Posts Tagged ‘Wal-Mart’

OK, so you put that cryptic “bum-bum-BUM-bum-bum. bum-bum-BUM-bum-bum” Terminator theme music in any movie preview, you will get my attention.

Add Christian Bale to the mix outside of his svelte Batgear and you could have me there opening weekend.

The uh, Jesus-nator?

The uh, Jesus-nator?

Much was my anticipation for the “Sci-Fi Nativity Story” (as Peter Chattaway gaily put it from Christianity Today put it), Terminator: Salvation.

This movie series kicked off with avowed Christian, the great Michael Biehn (also of “The Abyss,” “The Rock,” and the prodigious “Tombstone”) travels back in time to alert John Connor’s mama that a massive, roided-up, Euro-speaking robot is out to get her and make sure she doesn’t birth the savior of the human race… literally.

So, a couple of sequels later of lil’ Johnny is growing in wisdom, stature and favor and here we are, trotting down the Via Dolorosaer, red carpet for the screening of Terminator: Salvation.

Now, while Chattaway makes a really interesting, highly recommended read case for the sacrosanct allegory behind all things Terminator, one thing of note is a quote from director McG, who brought us such genius as “Charlie’s Angels” and “We are Marshall.”

Regarding Terminator Salvation, director McG told mtv News that he and writer Jonathan Nolan were influenced by the stories of Luke Skywalker, Neo from The Matrix trilogy, and Jesus. Said McG, “Here’s a guy who’s saying, ‘Listen to me, I know what’s going on.’ Some people listen; some people don’t believe a word he’s saying.”

I don’t know if McG has ever stepped foot in a church – mega- or any other size – but that sounds just like most places I have frequented on a random Sunday discussing the synoptic Gospels. Odd, eh?

It’s a completely different take on a movie that begs religious commentary but gets none of it.

So, it’s only 10 years from now in 2018,  and the only hope for humanity is John Connor (again, as introspectively noted by Chattaway possesses the same initials as some other savior of whom you may have heard) and some half-breed terminator named Marcus.

**SPOILER ALERT**

Bale does his sub-monotone, gruffy preacher, if-it-works-in-Batman-it’ll-work-here voice and Marcus fights for inspiration and odd body parts not seen in Wal Mart.

It’s prequelish. It’s sequelish. It’s Jerry Bruckheimerish. And it’s open ended-ish.

So, if this movie does have a fifth in its quiver, maybe only the audience will need saving.

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If there is one thing that chaps my hide more, it’s folk who dub themselves “Christian” yet use Jesus Christ’s name as an expletive.

Many people around the world call themselves Christian, but only act like it one day a week – if that often.

“God” is such a ubiquitous term these days, you know:

  • “I believe in God… she is great for my life.”
  • “I believe in God… praise be to Allah.”
  • “I believe in God… but there is no need to get involved in organized religion.”

toleranceBlah, blah, blah. Whatever the excuse, when it comes to faith, God’s name is passed around like a cheap coaster on some old woman’s antique coffee table.

So, imagine my surprise when I read this USA Today article and discovered 11 percent less folk even bother calling themselves a Christian.

The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers — or falling off the faith map completely.

The perfunctory question is Why?! How was that found in this American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) referred in the article? Easy… no one cares.

  • So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. Is that really a group, or just a collection of dimwits who have been scorned by the aforementioned groups?!
  • Catholic strongholds in New England and the Midwest have faded as immigrants, retirees and young job-seekers have moved to the Sun Belt. It’s coooooooooooold up there. The chill gets to those osteoporosis bones. Besides, there are more Ruby Tuesday’s and Furrs down there.
  • Baptists, 15.8% of those surveyed, are down from 19.3% in 1990. That’s easy. They’re dead… all the young people want to wear jeans, so they rock the “Community Church,” which is Baptist-lite.
  • The percentage of Methodists, for example, dropped from 8% to 5%. COUGH… gay marriage… COUGH… lesbians in the pulpit… GAG, COUGH!
  • Jewish numbers showed a steady decline, from 1.8% in 1990 to 1.2% today. Again, simple. It’s the economy. Well, it is, right?

