Sunday, September 18, 2005

Caroline's Suggestion

Caroline also has a topic suggestion. The topic of TV Evangelism may be pretty interesting. Up until this summer, I was under the impression that people my age didn't subscribe to the Benny Hinn minstry set-up, but I was mistaken. I talked with a Centenary Student this summer who thinks that Benny Hinn is a good man. What do y'all thinK?

PS- Has anyone seen the movie Repo Man?


Blogger CSC said...

Can we link this to a bigger issue? Role of church in religion, or scams in religion or the regulation of religion or something. . . What are the values at stake here? (Rather than just asking what beleifs you are surprised other students hold, though those are interesting.)


8:52 AM  
Blogger Mike_Schwalke said...

Firstly: yes I have seen Repo Man--long time ago. Estevez and Stanton throw a dead rat into a convertible. Funny stuff.

As for the meat:

I'm not sure about the geographical boundaries of the Bible Belt, though I know that it's first notch is in or near Roanoke, Virginia, home of Jerry Falwell Ministries. This brand of evangelism stretches out over the South and South East, going at least as far west as Dallas, home of Robert Tilton. If you don't have a map in front of you, Shreveport IS covered in that span.
Moreover, Centenary is a parochial school and I would say that Evangelical Christianity is on the rise in the US--but that last point is a personal opinion.
This televangelical phenomenon is also related to the mega-church phenomenon: Lakewood Baptist in Houston, for example. Shreveport has it's own honest to hoyle megachurch--Calvary Baptist--and televangelist--Denny Duron (sp?) from Evangel.

As for Benny Hinn ministries: My father is a surgeon, and in recent years is becoming somewhat of a born-again type. However, several years ago, the Rev. Hinn made a stop in Shreveport. My father told me of his surprise finding out how many medical professionals he worked with believed in Hinn's faith healing. Despite the cold, secular, rational background of the local healthcare institutions, some people also have room in their lives for the power of faith to cure. SOme may find this irrational and dubious at best. Others may see this as a shining example of the power of faith.

As for televangelism in general: I believe the majority of the televangelists: Pat RObertson, Oral Roberts, Falwell, Hinn believe in what they're doing and believe that it is right. Like the Biblical Evangelists speaking in tongues, these contemporary ministries seek to expose as many people as possible to the Word. THey are backed by 2000 years of theological debate and market research and they know the TV is possibly the best tool at our disposal to communicate to a wide audience.
Well, if you're going to broadcast reigonally or nationally, produce high-quality programming (ie. high production values), emploly the skilled professionals required to film and edit and transmit live, and house literally thousands of people, you need money. Some of these ministries broadcast from churches that resemble Madison Square Garden replete with stadium seating and a Jumbo-tron, not to mention sound-systems, a stage, etc.
Also, because of the community involvement aspect of the church, they will have basketball gyms, classrooms, daycare centers,libraries, you name it.

I am not a practicing Christian and although I did go to Catholic school, I will lose any battle of Bible quotes. But I do know this: the Catholic church bases canon on this hierarcy: 1) what did Jesus say; 2) what did Jesus do; 3) what does the Church say.

In my opinion, Jesus teaches us that we can return to the Garden by removing our wants and desires. THis is in line with the Buddhist teaching that desire is the source of all misery. If you want nothing, then you have everything you want. Of course, it's hard to want nothing and I think this is what the story of CHrist's temptations are about. Jesus taught to give away worldly possessions--infinite riches in heaven and all that (like I said: Bible quotes are not my forte). TO me, this indicates that if you have nothing and want nothing, then you have everything you want, you're happy, heaven is here. Turn your back on TV and the mall, shed your clothes, take your brother's hand and walk into the garden, the end.
Idealistic, yes. Frightening, sure. Oversimplified, most definitely.

