Monday, November 26, 2007

mostly words

[WARNING: explicitly religious content, including anti-institutional/denomination rant]

Before Thanksgiving, I was struggling with how to give voice to my increasing antipathy towards an increasingly offensive aspect of evangelicalism.

It kept coming out just nasty and critical, however, so I heeded my grandmother's advice and "since I couldn't say anything nice, I said nothing at all."

I've experienced several other examples of what's bothering me since then, though, so maybe today I can actually start to talk about it, without belaboring and humiliating one poor example as indicative of "THE LARGER PROBLEM."

I have 3 examples now.

1. The original example, a blog that purports to be a place to "discuss" worldview, religion, philosophy and culture, but which instead appears to be more an evangelical site for propaganda. There's no discussion. The few "nonbelievers" who stumble into the place are promptly ganged up on with the "accepted arguments". The ones who actually try to discuss the "accepted arguments" are largely ignored or dismissed.

2. A friend of mine, of evangelical persuasion, emailed me this, an ACTION ALERT that asks me to TAKE ACTION and shop at Wal-Mart instead of Target this Christmas, in order to "defeat" the "homosexual challenge to traditional marriage."

3. A Virginia megachurch is "expanding", through "outreach", and seeking to rent the Uptown movie theatre in Washington D.C.'s Cleveland Park for Sunday morning "services". The problem? Few - if any - of Cleveland Park's residents would be attending, and there is no parking for the additional minimum 400 cars that would be bringing the outreaching "worshippers" into the community. Round one went to the residents, as you may read the Washington Post, here, but the McClean church is not giving up. Ironically, they call this process "community campus development". According to the Washington Post article, their fearless leader explained: "I should have known that Satan wasn't going to take this lying down. We're going to fight, and we're going to let the Lord Jesus open the door."

Now that's a way to foster community!

It rather sounds like the attitude of the settlers towards the American Indians. . . .

I don't think I'd mind so much if this was about a bunch of Christians who lived in Cleveland Park and wanted a place to meet on Sunday mornings, in groups larger than living room-sized ones. Neither would I be offended if this was about actual Christian people actually moving to Cleveland Park and looking for a place of worship. And I'm not offended by people talking about what they believe. Free speech - remember? I take it very seriously. Just as I take the freedom of religion seriously.

I find it wierd that a church would want to rent a place in an area where none (or few) of its members live, so they could travel there on Sunday mornings at the considerable inconvenience not only to themselves but also to the people who already live there, so that they can make a show of "outreach" and so-called "worship" - and call it a "community campus."

Is it just me, or does this strike you as a bit strange? It seems to me that the new denomination - Evangelicalism - is more about ideological expansionism and warfare - and not about "winning" hearts and minds, let alone facilitating the changed lives that result when Jesus is involved. This is all about games, showmanship, and one-ups-manship. It's the equivalent of territory scent-marking or counting coup. You either live there or you don't. Stop making forays to piss and leave "Kilroy was here" messages for the devil!

I don't much like it - and I can imagine how the Cleveland Park residents feel.

Neither, however, do I like the unthinking command to link shopping at one particular store as indicative of the merits of traditional marriage or the morality of homosexuality. Hello?! Why not a little trial by combat instead? Or maybe a little witch-dunking? Divination or casting lots anyone?

As for the worldview discussion site, I expect that at one point the "moderator" will discover that he's less about discussion than actually trying to establish his own worldview and getting others to buy in. Let's face it: he doesn't want to talk about the worldview of an atheist. He wants to change it.

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