Sure, there’s more. But why go into it? The math is there. The results are staggering. And the reasons are obvious.

There’s no privilege to being a Christian in the public eye. And in this world of “WIIFM” (marketing lingo: “What’s in it for me?”), churches are stooping to any level to put butts in seats.

They take steroids and HGH to grow, talk about sex… a lot, cuss in the pulpit… also, a lot and when things are particularly carefree, these megachurches (Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal or indifferent) are considering cutting on the advertising budget, and having the show in-house?!

Once we get back to realizing the splendor and majesty of God, we will get this Church back on track. Once folk stop realizing that Church is not supposed to be dog & pony show, but rather about a man who rode in on a donkey, we can get back to evangelism, reaching the lost and being the living epistles we’re supposed to be.

Ah, conviction, hellfire and brimstone. Those were the days, no?

It’s almost Six Degrees of Separation to source this riveting article, but I’ll give it a shot before I get rolling:

vanishing churchThanks to Another Brick on the Wall “Spiritual Pathway Ministries“, by way of the whole article in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and discusses a Bob Pearle book entitled The Vanishing Church: Searching for Significance in the 21st Century.

All clear? OK, and away we go…

For the past couple weeks, we have plastered on the Wall a few ruminations about “Big Box” megachurches and even its progeny, “minichurches”.

And now this article about Pearle’s Vanishing Church stands in my shadow threatening to whoop up on anyone who talks smack in my direction.

He doesn’t hold that churches are literally “vanishing,” since there are all kinds of churches, often filled to overflowing, in our neck of the woods [North Texas]. “What I’m saying is that the biblical New Testament church is vanishing from society today,” he said. “Anything and everything is acceptable as long as it builds a crowd. Jesus wasn’t as interested in building a crowd as he was in telling the truth.”

Amen! And why all this brouhaha over exponentially growing houses of worship? It’s simple math:

On one hand, we have church overflowing of concert-quality worship, hypersensationalism, a disconnected waltz through the scriptures and a sermon that is more Tony Robbins and less Tony Campolo.

going-back-to-churchAnd on the other, we have a warehouse full of crushed velvet, ornate furnishings and lots of bling… and that’s just the “Frozen Chosen” sitting in the pewser, chairs.

Add the two together and you still get a bunch of folk en route lights and sirens to Luby’s Cafeteria who still can’t tell you what scripture was shared in the pulpit.

From seeker sensitive to televised tabernacle, the missing part of the equation seem to be allegiance to God’s Word. Well, better yet, just God’s Word.

Pearle — who rejects the label of fundamentalist — says declining membership in many mainline Protestant groups results from watering down core biblical teachings. He believes that evangelicals who do that will suffer the same fate. “You have to hear the bad news that we are sinners, before your receive the good news of salvation,” Pearle says.

People, we need a Savior, which is why we should celebrate Jesus Christ daily. We are “saved” and set free to worship God. However, most of us would rather go check out some dude crush expletives in the pulpit for shock value or hear the “Aw shucks the big guy upstairs sure loves you” show.

Now, THIS is the stuff worth shouting about in the sanctuary, regardless what size it is! Anyone?

“Everything’s bigger in Texas.”

Who hasn’t heard that adage? Evidently, megachurch pastors in the Lone Star state as they have spawned the trend of bigger churches, just in smaller and several locations.

Rather than make their [megachurch pastors] voluminous auditoriums even bigger, they are creating smaller, community-based congregations. These offshoots help relieve crowded sanctuaries, shorten members’ commutes and spread church ministries into untapped territories.

megachurch_poster_seats“Offshoots”?! Try more like adorned buildings with a big TV screen. I don’t get the “satellite church,” people. Am I missing something? Going to church… to watch TV? Is TBN so bad that you have to decorate a media room with crushed velvet, high back chairs, offering boxes and the choir?!

But, like the croup and the flu, this stuff is catching.

