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Military-Industrial Theocracy

by DeAnander Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 10:05:57 PM EST

When Christianity Meets Military/Corporate Culture

It is the day before Independence Day in the Year of Our Lord, 2005, and our men and women in uniform are fighting overseas for our God-given freedom. That's what a few thousand worshipers have come to hear about during the 10:30 morning service at Grace Church, the casinolike "independent evangelical" complex that sits amid the rolling hills of Eden Prairie. The arena-sized parking lot is filled with newish cars and trucks, including a souped-up Lexus adorned with American flags, flag decals, and 1280 The Patriot bumper stickers. Parked next to that is a sedan whose lone sticker testifies, "Mary Kay: Enriching Women's Lives."

Before the service, worshipers take to the Divine Grind, the church's coffee shop. The counter is manned by well-scrubbed teens clad in aprons and denim shirts embossed with the Divine Grind logo. Many of the customers have their own type of uniform: Old Glory ties, shirts, and skirts. A few busy techies in headsets and Grace-logo shirts scurry about with walkie-talkies, getting ready for the day's program. The subject, according to the listing in the "Faith and Values" calendar of the Star Tribune, is "Righteousness Exalts a Nation."

Read it and weep.  Theocracy meets Babbittry meets 21st century marketing techniques.  Bernays, meet Strauss.    The cathedral mates with the bazaar and gives birth to an abomination.

"We are a ministry to the armed forces of the United States, and to the armed forces of the world, seeking to win the nations of the world and the militaries of the world," begins Dees. "We have several ministries. One is to the enlisted members of all the defense forces of the United States. We touch every recruit that comes through the armed forces of the United States. And then we seek to evangelize and disciple them through their careers, making them ambassadors in uniform.

"We have missionaries all over the world, and it's very powerful when you see the impact, and that you can affect the militaries of those cultures. You can sway the whole culture and the nation towards Jesus Christ. Since 9/11 we've passed out 920,000 gifts into the pockets of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines. We give them the Bible, a daily bread, and we have incredible reports from the battlefront of encouragement of the word of God, the sustenance of the word of God, in difficult times."

Dees speaks of the American flag as the screens burst with images of the nation's banner, including coffin drapes. He unveils a sculpture of a kneeling soldier. When he says, "This memorial was made of the bronze altars, the bronze images, melted down from Saddam Hussein's palace," the congregation--unprompted by the video monitors--erupts into a long round of applause. "Is that not a fitting way to honor God, honor our service members?" says Dees. "That's what our service members do when they go in harm's way: They turn evil into good and they try to turn evil to God."

He continues, "We have heard all about weapons of mass destruction. There's been a search for weapons of mass destruction. I'm here today to testify that we have found the weapons of mass destruction. It is Satan's artillery. Satan is a master of deceit: temptation, pride, isolation, deception, self-sufficiency, anger, and malice of all forms. Satan's weapons of mass destruction rage all about us, and these weapons are every bit as real as Saddam Hussein's scud missiles. As the North Korean artillery. Every bit as potent as Al Qaeda."

As he speaks, the screens show images of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, praying, being baptized in foxholes, and evangelizing. A marine's helmet scrawled with the 23rd Psalm fills the screen. "It is encouraging to see these indicators of faith in the foxhole," says Dees. "But the reality is, too many of our troops are prisoners of war still. Prisoners of war to the master of deceit, these troops do not yet know liberty in Jesus Christ."

Now, if we felt as worried about evangelising theocrats as we used to about evangelising Commies, we'd be rather alarmed about an orchestrated effort to brainwash the military forces of our nation and the world into a common ideology, thinking in lockstep.  Christian soldiers indeed.   Beam me up Scotty!

Disturbing. Beware the Industrial-Military-Theocracy complex. Gawd, I hope this kind of stuff stays out of Europe...

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 07:20:53 AM EST
thanks De. What you point out is really alien to Europe, but how widespread and prevalent is it in the US? Is it a few localised (if big) groups or is it a natiowide and deep rooted trend? And how effective is it actually viz. soldiers?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 09:04:28 AM EST
Those are the places where it is most prevelant.

As a former soldier I can tell you that this attitude was not prevelant amongst the rank and file, or even the field commanders, but it was nearly unanimous for all those rent collecting officers in the pentagon or other cushy assignments. Hows about a free market for the MIT complex?

by Coriolanus on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 02:48:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jérôme, regrettably, this is not alien to Europe.

