Sunday, November 15, 2009

It's called snakeoil y'all

Visited with one of the Cymbrogi who lives in an adjoining town yesterday before the basketball game. By the way I'm happy to report that the Maysville Jr. High girls team won the championship and my close friends daughter scored the winning basket. I was able to video the game and show it to the dad who was with the younger daughter for a grade school tournament at another location. They won also. We don't just sit around here in NW Missouri and watch the grass die y'know!
Before the game I was at the home of one of the families who participated in the house church "experiment" we had going on several years ago. Of course we made the mistake of letting the "powers that be" in on the news and ended up being scattered as a result. All for the good (at least from my perspective). Anyway my friend shared that the new fellowship they were involved in had just finished a "revival". He seemed appropriately beat up and punished that I knew something had happened.
Revivals for those of you unfamiliar with the term usually occur once a year for about a week. The effects usually wear off in a month or two so they are a little more severe than the h1n1 virus. The way it works is a local congregation will bring a visiting preacher from another town usually far enough away that the locals don't know him, or a retired clergyman of some sort who supplements his retirement income with love offerings. To be fair many of these men(come on women preachers?Horror), are very devout men who reject the monetary reward and do this because of their passion for God and the Bible. Sometimes congregations will do a sort "pulpit exchange" program (it's easier than pew exchange) and ministers will trade places for a week and preach to congregations other than their own. Having participated in these myself it's a good opportunity for the two clergymen to get their heads together and let each other know what their congregations need to hear. Works really great if you're trying to pay off a building by getting the offerings up. The two preachers then speak to the respective congregations for a week and seek to get them "revived" from what ever they have become "deceased" in.
Out in Oregon in the Fundamentalist Bible church I was saved in these events were called "Bible Conferences" and usually consisted of the same preacher coming once a year. He was a former state police officer and Marine Corps officer turned evangelist. The man was a powerful presence in the pulpit and we in the youth group looked forward to his arrival with a sort of mixed dread-awe. His favorite demon to exorcise was rock music and all its attendant companions short skirts, long hair, and facial hair. I'll let you guess which ones were directed at the gals! It was the 60's so there was much to preach against.
The highlight came on Saturday night when we had the "Youth Rally" where we made sure that all our friends were there to suffer with us, lured in by the promise of free pizza and unsuspecting girls with really short skirts. Then came the glorious bonfire where we burned the accumulated evil tokens of our idolatry. Those of us who had been there all week came prepared with our collection of Stones, Beatles, Turtles and other albums which sounded weird played backwards, and cast them into the flames much to the amazement of the uninitiated. There was much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth as we watched the vinyl melt and burn. No short skirts or long hair were ever cast into the flames to my recollection. A round of "Kum-by-yah" or "It Only Takes a Spark" and the invitation to come to follow Christ and the evening ended so we could get up in time on Sunday to hear the evangelist tell us how many teens had come to the truth.
Being a very devout teen my revival lasted a bit longer than most, but inevitably the time would come when we were hanging out together at one of our homes a pristine copy of one of the torched albums would appear in a record collection. We knew then that the revival or conference had officially ended and it was time to gather fuel for next years bonfire. It was a normal part of growing up a fundamentalist teen. Most of us now still own CD's or MP-3 downloads of the "evil" music which comes on regularly on the oldies stations or on the elevators we occasionally ride.
Recently I noticed that bonfires are still in fashion in North Carolina and memories of the old days came back. This time however it was books mostly I believe that were being burned. It made me wonder if this retro-revival would eventually regress to the days of the authors themselves being burned. Since I have been called a Heretic and The Devil recently on Youtube on the New Christians videos with Tony Jones I have been thinking what music I would like played at my bonfire should those wonderful days of olde return. Is it out of the question to request "Light My Fire" by the Doors?
Grace and Peace and a Tongue in Cheek,

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