Monday, July 12, 2010

TV religion - a 'just for fun' commentary

I've long been drawn to TV evangelists.
Nope, I don't know why.

Anyway, a few months ago I discovered Shepherd's Chapel - broadcast for several consecutive hours most nights, starting around midnight.
Pastor Arnold Murray & his son, Dennis Murray, present a "chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse" 30-minute Bible lesson in each program, working methodically through one book of the Bible at a time.

Their exegetical method is interesting:
If the literal words of the King James Bible suit their needs, they use the text as given, taken literally.

If the words present some problems, or don't quite match their theology, they adopt one of two alternatives:
1. Interpret the text metaphorically.
2. Cite the 'original language' (Hebrew or Greek), and use their own 'translation' of the original language to make their point.
Note: Both Arnold & Dennis give the impression of being fluent in the original languages, but it becomes clear after a while that they are relying on a Bible-study aid: Strong's Concordance
Anyway - that's not the point of this note.

In searching for information about Shepherd's Chapel on Google, I discovered this somewhat amusing circumstance:
There's a cottage industry - mostly other fundamentalist Christians, but including a few atheist & agnostic commentators - devoted to attacking Shepherd's Chapel!

Not a few of the Christians label Shepherd's Chapel a "cult"... and unfavorable comparisons to Mormonism abound.
The internecine wars between Christian fundamentalists I find... amusing.

(I wish I could remember the source of this quotation!). Some years ago I read a paperback "History of Western Civilization" - title & author now long forgotten. Anyway, in discussing early Christian heresies, the author said something to the effect that... :
"Orthodox Christianity demanded not only that you believe in Christ, but that you hold right opinions about him!"
I am reminded of this remembered quotation whenever I watch the TV evangelists, each arguing strenuously for his or her particular version of the "truth"... and all basing their claims to "truth" on a simple appeal to the straight-forward words of the Bible!

I view my addiction to TV evangelists as harmless... and it's cheap entertainment!

p.s. I watch these shows for entertainment. I'm aware that most of the folks in their audiences watch to strengthen their faith... and this is somewhat disturbing. All of the TV evangelists - including the fundie Catholics on EWTN - are in the "God said it, I believe it, that settles it!" camp! - contributing significantly to America's anti-science bias, and compelling all candidates for office to at least nominally profess belief in G-d (or, as my friend OneFly calls him, "the invisible cloud being").


  1. You have a stronger constitution than I, brother, if you can stomach that poison! But, then, I never got into watching bad sci-fi movies as camp culture, either, and lots of folks were into that.

    My mantra: Early to bed, early to rise gives the principled atheist the brainpower needed to think straight in a crooked world.

  2. Growing up in Tulsa, OK, I was immunized against conservative Christianity at an early age... and visiting the TV fundie folks functions as a booster shot.