I started to look at these issues shortly after I got on the 'net, when I was confronted with the phenomenon of creationism at various forums. I also saw it as a US phenomenon. The problem is, we aren't immune to nothing that is learned, and indeed the US Religious Reich extended its tentacles to Europe, and there are also copycats. Only at this stage, they are few and not visible. But on one of my cable channels, I ocassionally see live coverage of a 'mass' in such a megachurch - here in Budapest. In the last few years, a small stream of creationist "letters to the editors" have appeared in Western European papers. Worse, in Britain, in another destructive decision by Tony Bliar which he sticked to against public resistance, there is now a small network of creationist private schools.

So they are already there. We should be prepared against them, and not react just when they fester enough to decie to go high-profile and very public.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 05:20:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I am not sure about Europe all tho priests from our Serbian church are crying out loud cause all kinds of sects and foreign churches are very active in Serbia lately.
But here in Australia these born-againS are spreading like...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 05:44:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was going to keep this out of Eurotrib because it seemed like an American issue, but perhaps it deserves some exposure here.

This past weekend was the GLBT fair in Colorado Springs. You might think, given the presence of Focus on the Family, Compassion International, The Navigators, the 11,000 member New Life Church, and dozens of other conservative religious organizations, that a "gay day" would either be banned outright or at least swarming with anti-abortion protestors, anti-gay protestors, and anti-everything-else-sensible protestors.

But in fact what happened was a parade, a fair, a beer garden, a concert, a thunderstorm, and thousands of gay rights supporters all mobbing the city square and surrounding streets. I don't know how to estimate crowds, but there were a LOT of people there.

And a few half-hearted protestors. Mostly ignored.

I think that there are several important points about the Christian Right that you have to keep clear about.

First, they have allied themselves with the Republican party. However, that is an uneasy alliance, since many Republicans are libertarians, which in American political parlance means "leave me alone and I'll leave you alone." In fact, the Libertarian Party, although generally classified as rightist, holds positions that would resonate well in liberal political blogs. http://www.lp.org/issues/platform_all.shtml
(Of course, they also hold some positions that don't resonate at all.)

So from the viewpoint of "typical" Colorado Republicans, the anti-abortion and anti-gay positions of the Christian Right are troubling, and this is a constant point of tension in the alliance.

Second, the Christian Right organizations tend to be based on strong evangelical leaders. James Dobson and Ted Haggard are two of the most visible right now, but does anybody remember Jim Bakker or Bill McCartney? They were big names a few years ago, but for various reasons have lost influence as their organizations faltered. These "leaders" come and go, and in a few years Dobson and Haggard will be replaced by somebody else.

The point is that it's not a monolith, it's a bunch of organizations that tend in the same direction, but that aren't actually very stable on an individual basis.

Another problem is the military. Colorado Springs has a huge military population, partly because of Fort Carson (a principal staging base for Iraq) and partly because of the numerous other military installations in the area. Plus the Air Force Academy. Now there are plenty of evangelicals in those organizations, don't get me wrong, but IN GENERAL this sort of stuff is looked on with raised eyebrows by the military.

And then finally, perhaps most importantly, if you get a reputation as being "the center of the universe of the Christian Right" then you're going to attract the attention of those who might oppose your views. Colorado Springs has a vibrant liberal community, with an excellent and widely read weekly newspaper
and a number of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered organizations. And they're not "in the closet," either.

For example, the Gay and Lesbian fund http://www.gayandlesbianfund.org/glfchome/
is very visible in Colorado Springs, funding radio stations, parades (the regular ones, not just the gay ones), and running ads in the perpetually conservative mainstream newspaper.

Also there's Dykes on Trykes. Enough said.

While there is clearly a big, big, powerful, and obvious Christian Right population in Colorado Springs, there is also a strong opposition group, which, although not able to actually elect hardly anybody to office (there is one elected Democrat in Colorado Springs, actually), is active and thriving. So it's not all doom and gloom in the "red" states.

by asdf on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 04:35:39 PM EST
This is very encouraging and good to hear. It cuts across the grain of what I say below. I'd be delighted to just say I'm wrong, and things are not so bad. But those mega-mega-churches still worry me.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 04:46:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's another mega-church that's in the news.

