no pressure

no pressure August 11, 2011

Ha! How many times have I been in this situation? Countless. I have some stories! In fact, I might tell you one later today.

I’m sure you have stories of your own.

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  • The ongoing theme in most of the cartoons is “anti-church” and “bad pastors” and “brain washing” and stuck stuck stuck in (I presume) an evangelical fundamental environment responsible for the ruination of one’s soul. I’ve heard some Catholics complain similarly. And of course, those who manage to escape the fundamental cult of Latter Day Saints. Folks not exposed to such indoctrinating environment express their alienation and desire for “freedom” with different images-=-bullying, commercialism, struggle with eating disorder and cutting etc. The process toward liberation or salvation or enlightenment or so-called freedom, I claim, is The Same. But the direct objects and reasons-why and scapegoats vary. How to acknowledge the variation and diversity without getting stuck in any manifestation and losing sight of what’s The Same? I’m asking.

  • Sister Marie

    This sure brings back lots of (bad) memories. During my teen years, the sure-fire way for the evangelists to get people saved was to launch into these long tear-jerker stories about the teen who failed to come forward to the altar, and then later that same evening was involved in a tragic auto accident. Add the narrative of the mother and dad crying over the coffin and the altar was soon flooded with teens confessing their sins and dedicating (rededicating) their lives to God.

  • Dorsey

    I saw Mike Warnke give an altar call once. He claimed the Holy Spirit was telling him who needed to come forward, and that if they didn’t come, he was going to come into the pews and get them. Ayayay…

  • It’s a shame.

    It makes one wonder why so many don’t go to churches that revolve around Christ…instead of revolving around the self?

  • bev

    totally had this happen to me. was at a conference for university students to figure out our ‘calling’ in life. we were sitting around tables in small groups (thankfully i was at a table in the corner, at the back), and the speaker said “stand up if you commit to saying yes to jesus, no matter what he wants you to do or where he wants you to go, for the rest of your life”. 3/4 of the room stood. then “now stand up if you really want to be able to commit, but you’re afraid.” the rest of the room stood. except for me. then he prayed for everyone who was standing. awkward. that was the last event with that group that i went to.

  • Good story Bev.

  • Sam, what would you say is THE SAME, or must it not be named.

  • Conformity through the mimesis of fear.

    A great religious technique, especially at crusades and ‘missionary’ conventions.

  • @Dylan Morrison Author
    “A great…technique, especially at crusades and ‘missionary’ conventions.”
    Or at political rallies!

  • I would say “the same” is my sense of the human nature that is filled always with desire (“of the stars”) that no object (direct or indirect) will fill. And so: a feeling of un-ease, disatisfaction yearning. How we all represent THAT – varies to the point (I think) that we can’t sense “the same” because of the diversity and differences and ways we traditionally institutionalize and hope to satisfy it. David represents IT in terms of his relationship to “church” triggering a whole mess of response in varied terms of “church.” The liberal art, enlightenment, salvation, individuation … Variations on “the same.” ???

  • kdc

    I don’t know if I’ve ever commented here before, but I couldn’t resist this one. I don’t know if this completely relates, but it’s such a good story, I can’t help but share.

    My husband and I were visiting my Brother and Sis-in-laws church many years ago. We had all been water skiing the day before and a couple of us were very visably sunburned. My husband and I were introduced to the pastor before the service. At the end of the service, they had a time for people to share their “words” from the Lord and if you felt like that word was for you, you were supposed to come to the front of the church. You’ll never guess what the pastor’s word was…that’s right “Sunburn”. We found the back door instead of the front of the church as quick as we could.

  • I’ve never understood why people think that there needs to be any kind of manipulation to get results. In my library I have a book where a formerly very famous pastor (long deceased) advocated things like this, and worse, all in the attempt to get numbers at an altar call.

    Wait…that is the problem! NUMBERS! Its as American as apple pie…using statistics to show how “successful” (or in this case, “spiritual”) we are. Its that old practice of applying business models to spiritual things. If a church is growing in numbers, its more spiritual, right? If there are lots of conversions/baptisms/altar answers, then the pastor/evangelist/whoever obviously has the blessings of God, right? Numbers equal success, right?

    When we read how Charles Finney or William Booth used an altar call, it is totally different. All they asked was that if people wanted to get right with God, they should come to the front pew and sit. No public display. Someone would pray with them AFTER the service. There was no “sinner’s prayer” only prayer. And there was no timetable…it took as long as it took. This is the complete opposite of our “come to the front and you are saved” mentality.

    The church in America has a lot to answer for on the day of judgment. Sometimes I read these things and ask myself, “What the heck is wrong with us?” Unfortunately, I think I know the answer.