To celebrate our 250th blog post, I thought I would playfully delve into my favourite non-topic: the Circus.
Yes, the Circus – those faith healers, fundamentalists, health-and-wealthers, profiteers, and power brokers who dedicate themselves to reshaping God into their own image. They have been around since the beginning but I admit that the spectacle they keep providing is always new.
It’s hard to grasp why anybody pays a lick of attention to these bad performers who range from self-absorbed clowns to whip-cracking charlatans. Nevertheless I write about them because I want people to understand they aren’t centre ring material as much as they are sideshows at a local fair. Cheap and gaudy but people pay to watch them anyway.
The problem is that while I’m here blogging about them they continue doing real and eternal damage to innocent people.
I recently saw a fundamentalist pastor online who was preaching about how God comes closer to us when we have our church meetings in a tent like they did in the old tent-meeting days. So I’m going to take his advice and pretend we’re in a tent – a big circus tent that smells like canvas, wood shavings, popcorn, and manure. Lots and lots of manure…
First there is carnival barker Jim Bakker who was again hawking his Silver Solution as a … wait for it … as a remedy for the Coronavirus. Praise the Lord!
He called in naturopathic doctor Sherrill Sellman to support his claim. (Sell-man. Did you catch the irony?)
“Well, let’s say it hasn’t been tested on this strain of the coronavirus,” she said, probably on the advice of her lawyers. “…but it’s been tested on other strains of the coronavirus and has been able to eliminate it within 12 hours” she added, probably on the advice of Jim Bakker.
She continued with the statement that it “… totally eliminates it. Kills it, deactivates it. And then it boosts your immune system so then you can support the recovery.”
Unfortunately they won’t say what studies have been conducted, what is contained in the solution, or how it is to be used. So let me get this strait: Jim Bakker says he has the answer to a major health epidemic that is killing hundreds of people but he will only sell it for profit?
Isn’t Christian capitalism great?
I never miss the Super Bowl but I will admit I hate all the extra hype surrounding it and I always find the halftime shows to be disappointing. I was dreading this year’s halftime in particular so was quite pleased with myself when I nodded off, open bag of Doritos at my elbow, and slept soundly until three minutes into the second half.
Apparently I missed a whole halftime show featuring Shakira and Jennifer Lopez gyrating, pole dancing, twerking, and maneuvering their bodies in ways not available to the rest of us. Stupid me, I didn’t even PVR it.
It didn’t take Franklin Graham long to tell us he didn’t like it and we shouldn’t like it either. Franklin is one of many Grahams who make a living doing religious stuff like preaching, writing, and preaching. He is the one who recently had a number of engagements canceled in the U.K because he often speaks about politics. (Fleming Rutledge is a preacher whose tour there began a few days later; she was welcomed generously because she often speaks about God.)
Franklin was angered by the sexual content of the halftime show after he apparently misplacing his remote control and was forced to sit and watch the entire lascivious display in real time.
I find myself agreeing with Graham and others like (gulp) James Dobson who feel that a public musical performance is better than a public crotch-rubbing performance. Only difference is, seems I’m the only one who didn’t watch it.
Actually, none of us should be surprised – we already know that the most decadent sporting event in North America is not interested in providing healthy family entertainment.
And oh how Christians long for the good old days when Super Bowls were just good, clean fun. Back then it was enough for families to scream and curse, eat pizza like gluttons, drink themselves into a stupor, and generally act like knobs for an entire day.
Yes, we remember how nice halftime shows used to be before the 2004 show when millions of watchers saw Janet Jackson’s upper left quadrant fall out of her shirt. Now Shakira and J-Lo have made it worse by cluttering our minds with things that undulate and jiggle.
We can only assume that Graham and others like him want us to look up to a good role model like the President whom he actively endorses. In that world, debauchery is kept in the privacy of an expensive hotel room where it belongs. Sex is best for our politicians when it involves non-consenting women who will accept payment to keep quiet. Naturally these things should only be bragged about by insecure men with large egos who need to brag about it to other insecure men with large egos That’s just good, common sense to anybody who looks up to the current White House like Graham and company do.
That’s where I disagree with these evangelical leaders. If you ask me, scantily clad cheerleaders are still the most American way to have sexual content without offending Christian values.
But I guess I’m old fashioned.
When it comes to show stopping acts, health and wealth guru Paula White slipped in to the centre ring a couple of weeks ago and delivered a performance for the ages. The President’s spiritual adviser mega-prayed and took authority over pretty much everything on the planet. (‘Take authority’ is charismatic-speak meaning ‘I’m the boss of you’.)
She took authority over the “… strange winds that have been sent to hurt the church, sent against this nation, sent against our president, sent against myself”. I’m assuming they were downwind to some new pollution on the east coast.
She commanded ‘pride to fall’ four times in a row so it’s nice to know she won’t be stressing about her clothing or makeup for awhile.
And did I mention she also took care of all Satanic pregnancies, whatever they are? “In the name of Jesus, we command all satanic pregnancies to miscarry right now. We declare that anything that’s been conceived in satanic wombs, that it’ll miscarry. It will not be able to carry forth any plan of destruction, any plan of harm.”