This one claims to be the biggest in America and has taken over the former stadium of the Houston Rockets.

Look at the sheer size of the place and the packed congregation, and it seems as if this is a phenomenon that involves crowd impulses, mass reactions, as much as if not more than religion. Of course, Billy Graham took the old revival tent and turned it into the stadium mass meeting. Anyone who has ever been involved in religious campaign meetings of this kind (and I have), knows how much psychological pressure is on the individual: pressure to conform to the greater number, to go with the movement of the crowd.

But Billy Graham campaigns (or those of other evangelists) were/are special events held at particular times and places. Here we're looking at a phenomenon of mass religious meetings held regularly, as a matter of course. And there's no doubt about the politics of these people, or their willingness to preach politics from the pulpit. Nor about the psychological mechanics of these crowded arenas.

We've all heard and seen a hundred thousand parallels drawn between today's America and the Germany of a past era. Personally, I don't believe history repeats itself. OTOH, I think it's more than instructive, it's necessary, to be informed about the past. And I don't think it's abusive to think, in connection with these "arena churches", that they share in a number of ways (though not in others, because they are specifically American), the ethos of the Nuremberg rallies.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 04:36:37 PM EST
You are so right...it's not even about religion...it's about CONTROL...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 11:44:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We've all heard and seen a hundred thousand parallels drawn between today's America and the Germany of a past era. Personally, I don't believe history repeats itself. OTOH, I think it's more than instructive, it's necessary, to be informed about the past
Of course it's not that events as such are going to repeat them selves but phenomenon is what is repeating perpetually ...all the time...from the beginning of the world...no matter how we evolved as a kind...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 11:48:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Evangelicals Are a Growing Force in the Military Chaplain Corps

America's Religious Right by Steve Weissman (in 5 parts)

Boykin, back in 2003

Religious Intolerance at Air Force Academy

WSWS says investigation of the above a 'whitewash'

Off We Go Into the Christian Yonder

Theocracy Watch on the rise of the Religious Right in the US Republican Party

Christian Reconstructionism critiqued

Use of Military Resources to promote local religious program at Fort Bragg

Any connection between intensifying evangelism in the military and insult/abuse towards Muslim prisoners?

Military Ministry: The mission of Military Ministry is to help military men and women and their families in all nations become followers of Jesus Christ. The main thrust of the Military Ministry is to produce spiritual multiplication through evangelism and discipleship among military men, women, and their families. [...] International Military Ministry - The goal of International Ministries is to reach the military of the world for Christ. Military Ministry staff serve in a "train the trainer" role as they help other countries start up ministries for their military. Today, Military Ministry has presence in 19 countries.  They sponsor "Lunchtime prayer meetings on the flight line for pilots and crews," "Lunchtime in-depth Bible studies on military installations," and so forth.

Forbes magazine on Megachurches Maybe churches aren't so different from corporations. [...] The average net income of megachurches was estimated at $4.8 million [...]

Utne Reader on Megachurches

Mother  Jones on Megachurches In South Barrington, Illinois, just northwest of Chicago, lies a 155-acre campus resembling a junior college or perhaps a manufacturer of something clean, like pharmaceuticals or computer parts. On one side of the main compound is a greensward, on another side is a five-acre reflecting pond, and out in front are vast black slabs of endless parking, where swarms of men wearing reflective vests and radio headsets assist drivers attempting to find an open space.[...]It looks like a mall on a busy holiday weekend, but it is the Willow Creek Community Church, and it could be any weekend. In almost every city or suburb of more than 200,000 there is a similar megachurch, as they are known, a product of suburban sprawl, religious marketing, consumer demand, the entertainment economy, and the good old-fashioned yearning for communal experience.

Christianity Today on Megachurches Between 2 million and 5 million Americans attend a "megachurch" each week, according to ABCNews.com. And that number is expected to increase. "They're still growing very quickly, and there's a lot of them that are springing up," says Brad Smith of the Large Church Network tells the news organization. There's the regular overview of today's seriously huge church: the climbing walls, the coffee shops, the movie theaters, the roller rinks, the auto repair clinics, the poetry workshops, the fancy music [...] Columbia University's Randall Balmer likens such congregations to a giant chain store (or did he actually use the word Wal-Mart?) "that comes into a town and puts all the little stores out of business."

