menacing bull.

But this isn't a typical rodeo. It's an outreach ministry of the Cowboy Church of Ellis County, which has grown from about 300 to 2,200 members since it began nearly nine years ago. The church about 30 miles south of Dallas now bills itself as the world's largest cowboy church.

What's the difference between entertainment and religion?
Not a lot. Remember: in America, we've made a religion out of entertainment and entertainment out of religion. I won't even go into the "church=goodness" equation. Ever since man decided it would be better to worship a god in groups (safety in numbers), there have been hundreds of thousands of organizations for worship. As man progressed, rituals and places of worship became more and more elaborate, sometimes obliterating the god being worshiped. Pressure to join these organizations is immense. Remember the PEW research poll on Congress and religion we posted a while back? If you recall, no Representative or Senator was willing to be counted as "unaffiliated", even though a large segment of the population did so.

"Going to church" these days is really just an affirmation: you go to church, therefore you are a religious person. You go to a particular kind of church, you believe what that church preaches. But churches don't see things that way. Like the old stripper song, "Ya gotta have a gimmick," many churches know that they have to do something different to corral the herd. Medieval churches lured the faithful in with special relics. Reformation churches had golden-tongued preachers. Today we've got fog machines, light shows, rock bands, coffee shops, skate board parks. Throw in a couple of alien life forms and, brother, you've got yourself a church!

Just a thought.