Posts Tagged ‘denominations’

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote on the Wall about a quaint church in Beaumont, Texas making international news by calling themselves, “A bunch of jerks.”

They addressed the hypocrisy among the faithful, the stigma in the Church and the elephant dropping bombs in the room.

If it ain't broke, buy another one.

It was a bold move because the biggest cause of Atheism would be Christians who do not reflect Christ. Great idea, right? Apparently so, because it’s been cloned according to the Christian Post.

A megachurch [NorthRidge Church] in Southeast Michigan is making a lot of people uncomfortable with its new billboard campaign that proclaims that the church is for hypocrites, losers and liars.

Well, of course, they are making a lot of people uncomfortable… the formula worked once before. Why not do it again?

“The reality is all human beings are the same. They’re flawed. We’re all the same inside [the church] and outside. We too are failures, losers, … hypocrites,” [Pastor Brad Powell of NorthRidge Church] continued.

“Jesus didn’t put up higher fences in heaven to keep the bad people out,” he said. “Rather, Jesus came down to earth and dwelled among the people. When you look into God’s word, He never turns inward. He turns outward.”

Don’t get me wrong… he’s right. Regretfully.

However, just because the word changed from “jerks” to “hypocrites,” does not make this an original idea. There’s no such thing as an original idea anyway, but at least give it a few months before you poach it?!

It’s no secret I don’t have much affinity for stereotypical Christian marketing. I mean, how difficult must it be to take a well-known brand and make an evangelism hack job out of it?

Christian marketing usually means copied marketing.

Oh. The scripture. That'll make us forget about the familiar logo.

Consider God: There was nothing but his idea. He imagined with vivid detail, molded the earth with complete ingenuity and relished in the unique nature of his creation.

He didn’t copy a logo. He didn’t “borrow” an invention. Everything he did was an original.

And that’s why it baffles me that marketing and advertising professionals who love the Lord and have dedicated their lives to him can’t at least go about their trade with a tad more originality.

Brands like ‘Not of this World‘ have taken what ‘Affliction’, ‘Silver Star’ and ‘MMA Elite’ has done for the mixed martial artist crowds and brought it to the Church. Bravo.

And then, there is the status quo that believes take what is known, plaster a verse on it and call it “divine providence.”

We can do better. We must do better.

Pastor Brad (imagine, he doesn’t like being called that) understands this whole “jerk” thing is lightning in a bottle. Everyone is looking at this. Everyone appreciates this. Because everyone agrees with this… except for the folk who are this.

A thought for all pastors: Be unconventional. Be daring. And most importantly, try to be original. You tend to make more news that way.

Just ask the little church in Beaumont, Texas about that one.

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I'm too sexy for my Clerics

Am I the only fop that hasn’t seen this about a once-famous girl idol gone swiftly into a realm where no Episcopalian has ever gone before?

Meet Barbie – only she found Jesus… or perhaps raided Madonna’s reject collection. Check out the threads.

Our fashion model is rocking the latest in Episcopal Vicar wear today. Fresh from her spa appointment, the heifers munching on their Funyuns were saying, “Faw-faw-faw-faw-faw.”

And if there mouths weren’t pushing maximum density, I’m certain that would sound like, “Girl, when I get with Jesus, that’s exactly how I’m going to church.”

From WOW News’ Religion News Service:

The 11.5-inch-tall fictional graduate of Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley, Calif., has donned a cassock and surplice and is rector at St. Barbara’s-by-the-Sea in (where else?) Malibu, Calif.

She arrived at the church fully accessorized, as is Barbie’s custom. Her impeccably tailored ecclesiastical vestments include various colored chasubles (the sleeveless vestments worn at Mass) for every liturgical season, black clergy shirt with white collar, neat skirt and heels, a laptop with prepared sermon and a miniature, genuine Bible.

I doubt this is an evangelism tool from Mattel, so why in heaven do this? Do the dolts running this age-old brand really believe they will up their market share with this – Episco-Barbie?!

Turns out our evangelical babe isn’t from Mattel at all. It’s a gift from Rev. Julie Blake Fisher, an Episcopal priest in Kent, Ohio to her friend, fellow female priest, Rev. Dena Cleaver-Bartholomew, rector of Christ (Episcopal) Church, in Manlius, N.Y., near Syracuse.

“I got a phone call from my husband who said a large package had arrived; Julie had told me that she was making something for me. She used to be a dressmaker and she makes gorgeous stoles, so I thought she was making me a stole,” said Cleaver-Bartholomew. “When I came home and there was this enormous box, I knew it wasn’t just a stole!”

