Tuesday, February 19, 2008

RELIGION- God Loves Irony

A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.

And we have a winner!

“Dwindling donations to the Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park have prompted its high-profile pastor, Mac Hammond, to put his private business jet on the market.”

The real story is that Living Word is one of the Christian churches that preach the “Prosperity Gospel”, the idea that if you live a good life the Lord will reward you with material gains. A donation shortfall of 40-70 thousand dollars a week has required Reverend Hammond to do without his private jet, leading one to wonder how anyone could continue the lord’s work under such hardship.

There is always room for interpretation when it comes to the bible (1200 Christian denominations can’t be wrong) but Jesus seemed pretty clear about what he thought of greed and the pursuit of wealth. But as plain as the gospels are about it hasn’t stopped people from rationalizing that camel through the eye of the needle thing for centuries. I once heard a fellow in church explain that a “needle” was actually a kind of barn door and that camels went through them all the time. I couldn’t catch myself before I actually laughed out loud. If metaphors are a little too much for you there’s always the rich man that, after telling Christ he followed all the commandments and wanted to know if there was anything else he needed to do, was told to give away his wealth. Or the either/or choice between God and Mammon in the sermon on the mount. Or the old “take no thought for the morrow” bromide. Jesus may have been ambiguous about some things but was pretty plain that wanting to be rich and wanting to serve God were mutually exclusive.

But Christianity nowadays isn’t the religion of Christ, it’s more a religion about Christ. To paraphrase Bobcat Goldthwait, blaming Jesus Christ for Christianity is like blaming Ronald McDonald when you get a bad burger. It isn’t like either one is running the company. But maybe there is some sort of justice. When a church that preaches righteousness is rewarded with financial gains has money trouble, it’s a hint and a half for you.

He who has ears, let him hear.

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