Religion, as well as sex and politics, is one of the interests of ExC. His oldest one, actually. A lot of Amurrican religion bores me, so I don't pay that much attention nowadays. Especially to dying Mainline Protestantism. As a religion, it always bored me: Bibles, hymns, preaching by bland ministers, potluck suppers. That's it. As a shaper of culture and of my sadly fading homeland, much appreciated.
Today it amused me to post about two radically variant faces of US religion of the ProtChristian kind, for your edification and puzzlement.
Top pic is Joel Osteen, megachurch superstar from Texas. He's the kinda guy that women might call handsome. He's a feel-good preacher, relentlessly upbeat and worth $50 million+. His book titles tell the story: Your Best Life Now, 7 Steps To Fulfilling Your Full Potential, Become a Better You. Norman Vincent Peele with an aw shucks style, some seriously tailored suits and a killer haircut.
Below pic is Steve Anderson, pastor of a tiny strip mall, King-James-Only church in Arizona. He's the kinda guy that I might call handsome. He's a feel-bad preacher, relentlessly downbeat and probably --with his tiny congregation and 8 kids*--- worth no more than 5 figures. His sermon titles tell the story: The Jews and Their Lies, The Truth About Sodomites, Attributes of a Godly Woman, The False Religions of Mormonism and Islam. A Baptist Savonarola with an ordinary guy style, some local salesman suits and a basic buzzcut.
The awful truth is, Joel gives me the creeps but as Herod with John, Mark 6:20b, I like listening to Steve.
Joel wants me to feel good about myself. Steve, well, he can be a very very Old Testament kinda guy and Leviticus is very clear about mens what lie with mens and he agrees. Literally. Nevertheless, for some reason Steve doesn't freak me out. Joel makes me roll my eyes.
Why? It's simple. I always know that Joel is manipulating me so I'll like him. I always know that Steve is telling me exactly what he thinks, bluntly, clearly and without inner conflict, whether I like him or not. Which makes me kinda like him.
If I were to be driving past Joel and Victoria's
They got a 30% Priceline discount for their family trip to Tahoe.
By all rights, I should consign extremely anti-gay Pastor Steve to the outer darkness. Pastor Joel may not be able to give me a high five, but he really doesn't wanna hurt my feelings, much less Leviticize me. Yet I guess it's part of my quirk that I'd rather deal with a man who wasn't bullshitting me all the time than with one who was afraid to give me a straight answer.
Oh, well. Maybe someday I'll "evolve."
*His wife Zsusanna has a blog about their daily lives called "Are They All Yours?!!?" She is one smart, capable, energetic and charming woman. My only fear, her description of one of the boys--Our quirky child. Too smart for his own good. Loves dressing up. Extremely artistic. Loving older brother to his younger sisters. Always mommy's baby boy at heart. Keeps us in stitches every day.-- makes me think that maybe some day, tragically, Pastor Steve might find Leviticus 20:13 in his own house. For everyone's sake, I hope not.