Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Witness

Guess what I did this morning? It's Sunday... is that a hint? Yeah, I went to church. Can you believe it? I rarely go to church, but I got the notion this morning that I wanted to see if the church was gloating in their moral victory with the re-election of Bush/Cheney. Little did I know that I was about to witness something of historic proportions!
When my wife and I walked in the church door, the first thing I noticed was the electric chatter of a happy gathering of people. They seemed more excited than usual but I thought maybe that's just because I hadn't been to church in awhile. Maybe they are a happier bunch than when I was last there. By the way, this is a Bible-thumping independent fundamentalist Christian church.
When the service began, there was the usual systematic self-gratifying singing and prayer. By systematic I mean that they do it the same way every Sunday morning and they do it in a way recognizable by members of nearly all such churches. By self-gratifying I mean that their attitude is primarily one of thank you God for loving me so much and for giving me so much and for protecting me so much. Thank you God for all the wonderful things You do for me and for being there whenever I need You.
There was the usual systematized "fellowship" programmed into the service where all the people get to get up and walk around and greet everyone and smile and hug and shake hands and say nice things and briefly chat for maybe five minutes.
But then it was the pastor's turn to talk. He had been away for a couple of weeks, actually at some church thing in England and Wales. This was his first Sunday back from that. The first thing he did was to explain that this wasn't his usual message, that he had something very different to say. He asked us to bear with him till he was done before we took anything he said out of context. He explained that while he was over in England he spent a lot of time driving around the country, a thousand miles of driving on gasoline costing $7.00 a gallon, time when he was free to think about the past couple of years. Then he dropped the bomb shell.
It seems that this shepherd pastor had been encouraging his flock to support the re-election of Bush/Cheney because they represented the moral Right. But, for some reason, he had changed his mind about Bush. (I'm thinking, oh, how convenient that he changes his mind within five days after the successful re-election!) So anyway, from a prepared list, he went on to explain all the reasons why he believes that Bush is embracing worshipers of false gods and false religions and even homosexuals. The congregation sat there dumbfounded...
Basically the message I got from this sermon was that the pastor was apologizing to the congregation for getting them to believe in Bush. Then he went on to explain that Bush just doesn't seem to be moral enough. He isn't as righteous as we are here in this church. He went on to explain how we have become comfortable in the world, how we have become like the world. He even ranted about how there are young women who come to church in short shorts and skimpy tops and how hard it is for a man to keep his eyes lifted upward when faced with that. Everyone in the church was either sitting completely still or nodding in conformity but the pastor saw me shaking my head no. I'm thinking, what next, burkas for the women in church? Isn't it time that men learned to control their emotions around beautiful women?
My first impression of the sermon was that there was something fishy about the whole session, but I didn't see through it right away. At first, I was thinking that the pastor had told the people that they had been blind to the truth, had been misled. In fact he had told them that they had been slumbering, not paying attention to the truth about Bush and our government. He did say, though, that he wasn't "Bush bashing" because Kerry wouldn't have been any better. But was he saying that his flock was somehow no better than the demon-worshipping unsaved? Was he saying that what is really important is for all of us to seek out the truth? Although at first I was wishing that was what he meant, after thinking about it for awhile I don't think that's what he was saying at all.
I think that what he was actually doing was teaching his people to disassociate themselves from the government that they had just worked so diligently to empower. He sees an approaching Nazi-like oppression coming, a day when we lose religious freedom, and he sees the current US government working toward that end. Apparently, up until just after the election he had not seen that danger, but now he does. His answer isn't to discover the truth, however. His answer is to rise above the fray. Bush isn't far enough to the right for us Christians. He isn't righteous enough. So our solution is to rise up out of the gutter and let the light of our own Christian righteousness shine. Those weren't his words, but when I think about it, that's the only thing I took away from this sermon.
There are times when I think the only thing lily white about Christians is their bullshit.
This is one of those times.
How convenient it is that a pastor can lead his church to support a satanic president's re-election and then not even a week after the victory have the entire congregation wash its hands of responsibility for anything bad that president might then do. How lily white pure of us, the righteous!
How arrogant and self-serving can a preacher get!!

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