The comparisons with shopping malls are too obvious to need elucidation.  What amazes me is the sheer worldliness of this bizarre elaboration of Christianith.  What the sandal-wearing carpenter from Nazareth would have said about roller rinks, climbing walls, state of the art A/V systems in 2,000-seat stadia, etc. is hard to say.  Somehow we seem to be very far indeed here from "Give all that you have to the poor, and follow Me."

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 09:35:20 PM EST
Somehow we seem to be very far indeed here from "Give all that you have to the poor, and follow Me."
Far as hell...as I said it's not about religion it's about control...people should see it and instead trying to attack religion as such (which only makes more of them defiant to be reasonable) we should attack these "false messiahs"...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 11:57:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I disagree. For religious leaders, religion was always about control. And religion was always the means of control; to touch people just where they don't apply doubts.

That is, the means how they are controlled should also be attacked, tough that should be done in a circumspect way if the goal is to wake up people.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 05:12:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, who was the Masked Promoter?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...
by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 10:34:58 PM EST
Most of the subjects on this blog are things that I am interested in rather than things I know about, but I do have some first hand knowledge of this phenomenon.
Calvary Cathedral, where governor Rick Perry signed the parental consent abortion bill and the anti-gay marriage bill into law, is right down over the hill from my house. It takes exactly the time to walk there as it takes to play Arrested Development's "Fishin' for Religion" on my iPod. One Sunday I walked down over the hill after my morning dose of Kos and coffee and I saw so many parked cars and SUVs that it was like the scene in Two Towers where the good guys look out over the walls of Helm's Deep and go, "Oh.....Crap." There were more cars on that parking lot than there are hits in one day on both Atrios and Kos put together. And this church is a sort of medium size mega church. There are at least six others that size within a ten mile radius. Drive about 15 miles up 121 toward Grapevine and you come upon the Daystar complex, which has taken over one PBS channel here on VHF and also has substantial satellite coverage. Go twenty miles toward Irving and there is an even bigger telemedia complex, which is a life size replica of...the White House.
Take this and multiply it by Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Nashville, Memphis, and any other medium size middle-of-the-country city and you can see the magnitude of the problem. Go into one of their bookstores and riffle through the books on culture wars and see the quality of it. Watch a television broadcast of a service such as afew posted and realize that there is a service that size in every really big city here: Phoenix, Dallas, Denver; that they are actively promoting kirchen, kuchen, and kinder...and the right hand man of God, George W. Bush; and you will see the magnitude of the problem Democrats face in responding to their GOTV efforts.
The Democrats have been heartened here recently. The media is covering their protests and people are showing up. At the Calvary Cathedral protest a couple of weeks ago there were 300 and everyone was pretty chuffed. Then Perry's rally ended and 1,500 members left the complex schoolbuilding and went home. As far as I could tell the parking lot looked about like an average Sunday.  
by northsylvania on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 11:27:38 PM EST
Read it and weep.
Uhhhhh...DeA, this makes my flesh creep ...I can hardly imagine how would I feel if I really have experienced this "picture" first hand.
Scene from movie "Cabaret" comes to mind when in a beautiful idyllic rural tavern that Aryan boy in Hitler's yungen's uniform stands up and start to sing a virginly naïve  song " Tomorrow belongs to me" and people hesitating at first start to get up and sing with him...
Terrible events are on front of men kind...it's coming slowly as a Tsunami from far seas...we can all smell it...signs are there...Be afraid...be very afraid...
I was thinking the other day where the hell one can go to avoid this catastrophe on a global scale...and I couldn't think of a single place...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Tue Jul 19th, 2005 at 11:31:26 PM EST
Well there is one thing vbo -- all these megachurches with giant parking lots full of SUVs, monster sound systems, ice skating rinks and all the rest, are as pre-obsolete as the shopping malls they resemble.  When Peak Oil starts to bite, they won't be able to afford their own energy budget.  What will happen to the happy masses who flocked to them (malls or megachurches) I dinna know, Kep'n, but the phenomenon as we're seeing it now is strictly a cheap-oil, sprawl-development outgrowth and can't outlive those conditions.