Fisher had made Episcopal Priest Barbie and a few vestments two years ago for the children in her parish to dress. And now, homely girls everywhere are asking Santa Jesus for this doll. (Incense not included).

You know, this is actually a smart move because as all divas know, black works with everything.

For the Jesus aficionados searching for the latest trinket for your little princess, I wonder what’s next [cue harp music]:

  1. Pentecostal Barbie – She can have the same raggedy hair and little girls will save money as they make her clothes too.
  2. Baptist Barbie – As the women serve in various outreaches, now they know they can look smart and work those pumps.
  3. Jehovah’s Witness Barbie – Good thing it’s only a doll because – like the real-life version – this one won’t talk in church either.
  4. Megachurch Barbie – Accessorize for the Lawd! And, when anorexia hits, rock the clerics and hide those stretch marks, girls.
  5. Mormon Barbie – She will work the Vicar look head-to-toe, only hers will be in 100% polyester. (Pair of Missionary Kens definitely not included).

Okay, no more Mr. Nice HiScrivener.

The insolent negligence on behalf of the Catholic Church and even His now-apparent-not-so-Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI is overwhelming. Any one seen the latest from the New York Times? No? Here’s the headline:

Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys

Courtesy: New York Times (He's the tool "praying")

Here’s the summary: Reverend” Lawrence Murphy was a priest in Milwaukee, Wis. who apparently had no business being a priest, much less around kids. This sinful derelict was worked as principal at the St. John’s School for the Deaf from 1950 – 1974.

Get that, DEAF kids. Murphy was ousted from that position when he was found as a crooked malefactor who “admitted to molesting at least thirty, and may have sexually abused more than 100 boys at St. John’s.”

He admitted to denigrating the lives of more than 100 boys to solely cop a feel. Priestly, ain’t it?

What happened to Murphy? Apparently no one asked and thanks to the old gray lady, we now know. NOTHING!

Who’s to blame for this unrighteous reprobate getting by for child molestation? Pope Benedict XVI.

Now before you get off claiming I’m a blasphemer and “touch not mine anointed,” this is reporting the facts. And, before you get all dexterous, think about this – some sleazy assistant principal who claims he’s a Christian at your son’s school gets handsy and your kid tells you about it. What do you do? Pray about it because you want to make sure God approves? Uh, not so much.

You grab the closest gun, vial of holy water and march straight to the school.

Now, say that same dude did it to 100, 200 or even 300 boys. Deaf boys. And the principal was told about this heinous act MANY TIMES and still did nothing to his assistant. Who are you mad at now? Hmmm… yeah, that’s what I thought. Back to the story.

The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.

Classy. 300 kids who already can’t talk have to deal with nightmares of a so-called “man of the cloth” molesting them and these nefarious nitwits are primarily concerned about a negative PR hit.

Seriously!? By the 70s, priest and child abuse were as much of a tandem in the headlines as Sonny & Cher; yet, no calls to parents, no punishment for the priest and no public apology. Nothing. Instead, then Cardinal B16 sat on his blessed assurance and looked for the closest Persian rug to sweep ol’ Murphy under.

Evidently, that broom was busy for the next 20 years…

In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case from Rembert G. Weakland, Milwaukee’s archbishop at the time. After eight months, the second in command at the doctrinal office, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vatican’s secretary of state, instructed the Wisconsin bishops to begin a secret canonical trial that could lead to Father Murphy’s dismissal.

Two years later, God finally intervened and Murphy died… still a priest! Good riddance, but as a certain book Il Papa has read declares, “God is not mocked… a man sows what he reaps.”

News came out following this tool’s death that Murphy has been accused of soliciting sex from children in the confessional and in the middle of the night in their dormitory or his bedroom… for more than 20 years.

You cuss at a referee in sports, you will be suspended. You do drugs on the job, you are fired. You molest and abuse more than 300 kids over a span of two decades, no defrocking (removal of priestly duties and that dirty collar), no nothing. If you’re a crook, I know where you can get a gig.

Father Murphy not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims. Three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told that Father Murphy was sexually abusing children, the documents show, but never reported it to criminal or civil authorities.

Did Murphy have pictures of other priests? Something on tape? Tell me he was this master spy who could take down the Papacy with the dirt he had, which is why he went away without a spank on the wrist – much less handcuffs.

As to why Father Murphy was never defrocked, he [Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi] said that “the Code of Canon Law does not envision automatic penalties.” He said that Father Murphy’s poor health and the lack of more recent accusations against him were factors in the decision.