The trend from mega to mini has gained momentum nationwide. An estimated 22 percent of U.S. megachurches — those with 2,000 or more at weekly services — started or were considering satellites in 2000, according to a megachurch study by the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and Leadership Network. Last year, that percentage grew to 59 percent.

So, here’s a thought: is this being responsible to the needs of the environment or just a clash between vanity run-a-muck and multiple personality disorder?

Sure, these multiple “churches” are saving time on traffic, but it’s still all going to the same trafficker. Listen, if you have a following and the throng just has to see you in the moment, I’m not mad at ya’. Good on ya’. But what happens if pastor isn’t on his game? Or there’s a guest speaker?

What, does the on-location host pastor change the channel? Maybe they plug in the XBOX 360 and play “Halo,” you know, to keep it heavenly minded.

Unfortunately, it seems there is no happy medium with these bustling churches – either they go “big box” and become Wal-Mart’s inner court or they cash iner, reach out to its multitudes and create more geographically centric “minichurch” locations. What’s a pastor to do?

God is omnipresent and churches are becoming very savvy at marketing, public relations and technology. Praise the Lord for that, but what are they doing that the other churches on the corner not doing?

Maybe instead of holding $400 per ticket conferences to teach monkey-see-monkey-do, these innovative, jean-wearing preachers should leave their plush, tuck-and-roll office chairs once in a while to teach the lesser-thans how to earn enough money to buy a TV, much less broadcast from it. Just a thought.

A couple of weeks ago, we ruminated about some fresh paint on the Wall surrounding a possibility of Arkansas law makers permitting pastors and parishioners to pack heat in church. Well, what was just a story has now been upgraded to DEFCON 4 and placed on “Apocalypse Watch.”

Why? The law actually passed the Arkansas House. Good times in Redneck Nation!

House Bill 1237, the church-guns bill, won approval on a 57-42 vote. The bill by Rep. Beverly Pyle, R-Cedarville, would amend state law to remove churches and other places of worship from the list of places where people with permits are not allowed to carry guns. “Due to many shootings that have happened in our churches across our nation, it is time we changed our concealed handgun law to allow law-abiding citizens of the state of Arkansas the right to defend themselves and others should a situation happen in one of our churches,” Pyle told House members.

Pastor, get the parking lot mini-skree. We have a problem.

Pastor, get the parking lot mini-skree. We have a problem.

Not to mention, the other non-law-abiding citizens who think crashing a praise party while smoking caps everywhere is a good idea.

I said it once, but I suppose my larynx hasn’t been abused enough for the Arkansas State Congress to hear me, so here goes: “Is this ever a good idea?” Believe me, whatever side of the political fence you are on, having a carry and conceal license is always a good idea… but in a church?!

Let’s see what some flag-waving, eagle-flying-overhead representative from the home of Wal-Mart has to pontificate:

“Having guns in church will not stop some lunatic from coming into your building and shooting somebody,” Breedlove said. “Ronald Reagan was completely surrounded by armed guards, but he was still shot. That is why we must put our faith in God and not in something else.

Well, not that some scorned ex-boyfriend will need a sniper scope to pop his former squeeze sitting in the choir loft, but thanks for the patriotic analogy nonetheless.

I get it, “Faith without works is dead.” You can’t just sit on your blessed assurance if you are unemployed and expect God’s provision to drop a six-figure gig in your lap. Ed McMahon doesn’t travel house-to-house with that sweepstakes any more. You have put your faith in action.

Similarly, you can’t walk into a gun fight with a set of nunchakus because you think you got Bruce Lee’s game. It’s not a fair fight. BAM! You’re pushing up daisies. But how will this law help anything?

Can you imagine a revival service and the Holy Spirit shows up? [Cue harp music]

Folk start running the aisles, pastor gets an anointing for the people. Suddenly, one of the catchers trips leaving the pastor with the bad back to catch “Big Mama.” He tries, breaks a hip and off goes his 9 MM resting in the bosom of his pocket, without the safety.

Puh-lease. You don’t think this will be an episode on TBN? Wait until a live church service and see what happens.