Talk about Constantinian Christianity, Church as Spectacle -- if we must have Church as Spectacle I personally prefer the sonorous, odoriferous inscrutability of High Mass in a baroque cathedral, or the drums and dancing of Voudon, to the Consumer Religion where the faithful flock to the Shopping Mall of God to sit obediently in their padded chairs while the Lord entertains them...  As one of the articles whose links I posted said, why bother with televangelists when you can go to church and watch TV?

There's something inherently spooky, to my dissident little brain, about that many people all doing the same thing at the same time no matter what it is :-)

And the scale thing troubles me.  Mega-malls, mega-churches, mega-schools, mega-prisons, mega-SUVs.  The US is on a gigantism trip -- a whole country of size queens run amuck.  Just at the point where human demand is straining global resources, the Americans are obsessed with super-sizing everything in sight.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 01:27:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
why bother with televangelists when you can go to church and watch TV?

This is pretty much what bothers me. As I pointed out above, there used to be the revival tent; then Billy Graham, in the post-war years, built that up to the mass arena campaign rally. Then came the televangelists -- the place to grab folks was in their homes, in front of their TV sets. Now that's gone (decline of cultural pertinence, bite, of TV?) What we have is a tendency to huge gatherings on a regular, and, as vbo says (almost) controlled and controlling basis. Yes, it's spectacular and it contains an element of entertainment (cf gladiators in circuses, serried torchlit ranks and banners, etc). And yes, for many people it must be like what you do for uplift on a Sunday rather than spend a few hours at the mall.

What bothers me most about it is the juncture of crowd psychology with the delivery of carefully-marketed right-wing ideology. From the point of view of the ordinary participant, this is a great show, there's the mall-like aspect, there's the warm, fuzzy sensation of belonging -- and at times the crisis moments when the individual, in emotionally-charged circumstances, is challenged to commit h/self more deeply and substantially to the mass movement (psychodrama is appreciated by so many). Meanwhile, the organizers, let's make no mistake, are as clear-eyed, hard-headed, control-freak power-mad as any leaders, middle managers, soldiers, of what are more commonly called cults (also cf certain styles of American corporate management). The words fascism and totalitarianism aren't really adequate to describe it, but imho it's deadly dangerous.

Yes, Peak Oil will take the shine off these places, but it will take time. Till then...

Just a footnote on the church in the photo I posted. The faithful we can see in the foreground are African-American. (Though the congregation appears to be mixed). I see the filled stadium, and I no longer wonder why the GOP believes it's worth their time trying to win over the African-American constituency from the Dems. If they're ever to do it, this could be one of the means.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 02:32:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The words fascism and totalitarianism aren't really adequate to describe it, but imho it's deadly dangerous.
Yes that's what I thought...And I agree with everything you said...all tho I only have seen scenes like this on TV, I feel the same way...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 05:19:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I see I play the role of Cassandra here, but I have to express my scepticism regarding the above too.

Recall what happened to the Roman Empire. Neither internal disputes (not many people know that the victory of the Athanasians with the Nicean Creed was only temporary), nor the progressive disintegration of the Roman Empire's economy stopped the zeal of ever more fanatic Christians. The 'Jihad' of Theodosius followed up a plague epidemic and involved the destruction of public baths on imperial order, 'hellenists' were hunted down and took their tehcnical knowledge into the grave too, and all this prepared the ground for the incursion of the Visigoths, which was met by almost no resistance - by the time of the Huns, most of the Empire was already turned into Germanic kingdoms.

Just how bad these years were, I got a clue for when I visited Pécs, a city in southern Hungary. Under today's city centre lies the cementery of the late Roman city, many graves were dug up and can be visited by tourists (it's on the UNESCO list). The rich people's graves were macabre: the guide explained that their surface parts (which had arches painted inside as cover) served as their families' dining place, on a daily basis. At one place, there were a lot of graves of common people from the late fourth century - and all were very slim in stature, with porous bones. The guide explained that the bones imply a vegetarian diet - they must have fasted at least half the year.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 05:39:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dodo, that's a fascinating parallel you're drawing (I think..?) with the fall of the Roman Empire, but I'm a bit lost...

