Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Okay... I'll admit it...

I am addicted to religous television and spend my time watching Paul and Jan Crouch and Benny Hinn and Joel Osteen and a thousand others well known and unknown.  I watch it not because I like it or even understand it -- I don't.  But I cannot stop watching until I figure out what people see in this crap.  I have heard some of these folks say the most outrageous things and do the strangest things and people flock to these folks.  Why?  Can somebody explain it to me so I can end my addition and answer my question?

I do not watch long but just enough to look around at the folks there.  They appear normal, intelligent, decent folk.  Why do they keep on going and listening and sending in money and buying their books.... Please somebody tell me why? why?  why?

I do not want folks to answer me with theological answers or to write off these folks, I just want to know why they go, why they love these strangoids from a distant galaxy... I don't want the pat answers about sin and people loving entertainment and how this makes them feel good about themselves... I know all that and still I do not think these things answer my question... Why?

So do an old man a favor and tell him what is going on with this American love affair with the religious weirdos of the TV of the air... and when you tell me this, I will know why people even in my own congregation talk about them and how wonderful they are... Guess it must be a real let down to listen to little ole me talk about Jesus every Sunday... Oh, well, now you know... there is a weird side of me that is fascinated with the question why so many folks like these spiritual gurus of a distorted  Christianity?  Please... why?


Rev. Thomas C. Messer, SSP said...

I wish I knew, brother. I hope someone helps you out by supplying the answer, 'cause I'm just as confused as you are by this.

Janis Williams said...

They (folk who watch) simply do not "get" the Gospel. I'm not saying they're all headed for hell, but I guess they think there must be more...

Also, listen to any conversation between others, or pay attention to the ones in which you engage. Whom do we speak of most? These weirdlings do (at least) know we love ourselves more than anything else. They pander to that.

Not the whole answer, or one size fits all, but...

Anonymous said...

“I do not want folks to answer me with theological answers…... I don't want the pat answers about sin…... I know all that and still I do not think these things answer my question... Why?”

It makes me wonder how our people in the pews feel when, year after year, they get the “theological answers” and the “pat answers about sin” and their questions about “the real world” are not answered. Is that what is keeping so many from church?

If we are not those who are “most to be pitied”, then the answer has to be in those answers which you don’t want folks to give you. But, like cancer, the illness the people you mention are suffering from has innumerable variants, or pathologies.

We have to realize that, as in all human needs, there is a supply side and a consumer side. In this case, the supply side is devoted to money, and focuses its efforts on extracting it from those who, on the consumer side, can be convinced that their needs will be met by a process involving pious rhetoric and the donation of their money. With the money thus obtained, the suppliers are able to acquire the most sophisticated marketing tools that enable them to take advantage of the pathologies of their victims with mathematically predictable results.

Any elementary text on psychology will tell you that the illnesses affecting the human mind range from relatively simple anxieties to schizophrenia and psychopathic behavior. A common thread is that those affected are not always able to make decisions that are in their own best interest, but, on the contrary, can be convinced to act against their clear, best interests. Probably somewhere around 6% of the population can be, and is, convinced of the most unbelievable nonsense: Holocaust deniers, “birthers”, believers in numerous fantastic conspiracies like Eisenhower being a communist. The Soviet and Nazi experiments demonstrated this on an enormous scale.

But you cannot expect anyone to tell you the specifics of the illness of each of those “normal, intelligent, decent folk” just by looking at their faces in a crowd. In many cases, a lengthy period of interaction with a mental health professional will bring positive results. In many cases, pharmaceutical intervention is necessary. In a few cases, scientists know of no way of helping the afflicted. In many cases, hearing the pure Gospel will “turn these people around”.

Nevertheless, it is this sick world which God so loved and into which our Savior came in joyful obedience to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom and to suffer and to die so that sinners could enter it. He did not think that “theological answers” and “pat answers about sin” were irrelevant. But they have to be His answers, because only His answers are the ones through which “the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”

Peace and Joy!
George A. Marquart

Anonymous said...

I think we live in a time when people want to see God as active. I wonder if that is not why these charlatans prosper, they promise an 'active' God.
The irony is that they refuse to go where God has promised to act -- word and sacrament.

Dixie said...

Pastor Peters,

You ask why seemingly "normal" people listen to these TV guys. Not that I am claiming to be "normal" but I was once a big fan of Joyce Meyers. Why? Well, quite honestly when I look back it is clear I was searching for growth in my spiritual life. I wanted to get serious about my faith. Every Sunday I learned that my sins were forgiven and I was saved in my Lutheran church but "now what?". How do I express my gratitude? How can I best experience God? How do I have an authentic relationship with this God who humbled Himself to become man and die for me and forgive my sins. There was a certain religious minimalism present in my experience of God. And I craved more.

That craving drew me to study Lutheranism seriously in a structured academic setting. I remember my professor teaching us that first day in class that our study of God was the means of deepening our relationship with God. I think today I would disagree with that. I wanted to experience God...to that end I think praying compline does a better job than studying my doctrine book did...but it was part of my searching.

I used to be highly critical of those who sought contemporary worship but more recently I have come to understand that for many this is a part of their search and they are worshiping God the best way they know to do for now.

Ultimately I think it comes down to fact that the nous knows when something is missing and we start searching until we find what we are looking for.

Maybe this won't sell in Saxony...but you asked why and I thought I would add my 2 cents.

BTW...I learned some great things from Joyce...to this day I never leave my grocery cart (we call them buggies around here...you too?) in the parking lot. I always return it to the store or the proper stall. And I learned not to hang on to so much "stuff" but to give away things I wasn't using. I have fond memories of that road traveled.