Showmanship Religion

This is not a gender problem, but it is one that women have not changed. When did our religion become so much about showmanship and so little about substance ? I like being entertained as much as the next person, and I think I have simply become inured to the fact that so much of what is represented by “church” has been in the form of an entertainment company and less in the form of a fellowship. It is that striving after personal ambition and command of the stage, more than a labor over the salvation of souls that I have described as “appalling”. So much need for recognition and being credentialed is purveyed as ministry, that I am not sure any of us hold the picture of Christ girded with a towel as anything more than an icon, a branding for our “Towel Awards” for exemplary service – as we esteem ourselves and each other.

It seems that examples of women and the discussion of them highlights this, as nothing else has, lately. The discussion of Ruth Graham after her passing and the types of interview questions she fielded in her lifetime along with editoralizing remarks as to whether women of today, Christian women of today, would be satisfied being the support at home instead of embarking on their own ministry- as Aimee Semple Mcpherson did. What a contrast in the two, though. McPherson is the stream of faith that I swim in, and maybe that is why she was both so recognizable in type and deeply grief producing to me. She is represented by many as the consummate actress, putting on big shows for the public’s delight. I’ve attended many of the revival’, etc, that were the later generation’s model of hers.

And it has me questioning.

No longer just “women ministers”, but what sort of religion have I taken for granted all these years? How much is Jesus and how much is Herod? Often, I love and appreciate the people who are credentialed, or otherwise official, ministers, but I don’t like what what I see exampled before me. For one thing, I can’t follow. I don’t have their army of adherents who help and support them. I am supposed to somehow raise my children, be a keeper at home, and manage… on my own,while the women ministers modeled before me more often than not do not do that. They aren’t Ruth Grahams. Ruth Graham could have said to me,” follow me the way I follow Christ”, but not the women “ministers” I know. And that is part of my point…. but another part has grown since first thinking about this. Everyone else has lambasted Televangelists except me, it seems ( aside from the occasional Jerry Falwell/Pat Robertson embarassment)… but now I question how much of what we accept as normal Christianity has root in the gospel of Jesus Christ.How much of the stage is Broadway and Hollywood, and how much is the House of Prayer? I and people like me love to have it so. I’m not saying there aren’t wonderful services, good works, and ministry to the poor adn benighted. It just isn’t center in the scheme of things.

When they tried to make Him King, Jesus extracted Himself from their power-and-pride-as-usual mode of leadership. Many of our leaders? Bring it on! Bring on the podium and the temples, and the crowds, the money, the glamour, and the Name Brand. Who in their right minds turns that away? Because somehow it can it will be used to “promote the gospel”.

Only somehow it doesn’t. Somehow we get the Leroy Jenkins, the Jim and Tammy Faye Bakkers, the … you can run through the scandalous lists in your own religious circle.

The consummate Showmen… and aspiring women.

Forgive me that I have been appalled and not awed.

We have this swirl of controversy that we can’t extricate ourselves from… because the counterpart of our showmanship religion with its hackle raising issues is the smooth oil of the Strange Woman, the tolerate and just love love love everybody message of PC “diversity”. The “Stay Sweet” religion. Two sides of a counterfeit coin. Because truth and honesty have left the room and the cost of a suffering servant religion is just too high for us in this rich and profligate culture.
And many of the women ministers? Like their worldly feminist mirror image, just want their own piece of the pie.

This is not the freedom that we preach, that the gospel gives life to…. and it has caused me to question why I find so many of the examples of women Ministers with stained reputations. I want to have good examples, I want to be able to point to real role models, that women can actually imitate.

And most sadly, I wanted to be that, but somehow found myself as off course and anyone else.

In the meantime, the ones I do see are mostly sitting in the pews… and I just have to question why that is….. even if my conclusions in the theology lead me to believe that women can lead, there are things missing in the picture. And the inkling that is dawning on me at this time is that there is something awry in the entire system that I have heretofore accepted.

Convince me I am wrong… at this juncture of my life I would like to be wrong about this, because I have invested so much supporting it.

One thought on “Showmanship Religion”

Comments are closed.