Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"Jesus made me puke"

My brother recently pointed me to a story written by a reporter for Rolling Stone Magazine named Matt Taibbi. He went "undercover"at a retreat sponsored by John Hagee's church in San Antonio. Some of his perceptions were pretty interesting.

Here are a couple of excerpts from it:
When most Americans think of the Christian right, they think of scenes from television — great halls full of perfectly groomed people in pale suits and light-colored dresses, smiling and happy and full of the Holy Spirit, robotically singing hymns at the behest of some squeaky-clean pastor with a baritone voice and impossible hair. We don't get to see the utterly bat[dung] world they live in, when the cameras are turned off and their pastors are not afraid of saying the really dumb stuff, for fear of it turning up on CNN. In American evangelical Christianity, in other words, there's a ready-for-prime-time stage act — toned down and lip-synced to match a set of PG lyrics that won't scare the advertisers — and then there's the real party backstage, where the spiritual hair really gets let down.
I totally agree with this stereotype of Christianity. As a "public" Christian, I have to watch what I say. I hope that I can be the same in "public" as I can in "private" but that can be hard.
again, there is something very odd about modern Christian men — although fiercely pro-military in their politics and prehistorically macho in their attitudes toward women's roles, on the level of day-to-day behavior they seem constantly ready to break out weeping like menopausal housewives.
I couldn't help but nod my head again. If men think this about the Church/Christ, no wonder why they don't want to come check things out.

After two days of nearly constant religious instruction, songs, worship and praise — two days that for me meant an unending regimen of forced and fake responses — a funny thing started to happen to my head. There is a transformational quality in these external demonstrations of faith and belief. The more you shout out praising the Lord, singing along to those awful acoustic tunes, telling people how blessed you feel and so on, the more a sort of mechanical Christian skin starts to grow all over your real self. Even if you're a degenerate Rolling Stone reporter inwardly chuckling and busting on the whole scene — even if you're intellectually enraged by the ignorance and arrogant prejudice flowing from the mouth of a terminal-ambition case like Phil Fortenberry [the leader of the weekend]— outwardly you're swaying to the gospel and singing and praising and acting the part, and those outward ministrations assume a kind of sincerity in themselves. And at the same time, that "inner you" begins to get tired of the whole spectacle and sometimes forgets to protest — in my case checking out into baseball reveries and other daydreams while the outer me did the "work" of singing and praising. At any given moment, which one is the real you?
I wonder how much this is true for a normal Christian. How much is it just "goin' through the motions"?

You can read the whole article here.

What are thoughts? There is an interesting part when he tries speaking in tongues. I know this is not a typical interaction with the Church and there are some things I disagree with the Deepak/Tony Robbins methods with the Bible comparison (just wondering what came first). It does lead to good conversation.

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