But with all of this in mind, I would be skeptical of any pastor who makes more than a decent living off the tithes and donations of his or her flock. Sure, I'd like my pastor to have some nice suits to wear, but custom designer suits are probably gratuitous. Sure, my pastor should have a nice wedding ring, but not eight knuckles full of splendid gemstones. Sure my pastor should have a nice, reliable and roomy car--full size, luxury, CD and all that--but a Rolls ROyce is overdoing it. What's more, I don't think a pastor should have more cars than members of family. A nice big house, plenty of room for the family, maybe even a separate rumpus room for the kids, a guest bedroom, a nice formal living room for entertaining--pastors have to be social creature to the extreme--but not an 82 room mansion. A watch, not a Rolex.
You get my point.
I can even see the case for a televangelist having plastic surgery--to become more telegenic and thus more able to communicate via TV. And it's fair to say that a full time pastor is a hard-working individual and, since they are self-employed, need to make a little extra money to cover retirement, medical bills and all that. Leave poverty to the monks--let them be middle class.
But it's important for everybody--especially members of a specific church--to be aware of how well their pastor is doing. Does he drive a 2006 Boxster? Does he wear silk brocaide? Does he take annual trip to the Swiss Alps?
It's important for people to be able to recognize when something has become so bloated that it is ridiculous.

9:31 AM  
Blogger Mike_Schwalke said...

One other thing:

THe issues at stake here are:

How much capital should be invested in the institutionalizing of religion.

The idea that we--hamanity--are capable of perfection but constantly blow it because we want thing and are willing to slit out mothers' throats to get them, at least metaphorically.

Ballancing the notion of good-works and humility with this industrialized capitalistic "bigger is better" mentality.

Being critical of those is power, especially when backed by the phantom JC. Also being able to tell when these seer-suckered slimeballs are circling old people like carrion birds.

9:36 AM  
Blogger LD said...

Mike: "How much capital should be invested in the institutionalization of religion?"

One of the purposes of TV Evangelism is to provide a church-like environment for those people who are stuck at home, which makes me think specifically of elderly people who cannot drive to and from church. I have two grandmother's who both watch TBN.

The act of tithing makes sense to me. Some of the percentages are a little extreme in my opinion. What the money goes to does matter though. On TBN, they have a number at the bottom of the screen during every program so that you can call in and donate. What does that money go to? The idea of donations going to plastic surgery is absurd, beyond belief in my opinion. Paying make-up artists and tailors does not seem like the best way to spend money either. Surely that money could have gone to something a little bit more important. Where would Jesus want that money to go?

They also focus a lot on getting their programs broadcasted all over the world. The poor people in India may not have food, but they have Benny Hinn.

Maybe we could focus on how much positive change TV Evangelism actually envokes. The link that Caroline sent out to everyone is a good example of how TV Evangelism does not promote a caring, or even rational environment.

I think that a Church should offer a positive environment that focuses on benefiting mankind, instead of just preparing them for revelations.

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, did i send that to you, or was i just talking about it?

oh well, i think i told everyone b/c i was so angry.

Yeah, he had like 2 or 3 million viewers every Sunday... that's insane. I can't think in those numbers, honestly.

p.s. as for movies... here's a GREAT link... ... it's a list of "philosophical movies" that is divided by topic

9:37 AM  
Blogger CSC said...

That list looks good. The list is worth reading for this comment alone: " Theodore Rex (This movie is so bad that its existence is evidence of God's nonexistence.)"

I'll start a new post with my thoughts . . .

6:08 PM  
Blogger Hoodia said...

Help me Dude, I think I'm lost..... I was searching for Elvis and somehow ended up in your blog, but you know I'm sure I saw him in a car lot yesterday, which is really strange because the last time I saw him was in the supermarket. No honest really, he was right there in front of me, next to the steaks singing "Love me Tender". He said to me (his lip was only slightly curled) "Boy, you need to get yourself a San Diego cosmetic surgery doctor ,to fit into those blue suede shoes of yours. But Elvis said in the Ghetto nobody can afford a San Diego plastic surgery doctor. Dude I'm All Shook Up said Elvis. I think I'll have me another cheeseburger. Then I'm gonna go round and see Michael Jackson and we're gonna watch a waaaay cool make-over show featuring some Tijuana dentists on the TV in the back of my Hummer. And then he just walked out of the supermarket singing. . . "You give me love and consolation,
You give me strength to carry on " Strange day or what? :-)

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1:52 AM  

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