HOLD THE HELLFIRE AND BRIMSTONE
By Paul Proctor
March 5, 2008
A friend showed me an interesting cartoon that appeared in USA Today bearing a caption that read: Study shows nearly half of U.S. adults have switched or dropped their religions, which included a pensive couple standing in line at the U.S. Religious Beliefs Cafeteria, where customers can pick and choose their favorite doctrines and commandments from the sacred buffet.
Pointing to one of the selections, the male character in the drawing tells the server behind the counter: "I'll take that with a little less hellfire and brimstone."
Wouldn't we all?
As it happens, my wife and I reminisced earlier in the day about having to eat things we didn't like, growing up. When it came to something unfamiliar or unidentifiable, she said her mother insisted that she at least try it to see if she liked it. If it didn't taste good, she wasn't required to finish it.
Things were a little different around my folk's dinner table. When mama handed me a plate of food, I was expected to eat it - all of it. If I said I didn't like something, I got an extra helping of it.
Consequently, I grew up consuming a lot of things I didn't particularly care for, and in the process, digested some nutritious lessons on life - most important being: What you like, isn't necessarily what you need.
From what I can tell, most kids today seem to get just about anything they want to eat - that is, if their family can afford it - which may explain, at least in part, America's childhood obesity problem.
The USA Today cartoon was apparently a response to an earlier article by Cathy Lynn Grossman concerning a recent Pew Forum poll called the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey where, after interviewing over 35,000 people by telephone, it was determined that Americans are changing churches, denominations and even religions like never before.
In a related Tennessean piece, Grossman wrote: "�the main thrust of the study is that the religious landscape is changing, and Nashville is no exception," adding that Vanderbilt divinity professor Robin Jensen "�had observed that there's much more of a 'marketplace quality' to religion: People are interested in finding a church that matches their value systems and that has programs that fit their family's needs."
Sounds to me like we're god shopping - and considering the "marketplace" mentality, I can't help but wonder if we're really talking about needs here or just wants.
Moreover, there seems to be an insatiable appetite for all the wrong things, as evidenced by the fickle frenzy - a craving for food that leaves you hungry and drink that leaves you dry.
Could that be why so many spiritually starving mega-churches today have a fat and sassy feel to them - because members are getting everything they want and nothing they need?
Who knows - a serving of hellfire and brimstone from the pulpit now and then might be slimming - and spare us that extra helping of Hades later.
"�Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things�" - Isaiah 30:10
� 2008 Paul Proctor - All