His health?! Who the hell cares about his health after he damaged the mental health of more than 300 kids who, up until Father Pervert got in touch with them, loved God and wanted to worship him. Now how’s their relationship with Christ? You think they blame God for the nightmares? Just a skosh.

His health. Kushite, please!

Listen, as a child of God and someone who works with the media, I clearly understand the Church is under attack. Name the denomination or religion and I’ll show you a story:

  • Catholics – Child Abuse
  • Episcopalians – Openly gay appointed Bishops
  • Baptists – Pastors who make Glenn Beck look tame
  • Mormons – Holy underwear and multiple marriages
  • Pentecostals – Old fashioned and starving kids
  • Evangelicals – Um, Ted Haggard, Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Pat Robertson and so much more…

What do all of these groups have in common? Jesus Christ! All claim to follow him and none are doing a great job. Every time there is a headline that makes the planet scoffs, who gets the blame? Father Murphy? These idiots in pulpits? Nope. God.

The world is still in God's hands. Praise the Lord.

Ultimately, the question always comes from a good-minded Atheist, journalist or Christian, “Why are these bad things happening in the church under God’s nose, and why does he allow them?”

Answer: I have no clue, but I can assure you for each one of these sinister dealings, there are millions of well-intending, spiritual-living, God-adoring people who negate this news on a daily basis. The only problem is these folk don’t have the headlines so people go on blaming God despite the righteous works of many.

There are wolves in wool everywhere and it is up to us – those who love God unashamedly and unabashed – to stand up, speak out and shut down the negativity with God’s work. Pastors, evangelists, teachers and lay people – we need to unite and crush the works of the enemy. Where is it happening? Everywhere. So how can you help? Fervent prayer.

You know things are getting bad when kids are dying on the inside and the only concern is, “How is this going to affect our reputation?”

Somehow, the Lord is in control and despite the ire of the enemy and the obvious victories he is earning, God will have the final say.

Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and the earth is Yours; Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and Yours it is to be exalted as Head over all. (1 Chronicles 29-11 AMP).

Until then, let’s do a better job Church and slam the frock out of any demonic force that tries to get in our way. As for the Pope, enjoy the PR. According to Google, you are getting a lot of it.

We’re back. A wheelbarrow full of concrete mix, lots of water and ready to get my masonry game on brick-by-brick on this amazing wall God has allowed us to build over the past year plus.

Although over the HOLY-days, religious news was scanty, I did locate one editorial from AOL’s “Sphere” that tickled my fancy and got my charismatic pants shuckin’ and jivin’.

In case you didn’t take two Tylenol PM on December 31, you may have ventured to a New Years’ Eve party (or two). Perhaps, you heard the hollow-throated Dick Clark on TV (so, so sad)? Either way, if you are an “open-air” street preacher, you would be hard pressed to find more of a bountiful harvest than one of those shindigs, as Steve Friess opines:

Yet these revelers did so both with great amusement and plenty of spite, reactions to a far more incongruous sight for the wildest party Sin City throws each year: A row in the middle of Las Vegas Strip of about 30 evangelical preachers waving gigantic placards warning of eternal damnation for the “porno freaks,” “baby killers,” astrologers, Mormons, Muslims, gays and “so-called Christians” in their midst.

Hell no. You will go. Read my sign. It's about time.

Let’s get this clear: I unequivocally admire street preachers.

I have often exclaimed that anyone can do what a megachurch pastor can do if the spirit is right. You know, the band is playing something smooth, a message has been shared about God’s redemptive power and then out goes the nets.

Trust me, with an atmosphere like that, an Atheist could reel in a fine catch of new souls for the glory of God.

Now, get that blinged out pastor on a dusky-hued street corner mano-y-mano and they become slack jawed troglodytes who can barely stammer their way out of Genesis. If you can win one soul in that situation, you are a pro at this Jesus thing.

That said, here’s my question: Does picketing the lost really do anything but harm to the greater good?

Look at the picture. They are smiling for four reasons:

  1. They are completely hammered on boxed wine.
  2. They read the signs and think the tools holding them are well… tools.
  3. They can’t believe Criss Angel gave them a dollar and made it disappear.
  4. Or… all of the above.

Either way, do those signs really plant a seed? I remember the days when I used to roam the streets aimlessly and not one of those signs outside a night club throttled my zeal to go inside and forget they were freezing their blessed assurance outside.

When Jesus finally got my attention, it wasn’t because of those magical seeds planted by Johnny Appleseed barking at me from a turned-over milk crate. I heard Jesus because of a still, small voice that shared love, care and change.

