I spent the last few days in Wellfleet, MA. near the tip of Cape Cod. They operate under a different system than I’m used to. One of a slower, trusting pace. One where neighbors are really neighbors-giving the shirts off their back if you were cold- even if it’d make themselves chilly. No locked doors. Pristine beaches that look like the Caribbean. I’m seriously thinking of going back and just setting up shack there permanently. God knows it’d be a writer’s heaven--- surf--- breezes through the trees. Nary a honking horn or road rage artist in the bunch. Any takers to come with me?[i]
The only downside is I didn’t pay any attention to the world (other than to hear Gustov was not as bad as predicted, thank God!). Maybe that’s not totally a downfall. Stephen Covey has always preached not to watch or read the news- if it’s important, you’ll hear about it- as it’s just filled with depressing stories, the kind that sell newspapers. Not for me, thanks.
That being said, most of my ideas come from newspapers. I’ll read something I think weird, mull it over, and then voila- it spews like Linda Blair bile. Watch out- that doesn’t come out in the wash.
I went Saturday through Tuesday not seeing a paper. It felt pretty good, but I thought ‘shit, I won’t have anything to write about come Wednesday’.
Ye of little faith.[ii]
Saved ‘em baby!
I spent this morning whisking through them. Around 6, including the Boston Globe from Sunday.
You know what?
Despite not reading or watching practically any news, I knew everything sans the NOTW[iii]. I was kinda surprised but in the course of conversation during two days, I was brought up to speed by my cousins.
I was driving my Uncle Paul to the Cape for a long overdue visit. While we were driving, he read me the Saturday NOTW.
Titled “Godly or Gimmick” in the Religion section.
Seems some Protestant Churches are marketing to potential members by giving ‘incentives’.
They have started with $50 Gas cards to ‘attract new members and help attendance during vacation season’.
A Pastor in North Dakota defended their strategy by saying it cost him “less than $200 to run the $50 gas promotion, less than a ¼ page ad in the paper”.
So, Mr. ND Pastor, you got 4 ether new members or people shorting a vacation that particular Sunday with your Fortune 50 business plan?
For even ONE MINUTE, did it dawn on you that maybe- just maybe- if you said something during the service that people could take with them- actually want to apply to their lives- you could sell tickets vs. creating a gimmick?
And, just how would Jesus feel?
I can see Him now, on a hillside. Saying “Apostles- go to Jerusalem- bring back the sick and dying- we need followers- tell them that I will provide them camels- as long as they’ve never seen Me speak- or they’re coming back from Nazareth visiting the temples”.[iv]
A Director at the Center for Christian Ethics called this new promotion “misguided”.
One of the few times I’d have to agree with the CCE.
Although someone was quoted saying “there are worse things that people can do than get them to go to church”. That’s true to some degree, but not to the extent these guys are basically bribing folks.
Another soon to be Baptist Pastor, current biz executive, said a gas card raffle in Snellville, GA., was “appealing to natural corruptions in unbelieving people…selfish motives is not Christianity”.
This is one of the few times I’m on the same page as a Bible Belter.
How about for one Sunday talking about something relevant, say loving your neighbor, vs. guilt by practicing contraception, supporting the Republicans and saying the Dems are going to hell for defending a women's right to choose (or even discussing politics), and gimme money??
I go to a cool church, Crossroads Community, where we don’t have to offer people any incentive other than you’ll enjoy our services because we’re friendly, there’s no pressure, play cool rock for music and our Pastor, Rich Joy, is totally ‘with it’. He actually cares about us- not in a heavy handed way. That’s what I go for. Why would he need to buy me gas?
Find a church you like- any religion is better than none. Anything spiritual for that matter if you can’t buy into the God theory.
But don’t do it because you’ll get more than internal satisfaction. God is not impressed with gas cards.
And any sexual favors offered after communion to get you to stay until the end is not happening here either.
I can’t necessarily say that about North Dakota or Georgia. What they decide to offer next remains to be seen.