How does it apply?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 08:19:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, not in the most direct of ways - what I meant is that economic collapse and the distruption of the American... in that case Roman way of life won't stop the phenomenon, in fact might accelerate it, even without the strong effect of megachurches/in Rome's case the might of the Empire as enforcer.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 08:51:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
but the phenomenon as we're seeing it now is strictly a cheap-oil, sprawl-development outgrowth and can't outlive those conditions.
I am afread they are preparing to conquer a whole world to preserve those conditions for themselves...Actually they are already doing it...one way or another ...country by country..."We all live in America"...
They are even OPENLY talking about doing it. These people are their foot solders and will be glad to do it consciously..."in the name of God"...or their "SUVs, monster sound systems, ice skating rinks and all the rest,"
Call me paranoid but I see it very clearly and I still relay on my mind for what I see.At least for now...
"to sit obediently in their padded chairs while the Lord entertains them... "
You are great DeA...and yes there is a hunger in west world...hunger for perpetual entertainment...it's pretty hard to think about new things that can entertain modern western man ...and not including a terrible habit of actually thinking and realizing facts about reality that are making them so depressed ...They as well want to consume all the bloody time with their souls as well as with their bodies.
Americans are obsessed with super-sizing everything in sight.
This is hardly news for the rest of us...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 02:38:55 AM EST
Hello my children
it is I, Cecil B De Mille!
Meeting me must be quite a thrill,
but there's no need to kneel...

just random brain-noise as I reflect on the Holy Church of Perpetual Entertainment and Consumption.  the Divine Grind coffee bar is sticking unpleasantly in my mind... Starbucks for Sinners?  which latte would Jesus drink?

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 02:42:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quote from Martin Amis, in an article I can't find a link to right now:

...the voice of religion, to reposition a phrase from the Reverend Northrop Frye, is "the voice of the lonely crowd". It is a monologue that seeks the validation of a chorus.


...the voice of the lonely crowd, which, with its yearning for both power and effacement, is the most desolate sound you will ever hear.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 03:04:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, I meant to connect this Martin Amis quote with super-sizing and the consumer-society aspect. Something to do with the loner in the crowd finding strength in numbers, sublimation and denial of death in size and conspicuous consumption -- malls and mega-churches have strict rules and lines of control, yet offer the feelgood illusion of freedom. It's both a structure that surrounds and guides you, while making you believe you're less alone. Some people would call that alienation.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 03:15:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Martin Amis quote from The Voice of the Lonely Crowd
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 09:52:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what would happen if there were no sport gatherings to let off steam?

i think there's a kind of psychic initiation the first time you realise the power of a crowd, the sheer electricity of it, the heady mix of fear, joy and anticipation of the unexpected. chaos and flirting with it.

it runs so deep in us....

my family didn't take me to sports games, and church in england is real low on special effects, so it wasn't till 1968-9 when i discovered them at....rock festivals!

back then intelligent rock was about getting clean of mindgames, chilling, looking for values and busting myths, coupled with a hedonism that undid almost all the good it did.

when i see what sports events do to people, i don't know whether to be more concerned about the phenomena, or what would happen to that energy if there were no sports events to channel it into.

these stadium-religion-orgies are milking the same teat.

folks just LOVE to get together in large numbers, over-enthuse, wave arms in the air and chant mindless, unmusical group mantras.


maybe from the dna memories of tribes scaring a mammoth into a canyon?

beats me....

guess that's why i still cherish a naive belief in rock'n'roll. it offered the only analogous group thrill, and was blissful until it became corrupted.

early and middle rock was very woody, elementally speaking.

when the metal element dominated the soul slipped away, back into the quiet.

but quiet music doesn't make you want to drive thousands of polluting cars to a megagigastadium and wave your fist and scream 'jesus!' or 'allah!'.

too many people, too many confused, so insecure they would kill  (yes) for a sense of identity any more authentic than just another cypher#cog's.

tapping into the rage and getting off the stage alive.

funny, i see similar issues in the kind of clumsy demagoguery b,b and b play out in politics.

whip 'em into a frenzy looking for evildoers, while robbing 'em blind.

plus ca change...

great diary!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 05:43:05 AM EST
Great diary and the comments all interesting and makes me think a bit more.  I don't have anything insightful to add except to say that these mega churches just freak me out. These people to me just seem so zombie like or as some mentioned here it's not about religion but control which I agree with completely.

