In a New Yorker review of T. M. Luhrmann‘s “When God Talks Back: Understanding the American Evangelical Relationship with God,” Joan Acocella points out how desperate members of the Vineyard church are to point out their relationship with god… and how every meaningless action seems to be a sign from him:
This casualness carries over to conversations with God. The Vineyarders asked him “for admission to specific colleges, for the healing of specific illness — even, it is true, for specific red convertible cars.” Some Vineyard women had a regular “date night” with Jesus. They would serve a special dinner, set a place for him at the table, chat with him. He guided the Vineyarders every minute of the day. Sarah told Luhrmann how, one day, after a lunch at a restaurant with fellow-parishioners, she was feeling good about herself, whereupon, as she was crossing the parking lot, a bird shat on her blouse. God, she explained to Luhrmann, was giving her a little slap on the wrist for her self-satisfaction.
Bonus points to Acocella for getting the word “shat” into the New Yorker.
She also points out how the author (an anthropologist) compares this group’s religious beliefs to that of an imaginary best friend:
Not surprisingly, Luhrmann compares the Vineyarders’ beliefs to children’s thought processes. She discusses their views in relation to D. W. Winnicott’s theories about transitional objects. For some evangelicals, she says, God is not unlike a stuffed Snoopy.
Cue the religious hordes getting angry. Because it’s always mockery or insults when someone point out the obvious.
(Thanks to thenoisyoyster for the link!)