Monday, August 20, 2012

Sales Pitch For Jesus

Last week, I felt like there was a lot of attention on me, as the new guy in a fairly small group (easily less than 50). So for this week I chose a larger church, King of Kings Lutheran Church, hoping to blend into the crowd. This was accomplished disturbingly easily. No one notices a new face in a crowd of a thousand.

South half of the King of Kings main parking lot
North half of the King of Kings main parking lot

The parking lot reminded me of Walmart. Considering they have a loading dock, I might as well have been at a Walmart. I'd love to compare this church's pastor's salary to the salary for the pastor of last week's church.  Or even to the salary of a Walmart regional manager.

Some churches get big deliveries
For my protection? Weird, it didn't make me feel any safer

I went to the 11am service because I was out late the night before and I'm not so devoted to this project that I'll lose sleep over it.  Maybe that's why they had the band, or maybe they do the "modern" thing at all their services. Either way, it was an 8 person band doing a mini concert.

This picture doesn't do that room's size justice.  This is not even half the room.

The songs were generic Jesusy stuff. Mostly unremarkable, until one of the last songs. A song about peace, ending suffering and war. I wonder if that desire for peace & prosperity is more of a factor in the voting booth than party loyalty. They disapprove of violence a lot for people who revere one of the most violent books ever written. Sadly, that part is nothing new.

At some point during the singing, people began forming a circle in the front of the crowd. They were preparing for the baptisms of three infant girls. That's certainly old enough to understand the commitment they're making, or more accurately the commitment that is being made for them.  It's not like it's a real commitment, since they were pledging to a myth, but they don't know that.

They began with a declaration of belief in the form of a group chant. It reminded me of something from the few times I was in church as a child. In those churches, they said the Lord's Prayer as a group. I thought it was creepy then, with only about a hundred people. It was ten times worse with a thousand.

After each child was baptized, the pastor wiped the water from their heads. I know it was to keep the children from being cold and possibly getting sick, but how could the water make them sick when it is magic?  I guess holy water's magic has limits.

During the baptism, there was a small wooden chest on the table. It was acknowledged until the end when the pastor called attention to it. He called it a Faith Chest and said they were available in the church's store. They interrupted the baptisms for a goddamn sales pitch.  

I didn't realize "Always be selling" was one of the Commandments. 

As the pastor began his transition into his sermon, he mentioned school starting soon. He made a point to pray for a blessing of "the Christian school teachers". Not all the school teachers. The Christian school teachers. Sorry non-Christians, no blessings for you.

The bit about the retirement of the Sunday school teacher, Sherry, was nice. It seemed like she meant a lot to the people of that church. One person mention the "thousands of children Sherrie's ministry has touched". 

I'm not a fan of thousands of children being indoctrinated, but whatever.  It's not like they're my kids. People do have the right to pass on their fairy tales to their children, even when they have to suppress those children's critical thinking skills to do it.

After an adult prayed for Sherry, they had one of the kids pray for her. His prayer was noticeably different than the prayers I've seen so far from adults. Their prayers always have some sort of reinforcement of the "importance of faith". This kid just wished her well in her retirement.

He didn't mention faith at all. I guess kids don't understand how much faith has to be reinforced. They don't yet have the understanding that it can slip away without constant reinforcement.

The sermon was short, since they spent most of the service on the concert and the tribute to Sherry. It was on Acts, Chapter 18. It's about a trip Paul supposedly took. He put up a map of the path of that trip. He said he did that to show that it was a real thing and not just a Sunday school story. Apparently it's visual aids that make things real. Not evidence.  No acknowledgement that,even if this trip by Paul took place as told, it does nothing to prove the existence of their god.

Paul apparently visited Corinth, where he encountered all sorts of bad behavior. The pastor went on for a while about how Corinth was known for its lack of morality. He mentioned prostitutes, who did what they did "in the name of religion". He had an interesting contempt in his voice of religion being used to justify something. It is especially interesting coming from a minister.

The Bible mentions the Jews becoming abusive toward Paul. He was preaching at them non-stop, telling them their "blood was on their own heads", and when they stood up to him about it, he calls them the abusive ones. I guess the victim mentality they have isn't such a new thing.

Funny that the story of Jesus is so unbelievable, even people in the Bible can't believe it.

One night, Paul has a vision. God tells him he won't be attacked. He's attacked in the very next line.  I cannot have been the only person in that room who noticed this.

He said the message of this story was that you shouldn't give up when you're discouraged. He asked for a show of hands for whoever was "in a good place" with god. Maybe someone raised their hand, but I didn't see them. The pastor didn't see (m)any either and commented on it.

He then moved onto a small presentation on people's needs. As a psychology major, some of his presentation was familiar.  It was a twist on Proxemics.  After going through it correctly, he unnecessarily added his god on as a new level.

He then told them they should continue to persevere, because "we know how this thing ends."  Harold Camping knew too.

During the final prayer, I looked around, as most atheists do during prayers. I was not the only one not participating. Several people in that room were not into the praying. They were probably not all atheists, but I doubt I was the only atheist in that room. I was just the only one who can admit it.

Next week, they're skipping morning services for what they called "Step Out". They're taking a day to do community service, a noble endeavor. Then they'll meet back at the church at noon, to talk about "what the lord did that morning".  Ugh.

These people's god didn't do that.  They did.  It wouldn't hurt them to take credit for their own hard work. They're the ones helping people, not their imaginary super-powered friend.

Met a friend at Cold Stone Creamery after church.  Couldn't help myself.

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