Fascinating and well-written story by John Leland in the NYT: evangelical hipsters try to establish their cult in the East Village of New York. You can’t help but admire their chutzpah and determination of the guys who are driven to pull off such a con, while lamenting the gullibility of those who fall for it all.
For all their talk about wanting to do the Jesus schtick differently, there’s nothing different about the message of fundamentalist Christianity. And so, when you peel aside all the trendy gimmicks of inclusiveness and faux-family that are deemed necessary to sell religious bigotry in the 21st, you’re left with the usual finger-wagging: thou shalt not do anything that isn’t allowed by our particular flavor of superstition. But they try hard to pretend that’s not the case — and fail:
“I’m not intentionally trying to scoot around hot-topic issues,” he said. “I’m not trying to hide from the gay issue or the abortion issue. Jesus had some hard teachings. It’s prudent for us as an East Village church to know where we stand and what the Bible teaches, but not to lead with positions that polarize people. I want our church story to be so much more than where it stands on one hot-topic issue.”
Sure you do. You want it to be about love and understanding and compassion and the feel-good factor. That sells in a city of stressed-out people struggling to get by and maintain a sense of community in the big city while “lifestyling” with the best of them. But when push comes to shove, your church by definition has to be about the prejudice and divisiveness proscribed by your Bible — that’s the word of God, which you’re committed to preaching verbatum. Meanwhile, you have to pretend it’s otherwise, otherwise your marketing plan fails. I can see why you need to spend a lot of time praying for your church; if I were running a snake oil operation like that, I’d need therapy, too.