Country Preacher

I have a confession: while driving around Greenville, South Carolina, I enjoy listening to our local gospel station. Now this is not your up to date, synthesized, plastic gospel music. I’m talking about the good ole fashioned gospel quartets, with a bass who growls like an old dog and a screaming high tenor. I’m talking about the sweet a capella gospel singers who wail and whine and have a passion for Jeezus.

And the preachers! They all have a voice gone gravelly from years of yellin’ and preachin’ the gospel and hootin’ and hollerin’ and callin’ poor sinners to turn to the Lord while there is still time. There’s a tenderness and simplicity and heart felt authenticity in the best of them that tickles me and touches me and fills me with admiration.
Of course I don’t agree with them theologically, and I’m sometimes amazed and aghast at both their ignorance and the things they say which contradict the Bible they claim to love and revere so much. One preacher was saying the other day, “Ya’ll need to confess your sin when you offend the Lord. Now you can come and talk to the preacher about it if you want to, but he can’t forgive your sins. Only Jesus can. No sense going to talk to some priest either. He can’t forgive your sins. Only Jesus can.” Whoops.  that’s not what the gospel says. Jesus’ commission to his apostles to forgive sins in his name is one of the clearest and most Biblical aspects of the apostolic ministry in the Catholic Church.
But enough of that. One of the preachers made me laugh out loud. He was getting down on the big mega churches and said, “Now I know ya’ll are tempted to go running off to the big community church. ‘Oooh pastor!’ you say, ‘It’s a growin’ church. It’s movin’!’ Well, I’ll tell you something. A dead dog on the side of the road is growing and moving too. It’s swelling up in the sun and its crawling and moving with maggots, but it’s still daid as can be. Same with that community church.”
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  • I have to agree about the radio preachers! I am originally from New Orleans and my Grandfather was from Woodville, Mississippi. Whenever we went up to Woodville we would hear those guys on the radio. My Grandfather sounded a bit like them himself! While I agree that their theology is off, their enthusiasm is right on! Keep smiling and God bless! Padre Steve, SDB

  • I suppose this is the Fundie station right beside the Catholic station on the AM dial. I also tune in from time to time, the programming is energetic, and the message robust.I wonder how often listeners to one station or the other accidentally tune into the wrong station- to switch from one to the other is like passing between two worlds.

  • Thanks Father for insight. My dad is one of those country preachers- your insight is correct – there is a sweetness in the message..I also enjoy the true gospel message in the songs. I often listen to the Gaither’s old time gospel songs and think of the message that is posted on your blog page from the Homily of the Holy Father – Life is beautiful and wonderful when we let Christ into our lives!

  • Nothing like a good bit of preachin’! One of the priests in our church had some Baptist friends in college who invited him to their church and were so friendly and welcoming and enthusiastic and in love with Lord that, in the words of our priest, “If it hadn’t been for the Rosary I’d probably be a Baptist preacher today!” Thank goodness he’s not; he teaches and evangelizes tirelessly in our parish.

  • Jim

    I once heard an Alabama Church of Christ preacher say on the radio that if the Gospels and the Pauline letters seem to contradict each other go with Paul. “Paul was speaking to Christians and Jesus was speaking to Jews, so go with Paul.”

  • A neighbor of mine, a Jew, said he once visited a Baptist church and liked what he termed “talk back church” – “Can I have an ‘Amen?'”One thing that Catholic priests can learn from these preachers is how to put some life into when they homilize. I do not like to hear what I term Homily o’ Platitudes, which to me is the easy way out – dumb it down and reach for the least common denominator. It makes me want to say, “Dammit, Father, you’re preaching the Truth – now SAY IT WITH MEANING!” And so long as you are preaching the Truth that comes from our Mother Church, never, NEVER be afraid to offend someone. Chances are they NEEDED offending!

  • this is hilarious dwight! i love it. i’m probably going to put a link to it on my blog :)i hope you guys are well. we want you to come see the new house when you can. i heard u got a mac. yeeeeehaw!

  • I don’t like screaming preachers. It’s not how Christ taught, it’s not Christlike. They are not showing forth the fruits of the spirit, peace!They’ll preach threats of hellfire and brimstone over caskets at funerals, which I find highly spiritually abusive to the grieving family.I live in Central Appalachia and people think it’s the Bible Belt, but it’s actually the most unchurched area in the country. Screaming preachers has something to do with it.Why would I confess my sin to someone who didn’t have the delegated authority to absolve me? Why not just take it straight to Jesus?The extreme Me and Jesus gospel is why a lot of people are unchurched too. They think if they have a dusty Bible at home, that’s all they need.The remarks about the community church were defensive and hostile and unChristian and would be more likely to drive me out of that church. Bitter spirits, envy, calumny.I have never heard a Catholic priest or nun or anyone at church badmouthing another local church like that…calling them a bloated maggotfilled dead dog. OMG