Sunday, October 21, 2012

One Sunday, three preachers

Here it is Sunday again as October plunges toward the November 6 wire and that come-to-Mitt or come-to-Obama moment. It's been just like an old-fasioned revival meeting, but with dueling messiahs and differing visions of hell. 

But heck, we're all just looking for a savior. And poor Jesus --- handed his pink slip and escorted from the building, he's pursuing other opportunities these days.


The Pew Form on Religion and Public Life released results of its latest survey early in the month, concluding that "nones" --- Americans who profess no religious affiliation --- are in the ascendent. One in five now, up 15 percent in the last five years. For young adults --- those under 30 --- the percentage is higher, a third.

Hardly surprising. These are folks who look at the church and see an organization whoring for money, power and political control. I wonder how many more will walk away in the aftermath of this year's partisan brawl. Maybe Jesus is working that crowd now.

I'm intrigued enough by the video promo (top) for Shane Hipps' new book, "Selling Water by the River," to order a copy. Hipps is a preaching product of Mars Hill Church, founded by Rob Bell, who gave us "Love Wins," which outraged the orthodox by dissing hell. Hell if it weren't for hell, much of the church as we've known it wouldn't have a leg to stand on. Maybe Jesus has found work here.

Hipps has borrowed the line "selling water by the river" from Zen, so that's intriguing. I like the brief sermon incorporated in the video, but of course haven't read the book. Watch it and see what you think. The orthodox, again, have declared it heresy --- but the principal hope in organized Christianity always has been heresy.


Also making the rounds this week is this YouTube video of the Rev. Phil Snider, pastor of Brentwood Christian Church in Springfield, Missouri, testifying earlier this year during Springfield City Council debate about expanding the city's non-discrimination policy to include LGBT people.

Snider deftly flips a script written by earlier Christian pastors citing God to defend racial segregation into an affirmation of the orthodox church's current targets. Interesting stuff. Jesus at work again?


Back in the church-as-whore department, you've got the Jesus-wept spectacle of Billy Graham, "America's pastor," now 94 and not necessarily coherent, propped up by first son Franklin to bless the Romney campaign during a personal visit, followed up by full-page advertising urging --- among other things --- votes "for those who protect the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman."

Shortly thereafter, the Billy Graham Evangelical Association removed Mormons from the list of hell-bound "cults" that it has spent decades condemning --- at least until after the election. You've gotta love it.

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