The Great American Gluttony
The Great American Gluttony has begun in earnest. This national orgy of capitalism and self indulgence with an occasional religious trapping is perhaps American religion at its best. As long as you have a plastic manager strategically placed on city property along with a plastic menorah you have met the religious requirements for the season of consumer gluttony raised to a fever pitch even though as any first year lawyer could tell you such a display is clearly unconstitutional! But this is what passes for “christianity” in Tea Party U S of A and its evangelical ghettos which are among other things the money changers run amuck and raised to art form.
In the United States as perhaps in no other country on earth “televangelist” rule the “religious” markets of the television industry. So much so that recently a congressman has called for hearings into how all the money the so called “ministries” generate annually is spent. This is long over due. My only suggestion to the honourable gentleman would be to expand his investigation to include all the churches in America. You may recall that the estimated collective wealth of the churches in the United States is in the trillions of dollars! For whatever reason there is something in the American psyche that lends itself to willingly being led down the primrose path especially when it comes to religion. I am always reminded of something Henry VIII is reported to have said to St. Thomas Moore…”some people follow me because I wear the Crown others follow me because they will follow anything that moves” and people in this country right readily follow anything that moves!
One of my “favorite” televangelist is a young chap with the mandatory slick backed black hair style and expensive business suit (how appropriate) who “pastors” a mega church of several thousand members. He writes numerous books and lectures extensively in the “feels good church” circuit. He is a consummate business man that knows how to market himself as a religious guru who can teach you how to feel good about yourself and how to make your life a “success”(as in money). He represents the “new school” that emphasizes youth and vitality and positive thinking. But there are plenty of the old school televangelists around that appeal to the less educated and culturally challenged. One who like his younger counterpart has the slick backed black hair (now dyed) and expensive business suit as well. (If I may digress for a moment clergy should never ever wear business suits for such is the uniform of the market place.) This chap preaches like Elmer Gantry and bellows like a steam engine. At the end of his tirade he comes to the camera and with tears in his eyes implores you to send him “seed” money as a love offering and a testimony to your faith commitment. To help you he even gives you “wisdom keys” on a graduated basis beginning at a hundred quid! Such marketing devices however are not limited to the ministry of the television. Remember the prestigious church in Asheville that hired the consultant firm to market their tithing campaign complete with the diagram showing Jesus embracing those who gave the most money! This church loves consulting firms!
Other than the fact that these so called clergymen and a few clergywomen are milking people for all they are worth in the name of Christ, and are living in multimillion dollar homes that would compete with the episcopal palaces in Europe, the great sadness of it all is the damage they do to the faith of Christ Jesus. Their “prosperity theology” is a dangerous psuedotheology that is completely contrary to the Gospel. It is the money changers in the Temple raised to an art form. Their “feel good” approach is neither healthy psychologically or spiritually. They have replaced the Holy Trinity with the unholy trinity of Western capitalism…”Me, myself, and I”. Lastly they have prostituted the Scriptures themselves.
Remember our Christian faith in not about feel good emotions but about life in all its uncertainties and injustices. It is about the Garden and the Cross. But above all it is the Resurrection for us all…no marketers need apply!
Peace and Blessings
Rev Andrew Gentry
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