November 26, 2008

The Wrong Kind of Christian

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 11:59 am by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

To follow up on my Pailin post for Thanksgiving I am tempted to talk about the silly practice of “pardoning” turkeys (as if they committed some crime, as if that makes up for the millions killed…) and the tricksy news camera man who set her up.  Instead I want to draw more attention to the sermon that was preached by visiting preacher Thomas Muthee at the Wasilla Assembly of God. 

Pailin was chosen for her merging of political and religious views and I assume that his views match hers.  His basic orientaion was that righetousness is the absence of evil and corruption.  He spoke nothing about “doing justly, loving mercy and walking humbly with God.” 

His sermon focused on the need for “believers” to take control of society.  He enumerated several areas in which he felt true Christian believers needed to be in charge, including Finances, Education, Media, the Courts and Governement.  The odd thing was his ‘why.’ For example, Chrisitans needed to take over financial institutions.  Why?  Because then there would not be all this corruption and mismanagment.  Nieve does not begin to describe this opinion.  Christians must take over Education.  Why? Is it because an educated mind is essential for a healthy person, is it because an educated citizenry is essential for a well functioning democracy, is it because critical thinking skills, an understanding of the scientific method, and a familiarity with history will help people make better, wiser decisions?  No, its becuase if we have Christians in education then there won’t be any controversy about prayer in schools, just as if there are Christians in the courts no one will be trying to get rid of the Ten Commandments. 

This is from a man who’s ministry has become famous for identifying and rebuking witches. He actually named a woman in Wasilla who was causing car accidents.  I am sure he understands what goodness is, in and of itself.  The problem is that he is leading people to primarily live by a negative definition of goodness and to create a negative politics of witch-hunts, finger pointing and judgement of others without any real self-criticism and tempering doubt.  This is the worst kind of politics and religion.  It nurtures fear above hope.  It is good to point out what is wrong in the world and in our actions, but the solution should be doing good things and cooperation, not casting out demons and blaming others.

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February 7, 2008

Post-Christian Ashes

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 1:08 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

Last night we held a Universalist Ash Wednesday service.  Rev. Derek Parker led the service and included some interesting remarks on the history of Unitarian and Universalist ambivalence about the day.  For example Main and New Hampshire sometime ago set aside the day as a holiday, but called it “The Day of Fasting,” rather than “Ash Wednesday.”  He also noted that many Universalists would mark their hands rather than their foreheads with the ashes, because it fit more with Jesus’ advice that we not “disfigure our faces” like the hypocrites when they fast, and because it was a more visible to ourselves rather than to others as reminder of our mortality.  Derek focused on the theme of mortality, which was all the more poignant because I had just read that afternoon the text of the sermon in which Rev. Forrester Church announced that his cancer had returned and he would likely not survive its ravages.  It was a very fine service, especially the moment when Derek spoke to each person who participated by name, saying “… remember that from dust you have come and to dust you shall return,”  or something like that, then he spontaneously asked me to mark his hand and I had to speak the words I had not memorized.  It was a meaningful moment, sad and happy, more peaceful than anxious.  But what impressed me most was the fact that out of a congregation of 250 only seven people attended this service.  Despite all I have done to include Christianity clearly as a living part of our tradition, not just an ancient root, the congregation remains “post-Christian.”