White also took authority over witches, hexes, spirits of control, infirmities, fears, weakness, sickness, self-righteousness, and a long list that included things I didn’t know were God’s enemies, including the marine kingdom, and the animal kingdom. Bless her heart for catching everything in one prayer.
Oh and Jezebels. (Jezebel was a biblical queen, wife of evil king Ahab, who encouraged idol worship and used her access to power to harass God’s prophets who were speaking truth to power. Just sayin’.)
Paula’s Prayer made the headlines of course, further alienating Christianity from clear thinking clear-thinkers. She later issued a clarification that the miscarriage thing was taken out of context, which unfortunately means everything else she prayed was in context.
On the subject of curses, Burger King started a new marketing campaign in August that featured a man taking a bite of their plant-based Impossible Whopper and uttering, “Damn, that’s good.”
The commercial went pretty well until the conservative group One Million Moms decided the D-word was “profanity” and “highly inappropriate” and that the man involved “… didn’t have to curse”. Ultimately they felt that Burger King was responsible to edit the profanity out of the commercial.
First off, One Million Moms probably doesn’t have a million moms, although they won’t say how many moms they do have. It is associated with the American Family Association, a nonprofit evangelical group promoting traditional values like boycots, getting mad, holding their breath, jumping up and down, and saying bad things about the bad people.
You might recall that last Christmas OMM campaigned against … wait for it … the Hallmark Channel.
If these people think that ‘damn’ is profane they have obviously never driven in rush hour traffic, walked in a mall, or stubbed their toe on the foot of the bed. Calling it a profanity seriously undercuts how God views what a profanity is.
Wouldn’t it be great if Christians could stop whining about other people and actually care about the very thing their name suggests?
Uber-patriotic mega church pastor Robert Jeffress appeared on Fox News again. (I wish he wouldn’t do that – his act is especially amateurish.) Among the jibber jabber that ensued was the passing comment from an interviewer that “Evangelicals love their God and they love their guns.”
Look, I’m not a gun hater but seriously, what kind of sad clown lumps herself, God, and guns into an equal sided love triangle? Sadly, guns seem to have been the only other love option that came to mind.
These stories have made me feel so dirty that I think I’ll go on line and cleanse my soul by listening to some sermons from independent fundamentalist preachers.
There is one pastor who knows NASA is lying about landing on the moon because God didn’t let humans build the tower of Babel and only Jesus has gone ‘up there’ above the clouds. He used to believe in Neil Armstrong walking on the moon because he was educated just like we were but he’s not gullible any more now that he reads the Bible…
I hope he never reads the biblical story about Balaam because then he’d be waiting for his ass to speak.
(Oh oh, now I’m going to be boycotted by OMM.)
And there is the other guy who says you shouldn’t let your baby daughters wear sleepers because they will come to an age where they will realize they are pants. And will grow up to be pant-wearing-women.
He goes on to inform us that women should always wear dresses, even if going skiing: “Put a dress on going down those hills.”
Something tells me skiing in a dress would be a crowd pleasing Circus act.
And how could I forget the sermonizing pastor who teaches us that music shouldn’t have a dominant rhythm because it makes people want to do bad things? (Just listening to this guy makes me want to do bad things.) He educates us that the accent should be on the 1 and 3 beats, not on 2 and 4 beats like the devil’s rock music.
I wonder if he will turn off his country music when he realizes there is a satanic 4 in the 3/4 timing?
My favourite was the pastor who was preaching that, “…in the last days there will be a great falling away”. His evidence that we are near the end of time is that the local “… delicious KFC got replaced by the filthy, Jezebel [her again!] fish-goddess mermaid Starbucks”.
Craziness aside, it is a deeply troubling dilemma. Crunchy chicken or six dollar latte? Six dollar latte or crunchy chicken? I could go either way but I strongly suspect he has a fondness for most every part of a fried chicken. With fries.
Interesting collection of ‘preachers’, eh? Apparently all the above topics are provable: all you need is a King James Bible, a parent who whupped some common sense into you, and to live within ten miles of where you were born.
Ah, the smell of the Circus … a sweet, familiar aroma to all who live inside the tent but a foul, acrid aroma to those who choose not to go in. I left the tent awhile ago because it was claustrophobic but some people really like staying in there.
God is the most important thing to me and the kingdom of God is much more powerful and beautiful than these carnies can even pretend. People in the Circus scar it by serving power, money, ego, and trample loudly on even the most basic Christian ethics.
Following Jesus is not whacky, selfish, bombastic, or cheap. In fact it is quite costly because we have to lay ourselves aside to even begin to grasp it. That’s a cost too great for the Circus to accept so God’s Kingdom will always be distant from them.
I don’t know why but some verses in Romans 1 seem to come to mind when I write on these topics. It is very possible, even likely, that Paul wasn’t speaking about sinners ‘out there’ but rather about those who claimed to be believers but lived for themselves.
Ironically I am concerned that they are spiritually trapped in a world of their own making, hearts darkened after years of playing at the edges of faith.
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools…” (21-22)
“They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.” (25)
Translation: Circus acts seem normal to those who are inside the tent but they carry a bad smell to those who breathe fresh air.
Translation of the translation: An idol tipper’s work is never done.