I guess my big problem is I just don't understand the whole mentality of this-mega churches are like gigantic cult gatherings and to what purpose except in part I believe to make the puppet masters feel more powerful. Or like a religious(matter of opinion)ponzi scheme...collecting more/more people.

Why don't people want to think for themselves what I always wonder when I see see these huge gatherings?

"People never do evil so throughly and happily as when they do it from moral conviction."-Blaise Pascal

by chocolate ink on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 04:24:19 PM EST
I think Megachurches have sprung up for lack of functional societal institutions and heirarchy. Here in Northern California, there are a number of megachurches, but most are in the rich, sprawling suburbs. People who live in these suburbs have essentially no forums for interaction with other people. They go from their 3,000 sq. foot house to their plush cars, drive at least 30 minutes to work in an office, work, get in car, drive home, go into house. Watch mind-numbing TV programmes, watch their kids play video games, go to sleep, get up and do it all over again.

(Whether it's cause or effect that this area is one of the most conservative in California, I don't know.)

There are no book clubs, discussion groups, or forums for real discourse out here. The closest community college offers little intellectual stimulation, and you must get on a waiting list, enroll and pay for it. Cafes are basically non-existent (especially independent ones), Starbucks shoppes have tables only for two (and heaven forbid you ask to try and join someone at another table....they'll tell you they were just leaving and run away), and restaurants exist just for food, not for any communal life.

Megachurches are the only institution around here that offers even a semblance of these forums. There are small groups studying books of the bible or the latest American pop-culture Christianity. There are "accountability" groups that get together and mostly just chat. We go to a small (Methodist) church, within 5 miles of two 5,000-10,000 member megachurches, but we don't have the numbers to provide these groups. Even if we did, the people who come to the church are a) not close enough in political views to agree on things, and b) too timid, proud, or intellectually lazy to discuss things with people they don't agree with.

Megachurches offer a large amount of insulation for lazy intellects, much like parts of the current conservative movement in many parts of the country. Don't like what someone has to say? They must be un-patriotic. Or not Christian. Or not [insert whatever you are and they are not]. Slap a yellow ribbon sticker on your car -- it serves as a "don't even try to talk to me about current events because I won't like what you have to say" warning.

Megachurches aren't about the religious views or political views. They're about the fundamental need to be a part of a group or a network of people like you. It's more about being "saved" from the drudgery of plush suburban life by being a part of a living, dynamic, institutional whole, than being saved by Jesus. All your money and 3,000 square foot homes and nice cars can't get you that. The rest of us suburbanites are just lonely and frustrated.

(Let this be a lesson to any other countries that want to build life around cars, and living as far from eachother as is reasonably possible.)

Oops. Sorry for the diatribe.

If it's just us, it seems like an awful waste of space. -Carl Sagan, Contact

by kaleefornian on Thu Jul 21st, 2005 at 04:22:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well I agree that we disagree here. As I said before (not here but on WB and MOA and KOS), for me religion is deeply personal and all tho it was misused in history by MEN it still is a matter of peoples personal freedom of choice...to believe or not to.
While I would be very careful to advice people how they are stupid for being religious I would gladly worn them of OTHER PEOPLE who are likely to use them because of their religious feelings.
ALL LEADERS (not just church leaders) are after control...some of them are using ideologies, some use bribes and some use ANUTHING ON EARTH to gain greater control of the masses. Because I am religious person (for many personal reasons) I don't think that education and science are contradictory to religion all tho it is obvious that trough history they were contrary to ORGANISED religious (different churches). Because I do not doubt the fact that we received message "from above" but imperfect as they are people are trying to use it for all the wrong reasons...
And here we are talking about fanatics... labile people who are controlled by bunch of crooks... Still it's not going to make any good if we slap these fanatics with a truth straight in a face...most likely they will react opposite of what we want...I hope this makes a grain of sense?
You say "to wake up" people...it sounded like an echo from my school years..."religion is opium for the masses"...but I just (like 15 years ago) woke up from another "opiate" - communism -ideology that had me believe that "all men are equal and suppose to have equal" ...mantra that never was and never will be truth...and is actually the stupidest thing I have ever heard...
Yes people need to be aware of what is actually happening here...but what's the best way to do it I wouldn't know...

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind...Albert Einstein
by vbo on Wed Jul 20th, 2005 at 11:33:17 PM EST

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