Don’t take my word for it:

Friendly is not a word most would use for the reception the posse of proselytizers received standing shoulder-to-shoulder outside the Mirage Hotel-Casino in a swarm of hundreds of thousands of partiers. The preachers took turns on the bullhorns, with a typical message coming from a fellow named Jeremy from New Mexico who shouted: “You’re on the road to hell right now. Hell is a place of fire and brimstone. Must you all go to hell before you understand that God is not playing around?”

Granted, the message is right. However, is the method? People will hate us completely. It’s in the Bible and we should expect it, but at least, let them hate because we are showing them God’s love.

How many times in the synoptic chapters do we read of Jesus encouraging his 12 eager ragamuffins to dollop some paint on a piece of animal hide and find the town floozie to make her feel bad enough to beg for forgiveness?!

Wall watchers, if there’s anything we need to do in 2010 is get real with God and encourage everyone – the lost and the found – to do the same. Lukewarm only gets you one thing in life and I’m in no mood to become one of God’s lugies!

If I see a transgression, I’m calling it out but I want it to stick. I want it to matter. Does picketing outside gay night clubs with completely inappropriate signs, “God hates fags” matter to anyone other than the dolt who wrote it?

The art of a harvest begins with properly planting a seed. If that seed is thrown on dirt, they’ll only get dusty and blown away. Put that seed in some soil, regardless how damp it is, and that thing has the potential to blossom.

I know we will all remain steadfastly committed to calling out the slack, the false profits, the riff raff and the scam artists. However, if we see anything remotely resembling a picket sign, call it out and teach its author how to make it matter.

Maybe if there are no more picket signs and no more hurling denominational malarkey, we can finally create a unified message of God’s reality and make more of them stick. Maybe then, they will read. Maybe then, it will matter. Maybe.

Statistics have shown church attendance is on the decline. People are disengaged with religion. And evagnelism just ain’t what it used to be.

Something has got to be done, but what?

DogsGoToHeaven

Evidently Woof N' Worship is catching on

If you’re the Rev. Tom Eggebeen of Covenant Presbyterian Church, you realize church attendance is going to the dogs. So if you can’t beat it, join it.

So Eggebeen came up with a hair-raising idea: He would turn God’s house into a doghouse by offering a 30-minute service complete with individual doggie beds, canine prayers and an offering of dog treats.

He hopes it will reinvigorate the church’s connection with the community, provide solace to elderly members and, possibly, attract new worshippers who are as crazy about God as they are about their four-legged friends.

Really? Can you imagine. I suppose this helped most of the octogenarians that attend church, but was it really uplifting? And did we discover if all dogs really go to heaven?

Traditionally, conventional Christians believe that only humans have redeemable souls, said Laura Hobgood-Oster, a religion professor at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.

“It’s the changing family structure, where pets are really central and religious communities are starting to recognize that people need various kinds of rituals that include their pets,” she said. “More and more people in mainline Christianity are considering them to have some kind of soul.”

There are many people who believe dearly departed puppies will be at the golden gates when they arrive, but don’t we need to jump start the two-legged folk in church first?

Emma Sczesniak came to Covenant for the first time, lured by the promise that she could worship with her black Lab, Midnight, and her wire-haired Dachshund-terrier mix, Marley.“I don’t have any kids, so my pets have always been my children, so it does mean a lot,” she said of the dog-inclusive service. “I haven’t been to church in a long time and this may push me into it. I’m getting older and I’ve been thinking about those things again.”

I suppose whatever works, so good on Eggebeen for thinking of it. My only prayer is that after these aloof church spectators are “pushed into it” they discover the real reason of why they should be there in the first place.

However, in case Eggebeen needs other ideas to trick up service, here’s some suggestions:

  • Announce to the Presbyterian Church that “dogma” is hereby redefined. (Where’s that rim shot?)
  • Present your illustrated sermon series about the Church going to the dogs. Or perhaps “The Stench of Sin.” I think it may be more convincing than you think.
  • Since you have a church full of older people, I’m sure one of the gentlemen in attendance battles a case of the holders during your message. Now, he can have someone to blame it on. (I know, kinda gets ya’ right in the heart, eh?)
  • Petition Pope Benedict for a new assortment of saints that’s sure to get some news: Canonize Lassie, Rin-Tin-Tin, Toto, Duke from the “Beverly Hillbillies”, Eddie from “Frasier” and of course Fang from “Harry Potter”. It is in L.A. after all.
  • Have Snoop Dogg be a guest speaker during a morning homily. It makes sense, and never mind the whole Muslim thing. You’ll diversify your church for sure, my nizzle.